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HMS Hood (51)

From Academic Kids

Career RN Ensign
Ordered: 7 April 1916
Laid down: 1 September 1916
Launched: 22 August 1918
Commissioned: 15 May 1920
Fate: Sunk by German battleship Bismarck on 24 May 1941
Struck:
General Characteristics
Displacement: 1918: 45,200 tons full load; 1940: 48,360 tons full load
Length: 860 ft 7 in (262.3 m)
Beam: 104 ft 2 in (31.7 m)
Draught: 33 ft 1 in (10.1 m)
Propulsion: 24 Yarrow small tube boilers; 4 Brown-Curtiss Geared oil fired turbines, 4 shafts, 3-bladed propellers - 15 ft. diameter; SHP: Designed - 144,000 shp (107 MW); 1920 trials: 151,200 shp
Speed: 1920: 31 knots (57 km/h); 1941: 29 knots
Range: 1931: 5332 nautical miles @ 20 knots
Complement: 1921: 1169; 1941: 1418
Armament (1939): 8 x 15 in (381 mm) (4x2), 12 x 5.5 in (140 mm) (12x1), 8 x 4 in (102 mm) (4x2), 24 x 2 pounder (1.5 inch, 907 g) (3x8), 20 x 0.5 in (12.7 mm) (5x4) guns; 4 x 21 in torpedo tubes, above water
Armament (1941, as sunk): 8 x 15 in (381 mm) (4x2), (no 5.5 in, all removed 1940), 14 x 4 in (102 mm) (7x2), 24 x 2 pounder (1.5 inch, 907 g) (3x8), 20 x 0.5 in (12.7 mm) (5x4) guns; 5 x 20 barrel Unrotated Projectile mounts; 4 x 21 in torpedo tubes, above water
Aircraft: 1 fitted from 1931 1932, 1 catapult
Motto: Ventis Secundis (Latin: "With the Winds Favourable")

HMS Hood (pennant number 51) was a battlecruiser of the Royal Navy. She was one of four Admiral-class battlecruisers ordered in mid-1916 under the Emergency War Programme, but her sisters were never completed, and Hood was Britain's last battlecruiser. She was named after the 18th century Admiral Samuel Hood.

Construction of Hood began at the John Brown & Company shipyards in Clydebank, Scotland, on 1 September 1916. Following the loss of three British battlecruisers at the Battle of Jutland, 5,000 tons of extra armour and bracing was added to Hood's design. The intention behind this change was to give her protection against 15 inch guns, such as her own - in theory moving her to the status of a true battleship. This has led to some describing her as the first fast battleship. To add to confusion, Royal Navy documents of the period often describe any battleship with a speed of over 24 (or so) knots (44 km/h) as a battlecruiser, regardless of the amount of protective armour.

However, the re-working was hurried and flawed. Only the forward cordite magazines were moved below the shell rooms—cordite explosions destroyed the RN battlecruisers lost at Jutland. The combination of the deck and side armour did not provide continuous protection against shells arriving at all angles. Most seriously, the deck protection was flawed—spread over three decks, it was designed to explode an incoming shell and then absorb the damage. The development of effective time delay shells at the end of World War I made this scheme worse than useless. In addition she was grossly overweight compared to her original design, making her a wet ship with a highly stressed structure. It was seriously suggested that she should be scrapped before she was launched - the post war economy drive made replacing her impossible, however.

Construction on her sister ships Anson, Howe, and Rodney was stopped in March 1917, but work continued on Hood. Two factors were at work regarding this decision. Firstly, the German ships that the class were a response to were never completed. Secondly, the flaws in her protection and design were apparent - the repeated redesigns of the sister ships did not solve them. Instead, a series of studies leading to the N3 and G3 battleship and battlecruiser designs was started.

She was launched on August 22, 1918 by the widow of Admiral Sir Horace Hood, a Jutland casualty and distant relative of the famous Lord Hood for whom the ship was named. After fitting out and trials, she was commissioned on May 15, 1920 under Captain Wilfred Tomkinson and became flagship of the British Atlantic Fleet's Battle Cruiser Squadron. She had cost £6,025,000 to build.

In the inter-war years she was the largest warship in the world at a time when the British public felt a close affinity with the Royal Navy. Her name and general characteristics were familiar to most of the public, and she was popularly known as the Mighty Hood. Because of her fame, she spent a great deal of time on cruises and "flying the flag" visits to other countries. In particular she took part in a world-wide cruise between November 1923 and September 1924 in company with Repulse and several smaller ships. This was known as the Cruise of the Special Service Squadron and it was estimated that 750,000 people visited Hood during that cruise. In 1931 her crew took part in the Invergordon Mutiny.

She was given a major refit from 17 May 1929 to 16 June 1930, and was due to be modernised in 1941 to bring her up to a standard similar to other modernised World War I-era capital ships. The outbreak of war made it impossible to remove her from frontline service, and so she never received the scheduled update.

Hood was transferred to the Mediterranean Fleet in July 1936. In June 1939, she joined the Home Fleet's Battle Cruiser Squadron at Scapa Flow; when war broke out later that year, she was employed principally in patrolling the vicinity of Iceland and the Faroes to protect convoys and intercept German raiders attempting to break out into the Atlantic. In September 1939, she was hit by a 500-lb. bomb with minor damage. As the flagship of Force H, she took part in the destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir in July 1940. In August, she rejoined the Battle Cruiser Squadron and resumed patrolling against German raiders. From 13 January to 18 March 1941, she underwent a refit at Rosyth.

During the Battle of the Denmark Strait on 24 May 1941, she was hit by a shell fired by the German battleship Bismarck which caused the catastrophic explosion of her aft magazines. Of the 1,418 aboard, only three men (Ted Briggs, Bob Tilburn and Bill Dundas) survived, and were rescued by HMS Electra.

The exact cause of her loss was never ascertained. The Royal Navy's war-time Board of Inquiry concluded that her loss was:

due to a hit from BISMARCK's 15-inch [381 mm] shell in or adjacent to HOOD's 4-inch or 15-inch [102 or 381 mm] magazines, causing them all to explode and wreck the after part of the ship

but no determination was made as to exactly how such a shell penetrated Hood's armour to reach the magazines. A recent lengthy technical analysis has confirmed that conclusion, and also discovered several paths by which a lucky hit might have reached the magazines. Interestingly, it reveals that the much-maligned deck armour was almost certainly not a factor.

The dramatic loss of such a well-known symbol of British naval power had a great effect on many people; some later remembered the news as the most shocking of World War II.

The wreck of Hood was discovered in 3,000 metres of water in July 2001 by an expedition funded by UK-based Channel Four Television and ITN, and led by shipwreck hunter David Mearns. In 2002 the United Kingdom government designated the site a war grave.

Contents

See also

  • See HMS Hood for other ships of this name.

Further reading

  • Ernle Bradford, The Mighty Hood (World, Cleveland, 1959) An overall history, including her peace-time career.
  • Alan Coles, Ted Briggs, Flagship Hood: The Fate of Britain's Mightiest Warship (Robert Hale, 1985) Ted Briggs was one of the three survivors of Hood's loss.
  • Maurice P. Northcott, Hood: Design and Construction (Bivouac, London, 1975) A shorter work giving technical details of her construction.
  • John Roberts, Anatomy of the Ship: The Battlecruiser Hood (Conway Maritime, London, 1989) A lengthy work giving great detail on her construction.
  • Paul J. Kemp, Bismarck and Hood: Great Naval Adversaries (Arms and Armor Press, London, 1991), Includes pictures of the Hood, and description of the Battle off Iceland.
  • David Mearns, Rob White, Hood and Bismarck: The Deep Sea Discovery of an Epic Battle (Channel 4, London, 2001) Describes the expedition to find the wreck of the Hood, as well as its current state.
  • HMS Electra, includes accounts of the survivor rescur effort.
  • Siegfried Breyer, Battleships and Battlecruisers 1905-1970 (Doubleday and Company; Garden City, New York, 1973) (originally published in German as Schlachtschiffe und Schlachtkreuzer 1905-1970, J.F. Lehmanns, Verlag, Munchen, 1970). Contains various line drawings of the ship as designed, as built, in her final (as sunk) configuration, and the proposed 1941 refit.

References

  • Report on the Loss of H.M.S. Hood (http://www.hmshood.org.uk/reference/official/adm116/adm116-4351_intro.html) (Admiralty record ADM116-4351, London, 1941)
  • Steve Wiper, Warship Pictorial #20: H.M.S. Hood (Classic Warships Publishing, Tucson, Arizona, 2003), Contains pictures of the Hood during contrruction, including pictures of the launching.
  • William J. Jurens, The Loss of HMS Hood: A Re-Examination (http://www.warship.org/no21987.htm) (originally published in Warship International No. 2, 1987) A modern technical analysis of Hood's loss.

External links

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