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HMS Hood 1942 Large Repair

T. A. Gardner

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I would say, depending on the extent of the rebuild, anywhere from 12 to 24 months.
 

fishpond

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You might want to know that the Admiralty did plan to build more Vanguards, using twin 15s from the R class, which were to have been scrapped, having been subject to only the most minimal improvements in the 1930s. In 1939-40 the Admiralty was much concerned over the possibility that the Japanese were building new battleships (but hadn't the slightest idea of what was involved), and it saw the Vanguards as the least painful way of augmenting the fleet in the East. For a time, for example, there was hope (in the Admiralty) that Australia would pay for or operate Vanguard herself. This was 1940-41, and you can find a hint of Australian interest in a battleship in the Australian official history. Of course nothing came of either the Australian fantasy or of junking Rs to get more Vanguards, because by the time that might have happened there were rather more urgent concerns.

On Hood, she was considered the first true fast battleship, and as such revolutionary, although some might see much the same thing in the German battlecruisers. What happened to her was extraordinary, as it appears that the fatal shell hit roughly lengthwise, where she -- and the QEs and Rs -- was poorly protected. It also seems to have had a rather long fuze delay, which was why it exploded in just the wrong place. After the action, there was an emergency analysis of the vulnerability of existing British ships, pointing up the transverse vulnerability of the QEs and Rs -- I do not remember for sure whether that also applied to the Nelsons.

On Australia, I doubt anyone in 1921-22 would have accepted that the Commonwealth was not integral with the British. I think there was even a legal link which made that clear. Nor were the Australians likely to have paid up to operate something that expensive. They found it difficult to finance their post-WW I navy for quite some time, despite their fear of the Japanese.

It surprises me that no one pointed out that, had work continued on the three other Hoods, they would have been in much the same position as the Lexingtons in 1921 -- incomplete, expensive, proceeding slowly. Wouldn't the RN have tried converting two of them into carriers, given the carrier clause of the Washington Treaty? And wouldn't that have afforded the RN the experience of running really large carriers like those the USN and the IJN used to learn what big carriers could do? They would have been a whole lot more survivable than Courageous and Glorious.
 

Dilandu

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Of course nothing came of either the Australian fantasy or of junking Rs to get more Vanguards, because by the time that might have happened there were rather more urgent concerns.
Mostly because Vanguard didn't work well as proof of concept. The whole idea was, that by using guns, turrets and (partially, at least) armor from old R-class, Vanguards could be build much faster than from scratches.

Unfortunately, RN officials failed to anticipate labor shortages, resource drain on more immediate needs and inability to free the R-class battleships from Indian Ocean. Also, the revisions of the design to accomodate wartime experience severly affected her construction.

So essentially, while AS WARSHIP, Vanguard was a sucsess, as a CONCEPT of "wartime mobilization battleship" she was a total failure.
 

Tzoli

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Also note that the Admirality thought in replacement classes since Pre WW1. The KGV's were considered as replacements to the QE's Lions as the Revenges and a new class might had been the Nelson replacements but not the Vanguard as stated it was a mobilization BB. I do not know how the Renowns and Hood were to be replaced.
 

EwenS

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I would say, depending on the extent of the rebuild, anywhere from 12 to 24 months.
In 1939 the full up reconstruction (new machinery) was expected by the Admiralty to take 3 years starting around the beginning of 1942. The reduced version probably 18 months.
 

EwenS

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Also note that the Admirality thought in replacement classes since Pre WW1. The KGV's were considered as replacements to the QE's Lions as the Revenges and a new class might had been the Nelson replacements but not the Vanguard as stated it was a mobilization BB. I do not know how the Renowns and Hood were to be replaced.
From as early as 1931 the Admiralty planned to replace the R class before the QEs. The initial plan was as follows in terms of scrapping the old ships:-
1940 - 2 R
1941 - 2 R
1942 - 1 R & 1 QE
1943 - 2 QE
1944 - 1 QE & Repulse
1945 - 1 QE & Renown
1946 - Hood
1947 - Rodney
1948 - Nelson

An alternative plan had one ship scrapped each year from 1940 starting with the Rs, with the last QE in 1949. Then Renown & Repulse in 1950/51, Hood in 1952 and the Nelrods in 1953/54.

The alternative plan would only have worked if more ships had been given major reconstructions. For example Repulse’s engines were expected to last until 1943/4. They were not replaced in her 1934/36 “large repair”.

After modernisation the lives of the various ships were expected to be

Warspite - 9 years (to 1946)
Valiant - 6 years (to 1945/46)
QE - 7 years (to 1946/47)
Renown - 8 years (1948)

A full reconstruction of Hood between 1942 and 1945 was expected to see her life extended by about 10 years, otherwise she would only last until 1948-50.

The Admiralty plan in 1935 (never formally approved but generally worked to as far as possible in the late 1930s) called for the following BB to be part of the Buliding Programmes each year from 1936-1944:- 2,3,2,3,2,2,2,1,1. The long term aim was to achieve a strength of 20 capital ships.

The actual orders and plans were:
1936 2xKGV
1937 3xKGV
1938 2xLion
1939 2xLion
1940 2xLion (“firm proposals”) + 1x new 15” gunned battleship (which became Vanguard)

Then war broke out and everything changes so we have no idea what might have happened beyond the Lions.

Any 15” BB beyond Vanguard were pure speculation, and certainly didn’t have the support of Sir Stanley Goodall, the Director of Naval Construction, who considered them extravagant for the armament carried. The estimated time saving in 1939 from recycling the 15” turrets was also not that great- 36 months for a Vanguard v 42 for a 16” gunned Lion.
 

Archibald

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"Battleship (turrets) recycling" - only the British could invent such things. Turning R-class into Vanguards to get more, good battleships faster.

5 R-class with 4 turrets each is 20 turrets.
While it would be logical to build 5 Vanguards with 4 turrets each;
- one should note that, had the RN been desperate to get one more battleship hull in the water, they could also build 6 ships:
- 4*3-turrets, 12 turrets (= Renown BC, 6 guns)
- 2*4-turrets, 8 turrets (= Vanguard, 8 guns)

Hell of an idea, on paper at least. In practice... didn't worked well, as brilliantly explained above.

Imagine if the USN had done that with the Colorado class !
 
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Dilandu

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The estimated time saving in 1939 from recycling the 15” turrets was also not that great- 36 months for a Vanguard v 42 for a 16” gunned Lion.

It should be noted, that while turrets taken from light battlecruisers required extensive rebuilds - like replacing their relatively thin armor plates - turrets, taken from R-class battleships required only limited refit (like increasing the max angle).
 

Hood

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Recycling old turrets still had the drawback of the magazine layout with the cordite propellants above the shell rooms and the turrets in 'B' and 'X' position needed extensive work to extend the trunks.
The faces were thickened to 13in and 6in NC on the roof, elevation increased to 30 degrees and remote power control fitted. Stiffer supports to allow the use of super-charge charges were also included (though these were never actually issued to Vanguard).
So it wasn't a case of just bunging in the turrets, they needed quite extensive work. But the results for Vanguard saw her obtain a theoretical max engagement range of 36,500yds.
 
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JFC Fuller

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As previously discussed, Vanguard was a means of getting round a specific industrial bottleneck in the form of a limited number of available turret erecting pits in the UK in the late 1930s. She is interesting from a Hood perspective as she would have been an ideal partner for that ship once she had been reconstructed, Director of Tactical Division pointed this out, similar speeds and virtually identical armament.

Whether any more Vanguards would have been built is, as @EwenS points out, pure speculation. She was controversial, but on the other hand the potential was there as other ships were decommissioned. The debates from the time about her are interesting as there was serious cost benefit analysis against various heavy cruisers designs and her design process shows a desire for greater speed than had thus far been pursued in the KGVs and Lions. "RN battleship development if war hadn't broken out in 1939" might be an interesting thread for the alternative history section of the forum.

As for Hood's reconstruction, it was obviously seriously considered and I suspect it would have happened but with the way RN new construction was going, especially if they had sustained 2-3 ships per year as (the 1940 programme suggests this), the impetus for further reconstructions would have declined. The 1940 programme would have taken new-generation RN construction (inc. in various stages of construction and planning) to 12 battleships, a number that could have increased to 16 or even 18 through 1941 and 1942 programmes. The decider would have been perceptions of how many battleships the RN needed available.

With regard to a potential wartime refit/modernisation of Hood, had she survived the Denmark straight and any subsequent actions: Friedman notes that an Admiralty Fire Control Table (AFCT) Mk.VII was ordered for Hood and installation of an AFCT would take six months. This particular section of his British Battleships book is a little confusing but my interpretation is that an AFTC for her would not have been available until at least March 1943 and would take six months to install but it provides a potential window for additional modifications, though I suspect they would have been limited to light AA and radars with compensating weight reduction, e.g. removal of the armoured con, as in Nelson.
 
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EwenS

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The estimated time saving in 1939 from recycling the 15” turrets was also not that great- 36 months for a Vanguard v 42 for a 16” gunned Lion.

It should be noted, that while turrets taken from light battlecruisers required extensive rebuilds - like replacing their relatively thin armor plates - turrets, taken from R-class battleships required only limited refit (like increasing the max angle).
"Battleship (turrets) recycling" - only the British could invent such things. Turning R-class into Vanguards to get more, good battleships faster.

5 R-class with 4 turrets each is 20 turrets.
While it would be logical to build 5 Vanguards with 4 turrets each;
- one should note that, had the RN been desperate to get one more battleship hull in the water, they could also build 6 ships:
- 4*3-turrets, 12 turrets (= Renown BC, 6 guns)
- 2*4-turrets, 8 turrets (= Vanguard, 8 guns)

Hell of an idea, on paper at least. In practice... didn't worked well, as brilliantly explained above.

Imagine if the USN had done that with the Colorado class !
In 1939 there are another 4 15” turrets around. From WW1 era monitors Terror & Erebus. Also the turret training ship Marshall Soult (turret went to the new monitor Roberts in 1941). The final turret was in storage, having been built as one of the pair for Furious as an alternative to the 18” mounts (it went to the new monitor Abercrombie in 1942).
 

fishpond

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Turret recycling was because the British had dismantled too much industrial infrastructure due to the combination of the Washington Treaty and drastic cuts in defense spending in the 1920s. When you read the DNC 'private office' papers (ADM 229) you are struck by the consequences of the elimination of several turret-building pits. Hence the perceived impossibility of building LIONs fast enough, and the VANGUARD project. The USN had no such problems because its turrets were built at a government facility, the Washington Navy Yard; facilities had not been destroyed interwar. I have always suspected that the existence of the Navy Yards, which did not suffer too badly between wars, explains how quickly the USN was able to rebuild. Remember that it, too, lost a lot of yard capacity when naval shipbuilding was cut dramatically. Before that Cramps was the biggest US warship yard; it shut down in, I think, 1928 (a major liner renovation project helped kill it).

In a few cases judgements by DNC have been cited. You have to remember who made decisions; he was an advisor to the Board of Admiralty, which ultimately had decision-making power. Also feeding into the Board was the Naval Staff, which set requirements. A major weakness of the system was that the staff officers who fed in seem not to have had much technical expertise, hence could advocate what in retrospect were totally unrealistic choices. Because D.K. Brown was in the Royal Naval Construction Corps, and because he much admired Goodall, he cites Goodall's opinions (he used Goodall's diary, which is in the British Library, extensively). But he had little interest in staff discussions; you don't get references to PRO material in Kew. I wouldn't bet on Goodall when it comes to weapon choices. That was someone else's field. From a research point of view, you get a skewed view unless you go to both the DNC material (Covers, mainly) and the PRO (Board and naval staff). Even then there are blanks because papers are missing, either not yet surfaced or gone permanently.

This thread brings up something else, which is quite sad. British documents often refer to sketches produced by DNC, e.g. for Board review. For example, papers about rebuilding HOOD mention alternatives and drawings, generally by number. It appears that very nearly NONE of these sketches have survived, which is why all the discussions of how HOOD might have been rebuilt are inherently conjectural. That also applies to a lot of other designs of considerable interest, such as several wartime cruiser designs. In a good world perhaps a collection of such sketches will surface one day, but one has to fear that they have all been destroyed.

There may be another source for some designs. During World War II many ships were subject to wind tunnel experiments to find out, for example, whether their bridges would be habitable. Some of the reports survive, e.g. one on the abortive plan to rebuild HMS NELSON in the United States. There is also a report on alternative bridge arrangements for VANGUARD. The photos from these reports ought to be in the file of the National Physical Laboratory (which is huge, and probably nearly impossible to search). I don't know when this practice started, and it may have begun only in 1944, but one can certainly hope... Postwar there are a few sketches in Covers, but not many.
 

David Chessum

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Also note that the Admirality thought in replacement classes since Pre WW1. The KGV's were considered as replacements to the QE's Lions as the Revenges and a new class might had been the Nelson replacements but not the Vanguard as stated it was a mobilization BB. I do not know how the Renowns and Hood were to be replaced.
From as early as 1931 the Admiralty planned to replace the R class before the QEs. The initial plan was as follows in terms of scrapping the old ships:-
1940 - 2 R
1941 - 2 R
1942 - 1 R & 1 QE
1943 - 2 QE
1944 - 1 QE & Repulse
1945 - 1 QE & Renown
1946 - Hood
1947 - Rodney
1948 - Nelson

An alternative plan had one ship scrapped each year from 1940 starting with the Rs, with the last QE in 1949. Then Renown & Repulse in 1950/51, Hood in 1952 and the Nelrods in 1953/54.

The alternative plan would only have worked if more ships had been given major reconstructions. For example Repulse’s engines were expected to last until 1943/4. They were not replaced in her 1934/36 “large repair”.

After modernisation the lives of the various ships were expected to be

Warspite - 9 years (to 1946)
Valiant - 6 years (to 1945/46)
QE - 7 years (to 1946/47)
Renown - 8 years (1948)

A full reconstruction of Hood between 1942 and 1945 was expected to see her life extended by about 10 years, otherwise she would only last until 1948-50.

The Admiralty plan in 1935 (never formally approved but generally worked to as far as possible in the late 1930s) called for the following BB to be part of the Buliding Programmes each year from 1936-1944:- 2,3,2,3,2,2,2,1,1. The long term aim was to achieve a strength of 20 capital ships.

The actual orders and plans were:
1936 2xKGV
1937 3xKGV
1938 2xLion
1939 2xLion
1940 2xLion (“firm proposals”) + 1x new 15” gunned battleship (which became Vanguard)

Then war broke out and everything changes so we have no idea what might have happened beyond the Lions.

Any 15” BB beyond Vanguard were pure speculation, and certainly didn’t have the support of Sir Stanley Goodall, the Director of Naval Construction, who considered them extravagant for the armament carried. The estimated time saving in 1939 from recycling the 15” turrets was also not that great- 36 months for a Vanguard v 42 for a 16” gunned Lion.
Their plans seemed to shift around a bit in the years before WW2.
After AGNA35 was signed, this influenced numbers because the number of ships the Germans could build was based on the British forecasts of strength- so that in late 38/early 39 they came up with a scrapping schedule for the R's to maintain a strength of 19 ships, because if they had kept a 20th ship, the workings of the ratio would have given the Germans enough capital ship tonnage to build an additional battleship. (i.e. the number of ships the Germans could build was exactly the same if the British had 17, 18 or 19 capital ships, and the Germans could build one more if the British had 20, 21 or 22 ships etc - therefore the optimum solution was for Britain to have 16, 19, 22 or 25 ships etc.)

Regards

David
 

Jemiba

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Pirate Pete

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I know it is based on a ‘fictional world’, but our own Nick Summers Drakes Drum website appendices has some details of a refit for Hood based on official notes and records Which includes some weights.
 
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Pirate Pete

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You might want to know that the Admiralty did plan to build more Vanguards, using twin 15s from the R class, which were to have been scrapped, having been subject to only the most minimal improvements in the 1930s. In 1939-40 the Admiralty was much concerned over the possibility that the Japanese were building new battleships (but hadn't the slightest idea of what was involved), and it saw the Vanguards as the least painful way of augmenting the fleet in the East. For a time, for example, there was hope (in the Admiralty) that Australia would pay for or operate Vanguard herself. This was 1940-41, and you can find a hint of Australian interest in a battleship in the Australian official history. Of course nothing came of either the Australian fantasy or of junking Rs to get more Vanguards, because by the time that might have happened there were rather more urgent concerns.

On Hood, she was considered the first true fast battleship, and as such revolutionary, although some might see much the same thing in the German battlecruisers. What happened to her was extraordinary, as it appears that the fatal shell hit roughly lengthwise, where she -- and the QEs and Rs -- was poorly protected. It also seems to have had a rather long fuze delay, which was why it exploded in just the wrong place. After the action, there was an emergency analysis of the vulnerability of existing British ships, pointing up the transverse vulnerability of the QEs and Rs -- I do not remember for sure whether that also applied to the Nelsons.

On Australia, I doubt anyone in 1921-22 would have accepted that the Commonwealth was not integral with the British. I think there was even a legal link which made that clear. Nor were the Australians likely to have paid up to operate something that expensive. They found it difficult to finance their post-WW I navy for quite some time, despite their fear of the Japanese.

It surprises me that no one pointed out that, had work continued on the three other Hoods, they would have been in much the same position as the Lexingtons in 1921 -- incomplete, expensive, proceeding slowly. Wouldn't the RN have tried converting two of them into carriers, given the carrier clause of the Washington Treaty? And wouldn't that have afforded the RN the experience of running really large carriers like those the USN and the IJN used to learn what big carriers could do? They would have been a whole lot more survivable than Courageous and Glorious.
I know that the notion of 'additional' Vanguards crops up from time-to-time, but do you have/know the source material for the Admiralties plans?
Tks
 
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