Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
corvette,small warship, classed between a frigate and a sloop-of-war. Corvettes usually were flush-decked and carried fewer than 28 guns. They were widely employed in escorting convoys and attacking merchant ships during the great naval wars of the late 18th and early 19th cent., but corvettes passed from use with the transition from sail to steam. At the beginning of World War II the term was reintroduced to designate a small vessel of about 1,000 tons displacement, armed with depth charges and a single 4-in. (10.2-cm) gun. In the early years of the war, large numbers of these vessels were employed by the British and Canadian navies as convoy escorts in the North Atlantic; later they were supplanted by the larger, faster, and better-armed frigates.
(1) A light three-masted gunboat in 18th- and 19th-century sailing fleets designed for reconnaissance, dispatch service, and the performance of other auxiliary tasks. Its dis-placement ranged from 400 to 600 tons. In the second half of the 19th century the corvette was a full sail-rigged steamship with a displacement of 800 to 3,500 tons; the artillery (12 to 32 guns) was located on the upper deck.
(2) In the British and American navies during World War II (1939–45) corvettes were escort vessels having displacements of 900 to 1,500 tons and powered by piston-type steam engines. They were armed with a single 102-mm gun, 20–40-mm automatic antiaircraft guns, and depth charges.