Forces of Valor 86002 Royal Navy Battlecruiser HMS Hood - Battle of the Denmark Strait, May 1941 (1:700 Scale)
"That the sinking of Hood was due to a hit from Bismarck's 15-inch shell in or adjacent to Hood's 4-inch or 15-inch magazines, causing them all to explode and wreck the after part of the ship. The probability is that the 4-inch magazines exploded first."
- British Board of Inquiry convened in the aftermath of the sinking of the HMS Hood
HMS Hood (pennant number 51) was the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy. One of four Admiral-class battlecruisers ordered in mid-1916, her design - although drastically revised after the Battle of Jutland and improved while she was under construction - still had serious limitations. For this reason she was the only ship of her class to be completed. She was named after the 18th-century Admiral Samuel Hood.
Hood was involved in a number of flag-waving exercises between her commissioning in 1920 and the outbreak of war in 1939; these included training exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and a circumnavigation of the globe with the Special Service Squadron in 1923 and 1924. She was attached to the Mediterranean Fleet following the outbreak of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Hood was officially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet until she had to return to England in 1939 for an overhaul. At this point in her service, Hood's usefulness had deteriorated because of advances in naval gunnery. She was scheduled to undergo a major rebuild in 1941 to correct these issues, but the outbreak of World War II forced the ship into service without the upgrades.
When war with Germany was declared in September 1939, Hood was operating in the area around Iceland, and spent the next several months hunting between Iceland and the Norwegian Sea for German commerce raiders and blockade runners. After a brief overhaul to her engine plant, she sailed as the flagship of Force H, and participated in the destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. Relieved as flagship of Force H, Hood was dispatched to Scapa Flow, and operated in the area as a convoy escort and later as a defence against a potential German invasion fleet. In May 1941, she and the battleship HMS Prince of Wales were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck which was en route to attack convoys in the Atlantic. On May 24th, 1941, Hood was struck by several German shells early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait and exploded; the loss had a profound effect on the British. Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered the Royal Navy to "sink the Bismarck", and they fulfilled his command on May 26th-27th.
The Royal Navy conducted two inquiries into the reasons for the ship's quick demise. The first, held very quickly after the ship's loss, concluded that Hood's aft magazine had exploded after one of Bismarck's shells penetrated the ship's armour. A second inquiry was held after complaints were received that the first board had failed to consider alternative explanations, such as an explosion of the ship's torpedoes. While much more thorough than the first board, it concurred with the first board's conclusion. Despite the official explanation, some historians continued to believe that the torpedoes caused the ship's loss while others proposed an accidental explosion inside one of the ship's gun turrets that reached down into the magazine. Other historians have focused on the cause of the magazine explosion. The discovery of the ship's wreck in 2001 confirmed the conclusion of both boards, although the exact reason why the magazines detonated will forever be a mystery as that area of the ship was thoroughly destroyed in the explosion.
Pictured here is a 1:700 scale replica of the HMS Hood Battecruiser when it participated in the Battle of the Denmark Strait in May 1941.
Length: 18 inches
Release Date: February 2012
Historical Account: "Three Came Home" - Of the 1,418 crew, only three men - Ordinary Signalman Ted Briggs, Able Seaman Robert Tilburn, and Midshipman William John Dundas - survived; they were rescued about two hours after the sinking by the destroyer HMS Electra. Electra spotted a lot of debris, but no bodies.