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  1. FIND ALL OUR DAILY THREADS HERE GENERAL March 5th 1920 - HMS Hood - Admiral-class - Commissioned 1927 - MN Lamotte-Picquet - Duguay-Trouin-class - Commissioned 1937 - HMS Newcastle - Southampton-class - Commissioned 1939 - HMS Prince of Wales - King George V-class - Launched 1942 - HMS Stalker - Attacker-class - Launched 1942 - USS Hamlin - Bogue-class - Launched 1945 - USS Cape Gloucester - Commencement Bay-class - Commissioned 1946 - USS Manchester - Cleveland-class - Launched Allied Warships Laid Down – 30 Launched – 38 Commissioned - 34 Axis Warships Nothing of note 1920 Here in the 21st century more than 70 years after her destruction and almost 100 years after she was conceived and built we don’t think of the HMS Hood as “Mighty”. She is a footnote. The largest and in some ways most tragic of the ultimate capital ship folly that was the battlecruiser. In a brief few lines today I’ll say a little about her design and how it came about and leave the detailed discussion of her life to people who will do it justice like the H.M.S. Hood Association. As 1916 opened and Admiral of the Grand Fleet Sir John Jellicoe was asked “What ships does the Fleet need?” His answer was clear. . . Battlecruisers. Jellicoe had been a member of the committee that conceived HMS Dreadnought and HMS Invincible little more than ten years before. He now had more than a year of modern naval war experience with those same ships and the larger, faster, and more powerful, super-dreadnoughts that came down the ways after them, He was concerned that the Invincible and Indefatigables were too slow and too weak to go up against the expected next classes of German battlecruisers like SMS Hindenburg and SMS Mackensen. The existing German battlecruisers had proved to be tough and opponents and Naval Intelligence’s estimate was that these new ships would hit 30 knots and carry 15.2” guns (an overestimate as they were 28 knot ships as designed but carried much more armor than the British knew). Jellicoe and Admiral Beatty, the commander of the battlecruiser forces, both had little good to say about the Renown class ships then building (which JeeWeeJ covered yesterday) thinking six guns too few for good shooting and a narrow belt 6” of armor far too little to protect a capital ship. They did like her speed however and wanted the new ships to equal or exceed it. Beatty regarded HMS Glorious and her sisters as “freak” ships and wanted nothing to do with them and their 3” armor and only four heavy guns. The only thing liked about them for future ships was the shallow draft. Battleships of the day drew over 30 feet of water and given their length presented nearly a half an acre of target area to torpedoes. Reducing that target by having relatively shallow draft was desired. Jellicoe communicated that he was using the Queen Elizabeth class ships as a “fast wing” to make up for the lack of both firepower and staying power of the older battlecruisers but that their margin of speed over the battleships was insufficient for them to be really effectively tactically as a fast wing. So the 1916 requirements for new battlecruisers shape up as: Speed equal to Renown at 32 knots Minimum of eight heavy guns, expected to be 15”/42 as in Queen Elizabeth Shallow draft to limit torpedo target area Armor thicker and more extensive than Renown The Director of Naval Construction put forth a number of designs and it was settled to build a class of four 36,000 ton, 32 knot ships with 8 x 15” guns and 8” armor. The hull form was to be somewhat novel with a distinct outward angle to the hull side and therefore the side armor rather than the more vertical sides normally seen. This would make for a drier ship at high speed and enhance the protective value of the hull armor especially against plunging fire. The first ship of the new class, HMS Hood, was laid down on May 31, 1916, the same day as the Battle of Jutland. This is date listed in the ship’s Cover but it is not supported by shipyard documents. This date makes for a better story but John Brown shipyard lists September 1st as the laying down date. The reason we are talking about her today is March 5th is listed as the Commission date in some sources. But this was for trials and she is not fully Commissioned and accepted from the builders until May 15th, 1920. Very quickly after the battle the design was recast to correct the perceived faults that may have contributed to the loss of the three battlecruisers. The shallow draft requirement was relaxed and several thousand tons more armor worked in to the design. The Queen Elizabeth class ship had withstood punishment that cripple or sank the battlecruisers so this became the standard. No shell is to be able to pass through less that 9” of armor on its way to her vital areas. This is because no intact shell penetration of armor thicker than 9” was seen by the British. This makes Hood into a 32 knot Queen Elizabeth in all but name. Hood mid-section armor layout 1/600 scale models of Hood and Warspite for size comparison . Comparison of a few dimensions between the two ships: Hood versus Warspite Length 860 feet versus 640 feet Beam 104 feet versus 90 feet Draught 32 feet versus 30.5 feet Deep Displacement 47,430 tons versus 33,410 tons Hood emerges from the shipyard after the redesign as the largest and fastest warship in the world. She remains uniquely the biggest and the fastest for nearly all her life. She has equals in gun power, the eight 16” guns of the Nagato or the various American battleships with twelve 14” guns but she is by far the fastest ship and has armor the equal of the Nagato as built. Showing how the additional armor lowered freeboard aft She is an improvement on British battleships in gunnery even though fitted with the same eight 15” guns as two other classes of ships. 30 foot range finders, the largest up till that time, are installed. 30° elevation on the main guns adds over 7,000 yards to her firing range Reconfigured turret openings allowed the superfiring turrets to fire directly ahead and astern for the first time in British practice Improvements enhance the rate of fire by a third She is dubbed “The Might Hood”. And people love her. She is powerful and graceful all at once and nearly a century later people are still fascinated by her. Doing the research I fell a little in love with her all over again. There is an H.M.S. Hood Association and their web page contains so much more information than I could possibly put into a short article. http://www.hmshood.com/ Information I gathered from print sources primarily came from: “Battlecruisers” by John Roberts And “British Battleships 1919-1945” by R.A. Burt (the revised edition) The biggest warship of her day deserves some big pictures so I found a few. In Burt’s book he is at pains to point out that all main drawings in the book are to a constant scale, all except Hood whose likeness is too large to fit the format and so the scale has to be reduced. Language? Thanks for listening.
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