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RSL-1664 - 43 FT RANGE SAFETY LAUNCH

Broken up for spares to keep RSL 1643 afloat. At Marchwood, April 2005.

PRINCIPAL PARTICULARS:
Type: 43 ft Range Safety Launch
Service: RAF
Builders: Herbert Woods.
Year Built: 1956
Number Built: 27
Displacement: 12.0 Tons
Length: 43 ft
Beam: 13 ft
Draught: 4½ ft
Hull: Teak
Engines: 2 x Rolls Royce C6.SFLM
Max Speed: 20 knots

RSL1664 after a face lift, June 2004 at Marchwood

When the RAF made the decision to switch to Rolls Royce power units, the replacement Range Safety Launch for the ageing conversions of 41.5ft Seaplane Tenders was proposed, and the task of evolving a craft to meet staff requirements was given to the Research and Development of Marine Craft department of the Ministry of Supply. Subsequently the M.O.S. entrusted to Thornycroft the task of designing the new launch. Some of the requirements for the 43ft RSL were a continuous speed of 20 knots in coastal sea conditions, a very heavy construction suitable for rough usage in tropical or arctic conditions, a 2-ton tow hook, a range of 200 miles, accommodation for four stretcher cases under cover and space and stability to carry up to 30 passengers. Other requirements included good all-round visibility for the coxswain, separate radio office, galley and W.C.

Originally designated the 43ft Seaplane Tender, but later known as the 43ft Range Safety Launch, the Thornycroft 43ft RSL met the RAF requirements for a robust, fast seagoing launch for duties which were to include clearance of air/sea practice bombing ranges and SAR. Design and build of the first batch were carried out at Hampton with electrics designed and produced mainly at the Woolston yard and the machinery entrusted to the builders Marine Engine works at Reading. In comparison to the 41.5ft RSL Mk I, the 43ft RSL was more solidly built, crew kindly and comfortable craft which were suited to spending many hours at sea on range safety work. The same type of Rolls Royce engines used in the 63ft GSPs were utilised to give a speed of 20 knots, and although slower than the earlier craft, they were better in a seaway. After the first batch were ordered in 1953, several others were ordered in 1955, with orders going out to several builders.

The 43ft RSL hull was of conventional hard chine wooden construction. The bottom and side planking was laid double diagonally, whilst the deck planking was laid longitudinally with single tongued and grooved planks. The deck superstructure was prefabricated from aluminium-alloy sheet. The keel was designed to support the keel structure when the RSL was beached on a level slipway. The hull was subdivided by 5 bulkheads of which both the forepeak and aft peak bulkheads were watertight to deck level.

The bulkhead separating the wheelhouse from the galley area was watertight to the wheelhouse floor. At the after extremity of the cabin was an aluminium-alloy bulkhead which was watertight also to floor level.

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