Torpedo Boat
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Basic Information

A category of small, fast boats used for costal work, patrolling and liaison. This category covers both boats armed primarily with torpedos, those with a mix of torpedos and cannon and, for convenience, those armed with guns only.

The first of these boats were armed with spar torpedos and were distinctly dicey vessels to be assigned to and their modern descendants tend to carry anti-ship guided missiles instead.

Generally 20-25m overall length and 45-60 ton displacement these are generally not a prestigious part of the fleet but can be an effective nuisance if properly deployed (the existence of the torpedo boat spawned the entirely new class of destroyers - originally torpedo boat destroyers - to prevent them from savaging expensive capital ships) and are capable of all sorts of flexible tasks that larger ships cannot manage.

With onboard welfare facilites and extended range the Torpedo boat classes fill the gap between ships boats of various kinds and destroyers and are possessed of more endurance than helicopters.

Crews were generally of 15-30 men, commanded by two or three junior officers and they often provided a good place for a rising star to learn a thrusting, self reliant style of leadership at a young age.

Examples of the type would include:

  • Fairmile Class (Royal Navy)
  • Elco Boats (US Navy)
  • Higgins Boats (US Navy)
  • S-Boats (Kreigsmarine) a.k.a. E-boats

Example Armament:
(As fitted to the Fairmile Boat Dog 658 - see reference #2 in the bibiliography)
As built:
1 x 2lb/40mm pompom (B270), 1 x 6lb/57mm automatic cannon (R270), 1 x twin 20mm Oerlikon (R270), 2 x .50 cal BESA Heavy Machine Gun (P180,S180), 2 x .303 Vickers K-gun (P180,S180), 4 x small boat depth charge, TSA smoke generator, Searchlight.

By the end of the war:
2 x 6lb/57mm automatic cannon (B270,R270), 1 x twin 20mm Oerlikon (R270), 2 x 20mm Oerlikon (P180,S180), 2 x .303 Vickers K-gun (P180,S180), 4 x small boat depth charge, TSA smoke generator, Searchlight. Radar set (not specified but adapted from an aircraft set).


2. Motor Gunboat 658: The Small Boat War in the Mediterranean, Reynolds, L.C., ISBN 0-304-36183-6 - a personal account of a young officer's service on a Fairmile D Boat between 1943 and 1945.

Game and Story Use

  • Quite a good vehicle for a small party - given the junior rank of the crew's officers it is fairly credible for the relations between comissioned and non-comissioned ranks to be less rigid than on a full sized ship. That gives you two or three officer PCs plus the leading hand or some other petty officer as potential slots without too their relative ranks cramping play.
  • Also the variety of jobs assigned to these boats: reconaissance, surveying, mine laying and clearance, patrol and interdiction, raiding and landing agents or commandos and carrying small stores or dispatches (just for examples) gives the GM plenty of scope for scenarios.
  • These boats also tend to operate in interesting theatres of war - the Pacific and Mediterranean Islands, the Black Sea, Baltic and Scandinavian coasts and the African theatre. Usually a long way from the direct scrutiny of command where more interesting things happen.
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