Fly-class gunboat

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Tigris gunboat (cropped).jpg
Class overview
Name: Fly class
Builders: Yarrow Shipbuilders
In service: 1915-1924
Completed: 16
Lost: 3
Retired: 13
General characteristics
Type: River gunboat[1]
Displacement: 98 long tons (100 t)
Length: 126 ft (38 m)
Beam: 20 ft (6.1 m)
Draught: 2 ft (0.61 m)
Propulsion: 1 shaft VTE, single yarrow type mixed firing boiler, 175 ihp (130 kW)
Speed: 9.5 knots (10.9 mph; 17.6 km/h)
Complement: 22

The Fly-class river gunboats (or small China gunboats[Note 1]), collectively often referred to as the "Tigris gunboat flotilla", were a class of small but well-armed Royal Navy vessels designed specifically to patrol the Tigris river during the World War I Mesopotamian Campaign (the China name was to disguise their function).


They were fitted with one triple expansion steam engine driving one propeller housed in a tunnel to facilitate a very shallow (2 foot/60 cm) draught. The boats were designed to be dismantled and re-assembled


The vessels were built by Yarrow Shipbuilders at Scotstoun, Glasgow in 1915 and 1916 and shipped out to Abadan in sections where they were assembled. They served with the Royal Navy patrolling the Tigris River until being transferred to the Army during 1918. They were sold off beginning 1923.

Firefly was captured by the Ottomans but recaptured at the Battle of Nahr-al-Kalek in February 1917.

The vessels[edit]

These vessels had the prefix "HM Gunboat"

  • Blackfly
  • Butterfly
  • Caddisfly
  • Cranefly
  • Dragonfly
  • Firefly
  • Gadfly
  • Grayfly
  • Greenfly
  • Hoverfly
  • Mayfly
  • Sawfly
  • Sedgefly
  • Snakefly
  • Stonefly
  • Waterfly

See also[edit]


  1. ^ the Insect-class gunboats were "large China gunboats".


  1. ^ Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. p. 405. ISBN 0-87021-907-3. OCLC 12119866.

Further reading[edit]

  • Wilfred Nunn, "Tigris gunboats : the forgotten war in Iraq 1914-1917", 1932. Reprinted 2007 by Chatham. ISBN 978-1-86176-308-2

External links[edit]