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HMS Hood (Battlecruiser, 1920-1941)

ole timer Sep 16, 2014

  1. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

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    HMS Hood (Battlecruiser, 1920-1941)
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    HMS Hood, a 42,100-ton battlecruiser built at Clydebank, Scotland, was completed in March 1920. For more than two decades, she was the World's largest warship and, with her long, low hull and finely balanced silhouette, was to many the embodiment of "big-gun" era seapower. During her travels in European waters and far away, Hood actively represented Great Britain throughout her career. Her first cruise, in 1920, was to Scandanavia. The next year she went down to Gibraltar and Spain and in 1922 visited Brazil and the West Indies. After a brief call on Denmark and Norway in 1923, Hood was flagship on a eleven-month cruise around the World, accompanied by the smaller battlecruiser Repulse and a number of light cruisers. In 1925, she called on Lisbon to help commemorate Portugal's contributions to navigation and exploration.

    For ten years after 1925, Hood was assigned to the Royal Navy's Home and Atlantic Fleets, operating primarily around Europe, with a visit to the West Indies in 1932. She served with the Mediterranean Fleet in 1936-39, protecting British interests during the Spanish Civil War. Back with the Home Fleet after mid-1939, Hood operated in the North Atlantic and North Sea through the first part of World War II and received minor damage in a German air attack on 26 September 1939, an event that demonstrated the relative ineffectiveness of contemporary anti-aircraft gunfire. In June and July 1940, the battlecruiser was in the Mediterranean area. She was flagship during the 3 July Mers-el-Kebir battle, the most dramatic and destructive of several incidents in which the British Navy seized, interned, destroyed or attempted to destroy the warships of their recent ally, France. These acts were undertaken on Government orders to allay fears that the French Navy might fall into German hands.

    Hood spent the remainder of her service operating from Scapa Flow, covering the North Sea and Atlantic from the threat of German surface raiders. She was now elderly, overloaded, and burdened with an inadequate armoring arrangement. However, her great operational value had acted through the 1930s to prevent the Royal Navy from taking her out of service for a badly-needed modernization, and now it was too late. In May 1941, in company with the new battleship Prince of Wales, she was sent out to search for the German battleship Bismarck, which had left Norway for the Atlantic. On the morning of 24 May, the two British capital ships found the enemy to the west of Iceland. In the resulting Battle of the Denmark Strait, one or more of Bismarck's fifteen-inch shells got into Hood's after magazines. They erupted in a massive explosion. The great ship sank in moments with all but three of her large crew, an event that shocked the Royal Navy, the British nation and the entire World. HMS Hood's remains were located and photographed by a British deep sea expedition in July 2001.
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  2. ole timer

    ole timer Forum Owner Forum Owner

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    HMS Hood

    HMS Hood was the pride of the Royal Navy. HMS Hood was a massively armed battlecruiser with what was thought to be armour equal to her armaments. To all intents, HMS Hood was considered to be one of the most powerful battlecruisers afloat in World War Two.
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    HMS Hood was 44,600 tons, had a crew of 1,419 and was faster than the Bismarck with a maximum speed of 32 knots. The Hood had been launched in 1918 and was armed with 8 x 15 inch guns, 12 x 5.5 inch guns, 8 x 4 inch AA guns, 24 x 2 pound guns and 4 x 21 inch torpedoes.

    However, the Hood suffered from one major flaw – she did not have the same amount of armour as the Bismarck. The fact that the Hood was faster than the Bismarck by 3 knots was as a result of her lack of sufficient armour for a naval battle fought in World War Two. What had been considered sufficient armour in 1918 when Hood was built, was to prove a fatal flaw in 1941.

    On May 24th, 1941, the Royal Navy tailed the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen when they attempted to break out into the Atlantic. If both of these ships had got into the Atlantic, they could have created havoc amongst the Atlantic convoys that were vital to Britain. The Hood relied on information sent back to it by the cruisers Norfolk and Suffolk. The Bismarck and Prinz Eugen had night time and sea fog on their side and for a while both cruisers lost both German ships.

    However, by 02.47 on May 24th, the Suffolk had regained contact with the Bismarck. The information sent back by the Suffolk led the Hood to believe that she would be just 20 miles from the Bismarck at 05.30 on May 24th. At 05.35, the lookout from the Hood made out the Prinz Eugen and the Bismarck at a distance of 17 miles.

    Admiral Holland, on the Hood ordered the battlecruiser to turn to the German ships and at 05.45 they were only 22,000 metres apart. At 05.52, the ‘Hood’ opened fire and shortly afterwards was joined by the ‘Prince of Wales’. At 05.54, both the Prinz Eugen and the Bismarck fired their guns primarily against the ‘Hood’.

    The Prinz Eugen hit the Hood and set alight some anti-aircraft shells kept on deck. The fire this caused was not particularly dangerous for the ‘Hood’ even though it produced a great deal of smoke. At 06.00 a salvo from the Bismarck hit the Hood. The Bismarck had fired from 17,000 metres and the elevation of her guns meant that the shells that hit the ‘Hood’ had a high trajectory and a steep angle of descent. The Hood had minimal horizontal armour and one of the shells from the Bismarck penetrated the Hood’s deck and exploded in one of her magazines. A massive explosion tore the ‘Hood’ in half. Those who saw the explosion said that the bows of the ‘Hood’ were raised out of the sea before they sank. The ship sank extremely quickly - within two minutes - and 1,416 men out of a total crew of 1,419 died.