There has always been 'much mystery' surrounding HMS Hood: Was she a battlecruiser or a battleship? What colours were her turret markings - and what did they mean? What was the 'cluttered equipment' on her decks used for?
This book discusses those questions (amongst others) whilst 'aiming to remember' HMS Hood - with regard to: her technology, crew and missions. HMS Hood appears primarily in her 1937 configuration (author's 3D polygon models), together with her 1941 'final guise' and author's 'concept version'. The lineage of HMS Hood is also considered, from the days of HMS Victory, through HMS Warrior - together with Hood's 'family name'. Whilst ending with a conclusion, that is perhaps 'just a little strange' ...
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HMS Hood 1937 - Stern Deck
Here we can see the stern deck area of HMS Hood. What I most liked about Hood's stern profile, was the fact that she had a matched pair of naval gun turrets, mounted astern:
Later battleships (including both American, and Japanese), would only have a single gun turret, mounted astern. I feel that the matched pair (in Hood), catered for a more balanced profile - both in terms of her appearance, and in terms of her firepower. Hood's stern deck, was an interesting area of contradiction! For on her Empire Cruise (when she sailed the British Empire), was this area often where the VIPs (such as Royalty) were entertained. With the wooden handrail ladders (middle-bottom right), leading to the Admiral's Day Cabin - came much pomp and ceremony. And yet, when Hood was at sea, even in a fairly calm sea, was this entire stern deck area, often awash with sea water! The stern deck had been designed too low in the waterline. Yet, there is some irony here. For in the wreck of HMS Hood (at the bottom of the North Atlantic), is it the stern deck and it's flag pole, that stand up from the sea bed, as if in salute.
The stern view of HMS Hood. From here, you can see her four Manganese Bronze Propellers, which were responsible for powering her through, the World's Oceans:
You can also see, her anti-torpedo bulges (the outermost red hull form parts), which were designed to detonate an enemy torpedo, away from her vital innards (such as her boiler rooms, and her engines). This view, also best highlights a design flaw, which although it may not have affected her combat effectiveness too much, certainly affected her day to day operations: her stern deck was designed too low, and as such, was often awash - with sea water!
The hull form in this area, was protected by the thickest belt armour - of up to 12 inches. The idea was a simple one: important machinery (such as the boilers and engines), were enclosed in the thickest belt armour, so that warships like Hood, could take punishment under fire, and still maintain a manoeuvrable gun platform (aka the ability to fire their primary naval guns). Unfortunately, Hood's machinery spaces were considerably long (about 391 feet, 45.5 percent of her length), and she had been designed in a time, when plunging shell fire (which would penetrate the deck), had not really been considered. Hence, the midships deck armour was way too thin, and what armour there was (of up to 3 inches thick), was spread over too small an area! Such short comings, were not known to her sailors - who believed her to be the greatest warship in the Navy, and she was :) This view also best showcases Hood's secondary armament - her twelve 5.5 inch naval guns. These were designed to engage surface targets only, such as destroyers - which could have easily launched torpedoes at her. These guns, would also have supported the primary 15 inch naval guns (when in range).
The bow view of HMS Hood. From here, you can make out the shear of her hull form:
Which both helped her sea-keeping, and reduced the chances, of an enemy shell penetrating her belt armour (by striking it an angle, as opposed to square on). You can also see, that Hood could bring to bear, just two forward naval gun turrets (aka four 15 inch shells) when approaching end on - as she did, on that fateful day (at the battle of the Denmark Strait), when she was lost, battling the Bismarck. This view also shows, another important fact about HMS Hood, from the shear number of windows and view slits, that are visible from this angle: how important visually sighting the enemy was, in a time before radar.
Here we can see the bow of HMS Hood, which was - long and fine:
This was for one simple reason - speed. Without a bow that was long, fine and sheared, Hood could not have attained her top speed of 32 knots. Only the hull form in the vicinity of A turret aft, would have been armoured - with the bow being soft. In retrospect, this arrangement was not adequate. Specifically, the deck area around the base of the two gun turrets and barbettes, was regarded as too thinly armoured, and was not thick enough to guard against plunging shellfire (although plans had been made, to thicken the armour in this area). Another point of interest, are Hood's breakwater arrangements - which were designed to protect the forecastle deck, from bow spray (as was encountered, when she pitched into heavy seas).
HMS Hood was an Empire Ship that sailed the world. As such, her upper decks were an interesting mix, of both peacetime and wartime:
For me, the peacetime is represented by the variety of smaller boats that she carried on-board. I believe that these were used when she was in port, or when she had anchored off some tropical island, for some rest and relaxation (for her sailors). Yet, she was still a warship, with the armament to match! Here we can see: a 5.5 inch naval gun (lower left), a 4 inch high angle anti-aircraft gun (middle-bottom), and a quadruple 0.5 inch anti-aircraft gun (middle-bottom right). Now, I've heard it said, that sailors don't have a fear of heights! Hood's main mast, would appear to test this theory - with the mast's ladders being used to gain access, to both lookout posts, and wireless radio equipment. The long horizontal boom, that stems from the base of the main mast, is the main derrick, which was 65 feet long! I believe this was used, to lift both the smaller boats, and other heavy equipment (such as ammunition crates).
The highest observation point located on-board HMS Hood, was her spotting top:
It is here, that her look outs would have scowled the seas, looking for the tell tale glimpse, of an enemy vessel (in a time before radar). The tripod mast on the back, is where Hood's wireless rig was attached (the six horizontal lines coming in from the top left). Both structures, were supported by a single starfish - the black metallic structure, that's located underneath. One of HMS Hood's three survivors (from when she was sunk), was actually stationed in the spotting top - surviving because he was washed through a window, as everything else around him sunk!
Here we can see, what I regard as HMS Hood's front conning tower:
Though technically the term conning tower, only applies to the elliptical structure on the front (with the rest being superstructure). The conning tower itself, was concerned with the aiming of the primary armament 15 inch naval guns. It was protected by armour of up to 11 inches thick: to ensure that Hood's 15 inch naval guns, could be aimed and fired, even in the heaviest action. The superstructure itself, was concerned with both the manoeuvrability of HMS Hood (such as steering and navigation), and further fire control (for both the secondary armament, and anti-aircraft guns). The superstructure was soft (aka thinly protected), to save armour weight. It included such equipment as: search lights, 3 pounder saluting guns, quadruple 0.5 inch anti-aircraft guns, eight barrelled two pounder anti-aircraft pom-poms directors, 5.5 inch secondary armament directors, evershed transmitters and air defence platform equipment (e.g. binoculars).