H.M.S. Hood: construction

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Most of the photographs in this topic come from an album belonging to a Royal Navy officer from 1919 onwards. Many of the photographs are unique and the officer may have had family connections with the John Brown shipyard to be able to get in and photograph the Hood as there was still a certain amount of secrecy about her construction. Two large format photographs show an amazing amount of detail of the ship and the surrounding shipyard.

Catalogue number 121008

Riveters at work

Work is underway plating the main deck of H.M.S. Hood, we can see the main compressed air supply with lines running off to power riveting guns, cauking guns and drills.

Verso: "In the Scottish Shipbuilding Yards, At work on a new big battle cruiser."

Credit: Crown Copyright Reserved

18.8cm x 13.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 120003a

Hood in the fitting out basin, 1

H.M.S. Hood was launched on 22nd August 1918 by Lady Hood and in this photograph the ship is shown at the fitting-out basin of the John Brown & Co Ltd Clydebank shipyard, April 1919. In the foreground is the aft part of a Modified W class destroyer with the triple aft torpedo tubes in place but no quarter deck guns mounted. The armour plate of Hood’s conning tower has been fixed in place and work is underway on the bridge structure. Only four of the six port 5.5-inch guns are in place and not all of them have gun shields - the open splinter shields, leaving the crews very exposed, were a weak point in the design. The aftermost 5.5-inch gun was subsequently removed during construction. There are two sets of two doors in the hull to port, one set aft of the second funnel and a second set at the level of the main mast. When completed, H.M.S. Hood had four above-water torpedo tubes, two to port, two to starboard. However, the final legend of 20th August 1917 mentions eight above-water tubes (British Battleships 1919-1939, R.A. Burt, 1993). Furthermore, in “The Battlecruiser HMS Hood: An Illustrated Biography 1916-1941” by B. Taylor (2005), page 13, it is stated that four of the eight above-water torpedo tubes were removed and the hull opening plated over in May and June 1919 when construction was well advanced. The plating over the torpedo bulges is almost complete. The foremast with starfish is yet to receive the control top although the torpedo and searchlight platforms have already been fitted.

Recto: “H.M.S. “Hood” building at Clydebank April 1919” in white ink

12.8cm x 7.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 120003b

The 150 ton derrick crane

Here is the 150 ton derrick crane mounted on three concret pillars and serving the fitting out basin seen from the East yard. Note the foremast starfish without the control top

6.9cm x 13.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 121003c

X and Y barbettes

This photograph shows the barbettes of X and Y guns in place. The plating of the bulges has been completed. The aftermost 5.5-inch mounting initially fitted has been removed to compensate for the weight of extra armour. In the background is a forest of steel lattice derricks around the hull of the cruiser Enterprise.

13cm x 6.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 120003d

Midship starboard with 5.5-inch guns

The control top is in place and we can see one of the starboard 5.5-inch guns. Either side of the funnels are the large boiler room vents. See below for the meaning of the white painted marks around the gun mount. The armour is in place on A and B barbettes. The metal structure over A barbette is to support a canvas cover to keep the frequent rain out of the barbette.

8cm x 10.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 120003f

Port 5.5-inch guns and the conning tower

In this view, we can see four of the port 5.5-inch guns and their unsatisfactory splinter shields giving very limited protection for the gun crews. The white painted marks on the hull around the gun mounts are instructions to riveters and platers whilst others mark off the work done by a piecework gang. The conning tower, well forward from the bridge structure and thus having a good field of view, has its side and top armour.

8cm x 9.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 120003e

Modified W class destroyer building

Another view forward of H.M.S. Hood with construction well advanced but still without her guns. The basin is shared with one of the two Modified W class destroyers - either Verity or Veteran - fitting out at the same time as H.M.S. Hood. The quarter deck guns are in place and we can see one of the two triple torpedo tube mounts turned to port.

13cm x 8.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 120008

General view of the fitting out basin, John Brown Shipyard

Riveters’ braziers with their chimneys are behind Hood and to left of the mobile crane. Underneath the crane is one of the 5.5-inch guns. On the dock side and just left of the capstan appears to be part of the stern conning tower. The system of rigid piping on the deck - to be seen notably running through openings in the foredeck breakwaters - supply compressed air to work the riveting hammers and drills. Strangely, there is no one in the shipyard suggesting that the photograph was taken on a Sunday at the time when the Admiralty had forbidden Sunday working. Three modified W-class destroyers at different stages of construction can be seen and moored to the West Yard is a Standard-type cargo ship (War Crane or War Rider).

Recto: "Clydebank June 1919" in white ink

34cm x 24.5cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 120007

State of construction, July 1919

There is plenty of detail to see in this large format photograph. Planking, with 3-inch teak, of the foredeck is almost finished. Two of the three starboard midship 5.5-inch guns are in place and we can see the mount of the third gun in the middle. The work of a riveting gang has been marked off with white paint. Plates on the boat deck have been bolted into place and await the rivets. Note the numerous voice pipes at the base of the tripod starboard leg. The garland suspended between the two masts is to celebrate the wedding of Engineering Commander Sydenham to Miss Maggie Steele Baillie on 4th July 1919. Sydenham had been appointed Engineering Officer designate for H.M.S. Hood.

29.4cm x 24.1cm Gelatin silver print