Sloops, what were the functions of the warship class described as sloops, before and during World War Two. A sloop was an escort vessel designed for convoy protection. The Royal Navy had been building types of convoy escorts classified as sloops before the advent of World War Two. "Sloops, Escort Vessels, Etc – Although not attracting great attention these vessels are some of the most vital in a fleet. It is extremely difficult to choose or plan the ideal craft for convoy escort, as so much depends upon the forces with which they are likely to be opposed. Fast craft such as sloops may be satisfactory against defense against submarines, but if large cruisers or even fast battleships may be encountered, the escort must be similarly strong.:" All the World’s Fighting Fleets Fifth Edition (1939) by E.C.Talbot-Booth. In 1937 a new class of sloop was introduced, the Black Swan Class, designed from the start as a warship for the express mission of convoy escort.

During World War Two the Royal Navy needed every escort it could find in her desperate effort to defend against the German U-Boat campaign. Numbers in vast quantities mattered more than the individual qualities of the class. A number of different types served as convoy escort. The all had the same mission but they all had their own strengths and weaknesses.

Class Name





Black Swan

Sloop (Later AA Frigate)

1,300 Tons & 20 Knots

Extremely strong AA/Gun surface action fit

Slow building time & limited yards available, not adaptable to new ASW



950 Tons & 16 Knots

Cheap & quickly built by any yard

Limited Gun and AA, poor crew habitability


Corvette (Follow-on to Flowers)

1,100 Tons & 16.5 Knots

As with Flowers, more adaptable

As with Flowers but better AA


Corvette (Later Frigate)

1,400 Tons & 21 Knots

Strong ASW, could be built in civilian yards

Limited Gun and AA but better than Flowers



1,400 Tons & 20 Knots

Strong AA & ASW, could be built by civilian yards

Limited Guns


Destroyer Escort (Later AA Frigate)

1,000 Tons & 28 Knots

Fleet AA

Limited ASW

As can be seen the sloop, the DE and large corvette merged as a type to be called the frigate.

The Black Swan Class was the earliest of the classes and was one of the most successful types of escorts during the war. The 1937 requirements were for an ocean going escort with good AA and ASW qualities. Designed as a warship, they took two years to build and only yards with warship construction experience could build them. As the war progressed and new ASW systems were introduced, the Black Swan Class could not incorporate the new systems without landing some of its strong DP gun armament. The Royal Navy did not want to do this, as the extremely strong AA capability was still very much required. Britain built 31 of the class, subdivided into Black Swan (9 vessels) and Modified Black Swan (22 vessels) classes. Six more were built for India (4 & 2). The Modified Black Swan originally had better light AA and other improvements but by the end of the war but by the end of the war, there was very little difference between the two sub-types.

Plan and Profile
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By the end of 1943, although U-Boats were still a threat, the Battle of the Atlantic had decisively swung in favor of the allies. As numbers of more capable ASW platforms were available, more and more of the Black Swans were sent to India to join the British Pacific Fleet, where their very strong AA capability was greatly needed. Of the 31 built for the RN, 17 were with the British Pacific Fleet and 6 had been lost by the end of the war. To keep an edge on their AA strengths, the class was consistently upgraded during the war in radar fits. After the war some of the ships were modified for peace time duties and the class continued to serve until the mid-1950s.

The Wild Goose was a member of the original Black Swan sub-type. Called the Mad Duck by her crew, she had a very active career during the war. She was substantially modified by removal of X gun mounting where an additional accommodation was installed. A lattice mast replaced the tripod and she was repainted with the white hull and buff funnel of the pre-war Far East scheme. She was assigned to the Persian Gulf Division of the East Indies Station where she served until 1954 when she was placed in reserve. Wild Goose was sold for scrapping in 1956. 

Black Swan Class Vital Statistics

Dimensions: Length - 299.5 feet (91.29m); Width - 37.5 feet (38.5 feet Modified) (11.43m(11,73m); Draught - 12 feet (3.5m); Displacement - 1,300 tons standard, 1770-1945 tons deep load; Modified- 1,350-1,490 tons standard; 1,880-1,950 tons deep load

Armament - Six 4-Inch/45 QF Mk XVI HA DP; Four 2pdr pompoms; Later 4-8 20mm Oerlikon 20mm AA guns; Later four 40mm Bofors AA guns; ASW fit increased during war, including addition to Hedgehogs in certain ships.

Machinery - Two shaft Parsons Geared Turbines; Two Admiralty 3-drum boilers; 4,300 shp; 19.75 knots maximum speed: Complement - 180


Among the others in the class, there were a number that had interesting post war careers. Amethyst was trapped up the Yangtse River at Nanking in late 1949, 200 miles from the sea, when the Communist Chinese forces were victorious over the Nationalist Chinese forces. Heavily shelled, she made a nighttime dash down the river and reached the sea in an exploit later made into a movie. During the Korean War Black Swan was involved in a rare naval action in which five of the six attacking North Korean gunboats were sunk. Three were involved in the "Haifa Patrol" in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the flow of Jewish refugees and armament into the Palestine and then the newly independent Israel. In the South Atlantic Snipe had a run-in with an Argentine gunboat as she was re-establishing British posts on King George Island in the South Shetlands. Perhaps the oddest fate awaited Mermaid, Flamingo, Hart and Acteon. In 1958/59, they were transferred to the newly reformed Federal German Navy. They were renamed Scharnhorst, Graf Spee, Scheer and Hipper, where they served as training vessels until the early 1970s. How ironic that these humble sloops, designed with an eye on the rapidly expanding German Navy before World War Two, should end up carrying the distinguished names of a German battleship and heavy cruisers. (Bulk of history from Royal Navy Frigates since 1945 by Leo Marriott, All the World’s Fighting Fleets, Fifth Edition (1939) by E.C. Talbot-Booth

Resin Casting
Imperial Hobby Productions has just released a multi-media kit of HMS Wild Goose. Parts are resin, white metal, brass rods as well as a decal sheet. There is no photo-etch but a suitable fret is inexpensively available from the Royal Navy line produced by White Ensign Models. The resin parts are very well done. There is minimal flash removal from the parts and no defects such as air bubbles, which makes clean up fast and painless. It is a fairly small model in 1:700 scale, with the hull measuring about five inches (127mm) at waterline. In spite of its small size IHP has packed a lot of detail into the hull. Although not overly visible on the hull casting, IHP has reproduced the hull plating on the hull sides, which is very unusual in most warship kits and especially so for the smaller ones. Almost all of the fittings are cast integral with the hull. Very nice anchor chains, paravanes, numerous bollards & cleats, depth charge racks and many other smaller fittings can be seen in the pictures of the hull castings. The unique breakwater, which trails down the sides, is acceptably thin but not wafer thin. By and large, the IHP casting of the Wild Goose hull has more detail cast into it than some larger size kits and certainly significantly more than the average model of its size. 

Quarter Views and Hull Detail
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The Wild Goose also comes with castings for five deckhouses or platforms. All are very well done with quite a number of fittings cast integral to the individual parts. The level of detail on these smaller parts is fully the equal to that found in the hull casting. The single stack has steam pipes and a lot of detail as part of this very small part, although the upper stack platform is a trifle on the thick side. Other even smaller resin parts include two platforms, ships boats, ventilators and aft lattice stump main mast. This last part is necessarily solid and would be better represented as the open lattice by photo-etch. It should not be too hard to find a PE part that is adaptable for this structure, although I have yet to check for such a piece. 

Smaller Resin Parts
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White Metal Parts
Most of the smaller fittings are produced in white metal. The three twin four-inch guns, mounts, gun shields, Oerlikons, twin Bofors, davits, ASW equipment (other than stern racks), galley stack, carley floats and one ship’s boat are in white metal. They are of average quality but not outstanding. I would use all of them in building the Wild Goose, except for the single 20mm Oerlikons, which I would replace with after market photo-etch or resin/photo-etch replacements. White metal parts cannot be cast to the thinness of brass photo-etch and the 20mm gun shields could use replacement. IHP also provides to brass rods to be used in constructing the foremast. 

White Metal Parts
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The Wild Goose comes with a one page, back printed, sheet of instructions. The front page has a short history, parts matrix, building notes/hints and good plan and profile, which is used for placement of some of the smaller fittings. The reverse has two isometric drawings of the assembly, assembly notes, measurements for tripod legs and painting instructions. Because of the numbers of parts on this small model, the placement of some fittings is not shown in the instructions. Instead, the modeler is referred to the plan and profile. The only pitfall with this is that the modeler may fail to notice some of the locations for these parts. Optional 20mm Oerlikon or later 40mm Bofors placement on the amidships platform is shown. With a quick study of the plan and profile and by referring to it during the construction and attachment of smaller fittings, the average modeler should not encounter any stumbling blocks. IHP also includes a small decal sheet with two large pendant numbers for the hull sides and a smaller one for the stern.

Box, Instructions and Decals
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Imperial Hobby Productions has made available to the modeler a very nice 1:700 kit of one of the significant escorts of World War Two. In many ways the Black Swan Class was the forerunner of the modern frigate, especially in its AA role. The resin parts to this kit are especially notable in that there is a great amount of fine detail incorporated into them. With the addition of a little photo-etch, the modeler should have a very enjoyable and easy build resulting in a fine model of HMS Wild Goose.