CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Thomas G. Lynch.

Halifax, Nimbus Publishing, c1983.
128pp, paper, $12.95.
ISBN 0-920852-22-X.

Grades 12 and up.
Reviewed by Neil Payne.

Volume 12 Number 5
1984 September

The Flying 400 is a history of the Canadian Navy's research and development project to produce an anti-submarine hydrofoil warship. From 1947 to 1971, extensive research and testing was conducted resulting in the launching of HMCS Bras dor in July 1968. Bras d 'or was the most advanced warship of her time and produced new information and improved design for hydrofoil ships. Stable in heavy seas, one of the fastest ships in the world (with a top speed that never was determined), turning circle of only five hundred yards at fifty knots, the Bras d'or provided all kinds of possibilities for a small, fast, highly manoeuverable anti-submarine warship for Canada's navy.

Unfortunately, as with the Avro Arrow, the government of the day scrapped the project before testing was even completed, although in this case the prototype and research data were not destroyed as in the case of the Arrow.

Since that time, many other navies (including the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union) have developed hydrofoil warships to provide the same advantages as the Bras d'or was designed for speed, manoeuverability, stability, and small size.

In the sixties, this project, along with the Arrow project, symbolized the strength of Canadian technology: developing a ship (and a plane) far in advance of anything else in the world. Just as surely, the scrapping of these projects symbolized the abandonment of the future by a Canadian government without vision or imagination and the destruction of confidence in the ability of Canadians to conduct successful research and development in competition with the world. So complete was the destruction, that not only were the projects lost, but the people were cast loose to other countries, making effective use of the new technology impossible.

Thomas Lynch, who served in the RCN until unification in 1969, has now written two books of Canadian naval history, the first being Canada's Flowers (Nimbus, 1982) a history of Canada's World War II corvettes.

The Flying 400 is a closely documented, well-illustrated account of the entire hydrofoil project. Unfortunately, the highly technical nature of the account makes heavy reading. Excellent illustrations, a good index, many charts, and a glossary of terms provide very good organization of the large quantity of technical data.

While the average reader would have considerable difficulty with this book, navy buffs and technically-oriented readers will enjoy it. Recommended for universities and large public libraries, it would also be of some use to senior high schools with an interest in Canadian military history.

Neil Payne, Kingston C. I., Kingston, ON.
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