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 Warrior 1860 - Iron Hull Form and Admirals Day Cabin
HMS Warrior is considered to be, an important milestone, in terms of the development of modern warships - as Warrior featured the iron of the then-to-be future, whilst retaining her Victorian roots:
Warrior's iron hull form, was designed to repel the cannon balls, of an enemy fleet. This was achieved, through the concept of an armoured citadel - as Warrior's thirty-eight 68-pounder guns/cannons, were protected behind an 'iron wall', that was 4.5 inches thick. This meant, that Warrior could engage, enemy ships of the line (who at this time, featured: wooden hull forms, and usually 32-pounder guns/cannons), without fear of her own armoured belt, being penetrated. This gave the Royal Navy, an undeniable advantage, when it came to naval conflict - as warships would sit in a line, firing at each other, and the warships made of wood, would sink first! In any case, Warrior retained the Admiral's Day/Night Cabin (at her stern), as was installed on HMS Victory (though Warrior's, was on a less grander scale). This featured: decorated windows, with golden patterns in the wood/iron, bordered with white - to reflect the rank of the most important officer on the warship, the Admiral (or Captain).
HMS Warrior was not-so-unique, in terms of her sails and rigging - as she was a fully rigged, ship of the line (like HMS Victory), that could harness the power of the wind:
Warrior's sails were used to push her through, the World's oceans and seas (but could also augment the power of her steam engine). Whilst only five sails are illustrated here, we shall use them to define the sails and masts, of a fully rigged ship. From bow to stern, bottom to top: i) Jib. This was rigged, between the Bowsprit and the Foremast. ii) Fore Topsail. This was at the level of the Fore Topmast (above the Fore Lowermast). iii) Fore Royal Sail. This was at the level of the Fore Royal Mast (above the Fore Topgallant Mast). iv) Main Topgallant Sail. This was at the level of the Main Topgallant Mast (above the Main Topmast). v) Spanker. This was attached with two spars, to the Mizzen Lowermast (the aftermost lowest mast). Warrior's rigging, was used primarily, to hold both her masts and sails in place (called standing rigging and running rigging, respectively) - but also had secondary functions, such as: making adjustments to the sails (to capture more/less wind), and for gaining access to, various higher-level mast platforms (as used by her lookouts). Her rigging, involved the use of ropes and blocks (containing one or more pulleys) - whose operation, was an art in itself!
HMS Warrior is considered to be 'one of the first' true ironclads (if not indeed the first) - as she was equipped with a hull form, that was made entirely of iron:
Warrior's hull form, made use of iron, both internally (such as in her bulkheads and frames) and externally (such as in her 4.5 inch thick belt armour). For 1860, this was a marvellous achievement - as all preceding warships, had only ever been constructed, with wooden hull forms (including their bulkheads, frames and armour). Despite this, Warrior still needed to be based upon the warships of the past (such as HMS Victory) - so Warrior's hull from, was essentially a wooden design, that was constructed in iron! As such, it was expected that her manoeuvrability, would be similar to that of previous ships of the line - so she retained their clipper bow (which improved her sea keeping).
HMS Warrior is considered to be 'rather unique' as a warship - as she was equipped with both sails, and a steam engine (that was fuelled by coal):
This meant that she could navigate the oceans of the World, using one of three modes: i) just her sails. ii) just her steam engine. iii) both her sails and her steam engine - when speed was of the essence! Her sails, though retained from the days of HMS Victory (1803), also meant that Warrior had a useful fallback, in the event that she run out of coal. Despite this, her steam engine was connected to a single propeller, which could be regarded as the grandfather of all modern ship propellers (because it was of a simpler design - with only two blades). In any case, Warrior's propeller was designed, to push her 9000 tons, through the sea lanes of the British Empire.
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.