View Full Version : German Aircraft Carriers

11-11-2004, 12:24 PM
Hi All

I'm probably going to answer my own question!... but being rather interested in the history of the World Wars, I have not really come across any reference to Germany making/using Aircraft Carriers as we British, the Americans & the Japanese did, was there a reason why they didn't??

11-11-2004, 12:26 PM

"In 1935, Germany's first aircraft carrier was ordered, and she was launched as the Graf Zeppelin in December 1938. She was to provide the commerce-raiding capital ships and cruisers with air cover, and would have increased their potential for destruction considerably. A second ship, provisionally to be called KMS Peter Strasser after World War I head of the naval airship squadrons, was ordered the following year, but she was canceled in 1940 to release shipyard capacity for more urgent work.
Unfortunately the Germans overreached themselves. They had no experience of all the problems which had beset the early American, British and Japanese carriers despite of intense research done by scientists and engineers in smaller scales using modified merchantmen. But worst of all, the head of the Luftwaffe, Hermann G├┬Âring refused to allow his "empire" to be encroached upon, having said anything that flied in Germany belonged to him, by permitting the formation of a separate naval air force; even though the short-landing Fi 156, the clipped-winged Junkers Ju 87C and Messerschmitt Me 109T were ready. The result was that the Navy had to try to persuade the Luftwaffe to part with a small number of aircraft, and the wrangling went on until there was no hope of getting a carrier to sea.
Although the Graf Zeppelin had some advanced features she displayed her designers' lack of experience. The heavy surface armament was of little use and accounted for too much weight; the anti-aircraft armament was heavy but badly sited, all on the starboard side; the radius of action was low for a fleet carrier intended to operate with the capital ships on the Atlantic shipping routes.
The wrangles over aircraft were matched by arguments over the equipment of the ship, and construction was suspended in 1940. Work started on a revised design in 1942 but was stopped in 1943. The catapults were fitted partly on the flight deck when construction was ceased but they were never completed and eventually destroyed by a special German crew on 25 April 1945 when the hull was scuttled at Stettin. The ship was reported to be listing to the starboard with heel about 0.5 degree after scuttling. After Germany's surrender the Russians raised it. Loaded with booty and with her hangars full of sections of U-boats and other bulky items, she left Stettin in tow for Leningrad in August 1947. Afterwards, she was renamed by the Russians as "PO-101" (this designation means F(loating) B(ase) No. 101). The ship was further towed to the naval polygon off Swinem├╝nde to be anchored as a training target for Russian dive-bombers and torpedo vessels. The tests began on 16 August 1947, and the Soviets installed aerial bombs on the flight deck, in hangars and even inside the funnel; in addition to bombs dropped from aircraft and two 533-mm torpedoe-hits. In total the carrier withstood 24 hits scored by the Russians before finally sinking to the bottom: two 1000kg, two 500kg, three 250kg and five 100kg aerial bombs; four 180mm shells weighing 92kg; six bombs dropped by fleet dive-bombers; and two 533mm torpedoe-hits."

11-11-2004, 12:32 PM
No Germany didn't have aircraft carriers in the sense the allied had...
But both the tirpitz and bismarck had 4 arado's on board http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif catapulted off http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif quite good modeled in FB - it only don't work http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif
check this site out :

11-11-2004, 12:46 PM
The Germans had a class of 5 heavy cruisers planned of wich the Graf Spee is probably the most famous. Three of the original five where finished as intended. The hull's of the other two would've been used for aircraft carriers. Both ships actually where finishes as aircraft carriers. There was allready a special version of the 109 being tested (bf-109T IIRC) and along with the STUKA it would be the seagoing airforce.

The Brits recognized the thread of the NAZI carriers and sunk both of them in the harbour before any see going trials had taken place.

This is what I know, it might be wrong!

11-11-2004, 01:28 PM
The Germans had one aircraft carrier that was scuttled by the Russians in 1944. They had another one in the works that was never built. To this day, that A/C carrier is Germany's only carrier.

El Turo
11-11-2004, 02:35 PM
That would be super-sahweet.

11-11-2004, 02:49 PM
I made a post in the PF forum about this awhile back. And yes the Germans were working on one but the Russians scuttled it.

It was called the Graf Zeppelin and they even went as far as too design a "T" model of bf 109s and Stukas which had a tail hook and folding wings.


11-11-2004, 02:57 PM
the planes were supposed to take using steam catapults on the carriers main deck http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/mockface.gif

but the ship was never realy completed, mostly because the "high"-Guys of the German Navy/Luftwaffe changed there oppinion quite often, this resulted in a build-stop-build-stop process.

but imagine this nice Battlegoup,

HC_Prinz Eugen
HC_Admiral Hipper
FC_Graf Zeppelin

BTW: the 109T had not a Clipped wing, in fact it had a raised wingspan.

11-11-2004, 02:59 PM
Apart from "Graf Zeppelin", a second carrier was ordered as "B". Construction started in 1938 at the Germaniawerft in Kiel, but was stopped in September 1939 and the incomplete hull scrapped in 1940.
The heavy cruiser "Seydlitz", a sister of "Prinz Eugen", was converted to an aircraft carrier, work starting in December 1942, but the conversion was never completed. She was scuttled in K├┬Ânigsberg in 1945 and the wreck scrapped. Since she was nearly complete as a heavy cruiser when conversion started, it might have been better to use her as such rather than convert her.
Other ships selected for conversion to an aircraft carrier were the French cruiser "de Grasse" (captured incomplete at Lorient in 1940) and the merchantman "Gneisenau" whose sister "Scharnhorst" was actually converted in Japan and became the IJN carrier "Shinyo".

11-11-2004, 03:19 PM
The decision to delay the "Graf Zepplin" was actually very sensible .. in the North Sea the germans did not have the sort of air and naval superiority for a carrier to survive out of port .. look what happened to the Bismarck.

The ship was actually virtually complete and only needed fitting out and the special stuka's and 109's were built but where later converted for land based use .. some of them went to Norway.

11-11-2004, 03:46 PM
well Bismark is a bad example.
a good strike can do heavy damage even on a British carrier group (Illustrious).

bismark and Tirpitz protected by a carrier and the other way around would surly be a hard nut.

11-11-2004, 07:50 PM
Here's a 1947 article from Naval Aviation News:


11-11-2004, 08:02 PM
I'd reckon the Graff Zeppelin wouldn't necessarily have met the same fate as the Bismark in 1941. Radar would play an issue and it would largely depend on luck and "who sighted who" first. For starters, there would have been a dozen Bf 109T's around to greet the swordfish that brought the Bismark undone. Also twenty eight Ju 87C's available for the retalitory strike. Just look at how many ships were lost to dive bombers with competent pilots at Crete, Ceylon, Coral, Midway, Norway and Pearl. Mind you, the British Admiralty would takle an enemy carrier fleet, differently to taking on an enemy battlewaggon fleet. Though, what happened off Malaya could prove this wrong. Later in the war, after the USA was in, then your probably right on the money.

11-11-2004, 09:20 PM
The Graf Zeppelin would've been overwhelmed by the Allied Navy in Europe if it was operation anytime after 1943. With the destruction of Germany's great battleships the Kriegsmarine was outclassed from the beginning. They had their share of behemoths they stood no chance against the massive number of British and a few American carriers in the ETO.

The aircraft the GZ would've carried were also outclassed by 1943. The T version of the bf 109 was just a carrier modified E3, by 1943 Allied advances made them obsolete. The Ju 87 wasn't the terror it was in Poland and Eastern Europe by 1943, more a slow moving target in the sights of Yak and Spitfire fighters. That other Fiesler resembles a WW1 era bi-plane.

Why do you think the Germans abandoned production in the first place?

Unless properly escorted the GZ would just be another graveyard for German seamen along side the Bismarck, Tirpitz, Scharnhorst, etc...

11-12-2004, 12:16 AM
Chimp, one day i'm gonna raid your library, whether it be virtual or otherwise. You have an article for EVERYTHING and anything.

Where do you get all your material?