KM Vaterland (CV-1943-44)


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Largest of the Germanic States aircraft carriers they were only eclipsed in size by the even larger post-war US carriers. Built to take air superiority in any area they were active in, their air complement went a long way to guaranteeing that. With three deck edge lifts for uncluttered aircraft handling from hangar to flight deck the Vaterlands' were able to put a large force into the air in a short time. The smaller fighters with smaller wingspans when folded were able to be put onto the lifts 2 at a time. Two ships, Vaterland and Heimdallr, were laid down in late 1939, coinciding with the outbreak of war. That was where the problems with the two ships started. Other priorities were placed in front of the large ship construction. First the six Hindenburg class battleships are cancelled and dismantled. Then these two ships hit Hitler's 1940 proclamation, that any project that could not be finished in two years should be halted. This very stupid bit of garbage, virtually ruined the Germanic States war machine all on its own. The jets, the carriers, radar projects, rocketry, all were stopped in their tracks. If there was ever a reason to kill Hitler, this was it.

When the two Vaterland class ships were being designed and laid down, the first trials with jet aircraft were also being undertaken. The Navy were certainly interested in the jet aircraft project that could give their carrier aircraft a decided advantage over their enemy. The immediate problems the Navy designers could see was the landing speed of the jets was almost twice that of the piston engined aircraft then in service. That alone would require major changes to the arrester wire equipment then being used. If the jet missed the arrester wires, would the net catcher currently in service stop the jet from going forward to where other aircraft might be being struck down to the hangar or being launched off the catapults. Weight and speed of the jet would virtually destroy the aircraft when it hit the net, not a good result. The only way the jets could be accommodated was to clear the decks during landing operations but that was impractical with the size of the air complement these ships were to carry. What it did do was to give the landing aircraft a chance to take off again and go around for another try at hitting the arrester wire catching system. You can see what is coming, everyone came to the same conclusion, some form of angle deck is required to operate jets successfully.

By 1940, jets were trialing different landing configurations, on land, and the Vaterland pairs construction was slowed down to allow a redesign incorporating an angled landing deck. The redesign included a new set of armament options. The 20mm were deleted and only 37mm Bofors were to be fitted as the 'light' AA weaponry. The 4.1" were replaced with the 88mm weapon system that the Graf Zeppelin was completed with. Prior to completion half a dozen of the new 55mm AA mountings. The overall numbers of weaponry were being reduced as the amount of radar assistance increased. The silhouette of the original design to the 1944 design is markedly different.

Quite frankly if the Germanic States has not taken out the United Kingdom, then the two Vaterland class aircraft carriers would never be allowed to be completed by the Allied commanders. Two of these aircraft carriers arriving in late 1943 early 1944 would have shifted the balance of sea power, especially with jets aboard. The Allies would have made certain that the two ships would be damaged (if not sunk) regularly by bombing from both the day and night bombing air fleets. They would have been a priority target.

(If Whittles War does not happen) The Vaterlands' were the first aircraft carriers to handle jet aircraft in late 1943 early 1944 with a navalised version of the Me-262 undergoing flight deck trials on the Vaterland. A navalised version of the Arado 234 jet bomber followed to give the ships a long range strike capability. Those two aircraft would dominate sea warfare till the end of the war.


Displacement 54,500 tons std, 66,800 full load
Length 1032 ft
Breadth 136 ft
Draught 34 ft
Machinery 4 shaft mixed turbine/diesel propulsion
2 x Steam Turbines 160,000shp
2 x Diesels 60,000bhp
Speed 32 knots
Range 14,000 miles at 18 knots
Armour 3.9" side, 3.9" main deck, 5.9" magazines
Armament 16 x 88mm (8x2)
6 x 55mm (6x1)
20 x 37mm (10x2)
Aircraft 94
Complement 2850
Notes KM Vaterland

KM Heimdallr

AR-234 above, Me-262 below. Gave the air units aboard the Vaterland the strike force required to take control of the air space around the aircraft carrier.


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