The German Aircraft Carrier Graf Zeppelin

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Jeff Head, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. chuck731
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    chuck731 Banned Idiot

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    Note the H44 type was designed on the initiative of the navy in 1944 after Hitler had already become totally disillusioned with German surface fleet and had ordered all major surface units scrapped in 1943.

    Hitler never rescinded the order to scrap the surface navy. He only agreed to a deferral in the execution of the order when Donitz argued that the scrap value of the fleet to the war economy wasn't worth the effort to scrap them.
     
  2. TerraN_EmpirE
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    TerraN_EmpirE Tyrant King

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    Yes but based on plan Z plan Z was written in January of 1939 and H44 was the fifth of the H class concepts each going bigger and grander from H39 its self being a scaled up Bismarck. The plan was placed on hold and subs given priority when the war started. Had the war opened latter things might have gone very different. Hitler seemed almost always in a rush.
     
    #22 TerraN_EmpirE, Oct 27, 2013
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  3. chuck731
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    chuck731 Banned Idiot

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    The Z-plan schedule of peaceful naval build up until 1948 was a best case scenario, but I think most German planners, including Hitler, knew the economic obstacle to its attainment was probably insurmountable. They knew the apparent economic progress made under the Nazi regime between 1933-1939 was superficial and based on highly inflationary policy of heavy state subsidy for both guns and butter. By 1939 the German economy could not last much longer in peacetime condition, foreign reserve was almost exhausted, productivity had peaked and was declining, serious inefficiencies and misallocations rising. To prevent a return of hyperinflations, serious cut had to be made in either military spending, or subsidies for civilian economy. From his experience of the collapse of germany's home front and the ouster of the kaiser due to war time hardships during WWI, Hitler always had a deep fear that a cut for civilian economic subsidies and increase in civilian hardship would undermine of the popularity of Hitler and stability of the Nazi regime. So he would have to scale back his rearmament ambitions if war does not break out.

    I think part of the reason he was in a rush was he knew Germany did not have the economic strength to really win an all out peacetime arms race against England, France and Russia. As soon as he is forced to scale back his rearmament ambition, he would have lost the arms race and Germany would fall steadily further behind, and his foreign policy goals further out of reach.
     
    #23 chuck731, Oct 27, 2013
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  4. thunderchief
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    thunderchief Senior Member

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    Yeah , right ;) . Taiho suffered one torpedo hit . Aircraft fuel tanks were not protected , they were below anti-torpedo belt , so they ruptured . Now , aircraft fuel tanks were not supposed to be so "deep" and below waterline . But if they are placed in such way , proper ventilation has to be installed . In order to squeeze as as many planes as they could Japanese completely flopped with this - ruptured tanks were below elevator so fumes started to go up and into the hangars which were enclosed . They too had barely adequate ventilation for themselves , so there was no way to evacuate deadly fuel vapor .
    In one word , Taiho was typical example of "cutting corners" , engineers trying to squeeze in advanced features in relatively inexpensive product and that usually end badly as in this case .


    Tirpitz suffered several heavy air attacks , literally dozens of tons of bombs were dropped on it . As a fleet-in -being it tied lot of Royal Navy and other resources , so Germans could be proud with this excellent ship .


    First of all , it is easy to blame guys who could not defend themselves because most of them died in that crappy ship . Yes they tried to stop the leak , but it could not be done - tanks were below waterline and sea water was coming in . They were pumping as much as they could especially trough jammed forward elevator , but they could not stop the fumes . Planking was last ditch attempt to stop fumes coming up , obviously not successful because they could not seal hermetically elevator well . And they could not went fumes overboard - only way for them to go was inside the ship because aircraft fuel was stored below waterline .


    Shokaku and Zuikaku were solid pre-war designs , with less armor then Taiho and totally different internal structure and sailing characteristics .

    Well wrong . Soviets filled it with explosives and fuel , to simulate operating carrier . That was their test all about - to see how much fire power would they need to sink working aircraft carrier and to identify possible weak spots .
     
  5. Jeff Head
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    Jeff Head General
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    Well, in the end, the Graf Zeppelin had different design constraints placed on her by the Kriegsmarine and the Nazi leadership. Those design constraints, for her perceived mission, weakened her airwing size considerably, and presnted some very difficult handling issues for the aircraft she would have carried in terms of both deck and hangar handling.

    They also added an offensive gun armament that was unnecessary because it weakend her principle armament, her airwing. if faced with so much as a heavy cruiser on the surface, she would have been vastly under gunned.

    She was stronger in terms of her overall structure, and this would have been good for the Arctic Ocean and North Atlantic. Fact is, she was not meant for the fleet type engagements that the US and Japanese carriers were designed for, and which they anticipated.

    Still, with 12 or more Me-109s for air cover she could have fended off small scale torpedo and bomber attacks. A pressed attack however, by a large number of torpedo bombers and/or dive bombers, particularly if escorted by a good group of fighters from an adversary carrier, would have surely overwhelmed the Me-109 contingent.

    With 30 Ju-87 Stuka dive bombers, she would have had an effectiv strike force. However, once again, her adversaries were going to haver that many dive bombers and that many torpedo bombers again to attack her. She needed a group of torpedo bombers as well, to be able to come in on the deck with, while dive bombers came in high against adversaries.

    This shows all the more (IMHO) that the Germans meant her to raid, and to excort raiders and give them an added layer of protection...which as it turned out, they desperately needed.

    If the Graf Zeppelin had been able to get to the shipping lanes with a couple of battleships and heavy cruisers, and with a screen of destroyers, it would have been a MAJOR problem for the allies.

    But she never did (as the history below indicates). We are all speculating about what may or may not have happened, and about her known characteristics and how they may or may not have worked out. It is an interesting discussion.
     
  6. thunderchief
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    thunderchief Senior Member

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    Things should be put in perspective . Hitler outlined himself several times that he doesn't want to challenge British Empire and its oversea possessions , and that his main target is Soviet Russia . Therefore , Kriegsmarine was always secondary force for him , despite plan Z and other things . From this political decision came Kriegsmarine's strategy and decision that they would not challenge Royal Navy in open fleet engagements ( like Jutland in WW1 ) because they simply had no resources . Instead they would focus on commerce (convoy) raiding .

    It was expected that Graf Zeppelin would participate in such raids . As such , it would not have large escort , instead it would operate in a small group with 1 , maybe 2 other ships . Because of this , some armament would have to be carried against destroyers and light cruisers - in case of sudden encounter in hazy northern seas or at night . Fighter complement was relatively light - GZ was to avoid large British units and heavy aviation concentration . Instead , it was to move quickly towards targets detected by other platforms , strike hard and then retire before the main British fleet has the chance to retaliate .

    Btw , here is the Link in Russian (but you could use Google translate ) with details about Soviet tests and final fate of Graf Zeppelin :

    ÐвианоÑец «Граф Цеппелин» — боевой трофей КрÐной Ðрмии
     
  7. Jeff Head
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    Jeff Head General
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    Which is precisely why I indicated that her "brweak" would be to the North where she could in fact take the war to the Soviets and their supply convoys coming from the US and elsewhere.

    However, I believe she would have had a large escort than you imply. The Germans triend numerous times to break their battleships into the North Atlanctic and they generally had another battleship and/or heavy cruisers with them. I believe the Graz Zepplin would have had at least a battleship and a couple of cruisers with her.

    Anyhow, as I siad, all of that is speculation.

    Thanks for the link aboyut the Russian tests and SINKEX.

    I believe this thread should focus on things like the engines, the hanars, the catapaults, and the various machinery spaces. The Graf Zeppelin was definitely designed in many of these areas differently from other carriers of her day. As Chuck said, in may respects she was over designed...but I believe a part of that was because the Germans expected her (as you say) to perform a much different role as a carrier.
     
  8. thunderchief
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    thunderchief Senior Member

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    Well , standard German tactics was to operate their larger raiders in pairs ( Bismarck&Prinz Eugen , Gneisenau&Scharnhorst ) or even alone ( Admiral Graf Spee ) without destroyer escort . Reason for that was simply because their destroyers didn't have enough range to escort larger ships on longer cruisers especially at higher speeds they were forced to operate . Also there was practically no chance to resupply those ships at sea . So , if GZ wanted to venture into Atlantic , she would most likely go with another battleship or heavy cruiser and nothing much else . In such circumstances her guns could be useful .

    If we talk about actions in Norwegian or Barents Sea , that would be another matter as Germans did operate a lot of destroyers there and GZ would definitely had escort of 3-4 destroyers .
     
  9. TerraN_EmpirE
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    TerraN_EmpirE Tyrant King

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    One of the reasons I brought up the GZ was as a point that she was a first try at a carrier for a nation that had never had carriers after the fall of Germany she went to another nation that had never had a carrier before. Yet in both cases she was it seems a fifth wheel. The only role she finally fulfilled was as a means to her own destruction.
     
  10. delft
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    delft Brigadier

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    OT
    I suspect that the word Flugdeckkreuzer inspired the name through deck cruiser. Does anyone know?
     
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