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24 NAVY NEWS, MAY 2002 At Your leisure

Did Prinz Eugen sink the Hood?

COULD it have been the Prinz Eugen, not the Bismarck, that sank the Hood?

the Royal Navy (Spellmount £18.99) Andrew Norman says one of Prinz Eugen's Sin high- explosive shells may have gone down her aft funnel and set off a fire in the boiler room that caused the battlecruiser to break in two - which was why there was no sound of an

In HMS Hood - Pride of

trand more powerful consort, Prinz Eugen's Sin guns were being fired at over half their maximum range, he says, so her shells would have described a steep trajectory and

explosion. Unlike the guns of her large-

fallen down onto their targets more vertically. "Although Hood was most vul-

nerable to plunging shells, it is vir- tually impossible that a shell of only eight inches in calibre could have penetrated through the decks to reach any of the ship's vitals, such as her magazines. "But there was one part of Hood

that was vulnerable to plunging shell fire, and that was her two fun- nels, the combined area of which, as seen from above, presented a target area of 600 sq ft. "The probability of a shell going

BISMARCK ACTION: 'The Destruction of HMS Hood' as seen from HMS Prince of Wales, by John Hamilton

down one of Hood's funnels may seem remote, but certain factors

make this more likely than the other theories. The enemy had an advantage in that the fire on the boat deck illuminated the target

perfectly, and Prinz Eugen was able to fire off salvos from her eight Sin guns at approximately twice the rate of Bismarck, which meant that during the time she was in action, she managed to loose off 179 rounds." Prinz Eugen is known to have

to 350degC, at which point the oil will self-ignite. "An explosion in a boiler room

nel, could have easily broken through the flimsy wire cage that covered its top and dislodged the supports - known to be inadequate - of the grating in the vents at the level of the lower deck that pro- tected the boiler room. "As observers reported that a

picked up the sound of the British ships at a range of 20 miles and, in the mistaken belief that they were cruisers, had high-explosive shells loaded. One of these, penetrating a fun-

huge flame shot upward from between the after funnel and the mainmast, it seems most likely that such a shell went down the after funnel." Could this have ignited the fuel

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would have ruptured the six Yarrow small-tube boilers, which had a working pressure of 2351b per square inch. It would also have ruptured the 19in diameter pipes that carried steam from the boilers to the turbines and, more impor- tantly, have ruptured the fuel-oil heater, which preheated the fuel before it was pumped into the eight fuel-oil sprayers.

was being sprayed at high pressure from ruptured pipes into the confined space of a boiler room in the presence of shell flash, the result would have been igni- tion of the oil and an enor- mous buildup of heat and pressure.

oil? The author observes that fuel oil will not ignite below a tempera- ture of about 90deg C. Above that, it will only do so in the presence of a flame unless the tempeature rises

Quick paint

"If the preheated fuel oil

quickly risen as the gases built up and would have found its release by taking the line of least resi- atance up through Hood's decks, which had already been weakened to some extent by the boat-deck fire. This might explain why there was no audible bang ..." Sgt Thomas McLaren, of RAF

"The pressure would have

"This pressure would have been constrained from traveling hori- zontally by the resistance of the watertight bulkheads fore and aft and of the armoured belt on either side, and from passing vertically downward by Hood's double- skinned hull.

a Lockheed Hudson in search of a merchant vessel that the Germans had disguised as a Red Cross ship but in fact was a troop carrier. They found the ship and released a 250Ib bomb -which by a thousand- to-one chance went straight down the funnel. A huge black plume of smoke with a small reddish glow in its centre billowed out and as the troops swarmed onto the decks the vessel broke in two. As with the Hood, there was no

Coastal Command, whose aircraft had escorted Hood on her final voyage, had himself witnessed the sinking of a ship in this way. He had been part of the crew of

audible bang - merely a deep rum- bling sound, followed by tremen- dous vibration in the air that the aircraft's crew felt as they climbed steeply away.

REQUISITIONED for service in the Falklands on April 10, 1982, Uganda is seen leaving Gibraltar nine days later following her conversion as a hospital ship.

- from Uganda: The story of a very special ship, published at £25 plus £2.95 pp from SS Uganda Trust, Tarven, Corfe Lodge Road, Broadstone, Dorset, BH18 9NE. All profits will be used towards the objectives of the Trust, which include sponsorship of disadvantaged children to go to sea.

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