German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin

German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin

German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin

The aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin was a ship of the German Navy, which remained unfinished. It was named after the airship pioneer Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin. As the lead ship of the Graf Zeppelin class, it was the first and so far the only German aircraft carrier.


The construction contract for the aircraft carrier A, later Graf Zeppelin, was born on 16 November 1935 awarded to the German Werke AG shipyard in Kiel.

The construction contract for the sister ship, the aircraft carrier B, the same was also based in Kiel Friedrich Krupp Germania Werft AG. It was common for the contract to build ships did not contain the name of the future. The reason lies not in secrecy but rather the commander of the Navy wanted the naming rights reserved. The name specification was mostly just before the launch – certainly not without political influence.

The launch took place on 8 Held in December, 1938. It was christened the ship by Hella von Brandenstein-Zeppelin, the daughter of Count Zeppelin. The naming ceremony speech held the commander in chief of the Luftwaffe, Hermann Goering.

The further expansion of the ship was from September 1939 in favor of the U-Bootbaues initially slowed down and stopped in June 1940. With resumption of Trägerbaues 1942, the hull was still outside in the waterline additional beads as protection against torpedo hits and an additional bunker fuel, and they prepared the turbine plant for partial commissioning. On 2 February 1943 was then the final freeze. On 21 April 1943, the completed over 90 percent of aircraft carrier was towed to Szczecin. At its new berth is used the Graf Zeppelin as a spare part supplier for other warships of the Navy. On 25 April 1945 began demolition squad the ship aground and destroyed its propulsion system to make the wearer as booty for the advancing Russian troops unusable.

In March 1947, the ship was then lifted by the Red Army and served as an accommodation ship for a special department which was responsible for the evaluation of the design documentation of the Graf Zeppelin and other loot ships. Were tested bombers and explosives on the aircraft carrier, in order to investigate how they could fight the most effective.

Historically, the ship was out of constructed only in terms of the excess Seezielartillerie because for her sake, the capacity for aircraft was too low. Simultaneous developments in Japan and the U.S. had similar vessel sizes in more than twice as many aircraft on board, and they waived entirely on naval guns. Many details of the ship were forward-looking, but the overall concept was the lack of experience of the German Admiralty regarding the use of aircraft carriers. In 1942, resumed construction of the vessel was adjusted with Hitler’s orders to make all large warships from service in February 1943. The development of modern carrier aircraft Junkers Ju 87 E and Blohm & Voss BV 155 was the final Baustop for large warships, so the aircraft carrier under construction also abandoned.


On 18 June 1947 was resolved during the ordnance tests on the Graf Zeppelin just before a storm mooring to forestall tearing of the cloth and a stranding of the ship. It then sank the ship with two torpedo s 30 n mile north before Władysławowo from the Gulf of Gdansk where it is today.


As the Polish oil company Petrobaltic in a press release dated 25 Announced in July 2006, they had already on 12 July seeking a research vessel near Santa Barbara a ride around the sonar 250 meter long wreck at a depth of 80 meters in 55 kilometers to the Polish Baltic Sea port Władysławowo discovered near the oil platform B3. The Polish Navy confirmed on 27 July that it is the wreck of the Graf Zeppelin; confirmation from the German side failed to materialize so far.

The Federal Ministry of Defence announced that the Russian government (legal successor of the Soviet Union) was responsible for the wreck, and justified this by saying that the ship was then the Soviet Union was awarded as spoils of war on the war.

The coordinates of the site are as follows:

Further technical data

Flight Facilities

•Two compressed air catapults with sled for the start of fighter s with gear retracted. The Junkers Ju 87 (Stuka) were able to start with their rigid chassis of the catapults.

•Four brake cables for landing

•Three lifts for the transport of the aircraft between the flight deck and decks Hall (designed for up to 6500 kg)

•Two indoor decks with a height of approx 6 meters and a maximum width of 15.5 m, the upper was 185 m, the lower 172 m long, giving a total floor area of ​​almost 5,500 square meters

•The flight deck was 240 m long and max 30 m wide.

The number of be housed aircraft was low for the size of the ship, comparable American and Japanese carriers had approximately twice the capacity should wear while British aircraft carrier about the same number of aircraft wore as the Graf Zeppelin. The moderate number of aircraft Zeppelin was caused among other things by the bulky Seezielgeschütze (16 × 15 cm, which gave the ship’s artillery armament of a light cruiser). The naval forces of other nations had strayed again in 1940 by a strong artillery armament, since the very vulnerable to artillery fire support instead relied on a strong escort fleet and should stay out of the reach of foreign warships.


•Ulrich HJ Israel: The only German aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. Koehler Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Herford 2002. ISBN 3-7822-0786-6

•Stephen Burke / Adam Olejnik: Freedom of the Seas.The Story of Hitler’s Aircraft Carrier – Graf Zeppelin. Self-published, 2012. ISBN 978-0-9564790-0-6

•Stephen Burke: Without Wings, the story of Hitler’s aircraft carrier. Trafford Publishing, 3rd Revised edition 2007. ISBN 978-1425122164

•William Hadeler: The aircraft carrier. Lehmann Verlag, Munich in 1968.

•Frank Omeda: The German aircraft carrier.From the beginnings to 1945. EBook Kindle Edition, 2012.

•Richard Wagner / Manfred Wilske: aircraft carrier Graf Zeppelin. Neckar-Verlag Villingen-Schwenningen 2007. ISBN 978-3-7883-1127-8

Graf Zeppelin class


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