Trumpter 1/350 HMS Hood
Tamiya Figure set #12622
Trumpeter's Hood Brass Upgrade Set #06601
I could tell you a story. A story repeated so many times, and therefore accepted as gospel, of how HMS Hood, last of the British battlecruisers, was destroyed by Germany's battleship Bismarck. Of how one of Bismarcks 15” shells came crashing vertically down and penetrated through Hood's very thin deck armor (because battlecruisers sacrificed armor for speed) and detonated inside her magazines, destroying the ship in a matter of minutes. I could do this, but I'm not going to. We're going to look at things a little differently and maybe shed some light on things.
First, the battlecruiser, or large armored cruiser. A creation of Jackie Fisher, these greyhounds of the sea would hunt down marauding enemy cruisers with their superior speed, and with their superior armament destroy them easily. To have these attributes armor was on the light side, but this made no difference to Fisher, to whom “speed is armor.” Realistically, the ships would only need to be armored against cruiser fire, and during the Battle of the Falklands of WW1 the concept was vindicated. Here the battlecruisers HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible pursued and destroyed the German cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. It was not a one-sided fight by any means, as the fire from the German cruisers was very accurate and they fought gallantly to the end, but that end was never really in doubt.
Of course, that was the ideal circumstance for the type. But in wartime, circumstances are rarely ideal. With battleship size and battleship guns and great speed, it was inevitable that they would be put in the battle line. Though it was a situation they were never designed for, that is exactly where they ended up. The battlecruisers became a “fast scouting wing” of the battle fleet, and would soon be facing enemy battlecruiser and battleships, ie, ships with the same big guns. Here the light armor would tell, and at the Battle of Jutland the explosive demise of three British battlecruisers, with an accompanying huge loss of life, showed them to be, well.....not necessarily a flawed type, but a fundamentally flawed implementation of the type. As a side note, some evidence points to the fact that the explosions that destroyed the British ships could have been caused by anti-flash safety interlocks being disabled (rather than outright magazine penetrating from lack of armor.) This seemed to have been done to get the maximum rate of fire possible, but the side effects of flash from a turret-penetrating hit propagating down (through open interlocks) to the magazines could, and did, have catastrophic results. Now the German battlecruisers took an absolute pounding from the British ships during the battle, losing only one, hours later, from flooding from all the damage absorbed. But the Germans also used a different philosophy than the British. They designed their battlecruisers with slightly less speed and smaller main guns, but much better armor than their British counterparts. So most of them survived the battering they received … barely, but survived nonetheless.
On the very day these two great fleets met and such life was lost, a huge ship was laid down at John Brown Shipyards on the Clyde River. She was HMS Hood, or to the shipyard workers there, simply “The Monster.” She started life out as a shallow draught battleship. As the British were superior in numbers in battleships, the design was changed to a 15” gunned battlecruiser to counter rumored German ships building. But in the aftermath of Jutland the build was halted, and the design completely scrutinized and revised. What emerged from this was much more a fast battleship than a battlecruiser. Compared to the much vaunted Queen Elizabeth super-dreadnoughts, she had just as much deck armor and a more effective belt (1' thinner but angled), the same main armament (with 30 degree elevation instead of the QE's 20) and around 8 knots more speed. She was, in effect, a larger, faster Queen Elizabeth. This was just before the British went to the all-or-nothing armoring (where components have the thickest possible armor or none at all), so the deck armor was divided into several deck layers. But all in all she had a very comprehensive armor scheme, and total displacement devoted to armor protection was around 33%, much higher than the previous battlecruisers and more in line with German battlecruisers ….. and battleships in general. (For some actual numbers: Hood, 32.7% Queen Elizabeth, 31.3% Renown,18.1% Moltke, 33.3% Nagato, 30.8%) She was the largest, fasted capital ship in the world …. a title she would keep for some two decades.
But time does move on. The Admiralty realized that Hood's deck armor was insufficient to withstand modern long range battles with plunging shells …... as was all of their remaining WW1 era battlecruisers and battleships. A reconstruction/refit program was put into effect to try to remedy the situation, but as Hood was by far the most modern and useful warship of the group, she was quite far down on the list. A major refit was planned in 1942, but by then WW2 had broken out and Hood would have been too valuable to be taken out of service to have the upgrades done.
So on May 24, 1941, Admiral Holland went into battle aboard Hood knowing full well her deficiencies. When Bismarck was sighted, he knew he had to close the range to a point where the dangers from plunging fire were minimized and side armor, where Hood and Bismarck were equals (with the edge going arguably to Hood with her angled belt) came into effect. This closure meant their “A” arcs were not open, ie, the aft turrets could not fire, but it was the fastest way to close the range. Some have described Holland's tactics as “ill-fated”, but it was a standard doctrine of battle. It was only ill-fated looking at the results. (Admiral Tovey, upon finding Bismarck several days later, also took an end-on approach to close range while having two of the most heavily armored battleships in the world.)
So Holland closed the range and at around 18000 yards (sources vary) started a 20 degree turn to port. HMS Hood had a very complex armor scheme, as was noted, so calculating an immune zone is difficult. But at this range the elevation of Bismarcks guns dictated a shell impact angle of around 10 – 15 degrees. This is far more side/belt hits than deck penetrations and a far cry from the “vertically plunging” fire often described. The 20 degree turn to port was to open up the “A” arcs and get the after turrets into the battle. At that point there would be 18 heavy guns against Bismarcks 8. But it was not to be. Bismarcks fire was marvelously accurate from the beginning, and it was here that a shell from Bismarcks fifth salvo found it's way into Hood. It is very plausible it could have landed short and gone under the belt (German shells, just by chance, had very good underwater performance.) Outright penetration of the 12” belt would have been problematic, given the shell angle of fall combined with the 10 degree inclination of the belt …. German range and penetration charts show this. (Even if it did, it's exit velocity would be reduced to the point that the shells fuse delay would not let it get very far before exploding anyway.... certainly not enough to reliably reach a magazine.) It could have gone over the main 12' belt, through the 7” or 5” section above (though, again, the shells reduced exit velocity and normalization meant Hood's “thin” deck armor behind this was about the perfect thickness to deflect shells at this range), or it could have just found that vulnerable deathstar-vent ….. that unknown path to the vitals that any ship can have. An extremely lucky shot, no matter what path it took … and in combat, well, luck works. (This is not an attempt to de-value Bismarcks shooting. Hitting Hood showed fantastic shooting; hitting Hood in a spot that could destroy her is luck.) Whatever the path …... and no one will ever know for sure ….. the shell found its way into the after magazines containing a bit over a hundred tons of cordite. What happened next is called a conflagration, a sort of slow explosion if you will. The cordite started burning. As pressure built up it burned more intensely, building even more pressure quicker. Once high enough, this burn took the path of least resistance, blowing out the forward bulkheads into the engineering spaces and up through the engine-room vents. To an observer, it would look like spectacular jets of flame around the base of the mainmast. This would temporarily relive the pressure, but only temporarily. It would not be enough to prevent this area of the ship from being utterly destroyed. From time of penetration to there being nothing left of center section of the ship was only a second or two.
The aft portion of the ship …. what was left of it … quickly sank beneath the waves. The forward section continued forward for a short few moments before planing up vertically and sliding down beneath the surface. Out of 1400 men, only three survived.
A very proud ship, one that embodied the Royal Navy, was gone. Many in Britain claim they received no bigger shock during the war than when they heard the news. The German crews were of course joyous of their victory over the “Mighty Hood.” But her sinking underscored the fact to many of them that no ship is unsinkable …. even their own. It was a fact they would experience in a scant three days.
The rest of the story can be found elsewhere and can be found in great detail. I wanted to concentrate on the myths of Hoods protection. She was a very advanced World War One design and was the worlds first true “fast battleship.” Her protection was not up to post-war standards, as were none of Britain’s WW1 Battleships. Her deficiencies were not the result of a poor design, just of the standards of war moving on. Her biggest problem was, as Lord Chatfield said in The Times, that “she had to fight a ship 20 years newer than herself.”
When I was a young …. er, younger …. lad I got for a birthday Lindberg's 1/400 scale HMS Hood. I knew nothing about the ship but it looked cool, like a battleship should. It was motorized and the turrets turned and it floated and did figure-eights in the water and ….. yeah, it was really cool. Never mind that as that young lad I didn't realize how horrid that kit actually was. I just had hours of fun cruising her around the local pond fighting off the imaginary enemy fleet. A few years later, in high school, I came across a library book called “Pursuit” by Ludovich Kennedy about the Bismarck chase. Here is where I first learned the history of Hood and I have been hooked ever since. Since that time I have accumulated many books on Hood, and the whole Bismarck chase, from many viewpoints. In 1982 I built, and still have, a Testors 1/720 Hood. It is a fantastic kit with great detail and still holds up today. A decade ago or so there were a couple of gorgeous 1/350 resin models of Hood. I almost spent the $500, but in the end just could not justify it. Well, good things apparently do come to those who wait, for Trumpeter came to the rescue. Trumpeter worked with the HMS Hood Association to get the kit as right as possible, and they did a pretty good job. There are areas that are not quite right, but a very presentable model can be built right out of the box.
Trumpeters Hood contains 533 pieces of gray plastic in a nice big sturdy box. Most of the molding is nice, but many parts in my kits exhibited flash and prominent seams. A ship stand in black plastic is included for the full hull builds. A small brass PE fret is also in the box.
Instructions come in a 20 page book. A very nice two page fold-out full color painting guide is included; colors depicted in Gunze-Sangyo colors.
As there are several reviews of Trumpys Hood on the site already, I decided that, rather than go thru everything in the build, to just highlight the areas that I did differently or changed substantially. I referred to H.M.S. Hood Associations site often during the build … there is a section dedicated to Trumpeters 1/350 Hood and what needs changed. I also very frequently looked at the Kagero HMS Hood book of their “Superdrawings in 3D” line. This has invaluable renderings at fantastic angles of all areas of the ship.
- Hull: Trumpeter modeled Hood's hull plating rather heavy-handedly. There are deep troughs at the bow and stern that are completely out of scale in trying to replicate plating. It almost looks like there are parts of the hull missing. This is one of the first things I spotted upon opening the box for the first time, and I was quite disheartened by it. Hoods hull does not look like this. This is also the very first thing I tackled in this build. I measured the depressions in the hull and cut pieces of thin plastic card to fit each one. The card was the same thickness as the holes and so lie flush with the hull surface. I did not fill in the “seams” at all so it gives the look of plating much better than original.
- Deck: Painting the deck and trying to get some sort of wood detail look is not a favorite task of mine. So I bought a Wood Hunter wood deck for the kit. I wasn't sure of what to expect, but now I realize that this is probably the best $25 I have ever spent on an accessory. It is paper thin, laser cut for the kit, and, except for one small bit I had to trim, fits great. It's also self-adhesive and so far, it has remained in place. Finally, it just looks amazing. Get one for sure.
- Main Turrets: These are too angular and the roof detail is all wrong (Trumpeter mistook lapped plates for depressions, so the roofs have good rivet detail surrounding depressed areas). Flyhawk resin turrets rectify this and also come with a gorgeous PE Unrotated Projectile (UP) mount for B turret and resin UP rocket launchers. I also bought Trumpeters detail set with the kit, and it includes brass barrels for the main [and secondary] weapons. Unfortunately, Trumpys barrels (with blast bags) do not fit the Flyhawk turrets. I eventually figured out that I could pull the Trumpeter barrels out of the blast bags....... they are a press fit. Then, after drilling out holes in Flyhawks blast bags to an appropriate size, glue in the Trumpeter barrels. Sounds convoluted, but it actually worked out pretty well.
- Conning Tower: This is an area that just doesn't look right. Hoods conning tower was a big, heavily armored, and somewhat anachronistic structure. It is also a very prominent feature of the ship. Whereas Hoods vision slits were all uniform height, the kits vision slits are not. Noticeably, the top row looks more like windows. Not too hard to fix though. I glued in sections of thin plastic card into the top of each slit. Once dry, I trimmed and sanded each smooth. A little surfacer and sanding, and things look much better.
- Ready Use Lockers: Hood had a bunch of ready use lockers. Several dozen of them. Each one of these small pieces of the kit has a nice deep ejector pin mark on the back. I filled each of these with putty (or super glue … I tried several things) and sanded smooth. I also used Eduards PE locker fronts for each, though I don’t think it added much overall. In retrospect, I would just go with the kit part as is (no PE) and maybe glue thin plastic card on the back of each to cover the ejector pin marks, and sand the edges smooth.
- Ships boats: Here I sorta cheated. Didn't feel like painting them all but I was in luck. I was depicting the ship at sea, and at sea the boats are canvas covered. I draped cigarette paper covered in white glue over the boats, then trimmed each when dry. I painted them the ships color, which is correct, but I recommend a slightly lighter or darker shade to give things some contrast . Mine blended in too well, but a little dry-brushing with a lighter shade made them stand out nicely.
- Funnels gratings: Simply put, I cut out the center of the funnel caps and used Eduards PE gratings for each. Sounds simple, but each one took a couple of hours to do satisfactorily. It really adds to the overall look though.
- Air defense station. Another prominent area filled with ….. nothing. In reality it was a visually busy area, with a couple center stations and many binocular stands. I used Plastic rod for the larger center post stations. I replicated the binoculars by gluing two thin pieces of copper wire together and then cutting it into lengths about the right size. Each of these I glued atop short copper wire stands. I also cut a walkway into the forward station and modified/angled the splinter shields to either side of this walkway.
- Spotting top. Several modifications here. I modified the director cap; basically removing some extra plastic, sanding smooth, and adding a section on top. I used Eduards PE bits for the radar, but it is flat, whereas Type 284 had a rather substantial structure behind the aerials. I took some half round evergreen rod, cut it to length, and hollowed out the flat side. Glued to the back of the PE and painted, it gives it more depth. There was a small platform at the forward starboard side of the spotting top. I made this out of thin plastic sheet and added some surplus railing and a ladder. The top of the spotting top has quite an overhang on Hood. This is not modeled at all in the kit. Out again comes the thin plastic sheet. I traced the outline of the part on the plastic sheet, then drew around the outline just a little larger freehand. I carefully cut it out, then then smoothed and beveled the edge with a sanding stick. This was then just glued to the spotting top. Lastly, the spotting top windows in the kit are pretty small.....they really need to be larger. As I thought of no way to realistically do this, I left it alone.
|COLORS & MARKINGS|
I used Testors Model Master Royal Navy 507C paint for this build, mixed with a little white for some scale effect. For the black areas, here and on all my models, I used a very dark gray I mix up with well, black with a bit of white. Black is just too intense for the scale(s).
The base was made following methods from our very own Frank Spahr. Well, I tried anyway. It turned out pretty decent for my first try. I stippled some old latex wall paint on the base in several applications to get the uneven surface. Then, using the hull bottom, I used Liquitex Gloss acrylic gel to form in a couple bow waves. I am not a wave form expert by any means, I definitely need to study more photos, but it looks okay. The base was then sprayed with a dark blue from a rattle can, then some airbrushed Dark Sea Blue to give it some variation. I tried spraying some lighter blue along the waves but it didn't really show up. Some titanium white oil paint was stippled along the wave crests and all around the wake. Then many coats of high gloss clear enamel to finish it up.
Many moons after watching that Lindberg Hood cruise around the pond, I finally have built another large scale Hood. This is a kit I am quite proud of, and many aspects of this build were way outside my “comfort zone”. This is a fantastic kit by any measure. It has its issues, but all kits do, and most of them are easily remedied. If you have any interest at all in the subject or even the period, I wholeheartedly recommend this one.
HMS Hood Association:
“The Battlecruiser HMS Hood” Superdrawings in 3D series, Kagero 978-83-62878-78-9
“Pursuit” Ludovic Kennedy 978-0670583140
“British Battlecruisers” John Roberts 1-55750-068-1
“The Loss of HMS Hood”, Bill Jurens http://www.warship.org/no21987.htm
“British Battleships of World War Two”, Roberts and Raven 978-0870218170
“The Battlecruiser Hood” Anatomy of the Ship series, Roberts 978-0851779003
“Battleship Design and Development” Norman Friedman 0-8317-0700-3
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