Dockyard models of British admiralty ships are rare. This excellent example represents two such ships- a pair of Royal Naval WWI P boats, P19 and P20, both both built in 1916 at Northumberland Shipbuilding Company, based at Howdon in Tyne and Wear.
The P ships were a group of 44 British coastal sloops ordered in 1915 and 1916 under WWI's Emergency War Program for the Royal Navy. The navy's requirements stated the ships should be of minimum size consistent with sea-keeping qualities, be simple of construction, and have adequate speed to run down submarines.
With a crew compliment of about 50 men, the vessels were designed to replace destroyers in coastal operations like patrol and escort work as well as submarine hunting, but had twin screws, a very low freeboard, ram bows of hardened steel, a sharply cutaway funnel and a small turning circle.
The model is in its original period large floor case and has many gold and silver plated fittings throughout. The base includes the original plaque with ship details, date and the maker of her engines.
The model's deck details are outstanding including-
Forward, the gleaming anchor chain and ports lead up to the ship's windlass. Behind that, a rounded platform holds the ship's four inch gun with shells stored around the platform in purpose-built brass holders attached to the railings.
Amidships details include the unique cut-away funnel, ship's wheel, chart table and searchlight. Behind that sits the 40mm, two pound, anti-aircraft gun.
Aft, the model features the two 14 in. torpedo tubes mounted port and starboard on the stern facing aft. On the actual ships these armaments were recycled from old torpedo boats. It was hoped that they could be used to cripple German surface warships with torpedoes if attacked. Of course all armaments were intended as anti-submarine, and the ship's hardened bow for ramming when possible and the P boats as a class excelled as anti-submarine ships in all weathers.
The P boats served with the Dover Patrol, Nore Local Defence Flotilla or Portsmouth Escort Force. All but one of the 44 P boats survived the war, with P26 as the only loss. P19 and 20 were both decommissioned in 1923.
Museums hold a few rare examples of P Boat models of other ship numbers in this class. Finding one in the private market, in good condition and as well presented as this one is, makes this a unique and fine collector's piece.
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