MTB-1 — or more accurately, the 60 ft British Power Boat MTB — was a class of 18 Royal Navy motor torpedo boats built before the start of the World War II, comprising MTBs 1-12 and MTBs 14-19.
Rank I - Boats
Though the Royal Navy had operated a small number of coastal boats during the first World War, by the 1930s, these flotillas had long been dissolved and the Royal Navy had yet to construct any more. The first two coastal boats since WWI were ordered on 27th September 1935 by the Royal Navy, the order being given to British Power Boat Company based at Hythe, a town near Southampton. In addition to this initial order, four more were ordered on 19th October 1935. These six boats were completed by November 1936, and, with their commissioning on 27th April 1937, the Royal Navy Coastal Forces was founded. Following this, three more boats were ordered on 7th December 1936 and nine more on 11th January 1938. In total, 18 boats were ordered, all of them being completed by 1939.
These boats had a standard displacement of 18 tons and had a length of 60 ft. 4 in., a width of 13 ft. 4 in., and a draught of 2 ft. 10 in. at standard displacement. They were powered by three Napier Sea Lion petrol engines, each driving a single shaft, and could reach speeds of around 30-35 knots. Each boat could carry two 18 inch torpedoes which were stored internally on rails above the engines. On the stern were two more rails that could be folded down to the transom, extending the torpedoes' rails outside of the boat. The torpedoes fired facing forwards down the rails, after which the boat that fired them would have to turn to evade their path. In addition to torpedoes, the boats were also armed with a number of depth charges and, depending on the exact boat, up to eight Lewis guns.
MTB 1, the first of the boats, was redesignated MTB 7 in 1937. Similarly, MTB 7 was redesignated MTB 1 in the same year. In 1938, the former MTB 1, now MTB 7, was redesignated MTB 13. At the same time, MTB 13 was redesignated MTB 7. Finally, later in 1938, the former MTB 1, now MTB 13, was again redesignated MTB 19. Thus, by the start of WWII, the boats were numbered MTBs 1-12 and 14-19 and formed two MTB flotillas: 1st MTB Flotilla, consisting of MTBs 1-6 and 14-19; and 2nd MTB Flotilla, consisting of MTBs 7-12.
The 1st MTB Flotilla was sent to the Mediterranean at the start of WWII and was based at HMS Vulcan in Malta. They were soon recalled back to England in December 1939 to be based at HMS Beehive, Felixstowe, though MTB 19 was sent to HMS Vernon, Portsmouth. Along the way back, due to bad weather, MTB 6 had to be foundered. After they arrived, the remaining boats continued to operate in the English Channel until they were either lost or replaced. Those lost were MTBs 15, 16, and 17, all of which were mined in 1940.
The 2nd MTB Flotilla was commissioned in 1938 and assigned to HMS Tamar, Hong Kong. They were all lost during the Battle of Hong Kong in December 1941. MTB 8 was bombed by IJN aircraft and was damaged beyond repair, and MTB 12 was sunk in action by IJN landing craft. The remainder of the 2nd MTB Flotilla was scuttled on 26th December 1941.
- [Unit Histories] Royal Navy Coastal Forces 1940-1945
- [naval-history.net] British vessels lost at sea in World War 2 - MGB, MTB, SGB, ML, etc - originally published in British Vessels Lost at Sea, 1935-45, His Majesty's Stationary Office, 1947
- [mwadui.com] Royal Navy Coastal Forces - Hong Kong
- [Coastal Forces Heritage Trust] Coastal Forces of World War II - History
- [yalumba.co.uk] British Power Boat Co Page 1
- [yalumba.co.uk] British Power Boat Co Page 5
- [Wikipedia] Coastal Forces of the Royal Navy