HMS HOOD gallery

In November 1915 the British Admiralty requested the design of an experimental battleship that included certain aspects of battleships and battlecruisers. The design of the fast battleships of the Queen Elizabeth class was taken as a basis, to which modern underwater protection was incorporated and they were given the lightest practicable draught, but when the design was sent to the Admiralty Board, Admiral Jellicoe insisted that: “…30 knots battlecruisers were more useful than battleships”.
The 1915 design became another to build a 36,300-ton battlecruiser with 32 knots of top speed and a belt armour of about 200mm. Unfortunately, the same day that the first of the four Hood class battlecruiser was laid down, the Battle of Jutland took place, in which three British battlecruisers were sunk, which led to a new revision of the requirements. In this new design the thickness of the belt armour was increased to 305mm which raised the displacement to 40,600 tons and produced a speed reduction of two knots.
The final design for the HMS Hood concluded with the installation of four twin turrets armed with 381mm guns and further modifications, which resulted in a final displacement of some 43,300 tons and a speed of 30.5 knots, achieving the original idea of ships like those of the Queen Elizabeth class, but bigger and faster. The layout of the secondary artillery was modified to make it more effective, and the hull lines were also changed to achieve more stability at sea.
Although the project envisaged the construction of 4 ships, baptized as Hood, Anson, Howe and Rodney, finally only the Hood was finished, since in 1917 it became known that Germany had stopped the construction of capital ships and it was decided not to continue with the three that had just been started. The designs of these three ships had been modified so much in relation to the Hood that they appeared to be of a different class. These ships remained in the stands until October 1918, when contractors were allowed to dispose of them, a task that lasted until August 1919.
Before being delivered, the Hood received new modifications such as the removal of four 140mm guns and 4 torpedo tubes, and after all the modifications applied the ship weighed too much, which caused the main belt to submerge further and the freeboard to be reduced. In addition, a protest movement over the design flaws was started among some senior officers calling the ship reflective of pre-Jutland ideas of protection and that the modifications applied had only served to remedy only the worst defects. In contrast, the press began to inflate the ship’s power, implying that her gigantic size was equal to her fighting capacity, something totally wrong, as it would be seen later.
Despite her flaws, the HMS Hood was an impressive looking ship with some truly remarkable capabilities. During testing, the 24 Yarrow boilers coupled to 4 Brown-Curtis geared turbines managed to propel the vessel up to 32 knots, producing an impressive 151,280 shp even though they were designed for 144,000 shp. She was carrying almost 4,000 tons of fuel oil which gave her a range of 7,400 km at 10 knots.
Although Hood had a very well designed internal protection system, designed to explode large caliber projectiles before they could reach vital internal parts, the horizontal protection was of an inadequate thickness to support projectiles fired at great distances. However, the vertical protection was better, with a 305mm thick inclined armoured belt that incorporated an anti-torpedo bulge along the entire length of the ship made up of tubes 2.40 meters long and 25 cm in diameter, combined in two compartments, one outer empty and an inner full of water-tight crushing tubes in order to distribute the force of an explosion. Behind the bulge was also a 38mm thick bulkhead torpedo.
The armoured belt was made of face-hardened Krupp cemented armor (KC) and consisted of 3 joined sections, of different thickness and located at different heights that extended the length of the hull without reaching the fore and aft ends. The main belt was located on the waterline and had a maximum thickness of 305 mm, above it was an intermediate belt with a maximum thickness of 178 mm, and above this was the upper belt, with a maximum thickness of 127 mm. It should be noted that the three belts decreased in thickness as they approached the ends of the ship, with minimum thicknesses of 152, 127 and 102mm respectively.
The conning tower had a maximum armour of 279mm and that of the gun turrets was up to 381mm in the face. The main deck reached 76mm thick on the magazines, like the lower deck, which had the same thickness on the propeller shafts, decreasing considerably in elsewhere. In summary, the thickness of the main decks ranged from 19 to 76mm. In 1919, after some tests, it was found that the magazines were very vulnerable to 381mm armour-piercing shells fired from long distance (about 22 km), but a proposal to reinforce the horizontal protection over them was rejected.
HMS Hood‘s main artillery consisted of eight 381/42mm BL Mk.I guns mounted in twin turrets on Mk.II mounts. These guns could fire at an elevation angle of between -5º and + 30º, higher than other previous guns. The guns were operated by a hydraulic system and the maximum range was about 27,600 meters for the 870 kg high-explosive (HE) projectile. Each barrel weighed 96 tons, (without the breech), and the useful life was around 335 full charge firings. These guns had two types of projectiles, the “4 crh” (HE) of 870 kg with a muzzle velocity of 749 m/s and the “4 AP crh” (AP), of 878 kg and a muzzle velocity of 802 m/s.
The rest of the original armament consisted of a secondary battery of twelve 140/50mm BL Mk.I guns installed on shielded single-pivot mounts that fired 37 kg projectiles at a maximum distance of 16 km, four 102mm QF Mk.V AA guns on single mounts and six fixed 533 mm torpedo tubes, three on each side. Two of these tubes were installed submerged forward of the magazine of the “A” gun turret (the most forward), while the other four were installed above the water behind the rear funnel. These tubes launched Mk.IV torpedoes with a 234 kg TNT warhead and a range of 12.3 km at 25 knots or 4.6 km at 40 knots.
In June 1938 HMS Hood had eight 102mm Mk.V guns and ten 140mm Mk.I guns, but in August 1939, all 102mm guns and two 140mm guns were removed, being replaced by four twin 102mm Mk.XVI guns. In April 1940 all the remaining 140mm guns were removed and three more twin 102mm Mk.XVI guns were added. Between 1929 and 1931, two octuple 40mm QF Mk.VIII “pom-pom” gun mounts and a catapult were added, but the catapult was dismantled a few months later. She increased the fuel capacity to 4,615 tons and in 1937 another 40mm “pom-pom” octuple mount was added and the two submerged torpedo tubes were dismantled. Finally between 1933 and 1937 four quadruple mountings for the Vickers 12.7 mm Mk.III machine gun were installed. In May 1940, with all the modifications made, the deep load displacement was 48,360 tons, much more than what was specified in the original design.
The ship was equipped from the beginning with two fire-control directors, one equipped with a 9.1 meter rangefinder and the other with a 4.6 meter rangefinder. In addition, each gun turret had a 9.1 meter rangefinder and the secondary artillery also had two fire-control directors with rangefinders. The AA guns were controlled by a single rangefinder and the torpedoes had three control towers with one rangefinder each. Of course, secondary and AA armament changed markedly during her career, as did her equipment to control them.
HMS Hood entered service on May 15, 1920 and was designated as the flagship of the Battle Cruiser Squadron. From this moment, she became the most prestigious ship in the Royal Navy, without even having carried out a single mission. In January 1935 she was accidentally rammed by the HMS Renown battlecruiser, causing slight damage and in August she participated in the King George V’s Silver Jubilee celebrations (on the image). During the Spanish Civil War she was patrolling the Cantabrian and Mediterranean Sea as part of the Non-Intervention Committee’s control forces where she had some incidents with Spanish Nationalist ships.
In 1941, the HMS Hood had planned to go into dry dock to receive a deep and necessary modernization, but the outbreak of WWII in September 1939, prevented this “rest” and the ship continued with its missions. The ship was sent to patrol the North Atlantic and to protect convoys and at the end of September 1939 she was attacked by German bombers that damaged her with a 250 kg bomb that caused light damage. Between April and June 1940, she was receiving repairs on her machinery, but on June 18 she was sent to Gibraltar to join Force H to go to Mers-el-Kébir (Oran), where a good part of the French combat fleet was located. The Royal Navy had given France an ultimatum to deposit its ships in British hands, or to intern them in a neutral port and thus avoid its use by Germany after having occupied France.
On July 3, 1940, after failing negotiations with France, HMS Hood together with the HMS Resolution and HMS Valiant battleships, the HMS Ark Royal aircraft carrier, two light cruisers and eleven destroyers began the attack on the naval base of Mers-el-Kébir. During the British attack, the French battleship Dunkerque was sunk and a good number of French ships were seriously damaged, killing almost 1,300 French servicemen. The HMS Hood received slight damage from French fire, but the operation can be considered a success because a good part of the French fleet was immobilized and the British only lost one aircraft with its two crew members.
In October and December 1940, HMS Hood went out to intercept the German Admiral Scheer and Admiral Hipper ships respectively, without being able to find them. In mid-March 1941 she again went out to meet the German Scharnhorst and Gneisenau battleships, but once again, the search for her was unsuccessful. In May, fearing that the mighty German Bismarck battleship could reach the Atlantic, and put the vital convoys heading towards England in serious trouble, the Admiralty sent different naval groups to intercept it. On May 23 the Bismarck was discovered by two British cruisers, and the next day the Battle of the Denmark Strait took place.
On May 24, the group consisting of the HMS Hood, the HMS Prince of Wales battleship and six destroyers arrived to engage the German group, consisting of the Bismarck battleship and the Prinz Eugen heavy cruiser. The heavy cruisers HMS Norfolk and HMS Suffolk joined the area, the latter in permanent radar contact with the Bismarck, keeping it located almost at all times. At 05:35 the HMS Prince of Wales saw the German ships, which in turn had detected the British through their hydrophones, and at 05:37 the British attack began. HMS Hood opened fire at 05:52 on the leading cruiser Prinz Eugen, believed to be the Bismarck. HMS Prince of Wales was already attacking Bismarck and HMS Hood joined it a few minutes later, releasing Prinz Eugen.
Although the British superiority was apparent, the HMS Prince of Wales had an inexperienced crew and was not at 100% of its combat capacity, leaving its forward gun turret useless after the first salvo. Also the two British heavy cruisers were not close enough from Bismarck to use their main guns and the German tactical situation was much better than the British one. Despite the fact that HMS Prince of Wales hit Bismarck, causing light damage, the British disaster was near. At 05:55 the German ships began firing at HMS Hood and at 06:00 a certain salvo from the Bismarck hit it squarely in the amidships, causing a huge explosion and a “giant blowtorch”, on words of several witnesses. The HMS Hood literally split in two, first sinking the stern part and shortly after the bow, ending the ship that was the pride of the Royal Navy.
HMS Hood sank within three minutes of being hit, so there was hardly time to rescue anyone. There were only 3 survivors of the 1,418 crew on board. The sinking turned into a national disaster, but unfortunately HMS Hood was hit at the weakest point of all. It is almost certain that she was hit by a 381mm shell in a 102mm magazine, and this fire spread to the 381mm magazines, producing the huge explosion that destroyed the stern. This explosion ignited the starboard fuel tanks, whose fire reached the forward magazines, completing the disaster. HMS Hood was unlucky enough not to receive the necessary modernization in 1941, but regarding “bad luck” in combat, everyone in the Royal Navy was aware that protection in the most dangerous part of the ship, in the event of an impact, was never sufficiently protected, and finally, it was there where the end began, as a cruel lesson taught by fate.

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