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bacondragon

Ship Spotlight: Graf Zeppelin

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Intro: I personally enjoy looking at ships and their history, decided to try and put some of that interest to some use. I plan on trying to do one of this every week or two. Ship spotlights on ships not only from ww2, but from other time periods such as the age of sail. I will try to provide history of the ship, some specifications, and how it could be implemented into World of Warships, or if the ship is in World of Warships how the ship differs from the ship in game.

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Ship: Graf Zeppelin

Class: Graf Zeppelin Class Aircraft Carrier

Country: Germany

 Pre History:

The idea of an aircraft carrier goes back to 1915 with the idea by the Imperial Navy to convert the Italian passenger ship Ausonia which was being built in Germany into an aircraft carrier. Leadership of the German navy felt like the zeppelins were better than sea planes. On top of this by the time conversion was finished it was 1918, and all production was going to U-boats. After the end of the war the Italians canceled the war due to inflation to the price of the ship, and the ship was sold to ship breakers for scrap.

1929 command of the German Navy did make reference to a possible carrier. After 1933 the German Navy once again pursued the idea of an aircraft carrier. The Anglo-German Navy Agreement in 1935 allowed the construction of an aircraft carrier with a displacement of 38,500 tons. The navy decided the ship would need to be able to defend itself, and planned her with 15 cm, or 150 mm guns. Armor protection of a heavy cruiser, and later anti aircraft defense. More of this will be stated in specifications. For designing the ship the Germans sent constructors to Japan in 1935 to obtain blue prints of the flight deck of Akagi, and also tried to obtain information off the British carrier HMS Furious. This was because Germany had no experience with carriers. More info was gained from HMS Courageous, and USS Wasp. Most information from the Japanese was mainly tactical though. Design wise she was more related to the British carriers. Later she would be the first carrier of four in the planned Operation Z.

Construction:

Graf Zeppelin was originally named Flugzeugträger A, but was later christened Graf Zeppelin. Deutsche Werke shipyard in Kiel laid her keel down on December 28th, 1936. She was launched on December 8th, 1938. Christened by Helene Von Zeppelin, daughter of Ferdinand von Zeppelin. By the end of 1939 she was estimated to be around 85% complete, to be finished in mid 1940. The air group Trägergrüppe 186 had been formed with 109's, and Ju 87's. More on the air wings will be displayed below. Problem struck in April of 1940 for the ship. During the invasion of Norway, the German navy would be need to defend the Norwegian coast. While the German navy had also received heavy losses during the conquest of Norway, while the losses were similar to the Royal Navy, the Germans had less ships to begin with. Due to this, many of the secondaries for the Graf Zeppelin had been moved to Norway for coastal defense, along with the AA guns. On top of this the quick defeat of France meant Germany would have air bases on the Atlantic. For the planes on the Graf Zeppelin relations between the air force and navy had an all time low. The air force wanted command over the planes, while the navy wanted control over the planes was only apart of this dispute. This failure to cooperate led to the possibility of an aircraft carrier with no planes, hence not much effort was put into it. Finally, the loss of the Bismarck enraged the German leader, who saw the loss of potential in surface raiders, and moved towards an effort to focus on U-boats.

Revival of construction:

In 1942 the idea was pushed to the German Leader of the benefits of an aircraft carrier. Showing the success of aircraft carriers at the Taranto Raid, Pearl Harbor, and the aircraft role in the sinking of the Bismarck. Construction was revived for the project. However, by now the German Navy wanted improved aircraft designs, and other changes for the Graf Zeppelin to modernize it. The airforce was already burdened by their own needs and could not meet the needs of the Navy for an aircraft design. Earlier planes were planned to be converted until the airforce could develop newer planes. The carrier was towed around but still was under threat of allied aircraft. Allies tried to bomb the Graf Zeppelin multiple times but failed. By 1943, work was again canceled in focus of U-boats.

Role: There have been many roles that have been mentioned for the Graf Zeppelin. The first idea was as a surface raider. The amount of secondaries and AA weapons to the Graf Zeppelin was to protect her while she used planes to recon for convoys, then would dispatch bombers to these convoys. Another idea was she would sail with a fleet and support battle cruisers from enemy aircraft. Another role proposed was to defend the Baltic from a French-Polish alliance, but this role was changed to an offensive one with the idea of disrupting French commerce-of course this was if the British stayed out of the war, the strategy was changed when the German Leader declared the British the primary opponent of the Germans. Battleships, cruisers, and U-boats received more attention due to this. 

 Specifications:

Original:

Length: 262.5 m or 861 feet

Displacement: 33,550 tons

Engines: 4 x geared turbines developing 147,000 kw powering 4 shafts, estimated horsepower 200,000

Speed: Figures differ, note since the ship was not completed they may not be how it would've turned out. 35 knots was the intended speed, which would've made it the fastest carrier at the time.

Armament: 16 x 15 cm SK C/28 guns

12 x 10.5 cm SK C.33 guns

22 x 3.7 cm SK C.30 guns

28 x 2 cm FlaK guns

Belt Armor: 100 mm (3.9 in)

Flight Deck: 45mm (1.8 in) - Was an armored flight deck unlike other carrier designs

Main deck: 60 mm (2.4 in)

Aircraft: Note, many sources differ on an outcome. Most suggest 42 planes or 50 planes, intended design was 50 planes from what I could gather

According to wiki:

Early design: 12 dive bombers, 10 fighters, 20 torpedo bombers  - According to the wiki torpedo bombers were decided to be removed completely

1930 Proposal: 30 fighters, 12 dive bombers

1939 Proposal: 12 fighters, 30 dive bombers

According to military factory:

10 Fighters, 20 dive bombers, 20 torpedo bombers

Proposed Changes in 1942:

Modernized equipment such as catapults

Reinforcement to flight deck and elevators

Air search radar sets and antennas, upgraded radio equipment

Armored fighter director cabin on main mast

Extra armoring for the bridge and fire control center, a new curved funnel cap

Replacing single 20mm AA guns with quadruple Flak 38 guns

Additional bulges on the side of the hull to preserve stability with the increase in weight

 Planes:

This is where the design gets tricky. I've made a suggestion a year or more ago and got the answer it was not to be premium ship, but paper ship designs would be added and the ship would be in tier 7. Research of the planes would put her in a tier 6, unless you went with tier 7, having the older planes be starting planes, and the new aircraft be the tier 7 upgrade for planes. Problem again though is her flight deck is small compared to the other tier 7 carriers with the exception of Saipan which has 48 planes, but this is going with the idea of a 50 plane flight deck. More on this will be placed in the next section.

Also note, since the airforce and navy failed for an agreement no plane design was fully developed with a few exceptions.

Fighter:

The original idea of a fighter place would be a modified version of the Bf 109, this was designated as Bf 109-t. The Arado AR 197 was the original design which was a biplane, but this idea was abandoned for a more modern fighter. This may work better for a tier 4 or 5 fighter. The Bf 109-t was to be armed with two 7.92 mm MG 17's above the engine, and two 20 mm MG FF/M Cannon on the wings. The Zero compared to this had 2 x 7.7 mm Type 97 guns 500 rounds per gun, and 2 x 20 mm Type 99-1 with 60 rounds per gun. The Hellcat had 6 x 12.7mm M2 Browning machine guns, 400 rounds per gun, or 2 x 20mm AN/M2 cannon 225 rounds per gun, and 4 x 12.7mm Browning MG with 400 rounds per gun.

The next idea of an upgraded fighter was the BV 155, which had four proposed weapons.

BV 155 A: 1 x 30mm Mk 108 cannon engine mounted, 2 x 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon

BV 155 B: 1 x 30 mm Mk 103 engine mounted, 2 x 15 mm MG 151 cannon 200 rpg

BV 155 C: 3 x 30 mm Mk 108 cannon with 60 rpg

BV 155 D: 3 x 30 mm Mk 103 cannon with 60 rpg, but 2 were mounted under wing fairings

The BV 155 may work better as a higher tier CV fighter plane rather than a tier 6 or tier 7 carrier fighter, or maybe keep the 4 but have it gradually improve up to tier 10.

Specs for the 109G *Could not find specs for the 109T*

Crew: One

Length: 8.95 m

Wingspan: 9.925 m

Height: 2.60 m

Empty weight: 2,247 kg

Loaded weight: 3,148 kg

Max. Takeoff weight: 3,400 kg

Powerplant: 1 x Daim;er Benz 605A-1 liquid-cooled inverted V12, 1,475 PS (1,455 hp)

Propellers: VDM 9-12087 three bladed light alloy propeller

Performance

Max speed: 640 km/h

Cruise speed: 590 km/h

Range: 850 m

Service Ceiling: 12,000 m

Rate of Climb: 17 m/s

Power/mass: 344 W/kg

Not adding armament as t was listed above and differs from the 109G

BV 155 B Specs

Crew: 1

Length: 12 m

Wingspan: 20.5m

Height: 3 m

Powerplant: 1 x Daimler-Benz DB 603A inverted V-12 liquid-cooled piston engine, TKL 15 turbo-charger, 1,200 kW (1,600 hp)

Performance

Max Speed: 420 km/h at sea level, 520 km/h 6,000 m high, 600 km/h at 10,000 m, 650 km/h at 12,000 m, 690 km/h at 16,000 m

Service ceiling: 16,950 m

Max ceiling: 17,100 m

Rate of climb: 11.5 m/s

 

Dive Bombers:

Was to be based off the Ju 87

Ju 87 b specs:

Crew: 2

Length: 11 m

Wingspan: 13.8 m

Height: 4.23 m

Empty weight: 3,205 kg

Loaded weight: 4,320 kg

Max. takeoff weight: 5,000 kg

Powerplant: 1 x Junkers Jumo 211 D Liquid-cooled inverted V12 engine, 1200 PS (1,184 hp)

Propellers: Three blade Junkers Vs 5 propeller 1 per engine

Performance

Never Exceed Speed: 600 km/h

Max Speed: 390 km/h

Service Ceiling: 8,200 m with 500 kg bomb load

Armament:

2 x 7.92 mm MG 17 mg forward, 1 x 7.92 mm MG 15 machine gun to rear

Bombs: Normal load = 1 x 250 kg bomb beneath fuselage and 4 x 50 kg two bombs underneath each wing 

 

Torpedo Bomber:

The torpedo bomber seemed to be more abandoned in favor of dive bombers. However, a prototype was built of a naval torpedo bomber.

Fi 167 Specs:

Crew: 2

Length: 11.4 m

Wingspan: 13.5 m

Height: 4.8 m

Empty weight: 2,806 kg

Loaded weight: 4,509 gk

Max takeoff weight: 4,859 kg

Powerplant: 1 x Daimler-Benz DB 601B liquid cooled inverted V12, 809 kW

Performance

Max Speed: 325 km/h

Cruise speed: 250 km/h

Service ceiiling: 8,200 m

Armament

Guns: 1 x 7.92 mm MG 17 machine gun, 1 x MG-15 machine gun in rear

Bombs: 1 x 1000 kg bomb or.... 1 x 765 kg torpedo or...1 x 500 kg bomb plus 4 x 50 kg bombs

 How might it be implemented into World of Warships?...

This is where it becomes difficult, as most German carrier designs had a small loadout. With some saying Europa should be the tier 10 cv, the Europa only had a planned loadout of 42 planes. Hence, a German tech tree of carriers would mainly be beefed. The Graf Zeppelin could be moved to tier 8 or even tier 9 CV, with implementing better planes, and an increased loadout as tier 7 have fighter loadouts of 48 (Saipan), to 81 (Kaga), with the Ranger having a loadout of 58 planes, Hiryu having a loadout of 72 planes (stock page of wiki). Historically Ranger would've carried 76 planes normal, a max of 86. Hiryu would carry 64 planes. Of course these loadouts were changed for ingame. So it would not be surprising if Graf Zeppelin's loadout was increased, along with the other carriers to fit the design in game.

How might a tree work?

The I (1915) class planned in WW1 could be a tier 4 cv, 8-10 fighters, 15-20 bombers/torpedo bombers

Weser planned to change Seydiltz into an aircraft carrier, this was originally to be an Admiral Hipper-class cruiser, it was planned to have 10 Bf 109, 10 Ju 87 dive bombers

II Class was planned to convert the French cruiser De Grasse (an ingame ship also), the ship would've carried 11 Bf 109 fighters, 12 Ju 87 dive bombers

Jade Class: This was planned to convert the steamers SS Potsdam and SS Gneisenau into an auxiliary carrier, she would have 12 Bf 109 fighters, 12 Ju 87 dive bombers

Graf Zeppelin: 12 Bf 109 fighters, 30 Ju 87 dive bombers, or another loadout mentioned above

I (1942) Class aka Europa: Planned conversion of SS Europa, would've been larger than Graf Zeppelin, 24 Bf 109 fighters, 18 Ju 87 dive bombers

? The last carrier to the tree would have to be a pure made up ship, as these were the only known carrier designs. You could have Elbe, the planned sister ship of the Jade class, but this would be put to a lower tier.

Summary of Tier: Graf Zeppelin would be a higher tier carrier at tier 8 or 9, as she had one of the largest air groups, tied with a couple others. Her large size would also reflect this. This would mean though no biplanes, and perhaps improved paper made planes which would be the main problem. One carrier would also have to be a paper design carrier to complete a German carrier tree.

How would the ship function?

In game the German carrier would feature an armored flight deck, good AA if you made the Flak 38 an upgrade, and great secondaries, with 150 mm secondary guns, the secondary guns of the Bismarck with a range of 7km. Downside will be her size, her large size of 262.5 m, the Bismarck had a size of 248 m for reference, Essex has one of about 250 m. If you put her 35 knot speed in she'll be the fastest tier 9 carrier if placed there, with Essex having a slightly lower top speed of 33 knots.

How would planes work? Lower tier German CV's may have torpedo bombers, with dive bombers becoming the main weapon of choice around tier 7. With flight decks of either air superiority, or strike. This raises many questions of course, on what would make the German CV differ from the American and Japanese CV's. The German air groups flew at the lowest 3-4 planes, typically for high command type things. With 12-16 planes for operational use I found. Of course, a carrier design would differ greatly. For reference the USAAF typically flew 16 fighters in squads, with 12 bombers in squads for land operations. The German air groups could be on par with American air wings in game with 6 planes a squad. When it comes to offensive weapons, the German dive bombers were not as good as American dive bombers, as American dive bombers could hold larger bombs. The Germans could have similar flight decks as the Americans, but differ in slightly less bomb damage, but the planes could have greater accuracy, and/or be faster than others for more survivability with being able to get to their target quicker, and fly away quicker. Of course to get players to play it would mean the dive bombers should do more damage if there were no torpedo bombers. This is where it becomes difficult to balance out how it would work. For the Graf Zeppelin at tier 9, it would be similar to Essex in a way. Stock Essex is 2/1/1, can be upgraded to 3/0/2 or 1/1/3. Graf Zeppelin could be stock 2/0/2 for a balance loadout, or a fighter loadout of 3/0/2, or a bomber loadout of 1/0/3 or 2/0/3 to keep same squads as Essex, or 1/0/4 to once again keep same squads if you go with the idea of no Torpedo bombers at high tiers. 

 Fate:

Graf Zeppelin was never finished. Sources vary on what happened to the ship. Most begin with an engineering squad planting demo charges to destroy vital machinery of the Graf Zeppelin to avoid Soviet capture. The fate has many speculation on what may have happened. One idea is that the ship was towed to the Soviet Union hit a mine and sunk, this idea is not very popular. Another idea is the Soviets towed it back and it served as a landing ship for Soviet aircraft, but was later used as target practice. The most widely believed story stated by the Soviets, is the ship was sunk during target practice. In 2006 a Polish research vessel was 95% sure they found the wreck of the Graf Zeppelin.

 

Edited by bacondragon
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She was sunk in the same Soviet weapons test that sank the Lutzow.

 

 

4Oq9o0u.jpg

 

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Edited by dseehafer
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She was sunk in the same Soviet weapons test that sank the Lutzow.

 

 

4Oq9o0u.jpg

 

5ubWcBD.jpg

 

Never saw those pics yet!:)
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In game terms, the GZ would be a Tier IV or V ship.  Her launch system using catapults limits the strike to just 16 planes (8 per catapult as that's all the compressed air available at a time)  That means 6 Me 109, 6 Ju 87, and 4 Fi 156.

That's a very marginal strike package.

That's the biggest drawback to the design.  The launch system using those insane trollies and the catapults to launch aircraft.  No other nation came up with anything close to as complex, difficult to use, and marginal as the Germans did with the Graf Zeppelin's launch system.

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@Murotsu

When I see CV's re-arming multiple strikes in 90 seconds, launching and recovering their entire air groups in <20 mins anon, I don't think GZ will have a particular issue there. It's all accelerated.

Historically it's not a great system, although a 16-strong strike is actually pretty acceptable by 'European' standards (I think we've had this discussion before?).

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In game terms it's putting up one fighter "counter," one dive bomber, and one torpedo plane.  That puts it in terms of size equal to other carriers at the Tier IV and V level at most.  It would simply be overwhelmed at anything higher.

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Why does it have to be 3 squadrons?

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Ya her launch catapults were outdated and were part of the plan to modernize before she was canceled. But looking at how values are changed in game to accelerate things not sure how much of a difference it would make.

For planes it was more speculation, of course with the entry of AP bombs for US carriers, the idea of AP bombs will have a drastic change. I'd like to see German aircraft carriers, this would also in a way "complete" the tree, with the exception of some other trees like another cruiser tree. Of course, it would make more sense to add carriers to the Royal Navy first, as they actually built carriers and used them compared to the Germans. But concept ships and what if's are always interesting.

 

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