Hello Antonio, Alberto, Paul,
It's hot also here in Romania, but we had several heavy rains and today a thunderstorm over Bucharest, and it helps chill down the air :)
I don't know much about HMS Hood's artillery on May 24th. I do know however of several practice shoots she conducted between 1937 and 1939, and of her shooting at Mers-el-Kebyr, against French battleships Bretagne and Dunkerque.
During practice tests, HMS Hood obtained very good results, with her main battery outputing 2 salvos/minute or more (at closer ranges), and with very well grouped salvos. Her crew was very well drilled , and obtained good practice results even in relatively poor visibility conditions (1939 IIRC).
In 1940, at Mers-el-Kebyr , Hood opened accurate fire against French battleships in the harbor. Concentrated fire from Hood and Valiant hit Bretagne, which blew up immediately. Hood then focused on Dunkerque, firing from ~ 16km on her, and hitting with 3 semi-salvos.
One of the semi-salvos planted 2 x 15" shells inside Dunkerque, which was heavily damaged, with machinery destroyed, one hald of a main turret destroyed, heavy flooding, and resting her keel to the bottom of the harbor.
This all happened in the space of ~ 20 minutes, under fire from enemy coastal batteries, and (sporadically) from enemy battleship guns. [https://worldwar2navies.wordpress.com/2 ... july-1940/
This is the only war battle that I know of, aside from the battle for Denmark Strait, in which HMS Hood fired on enemy ships. Her results were very good...
My speculation about the course of events on May 24th, between 5:52 and 6:00, would be the following:
- Hood opened fire, wrongly, on the leading ship, believing it to be the Bismarck, at 5:52.
- Prince of Wales opened fire, correctly, on the second ship, at 5:53.
- As Prince of Wales first salvo fell long over Bismarck, Adm. Holland spotted it and took a closer look on the second ship.
Some details of Bismarck, and possibly a better view at 5:53/5:54 helped Holland understand that he made a mistake, and Prince of Wales is firing correctly.
Thus, at 5:54, as Prince of Wales second salvo was in the air, Holland ordered a change of targets, and a slight (20*) turn to further open his aft turrets.
- At around 5:55, Hood started firing on Bismarck.
- However, the German battleship was accelerating and rapidly reducing range between her and the heavy cruiser (Bismarck 30.5kts vs Prinz Eugen 27kts at the time). We have several eye wittneesses accoutns depicting Bismarck approaching at "freigthening speed".
It is probable that Luetjens moved in to take the lead, for several reasons. One was to protect Prinz Eugen. Another was to confuse enemy gunnery...
- As Bismarck was accelerating and catching up with Prinz Eugen, the distance between them was reduced.
- So, MAYBE, Hood was firing on the Bismarck, and her shots were falling to far ahead of the battleship...
- Several explanations (all speculative unfortunately) on the reduced effectiveness of Hood's gunnery that day would be: crew at full alert for to long before the battle (since 2:00 IIRC); men possibly exhausted or severely tired. Confusion caused by teh change of targets (from PRinz Eugen to Bismarck). Confusion caused by enemy - rear ship accelerating, and possibly doing slight course alterations (5* or so) , instead of moving in a straight line. Slight gunnery problems caused by own ship making slight turns. Problems caused by sea-spray obstructing vision for at least some of the rangefinders on board (allthough this cannot be said about the foretop rangefinder, which was also the most powerfull of them all...)
- Otehr , unknown to me, troubles which happened then and tehre on the Hood [elevator breakdowns ? main shells loading issues ? vibration issues caused by excessive speed ?]
Nonetheless, the Hood was a remarkable ship; to bad she went down as she did...