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Nazi monster that never fired a shot

Discussion in 'Surface and Air Forces' started by PzJgr, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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  2. Husky

    Husky Member

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    This carrier had to big guns, so they dont could carry enough planes. The allied carrier had a big escort, so the carrier only needed aa-guns. Even if this carrier could fight a real battle, it wont survive long time.
     
  3. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    That's a little too simplistic.

    The Graf Zeppelin carried ten 5.9" guns, but only 42 (some sources claim as many as 50) aircraft

    The Lexington class carried eight 8"/55, and twelve 5"/25, guns and 90 aircraft on about the same displacement.

    It was the design details which made the GZ deficient. One thing that militated against a larger airgroup for the GZ was her flight deck armor of 20 MM. That added a lot of topside weight, without effectively protecting against aerial bombs or shells.

    The GZ had a very small capacity for av-gas storage which meant even a small airgroup would necessitate frequent replenishment. Furthermore, the ability of the GZ to launch deckload strikes was suspect because of the cumbersome arrangement of the catapult gear. There were other problems as well, such as the closed hangars and slow elevaters. Overall, the GZ wa a very poor design compared to American and Japanese carriers and it probably would have been considered a falure in service.
     
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  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    There have been several threads on this ship in other forums (notably the kbismark forum and the axis history forum). She doesn't come out looking very good. Capablities roughly on a par with a US CVL and probably more fragile as far as mission kills go. Also pretty limited as to the size of strike group she could launch.

    Here's one of the threads:
    http://www.kbismarck.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=14&t=510&p=3452&hilit=Graf+Zeppelin#p3452

    And here's one that lists a number of threads:
    http://forum.axishistory.com/search...posts&sk=t&sd=d&st=0&ch=300&t=0&submit=Search
     
  5. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    As an aviation platform, GZ was not up to the standards of the Democratic and Conservative carriers in the Allied arsenal.
    The design process was a comedy of errors. It wasn't until two years after construction had stopped that someone figured out the weight calculations were flawed, giving the ship a natural 4.5deg list; a bulge was subsequently added to correct this. The original main battery was eight 15cm guns in single casemates; without pausing to giggle at the use of casemates, I'll note that someone suggested switching the singles to twins so that the concentrated mounts would save weight. So they switched to twins but forgot to halve the number of mounts; thus the ship ended up with sixteen guns and weighed more rather than less. (Nobody ever bothered to add berthing for enlarged gun crews or more ammo space. Woops.) The flight deck equipment was what you might expect from a navy with no experience designing flight deck equipment. The Americans reviewed it postwar and found it simultaneously inefficient and hazardous.
    Every war needs some comic relief.
     
  6. SteveM

    SteveM Member

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    Agreed, but the British wartime analysis was accurate. Regardless of whether the Graf Zeppelin would have been effective in a "Coral Sea" or "Midway" style carrier on carrier battle is irrelevant to the fact that had the Graf Zeppelin accompanied a group of surface raiders into the Atlantic the German aircraft carrier's reconnaissance and coverage capabilities would have allowed for not only greatly increased target acquistion (for German surface raiders or wolf packs for that matter) but also potentially warned of approaching danger from superior Allied maritime assets.

    Needless to say a battlegroup consisting of the Graf Zeppelin and let's say the Bismarck and Scharnhorst would have been alot harder to handle then the relative ease with which the British located and dispatched the Bismarck.

    Although flawed the Graf Zeppelin represented one of the great failings of the Kriegsmarine; it's inability to develop an effective naval air arm even though its major competitors and peers (the British, U.S., and Japanese) all pursued the development of naval air power.
     
  7. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    GZ could not have been operational in time to sortie with Bismarck. The German failure, which you rightly noted, to diligently pursue carrier aviation meant that GZ would have to act not only as a fleet carrier, but first as a training carrier, like Argus and Langley. That puts the Germans in the position of having to develop a usable carrier operational practice while also finding and correcting all the materiel errors they'd made in her design, not to mention the planes intended for her air group. If we are generous to the KM, we can expect GZ to become operational maybe by the end of 1942, though that seems unjustifiably generous. And she still will not have been tried in the open waters of the Atlantic. GZ is consequently a non-factor until after the time when high-seas raiding had become prohibitively risky for German warships. So what else is there for her to do? Bomb-sponge duty?
     
  8. SteveM

    SteveM Member

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    Very true. Since we were playing hypo games I was assuming the Germans actually would have made an honest effort to develop carrier based air power prior to the War (experimenting as did the Allies in the examples you provided) and thus the GZ would have been available as Germany's first operational carrier by the spring of 1941 (when the Bismarck was sunk effectively ending Hitler's will for pursuing surface raiding).

    In addition, I agree that regardless the GZ would have been near useless in 1942 or later.

    Interestingly, and for those of you looking for more about the failings of the Kriegsmarine in both planning for the Second World War and during the War, a few years back Keith Bird wrote a great book on Raeder and his decision making - I highly recommend it (and reviewed it at The Globe at War).
     
  9. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    Oh, what's the title of the Bird book? It's one I haven't read yet.
     
  10. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    with all stupidity aside concerning the affairs, one should say elevated egos of both the KM and the LW let me recommend you purchase a copy of Dr. Sönke Neitzel's "Der Einsatz der Deutschen Luftwaffe über dem Atlantik und der Nordsee 1939-1945" essential reading.

    sorry cannot help you with your German folks

    E ~
     
  11. Plumky

    Plumky Member

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    I think that the GZ was nothing more than a fantasie because well if you look at some of the pictures of this machine, most of the vessel was nothing more than esthetics and non efective parts. Hell where those guns really necessary and did Germany have the ships to protect that thing from the allies?
     
  12. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    little side blurb you guys are aware the KM indeed did have operational flat-tops ?

    nothing of the size or scope of the Allies or Japanese
     
  13. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    The Germans did not have any operational CVs.
     
  14. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    .............. they were based in the Atlantic and if you saw fotos of them and read up on their history you would laugh
     
  15. SteveM

    SteveM Member

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    The book is titled "Erich Raeder: Admiral of the Third Reich". Here is the review link: SteveErichRaederBookReview

    It really is a good book (and a quick read). Enjoy. Since you are interested in the topic note The Naval Institute Press puts out pretty good work and I also recommend you check out some of their other stuff.
     
  16. Tiornu

    Tiornu Member

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    Thanks, I just ordered myself a copy.
     
  17. SteveM

    SteveM Member

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    Glad I could help
     
  18. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    No, the potential performance of the GZ is not irrelevant. Had Germany gone through a process of developing aircraft carriers like many other nations did, the GZ almost certainly would have emerged quite differently and with a much better design. Furthermore, such a development process would have tipped the RN off to the fact that Germany intended to fight a naval war which included aircraft carriers. Thus, the RN almost certainly would have developed better carrier planes, and possibly better carriers with which to counter the KM's carriers. Thus it is possible, even likely, that Germany and Britain might have fought a Coral Sea or Midway type engagement in the Atlantic. Even if Britain had not put more resources into it's carriers, the US would have kept at least one superior carrier in the Atlantic. The old Ranger, deficient though she was, was far superior to the GZ in striking power and would have made hash out of the GZ.

    Building Fleet carriers for commerce raiding, like building battleships to sink freighters, is a gross waste of resources and doesn't make much sense. Fleet carriers only make sense when they are intended to engage other capital ships. Unfortunately for the KM, it never had enough destroyers or cruisers to effectively screen a carrier task force, nor enough replenishment ships to keep one at sea for more than a few days. The GZ would have had a combat life span comparable to that of Bismarck. After that it would be useless, if not sitting on the ocean bottom. The RN's efforts to sink the GZ would of course differ from the Bismarck battle in the details of tactics and maneuvering, but one aircraft carrier could not hope to give the RN any more trouble than did the Bismarck.

    It was not a failing of the KM, but of Germany's economy. Germany did not have the economic wherewithal to build a navy capable of supporting modern carrier warfare, a modern air force, and a powerful army. Something had to be sacrificed and Germany, not surprisingly, chose to economize on it's navy. Germany was a continental power, and there was no vital mission which could be accomplished by a powerful surface navy; Germany's only real naval need was coastal defense. Building up any other kind of naval force simply invited Britain and the US to out build and overwhelm Germany's potential naval resources.

    Building a carrier force of any kind was the dumbest thing Germany could have done in the circumstances.
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Your not talking about the channel isles are you?
     
  20. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    lwd no I am not but in the area of Norway and the Baltic, like I said earlier not in size or scope really did not look like anything we used in service
     

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