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Lord_Breetai

Graf Zeppelin

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OK. I KNOW that this ship TECHINICALLY existed. But did it REALLY?

 

Yes the ship was built but it was never deployed. The Kriegsmarine never finished it and it spent the war being used for barracks and storage. Never launched any planes or conducted operations.

While Im thrilled that Nazi Germany did not hurt anyone extra that this ship would have done...it WOULD have been interesting to see how they would have used it. How successful it might have been.


 

Just putting it out there.

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At best, I would only expect her to of ever have been close to useful would of been the Battle of Britain, as a forward base for fighter cover for bombers. As is, when she could of been launched...she'd of been another Queen of the Fjords.

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The idea is still about commerce raiding...except for more versatility, counter reconnaissance and sustainability.

The Germans apparently wanted a ship that can both counter enemy aerial reconnaissance and airstrike(the 1st reason of the sinking of most German commerce raiders) and raid commerce and suppress merchant and small military crafts if necessary with artillery. The limited hanger space and the lackluster performance of the strike aircraft means that despite the impressive displacement of a full fledged carrier, it performs more like a fast escort carrier, except she escorts nobody except herself. Most of the time I would imagine her airplanes' work would be to spot enemy convoys and fending off enemy attempts to pin point Zeppelin's precise location, while the real raiding would still be done the old fashioned way: artillery.

Handsome artillery comparable to a light cruiser, turtleback armor and excellent cruising speed means she was designed to not be afraid to get down and dirty.

 

In a nutshell, a commerce raider virtually immune to airstrike and spotting by aircrafts, can't be caught by anything larger than a cruiser, can't be beaten by destroyers and less in a gunfight...

Edited by The_first_harbinger
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Handsome artillery comparable to a light cruiser, turtleback armor and excellent cruising speed means she was designed to not be afraid to get down and dirty.

 

That would go with the german pattern of naval brawling that they liked.

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The idea is still about commerce raiding...except for more versatility, counter reconnaissance and sustainability.

The Germans apparently wanted a ship that can both counter enemy aerial reconnaissance and airstrike(the 1st reason of the sinking of most German commerce raiders) and raid commerce and suppress merchant and small military crafts if necessary with artillery. The limited hanger space and the lackluster performance of the strike aircraft means that despite the impressive displacement of a full fledged carrier, it performs more like a fast escort carrier, except she escorts nobody except herself. Most of the time I would imagine her airplanes' work would be to spot enemy convoys and fending off enemy attempts to pin point Zeppelin's precise location, while the real raiding would still be done the old fashioned way: artillery.

Handsome artillery comparable to a light cruiser, turtleback armor and excellent cruising speed means she was designed to not be afraid to get down and dirty.

 

In a nutshell, a commerce raider virtually immune to airstrike and spotting by aircrafts, can't be caught by anything larger than a cruiser, can't be beaten by destroyers and less in a gunfight...

 

Graf Zeppelin was not lacking in hangar space, she had more hangar space than the Lexington did.

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Bismarck + GZ would have been a whole other level more difficult to deal with than Bismarck + PE in 1941.

 

  1. GZ's fighters should have been capable of shooting down or driving off the spotting Catalina's which found Bismarck. (e.g. HMS Audacity's Martlet's shot down 6 Condors)
  2. GZ's fighters, even if low in numbers could readily disrupt torpedo attacks which were 'close run things' as it was. (e.g at Midway VT-8 lost 15/15 Devastator TB's mostly to IJN CAP fighters)
  3. GZ's Fi-167's (even if a strike of only 12 could be flown) would be a serious threat to a British BB or trailing cruiser. Sheffield would have been torpedoed by Ark Royal's Swordfish if not for bad detonators. If 15 Swordfish could hit Bismarck 3 times, I'm confident the Germans could have done similar to say Hood, leaving a crippled battlecruiser bobbing around the U-boat riddled ocean. Just 5 Albacores managed to lame Vittorio Veneto from HMS Formidable. 

 

So with a GZ there's massive difficulties in air-borne and ship-trailing reconaissance (County class cruisers didn't respond well to air-attack for the most part), massive difficulties in delivering the critical air strikes from the RN CV's AND a not unreasonable chance for some success for GZ's air group. 

 

All of that is much harder than described but it's in the realms of possibility. 

 

 

The 5.9in gun battery doesn't look super useful and is rather anachronistic. A DP gun would be more than sufficient to sink a merchant (see U-boats using their deck guns), casemates are a bad idea and air attack is important. There's a reason the Lexington's lost their 8in batteries. 

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Something else to consider is a Scapa raid. That would have caused a panic!

 

Operating aircraft in the north Atlantic takes a bit of work, its rarely calm and often very rough. It could have taken a year or more to get Graf Zep's flight crews and pilots accustomed to flight operations at the level required to fight a war. Both the US and UK had 10ish years of flight operations under their belts prior to the war. I suspect even if GZ was completed in 39 it would have been 41-42 before it would have been a useful addition to the German fleet. 

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Graf Zeppelin was not lacking in hangar space, she had more hangar space than the Lexington did.

 

Not really a lack of hanger space, but the German's didn't have folding wings on the Bf109's and Ju87's they were going to equip her with. Hence, the tiny airwing. The German's may have figured that flaw in their thinking out, if they weren't building a carrier for the sake of building a carrier.

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Bismarck + GZ would have been a whole other level more difficult to deal with than Bismarck + PE in 1941.

 

 

That's a great thought. I never considered her as an escort carrier before. While the Bismark's AA could not depress enough to get the swordfish then the GZs planes could have come in. All they needed to do was to get those torpedo planes to lift up a little so Bismark's AA could reach them.

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Here is a link to a very interesting and informative Youtube video which addresses this question:

 

 

 

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Bismarck + GZ would have been a whole other level more difficult to deal with than Bismarck + PE in 1941.

 

  1. GZ's fighters should have been capable of shooting down or driving off the spotting Catalina's which found Bismarck. (e.g. HMS Audacity's Martlet's shot down 6 Condors)
  2. GZ's fighters, even if low in numbers could readily disrupt torpedo attacks which were 'close run things' as it was. (e.g at Midway VT-8 lost 15/15 Devastator TB's mostly to IJN CAP fighters)
  3. GZ's Fi-167's (even if a strike of only 12 could be flown) would be a serious threat to a British BB or trailing cruiser. Sheffield would have been torpedoed by Ark Royal's Swordfish if not for bad detonators. If 15 Swordfish could hit Bismarck 3 times, I'm confident the Germans could have done similar to say Hood, leaving a crippled battlecruiser bobbing around the U-boat riddled ocean. Just 5 Albacores managed to lame Vittorio Veneto from HMS Formidable. 

 

So with a GZ there's massive difficulties in air-borne and ship-trailing reconaissance (County class cruisers didn't respond well to air-attack for the most part), massive difficulties in delivering the critical air strikes from the RN CV's AND a not unreasonable chance for some success for GZ's air group. 

 

All of that is much harder than described but it's in the realms of possibility. 

 

 

The 5.9in gun battery doesn't look super useful and is rather anachronistic. A DP gun would be more than sufficient to sink a merchant (see U-boats using their deck guns), casemates are a bad idea and air attack is important. There's a reason the Lexington's lost their 8in batteries. 

I always knew the Royal Navy lucked out on the Kriegsmarine's building program and their choices.  The carrier would have been a huge headache for them.  Still, a guerre-de-course fleet (A.G.N.A is a fun read on Wikipedia) would have been a disaster.  Graf Zeppelin was a headache if loosed in the Atlantic and if capable of replenishing planes from France she could have had a strong impact.  I'm sure she would have been eventually sunk, certainly by the time American carriers entered the scene.  Sinking resources into her (and the battleship plan) removed possibly hundreds of U-boats infesting the Atlantic in 1939.

 

Fun what ifs though. :tea_cap:

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Hey

How about making the Graf Zeppelin as premium carrier for the Germans, would be quite interesting to say the least.  I have nevered played carriers but would buy it just for the collection.  Who knows, I might have to give it a try.

 

Pete

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From what I have read, the Kreigsmarine and the Luftwaffe didn't get along too well and the was inter-service rivalry. That's part of the reason that the Graf Zeppelin was killed.

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