What aircraft would be used on Graf Zeppelin aircraft carrier?

Stuka_Hunter

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Hello

The question is the title of the topic itself. It is known that at first Bf 109 T and Ju 87 C would be used, but which would be used in the 1944 and 45, with better Allied counterparts?
 

Avimimus

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There was the Fieseler Fi 167 which would have acted as a torpedo bomber (and maybe seen anti-submarine use). The He 114 had been proposed but appears to have lost the competition. The Arado Ar-195C or Ar-197 could have possibly acted as a spotter: http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,4516.msg36561.html#msg36561

The Junkers EF 82 might have acted as a single seat replacement for the Stuka: http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,14491.msg144396.html#msg144396

Arado E-310 (Ar-240 related) and Fieseler (8-P22.00-102 or P22A/P22C) both had designs for twin engined carrier based multi-role attack aircraft:
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,4771.0/all.html

Catapult variants of the Messerschmitt Me 328 were considered, especially for submarine launch - but the Graff was scrapped by that time. The same goes for the Natter. These aircraft would also likely be single use (as it couldn't be recovered).

The Focke-Achgelis Krabbe helicopters could also be used, but that is highly speculative. One might also see the Fieseler Fi 156 U used (essentially a Storch outfitted with a depth charge). However, I'm not sure if either of these latter two aircraft were small enough without folding wings (particularly an issue for the Krabbe).

In conclusion: The most likely candidates are the EF-82 (or Ju-187) and a twin engine design by Fieseler or Arado. A FW-190 or later Bf-109T variant is also a possibility. Jets would be too slow to accelerate, however many jets towards the end of the war were proposed with reusable liquid rockets for assistance in taking off - so a hybrid rocket-jet with a large enough wing to allow landing at low speeds is a plausibility.
 

Jemiba

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The most likely candidate to me would have been the Fw 190. The Graf Zeppelin could carry a rather limited
number of aircraft only, compared to other carriers. The fighter bomber versions of the Fw 190 probably still
were able to stand on their own feet (after dropping their load) and to be used as pure fighters in a naval
environment. The landing gear was considered to be tough and tests to carry torpedoes had been conducted, too.
And manufacturing was in full swing up to the end of the war. AFAIK after construction/completion of the GZ was
stopped, there was only one attempt to restart it around 1942. To me, this was the last point, that its completion
was something like "possible", because later allied air supremacy probably wouldn't have allowed for such a ship
to join the Kriegsmarine. Carriage of torpedoes was tested with the F-8 version, the F was brought into service in
1942, so it could have been on time.
 

Hood

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There was of course the Me 155 developed from the Me 109 that later became a high-altitude fighter and later given the Blohm und Voss to complete.
Also I've seen mention of a Blohm und Voss asymmetric design (P.62) as a "Marine-Stuka" but I have no idea if that was meant to be carrier-based or not.

I guess the answer is the Graf Zeppelin would have used whatever aircraft the Luftwaffe would be willing to supply. Given their tendency to ignore the Navy's needs it may have been the carrier would have made do with whatever existing carrier-based types remained by 1944 or limited production of replacements, e.g. Me-109T based on the Me-109G and Ju-87C based on the Ju-87D/H series.
 

Stuka_Hunter

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Thanks for all the answers, didnt expect such quick responce. ;D

Avimimus said:
Jets would be too slow to accelerate, however many jets towards the end of the war were proposed with reusable liquid rockets for assistance in taking off - so a hybrid rocket-jet with a large enough wing to allow landing at low speeds is a plausibility.
What about more powerfull catapults? A jet with low stall speeds could get airborne. AFAIK, Henschels Hs 132 was supposed to be an anti-shipping design at first, so it could be navalized if Kriegsmarine wanted so (correct me if I am wrong). It also had a pilot in the nose and in prone position = better visibility.

Jemiba said:
The most likely candidate to me would have been the Fw 190.
I get your point for this airplane up untill the point where later variants of F4U Corsairs would be leased to British carriers. From that point on, Wulfs would have a hard time.

Hood said:
Also I've seen mention of a Blohm und Voss asymmetric design (P.62) as a "Marine-Stuka" but I have no idea if that was meant to be carrier-based or not.
Do you have any pictures of it, because I cant seem to find it on the internet. :-\
 

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Stuka_Hunter said:
What about more powerfull catapults? A jet with low stall speeds could get airborne.
The issue operating early jets from carriers wasn't so much the getting airborne in the first place. It was more about the engines spooling up fast enough if the arrest or landing was missed and the aircraft had to do a go around.
 

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GTX said:
Stuka_Hunter said:
What about more powerfull catapults? A jet with low stall speeds could get airborne.
The issue operating early jests from carriers wasn't so much the getting airborne in the first place. It was more about the engines spooling up fast enough if the arrest or landing was missed and the aircraft had to do a go around.
Ah I get it now. So maybe a mixed design, like Blohm & Voss BV P.194 would be perfect?
 

Jemiba

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Stuka_Hunter said:
.... so it could be navalized if Kriegsmarine wanted so
The slogan "Alles was fliegt, gehört mir !" (Everything that flies is mine !) by Herman Göring wasn't
suspended until the end of the war. The Luftwaffe itself was in constant need of any aircraft, it could get.
I don't think, that the wish to get such a new type of aircraft ever would have had even the slightes chance
to become true. Of course, if we stretch What-If to its very limits, maybe by Admiral Raeder becoming Hitlers
successor earlier and because of sympathy to his ties to the navy, he orders the GZ to be finished and getting
the latest aircraft.
 

Stuka_Hunter

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Jemiba said:
Stuka_Hunter said:
.... so it could be navalized if Kriegsmarine wanted so
...maybe by Admiral Raeder becoming Hitlers
successor earlier and because of sympathy to his ties to the navy, he orders the GZ to be finished and getting
the latest aircraft.
That is highly unlikely. With the Battle of the Barents Sea in 1943, Hitler decided to scrap the entire surface fleet. I see only 2 possible scenarios from that point on:

- Dönitz as the new admiral, who was quite supportive to Hitler and his ideas, asked to finish the GZ.
- Hitler would realise himself that carriers are important, if not in Europe then at least by messages from Japan about American successes.

As for the Göring: Hitler realised a little to late that far better commanders were available.

But yeah, I agree that is more of a what-if.
 

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Honestly, I think one would see yet another variation of the Bf109 (say a"Bf109T-3" derived from the Bf109G series but incorporating some of the existing T series). Maybe a Fw-190 variant - say derived from the F series. That's if they didn't waste their resources chasing fanciful designs...
 

shaba

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the fw -190 would be a poor choice in my oppion ,it had poor forward vision and a bouncy undercarriage . the bf-155 would be good enough for the rest of the war after that who knows.for bomber the 87 E would work but if they could get a licence for the d4y that would be better.
 

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shaba said:
the fw -190 would be a poor choice in my oppion ,it had poor forward vision and a bouncy undercarriage . the bf-155 would be good enough for the rest of the war after that who knows.for bomber the 87 E would work but if they could get a licence for the d4y that would be better.
Against this, it has a wide track undercarriage that is probably better for carriers.

Ultimately even if they had finished the GZ and her putative sister ship (because one carrier is never enough), I suspect the Germans would have run into severe operational issues - unlike the British, Americans and Japanese, they had no experience or tradition of carrier operations, and even the British might have given them a severe mauling. A GZ afloat with an air group instantly becomes the top-priority high value target for the entire Royal Navy. Skuas to the top of them, Swordflsh and possibly Beauforts all around (she has to go back into dock sometime, after all)... with a small air group, can you hope to stop them all? One lucky Swordfish or Skua might not sink the GZ, but a 500lb AP bomb through the deck is going to put her in drydock for a significant time, and then the RAF nuisance raids begin, while if she gets torpedoed and has to limp home, that makes things easier for the submarines.
 

Hood

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The over complicated cradle catapult system would have probably been unreliable in service too.

Graf Zeppelin may have been handy for Bismarck's breakout though, not least for some longer-range reconnaissance and the presence of her small airgroup might well have forced the Admiralty to wait until they had enough surface power to ambush the taskforce after using Victorious and Ark Royal's aircraft to try and sink her first. Even a small number of Bf 109Ts might have made Swordfish attacks tricky but the weather wasn't great and its doubtful there would have been enough fighters to drive off every attack.

Any other time in the war and really a German carrier fleet is just another static target in French or Norwegian ports.
 

Jemiba

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The argument about the cradle system is valid, I think, as is the the one about the narrow track of the Bf 109 landing
gear. The Seafire was described as a "great carrier fighter in the air, but it really should have stayed there ...". and
it had principally the same type of landing gear.
The choice of the Bf 109 as the fighter for the GZ was simply based on the availability of this type, as the only
suitable German fighter in that time, the Fw 190 was somewhat later, when it became clear, that one type wasn't enough.
The same is true for the Ju 87, though it may have been better suited to the use on a carrier, than the Bf 109.
The existence of a German carrier task force could indeed have had tremendous impact on the naval situation between
the Kriegsmarine and the RN, but ... probably even two carriers wouldn't have been enough and to think just about one
really means drifting into alternative history. So, before it's demanded, I put this thread in this section.
 

Stuka_Hunter

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Jemiba said:
So, before it's demanded, I put this thread in this section.
Thanks for the move. o7


Also, as someone previously mentioned, landings would also be very tricky. Even postwar, there were many landings where airplanes barely hooked on the last wire. So the dream aircraft would need to have the following:

-Low stall speed (~150 km/h), high speed in flight (~450 km/h in level flight, this doesnt apply for recon airplanes) (Ju 87 and Fieseler Fi 167 fail)
-High responsiveness of the engine (all-jet airplanes fail)
-Great visibility (this is where both Fw 190 and Bf 109 fail imo)
-Agility (some versions of Fw 190 were extremely heavy due to armor, reducing agility)
-Strenghtened landing gear and foldable wings (achievable on almost any type)
-Good payload (doesnt apply for recon airplanes as well)

Possible designs that fulfill all or majority of the above mentioned criteria:

-Blohm & Voss P. 194 (asymetry could be effective). If this would be used, BV 141 could be used instead of Fieseler Storch due to same exact piston powerplant as P.194.
-Fieselers Storch (can land almost vertically, doesnt take up alot of space).
-Messerschmitt / Blohm & Voss Me/Bv 155 (as it was designed for carrier service in its early form).
-VTOL designs, like Heinkel Lerche (very Luft 46-ish).

OR

Ask Japan for help.
 

Foo Fighter

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Seeing that the technology shift was from Germany to Japan and the Russians had such a low esteem of Japanese aircraft technology, where would the benefit be for Germany to acquire airframes from the Japanese?
 

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The Japanese had years of experience with aircraft carriers and carrier aircraft. Graf Zeppelin was launched in 1938. If you compare the Nakajima B5N torpedo bomber of that time with its contemporaries, the Douglas Devastator and Fairey Swordfish / Albacore, 'low esteem of Japanese aircraft technology' was misplaced.
 

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But once you've added a German engine to the Nakajima B5N, fitted armour protection, fitted protected fuel tanks and beefed up the armament then the advantages over the opposition has declined somewhat as the weight increases and range decreases.
Also, I suspect different tooling and manufacturing methods would entail quite extensive redesign and redrawing. It would be just as easy to start a new home-grown design for not much more effort and time.

I wonder though if any of the German engineers who came back from Japan ever did take any ideas they picked up there back home with them?

I'm also suspicious of 'Luft 46' binary Germany-Japan trades simply because they were Axis partners. We shouldn't overlook Germany explored other avenues, for example Udet's purchase of two Curtiss Hawk II dive-bombers.

For small penny-packets like the German carrier air groups of a few dozen planes, making do with conversions of standard types is probably more cost effective. I suspect had the Z Plan gone ahead, then perhaps it would have been more worthwhile to look at fresh designs.
 

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I'm suspicious of Germany-Japan trades (of completed designs wholesale) simply because even though they were Axis partners, they never really worked together the way the British and Americans did (and the way the Brits and Yanks gave to the Soviets).
 

Foo Fighter

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With all the negatives, add to that the chances of any German aircraft carrier operating much beyond a few weeks and the whole thing becomes a waste of time, effort and money. Added would be the negative effect on morale which the hierarchy was more and more sensitive to, note the name change of the Deutschland to Lutzow https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_cruiser_Deutschland.
 

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Graf Zeppelin was actually tremendously flawed as a carrier design, perhaps more so than any other carrier outside of the Japanese BBVs, because of the cradle launch system, which actually made her intended ops cycle more like a glorified seaplane carrier. Beyond the Fi-167, everything needed a purpose-designed launch cradle, and the number and type of cradles carried both determined her air group and limited her alpha-strike capability.

I think there's a serious argument to be made she'd have been stuck with Bf 109s and Stukas through the end of the war.
 

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DWG said:
Graf Zeppelin was actually tremendously flawed as a carrier design, perhaps more so than any other carrier outside of the Japanese BBVs, because of the cradle launch system, which actually made her intended ops cycle more like a glorified seaplane carrier. Beyond the Fi-167, everything needed a purpose-designed launch cradle, and the number and type of cradles carried both determined her air group and limited her alpha-strike capability.

I think there's a serious argument to be made she'd have been stuck with Bf 109s and Stukas through the end of the war.
Consider, though - against a poorly protected convoy, what more do you need? The Bf109s can probably handle the CAM Sea Hurricanes or Martlets easily enough while the Stukas wreak havoc on the escort ships and/or the biggest Merchantmen, and either or both can act as shadowers guiding U-boats in. Put her up in Norway with the Tirpitz and she becomes significantly more trouble to sink and better placed to act?

Of course all this is conditional not only on the ship being built, equipped and crewed, but on the inter-service rivalries being sorted out.
 

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Put her in Norway with Tirpitz and Home Fleet becomes even more determined to destroy the Tirpitz group in Kaafjord. In OTL they launched six operations against Kaafjord (three of which were cancelled due to weather), including the multi-strike Operation Goodwood. Graf Zeppelin's air group is so weak it doesn't measurably add to Tirpitz's defences and her main contribution may be adding a second target. Tirpitz may have been a tough target for FAA's Barracudas, but Graf Zeppelin's big, flat, unarmoured, unmoving flightdeck is a perfect target for a 1,600lb AP bomb from a Barracuda, or worse, a Tallboy from one of 617 Squadron's Lancasters.
 
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