Flower Class Corvette in Profile Part 3
Royal Navy in 1942

By Bob Pearson

During 1942 the corvette began to take on a more warlike appearance with the addition of new weapons and sensors in the form of Type 271 radar and the Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar. These started to give the corvette the means to fight on a more equal footing, but true ascendancy was still in the future and the RN and RCN fought many hard battles during this period.

Also changing were warship colours, gone were the drab, medium grays of the early war, now blues, greens and even off-white was to gain sway in an attempt to hide, or breakup the outline of the ship when seen in typical North Atlantic haze/mist/fog.

Some of the ships seen here were shown in part 1, but have since been updated as more information comes to light.

Anyone interested in Flowers or building a model of one is invited to join the Corvette mailing list.

HMS Abelia K184
April 1942

Tests revealed that rather than the previously used dark colours, the best shades for the often fogbound north Atlantic were white and various pastel shades to try and blend the ship into the surrounding murkiness. To this end, many escorts of the Western Approaches (and other commands) began to appear in off-white, light blue and light green. These were to become the classic 'Western Approaches' schemes which dominated the middle war years.

HMS Abelia is fitted for minesweeping (as were most early RCN corvettes), and is also fitted with one of the first type 271 radars. However she still has an enclosed compass house on her bridge.

I have recently found out that a good friend of a friend of mine commanded her in 1943/44, so I would really love to find a view of Abelia in that period to do an illustration for his widow.

HMS Bluebell K80
June 1942

Operational experience showed that changes were required to improve the efficiency of the Flower Class. The most obvious was the extending of the foc's'le to better accommodate the additional crew required. Other improvements include a new open bridge with 20mm Oerlikons for defence, hedgehog anti-submarine mortars, type 271 radar and the mast resited behind the bridge to improve visibility forward. Bluebell is also carrying two twin Lewis guns on the aft engine room casing.

HMS Borage K120

Borage is fitted for minesweeping using the 'LL' (magnetic) minesweeping gear on the stern, and an 'acoustic hammer' on the bow. This was a bucket fitted to the end of of an A-frame which could be lowered into the water. A weight was dropped into the bucket setting off a loud noise which it was hoped would detonate any acoustic mines in the area.

HMS Campanula K18
December 1942

Nicholas Monsarrat, author of "the Cruel Sea" was an officer on board Campanula. Colours are off-white, WA Blue and black

HMS Heather K69
August 1942

Heather is yet another minesweeping corvette as can be seen by the gear on her stern. Colours are 507A, MS3, 507c and MS4a.

HMS Jonquil K68
April 1942

Jonquil is the subject of some very nice photos in the Ensign Flower Class Corvette, and can also be seen on the cover of that volume. Her colours are 507A, B5 and MS4a, and are very striking in their appearance.

HMS Pennywort K111
March 1942

As well as Abelia, Lt Orme Stuart RCNVR commanded HMS Pennywort between March-August 1943. I am very interested in finding a photo of her in this period in order to both profile her, and also build a model. Any help in this goal would be most appreciated.

HMS Spirea K08
April 1942

Not all corvettes used the WA colours, and HMS Spirea is a perfect example of this. She is seen here in MS1, MS4 and MS4a. Her appearance is a mixture of early and late. .. lengthened foc's'le and radar, but old bridge and mast.


  • Ensign No.3 Flower Class Corvette: Preston, Antony & Raven, Alan; Bivouac Books

  • Warship perspective: Flower Class Corvettes: Lambert, John; WR Press

  • RN Colour Chips: Snyder & Short Enterprises

  • British Escort Ships: Lenton, H T; MacDonald

  • Allied Escort Ships: Elliot, Peter; USNI Press

  • Convoy: Middlebrook, Martin

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