This page is/will be my online collection of notes on the RN Ship’s Boats of WWII; it is not a reference page (yet?).

There is no (comprehensive) volume available and modelers have to tack down drawings by e.g., Underhill, Ough, or Lambert.  For my modeling I relied on John Lambert; is work has been published by Seaforth Publishing in the British Weapons of World War II series—I cannot recommend these four volumes enough—but the ship’s boats drawings are not in any volume.

Below is a list of what I have so far; some boats have/will receive a separate page. I few ‘false positives’ are added as well as a reference (e.g., RAF rescue launch, royal barge). Small craft were often made by different shipyards, so one type of boat may appear in many variants while some boats appear to be unique.

See for updates.

List (note to self: tiny pics to be added).

Sailing & Pulling Boats

14 ft Dinghy
16 ft Dinghy
25 ft Whaler
27 ft Whaler
27 ft Boarding Boat 1943
30 ft Gig
30 ft Cutter
32 ft Whaler
32 ft Cutter
34 ct Cutter
36 ft Sailing Pinnace
42 ft Motor Launch

Motor boats (Soft chine)
16 ft Motor Boat
20 ft Motor Boat
20 ft Motor Sampan
23 ft Motor Sampan
25 ft Motor Cutter
28 ft Motor Boat
30 ft Motor Pinnace
30 ft Motor Cutter
35 ft Motor Pinnace
36 ft Motor & Pulling Pinnace
36 ft Harbour Launch
41.5 ft RAF Seaplane tender
45 ft Motor Launch with Aux sails
45 ft Motor Launch (light type)
45 ft Diesel Picket

Steam boats (Soft chine)

(Scanned from Stapleton, 1980)

45 ft Admiral’s Barge
50 ft Steam Pinnace or Picket

Fast Motor Boats (Hard chine)
16 ft Fast Motor Boat (Skimming Dish)
25 ft Fast Motor Boat 1935 (?)
25 ft Fast Motor Boat
30 ft Fast Motor Boat
35 ft Fast Motor Boat type I (admiral’s barge variant?)
35 ft Fast Motor Boat type II
35 ft Fast Motor Boat type II (Seaplane tender)
35 ft Fast Motor Boat II (Admiral’s barge)
35 ft Fast Motor Boat type III
37.5 ft RAF Seaplane Tender
40 ft Royal Barge
45 ft Fast Motor Boat & barge
45 ft Fast Motor Boat type II
45 ft Fast Motor Picket Boat

Rafts & Floats

Balsa Raft
Denton Rafts
Carley Floats
Night Life Buoy
Life Buoy


Painting. CAFO snippet I once saved to disc:

Power boats:

  • Sides: black or any shade of grey
  • Upper works: black, white, varnished, or or any shade of grey
  • Bottom colour: black, white, or a different shade of grey if desired

Pulling boats other than the Captain’s galley

  • Sides: any shade of grey
  • Bottom colour : white, or a different shade of grey if desired
  • Gunwales: Scrubbed, varnished, any color exept green and blue which are reserved for gunwales of  theFleet Flagship’s and other flagships’ boats, respectively, if desired.
  • Captain’s galley”any colour except green and blue, Captain’s discretion

Note (i) The power and pulling boats of individual ships other than Flag officers’ barges and Captain’s galleys, should be uniform in appearance, although it is not compulsory for both categories to be alike
Note (ii) Green is reserved for the boats of the Commander-in-Chief and blue for the boats of other Flag Officers.

The barge of the CiC was referred to as the Green Parrot.

For Capital ships the camouflage pattern is usually not carried over to the ship’s boats. Seen pics of Dido’s with camo pattern running over the FMBs.

Useful links
Steam Pinnacles, Pickets and Tenders

BoatHouse 4
Boathouse No. 4 in Portsmouth contains several boats including a skimming dish, a 25ft FMB, and a 45ft Diesel Picket.

Tyne Archives
I found a list of drawings at this archives with most of the relevant ship’s boats; some have been reproduced here with permission .

National Maritime Museum
They have boxes upon boxes with ship’s boat’s plans; however, their website is terrible as they are keen on updating their website annually rendering all links and bookmarks obsolete, yet again, so I have given up on keeping track.

British Military Powerboat Trust
A dead website / forum that contains several informative pages on smaller craft.


Cane, du, P., High-speed small craft, 1964, Temple Press Books
May, W.E., The Boats of Men of War, 1974 Chatham Publishing
May, W.E., The Boats of Men of War, 1974 Maritime Monographs & Reports No 15, National Maritime Museum
Stapleton, N.B.J., Steam picket boats: And other small steam craft of the Royal Navy, 1980 Terence Dalton publishing
The British Power Boat Company, Hythe, Hampshire, Personal Recollections, Totton & Elling Historical Society