All About Guns War

Why Did HMS Hood Explode? (Uh because it got within range of a real monster called Bismarck?)

2 replies on “Why Did HMS Hood Explode? (Uh because it got within range of a real monster called Bismarck?)”

The HMS Hood was not technically a battleship, but a battle cruiser. In other words, a vessel which was similar in armament, size and displaced tonnage to a battleship, but which lacked the armor protection of a true battleship.

The design of capital ships inherently involves tradeoffs, and in particular due to the Washington Naval Treaty restrictions, the signatories to that agreement had to make them in order to comply. Britain’s Royal Navy was no exception.

The fate of the HMS Hood was unfortunate and dreadfully bad luck for the men aboard her, but given the circumstances, not entirely unpredictable. Plunging fire of the kind which blew her up is very difficult to defend against, and even fully-armored ships sometimes succumb to the sort of fate she experienced.

The 15-inch guns of Bismarck (38cm or 14.96″) delivered an 800-kg projectile, which in pounds translates to ~ 1763 lbs. Even thickly-armored targets would find that tough to withstand, especially if armor-piercing capped.

Although she was destroyed by aerial bombs and not large-caliber naval gunfire, the fate of the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor was roughly similar. The fateful blow was struck by an armor-piercing 797-kg AP bomb, in fact a converted 16.1-inch shell, which piercing her armored deck and exploded the powder magazines near forward turret No. 2 – igniting a catastrophic explosion which broke the back of the ship, effectively destroying her.

Hood was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, and on the wrong end of some highly-accurate and skilled naval gunfire. Her aging design simply sealed her fate that much more.

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