Pen and Sword Books – The Battle Cruiser HMS Hood – An Illustrated Biography 1916 – 1941

 

 

 

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By Bruce Taylor

Seaforth Publishing
Pages: 272
ISBN: 9781848322486
Published: 30th May 2015

MSRP – £15.99 / $25.15

 

Originally published in 2004, and once again now in 2015, The Battle Cruiser HMS Hood – An Illustrated Biography 1916 – 1941 by Bruce Taylor is an incredibly comprehensive publication the entire life one of the most iconic ships to set sail for His Majesty’s Service; The Mighty Hood.

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This book is a 272 page, softcover accounting of the Hood’s glorious, and at times, not so glorious moments throughout her life. Bruce Taylor, consummate author and holding a doctorate in Modern Philosophy, he has compiled to what i believe to be the most complete and compelling collection of information and photographs about the Battlecruiser HMS Hood to date; and has laid this all out spanning nine chapters with an addition four appendices.

Table of Contents

 

  • Author’s Note
  • Abbreviations
  • Forward
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 – Genesis, Design and Construction
  • Chapter 2 – A Tour of the Ship
  • Chapter 3 – Glory Ship
  • Chapter 4 – Routine, Work and Rest
  • Chapter 5 – Life Aboard   (following – The Hood in Colour)
  • Chapter 6 – Disaster and Recovery, 1931-1936
  • Chapter 7 – War Clouds, 1936-1939
  • Chapter 8 – To War
  • Chapter 9 – The End of Glory
  • Conclusion
  • Appendix 1 – Admirals, Captains, Commanders and Chaplains by Commission
  • Appendix 2 – Scheme of Compliment of HMS Hood, 12, December 1919
  • Appendix 3 – Composition of Family Attachments of HMS Hood, c. 1934
  • Appendix 4 – Daily Routines in Peace and War
  • Chronology, 1915-1941
  • Roll of Honour
  • Sources
  • Glossary
  • Index
  • Acknowledgments

The author has created a fantastic manuscript showing us every moment of Mighty Hood’s 25 year lifespan within the Royal navy; both technically and chronologically. Moving through the chapters, we get a detailed look at the humble beginnings of this ship as her keel was laid amidst the turmoil of the First World War; even more tumultuous would be the actual design and construction processes which would postpone completion of the ship for years. The need for the power of a battleship and the speed of a cruisers would be a delicate balance of trade-offs in regards to armament and more importantly, armor protection; both would be compromised.  This is a well written timeline from conception to the sea trials covered all in this first chapter.

 

One of the more engrossing sections of this book for me, would have to be Chapter 2; A Tour of the Ship. This is an amazing walk around view of the Hood throughout here service in the 1920’s and 30’s. Written from the personal accounts as well as both historically and technically, we are given an amazing tour through the decks of the Hood; all supported by numerous period photographs and diagrams which highlight key points of the ship.

 

Covering a large section of the book from Chapter 3 forward through to the end of chapter 6, is a thoroughly painted picture by the author of life aboard the ship. We are given some insight into the day to day routines and lives of these men which are shared through the writings of the people who served on her unfolding a fascinating look into how life was aboard HMS Hood prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. At the end of chapter 5 there is a remarkable array of color stills reproduced from film footage taken by one of the sailors who served the Hood.  Additionally, there are eight pages of high quality, 3D rendered color graphics by Thomas Schmid included at the end of Chapter 5. As a part of these graphics, an outstanding 30 inch foldout profile and top view rendering of the Hood along with cutaway renderings showing us the inside of the ship and main armament.

 

Finally, the three chapters of the book usher us from the few years just prior to the outbreak of WWII and leading up to the demise of this incredible ship. Increased tensions brought on in the mid-to-late 30’s from a number of fronts, Germany and Italy, the start of the Spanish Civil War, Africa and the Atlantic as well as Japan, call upon the Hood to be used as tool to protect the interests and further the foreign policies of Great Britain leading her into the inevitability of war. These three chapters are well-documented describing the Hood’s timeline throughout her time at sea during the Second World War and defining the role she played in it. In the end though, a combination of original design deficits and the fact she did not have the updating she so desperately needed over the years, HMS Hood was unevenly matched against and enemy newer in design and construction and far more powerful than she.  When the time came, HMS Hood did not waiver in the face of overwhelming odds and the valiant efforts of the ship and her crew will always be remembered.  The author chronicles Hood’s final hours thoroughly and respectfully in the last chapter of the book ending the story of a ship which will live on as a symbol of hope for a grateful nation.

 

Conclusion

 

This book, The Battle Cruiser HMS Hood – An Illustrated Biography 1916 – 1941 by Bruce Taylor, is the most definitive collection of material covering the entire life of the Mighty Hood; from the initial planning to her most uneventful expiry, and it’s all in one place. While we all know the story of how HMS Hood’s guns fell silent that fateful morning in May of 1941 at the behest of the mighty Bismarck, this book tells the whole true story of the Hood’s life, which is much larger than that final battle; one spanning the 25 years of service she gave to the Royal Navy.   There is a tremendous amount of information joined with over 200 photographs, 3D renderings and diagrams all packed into this book and the author has done an superb job in tying all of this information together through facts and the interjecting of personal accounts from the men who served aboard her, giving the reader a connection to how life was aboard HMS Hood.

Though this book was originally released in hardcover around ten years ago, it was rather expensive.  This subsequent release in paperback from Seaforth Publishing, is certainly welcomed as this is the same book and has all of the same high quality text and pictures provided originally, but at less of a cost. I highly recommend The Battle Cruiser HMS Hood – An Illustrated Biography 1916 any naval history enthusiast and most certainly for scale modelers who are looking for reference materials and to learn more about HMS Hood and all of the specific and detailed information regarding the ship.

 

Highly Recommended!!

 

Pen & Sword

Modelers Social Club and the MSC Review Connect would like to thank Pen & Sword Books for providing a copy of The Battle Cruiser HMS Hood – An Illustrated Biography 1916 for this review.

 

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