KM Graf Zeppelin (CV-1938)

 

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The Graf Zeppelin came from the expiry of the Naval treaties that had restricted the Germanic States in what they could build and how big it could be. The Graf Zeppelin was the Germanic States first try at building an aircraft carrier from the keel up, but their designers had not really taken in what was happening around the world. The only other experience they had had so far with aircraft carriers had been the ex-passenger liner conversion they had done for Argentina and the conversion of the Anhalt-Dessau. The open front flight deck configuration was quickly found to be of little use in heavy seas on the Anhalt-Dessau and an enclosed bow section was fitted to the design for the Graf Zeppelin during building. Removal of the casemate guns, reduce the number of directors, and downsize the bridge structure. A little bit of intelligence work would have noted that both the US, Japan and Great Britain, were all reducing and removing all of the 5.5" to 8" guns that had been fitted to their ships. To include single then twin 5.9" on the designs for the Graf Zeppelin just made the ship look very antiquated and wasted a lot of space that could have been better used to increase the aircraft complement, which was a bit on the low size for such a large ship.



The open front flight deck configuration was quickly found to be of little use in heavy seas on the Anhalt-Dessau and an enclosed bow section was fitted to the design for the Graf Zeppelin during building. Removal of the casemate guns, reduce the number of directors, and downsize the bridge structure. A little bit of intelligence work would have noted that both the US, Japan and Great Britain, were all reducing and removing all of the 5.5" to 8" guns that had been fitted to their ships. To include single then twin 5.9" on the designs for the Graf Zeppelin just made the ship look very antiquated and wasted a lot of space that could have been better used to increase the aircraft complement, which was a bit on the low size for such a large ship.

Peter Strasser under construction 1937.


The eventual final design that was built to, and various alterations that took place during building added to a much better balanced aircraft carrier. Having the Anhalt-Dessau to trial things on and the designers looking at what might happen with some of their design elements, made some of it look very stupid. Having the twin 4.1" only on the bridge structure meant that when the guns were firing to port, across the flight deck, flying operations had to be suspended. Where launching aircraft to deal with whatever the 4.1" were firing at might be a better option. During the redesigning and building the heavy AA weaponry was changed to the newer 88mm twin weapons mounted below flight deck level on both sides of the ship.
 

The original aircraft complement with the Me-109 fighter was upgraded to the FW-190 in 1940 with the 190's introduction. The Me-109 suffered the same fate as the UK experienced with the Seafire. The narrow undercarriage made for many deck landing accidents. The switch to the 190 gave the Navy a fighter that was certainly in advance of any of its competitors carrier borne fighters at that time. With an uprated engine from late 1941 the FW190 was even able to carry a torpedo. Note the extra high tail wheel for clearance for the torpedo.


The 5.9" and bow are still to be replaced in this photo just after launching of the Graf Zeppelin.
 

Displacement 34,500 tons std, 41,800 full load
Length 870
Breadth 116 ft
Draught 28 ft
Machinery 4 shaft mixed turbine/diesel propulsion
2 x Steam Turbines 120,000shp
2 x Diesels 40,000bhp
Speed 32 knots
Range 12,500 miles at 18 knots
Armour 3.9" side, 3.9" main deck, 1.5" Flight deck
Armament 16 x 88mm (8x2)
32 x 37mm Bofors (16x2)
24 x 20mm (6x4)
Aircraft 74
Complement 2350
Notes KM Graf Zeppelin (1938)

KM Peter Strasser (1939)






My upgrade of original with deck edge lift and enclosed bow, 5.9" removed - first thing I do for all GZ drawings - complete waste of space.


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