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HMS Hood 1942 Large Repair

EwenS

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The tendency of the RN to treat its battlecruisers as battleships to give it 15 capital ships was understandable in these circumstances.

The inter-war Naval Treaties did not draw a distinction between battleships and battlecruisers. They referred to "capital ships". The 1922 Washington Treaty named the capital ships each nation could retain. For Britain that included 4 battlecruisers - Tiger, Renown, Repulse and Hood. Under the 1930 London Treaty Tiger, along with 3 of the Iron Dukes were to be scrapped with the fourth, Iron Duke, converted to a training ship. The ships on the lists were each navy's most modern at the time.

 

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The G3 ships were refered to in the run up to Washington as "Super Hoods".
 

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Does anyone know what the displacement of this modernized HMS Hood would have been at full load?
 

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It's been mentioned several times that Hood had a fairly finely balanced weight and stability margin. Structural considerations, top-weight and freeboard aft (particularly at the step in the quarterdeck around X-turret) were going to be quite ticklish issues to navigate for any reconstruction. I've read that there was unresolved differences of opinion about how to overcome these problems, in particular, the controller and DNC were at odds about the extension of the deck around X-turret to make it less wet in a seaway. As regards weight, new propulsion machinery and a redistribution of top-weight due to the almost complete reconstruction of the ship above the main deck would likely lead to significant savings, but these would have to be ploughed back in through the addition of more deck armour, AA armament and torpedo protection measures. Notwithstanding my general lack of expertise on the subject of naval architecture, i'd hazard a guess and say that She still comes out heavier, but not by as much as it might seem. Happy to be constructively corrected on this score btw :)
 

Dilandu

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She still comes out heavier, but not by as much as it might seem

Well, if the speed drop to 28 knots is allowed, they could just add bulges to compensate.

Essentially, what "Hood" need refitted most?

* Secondaries and AA armament - completely replaced with at least 6-8 DP mounts and 2-4 octuple Pom-Pom's

* Deck armor strenghtened - at least 100 mm over vitals.

* HACS and radar fire control installed.
 

EwenS

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Everything revolves around the machinery and what you want the life of the ship to be post reconstruction. In 1939:-

Existing turbines were reckoned to be good until 1950 but needed some work in 1942 to allow them to last until then.
Boilers needed retubed/replaced by early 1942. Retubing was estimated to take as long as replacement but didn’t involve opening up the ship in the same way.

It is only by addressing the machinery issues that you free up weight to put into extra armour, DP armament etc. And that is the bit that increases the reconstruction time from about 18 months to 3 years.
 

Dilandu

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It is only by addressing the machinery issues that you free up weight to put into extra armour, DP armament etc. And that is the bit that increases the reconstruction time from about 18 months to 3 years.

Well, the bulges could be added to increase displacement without rebuilding the machinery. The speed would drop, of course.
 

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I think any reconstruction would have been a tricky job to plan well given the constraints offered by the hull.
The quarterdeck wetness and topweight issues were certainly two big problems, but so was the provision of adequate DP armament. Fitting 5.25in mounts seems almost impossible without re-arranging some internal spaces and the trunks would need to puncture the strength deck and that could have caused other hull strength problems (shades of HMS London's reconstruction). Ship's generally gained weight during the war and none of the 1938-39 weight estimates cover later war additions (splinter protection, extensive wiring, extra generators, degaussing gear, radars, light AA, additional crew accomodation etc.) that would have been likely in practice.

Even the 1939 plans are a wish list and in truth they probably had another 12-18 months to do more detailed studies to have the plans ready for the dockyard before she was docked in 1942. That was fine in peacetime but there probably wasn't the time to seriously consider her rebuilding carefully enough and with the serious attrition and shortage of ships in 1941-42 (as I point out in more depth here) its doubtful that she would have been given more than a refit to keep her going. The reconstruction programme effectively stopped in 1939 and all effort thereafter was completing those jobs in hand, new construction and repair & refit work.

Even if Hood had emerged from a modest reboilering and refit after 18 months (i.e. mid-1944) there might not have been much for her to do except sail up and down the Norwegian Sea in case Tirpitz came out or serve as a floating AA battery for the Pacific Fleet in 1945.
 

EwenS

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I agree with you on the extent of the likely refit. But given the expected state of her machinery by late 1941/early 1942, I think it would have started in first half of 1942 so I can see her being back in service by late 1943. Of course it depends on the priority allocated to her amongst the multitude of priorities.

In terms of deployment, her presence in home waters would have allowed a third KGV to begin refit in early 1944 and so appear in the Pacific a bit earlier, not that that would make a lot of difference overall.

I don't see Hood as being fit for the Pacific in 1945 without yet another refit which is really not likely. Having her in home waters does mean that a newly refitted Renown doesn't have to be pulled back to UK in March 1945. It also maybe allows something to be done with Rodney in 1944/45.

But by late 1943 the RN problem is manpower. To find a crew for her means something else to reserve. Malaya completely decommissioned? Ramilles? Maybe even Rodney by late 1944 given her state.
 

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The RN wasn't afraid of full scale ship reconstructions before WW2. First in 1936 then in 38 plans were made to modernize the Nelson class battleships. Some plans included the replacement of the entire interior inclined belt with an external one, replacement of all secondary and AA guns with 5,25" ones (one plan proposed 4,5" ones) and another plan intended to rebuilt the entire tower bridge similar that was installed on HMS Warspite which then was used as a prototype for the KGV and Lion bridge structures.
Usual boiler refurbishment and electrical overhaul but the 1938 plans even provided with new engines increasing the shp to 70.000shp
These plans later re-risen during the war in 1943 when these ships needed serious overhaul, this time even US DP-AA guns considered (5"/38 Mark 12 or 5"/54 Mark 16 guns)
 

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She still comes out heavier, but not by as much as it might seem

Well, if the speed drop to 28 knots is allowed, they could just add bulges to compensate.

Essentially, what "Hood" need refitted most?

* Secondaries and AA armament - completely replaced with at least 6-8 DP mounts and 2-4 octuple Pom-Pom's

* Deck armor strenghtened - at least 100 mm over vitals.

* HACS and radar fire control installed.
Echoing EwenS's post and notwithstanding the necessity of all of the things you've mentioned, I would have thought new propulsion machinery would have been the outstanding item at the top of that list. Think about it; despite several short periods in dock (including a 6-month stint in Portsmouth in the first half of '39) by '41 she hadn't had a major refit/reconstruction in the better part of a decade and had been in near constant service throughout the interbellum. Her boilers and turbines were tired and badly in need of replacement. By the time she was sunk she'd weathered further hard service, participating in several significant operations including Mers el Kibir, during which she stripped a turbine chasing down the Strasbourg.

My read on refit priorities/outcomes:

1. New propulsion machinery (reboilering - at a minimum - if not wholesale replacement with machinery intended for Vanguard or one of the Lion-Class)
2. Armour (reconfigured belt arrangements + up to 5" deck armour over vitals - in two layers if necessary). Alterations/additions to bulges/torpedo defence scheme as time/budget allows.
3/4. Armament: improved main battery aka Vanguard + new DP secondaries (like Hood i think 4.5" is more realistic) and close-range AA enabled by modern Main Battery Directors/rangefinders, HACS (MkVI) and radar
4. Rebuilt superstructure: (In an ideal world) new forward superstructure/bridge aka KGV-Class, reworked aft superstructure/foc'sle deck (mitigating issues with low freeboard around X-Turret) Aircraft carriage/launching of low priority, amidships arrangements/funnels/boat deck more akin to Vanguard.

OR...

Acknowledging that minimum work to get the ship back sooner is more likely once war is underway: rebuilt forward superstructure/foremast to minimum level necessary to enable armour changes and carriage of new directors/radars, new amidships superstructure/funnels over engine spaces + enabling structures for DP secondaries and AA, rear superstructure additions/alterations as necessary to fix wet quarter deck and accommodate old spotting tops Director/rangefinder as 'secondary'.
 

T. A. Gardner

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I you look at all the major--and minor-- refits the RN did to battleships between the wars you'll find the results were very much hit and miss. In some cases like, Royal Oak, Renown, or Queen Elizabeth these were substantial and improved the ships considerably. In others, they were marginal doing little to really increase fighting power. This is largely because the British government really didn't have the money between the wars to make across the board major improvements to their existing ships.

The result is that Hood's big refit would have depended heavily on what could be financed rather than what was really needed. Would it have helped? Definitely. Any upgrades would have been better than none. It would have helped with the machinery situation and ship's operability too. As to what gets done? That depends on how liberally the government is willing to finance the refit.
 

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If Hood survives to be refitted she almost certainly goes to the Pacific in 1945 and probably operates in tandem with Vanguard postwar. She can easily operate with the RN carrier forces as well as overpower any potential Soviet raider (which is the reason the KGVs were kept until the late '50s).
 

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.... By the time she was sunk she'd weathered further hard service, participating in several significant operations including Mers el Kibir, during which she stripped a turbine chasing down the Strasbourg.

...

The basis for the claim that Hood stripped a turbine chasing Strasbourg is pretty sketchy. It wasn't mentioned in the ships log or in the post-action reports prepared at the time, and the ship carried on in frontline service for about another six months before it was apparently repaired.
All the sources I have found on this claim are either unsourced, or else trace back to a brief comment made in an article in Ships Monthly in the early 1980s.
If anyone can find a more authoritative source I would be interested in hearing it.

Regards

David
 

Dilandu

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If Hood survives to be refitted she almost certainly goes to the Pacific in 1945 and probably operates in tandem with Vanguard postwar. She can easily operate with the RN carrier forces as well as overpower any potential Soviet raider (which is the reason the KGVs were kept until the late '50s).

The great irony was, that USSR never ever considered surface raiders...
 

T. A. Gardner

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If Hood survives to be refitted she almost certainly goes to the Pacific in 1945 and probably operates in tandem with Vanguard postwar. She can easily operate with the RN carrier forces as well as overpower any potential Soviet raider (which is the reason the KGVs were kept until the late '50s).
I don't see that. More likely once the war ends, Hood is retired and scrapped within a few years. Vanguard was kept in service more as a royal yacht than active battleship. For much of her postwar service, Vanguard didn't even carry main gun ammunition. The ship was just a prestige symbol rather than a serious warship.
 

Dilandu

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I don't see that. More likely once the war ends, Hood is retired and scrapped within a few years. Vanguard was kept in service more as a royal yacht than active battleship. For much of her postwar service, Vanguard didn't even carry main gun ammunition. The ship was just a prestige symbol rather than a serious warship.
Agreed, it just not practical to maintain 40+ year old battlecruiser in commission after war, considering that UK struggled to maintain much more modern and capable ships.
 

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If Hood survives to be refitted she almost certainly goes to the Pacific in 1945 and probably operates in tandem with Vanguard postwar. She can easily operate with the RN carrier forces as well as overpower any potential Soviet raider (which is the reason the KGVs were kept until the late '50s).

The great irony was, that USSR never ever considered surface raiders...
What about the Project X / Project 22 Large Cruisers? Or even Ansaldo's big cruiser design?
 

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As R. A. Burt's book shows the most expensive stuff in proposed 1938 modernization was the Machinery: 1.625.000 pounds
 

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If Hood survives to be refitted she almost certainly goes to the Pacific in 1945 and probably operates in tandem with Vanguard postwar. She can easily operate with the RN carrier forces as well as overpower any potential Soviet raider (which is the reason the KGVs were kept until the late '50s).

The great irony was, that USSR never ever considered surface raiders...
Correct me if I am wrong - I thought raiding was one of the secondary missions of the Sverdlov-class cruisers.
 

EwenS

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I you look at all the major--and minor-- refits the RN did to battleships between the wars you'll find the results were very much hit and miss. In some cases like, Royal Oak, Renown, or Queen Elizabeth these were substantial and improved the ships considerably. In others, they were marginal doing little to really increase fighting power. This is largely because the British government really didn't have the money between the wars to make across the board major improvements to their existing ships.

The result is that Hood's big refit would have depended heavily on what could be financed rather than what was really needed. Would it have helped? Definitely. Any upgrades would have been better than none. It would have helped with the machinery situation and ship's operability too. As to what gets done? That depends on how liberally the government is willing to finance the refit.
Hit and miss is a rather harsh view of the BB modernisation programme in the RN. It hides both progression and policy changes along the way.

Burt in British Battleships 1919-1945, breaks things down into 2 phases (which perhaps ought to be 3). Phase 1 begins in the 1920s with the fitting of bulges and improvements to AA armament over WW1. It ends in late 1933/early 1934 with Barham.

The next phase begins in 1933/34 with Repulse, Malaya and Warspite being given what the Admiralty referred to as “large repairs”. Warspite’s large repair became a more extensive reconstruction because when the opened her up they found her machinery was in such a bad state that it needed replaced. As that needed done anyway they took to opportunity to carry out further improvements. That seems to be evidenced by her new machinery being ordered very late in the day compared with subsequent ships. So in some ways you could say Warspite just got lucky at that stage in her life. And her machinery layout was different from that subsequently used in Valiant & QE. But she was in hand too early for some of the other Phase 3 changes like the DP armament.

By that stage it had already been decided that the R class would begin to be scrapped from 1940 with the last going in 1942. So why spend a lot of money on them? Quite why so much should have been spent on Royal Oak I’m not clear about. Perhaps it was simply the fact that she was the first due for the next round of refits to the class and could be expected to be the ship lasting longest into 1942.

Then we have what I see as phase 3. On 12 June 1934 the Admiralty sets up a committee on the “Modernisation of Existing Capital Ships”. While a Warspite fell under its remit as more extensive works were needed than originally planned, Renown, Valiant and QE are the true product of that process with new machinery and a new previously unavailable DP armament being specified. Hood, Nelson and Rodney were all intended to follow and would have but for the outbreak of war.

Money was an issue until the mid-1930s but so was the overall strategic view of the RN in the world. After 1930 it has only 15 capital ships. It was nervous of having more than 3 at a time under long term reconstruction at any one time, especially after the Abyssinian crisis of 1935 when war against Italy in the Med seemed increasingly likely. (In 1934-36 there were 4 in long term refit/reconstruction, Repulse, Warspite, Malaya and Royal Oak. That reduced to 3 for the next round and for the planned but not executed subsequent round).

The RN is often compared unfavourably with the USN in terms of modernisations in the 1920s and 1930s. But there are a couple of major differences.

Firstly the USN had acquired a lot of machinery in the run up to the Washington Treaty of 1922 for capital ships that were cancelled under the Treaty. It had spent that money and the best use of it was to modernise many of its older BB. The RN was not in the same position. The ships the RN lost under Washington had only just been ordered with no progress having been made on construction.

Secondly increasing the elevation of the main armament. The RN ships had turrets with 20 degree elevation except for Hood at 30 degrees. This was more than adequate for the shorter ranges that the RN expected to fight at.

The USN was coming from behind. Except for the Big Five of the Tennessee and Colorado classes at 30 degrees, all their BB were 15 degree ships in 1922 and were already capable of being outranged by both Britain and Japan. So for them doing something at that point was more important. So they leapfrogged the RN and went to 30 degrees as standard.

By 1934 the RN looked at what was happening overseas and at the availability of better director systems and realised gun actions may well take place at ranges beyond that which it had planned to fight at, and realised it needed to play catch up. So that too then became part of the modernisation plan.

As to who spent the most inter war on capital ship modernisation I’ve seen arguments that Britain either spent less, equalled or even outspent the USN. Pure cash doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story when wage rates and working practices were different in each country. Maybe some day someone will produce a complete analysis.
 

Dilandu

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Correct me if I am wrong - I thought raiding was one of the secondary missions of the Sverdlov-class cruisers.
Never ever. Soviet fleet never put any interest into surface raiding. The closest thing to surface raiding Sverdlovs were supposed to do, is to sortie against enemy convoy - but only within he range of coastal aviation. Sending them to ocean to hunt cargo ships were considered as an utter waste of resources.
 

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D. K. Brown was not entirely convinced that all the reconstructions were worth the cost, but he does say that they gave good value for money.
He gives costs as:
Warspite refit & bulging: £195,000
Barham: £424,000
Malaya: £976,000
Repulse: £1.3mil
Warspite: £2.36mil
QE & Valiant: no costs found but Brown estimates cost between Warspite and Renown
Renown: £3.08mil
Nelson & Rodney: the planned deeper belt and extended lower deck armour was estimated at £330,000, plus costs for new DP armament and presumably boilers or turbines
New Ship: around £7mil

Brown suggests it was worth it, certainly all four reconstructions were highly prized by the C-in-C's and were heavily used.
Warspite at Calabria hit Cesare at 26,000yd and fully vindicated her increased elevation and improved fire-control.
On the other hand, Warspite's additional deck armour was not tested against the two 250kg SAP bombs that hit her off Crete and of course no amount of armour would have saved her from the FX1400 off Salerno.
Renown damaged Gneisenau but as Brown points out, the opening range was 19,000yds and well within the limits of unmodernised turrets. Brown suggests Renown might have been more reliable at high-speed with her newer turbines but that this would not have saved her had she taken Repulse's place with Force Z.
The reconstructions had better sub-division in the engine spaces but were still inferior to the alternating layout in the KGVs (Warspite's FX1400 hit took out all six boilers).

Goodall referred to Renown and Valiant as 'junk' in 1945 and hated spending any additional refit resources on them, they simply were manpower and material hogs by that stage of the war and we can deduce from this that the reconstructions did not make them equal to new-construction KGVs/Vanguard in fighting value and they were wearing out fast.

Given the relatively few times RN capital ships met their opponents in direct battles, Hood was probably very unlucky. The wrong ship at the right time.
Aerial attack caused damage but really it was underwater attack that was the main crippling blow; Royal Oak was the best of the R's and had bulges but was sunk, Barham was sunk (and her magazines went up for good measure), Repulse and Prince of Wales; a new ship with bulkheads theoretically able to withstand 1,000lb warheads but lucky hits on the propeller shafts caused so much damage that the ship was overwhelmed and the TDS was too shallow (fixed in Vanguard). To that list we must add the reconstructed QE and Valiant which were thankfully in shallow water after the Italian human torpedo attack in Alexandria.
So reconstructed or not, or even a brand-new ship was equally at risk from any serious underwater damage.

Edit: sorry got carried away with the Gneisenau, meant to say engaged.
 
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Gneisenau was sunk as a blockship at Gotenhafen on 27 March 1945. Raised and scrapped in 1951.

Admiral Scheer was bombed and capsized in Kiel on 9 April 1945. Postwar she was partially scrapped in situ and the remainder buried in rubble when the docks were filled in.
 

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Sharnhorst then ? it was sunk in 1943 trying to wreck a Murmansk convoy...
 

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Duke of York helped sink Scharnhorst. Being hit by dozens of torpedoes from assorted destroyers and cruisers was also unhelpful to Scharnhorst remaining afloat. Very few survivors.
 
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Dilandu

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On 9th April 1940 off Norway and in very heavy weather, Renown engaged both Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and succeeded in hitting the latter with a single 15” shell and a couple of 4.5”. But she came nowhere near sinking either of them.
Yep, I knew that, but its far from "sinking".
 

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I have a feeling that there is some fairly detailed information regarding Hoods proposed 'modernisation' in British Battleships of World War Two by Alan Raven and John Roberts, unfortunately LONG out of print now. I used to have a copy, but now no-more.
There is also some information in there regarding the proposed refits for Nelson and Rodney, but I think these are much less detailed as the proposals for them were still being discussed.
The attached is from Siegfied Breyers Battleships and Battlecruisers 1905-1970....Again I used to have a copy but it fell apart due to excessive use!
I did thankfully, manage to scan the whole book to PDF before it finally met its demise.
 

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T. A. Gardner

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I have a feeling that there is some fairly detailed information regarding Hoods proposed 'modernisation' in British Battleships of World War Two by Alan Raven and John Roberts, unfortunately LONG out of print now. I used to have a copy, but now no-more.
There is also some information in there regarding the proposed refits for Nelson and Rodney, but I think these are much less detailed as the proposals for them were still being discussed.
The attached is from Siegfied Breyers Battleships and Battlecruisers 1905-1970....Again I used to have a copy but it fell apart due to excessive use!
I did thankfully, manage to scan the whole book to PDF before it finally met its demise.
I have a copy so when I get time I'll look. I also have several monographs on the Hood that include proposed refits in them.
 

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Raven and Robert's British Battleships of World War Two has the following to say about the modernisation of Hood.
In December 1938, it was proposed to reconstruct Hood on the following lines:

1. Provide new main and auxiliary machinery.

2. Replace the 5.5-inch and 4-inch gun armament by eight 5.25-inch gun mountings.

3. Increase the close-range armament to six pom-pom mountings, and remove all 0.5-inch machine-gun mountings.

4. Fit a cross-deck catapult DIIIH, aircraft and hangars arranged similar to that of the King George V class.

5. Remove the above-water torpedo tubes.

6. Remove the conning tower and reconstruct the bridges.

7. Remove the crushing tubes from the bulge protection and fit out buoyancy spaces as oil-fuel tanks

8. Rearrange the protection by removing the upper 5-inch belt, and improving the 2-inch splinter protection on the lower deck and either (a) extend the 12-inch armour belt to the upper-deck, increasing the thickness of the upper-deck to 2.5-inches over the machinery and 4-inches over the magazines, or; (b) leave the 12-inch and 7-inch belts as they were, and increase the thickness of the main-deck to 4-inches over the machinery and 5-inches over the magazines.

9. Modifying the shape of the upper bulge to improve stability.


In 1939, Hood's machinery was twenty years old and showing signs of wear. She needed reboilering and her turbines needed reblading. The likelihood of her being able to steam at high speed for any length of time - as would be required in war - was considered remote. Her displacement was too high, her stability too low and her horizontal protection needed strengthening. At a meeting of Sea Lords in March 1939, the First Sea Lord said: "If this ship is to last another fifteen years, which is probable, it is evident that the vessel will have to be laid up for large machinery repairs and it will be a matter of eternal regret afterwards that the big thing [complete reconstruction] was not done". The First Sea Lord then said that he would initiate action to have Hood taken in hand after Queen Elizabeth, for complete reconstruction including new machinery.
 

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On 9th April 1940 off Norway and in very heavy weather, Renown engaged both Scharnhorst and Gneisenau and succeeded in hitting the latter with a single 15” shell and a couple of 4.5”. But she came nowhere near sinking either of them.
Yep, I knew that, but its far from "sinking".
Sorry got carried away and typed the wrong word! Edited my original post.
Scharnhorst of course got in her own very longe range hit on Glorious during the same campaign. Naval combat is never simple and conditions played a large part in long-range gunnery in the early part of the war, certainly increasing elevation for the reconstructions was worth it.
 
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