...In July 2007, the UK MoD announced main gate approval for the construction of the carriers. At the same time BAE Systems and VT Group announced the planned creation of a joint venture for the design, manufacture and support of UK surface warships. The joint venture company, called BVT Surface Fleet Ltd, began operations on 1 July 2008. This was followed on 3 July 2008 by the UK MoD signing the contracts for the two carriers with BVT and other members of the alliance. First metal was cut at Babcock's Rosyth yard in 2009...
I'm pretty sure the Hood was well built for her day, but having been laid down in 1916 she just wasn't able to match the modern build of the Bismark.
As for the carriers, I would rather have them than not and if having them means they have to be lightly armoured then so be it. I haven't seen the specifications myself, but I doubt that they'll build her to flounder in under 3 minutes upon taking damage.
My understanding was that Hood was seriously deficient in armour from the offset and that it was always planned to upgrade her but it was continually postponed for reasons of cost and so was never done. On her first engagement she was hit in a well-known weak spot by one of the first salvo's from Bismarck and blew up.
Whilst I am always open to new evidence, I'm pretty sure that the armour around the 4 inch magazine was fairly adequate for the day. The armour directly surrounding the magazine was thicker than WWII german armour penetration charts went up to. Certainly the review board, and the second review board (called because of suspicions of a cover up at the first review) did not find fault in the matter.
I know the Hood looks like it sank in very similar situations to those that sank at the battle of Jutland but I'm pretty sure that the reasons are fundamentally different.
Fair enough, I'm no expert on naval history. I've heard this theory from a number of different sources over the years though. As you say, she was laid down in 1916 and so by 1941 she was an old ship by any standards, especially the Bismarck's!. Perhaps what was considered adequate in 1916 was no longer the case by 1941? She certainly seems to have spent a great deal of time at sea between the wars, being the flagship of the fleet etc. Is it not possible that planned upgrades to her armour were never carried out? I've just had a look on wikipedia and it seems there are a number of theories as to the ultumate cause of her sinking and the 4in. magazines feature largely. I think we can all agree the the Bismarck had a hand in it!
Going back to my original point re. the carriers, wasn't HMS Ocean built more in line with civilian standards rather than naval requirements in order to save money? And what about the entirely avoidable shortcomings (including uniforms!) and forgotten lessons on HM ships during the Falklands War, is there a pattern here? One cannot exaggerate the willingness on the part of MOD civil servants to save money at the expense of operational efficiency and servicemen's lives. Thank Christ we never had to face the Russians with our underpowered but otherwise excellent Chieftains in the 60's, 70's & 80's!
Not as much as it might be thought; the Bismarck was based heavily on the 1913 Baden design, and a lot of her fighting power came from sheer size: it's easy to have high speed, big guns and lots of armour if you just ignore any size limits. Bismarck's armour was better balanced, but its detail was poor (the protective deck was carried low with services run above it, meaning that she was hard to sink but easy to put out of action)
Perhaps what was considered adequate in 1916 was no longer the case by 1941? She certainly seems to have spent a great deal of time at sea between the wars, being the flagship of the fleet etc. Is it not possible that planned upgrades to her armour were never carried out?
Hood was due a major refit: a dual-purpose secondary armament, more light AA, the conning tower and torpedoes removed, and a rearrangement of her armour. The details were decided in late 1938 and she was due to go into the dockyard when Queen Elizabeth finished her rebuild: the war intervened and all she got were some 4" AA guns. The DNC at the time had warned that she needed serious work to be fit for frontline service, but there was no time or dockyard space to carry it out.
Hood was never really considered excellent - laid down on the day of Jutland, she wasn't able to properly incorporate the lessons learned. Like Bismarck, she was a powerful vessel largely because of her size: fast, well armed and heavily armoured (over 30% of her displacement was armour, a high figure, and her side belt was excellent; the problem was the thin deck armour). However, she was big, fast, sexy and so became "The Mighty Hood" to the popular press for a couple of decades.
Luck plays a big part, though: she was being properly handled at Denmark Straits, and if she'd closed without any plunging hits she could have made Bismark very miserable indeed in a closer-range duel where her reliable armament and heavy side armour could have counted for a great deal.