World War 2
Germany in WW2

Did Germany have aircraft carriers during World War 2?

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2006-02-21 14:14:47
2006-02-21 14:14:47

The answer is 'yes'. According to 'Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II'; 2 were laid down in 1936 under the naval programme of that year. They were the 'Graf Zeppelin' and the 'Peter Strasser. Only one, the 'Graf Zeppelin' was completed. It was photographed from the air, fitting out, alongside a quay at Kiel in July 1940. It is then believed to have proceeded to Gdynia in Poland. Length was 820 1/2 feet, beam was 88 1/2 feet and draught was 18 1/2 feet. She was built to take 40 aircraft. I can find no record of involvement in any action and she obviously did not survive the war as Jane's has to guess at some items such as the superstructure. As the Russians advanced through the Baltic States the Germans carried out a lot of withdrawals by sea and suffered large naval losses which don't appear to have been well documented. It's possible that the 'Graf Zeppelin' was one such casualty but that is only a presumption! I will try to find out more. And more input: Having done a lot more research, scrub the supposition at the end of my first submission. Rivalry between Goering, who delayed the development and production of the necessary aircraft, and Raeder gave rise to delays and the ship was only about 90% completed. She was removed to Gdynia in 1940 as a safer location to be laid up. She was used to store the fine fittings removed from other German warships to reduce the risk of fire during combat. Fear of Soviet bombing caused her to be removed again, this time to Stettin. In 1942 she was returned to Kiel for more work but other priority work caused more delays so in April 1943 she was returned to Stettin for good and as Raeder was removed from office (at his own request) work never resumed again. She was scuttled in shallow water in April 1945 but was refloated by the victorious Soviets the following spring and eventually towed to Leningrad in 1947.She appears to have been damaged on the way and could not be repaired so she was towed into deep water in 1947 and used for target practice by Soviet ships and aircraft. She did not sink easily. The wreck of the Graf Zeppelin has never been located.

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