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British Armed Motor Launch, “Mimi”

British Armed Motor Launch, “Mimi”, 1915
Builder’s Model, scale 1:16
Great Britain
wood, metal, silver and gold plated fittings, paper
model: 22.0 x 79.5 x 20.0 cm
The Thomson Collection © Art Gallery of Ontario

The Thomson Collection of Ship Models Audio Tour

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Download: 1:25 min / 576 KB MP3

Simon Stephens: This is an interesting small craft. This is a motor launch. A small expeditionary force was sent out to Africa to deal with the German domination on Lake Tanganyika, which was the border between the Belgium Congo and German East Africa.

The British wanted a part in this lake because strategically it was very important. So these launches were built on the River Thames. They were then shipped to East Africa and landed. Taken inland by rail along the river and then dragged through the Belgium Congo jungle, on specially constructed carriages, which were pulled by steam traction engines and bullocks, oxcarts. They then went along another river journey and then eventually arrived at the lake itself.

They were armed and they actually captured the German steamer and rammed it and sank it, eventually taking it over in the end, capturing the crew as well.

It’s an amazing story of getting a small craft like this from the UK all the way to central Africa to a lake, to actually guard the colonies abroad so to speak. You’ll notice the gun on the bow.

It’s also got a canvas canopy in the stone area to protect against the elements and the intense heat of the sun. There's a small machine gun mounted on the stern of the boat, as well.

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