-History of H.M.S. Hood-
H.M.S. Hood's Proposed 1942 Large Repair
Written by Frank Allen
Updated 07-May-2014

In the late 1930s, Hood was considered a potential candidate for a major reconstruction. This article addresses the plans made and suggests some possible "looks" for a modified Hood. This information is based primarily upon ADM 229/20, DNC's Notes, 1938-1939. This document contains correspondence concerning Hood's proposed refit. We would also like to give special thanks to the following individuals: Maurice Northcott (for detailed background information), José Rico and Manuel González Lòpez (for allowing us to modify their drawings) plus "Alt Naval", Monty Mills and Tony Ansell (for the use of their conceptions of a modified Hood).

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As a ship ages, its machinery and structure experience "wear and tear." The degree of wear and tear depends of course, upon the conditions under which the ship was operated, as well as the quantity and quality of maintenance received. Often, regardless of how well-maintained a ship may be, deficiencies in its design and/or equipment come to light and must be addressed. As a result of any of these factors, modifications in the form of refits or repairs are periodically necessary.

Hood herself was certainly no exception: she received some form of refit for nearly every single year from the time of her launching until the time of her loss. Of the approximately 20 more notable refits, most involved modifications to secondary guns, fire control and range finding equipment. The scope of the refits varied in size. Only one (1929-1931) was actually a major refit/overhaul.

By the late 1930s, Hood, due to the poor condition of key internal components (i.e., engines) was once again in need of a major refit. It was also apparent that she was not up to the standards of the current generation of modern battleships. Thus, in late 1938, preliminary plans were discussed with Captain Walker and crew. Hood's key deficiencies and shortcomings were outlined and a rough plan was formulated. This plan was officially referred to as the "Large Repair."

Unfortunately, detailed final plans were not created – only preliminary planning sketches were drawn-up. According to sources, the sketches were simply overlaid or drawn-over drawings of Hood in her then present configuration. Logically, the sketches showed an arrangement extremely similar to that of Renown following her 1936-1939 refit/overhaul. The whereabouts of these sketches is unknown and are they are believed to have been lost. Therefore, any attempt to draw a reconstructed Hood is hypothetical at best.

The work (based on pre-war considerations) would have taken between two and three years to complete at a cost of as much as £4.5 million. Sadly, due to budgetary constraints and the fact that there were other ships in need of more immediate attention, Hood's refit was not scheduled to commence until at least Spring 1942.

Proposed Modifications
What follows is a list of the proposed work:

Some Considerations
We feel that due to certain circumstances, of the above list, a few items would likely have been changed or possibly not implemented:

In the case of Hood, we feel that it was unlikely for guns to have been installed in typical fore and aft clusters. This is because they would have obstructed the senior officer's cabins and baths if installed in standard fashion. If installed aft, they would either have to be individually situated and staggered (like Hood's actual final 4" guns were) or located somewhere else on the ship. If this were the case, the most likely place would be in banks of four per side on the forward Shelter Deck abreast the funnels and bridge.

Hypothetical Profile Drawings of a Fully Refitted Hood

Hypothetical drawing of Hood after her proposed 1942 refit- most likely scenario
1. What we feel would have been most likely – something similar to Renown (Click to enlarge)

Hypothetical drawing of Hood after her proposed 1942 refit- least likely scenario
2. The best possible refit, but less likely to happen – similar to the KGV class (Click to enlarge)

Hypothetical drawing of Hood after her proposed 1942 refit- another possible scenario
3.  Another interpretation of Hood looking similar to Renown, courtesy of Dave Weldon (Click to enlarge)

Hypothetical drawing of Hood as in 1944- another possible scenario
4.  Here is another Renown style interpretation of Hood, courtesy of Monty Mills (Click to enlarge)

Hypothetical Photographic Conceptions of a Fully Refitted Hood

Hypothetical photo of Hood after her proposed 1942 refit- a KGV style appearance, by Alt Naval
1.  Alt_Naval's Hood refitted along the lines of the KGV class (Click to enlarge)

Hypothetical photo of Hood after her proposed 1942 refit- a Renown style appearance, by Alt Naval
2.  Alt_Naval's Hood refitted along the lines of Renown (Click to expand).
Alt_Naval has another Renown type Hood, which you can view by clicking HERE.

Hypothetical Model/Miniature Conceptions of a Fully Refitted Hood

Hypothetical model by Tony Ansell of Hood after her proposed 1942 refit
Above - Tony Ansell's interpretation of Renown-style refit / Below - Roger Meadows' interpretation of a KGV-style refit. (Click either to view other photos)
Hypothetical model by Roger Meadows of Hood after her proposed 1942 refit

Additional Considerations
It is possible that even had she survived her encounter with Bismarck, Hood would still not have undergone a full refit or a large repair. As stated above, the proposed "Large Repair" was based upon pre-war considerations. With the war well underway, resources and finances would have been severely limited. Resources would be diverted to building new ships and repairing damaged ones.

Additionally, the Navy may not have been able to spare an important asset like Hood for a full three years. At worst, Hood would likely have had her engines repaired/updated, some slight modifications to her superstructure (weight saving attempts such as the removal of her conning tower for instance) and a significantly increased antiaircraft capability. If that were the case, she may have looked something like a cross between her actual final appearance and one of the drawings shown above (Note- because of the extreme uncertainty involved, we have not attempted such a drawing). After a refit of 1 to 2 years, she would have been right back out on front line service.

Conclusion - Hood's Likely Fate
What would have happened to a refitted Hood had she survived the war? Some people believe she would have been retained and later saved as a museum ship like H.M.S. Belfast in London or many of the remaining American battleships. This is a romantic idea, but highly unlikely. The simple truth is that although Hood was indeed a very well known ship in her day, she was not the icon that she is now. Her present status was brought about by her tragic end and the overwhelming loss of life associated with it.

Indeed, Britain had newer and in many ways superior warships such as the KGV class and of course, Vanguard. There were also some very famous battle-hardened veterans of two wars deserving retention - ships such as Queen Elizabeth and Warspite (the one - in my opinion - which really deserved saving). Without exception, all were paid off and ultimately scrapped. To an island nation with a long naval history, such ships come and go. There will be others to take their places. This mindset, combined with dire economic needs would have resulted in Hood coming to the same end as the other large British warships of her era.