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Graf Zep

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In comments, Bistroist points out that the wreck of the Led… er, Graf Zeppelin has been found. Graf Zep was Germany’s first effort at building an aircraft carrier (Seydlitz was the second). After the war began the Germans gave up on Graf Zep and consigned the hulk to duty as a storage vessel. The Soviet Union took the ship over at the end of the war, and apparently sank her in the Baltic.

Just a thought for the naval enthusiasts out there: What if the Germans had completed Graf Zep and used her as a commerce raider? Commerce raiding with Graf Zep was never their intention, as she was supposed to serve as a prototype for their projected fleet carriers. I suppose that the big problem would be supply; aircraft carriers use up fuel and ordinance at a rate much higher than surface ships, so any cruises would likely have been short. On the other hand, only one carrier during the war was caught by enemy surface ships (HMS Glorious), and it’s possible that Graf Zep, with a high speed (35 knots) and significant recon assets, could have avoided being destroyed by the Royal Navy. Graf Zeppelin was also quite large (33000 tons) for her projected complement of aircraft (50), which may suggest the possibility for longer ranged operations.

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