Cutters, Planes, U-boats, Weapons of EMERALD TARGET:


Zealous battles a winter gale in the North Atlantic. Pencil & watercolor drawing by D.D.O'Lander

Though Zealous is fictional, this small class of cutter did exist and played an important role in America's nautical history.

Built during Prohibition to chase illegal rum runners, the "Active Class" cutters were nicknamed "Buck and a Quarter" for their length of 125'.  Within Lady Z's beam, or width, of 23’-6” lived a crew of 35-43 men with four-five commissioned & non-commissioned officers. Armament included a 3” deck cannon, twin depth-charge tracks, two 20mm anti-aircraft guns and a Lewis machinegun mounted on the flying bridge.

When World War II broke out in Europe, Buck and a Quarters already patrolled America's coasts as well as in the Caribbean and off Greenland. This frigid northern realm is where Lady Z is stationed as part of the Greenland Patrol or GreenPat. These cutters performed such tasks as search & rescue, medical assistance, mail-runs and delivery of supplies to Greenland settlements, aids to navigation and weather reporting. This task was important since Greenland is considered the "weather kitchen of Europe" and influenced many of the war's decisions.

For more information about Buck and a Quarters, please visit the Historic Naval Ships Association at The site also furnishes ship & cutter locations, phone numbers, programs and volunteer opportunities.


Ice Sheila takes off on a hazy morning for a long patrol. Pencil sketch by DDO'Lander

The Short Sunderland flying boats were developed during the 1930s, while Ice Sheila’s particular model, the Mark II, was first flown in August 1941.  Ice Sheila was carried into the sky by four Bristol Pegasus XVIII air-cooled radial engines which were slightly canted on the 113-foot wingspan. Two-speed superchargers boosted her takeoff power  with 1,050 additional horsepower.

A fuel capacity of 2,552 gallons in 10 self-sealing tanks allowed her to stay air loft for up to 13 hours. Equipped with an ASV—air-to-surface-vessel—Mark II radar, Ice Sheila was formidable hunter, detecting U-boats from 12-20 miles away depending on her approach.

As for armament, Ice Sheila mounted a combination of four Vickers and four Browning .303-inch machine guns—forward, amidships and aft—earning her the nickname of Fliegende Stachelschwein or Flying Porcupine from the Germans. During air attacks her single-step hull, designed to help break the water’s suction at takeoff, proved her most vulnerable spot. Ice Sheila could carry 2,000 pounds worth of bombs, depth-charges or mines, which were rolled out beneath openings under her broad wings. The interior of this two-deck behemoth held such amenities as bunks, a flush toilet, wash basin, storage space and a galley containing two Primus stoves, an oven, ice chest, sink and table.

Learn more about Sunderland flying boats at  or Wikipedia.  


A 372 heads into another Arctic night on patrol. Color drawing adapted from photo of USCGC Ingham by D.D.O'Lander.

The fictitious cutter Paratus belongs to the Treasury/Secretary Class of which seven were built and served with distinction throughout WWII. The name Paratus is derived from the Coast Guard's motto: Semper Paratus, Latin for Always Ready.

These cutters were 327-feet long and most often referred to simply as "three-twenty-sevens." Modified from  the design of a naval destroyer, 327s were commissioned in the mid-1930s to fill the need of a long-range patrol cutter. Prior to 1941, they were originally equipped with a single seaplane that had to be lowered, then retrieved after its patrol was finished. Though a good idea for search and rescue, the process proved too cumbersome during time of war. In 1944, helicopters began to fill this role for S & R.

In the North Atlantic, the primary duty of 327s was convoy escort. More than one U-boat met their end by actions of these cutters in hunter-killer groups with their formidable, average armament: two 5” cannon, three to four 3-inchers, a one-pounder, two six-pounders, numerous 20mm & 40mm anti-aircraft guns with overlapping fire, twin depth-charge tracks and a Y-gun, which fired smaller depth charges laterally.

Please visit for more information about the USCGC Taney at the Baltimore Maritime Museum and the USCGC Ingham at the Historical Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida. For more information about Allied vessels and German U-boats of World War II, please check out


Watercolor of U799 surfacing to prowl the night seas. Artwork by DDO'Lander.

Although U799 is an assemblage of several actual submarine designs, she is nonetheless a viable U-boat. At 350’ long, U799 is about the size of a U-Cruiser from the First World War, known as a Milch Cow. That is where the similarity ends.

U799 is capable of 23.3 knots on the surface and nearly ten knots submerged. Specification put her range of nearly 22,500 nautical miles at an average speed of 12 knots on the surface. But on the surface is not where U799 excels. She lives within Neptune’s realm where she travels undetected, attacking unwary convoys. From the South Atlantic to the Arctic Ocean her reputation is well known, even if the Allies cannot identify her.

U799 carries 36 torpedoes, which can be fired from either four tubes forward or two stern tubes. If necessary, U799 can also resupply and assist with repairs of other smaller class U-boats. U799 is also more heavily armed with three varied sizes of multiple Flak guns and a 12.7cm deck cannon, enclosed in a clamshell when submerged. 

The German Kreigsmarine may have won the Battle of the Atlantic if U799 had really existed and not been the sole member of her class of U-boat. An actual French submarine, the Casablanca, built between the World Wars, best characterizes U799's traits.

To learn more about the real U-boats of WWII please visit


Claire-Marie in Arctic camouflage over Greenland. Colored pencil drawing adapted from photo of Staggerwing by D.D.O'Lander.

Claire-Marie is known as a Staggerwing in America and a Traveler in Britain. These sturdy, enclosed biplanes were originally developed by the Beech Aircraft Company of America in the 1930s to serve as a business executive's plane. The British acquired some prior WWII under the Lend-Lease Act, which is where Wendy gains access to Claire-Marie.

The little Staggerwing could haul four passengers and supplies, or as in my novel, Wendy, one dubious Yank and supplies, up to a max take-off weight of 4,700 pounds. Normally equipped with retractable landing gear, Claire-Marie was further modified with skis for landing on ice and making the occasional trek to Greenland.

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01.12 | 00:24

Richard, thank you for the note. Link is missing. Go to which is where it would send you: Emerald Target - Irish - Book II. Good luck with surgery.

27.11 | 13:11

Hi Denise, l am an inpatient at UC hospital looking to schedule heart surgery. I've just completed Starling. Can't wait to get Irish. Can I purchaseon Wsite?

14.11 | 19:20

Marcia, you comments mean the world to me. Thanks for your support. I don't want to disappoint you: )

12.11 | 05:46

Denise, thank you so much for your reply! I wish you well as you work towards publication of ‘Pawn’. I’ll be watching for it n Spring 2019! I am truly a fan!

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