All was right with the world at the end of the Pax Britannica. Queen Victoria’s Royal Navy was stronger than the next two naval powers combined. Those pesky
French and Russians kept trying to keep up with the Royal Navy but the overwhelming strength of the Royal Navy remained supreme. The new German Empire was
the strongest military power in Europe but didn’t have much of a navy and besides had very good relations with Great Britain as Victoria (Vicky), Queen Victoria’s
eldest daughter, was the dowager Empress of the German Empire when Emperor Friedrich III died on March 9, 1888 and their son became Emperor Wilhelm II. The
Royal Navy was exerting strong influence on a newborn Imperial Japanese Navy in the Pacific. The United States had a rusting collection of riverine Monitor ironclads
and although they had just started new construction for the United States Navy, the US had to purchase British designs for construction of their heaviest ships.         

Every so often, something new will come down the pike that is so perfect that it will set the standard in design for the foreseeable future. Warship designs are no
different. When the Board of the Admiralty for the Royal Navy met on August 17, 1888, the Royal Navy had been experimenting with battleship designs for the last 30
years. Low freeboard, high freeboard, guns in barbettes, guns in heavy turrets, guns in a central redoubt, sail or no sail; everything had been tried and no consensus
had arisen. The designs of the Royal Navy for that 30-year period had created a collection of samples. The non-homogeneous battle line featured a bewildering series of
designs, all of which featured one thing in common, each design had far more cons than pros.
When the board met at the Devonport Dockyard, they were to decide the battleship design for the 1889 estimates. After much discussion certain items were settled.
The design would mount four 13.5 inch guns, two forward and two aft; there would be ten 6-Inch secondary guns, mounted 5 per broadside; the main armor belt
would be at least 18-inches thick. As far as the details, that was left to the Director of Naval Construction (DNC) William White. The former chief designer (Chief
Constructor) Nathaniel Barnaby had been vilified, then and now for his odd designs. However, in large measure this was unfair, as Barnaby had tried to build in
accordance to unrealistic goals set for political and financial reasons. He tried to put in too much on a too limited displacement for economy’s sake and had labored
under unrealistic constraints. Another detriment to his designs was that quite often the available technology was not up to the goals.

Sir William White (KCB in 1895) had been the chief designer for the firm of Armstrong. He became DNC in 1885 and by 1888 had hit his mark with this design.
While DNC he virtually revolutionized battleship design and created a fleet which was the envy of the civilized world." (British Battleships 1889-1904 by R. A.
Burt at page 8) The initial design that created this fleet was for the 1889 estimates and became the seven ship
Royal Sovereign Class. The names of all but one of the
ships started with the letter R. The names are better known now for another R design that came about 25 years later.
Royal Sovereign, Ramilles, Resolution,
Revenge, Royal Oak, Repulse and Empress of India were the ships and the design set the standard for the rest of predreadnought battleship designs that were to
follow. The design featured a high freeboard barbette design. Turret designs of the period had very heavy turrets that because of their weight would have to be
mounted close to the waterline. In heavy seas the muzzles of the main guns of some designs would dip into the water on a roll, making them unworkable in those
conditions. Obviously, battleships that cannot use their main guns with heavy seas running are at a great disadvantage. The high freeboard was the most
distinguishing trait of this design. However, one member of the board strongly disagreed with the selection of the open gun barbette design for the
Royal Sovereign
design. He preferred to follow the previous
HMS Trafalgar design, which featured heavy turret protection. The sole dissenting member was Admiral Sir Arthur
Hood, the First Sea Lord. To humor the First Sea Lord and just to be sure that they were on the right track, another ship was built to a similar design but as a low
freeboard type,
HMS Hood, nicknamed ood 'ave thought it?. They need not have bothered; the Royal Sovereigns set the bar.
The Royal Sovereign class broke size limitations that had bedeviled Barnaby designs and proved a great success. They were the largest group of ships built to one
design in the Royal Navy since the ironclad era had started. When competed in 1892 through 1894, no other battleship design in the world could equal their fighting
efficiency. They were exceptionally strong and heavy and upon completion were the most substantial warships ever completed for the Royal Navy. They were also
good politically because the British public instantly fell in love with them. They were worthy successors to
HMS Victory and the other great first rate wooden
ships of the line that won the Royal Navy the preeminent position that she enjoyed. They were praised not only by the public, but also by the service. In 1895, then
Commander John Jellicoe, said of
Ramilles, that he had never seen a ship that had turned out so well.

Although a new wire-wound 12-inch gun design was considered, the tried and true 13.5-inch design was chosen for the class because the new 12-inch design was
not ready or tested. Subsequent designs would make use of the new 12-inch model. Loading positions were fixed to the rear of the circular turntable, within the
pear shaped barbette. Therefore the guns would have to be on centerline for loading, slowing their rate of fire. The six-inch secondary was of a new untested QF
design, rather than a slower breech loading design that had been used in earlier battleships. The armor belt ranged from 18-inches to 14-inches in thickness (18 to
16 amidships between barbettes and 14 next to the barbettes) and ran for 250 feet. It came up to 3 feet above waterline to 5 ½ feet below waterline. The barbettes
were also armored 17 to 16 inches on the outside of the armor belt and 11-inch within the screen created by the belt.
To mollify the First Sea Lord, the Board agreed that Admiral Hood’s insistence on a turret ships design would be one of the first three ships of the estimates to be
built. The
HMS Hood was laid down at the Chatham Dockyard on August 12, 1889. She was launched July 30, 1891 and completed June 1, 1893. As a half sister
to the
Royal Sovereign class, most dimensions of the Hood were the same ad her half sisters. Hood’s length was 410-feet 6-inches (oa), 380-feet (pp), and beam
75-feet. The draught was a little bit different with
Hood having 27-feet 6-inch (mean), 28-feet six-inch (max) and the Royal Sovereigns having 28-feet (mean) and
29-feet 6-inches (max). Other than the heavy turrets on
Hood vs the open guns barbette protected guns of the Royal Sovereign, it was the significantly lower
freeboard of the
Hood that was most noticeable. The forward freeboard of the Royal Sovereign was 19-feet 6-inches forward, 17-feet 3-inches amidship and 18-
feet aft compared 11-feet 3-inches forward, 17-feet 3-inches amidship and 11-feet 3-inches aft of
Hood. However, the Hood had a heavier displacement at 14,780-
tons at load and 15,588-tons deep load compared to
Royal Sovereign’s 14,262-tons load and 14,860-tons full load. Hood carried four 13.5-inch main guns and ten
6-inch QF as secondary guns, which was the same of that of
Royal Sovereign but carried fewer tertiary guns, ten 6pdr and twelve 3pdr in Hood and sixteen 6pdr
and eight 3pdr in
Royal Sovereign. Hood had the same torpedo armament with seven 18-inch torpedo tubes, two submerged forward, one submerged aft and four
above water tubes amidship.

The armor scheme for the
Hood had of compound and nickel steel with a tapering main belt from 18-inches to 16-inches to 14-inches. The lateral bulkheads were
16-inches forward and 14-inches aft. The turrets had 17-inches on the forward faces, 16-inches on the sides, 11-inches on the rear faces and 5-inches on the
crowns. The armored decks were 3 to 2-inches. Casemate armor was 6-inches and the screen bulkhead 3-inches. The forward conning tower had 14 to 12-inches
and the rear conning tower 3-inches. The
Hood’s power plant was identical to that of Royal Sovereign. Powered by two sets of three cylinder triple expansion
engines, fed steam by eight cylindrical boilers, powering the two propellers. The Board was right in regards to the speed of the turret battleship. Even in calm
weather the
Hood was a half a knot slower than her half sisters. In rough weather she was much slower due to her low freeboard. As a result the service life of the
Hood was spent mostly in the Mediterranean Sea. The Hood was the last low freeboard battleship built for the Royal Navy. Due to a difference in the ammunition
passage arrangements the funnels of the
Hood were further apart than those of her half sisters. On June 18, 1893 HMS Hood left for the Mediterranean and served
there until April 1900. On April 29 she was paid off at Chatham until recommissioned as Port Guard Ship at Pembroke Dock. In 1901 she was assigned to the
Mediterranean. This time it was a short tour as on October 4, 1902 her rudder struck the seabed and was fractured, She returned to the United Kingdom navigating
by engines alone. On December 5, 1902 she paid off for the second time. She received a refit at Devonport and was recommissioned on June 25, 1903 for service
in the Home Fleet. She served with the Home Fleet until January 3, 1905 when she was laced in reserve. She was partially stripped for duty as a receiving ship, first
at Queenstown in April 1909 and then the Coast of Ireland in September 1910. In the era of dreadnoughts and super dreadnoughts, there was little use for an
obsolete, flawed design so in March 1911,
HMS Hood was placed on the disposal list. The hull was used in secret experiments with torpedo bulges. In November
1914 she was sunk as a blockship for Portland Harbor.
The HMS Hood 1893 kit from Combrig has resin parts only with no photo-etch. As far as photo-etch, Atlantic Models has a 1:700 scale fret of ultra-fine railing
for predreadnought warships that would be very beneficial. Since this fret does not include inclined ladders,
Atlantic has a set of generic railing and ladders, as well
as a fret of generic Royal Navy doors. Other manufacturer’s generic sets would work as well. The
Combrig resin hull is cast in their usual style with crisp, hard
gray resin. Side detail is very nice with prominent oval hull anchor hawse, which is complemented with slanting anchor washboards on each side. The hull has
various door openings along the sides. Starting at the bow, there is an tertiary gun position on each side of the bow.
Combrig has this position open with a gun door
with latch detail. However, the modeler will have to provide the gun barrels for these position. Amidship there are quite a number of these hull side doors. On each
side you’ll see two round doors for the broadside above water torpedo tubes. There is a row of small doors at the hull mounted tertiary 6-pdr positions. Unlike the
bow positions, these doors are closed. Two of the 6-inch gun positions were mounted in casemates on each side. The
Combrig kit has a lot of detail cast as part of
these casemates. Two hull side entrance doors are also found on the sides with multiple panel lines for each door. Near the stern is another tertiary gun position with
the shield closed. Unfortunately
Combrig did not include the ornate bow scroll-work found on the Hood as part of the casting detail.
Deck detail is very busy on the forecastle. With three anchors a lot of the detail deals with these positions, two to starboard and one to port. The washboard to the
starboard, since it was designed to store two anchors has a different pattern than the smaller washboard on the port side, which stored a single anchor. Another detail
that would be very useful from a third party source would be anchor chain to connect the anchors resting on the washboards and arching into the hull anchor hawse.
Other anchor gear detail cast onto the
Hood’s deck are oval deck hawse, windlasses, and plates for larger windlasses apparently for the chain locker. At deck edge on
each side of the forecastle are two open chock fittings and inboard are twin bollard fittings.  A pear shaped turret base dominates the forecastle detail. To round out this
busy deck space are a number of access deck coamings, ventilator locater holes, and a solitary skylight. As is true with other
Combrig kits, the wooden deck panels do
not have butt ends. Amidship deck detail is rather sparse as there are inset squares for the twin funnels and six locater holes for large J-cowl ventilators. I think that
Combrig made a mistake for not including locater holes for the six 6-inch guns and four 6-pdr guns that are found in open mounts on this deck. It is not hard to find
their locations with the instructions but there should have been locater holes. Two larger locater holes on centerline are fore the fore and main masts. The quarterdeck
has much the same type of detail as the forecastle with two open chocks at deck edge and two twin bollard fittings inboard on each side. Centerline are three small
skylights and one large deck access coaming. Locater holes are provided for more ventilators and one windlass. My biggest qualm about the deck detail is the lack of
metal blast plates arcing in front of the muzzles of the main guns. Fitted to prevent blast damage to the wooden deck from the discharge of the main armament, the
Royal Sovereign class definitely had these plates fitted over the deck. Since Hood is the half sister to that class and other than turrets and freeboard, completed almost
exactly as the
Royal Sovereigns, it is very likely that Hood also was fitted with these plates. Combrig shows these plates in the plan view in the instructions but doesn’t
include this detail on the forecastle or quarterdeck. I would recommend cutting and shaping these plates from the thinnest plastic card that can be obtained or better yet
from resin parts resin film left over from removal of those parts, assuming the remainder has the sufficient size. The casting film for some of the parts in this kit
appears to have sufficient size to shape these plates.
The smaller resin parts are also cast in the standard Combrig formats, thin items like platforms on a thin resin film, large parts singly and smaller items on runners.
For the
Combrig Hood there are six parts cast onto a rectangular resin film wafer. These include the flying boat deck over the amidship area, forward bridge, aft
bridge, navigation platform, aft wheelhouse and main mast star fish. The flying boat deck has boat chocks/cradles cast integral to the flying deck. Although these are
too thick, they will be hidden once the boats are attached. The forward bridge has the wheelhouse and the chart house to the rear, whereas the aft wheel house is
separate and will be attached to the aft bridge. All three superstructure houses have square window detail. Both bridges have bulkheads. These represent canvas
covered railing. For finer detail I would remove the bulkheads and replace with brass railing. The decks of these platforms do not have wooden plank detail. The open
deck navigation platform on top of the forward bridge doesn’t have the bulkheads so should have brass railing attached. It lacks a locater hole for a binnacle that is
fitted on the forward part of the platform. The turrets are cast separately with dominant aprons and gun commander’s cupolas for each gun on the crown. The two
funnels are cast separately on casting blocks. They have good bottom aprons and top caps and are sufficiently hollow at the tops. The next four largest parts are cast
on one of the 29 resin parts runners included in the kit. They are the two funnel bases and the two conning towers with vision slits. Four of the parts runners provide
the guns. The four main guns are stubby with thick reinforcing bands. The muzzles are not open and need to be cleaned. The deck 6-inch guns are two part with the
breech and gunshield as one part and the barrel as the second part. The last runner with guns is for the tertiary open guns. Twelve are provided and are single piece
with gun shield and base pedestal.

In an era when the coal fired boilers could make the engine rooms and interior of warships uncomfortably if not deadly hot, interior ventilation was a necessity. This
took the form of ventilators, many ventilators. The Royal Navy preferred the J-cowl ventilator fitting for cooling the interior with fresh air. Seven of the resin parts
runners for the
Combrig Hood consists of J-cowl ventilators. The come in for sizes, one of giant ventilators, one large size, one medium size, and four small size.
When your finished, you’ll have a forest of ventilators on the decks. Three of the runners have mast parts, one for the masts, one for the yardarms and the third for
the fighting tops. Anchor gear occupies two runners with four detailed windlasses on one runner and the anchors shared with binnacles on the other. Ten runners are
for ships boats with two runners of davits, one for life rafts, four for steam launches and whaler and three for smaller oared boats. Other runners include searchlights
and torpedo net booms. The instructions are in the old
Combrig format with one back-printed page. The front page has a very good plan and profile. This is excellent
for locating points of attachment of the torpedo net booms, 6-inch and small gun placement, rigging, boat placement, blast plate size, shape and location and a host of
other details. Also included are the ship’s specifications and history in English. The back page is the actual assembly. This includes a single isomorphic view of the hull
with arrows going from drawings of the smaller parts to their attachment locations on the hull.  Always double check the plan and profile on the front page before
attaching a part, unless the hull casting has a locator hole. There is a parts laydown and six detail insets for; turret assembly, deck 6-inch gun assembly, forward
bridge assembly, aft bridge assembly, main mast assembly and fore mast assembly.
Now you can build the pride of Admiral Sir Arthur Hood, First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, the last turret battleship of the Royal Navy, HMS Hood of 1893. The
Combrig HMS Hood 1893 kit is a good kit in spite of a few blemishes.
Steve Backer