|Dimensions||25 × 27 × 2 cm|
In the original dust sheet. Blue cloth binding with gilt title on the spine.
F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feel and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available
Between 1906 and 1920 the Clydebank shipyard of John Brown & Sons built five battlecruisers, each one bigger than the last, culminating in the mighty Hood, the largest warship of her day. If Tiger is regarded as a modification of the Lion class design, this represents every step in the evolution of these charismatic, and controversial, ships. Like most shipyards of the time, Clydebank employed professional photographers to record the whole process of construction, using large-plate cameras that produced pictures of stunning clarity and detail; but unlike most shipyard photography, Clydebank s collection has survived, although very few of the images have ever been published. For this book some two hundred of the most telling of these were carefully selected, and scanned to the highest standards, depicting in unprecedented detail every aspect of the building and fitting out of Inflexible, Australia, Tiger, Repulse and Hood. Probably more has been written about battlecruisers than any other warship type, and as modelmaking subjects they have a devoted following, so any new book has to make a real contribution. This pictorial collection, with its lengthy and informative captions, and an authoritative introduction by Ian Johnston, offers ship modellers and enthusiasts a wealth of visual information simply unobtainable elsewhere.
The battlecruiser (also written as battle cruiser or battle-cruiser) was a type of capital ship of the first half of the 20th century. These were similar in displacement, armament and cost to battleships, but differed in form and balance of attributes. Battlecruisers typically had thinner armour (to a varying degree) and a somewhat lighter main gun battery than contemporary battleships, installed on a longer hull with much higher engine power in order to attain greater speeds. The first battlecruisers were designed in the United Kingdom, as a development of the armoured cruiser, at the same time as the dreadnought succeeded the pre-dreadnought battleship. The goal of the design was to outrun any ship with similar armament, and chase down any ship with lesser armament; they were intended to hunt down slower, older armoured cruisers and destroy them with heavy gunfire while avoiding combat with the more powerful but slower battleships. However, as more and more battlecruisers were built, they were increasingly used alongside the better-protected battleships.
Battlecruisers served in the navies of the United Kingdom, Germany, the Ottoman Empire, Australia and Japan during World War I, most notably at the Battle of the Falkland Islands and in the several raids and skirmishes in the North Sea which culminated in a pitched fleet battle, the Battle of Jutland. British battlecruisers in particular suffered heavy losses at Jutland, where poor fire safety and ammunition handling practices left them vulnerable to catastrophic magazine explosions following hits to their main turrets from large-calibre shells. This dismal showing led to a persistent general belief that battlecruisers were too thinly armoured to function successfully. By the end of the war, capital ship design had developed, with battleships becoming faster and battlecruisers becoming more heavily armoured, blurring the distinction between a battlecruiser and a fast battleship. The Washington Naval Treaty, which limited capital ship construction from 1922 onwards, treated battleships and battlecruisers identically, and the new generation of battlecruisers planned was scrapped under the terms of the treaty.
Improvements in armour design and propulsion created the 1930s “fast battleship” with the speed of a battlecruiser and armour of a battleship, making the battlecruiser in the traditional sense effectively an obsolete concept. Thus from the 1930s on, only the Royal Navy continued to use “battlecruiser” as a classification for the World War I–era capital ships that remained in the fleet; while Japan’s battlecruisers remained in service, they had been significantly reconstructed and were re-rated as full-fledged fast battleships.
Battlecruisers were put into action again during World War II, and only one survived to the end. There was also renewed interest in large “cruiser-killer” type warships, but few were ever begun, as construction of battleships and battlecruisers was curtailed in favour of more-needed convoy escorts, aircraft carriers, and cargo ships. In the post–Cold War era, the Soviet Kirov class of large guided missile cruisers have also been termed “battlecruisers”.
HMS Hood (pennant number 51) was a battlecruiser of the Royal Navy (RN). Hood was the first of the planned four Admiral-class battlecruisers to be built during World War I. Already under construction when the Battle of Jutland occurred in mid-1916, that battle revealed serious flaws in her design despite drastic revisions before she was completed four years later. For this reason, she was the only ship of her class to be completed, as the Admiralty decided it would be better to start with a clean design on succeeding battlecruisers, leading to the never-built G-3 class. Despite the appearance of newer and more modern ships, Hood remained the largest warship in the world for 20 years after her commissioning, and her prestige was reflected in her nickname, “The Mighty Hood”.
Hood was involved in many showing-the-flag exercises between her commissioning in 1920 and the outbreak of war in 1939, including 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-Ethiopian War in 1935. When the Spanish Civil War broke out the following year, Hood was officially assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet until she had to return to Britain in 1939 for an overhaul. By this time, advances in naval gunnery had reduced Hood‘s usefulness. She was scheduled to undergo a major rebuild in 1941 to correct these issues, but the outbreak of World War II in September 1939 kept the ship in service without the upgrades.
When war with Germany was declared, Hood was operating in the area around Iceland, and she spent the next several months hunting for German commerce raiders and blockade runners between Iceland and the Norwegian Sea. After a brief overhaul of her propulsion system, she sailed as the flagship of Force H, and participated in the destruction of the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. Transferred to the Home Fleet shortly afterwards, 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, Hood and the battleship Prince of Wales were ordered to intercept the German battleship Bismarck and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, which were en route to the Atlantic, where they were to attack convoys. On 24 May 1941, early in the Battle of the Denmark Strait, Hood was struck by several German shells, exploded, and sank within 3 minutes, with the loss of all but three of her crew of 1,418. Due to her publicly perceived invincibility, the loss affected British morale.
The RN conducted two inquiries into the reasons for the ship’s quick demise. The first, held soon 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 that the first board had failed to consider alternative explanations, such as an explosion of the ship’s torpedoes. It was more thorough than the first board but 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 concentrated 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 the magazines detonated is likely to remain unknown since that area of the ship was destroyed in the explosion.
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