First it would probably be a good idea to compare Hood to her contemporaries in the Royal Navy (1941)
all figures quoted are as they would have been at the time of the Battle of the Denmark strait
why deck armour? as shells are fired gravity causes them to drop, to counter this guns were fired at higher elavations for longer range, this means that shells would come down almost vertically, hitting the ships decks square on
Displacement (metric ton): 47,430
Length (m): 262
Speed (knots): 28
Arnament: 8 15 inch guns mounted in 4 x2 gun turrets
Deck Armour at thickest point (mm): 76mm
in some places the Hoods deck armour was only 19mm, totally inadequate, some sources state that an explosion from one of Hoods own Pom Pom batteries could have penetrated the deck armour
HMS KING GEORGE V
Displacement (metric ton): 42,200
Length (m): 227
Speed (knots): 28
Arnament: 10x 14 inch guns mounted in 2 x4 gun & 1x2 gun turrets
Deck Armour at thickest point (mm): 136
Displacement (metric ton): 41,910
Length (m): 220
Speed (knots): 24
Arnament: 9x 16 inch guns mounted in 3 x3 gun turrets
Deck Armour at thickest point (mm): 171
It is quite clear that by 1940 the Hood did not really excell in any field, and infact had many weaknesses, she was not particularly fast, she was not the most well armed and crucially she had very thin decks
Earlier I mentioned admiralty mismangement and complacency, some of you may disagree but there is one piece of evidence you should all look at
HMS Hood was sent with HMS Prince of Wales (KGV class) to hunt the Bismarck, on paper thats quite a combination they would have been able to hold their own agaisnt the Bismarck and Eugen, the RN force was also accompanied by 2 cruisers. Unfortunatly the admiralty in their blood lust had forgotten that the PoW was not yet fully complete and there were still civilian technicians aboard, and the Hood was also struggling herself being unable to reach her top speed which was one of her strengths. To make matters worse there was a serious design flaw in the KGV class, the quadruple 14 inch turrets. (see below)
The PoW encountered heavy seas and the forward quadruple turret of the PoW flooded/jammed (sources vary) for a time, leaving only the rear quadruple turret and the forward 2 gun turret operational, this limited the PoW's firepower rendering it almost useless (only two guns on the forward operational), she was a new ship and there were still some mechanical glitches leading to even more trouble with her guns, the high seas splashed over her decks and obscured the range finders on her forward 4 gun turret making aiming difficult.
The placing of so many guns in one turret meant that any malfunction in the turret would lead to the ship losing a significant amount of its firepower
About 10 minutes into the batlle the Hood was hit and sunk by a single shell which went through the thin deck and hit her magazine causing a large explosion ripping her in two. The Hood took less 3 minutes to sink and only 3 of her crewmen survived. The Hood had preformed sub par, especially for a ship of her size, but in reality its all that could have been expected, she was basically just a giant cruiser not a battleship, there was nothing the crew could have done which would have changed the outcome, unless the PoW had hadall her guns fully functioning, and there had not been an error in target identification as to which ship was the Bismarck. The Hood was designed to operate within a fleet, not within a small taskforce.
The loss of the Hood was a tragic and preventable loss of life, however there were some successes for the RN that day, shots from the PoW damaged the Bismarcks fuel tanks causing her to call off commerce raiding and try and head for home, the Bismarck was no longer a threat to the Atlantic convoys. Shortly aftert this one PoW's 4 gun turrets jammed so she had to disengage, she also suffered problems with her rangefinders due to the sea spray obscuring them.
Despite the well known weaknesses in both ships (one not actually being fully completed, and the other due for a refit) the admiralty decided to club them both together to fight to very well prepared German vessels, I think Churchill's gung-ho attitude may have influenced the Admiralty's decision as it had, and would do on many other occassions, often with a high loss of life.
The admiralty had their hands tied, they had to act, but they did not have to engage the Bismarck and Eugen, they could have shadowed it until force H arrived, which is what happened anyway.
The original battle plan would have worked, it accomodated the Hoods weakness by having her move up at night unoticed closer to the Bismarck where plunging shells would not be a problem, but poor weather meant that Bismarcks position was lost for a time and threw the battle plan in dissarray.
Why was HMS Hood ever the 'pride of the Royal Navy' in the first place?
looks and her size, to put it simply, the Hood looked pretty and in peacetime thats all that mattered
her guns were ok, and so to was armour (in everywhere but the decks)
The Hood was well suited for destroying smaller ships so would have made a good convoy escort
Hood like the empire that built her was built on bluff
the loss of the Hood is one of a number of occasions where the British fell victim to their own propaganda (attitudes to the Japanese being another)
I would write more, and do some references by the English Channel stands between me and my books!
here is part 2 of the map shown above for any of you who do not know about what happened after the Hood sank
Edited by fdsdh1, 14 December 2012 - 05:34 AM.