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Hitler's Aircraft Carrier Found Undersea

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  • Hitler's Aircraft Carrier Found Undersea

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article...287104,00.html

    The location of the wreck of the Graf Zeppelin had been a mystery for more than half a century.

    POLISH divers have discovered the rusting wreckage of Nazi Germany’s only aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin, solving one of the most enduring maritime riddles of the Second World War.
    For more than half a century the location of the huge vessel was kept secret by the Soviet authorities. Even the opening of the Moscow archives in the 1990s failed to produce a precise bearing. The once-proud ship was simply one of dozens of wrecks that littered the bed of the Baltic Sea near the Bay of Gdansk.

    “We were carrying out soundings for possible oil exploration,” Krzysztof Grabowski, of the Petrobaltic exploration group, said. “Then we stumbled across a vessel that was over 260 metres (850ft) long at a depth of 250 metres.”

    Divers confirmed this week that it was the German ship, though who owns her and what — if anything — will happen to her remains unclear.

    When the Graf Zeppelin was launched in 1938, Adolf Hitler raised his right arm in salute to a warship that was supposed to help Germany to become master of the northern seas. But, when fleeing German troops scuttled her in April 1945, she had never seen service — a casualty of infighting within the Nazi elite and the changing tide of war.

    The Graf Zeppelin was scuttled in shallow water near Szczecin and it proved easy for the Red Army to recover her after marching into the Polish port. According to an agreement with the Allies, German and Japanese warships should have been sunk in deep water or destroyed. The Russians repaired the ship, then used her to carry looted factory equipment back to the Soviet Union. In August 1947 Allied spies observed her being towed back to the Polish Baltic coast and then used for target practice at Leba by Soviet dive bombers. It appeared that the Russians were preparing for possible action against US aircraft carriers.

    The Graf Zeppelin sank a second time, and remained undetected until now.

    Lukasz Orlicki, a Polish maritime historian, said: “It is difficult to say why the Russians have always been so stubbornly reluctant to talk about the location of the wreck. Perhaps it was the usual obsession with secrecy, or perhaps there was some kind of suspect cargo.”

    At 262 metres, the Graf Zeppelin was comparable to the biggest of the US carriers that played such a significant role in the Pacific. She had a range of 8,000 nautical miles, meaning that she could easily have reached the North Sea.
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  • #2
    Very intersting. I spend a lot of time broadining my knowladge about WWII, and I have never heard of a German aircraft carrier until now!
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Crunk415balla
      Very intersting. I spend a lot of time broadining my knowladge about WWII, and I have never heard of a German aircraft carrier until now!
      Just one of the many projects that was scuppered (thank heaven!) by infighting among the German high Command. Who knows what might have happened to allied convoys if the German Navy had put the Graf Zeppelin out into the North Atlantic with a complement of dive bombers, torpedo bombers and fighters!!

      Wonder if they'll raise her?

      Andy

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      • #4
        Originally posted by exmanx
        Just one of the many projects that was scuppered (thank heaven!) by infighting among the German high Command. Who knows what might have happened to allied convoys if the German Navy had put the Graf Zeppelin out into the North Atlantic with a complement of dive bombers, torpedo bombers and fighters!!
        Probably not much. Sure they would have had an aircraft carrier and they also had lots of (jet-powered) planes, but would they have been able to actually operate those planes from an aircraft carrier? First of, I'm not sure of the "STOL" capabilities of the Messerschmitts, and second, even if, training enough pilots to actually make good use of the "Graf Zeppelin" would probably haven't been successful in the period that the war still lasted. Had it last longer, perhaps, but other than that, I doubt it.

        Originally posted by exmanx
        Wonder if they'll raise her?

        Andy
        I sure hope so. Nazi product or not, this ship is a technological for the time it was built in and deserves to be seen.

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        • #5
          I believe the aircraft to be operated off the carrier were modified Bf-109's, Ju-87's and others. Not the jets. The Me-262 wasn't operational until 1944 and would have needed a lot of modification to make it carrier able, whereas the Junkers and Bf-109 were already pretty nippy. Mind you, the narrow track of the 109's U/C would have made it a touch wobbly! Although the Fw-190 would have really made some impact, especially over the ship-borne fighters like the Firefly, Fulmar and Martlet (Wildcat to you Yanks )

          Fascinating to think about, frightening to contemplate.

          Andy

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          • #6
            Originally posted by exmanx
            Fascinating to think about, frightening to contemplate.
            Indeed, spot on. That's the thing about the Nazi regime: They were unarguably the most insane *insert swear word of choice* out there that deserve to rot in hell, but as far as technological (and architectural) developement goes, they were ahead of all others.

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            • #7
              Perhaps modified JU-88's, or perhaps earlier in the war, He 111's, could have been able to use the carrier? These could have been capable of much more destruction than the JU-87. Keep in mind the "Doolittle Air Raid" where B-25's took off from a carrier to reach Japan, and proved that it was possible to opperate bombers from a carrier. Plus, Hitler began testing JATO with rockets on He-111 bombers to increase their STOL capabilites early in the war.
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              • #8
                I can imagine this to be displayed in some kind at the marine museum in Germany, right ?
                Inactive from May 1 2009.

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                • #9
                  I found some picures of the Carrier.





                  and here is the sonar pic:

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                  • #10
                    Initial equipment planned were navalized ME109s and JU87s (Stukas).
                    Alain
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