III Reich Aircraft Carrier Projects

Antonio

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A very nice article on Graf Zeppelin from Roy C. Nesbit can be found at Aeroplane's March 2007 issue.

a) In 1936, the keels of two carriers were laid down: Flugzeugtrager A (later Graf Zeppelin) and Flugzeugtrager B (latter Peter Strasser).

b) In addition, Grossadmiral Erich Raeder, put forward in 1938 a plan for four aircraft carriers to be built by 1945 (part of Plan Z) altough later it was to be reduced to two ships.

Any of this ships was never completed.

I understand that Zeppelin and Strasser were sister ships and that "1938 design" formed another class. Possibly a revised/enhanced/enlarged Zeppelin Class design or maight be a totally new design. Anybody has information or even drawings about this "1938 Flugzeugtrager" Class?

I have seen this books from John Baxter that are "what if" stuff but I would like to know if they are based upon real projects, anybody knows if I could find the "1938 Flugzeugtrager" Class on it?

http://www.lonewulfmodels.co.uk/sub_category.php?c_id=26&sc_id=77#
 

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smurf

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On the Warship Projects Discussion Board some time a go I posted this:
I've found an article by MJ Whitley in Warship vol 8 No 31 p153 1984.which may be the one I was thinking of, and a similar shorter story in Chesneau's Aircraft Carriers of the World. Essentially it is a continuously developing design story, rather than separate designs being abandoned one after the other. The two accounts are not quite the same, but go like this:
1. No aircraft carrier or naval aviation under Versailles Treaty so no design work until 1930's.
2. Chesneau: German rearmament begins in 1930's. Hadeler draws up tentative design in 1933 for full-deck carrier about 30 aircraft relying on carrier designs of other nations, especially RN and Courageous "even to the extent of incorporating a double hanger and forward flying off deck"
"Meanwhile the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of June 1935 allowed Germany 35% of RN tonnage for each class. For carriers this was theoretically 42750 tons, but RN had not taken up quite all its 135000 tons for carriers under the Washington Treaty, so Hadeler's sketches were refined into a live project and two carriers at 19250 tons each were authorised." The design progressed through various levels with increasing[/size] displacement, Chesneau quoting 28000 tons std by 1939.
3. Whitley: "On 12th March 1934 Staff Requirements for a carrier were tabled: 15000 tons, 33kn, 9x150mm or 6(2x3) 203mm, cruiser scale armour, range 12000 miles, 60 aircraft, 1/2 with folding wings"
203mm sited aft for use against a stern chase found to be impractical [2x3 or 1x3 + 3x1 in casemates].
In April 1934 a carrier proposed for 1935 programme. Design task given to Hadeler, who studied Lexington and Courageous and had prepared a sketch design by June 1934. Demands for modifications - navy unsure of precise needs. Under Anglo-German Naval Agreement of June 1935 Germans inferred a right to build carriers forbidden by Versailles, but Hadeler had to recast his design (which had reached 24000 tons) so that 2 could be built in the 38500 tons available. Whitley speaks of then learning from Japan, changing proposals for a fore-deck Glorious style catapult etc and reaching a 12250 ton[clearly a misprint for 22250 ton] carrier with an actual full load displacement of 33550 tons, 33.8 kn on 200,000 hp, about 40 aircraft various schemes for 8 - 16 150mm LA or DP guns. By this time we are into the Graf Zeppelin design as often outlined. Whitley's article follows the design process thereafter in some detail.

So, C and W agree that the 19250 ton version arose from the Anglo-German Naval Agreement of June 1935. How real that was or whether it was a paper figure, is a bit doubtful, given the other departures from reality for battleships and cruisers.

There is a part 2 to Whitley's article (Warship vol 9, No 33 p29 1985) which deals with construction, fates, and some later carrier projects. Neither part gives original sources for the data, and there are no drawings of the early sketch designs. (Sketch may merely mean 'outline' and there be no serious drawings.)

The later carrier projects were either conversions: All were [renamed](unfinished Hipper class heavy cruiser Seydlitz [Weser]; French light cruiser hull De Grasse [II]; liners Europa - the big one 50000 gross tons ; Gneisenau [Jade] and Potsdam [Elbe]; also some rather far-fetched designs for hybrids in 1942 with big guns forward as well as flight decks, and no chance of being built.
Only the Graf Zeppelin got really near to completion. Her sister B is often called Peter Strasser but never officially so named.
For details: the real ones German Warships 1815-1945 Vol One Erich Groener, revised Jung and Maass.
the hybrids The Hybrid Warship Layman and McLaughlin pp122ff
That's about it.
 

smurf

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Sorry, PS. Weser, Jade and Elbe would all have been around 18000 tons design displacement. Europa (I) 44000, compared to Graf Zeppelin 28000 tons design; 33550 max, 23200 standard. B about 1000 tons lighter than GZ.
 

smurf

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If you can handle a bit of Russian, you can find most carrier drawings here:
http://www.wunderwaffe.narod.ru/WeaponBook/AC/Draw/
My Russian is not quite good enough to be sure which ones are strictly authentic, and which, if any, are 'artist's impressions'. But the Russians did have Graf Zeppelin, and I guess access to German records.
On other pages on this site, some RN projects are drawn in greater detail than original sketches, which means the artists must have put in some of their own input.
 

Sentinel Chicken

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What ship does this image represent?

Link: http://www.wunderwaffe.narod.ru/WeaponBook/AC/Draw/02.jpg

Appears to be some sort of escort carrier....I seem to recall reading that somewhere in the latter half of the war Himmler wanted a carrier of his own for the SS??
 

Hood

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Sentinel Chicken, I'm afraid the picture is a WW2 British Escort Carrier, I think HMS Nairana.

Smurf, thanks from the info from Whitley, over on Warship Disscussion 3.0 I made a query about the 1930s German carrier designs. It does seem no further info will come out and that no drawings/sketches have survived.
 

smurf

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Yes it is Nairana.
I did find this. Sorry about the long link.
It didn't get into Groener/Jung/Maass so I don't know how 'real' it is.
http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl=http://www.german-navy.de/pics/kriegsmarine/cvl.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.german-navy.de/kriegsmarine/zplan/carrier/cvl/index.html&h=180&w=750&sz=5&hl=en&start=25&tbnid=OWiUzk-44xICDM:&tbnh=34&tbnw=141&prev=/images%3Fq%3Daircraft%2Bcarrier%2B%2522graf%2Bzeppelin%2522%26start%3D20%26ndsp%3D20%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Doff%26sa%3DN
 

Jemiba

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Not to be taken too seriously, I think . ;)

15 cm twin turrets before and aft of the island, 10.5 cm AA guns on the left side of the flight deck,
the tower stolen from the "Graf Spee" ... perhaps a reconstruction from a reconnaissance photo ?
"esorting U-Boat" really is a funny caption ! ;D
 

Abraham Gubler

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Jemiba said:
"esorting U-Boat" really is a funny caption ! ;D

Actually a very important role for the German Navy in WWII and one they would have put a carrier to use on if available. The British forces were able to sink many German submarines by interdicting their deployment routes through the North Sea and Bay of Biscay before they could make it to the high seas. Because Germany was geographically constrained there was no practical alternative to these sea routes. Since this was a major weakness a submarine escort forces were put into place to help them make it to the relative security of the high seas. Submarines survive via stealth and often overlooked by many observers is that stealth applies also to operational and strategic deployment issues not just tactical engagements.
 

Jemiba

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That's correct, during the final stages of the war, that probably was the most important
role of the German surface vessels, but as I understand it, here in this drawing the U-Boat
is escorting the carrier, not the other way round.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Jemiba said:
That's correct, during the final stages of the war, that probably was the most important
role of the German surface vessels, but as I understand it, here in this drawing the U-Boat
is escorting the carrier, not the other way round.

LOL! Touche!

Reminds me of the story of U-556 that in trying to borrow Bismarck’s band for its commissioning ceremony so offered to be their underwater escort. While offered in jest (they got the band) this same submarine had a perfect chance to sink the RN carrier before it launched the Swordfish aircraft that disabled the Bismarck causing it to be caught by the RN fleet. However this U-556 had expended all of its serviceable torpedoes so was unable to engage. They knew Bismarck was in trouble as all U Boats had been ordered to its defence but had to sit by and watch the ship they had “adopted” get sunk.
 

Grey Havoc

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Graf-Zeppelin-2.jpg

[IMAGE CREDIT: US Navy/Wikimedia Commons]​

Description The German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin after launching in December 1938.

Date 8 December 1938

Source U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.037.060

Author U.S. Navy (A503 FM30-50 booklet for identification of ships, published by the Division of Naval Inteligence of the Navy Department of the United States)
 

sgeorges4

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Any official or detailed drawing fo the FlugzeugtrÄger B(Peter Strasser seem to be a speculate name):
5b0f5e0184a19_2048x2048.jpg

The only picture I can find in this book:
1536988888

flugze10.jpg
 

Hood

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As far as I know the second Graf Zeppelin class carrier would have been identical to the first ship, probably including the 1942 modifications made to Graf Zeppelin (Atlantic bow, revised 2.4m wide bulges above roll keel).
 

Jemiba

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In his book "Einziger deutscher Flugzeugtraeger Graf Zeppelin" by Ulrich H.-J. Israel, the author wrote, that many
points in that ship certainly would have been changed, if ever intensive trials would have been done. Some points
principally were known to be less, than optimal from the start, e.g. the armament with sixteen15 cm guns in twin
casemates, or the use of take-off trolleys for launching the aircraft. The construction of the "Graf Zeppelin" was
started without experience, so faults were inevitable, but maybe could have been remedied in a second ship.
 

sgeorges4

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What kind of catapult would have replace the one from the graf zepelin for the Flugzeugträger B? My doc also said that some part of the Flugzeugträger B were sold to italy and use for the Aquilla,true or not?
Aquila-19431-1024x648.jpg

https://forum.worldofwarships.com/topic/131364-hot-or-not-italian-aircraft-carrier-aquila/
 

observer144

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Grey Havoc said:
Graf-Zeppelin-2.jpg

[IMAGE CREDIT: US Navy/Wikimedia Commons]​

It is just me, or does that seem like an excessive number of portholes for a surface combatant? Obviously the torpedo protection is unimpeded, but with war load and a little list, it seems like it would increase risk of not being able to control flooding & damage control.
 

sgeorges4

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where the aircraft can take off without the catapult or not? The answer seem to be yes from the cover of this book but I'm a bit doubtfull:
Ohne_Titel33_ml.jpg
 

sgeorges4

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nice post on the graf: https://forum.worldofwarships.com/topic/153179-carrier-graf-zeppelin-as-she-would-have-appeared-in-1943/
 

Jemiba

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From the mentioned site :

"Further, because the catapults only took up the forward section of the flight deck it was possible for GZ to
simultaneously launch and recover aircraft, something no other carrier during the war was capable of."

Not correct, to my opinion. The USN Yorktown class was fitted with catapults ("accelerators") in 1941 and
simultaneous launch and recovery of aircraft could be done with relative safety on these ships, because
a "crash barrier" was used, quite a massive steel net (definitely not liked by the pilots), whereas for the
GZ only a fifth landing cable was proposed as a safety measure against failed landings.

"Further, she wouldn't need to inconvenience accompanying ships in a tactical situation by having to turn into
the wind to launch aircraft."

Depended on the weight of the aircraft. Lightly loaded, it probably was true, but with heavy loads, like torpedoes
or bombs the GZ would have had to create wind over the deck by steaming at higher speeds ... like every other
carrier (mentioned in the Israel book, too).

And if the full length of the flight deck could be used and the carrier made full speed ahead, even those famous
B-25 medium bombers could be launched from a carrier of that era !
 

sgeorges4

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their seem to have been 2 variant of the Weser (Seydlitz conversion):
2yzkbvt.jpg

1o3k38.jpg

annyone to confirm?
 

Tzoli

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The full light carrier conversion is definitely true the hybrid Cruiser-Carrier I'm not confident with...
 

Hood

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The upper cruiser-carrier image is a fake. It's from Damien Burke's 'Admiral Furashita' alternate history.
 

Foo Fighter

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Is there an assessment of the potential of the Graf Zeppelin in service? I also wonder why the Russians did not put the ship into service.
 

TomS

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Is there an assessment of the potential of the Graf Zeppelin in service? I also wonder why the Russians did not put the ship into service.

The Graf Zeppelin's catapult system looks terrible, honestly. Theoretically it could launch launch 18 aircraft per hour (all 18 in 10 minutes, then 50 minutes to recharge the compressed air reservoir before launching more). That means you can't fly off more than about half the embarked airwing at a time. And they apparently did not envisage launching aircraft with a deck roll at all.

The Soviets didn't put her in service because a) she had been scuttled, with all that implies about water damage to internal systems; b) they had no suitable aircraft and lacked the resources to build them without hurting other higher priorities; and c) they had no real interest in a carrier at that juncture, and several internal design studies also died because no one thought carriers were that important.
 

Foo Fighter

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Not meaning to be argumentative but, the Wilhelm Bauer went back into service years after being scuttled as an example. Thanks for the info.
 

Hood

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Graf Zeppelin was never really completed. She was around 85% complete when work stopped on her construction by mid-1940. She then spent the rest of the war tied up, used to store timber for two years before work resumed in May 1942. This was the period when the Kriegsmarine started most of its conversion efforts (Europa, De Grasse, Seydlitz, Elbe etc.). It was estimated work would take a year to complete and some indication of the ship's condition can probably be gauged that it was decided to focus on getting her inner propeller shafts and turbines operational to give her enough speed to enable trials, with the full powerplant probably not operational until early 1944. Of course by May 1943 she was still not ready when work stopped again. Once again laid up she at least had a small care and maintenance crew aboard. It was this crew that then flooded her lower compartments and rigged demolition charges in the engine spaces when the Red Army approached.

The real reason why the Soviets did not attempt a full recovery was due to the provisions of the Allied Tripartie Commission agreements. Any captured ship that could not be repaired quickly had to be destroyed or scuttled by 15 August 1946 as a Category C ship. The badly damaged and half-sunk Graf Zeppelin certainly fitted this category. We could speculate why the Soviets did not just ignore that ruling, indeed the fact they refloated her in March 1946 might indicate they considered that or perhaps they simply raised her to make scrapping easier when the time came. The Soviets though did abide by the Agreement eventually, sinking the Lutzow on 22 July 1947 and then the Graf Zeppelin on 14 August. Presumably the explosives tests aboard her gave some useful data before she sank. We could speculate perhaps the Soviets worried if they did not comply then the hand-over of intact war prizes would have been delayed or prevented, they were keen to get their hands on their share of the Italian fleet for example, which were not handed over until 1947-49. Also, the USSR in 1946 had few functioning shipyards or suppliers of boilers and steam turbines, its hard to see them making Graf Zeppelin operational before 1949 even if they had wanted too.
 

Hood

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Further to this, I came across some more information in an article in Warship 2013 by Richard Worth and Vladimir Yakubov.

It seems the naval committee that travelled to Germany in autumn 1939 as a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, tried to buy the plans of the Graf Zeppelin and even tried to purchase her sistership (Flugzeugtrager B) on which construction had just been halted (structure only completed up to the armoured deck). The committee toured Graf Zeppelin but it seems the result was the blind leading the blind, neither nation having any real experience of carriers or their equipment and so they left empty handed.
 

Foo Fighter

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Thank you. I wonder if there are any pictures of the B ship anywhere.
 

ptdockyard

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A very nice article on Graf Zeppelin from Roy C. Nesbit can be found at Aeroplane's March 2007 issue.

a) In 1936, the keels of two carriers were laid down: Flugzeugtrager A (later Graf Zeppelin) and Flugzeugtrager B (latter Peter Strasser).

b) In addition, Grossadmiral Erich Raeder, put forward in 1938 a plan for four aircraft carriers to be built by 1945 (part of Plan Z) altough later it was to be reduced to two ships.

Any of this ships was never completed.

I understand that Zeppelin and Strasser were sister ships and that "1938 design" formed another class. Possibly a revised/enhanced/enlarged Zeppelin Class design or maight be a totally new design. Anybody has information or even drawings about this "1938 Flugzeugtrager" Class?

I have seen this books from John Baxter that are "what if" stuff but I would like to know if they are based upon real projects, anybody knows if I could find the "1938 Flugzeugtrager" Class on it?

I have both of the Tragerflotten books and while I consider them great fun I would say the German carriers are about 50% based on real ships and designs. The author is more of an aircraft guy.

He told me years ago he was working on Vol 3 but I think that will not happen.

Dave
 

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This from “Freedom of the Seas, the story of Hitler’s aircraft carrier - Graf Zeppelin” about her material state in 1945.

All major pieces of equipment on board had been destroyed. The elevators were almost inverted, turbines, boilers and other machinery destroyed with surrounding bulkheads ripped and buckled as was the fight deck. All that before she had been flooded as she lay at her moorings.

According to Soviet records she was raised between Aug/Sept 1945. Under the rules of the Tri-Partite Naval Commission she had to be destroyed as she fell into Category C ie sunken, damaged or unfinished ships which require more than 6 months of repair in a German shipyard to obtain completion. So she had to be sunk or scrapped before the end of 1947.

So on 17 Aug 1947 she was towed out to deep water for use in weapons tests and damage control studies carried out in 3 phases. Then she was subjected to a wholly ineffectual “aerial assault” by the Soviet Air Force, thereby proving German reports. As the weather began to deteriorate the next day it was decided to sink her with torpedoes from Elco MTBs and later destroyers. And there she lay until discovered in 2006.

In terms of the plans to operate aircraft from her, these would have their engines pre-heated in the hangar to minimise time on deck to start engines and launch. Fighters in the forward part of the upper hangar would have been mounted on their take off trolleys, again to minimise launch times in case of surprise attack.

It does seem however that running take offs were envisaged when catapults were recharging.
 

Justo Miranda

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Some additional info here
 

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