HMS King George V visits Melbourne

A set of five images of HMS King George V just landed in my mailbox,. As luck would have it, these images complement a set of three I bought a few years earlier but didn’t really tell a story on their own.

The camouflage pattern is an overall light grey and a slightly darker hull, matching the late 1945 pattern (meaning hull/superstructure painted in colours B20/G45), a pattern applied when she was in Australia [1]; the location was easily recognized as Station Pier in Port Melbourne. That puts the (probable) date between the 29th of October and 8th of November, 1945. This is the same period when the famous Allan C. Green photographs were taken, so now we have a collection from the port side well. Although these photographs were not all equally sharp, they do show a very large crowd visiting the ship. A brief search at the Australian War Memorial of HMS King George V’s visit indicates a few more shots taken from similar vantage points and even on board.

[1] Sovereign Hobbies, Royal Navy Camouflage Schemes, HMS King George V

Shelterdeck, part III

One of the issues that complicates any HMS Hood build is the area below the shelter (or boat) deck; the main deck parts should be fully painted before securing as the region cannot be accessed. The number of photographs of this region is modest and I made post earlier here. The ceiling of the shelterdeck was populated by structural elements, mainly a few larger longitudinal girders A & B). Some transverse girders appear perforated (C); I copied this style to multiple locations while playing with my milling machine. The outer girder appears to be placed where the shelterdeck used the end before it being widened in 1938. The bottom-right image is reproduced with permission from the HMS Hood association and shows the area below the boat deck quite clearly; other images from this 1940-41 album indicate a few minor changes to the model were in order!  A few details could be seen on other images: the hammock rails (D) and support stanchions (E)  placed below the boat crutches on the boat deck. These pillars have a white center, covered by a sewn-on canvas gaiter (painted stanchions are also observed on other ships). Now we can also find the ammo lockers for the UP launchers that according to Northcott were stored below decks (4 lockers per launcher, F) . A series of Denton rafts is found (G), a very large vent trunk (H).  At (I) a Dan buoy is found stored against the ceiling as identified on the Britmodeler forum; these buoys were used to mark a channel swept of mines. All warships were fitted with mine sweeping gear (paravanes) that was only effective only against contact mines and useless against magnetic, acoustic, or pressure mines, and there’s something counter-intuitive about using HMS Hood as a minesweeper and having her carry danbuoys. But once noticed I started spotting them in more places, see e.g. Jonhston’s & Buxton Battleship Duke of Yok, page 161, with a buoy next to the engine room vent. More on a small model of these buoys in a later post.

I bought a few original plans of HMS Hood earlier showing the shelterdeck and the structural details; these support beams are spaced 4 ft apart.  I previously added some random detail to the ceiling of the shelterdeck when my favourite modelling tool apparently was putty and everything was glued with Uhu plast (bottle with a small needle); I switched  to bottle of Plastic Magic and Tamiya (ultra) thin cement last year and this was really a step up in build quality. Some damage was collected during handling so the girders were readded in the form of strips. I had some fun with the milling machine and added a few larger perforated beams. I can only see one of these clearly on one image though but why not. I also changed the angled outline of the deck slightly, letting the angled parts end exactly on a beam end; the original plan set that I have does not seem to follow the outline very well and the model now matches the photographs much better. The position of the support pillars was drilled in earlier; the pillars themselves were made from three Albion-Alloy tubes, so that the centre can be neatly airbrushed white. Unfortunately, the pillars positions were added based on the general arrangements and do not end up exactly below the girders. I cheated a bit and lowered all pillars, the outboard row of pillars end up behind the main longitudinal girder and I added some strip at the ends of the inner row where all pillars should end.

The overall effect is quite nice… (pillar strip apparently not yet added here).

The hammock rails were added next, using a simple alignment tool to glue to etched parts in place. I put the rails right between the girders. If all goes well, none of the support stanchions and hammock rails intersect (did a lot of measuring and drawing to convince myself).
These are very fragile so the part is now much more difficult to handle..

The larger trunk is the the dynamo room vent and appears on the boat deck. It is open on the sides on some images and closed off on most others and copied that style. The trunk didn’t really end up nicely with the position on the main deck on my model. I already had a vent there, but that one was in the as-built configuration: I missed the extension to the boat deck. I gave it a slightly larger sweep to the side than on the original drawings. This was a really tricky part making an angle in the horizontal and to the side, and only after fitting the entire part I could see if it would align well; this took a few attempts. The main deck on the hull took some damage and Ill probably add a very denton rafts to cover it up.

Boats & Launches of HMS Hood, 1941

With special thanks to Sean Carroll and Frank Allen for the discussions and additions.

The exact layout of the boats aboard HMS Hood in 1941 is frequently-asked question. My list is (currently (*))

Many sources will claim that HMS Hood in 1941 was fitted with three 35 ft FMBs —one of which was an admiral’s barge fitted earlier in 1940—but now I believe that this third fast motor boat was never fitted and HMS Hood sank with one of her 50ft Steam Pinnace’s still on board. The most direct evidence follows from an image from an undisclosed 1941 album showing the pinnace more clearly in the far background but I can make a very good case (or so I hope) with public material. One other difference is a 2nd 16 ft dingy that is easily spotted on photographs.

After 1940 Hood no longer carried her 5.5 inch guns and after the 1941 Rosyth refit a few changes were introduced that make it fairly straightforward to date an image as either 1940 or 1941

  • Torpedo lookout removed from foremast
  • Type 284 gunnery radar fitted on the top DCT
  • Fore topmast removed and aerial spreader mounted on a frame
  • Type 279M fitted to main mast
  • HF/DF office on main mast starfish removed (small cabinet present)
  • 50 ft Steam Pinnaces replaced by 35 ft FMBs

Normally we’d use the presence or absence of the 35 ft FMB to date an image, but as the port side boat was never fitted we should no longer do that. Some of the images below are cropped, not showing the clearest indicators that are often in frame (i.e., removal of the HF/DF office on the main mast and torpedo lookout from the foremast), but you can find them in various publications if you need to be sure.

First we’ll have a look at the boat deck prior to 1940. Hood carried (A) 2 x 50 ft Steam Pinnaces and (B) 1 x 45ft Admiral’s Barge; the latter has an overhanging stern and its overall length is almost the same as the 50 ft Steam Pinnace.

On the original plans from 1940 we see—from left to right—

  1. 45ft Admiral’s Barge
  2. 45 ft Motor Launch
  3. 32 ft Cutter
  4. 42 ft Motor Launch
  5. 50 ft Steam Pinnace
  6. 16 ft dingy,
  7. 35 ft FMB (Admirals Barge)
  8. 30 ft gig stored on top of the second 32 ft Cutter

For those people who are detail-minded, note that the 42 ft Motor Launch is placed at a slightly inboard angle. Note that with the new 35 ft FMB (Admirals Barge) that the 45ft Admiral’s Barge is now simply referred to as a pinnace.

Near the port side pompom many boat outlines are visible and many of them are crossed out, except for (A) 2 x 25 ft FMB. Note that the more forward boat is also placed at an angle

Near the starboard pompom the situation is largely the same with many older boat locations crossed out and only (A) 16 ft FMB and (B) 25 ft FMB .

Two 16ft dinghy’s in cradles on either side of the DF platform are not on this drawing.

In this well known image from 1940 we see the (A) 45ft Steam Pinnace , (B) the cradle for the 16ft dingy—ignorant that it is not on the plans—and (C) the crutches for the 25 ft FMB.

When we compare the drawings with these image taken from 1941 we see that little has changed (left image courtesy HMS Hood organization, right own collection).

  1. 16 ft FMB,
  2. 2x 16ft dinghy’s in cradles,
  3. 3x 25 ft FMBs ,
  4. 2x 27 ft Whaler,
  5. (presumably) 30 ft Gig/32 ft Cutter combination,
  6. 42 ft Motor Launch
  7. 45 ft Motor Launch (note the 2nd rubber at the blue arrow),
  8. 35 ft FMB
  9. 35 ft FMB (Admirals Barge)
  10. our suspected 50 ft Steam Pinnace.

While these images visually confirm most boats, it’s not clear from the left view what type of boat is actually at J.

I cannot confirm the presence of the 30ft gig or 32 ft Cutter on top the the other 32 ft Cutter and 45 ft Motor Launch, respectively. That is, on some pics I can see something on top of the motor launch but not enough to make out what, but it’s fair to assume that the 1940 plans still holds; both the 42 ft Motor Launch and 45 ft Motor Launch can be spotted in various other 1941 photographs (not presented).

There is circumstantial evidence in Bruce Taylor’s highly recommended book, pp 210, with a summary of the refit by Philip Bucket dated the 6th of March 1941 that reads:

“[…] The second picket boat has been replaced by a 35-foot motor-boat”

Taylor adds a footnote that both steam pickets were replaced, but the above is oddly specific. This could well mean that first one boat was removed and then another, but it may well mean that only one steam pinnace was removed which is not contradicting my 50 ft Steam Pinnace theory. We already noticed that the 45ft Admiral’s Barge was demoted to the rank of ordinary Steam Pinnace.

Furthermore, in the aftermath of HMS Hood’s destruction, Robert Tilburn responds to Board on Inquiry on how the fire spread on the boat deck:

Could you say exactly were the fire seemed to start?

No, it was somewhere between L.I. and the U.P. mounting.

Which way did it seem to spread?

It did not seem to spread at all. At kept on blazing while we were in action but it did not seem to spread to the picket boat or anywhere else, though I cannot say definitively weather the picket boat took fire or not. Anyway, it did not move [illegible] before L.I. 4″ mounting.

Now, L. I. is the portside, most forward 4″ gun, and, Tilburn was also sheltering on the port side when Hood was hit. That would put the fire near the 35 ft FMB.

When we take a closer look at the boat deck we see the (A) crutches of the 45 ft Motor Launch and the V-shaped crutches of (B) the 35 ft FMB (Admirals Barge) and (C) 35 ft FMB that share the same hull. The boat crutches at (D) are not those of a V-shaped hull. This issue was also raised by Flyhawk when we (I and the Hood association) were assisting them with their 1:700 kit—just to give you an idea how well they were looking at the available material—but we could only offer cognitive dissonance at that time. Of course, on this 1941 image there simply is no third 35 ft FMB at that position as the 50 ft Steam Pinnace was still on board (well, not in this particular image, but, it’s close).

There is also a collection of images at the Hood association by Leonard Eaves that are dated as either 1940 or 1941. Those that are dated are all placed firmly in 1941 except a few. Some images can be pinned to 1941:

Now look closely at this photograph of HMS Hood dated the 22nd of May 1941, mere days before her loss. I scaled the image to roughly Hood’s length and first added the 35 ft FMB to scale. We do not have full resolution but I can make out (A) the bow, (B) the forward cabin, (C) the aft cabin, and (D) its stern; it’s not exact but matches well enough. I did the same with the 50 ft Steam Pinnace. I see (E) a funnel folded down, (F) the cabin with its characteristic upwards sweep, and (G) the stern and steep buttocks. While vague, what we do see matches exactly with what you would expect when a 50 ft Steam Pinnace were in that position.

* Update 09/05/2022 Corrected links to correct 32 ft Cutter.

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