The American 'twin barrel' 5 inch naval gun is regarded as 'one of the most successful naval guns' of all time:
Part of its success, comes from the fact that the US Navy standardised the 5 inch gun, for use on both battleships and smaller warships (such as cruisers and destroyers). This made shell logistics 'so much simpler'. On a battleship, the twin 5 inch was only ever a secondary armament (for use against aircraft and surface targets). Whilst on cruisers and destroyers, the 5 inch 'was usually' the primary armament - with up to eight turrets being installed (for example) on the 'light cruiser' USS Atlanta (which featured six centreline turrets 'for stability reasons' and two wing turrets 'for maximising' anti-aircraft firepower). The 5 inch gun was heavily used throughout World War Two, to defend the American warship fleets 'in the Pacific'. When used to defend against enemy aircraft, several turrets would operate together, using barrage fire (the idea being: not to target the enemy aircraft directly, but rather 'target the area' that the enemy aircraft was in) and destroy the aircraft with shrapnel 'exploding outwards' from the 5 inch shells (which were equipped with proximity fuses). As an anti-aircraft gun, the twin 5 inch 'more than proved its worth', and it was a gun turret that would not be easily mothballed - even after World War Two had finished (in 1945) ... When the Iowa class battleships were reactivated (in the 1980s'), the venerable twin 5 inch dual purpose gun, was retained as part of their armament - although with only six turrets (as opposed to ten turrets) to make room for newer 'more modern' missiles.
Here we can see the two sternmost 15 inch naval gun turrets of HMS Hood (turret X is on the left, turret Y is on the right):
Whilst the roofs of these gun turrets were not decorated (with turret markings), both were located on a 'very wet deck' (the quarterdeck) which was usually awash 'when at sea'. Turrets X and Y did not partake in the opening stages of the Battle of the Denmark Strait - as their 'arcs of fire' were limited by Hood's approach angle (on Bismarck). It is with some irony then, that turret X 'appears to have been' fundamentally involved with the explosion that tore HMS Hood in half - with the fatal explosion 'likely originating' in one of its magazines (either shells or cordite). In any case, it is believed/known that the hull form area located around/near turret X (and its barbette) 'utterly disintegrated' during the explosion. Even so 'it took a while to realise' at Hood's helm!
Here we can see the stern deck area of HMS Hood. What I most liked about Hood's stern profile, was the fact that she had a matched pair of naval gun turrets, mounted astern:
Later battleships (including both American, and Japanese), would only have a single gun turret, mounted astern. I feel that the matched pair (in Hood), catered for a more balanced profile - both in terms of her appearance, and in terms of her firepower. Hood's stern deck, was an interesting area of contradiction! For on her Empire Cruise (when she sailed the British Empire), was this area often where the VIPs (such as Royalty) were entertained. With the wooden handrail ladders (middle-bottom right), leading to the Admiral's Day Cabin - came much pomp and ceremony. And yet, when Hood was at sea, even in a fairly calm sea, was this entire stern deck area, often awash with sea water! The stern deck had been designed too low in the waterline. Yet, there is some irony here. For in the wreck of HMS Hood (at the bottom of the North Atlantic), is it the stern deck and it's flag pole, that stand up from the sea bed, as if in salute.
Here we can see the bow of HMS Hood, which was - long and fine:
This was for one simple reason - speed. Without a bow that was long, fine and sheared, Hood could not have attained her top speed of 32 knots. Only the hull form in the vicinity of A turret aft, would have been armoured - with the bow being soft. In retrospect, this arrangement was not adequate. Specifically, the deck area around the base of the two gun turrets and barbettes, was regarded as too thinly armoured, and was not thick enough to guard against plunging shellfire (although plans had been made, to thicken the armour in this area). Another point of interest, are Hood's breakwater arrangements - which were designed to protect the forecastle deck, from bow spray (as was encountered, when she pitched into heavy seas).
The most important part of a battleship, has always been it's primary armament naval guns:
In the case of HMS Hood, these were 15 inch calibre - and are regarded, as some of the best naval guns, that were ever fitted to a battleship. Every single sailor, and every single system on-board HMS Hood, was there to serve these guns - to ensure that they could open fire: at the right range, at the right time, and at the right target! They were the most heavily protected part of HMS Hood - with turret face armour being 15 inches thick. The turrets sat atop the barbettes (the vertical cylinders), that were themselves protected by armour, of up to 12 inches thick (thereby protecting the shell supply chain). Hood's two forward naval gun turrets (referred to as A and B), are also somewhat unique in their decoration. At this time, A turret carried a red circular flagship marking - and B turret carried her Spanish Civil War marking (the blue/white/red stripes). Towards the back of each gun turret, is it's local control range finder - which adhered to a general rule: the wider the better, as a wider range finder, tended towards increased target accuracy.
Whilst it's hard to imagine HMS Hood being used as a Minesweeper, she was equipped as such!
On the left, can we see a Minesweeper's Para-vane, which would have been towed from the bow of HMS Hood, when looking for mines. To the right of this, can we find both ventilation shafts (at the foot of the main armoured conning tower), and various winches (which I believe, were used for hauling her fifteen inch shells aboard). To the right of these, is the barbette of B turret, which featuring armour of up to 12 inches thick, protected the shell supply chain, of the dual 15 inch gun turret (that sat on-top). Just visible bottom right, is one of Hood's breakwaters (designed to protect the forecastle deck, from bow spray).
| Nebula Hawk
Battleship Artwork - Warship Artwork - Digital Commission
3D Modellers, with a passion for preserving the past, particularly pertaining to Battleships :) The Pride of the Royal Navy herself, HMS Hood (as she appeared in 1937):
Battleships were the Greatest Warships of their time, and to the Men that served on them, they lived a way of life, that now no longer exists ... Our Military Artwork, aims to help preserve these bygone times, and it is hoped, that it shall be of interest to Military Museums, and to other such areas of public interest (e.g. education) - together with private collectors.