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Codenamed ‘China gunboats’ in order to disguise their real purpose. The well-armed Fly-class river gunboats were designed specifically to patrol the Tigris river during WWI.

Built by the yarrow shipbuilders in Scotland the design of these shallow-draft river gunboats allowed them to be shipped in bits to Abadan in Iran. Once there they were re-assembled and sent into action against the Ottomans along the Tigris.

Relatively fast at 9.5 knots (10.9 mph; 17.6 km/h) with 22 crew they were generally equipped with guns such as the 4-inch (102mm), 12-pounder (76mm), 6-pounder (57mm), 3-pounder (47mm), 2-pounder (40mm) pom-pom and 4 or 5 machine guns.

In Action

One Fly Class River Gunboat, HMS "Firefly", was captured by Turks in 1915. Having been put back into service as Suleiman Pak, it was recaptured in 1917 by its sister gunboat - Tarantula.

Of the 12 built during WWI, 4 were shipped to Port Said, Egypt in 1915-16, a further 4 were sent to the Persian Gulf in 1916 whilst the remaining 4 were stationed off the East coast of England with modified guns to take on the zeppelins.

During the Russian Civil War in 1919, 5 ships were sent into the Arctic Ocean to serve on the Dvina River (northern Russia) in support of the White Russian forces.


Between the two world wars, the Fly class were mainly used in the Far East, seeing action in 1937 during the Japanese invasion of China, on the Yangtze River.

By WWII the 9 remaining vessels were being refitted with longer 6 pounders. Their shallow draught let them get close-in to beaches, making them ideal supply and landing vessels. They would see action from Tobruk to Singapore. Only 4 would survive until the end of the war.

Supplied unassembled and unpainted in kit form with full instructions.

Any models or accessories shown are for scale purposes only and are not included.

Dimensions L410 x W120 x H150mm (approx.)
Product Features 2x Moveable guns
Etched detailing
Material(s) MDF Greyboard
Contents 1x Gunboat

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