Kriegsmarine and the aircraft carrier?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Lucky13, Jan 11, 2014.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    Just keep wondering why Germany designed the Graf Zeppelin at 33,550 ton (...and originally 4 in the class). Wouldn't they have been better off slightly smaller ones, 23,000-25,000 ton?
    Yorktown class is, what, 20,100 empty and 25,000 fully loaded and they weren't all bad...plus, Ark Royal was 22,000 empty and 28,160 fully loaded....same again, half decent design. ;)

    So, with 4 carriers at 134,200 ton all together, instead for 6 at 141,000-150,000 ton.

    Now, I don't know much about the difference between the industrial power of Germany and UK in the late 20's, early to late 30's, but they were in a bit of 'everything that you can do, I can do better', weren't they, would they've been able to do this, getting their differences put aside in the wehrmacht....

    How much would this have cost, in fewer uboats?

    I can imagine that these could have caused a bit of hassle to the convoys in the Atlantic as well, if, split in 4 there and maybe 2 in the Mediterranean, or?

    Plus, the Royal Navy would have a bit to deal with....

    In doing so, how would this effected the Pacific War, would USN diverted more ships to deal with these threats, as victory in Europe was at the top of the list....

    Would the Royal Navy at arrive in the Pacific, or?

    Another thing, could Germany have their alliance with Japan before WWII, to get the blueprints to any of the Japanese aircraft carriers, would any of them have been suitable for the conditions in the Atlantic and North Atlantic?

    (something else will probably pop up in me noggin') :lol:
     
  2. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    Military aircraft carriers are an instrument of sea controll and not sea denial. In order to employ them successfully, You need to be in possession of command of the sea.
    In that condition, there wouldn´t be any convoys anymore, too. and consequently, no need for an CV.
    Due to the geographical problem, command of the Seas is almost impossible to achieve against the UK. But Sea denial is possible.
    For Sea denial You need raiders (aircraft submarine and surface raiders). Altough smaller designs for GRAF ZEPPELIN in fact were considered, the design as executed is the design of a raiding CV. Well armoured, extremely fast (for the standarts of the time) with good endurance and sufficient gunnery to outgun anything it can catch but fast enough to disengage anything it can outgun.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    If you want to make Germany better off then why not build something they really need?

    Graf Zeppelin Info
    The German CVs cost about RM 92 million each. Four cost about RM 368 million.

    Enough money to pay for a Nibelungenwerk size tank plant (RM 65 million. 320 medium tanks per month.) and the first 2,500 Panzer IVH. If factory construction begins 28 Dec 1936 (i.e. same date as Graf Zeppelin) those 2,500 Panzer IVH medium tanks should be in service during 1939. German panzer divisions would have real tanks rather then Panzer I machinegun carriers. Poland would probably accept a Danzig plebiscite rather then face a well armed German Army and Europe would avoid WWII (at least during 1939).
     
  4. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Better qualified people than myself have called the Graf Zeppelin a poor design that would have been a bad seaboat and a poor flight deck. Thats not a critiscism of her designers the USN and the RN had been working on aircraft carriers since before WWI and the Japanese were given a headstart by the British post WWI when they were given designs, planes and advisors wholesale by the RN. You cant just design a fleet carrier and some planes and go off and win battles it takes time to build the knowledge base before you can do that.

    Post WWII a lot of navies were given the entire package carrier, planes, trainers to get the crews up to speed and the technical back up needed but still struggled with the operations for years. Even if the KM got the carriers in say 1942 no way is a carrier going toe to toe with the RN in the Atlantic before they have had years to work the bugs out of there ships.
     
  5. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    Most of the german designs, which didn´t went into operational service are blamed by various authors to be poor designs. On the other extreme, many insist in overexageration of their capabilities. One has to be careful not to fall in one or the other extreme.

    I for my part, can´t see evidence for poor seakeeping or a poor flightdeck (heck, it´s flightdeck was larger in area than any RN CV ever, does this make ARK ROYAL having a poor flightdeck?) but I can see issues with the 5.9" casematte armement, particularely with regard to wasted internal space.
    GRAF ZEPPELIN would be ill suited for classical carrier warfare but indeed appears to be well suited for raiding strategy employed by the KM in ww2.
     
  6. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Hi Delcryos when I said a poor flight deck I didnt mean size of the flight deck but that the flight deck and aircraft handling facilities as a whole were restrictive and poorly designed. I cant remember the exact numbers but Naval experts thought she would have struggled to launch more than 12 aircraft at a time and iirc the lack of a wire overshoot barrier would have meant no landing whilst aircraft were preparing to launch a strike or CAP. The projected seakeeping problems were I believe caused by overweight and a poor stability, she was bulged or meant to be bulged which might have corrected the problems but bulging wont cure poor original design and weight control during building.

    None of this is a critiscism of her designers no one ever got such a complicated vessel right first time look at the first few USN RN and IJN carriers.
     
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  7. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    #7 parsifal, Jan 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
    I agree that the GZ was a poor design, but only in a few critical areas. This arose because of a lack of experience in the development of carriers. It was highly overpowered, and that may (or may not) have caused poor seakeeping abilities (we dont know how she woul have behaved). Its main problem were the hull mounted 5.9 in casemates, that seemed to reduce the aircraft capacity to about 40 aircraft. Thats about the same as illustrious, but Illustrious was only 2/3 the weight, and in other respects a far better design.

    I actually think if the problems of the GZ could be solved, and thats a BIG if, she would have made a big difference for the germans. but she needed to be ready from the mid 1930's not completing 1939-41. Completing under warime conditions would have left the germans no time to develop appropriate operational procedures for her, and caused her almost certain loss.

    She needed different aircraft for a start...the bf 109 may have been a fantastic land based plane, but it lacked the range and the handing capabilities to be considered effective as a carrier fighter. The Ju87 would have been quite effective, but it needed a torpedo carrying stablemate in 1939 to be fully effective. They seemed to have one in the AR95, or the slightly later FI167, but for reasons I dont understand, seemed to abandon both designs despite their promise

    If nothing else, the possession of a carrier in 1938 would have given the LW time to work out better strategies in defeating carrier TFs operating within their range. CVs are both a sea denial (as evidenced in the central med in 1940, and also in the far north in 1943-4) and sea control ship. In the case of the Germans, GZ would only ever have been a sea denial ship, and really needed a sister ship to operate effectively. If the casemates had been ditched, and two ships built, each with an air capacity of 60+ aircraft with purpose designed fighters and balanced CAGs, during their major operations, like the Bismarck, could have broken out with the support of 130 aircraft or so. Bismarck, operating with the two battlecruisers, a better fleet of long range CL/DDs (such as the type M) in a concentrated, well designed team, would have been a major headache for the British. Even the additioan of the CS ships like Graf Spee, though they would have slowed the TG down, would still have been fast enough to stay away from the really gnarly bits of the British Fleet, and have the legs to cause a lot of disruption, AND, have a good chance of getting back in one piece. Classic carrier based sea denial for early WWII. The british certainly thought so and the IJN a t least toyed with the idea in the Bay Of Bengal with Ryujo. The formation of both Fces H and Z were built around that very concept. Fce Z never received its carrier component leaving its heavy unit fatally exposed, but Fce H did a lot of excellent sea denial work, despite being heavily outgunned in most of its operations.
     
  8. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    #8 fastmongrel, Jan 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
  9. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    #9 swampyankee, Jan 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
    Boy, is that thing ugly.

    Back on the carrier topic: the Kriegsmarine would probably require several years from completion of its first carrier to having an effective carrier aviation arm. If the carriers are completed after 1938, they're going to have a negligible effect on the war: the resources that went into building them would have to come from someplace else, and before 1938, Germany wasn't in a position to do any kind of mass looting. Something else would not get built. Submarines? Cruisers? Battleships? Bombers? Tanks? The carriers may do a bit of damage (how much is moot; the I've read that the Germans did not develop a good aerial torpedo before the war), but the missing stuff would have done some, and which was more damaging is difficult. Say, hypothetically, no Tirpitz and Bismarck.
     
  10. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    #10 parsifal, Jan 12, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
    The Fi 167 had a few intersting characterisitcs. Ive read that it had a very low stall speed, allowing it to more or less 'float' in the sky sinking more or less vertically, whilst retaining a more or less horizontal attitude. I think it would have been a great success.

    Germany needed a carrier for training purposes from about 1934, if it was to have any hope of putting together a viable fleet air arm. They may have been able to purchase one of the small carriers for that purpose in 1935, after the Luftwaffe was created (in violation of the Versailles treaty). At that time, thre was still some good will between britain and Germany, and it might have been possible to purchase a carrier from the japanese, or perhaps even the Americans. The choioces though a dishearteningly depressing...from Britain the Argus, Furious or hermes, from Japan Hosho, and from the US the langley. none of these are combat carriers, but they could have provided the training ability to properly work up a limited aircrew and train the fleet into being air minded.

    The carrier design process historically was a drawn out, agonizing affair mostly because the Germans only had the most vague of notions about how to go about the design of carriers. ive read that they had inspected the Furious in the early 30's, and had shown some interest in the Soryu. I dont know how much weight should be given to any of those stories, but really, the only off the shelf design they had any hope of getting hold of would be the japanese Soryu class. if they had accepted these, bought the plans and built carriers as designed, they might have had their firs toperational carrier by 1938, and their second by 1940, roughly speaking.

    This is pretty rough and ready, and it was precisley this that prevented the germans ever getting their carriers in time. the Germans, with their mania for order and planning, stifled themselves because they did not act quickly when they needed to. This wasnt helped by the prewar assumptions that there would be no war before 1944, and that the enemy would be Fance, not Britain. I think also that like so many of the continental navies, the importance of carriers to naval warfare was badly underestimated. the prewar assumptions by most navies had been that carriers could not operate in the constricted waters of Europe, and that land based air could substitute for carrier based aviation. British experience showed both these assumtions to be totally incorrect. moreover, to argue that carriers were not essential to victory is a major under-estimation of their contributiuon to the war. in the pacific, the effect of carriers should be obvious, but even in the ETO, it is not a stretch to argue that without its carriers, even with all their shortcomings, the allies would have lost the war. It follows that the germans, provided they had a properly constituted air arm and properly designed ships, they could have put an enormous dent in allied war strategy. but whether GZ could deliver that is highly doubtful
     

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  11. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Several years ago, a member of this group completely and thoroughly debunked the idea that a KM carrier could have amounted to much. I cant remember his name, but his dad was a fighter pilot on the Yorktown in 1942. He knew his stuff.
     
  12. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    I think it has a kind of functional beauty but I agree it was no looker. It would have been an ideal aircraft for the Atlantic in winter sort of a supercharged Fairy Swordfish, faster but shorter endurance.
     
  13. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    The major problem I can think of for the KM is lack of a training carrier, GZ is going to spend a lot of time steaming in the Baltic training its crew. When the KM makes its big break out to the Atlantic you have no training carrier how do you train and keep qualified your replacement aircrew.
     
  14. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    #14 delcyros, Jan 13, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2014
    R_Leonard deserves credit for debunking GZ. But then again, his perception wasn´t mine:

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/lack-german-aircraft-carrier-8375-2.html

    When designed, the Fi-167 was faster than the Sea Gladiator at altitude. Stall speed clean was about 32kts power on. Endurance, range and payload were excellent. But indeed a somehow ugly plane...

    fuel capacity was max. 1350ltr internal. Fuel consumption at 4500m for Db601A/B at suggested cruise power (1.1 ata = 800hp = 315 km/h at this altitude) is given with 240ltr/hour...
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Parsifal, all three RN carriers you mentioned took part in combat operations as well as their better known roles ferrying aircraft around the world.
    I agree they were far from ideal or developed carriers, but they worked, at least in the hands of the RN.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  16. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I know that the RN used them for frontline operations, with a lot of success, and even more courage. but these ships were obsolete, and the RN knew it. Hermes was only ever intended to be a "trade protection" carrier, and with an air complement of just 12 a/c and a top speed of 21-23 knots, she was not useful in any sort of fleet work. Argus started the war laid up and was brought back into service as a training carrier. The losses to the carrier fleet meant that she was press ganged into frontline operations, but the brits were always very careful with her, she had virtually no protection, was built to mercantile standards and was very slow.

    Furious was part of the hoome fleet at the outbreak of the war, though she too was laid up and non operational in 1939. She served off Norway, both early and late in the war, and was fairly successful, before reducing to training in late 44 (something she was mostly used for for most of the war anyway. She was a half sister to the Courageous/ Glorious, but unlike these ships had not been lavishly converted in the same way. Her aircraft handling arrangements were poor, and her levels of protection, either from bombing or torps, was also very poor.

    Yes, for the RN, these ships ended up doing frontline work, but the RN was not being forced to take quite the ri sks the KM was being forced to do when it put to sea, so the lower standards of equipment accepted by the RN would have been a virtual death sentence for the KM, if they had tried to use these old carriers i the same way
     
  17. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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  18. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    The RN knew most of its carrier fleet was obsolete and obsolescent and planned to build 10 fleet and 2 smaller carriers. Like most of its plans it came to nothing but it shows that the supposedly big gun anti air power Admiralty knew the Battleship was no longer the main ship anymore and planned to build 3 carriers for every battlewagon
     
  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    But when did it know that? Before the losses in the Far east only three of the twelve capital ships sunk between September 1939 and November 1941 had been sunk by air attack alone. All three were Italian ships sunk at anchor but not destroyed.
    Twenty eight destroyers and five cruisers succumbed to air attack in the same period.
    Admiral Cunningham, who knew a thing or two about being bombed and torpedoed from the air, wrote in his autobiography (A Sailor's Odyssey) that "The hasty conclusion that ships are impotent in the face of air attack should not be drawn from the Battle of Crete."
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  20. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    I havent got my books handy but the plans for up to 12 new carriers would have commenced in 41 iirc so the Admiralty must have been talking about it around 38/39 as such a large vessel must need lots of planning. I think the info on the RNs future plans is in a book by D K Brown though it might be from Friedmans book on British carriers.
     
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