From: Bexhill-on-Sea, E Sussex
The Admiral Hipper class (to which the prinz Eugen belongs) actually was not a good design. First of all, it missed the Washington treaty limits significantly. Second, it´s engine design was highly complicated, causing many troubles during missions. it was also plagued by small endurance. The AA armament was too slow to react to modern planes, and their fire guidance systems caused high topweights and were very sensible for vibrations causing them to fail.
Overall, the Hipper class was average at best.
BTW, the Prinz Eugen didn´t sink the Hood. One of their hits caused a fire among Hood´s 10,2cm AA ammo, but this fire was not responsible for the explosion that sunk the Hood. PEs 20,3cm guns had no chance to penetrate the main armor of Hood. It must have been one of the 38,1cm shells from Bismarck.
I would say the Zara´s are worthy candidates, but my no. 1 favorite is the French "Algerie". Well-armored, good endurance and speed, and still within the treaty limits.
That's interesting because I had heard that they fired short against Swordfishes because they were too damn slow (the Sfs). Also, I had heard that Hood was transporting a load of rockets on the upper deck (I would have heaved them over the side before battle), and that that might possibly have caused the magazine blasts. I've never heard, but I wonder what percentage of magazine blasts set off other magazines. There had to be more than one to blow her to pieces like that.
The main theory is one of Bismarks shells penitrated the deck armour exploded in powder magazines. The reason being it hit the area were she had light deck armour, aft I think. Her forward armour had been increased in the late 1930s and she was due a full refit in 1942 ( had to look that bit up). Problem is the underwater survey could not proove this theory one way or the other.