British Power Boat Company Type Two 63 ft HSL

The 63 foot long Type 2 High Speed Launch, known as the Whaleback from the distinctive curve to its deck, was a high speed launch class ship used in air-sea rescue
Air-sea rescue
Air-sea rescue is the coordinated search and rescue of the survivors of emergency water landings as well as people who have survived the loss of their sea-going vessel. ASR can involve a wide variety of resources including seaplanes, helicopters, submarines, rescue boats and ships...

 to save Allied
In everyday English usage, allies are people, groups, or nations that have joined together in an association for mutual benefit or to achieve some common purpose, whether or not explicit agreement has been worked out between them...

 aircrew from the sea after they were shot down during the Second World War.


In the Second World War, the retrieval of pilots and aircrew shot down over the sea around the British Isles was the responsibility of the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 Air Sea Rescue Service, (motto: "The Sea Shall Not Have Them") operating launches and aircraft in cooperation with the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...


The Type Two was designed in 1937 by Hubert Scott-Paine
Hubert Scott-Paine
Hubert Scott-Paine was a British aircraft and boat designer, record-breaking power boat racer, entrepreneur, inventor, and sponsor of the winning entry in the 1922 Schneider Trophy.-Early life:...

, founder of the British Power Boat Company
British Power Boat Company
The British Power Boat Company was a British manufacturer of motor boats, particularly racing boats and later military patrol boats.It was formed on 30 September 1927 when Hubert Scott-Paine bought and renamed the Hythe Shipyard with the intention of transforming it into one of the most modern mass...

 at Hythe
Hythe, Hampshire
Hythe is a village near Southampton, Hampshire, England. It is located by the shore of Southampton Water, and has a ferry service connecting it to Southampton...

. Scott-Paine had previously owned the Supermarine Aviation Company
Supermarine was a British aircraft manufacturer that became famous for producing a range of sea planes and the Supermarine Spitfire fighter. The name now belongs to an English motorboat manufacturer.-History:...

, later builders of the Supermarine Spitfire
Supermarine Spitfire
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used as a front line fighter and in secondary roles into the 1950s...

 and, more importantly, several flying boat
Flying boat
A flying boat is a fixed-winged seaplane with a hull, allowing it to land on water. It differs from a float plane as it uses a purpose-designed fuselage which can float, granting the aircraft buoyancy. Flying boats may be stabilized by under-wing floats or by wing-like projections from the fuselage...


A lowset cabin contained the wheel-house, chart room and a sickbay.
For defence against enemy aircraft, on top of the cabin were two aircraft-style turrets made by Armstrong-Whitworth each with a single .303 in Vickers machine gun.


The Type Two was supplied to RAF Marine Craft Units from the middle of 1940.
Around seventy "Whalebacks" were built for the RAF between 1940 and 1942. They were used throughout the war.


Following their performance during the Dieppe raid
Dieppe Raid
The Dieppe Raid, also known as the Battle of Dieppe, Operation Rutter or later on Operation Jubilee, during the Second World War, was an Allied attack on the German-occupied port of Dieppe on the northern coast of France on 19 August 1942. The assault began at 5:00 AM and by 10:50 AM the Allied...

 in August 1942, the Type Two was modified. Extra armament was fitted — paired .303 in machine guns mounted either side of the wheel-house and a single 20 mm Oerlikon
Oerlikon 20 mm cannon
The Oerlikon 20 mm cannon is a series of autocannons, based on an original design by Reinhold Becker of Germany, very early in World War I, and widely produced by Oerlikon Contraves and others...

on the (strengthened) rear deck. Protection was improved by adding anti-shrapnel padding around the forward cabin area.

External links

  • Whaleback at British Military Powerboat Trust
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