I imagine when one thinks of a World War II-era warship, they think of
sleek battleships and heavy cruisers slicing through waves at 30 knots. A
clumsy adaptation of a 30s whale chaser, armed with a single 4-inch gun
and a couple dozen depth charges, doesnít exactly fit oneís description of
"superior firepower." The British designed the Flower-class Corvette as a
"stopgap" measure to protect Allied convoys crossing the Atlantic. They
were slow, poorly armed, and presumably would have "rolled on wet grass."
Nonetheless, they participated in the sinking of at 51 enemy submarines.
225 were built, more than any other surface warship class, and they served
in ten allied navies. Even the Germans had four of their own, captured
when they overran France.
The subject of this book is the HMCS Agassiz, a Canadian Flower of
the "short forecastle" type, similar to the Compass Rose depicted
in Nicholas Monsarratís The Cruel Sea. She was laid down in
Vancouver in April 1940 and commissioned in January the next year. The
Agassiz remained in service until 1945, receiving a major refit in
1943. She was scrapped in 1946.
The Flower-Class Corvette Agassiz is the 28th book in the
Anatomy of the Ship series. Itís a 160 page hardcover book divided
into three main sections: Introduction, Photographs, and
Drawings. The reverse side of the bookís jacket doubles as a 1:144
plan of the bow, stern, and profile.
The book begins with an 11-page introduction to the design of the
Flower-class, describing, the typeís evolution, machinery, hull structure,
and electronics. Following this are a series of 29 black & white
photographs, showing overall views of the class and close-ups of the
The real meat of the book comes next - the drawings. The next 126 pages,
contains hundreds of detailed line drawings and schematics of every deck,
bulkhead, and fitting on the ship. The back says that thereís "more than
350 drawings," but the actual number is closer to 550. Literally, almost
no bolt goes uncovered.
The first section covers the shipís general arrangements. It starts with a
series of 1:192 scale plans showing the side, internal profile, and body
lines. The bow and stern are shown at 1:144, along with plans showing the
differences in hull sheer in the Flower variants. Isometric views are up
next, along with plan views of all four decks and the compass platforms,
and a profile of the engine room casing. Plans of the modifications to
Agassizís forecastle and upper decks are shown next, along with two
isometric views of the entire ship.
Chapter B opens with a four page longitudinal section of the entire ship
at 1:96 scale. Next up are isometric views of the shell casing, wheel and
compass houses, and three of the decks. The third section cuts the
Agassiz into 28 1:96 scale transverse sections (thatís "vertical
slice" for normal people!), one every seven feet.
Chapter C looks into the shipís internal construction. 1:192 scale plans
of the hull framing and deck beams are shown first, followed by isometric
views of the frames, beams, and the keel and floors. Also included are
detailed close-ups of the keel and frames, along with the bilge keels,
scuppers, washports, stringers, and bulwark stays. Rounding it out are
details of the rudder and itís bearing, the stern framing, and a plan of
the shipís expansion plating.
The machinery is covered in Chapter D, which opens with 1:96 scale plans
of both levels of the engine and boiler rooms, and elevations of the port
and starboard sides. The main engine, boilers, condenser, injection valve
and circulating pump, propeller shaft, and steering gear are examined
externally and internally in a large number of 1:48 scale plans. Also
included is a plan and profile of the shipís pumping and venting system.
Chapter E describes the spars and rigging, and Chapter F covers the shipís
fittings. Fittings have always been a point of contention for modelers,
and 38 different fittings are covered here. Some of the fittings detailed
are the sounding machine, voice pipes, ammunition lockers, bucket racks,
the galley skylight, handrails, and the shipís whistle. This section also
has some good views of the watertight door mechanisms and the anchor
Chapter G looks at the shipís armament, including the weaponry installed
later in the war. This section also details Agassizís minesweeping
arrangements, along with cross-sections of different types of ammunition.
Chapter H details the shipís 16-foot dinghy, and itís davit and griping
spar. The final chapter has profile views and deck plans of the modified
Flower-class and the Castle-Class corvette, a stretched derivative of the
Flower. Unfortunately, the machinery details are a sketchy for these two
The amount of detail presented in these drawings is occasionally
unbelievable, and if you donít believe me, take a look at the scans in
this review. The deck plans show every bulkhead and compartment of the
ship, right down to the toilets, ladders, and pantry. The four-page
cross-section has more than 200 annotations, while the framing plans shows
every stringer, girder, and frame, noting the dimension of each beam. The
expansion plating plan shows the location of, and the dimensions and
thickness of each hull plate. The shipís engine is shown from six views,
showing details as small as stop valves, evaporator coils, and drag links.
The illustrations are fantastically well-researched and drawn, and
represent perhaps the most detailed study of a single mechanical construct
Iíve ever seen. If youíve never looked at a set of ship plans before, this
book might be too much for you. The detail is so overwhelming, I got a
headache from squinting for hours! Okay, you wonít find a five-view
drawing of the galley stove, but you will learn where they kept the
spare depth charge for scuttling the ship.
This is my first Anatomy of the Ship book but it wonít be my last.
These plans are so well-done that Iím surprised that no oneís built a
full-scale working replica of a Flower yet. This is obviously a "niche"
title that will only appeal to a small group (or as my Mom would say, "the
sort of book that only Daryl knows about!"). Itís an invaluable
resource for the modeler and a fascinating title for anyone interested in
the technical side of naval history. If the subject grabs you, I highly