Motor Gun Boat

Motor Gun Boat (MGB) was a Royal Navy term for a small military vessel of the Second World War. Such boats were physically similar to Motor Torpedo Boats (MTBs), equipped instead with a mix of guns instead of torpedoes. Their small size and high speed made them difficult targets for E-boats or torpedo bombers, but they were particularly vulnerable to mines and heavy weather. The large number of guns meant the crew was relatively large, numbering as high as thirty men.

Motor Gun Boat 314
MGB 314 during World War II


MGBs were extremely heavily armed for vessels of their size. By 1945, MGB 658 carried two power-mounted QF 6-pounders in the A and Y turret positions, a twin 20 mm Oerlikon cannon in the X turret position, a single 20 mm Oerlikon on either side forward of the bridge and two twin .303 Vickers machine guns on the bridge wings. They were also equipped with smoke-making equipment, basic radar and depth charges.


Motor gunboat at HMS St Christopher
MGB 66 at speed with the crew at action stations, off the coast of Scotland

In the early years of the war, they saw action defending shipping against enemy torpedo boats such as the German E-boats on the southern and eastern coasts of the UK. MGBs were also involved in the protection of shipping after D-Day.

In the Mediterranean, they were used offensively to sink Italian and German shipping. They were formed into flotillas which often operated alongside Motor Torpedo Boats (or US PT boats)[1] and helped interdict supplies being sent from Italy to North Africa in 1943. After this campaign, they moved northwards and assisted with the invasion of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica and Elba. From island bases they patrolled along the western coast of Italy attacking small coastal ships and E-boats until mid-1944. As Italy was progressively liberated, certain flotillas, such as the 56th, were sent around to the Adriatic to assist partisans in the islands off Yugoslavia.

They did not take the prefix HMS as they were only boats and instead used the prefix "HMMGB" on formal occasions. The crews generally referred to them by their numbers.

In 1947, MGB 2009 was fitted with a Metrovick gas turbine, thereby becoming the world's first gas turbine powered naval vessel.


Gas turbine from MGB 2009
The gas turbine from MGB 2009 (formerly MGB 509)

Camper and Nicholsons MGB Pennants: MGB 502 to MGB 509

  • Length: 117 ft 0 in (35.66 m)
  • Beam: 20 ft 3 in (6.17 m)
  • Draught: 4 ft 1 in (1.24 m)
  • Displacement: 95 tons
  • Propulsion: 3 × Paxman VRB diesel engines
  • Total power output: 3,000 bhp
  • Speed:
    • Maximum: 28 knots (52 km/h)
    • Continuous: 25 knots (46 km/h)
  • Complement: 21
  • Endurance: 2,000 nautical miles (4,000 km) at 11 knots (20 km/h)

Note: MGB 509 was powered by three Packard supercharged petrol engines giving a total output of 4,050 bhp (3,020 kW) and a maximum speed of 31 knots (27 knots continuous). Later re-numbered MGB 2009, this boat was fitted with a Metrovick gas turbine engine in 1947.

Fairmile C motor gun boats were 110 ft (34 m) long boats. The succeeding Fairmile D design could be fitted out either as MGB or MTB.


The only fully restored and operational example of a Royal Navy Coastal Forces MGB which saw active service in WW2 is MGB-81.[2] She was built by British Power Boat Co Ltd. Hythe, launched in 1942, and served at the Normandy landings. She is now at Portsmouth.[3]

MGB-81 (1)
MGB-81 in Beaulieu River

See also


  1. ^ Captain Robert J. Bulkley, Jr "Part VI The Mediterranean -- Torpedo War" At Close Quarters PT Boats in the United States Navy Naval History Division, Washington: 1962
  2. ^ Coastal Motorboat Heritage Trust, "MGB81", Coastal Motorboat Heritage Trust. Retrieved 30 January 2017.
  3. ^ National Historic Ships UK, "MGB 81", National Historic Ships UK. Retrieved 30 January 2017.


  • Motor Gunboat 658 LC Reynolds (Cassell Military Paperbacks, London, 2002) ISBN 0-304-36183-6

External links

1993 in Sri Lanka

The following lists events that happened during 1993 in Sri Lanka.

Coastal Forces of World War II

Coastal Forces was a division of the Royal Navy established during World War II. It consisted of small coastal defence craft which the Navy designated with names such as: Motor Launch, High Speed Launch, air-sea rescue, Motor Gun Boat and Motor Torpedo Boat. It did not include landing craft, trawlers or purpose-built minesweepers. Other Navies operated equivalent boats, but classified and named them somewhat differently.

This article attempts to pull together, for comparative purposes, some statistics concerning the coastal forces of different navies. It starts with the above British definition of "Coastal Forces" and attempts to identify the equivalent boats in other navies.

Combined diesel or gas

Combined diesel or gas (CODOG) is a type of propulsion system for ships that need a maximum speed that is considerably faster than their cruise speed, particularly warships like modern frigates or corvettes.

For every propeller shaft there is one diesel engine for cruising speed and one geared gas turbine for high speed dashes. Both are connected to the shaft with clutches; only one system is driving the ship, in contrast to CODAG systems that can use the combined power output of both. The advantage of CODOG is a simpler gearing compared to CODAG, but it needs either more powerful or additional gas turbines to achieve the same maximum power output. The disadvantage of CODOG is that the fuel consumption at high speed is poor compared to CODAG.

Fairmile A motor launch

The Fairmile A motor launch was a type of motor launch designed by Fairmile Marine for the Royal Navy.

Fairmile B motor launch

The Fairmile B motor launch was a type of motor launch (often referred to as MLs) built by British boatbuilder Fairmile Marine during the Second World War for the Royal Navy for coastal operations.

Fairmile C motor gun boat

The Fairmile C motor gun boat was a type of Motor Gun Boat designed by Norman Hart of Fairmile Marine for the Royal Navy. An intermediate design, twenty-four boats were built in 1941 receiving the designations MGB 312 - 335.

Fairmile D Motor Torpedo Boat

The Fairmile D Motor Torpedo Boat was a type of British Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) designed by Bill Holt and conceived by Fairmile Marine for the Royal Navy. Nicknamed "Dog Boats", they were designed to combat the known advantages of the German E-boats over previous British coastal craft designs. They were bigger than earlier MTB or Motor Gun Boat (MGB) designs (which were typically around 70 feet) but slower, at 30 knots compared to 40 knots.

Unlike the Fairmile B designs, the Dog Boats were only produced in component form in Britain. Some were built for the RAF's Marine Branch for use in the long range air-sea rescue for downed airmen. 229 boats were built between 1942 and 1945.

Many versions were produced or converted from existing boats; MGB, MTB, MA/SB, LRRC and post-war FPB.

Since the Fairmile D could be fitted out with a mix of armament that gave it the capabilities of both a Motor Gun Boat and a Motor Torpedo boat, the MGB designation was dropped.

Two captured boats were put in Kriegsmarine service.Today the D-type is a popular choice among boat modelers.There are no known survivors, other than two abandoned wrecks, one in Chatham, England and the other in Ellingsøy, Norway.

Fairmile Marine

Fairmile Marine was a British boat building company founded in 1939 by the car manufacturer Noel Macklin.

Macklin used the garage at his home at Cobham Fairmile in Surrey for manufacturing assembly which is why the boats he designed came to be called Fairmiles.

As a former Royal Horse Artillery and Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve officer, he was inspired to turn his talents and his technical staff to producing boats after reading an article by Vice-Admiral Cecil Vivian Usborne.

After his first designs were accepted and ordered by the Admiralty, Macklin found he had insufficient capital. To solve the problem the Fairmile company became an agency of the Admiralty with Usborne as one of the directors. As a result, the company carried out business without turning a profit, the staff being in effect part of the civil service.

Many Fairmile Bs were built in Commonwealth countries: 80 in Canada, 12 in New Zealand, and six in South Africa.

Gay Viking

Gay Viking was a blockade runner of the British Merchant Navy. Originally under construction as a Motor Gun Boat, Gay Viking was one of eight vessels that were ordered by the Turkish Navy, but were requisitioned by the Royal Navy to serve with Coastal Forces during the Second World War. Originally intended to be HMMGB 506, the vessel was instead completed as a blockade runner for the Merchant Navy and named Gay Viking. She operated out of Hull on two separate operations to the Scandinavian countries. She was one of the more successful of her group, but was lost in a collision while returning from one of these operations. Reports indicate that she may have been salvaged after this and gone on to sail for a considerable number of years as a civilian vessel.

HM Motor Gun Boat 2007

HM Motor Gun Boat 2007 was a Motor Gun Boat operated by Royal Navy Coastal Forces during the Second World War. She was initially built as one of eight gun boats ordered by the Turkish Navy, but which went on to see service in the North Sea as fast blockade runners. She was initially classed as the merchant vessel Gay Corsair, crewed by men of the merchant navy and sailing under the red ensign. She became HM Motor Gunboat 507 after being acquired by the Royal Navy, and finally HM Motor Gun Boat 2007. She was wrecked under this name in 1945.

HM Motor Gun Boat 501

HM Motor Gun Boat 501 was a Motor Gun Boat operated by Royal Navy Coastal Forces during the Second World War. She was initially built as a combined anti-submarine boat and motor torpedo boat, but instead was completed as a motor gun boat.

Jaffna lagoon massacre

The Jaffna lagoon massacre or Kilaly massacre occurred on January 2, 1993, when a Sri Lankan Navy Motor Gun Boat and a number of smaller speed boats intercepted a number of boats transporting people between the south and north shores of the Jaffna Lagoon in the Northern province in Sri Lanka, and attacked them under the glare of a spot light. The estimated number of deaths range from thirty five (35) to one hundred (100). However, only fourteen (14) bodies were recovered. It was reported that other victims of this massacre were burnt along with their boats. The Sri Lankan government claims that the boats were transporting rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) cadres.


MGB may refer to:

Mathematical Gymnasium Belgrade (Matematička Gimnazija), an elementary and high school for gifted students in Serbia

Magandang Gabi, Bayan, a news program in the Philippines

Matterhorn Gotthard Bahn, a railroad operating in the Swiss Alps

Matthew Good Band, a Canadian group

Medial geniculate nucleus, or medial geniculate body, a subnucleus of the thalamus in the brain

Medium Girder Bridge, a modular, military bridge

MG MGB, a sports car produced by the British Motor Corporation and its successors from 1962 to 1980

Ministry for State Security (Soviet Union) (Ministerstvo Gosudarstvennoi Bezopasnosti), a predecessor of the KGB

Motor Gun Boat, a fast attack boat armed with cannons and guns, as opposed to the Motor Torpedo Boat

Mount Gambier Airport, an airport servicing the Mount Gambier region which uses the IATA code MGB

Mutual gains bargaining, an approach to collective bargaining

Motor Launch

A Motor Launch (ML) is a small military vessel in Royal Navy service. It was designed for harbour defence and submarine chasing or for armed high-speed air-sea rescue. Some vessels for water police service are also known as motor launches.

Operation Bristle

Operation Bristle was a British Commando raid over the night of the 3/4 June 1942 during the Second World War. The target of the raid was a German radar site, at Plage-Ste-Cecile between Boulogne and Le Touquet. The raiding force which was provided by No. 6 Commando was defeated by the strong German defences.

During the return voyage at around dawn the naval force was attacked by German fighter aircraft which damaged two Motor Launches and one Motor Gun Boat, killing one Commando and two naval personnel and wounding another 19; only the arrival of Royal Air Force preventing further damage and losses.

Robert Peverell Hichens

Lieutenant Commander Robert Peverell Hichens, (2 March 1909 – 13 April 1943) was the most highly decorated officer of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), being awarded two Distinguished Service Orders, three Distinguished Service Crosses and three Mentions in Despatches. He was also recommended for a Victoria Cross after being killed in action in April 1943.Before the Second World War, Hichens was a keen sportsman who rowed for Magdalen College, Oxford, and competed in the Double sculls at the Henley Regatta. He also competed in International Fourteen sailing events and three times participated in the Fastnet race. On land he raced in hill climbing events in Somerset and also entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans race three times. During the Second World War, he rose in rank to become a lieutenant commander and commanded the 6th Motor Gun Boat Flotilla and later the 8th Motor Gun Boat Flotilla.

Shelburne Escape Line

The Shelburne Escape Line was the only World War II Underground escape line that successfully evaded infiltration by the Gestapo. Allied airmen, who were rescued after being shot down, were eventually taken to Paris by Resistance members where they received new names, identity cards, clothing, training, and special passes for the forbidden coastal zones in Brittany. The pilots were hidden in safe house attics, barns, and abandoned buildings of local farmers until a moonless night when they would be evacuated to England by the British Royal Navy's high-speed Motor Gun Boat 503.

On the night of 16/17 June 1944, Guy Hamilton and two sailors were stranded on a Brittany beach, codenamed Bonaparte, after successfully landing a small party of agents on the enemy-occupied coast. They were rescued by local members of the Shelburne Line, who hid them in farmhouses for a month. On the night of 11/12 July 1944, along with fifteen downed Allied airmen rescued by the Resistance, they were picked up and repatriated by MGB 503. Hamilton, who was born in France, later directed four of the early James Bond films.

By the end of the war, more than 12,000 citizens from France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, had participated in rescue and escape efforts for Allied forces. By the Allied D-Day landings in June 1944 in Normandy, more than 4,000 downed or captured airmen and POWs escaped occupied Europe.

Steam Gun Boat

Steam gun boat (SGB) was a Royal Navy term for a class of small naval vessels used during the Second World War. The class consisted of nine gun boats, powered by steam, and built from 1940 to 1942 for the Coastal Forces of the Royal Navy.

They were developed in parallel with the Fairmile D motor torpedo boats ("dog boats"), specifically as a response to the need to hunt down German E-boats and also as a response to the scarcity of suitable diesel engines. While sixty were planned only an initial batch of nine were ordered on 8 November 1940, of which seven were completed.

Vosper 73 ft motor torpedo boat

The Vosper 73 foot motor torpedo boat was a mid-twentieth century British military boat design by Vospers.

At 73 ft (22 m) long they were considered small boats compared to longer designs such as the Fairmile Type D. The design came about from a requirement that British Motor Torpedo Boats should be better able to fight small craft, which was the job of Motor Gun Boats. To this end Vospers built on their existing 70 foot designs. The Type I was introduced in 1943 and the Type II before the end of the Second World War.

The boats carried four 18-inch torpedo tubes as their major offensive armament along with Oerlikon 20 mm cannon and some defensive armament (Vickers K machine guns) for protection against enemy aircraft. The Type II gave up two torpedo tubes, but gained a 6-pounder gun which displaced the twin Oerlikon to the aft deck. This made it more capable of performing the Motor Gun Boat role. Of the 29 built to this design none survives, although a slightly earlier model 60' example has been saved and resides at the Imperial War Museum Duxford annex north east of London.

Aircraft carriers
Patrol craft
Fast attack craft
Mine warfare
Command and support


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