During the early stages of World War II, the German S-Boat (also called E-Boat) posed a serious threat to British shipping and the Royal Navy. The S-Boat was a fast
and powerful vessel, heavily armed with torpedo launching and minelaying capabilities. Under the cover of darkness, they attacked convoys and laid minefields along
the east coast of England. The lack of adequate defenses against the S-Boat threat was a serious concern for the Admiralty. Destroyers were not suitable to counter
the German boats as they lacked the close-range armament to combat them and speed to chase them down. The smaller 70-foot Motor Gun Boats (MGBs) and Motor
Torpedo Boats (MTBs) were also outmatched. The Steam Gun Boat (SGB) design was conceived as a viable answer. They were large enough to be seaworthy in
rough weather and to carry sufficient armament to go toe-to-toe with an S-Boat. Measuring 145 feet 8 inches (44.3 meters) long overall, with a beam of 20 ft (7.1
meters), a draught of 5 feet 6 inches (1.7 meters) and a displacement of 175 tons (255 tons deep load), the SGB were the largest of the Coastal Forces vessels. To
meet the fast production requirement and due to the size needed to accommodate the components of a steam engine, they were built of steel and not wood like their
Coastal Forces counterparts. They were powered by two 4,000 hp steam turbines using special flash boilers.

The SGB had an unique feature among Coastal Forces vessels, an actual funnel. This gave the SGBs the graceful profile of a small destroyer but the large silhouette
also made them an easy target for the German S-Boats. The SGBs were originally fitted with a pair of single 6-pounder guns, a 3-inch (76.2mm) gun, two twin
Vickers .303 machine guns and a Holman projector. Later in the war, a pair of single 20mm Oerlikons replaced the bow chaser 6-pounder and Holman projector. A
pair of 21-inch torpedo tubes rounded out the armament.
Sixty boats were originally planned but the space at the larger shipyards, as well as steel and steam turbines, were needed to build destroyers and convoy escorts. As a
result, the initial order was for only nine boats with only seven actually built. Initially, the boats were given numbers, ranging from SGB 3 through 9. SGB 7 was sunk
by gunfire from an S-Boat on June 19, 1942. Eventually they were considered large enough to be named, so in 1944 the six remaining boats were given names all
starting with Grey.










After the war, all but
Grey Goose were sold off. Grey Goose remained in service as a propulsion trials vessel from 1952 to 1956. In 1958 she was sold and used as
mercantile repair hulk. She was sold again in 1984 to a private owner and converted into a houseboat named
Anserava.
SGB 3        Grey Seal
SGB 4        Grey Fox
SGB 5        Grey Owl
SGB 6        Grey Shark
SGB 7        
SGB 8        Grey Wolf
SGB 9        Grey Goose
The Kit - The HMS Grey Goose kit was first announced a little while before the original owners of White Ensign Models made the decision to cease operations. The
kit remained in limbo until
Peter Hall very recently decided to release it under his Atlantic Models label, which was a most welcome turn of events. The kit I received
as a sample was a pre-production version but it is essentially the same as the production version. The only difference is that assembly guide has been updated with a
corrected parts list and some instructions based on experiences from a test build. Just like other
Atlantic Models releases, the kit is comprised of resin and white
metal parts and a photo-etch fret. Parts are provided to build either an early or late war version of
HMS Grey Goose or any of the other SGBs. However, no decals are
provided.

The largest parts are the upper and lower resin hull sections. Unlike previous kits in the Narrow Seas range, the
Grey Goose provides a waterline option which suits me
just fine. The upper hull has the entire superstructure and tall gun tubs for the .303 Vickers guns cast into it. Other details cast into the upper hull include the
breakwater, mooring bitts and fairleads, ammo lockers, smoke generators, small cowl vents and deck hatches. There are four shallow circular recesses in the deck to
accommodate some of the guns but the last one aft is covered by the placement of the dinghy. There are also locater holes for the torpedo tubes and the midship gun
platform and a slot in the deck housing for the funnel. The lower hull has twin rudders and the propeller skegs. The wheel house has recessed windows and a life raft
cast into its roof. The casting for the hull parts is very clean with barely any excess resin to take care off.

Most of the small resin parts come on a single casting runner with a small gun platform on a separate runner. The small resin parts include the funnel, main 6-pounder
gun, bow chaser 6-pounder gun, 21-inch torpedo tubes, dinghy, 20mm Oerlikons mountings, 3-inch gun, searchlight, life rafts and the small gun platform. The is a lot
of resin flash the needs to be removed from the small parts on the larger runner but otherwise they are fairly well cast. The 20mm Oerlikons mounts have shields
incorporated into the resin part which will be removed to replace them with the photoetch versions. The funnel has a tab along the bottom that fits into a corresponding
slot in the deck housing. A pair of white metal cowl vents round off the small parts. A length of brass rod is including to use for the mast.
The brass photo-etch fret includes all of the railings needed already premeasured, which saves time and effort. The main deck railings have some small sections of
perforated mesh which are nicely done. The other parts on the fret are the gun shield and supports for the 3-inch gun mount, parts to make the 20mm Oerlikons, the
Holman projector, the air warning radar aerials, a loading davit, the access platforms for the Vickers gun tubs, the Vickers .303 machine guns, yardarm for the foremast,
parts for the main mast, the propellers, windscreen for the bridge and the ship’s wheel. The photo-etch has relief etching and as is the norm for
Peter Hall creations,
very well done.

A four-page assembly guide printed double-sided on two small sheets of paper are included. As mentioned earlier, the images of the assembly guide in this review are for
a draft version. The first page has number-keyed images of the resin/white metal parts and the photo-etch fret which correspond to a parts list. The resin parts image
and list omit the searchlight, which has been has been corrected in the final version of the guide. The next two and half pages have the annotated assembly illustrations in
the
Peter Hall style. The bottom half of page 4 has the painting guide with a color plan and profile image of HMS Grey Goose in a Light Admiralty Disruptive Pattern
worn in 1944. The paint references are for
Colourcoats using the inventory numbers used by Sovereign Hobbies, the current producers of Colourcoats range. It turns
out that the profile image is just about exactly in 1:350 scale and could be used to create masks for the camouflage pattern. If you wish to build another SGB or
Grey
Goose
in a different time frame, you will have search for references.

The Build - I decided to build this model as HMS Grey Goose as she appeared in 1944 with the camouflage scheme depicted in the assembly guide. This meant that I
would be replacing the bow chaser 6-pounder and Holman Projector with the single 20mm Oerlikons. Somehow during my build, I lost the kit’s searchlight and replaced
with a similar one left over from another build. I also opted to build it as a waterline model, which is my preference. Model Shipwright Number 87 has an article on the
SGBs written by the late John Lambert along with a fold out plan of
HMS Grey Seal in 1943 which made for a handy reference.
As I mentioned before, the image in the instruction’s painting guide is just about 1:350 scale, so I took it to my office and made some photocopies. The machine has the
capability to print mirror images, so I made a few that way for the portside scheme. To make the masks, I laid the photocopy image down on a cutting mat and then a
strip of Tamiya masking tape over it. The tape is translucent enough to see the image below. Using an Exacto knife, I carefully cut out the shape of the mask and then
applied it to the model. One mask was used to apply the B55 color over the base G45 hull color. Then I cut out masks to paint the B15 bands. The masks were not 100%
perfect and I had to cover some spots with additional bits of tape, but overall it was effective. Before painting the vertical surfaces of the model, I brush painted the decks
and then had to mask around the molded in deck hatches to paint the base G45 color. I would have preferred to have had the hatches as photo-etch parts to paint
separately and apply later.

Overall the model went together very well and the parts fit good for the most part. There were a couple of fiddly bits that I would like to point out. First, the access
platforms that fit around the twin Vickers gun tub, photo-etch parts 12, are slightly too large. When I pointed this out to
Peter Hall, he admitted that he also had this
problem with his own build and advised me to trim off the narrow slat closest to the bridge to make it fit properly. He also told me that he would add this step to the final
kit instructions. The gun shield and corresponding supports for the 3-inch gun where quite frankly a pain in the neck to attach. After several attempts I did it and while not
perfect, it was good enough. The torpedo tubes rest on a base made from perforated steel, which on some other kits was done in photo-etch. However, the entire kit part
is done in resin, so I drilled out the openings in the simulated perforated steel. Lastly, the white metal cowl vents are too tall and need to be trimmed down before attaching
to the housing the sit upon. This is not mentioned in the draft instructions and I am not certain if this note has been added to the final version.

The rigging for the model was done with stainless-steel and nitinol wire. I painted the stainless-steel wire tan for the halyards and used nitinol wire for the standing rigging.
I populated the decks with
L’Arsenal crew figures, used alphanumeric decals from a MicroScale sheet for the pennant numbers and a White Ensign from the Gold
Medal Models
flag decal sheet.
I am very happy that the HMS Grey Goose kit finally saw the light of day. It was a long time coming but it makes for an interesting addition to my Coastal Forces
flotilla. It was enjoyable project and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in these small combatants. My thanks to
Peter Hall for providing the
pre-production sample.
Felix Bustelo
New York
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