German Carriers - Historical vs. Paper Debate

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German Carriers - Historical vs. Paper Debate

Postby Istvan56 » Tue Aug 04, 2015 5:11 pm

As a military historian one of the things that has irked me about our friends at is their reliance upon paper projects (i.e. blueprint projects) to fill in various gaps in vehicle trees, whether it is World of Tanks or now, World of Warships. (Disclaimer: I never played World of Warplanes so I don't know if they used paper planes or not.) I am for planes, tanks and ships which existed in some form, even if it was never put into full production. An example of this is the Maus tank, it existed as a prototype. The Dornier Do 335 Arrow is another example, it existed but was not accepted into production which was good for the Allies.

With ships there is the problem of whether the project went beyond blueprint stage and actually made it onto the slips and ways. Meaning, construction began and how far along did it go before being scrapped. For unlike tanks and planes, ships are too big to build prototypes of before starting a class. Sometimes a propulsion design will be experimented on a smaller ship, such as a training ship before putting them into a destroyer, as occurred with the DKM Brummer artillerieschulschiff (1934) which had no problems with its high pressure steam turbines but when put on the Zerstörer 1934 class they were a failure.
DKM Brummer is a contender for the German starting Tier 1 Cruiser in World of Warships

For German aircraft carriers the debate is complicated. Most historians will tell you that German aircraft carriers simply didn't exist. That's not entirely true. Some existed as they were laid down but never were completed. Again, that was a blessing for the Allies. So by my reckoning these carriers are not merely paper ships, but incomplete projects worthy of adding to the game. Of the leading players who have proposed ship trees on the forums, Bambarabum of the Russian forum disagrees with me, believing both the Russian and German Tech Trees should not have carriers as none were ever completed. However, Ageres12 from the Russian forum, the EU forum's German Players and NA forum mr3awsome all included carriers in their player proposed German Tech Trees.

Tier IV
Unfortunately, you can't make a complete tech tree out of these laid down ship projects. WoWs could include them as premium samples only but that's not the style of our Devs, now is it? To flesh out a full tech tree they will use paper ships, blueprints of aircraft carrier conversions of other ships already started such as cruisers and even passenger liners or total paper projects such as the DKM Z Plan Kleiner Flugzeugträger - "Projekt Moser" (CVL) which could be the start of the German Carrier Tree at Tier IV according to the German Players' proposal:
Kleiner Flugzeugträger - "Projekt Moser" (CVL)
These 6000 ton displacement light cruisers would've been diesel powered, unarmored and would be the equivalent of US Navy CVE's built on Liberty ship hulls. The armament shown are 4 x twin 105mm (4") dual-purpose guns, 4 x twin 37mm flak guns and 4 x quad 20mm flak guns.
Displacement: 6000t
Aircraft: 15
Armaments: 8 x 10,5 cm / 8 x 3,7 cm / 16 x 2cm
Length: 161 meters
Class: CVL

A viable alternative for Tier IV by Ageres12 is the SMS Ausonia, a 1914 proposed conversion of an Italian steam liner to an aircraft carrier. This ship actually existed but was not completed, unlike the above example. With the Armistice of November 11, 1918 all work on the Ausonia was stopped and the ship was scrapped in 1922. Another idea is to place SMS Ausonia as a Tier III, even as a premium, since she is a WW-I ship.
DG Alpha came up with this great picture of how the Ausonia might have looked if completed.
Type: aircraft carrier
Displacement: 12,585 metric tons
Length: 158 m (518 ft)
Beam: 18.8 m (62 ft)
Draft: 7.43 m (24.4 ft)
Propulsion: 2-shaft Blohm & Voss geared turbines, 14,000 shp, 1,500 tons of coal
Speed: 20 knots
Aircraft carried: 13 or 19 twin engine float type seaplanes, 10 wheeled land-based type aircraft
Aviation facilities: 3 hangars, 2 flight decks
Armament: unknown

A final proposal for Tier IV by mr3awsome is the KMS Seydlitz, a Hipper-class cruiser conversion that made it the furthest into becoming an aircraft carrier of any Kreigsmarine conversion project. It was renamed the KMS Weser and was to be an auxiliary carrier (Hilfsflugzeugträger). I disagree with mr3awsome here and agree with both the German Players and Ageres12 who placed it at Tier V..
KMS Weser, the ex-Seydlitz
The KMS Weser was to carry ten Bf 109 fighters and 10 Ju 87 divebombers, no torpedo bombers.
Displacement: Design: 17,139 t (16,868 long tons; 18,893 short tons)
Length: 216 m (708 ft 8 in) overall
Draft: Full load: 6.65 m (21.8 ft)
10 × 10.5 cm guns
10 × 3.7 cm guns
24 × 2 cm guns
Aircraft carried: 20 aircraft
KMS Weser, the ex-Seydlitz from

Tier V
At Tier V we could have the KMS Weser, ex-Seydlitz, as mentioned. However, mr3awsome places the De Grasse Hilfsflugzeugträger II here instead. The De Grasse was a captured incomplete French cruiser that the DKM tried to convert into another auxiliary cruiser. However, French sabotage, Allied bombing raids, D-Day and Adolf's incompetence all prevented that from happening. After 10 years of construction she was finally finished by the French as she was laid out to be, a cruiser.
ImageImageKMS De Grasse by two different artists
Size: 11400 t
Length: 192,5 m
Beam: 24,4 m
Draft: 5,6 m
Armament: 12 x 10,5 cm Flak; 12 x 3,7 cm Flak; 24 x 2 cm FlaMG
Aircraft: 12 x Junkers Ju 87 C; 11 x Messerschmitt Me 109 T
Performance: 110000 shp, 32 kn, Range 7000 sm at 19 kn

Tier VI
At Tier VI we could have De Grasse per the German Players' proposed tree, which I agree with. However, both mr3awsome and Ageres12 have a very interesting alternative, the Flugdeckkruezer E IV. To me it seems a step backwards with only 10 aircraft but it is a very interesting candidate for a premium ship instead of a standard tier carrier as it was only a paper ship.
Thanks to user Lord of Coppermine Gallery for hosting the picture of the Flugdeckkruezer E IV.
Size: 12750 t
Length: 188,87 m
Armament: 4 x 15 cm; 8 x 8,8 cm; 12 x 3,7 cm; 8 x 2 cm
Aircraft: 10 Aircraft (shown with Ju 87C dive bombers and Fi 167 torpedo bombers)
Performance: 120000 shp, 34 kn

Tier VII
At Tier VII we could have the KMS Graf Zeppelin Flugzeugträger, the only true aircraft carrier built by the DKM from the keel up. The German Players propose placing Graf Zeppelin here while both Ageres12 and mr3awsome reserve her for Tier VIII. I tend to think the latter choice is correct.
KMS Graf Zeppelin Flugzeugträger
Displacement: 33,550 tonnes
Length: 262.5 m (861 ft 3 in)
Beam: 31.5 m (103 ft 4 in)
Draft: 7.6 m (24 ft 11 in)
Propulsion: Geared turbines, 200,000 hp (150,000 kW), four screws
Speed: 35 knots (65 km/h)
Range: 14,816 km (8,000 nmi) at 19 knots (35 km/h)
Complement: 1,720 crew
306 flight personnel
Armament: 16 × 15 cm SK C/28 guns
12 × Flak (10.5 cm)
22 × 3.7 cm SK C/30 (AA)
28 × Flak (2.0 cm)
Aircraft carried: Complement of 43
10 × Messerschmitt Bf 109T fighters
13 × Junkers Ju 87C or -E dive bombers
20 × Fieseler Fi 167 biplane torpedo bombers

My personal favorite for Tier VII is mr3awsome's choice, KMS Europa, a converted troop transport. She wasn't completed due to flaws such as stability issues which might have been fixed with torpedo bulges, but work was halted on her. I have two different views of how she might have looked if completed.
KMS Europa
Type: aircraft carrier
Displacement: Design: 44,000 t (43,000 long tons; 49,000 short tons)
Full load: 56,500 t (55,600 long tons; 62,300 short tons)
Length: 291.5 m (956 ft)
Beam: 37 m (121 ft)
Draft: 10.3 m (34 ft)
Propulsion: 4-shaft Blohm & Voss geared turbines
100,000 shp (75,000 kW)
8,500 t (8,400 long tons; 9,400 short tons) of fuel oil
Speed: 26.5 kn (49.1 km/h; 30.5 mph)
Range: At 27 kn (50 km/h; 31 mph): 5,000 nmi (9,300 km; 5,800 mi)
At 19 kn (35 km/h; 22 mph): 10,000 nmi (19,000 km; 12,000 mi)
Armament: 12 × 10.5 cm (4.1 in) AA guns
20 × 37 mm (1.5 in) AA guns
28–36 × 20 mm (0.79 in) AA guns
Aircraft carried: 18 × Ju 87C 24 × Bf 109T
Aviation facilities: 1 hangar

Or again we could have the Flugdeckkruezer E V that Ageres12 proposes which I think should only be offered as a premium as it was only a paper ship.
Flugdeckkruezer E V
Size: 19150 t
Length: 210,0 m
Armament: 8 x 15 cm; 10 x 8,8 cm; 12 x 3,7 cm; 12 x 2 cm
18 Aircraft
Performance: 180000 shp, 35,5 kn

So at Tier VIII we should have KMS Graf Zeppelin, as previously mentioned.
KMS Graf Zeppelin

However our German Players think otherwise, having proposed Graf Zeppelin for Tier VII already, they instead place the "Projekt Elbe" Hilfsflugzeugträger conversion of the passenger ship Potsdam. Surprising since Potsdam was too slow to be a fleet carrier and would've only been good as a training or auxiliary carrier.
"Projekt Elbe" Hilfsflugzeugträger ex-Potsdam
Displacement standard: 17527t
Displacement full, 23,500t
Length, meters: 189.0 wl 203.0 oa
Breadth, meters: 26.8 wl 27.0 fd
Draught, meters: 8.85 deep load
No of shafts: 2
Machinery: electric motors, 2 Blohm & Voss / SSW turbine-generators, 4 Benson boilers
Power, h. p. 26000
Max speed, kts: 21
Fuel, tons: oil 4570
Endurance, nm(kts) 9000(19)
Armour, mm: flight deck: 20, hangar sides: 15 - 10
6 x 2 - 105/60 SK C/33, 5 x 2 - 37/80 SK C/30, 8 x 4 - 20/65 C/38
Sensors: 3 FuMo21 radars
Complement: 883 - 900
Aircraft facilities: (fd - 5,022 m², ha - 2,664 m² / 15,078 m³): Flight deck: 186.0 x 27.0 m. Hangar: 148.0 x 18.0 x ? m. Two lifts, each (15.2 x 14.3 m, 6.5 t). There were 2 catapults of K-252 type. Aircraft fuel stowage: 100 t.
Aircraft: 24 aircraft (Bf109T fighters, Ju87C dive bombers, Fi 167 torpedo bombers)

Tier IX
At Tier IX the German Players and mr3awsome both place Potsdam's sister ship the "Projekt Jade" Hilfsflugzeugträger conversion of the passenger ship Gneisenau here. Again, I don't think converted passenger ships are an improvement over dedicated fleet carriers. They are auxiliary carriers and either belong at lower tiers or as premiums. Further, there is too little difference between the two ships to make them different tiers.
"Projekt Jade" Hilfsflugzeugträger ex-Gneisenau
Displacement standard: 18160t
Length, meters: 191.0 wl 203.0 oa
Breadth, meters: 26.8 wl 27.0 fd
Draught, meters: 8.85 deep load
No of shafts: 2
Machinery: Deschimag geared steam turbines, 4 Wagner boilers
Power, h. p. 26000
Max speed, 21 kts
Fuel, tons: oil 4570
Endurance, nm(kts) 9000(19)
Armour, mm: flight deck: 20, hangar sides: 15 - 10
6 x 2 - 105/60 SK C/33, 5 x 2 - 37/80 SK C/30, 8 x 4 - 20/65 C/38
Sensors: 3 FuMo21 radars
Complement: 883 - 900
Aircraft facilities (fd - 5,022 m², ha - 2,664 m² / 15,078 m³): Flight deck: 186.0 x 27.0 m. Hangar: 148.0 x 18.0 x ? m. Two lifts, each (15.2 x 14.3 m, 6.5 t). There were 2 catapults of K-252 type. Aircraft fuel stowage: 100 t.
Aircraft: 24 aircraft (Bf109T fighters, Ju87C dive bombers, Fi 167 torpedo bombers)

A better answer for Tier IX comes from Ageres12 who takes us in a different direction yet again, this time ala IJN Ise and Hyūga in the DKM's idea for battlecruiser/aircraft carrier hybrids. Ageres12 selected the Grossflugzeugkreuzer A II for the Tier IX carrier and I think this is a definite improvement over the Gneisenau. The only problem is that the Grossflugzeugkreuzers are pure paper ships. They were never laid down. The German Players realized that the top two tiers would be paper ships so they wisely didn't put anything in those tiers. The Devs won't leave a void, however, so the choice comes between a real ship that sucked and a better balanced and unique paper ship. The question is though, are these paper ships over-powered? Or will the game allow a player time to both control his squadrons and engage in combat with his main battery? Enough with the speculation, here is a look at the ship:
Grossflugzeugkreuzer A II
Class: Aircraft-Heavy Cruiser hybrid
Year: 1942
Displacement: 40000 t
Length: 245 m
Performance: 210000 shp
Speed: 34 knots
Range: 18000 sm at 19 kn
Armaments: 4 x 20,3 cm; 16 x 15 cm; 16 x 10,5 cm; 14 x 3,7 cm
Aircraft: 24

Tier X
For Tier X we have two ships by two different players. Ageres12 continues with the Grossflugzeugkreuzer A IV, the ultimate battlecruiser/carrier hybrid.
Grossflugzeugkreuzer A IV
Class: Aircraft-Battlecruiser Hybrid
Laid down: Design 15.04.1942
Displacement: 70000 t
Length: 280 m
Performance: 280000 shp
Speed: 34 knots
Range: 20000 sm at 19 kn
Armament: 4 x 28 cm; 16 x 15 cm; 16 x 10,5 cm; 14 x 3,7 cm; 6 x 53,3 cm torpedo tubes;
Aircraft: 32

As the contender for Tier X we have mr3awsome recommending a KMS Tirpitz conversion. However, I could not find any historical documents supporting such a conversion nor any images from even alternate history sites.

Istvan56's recommended German Carrier Line:
Tier IV - SMS Ausonia
Tier V - KMS Weser, ex-Seydlitz
Tier VI - KMS De Grasse
Tier VII - KMS Europa
Tier VIII - KMS Graf Zeppelin
Tier IX - Grossflugzeugkreuzer A II
Tier X - Grossflugzeugkreuzer A IV

All in all the German Navy tech tree could start earlier than either the American or Japanese when it comes to aircraft carriers. The SMS Ausonia could start the line off at Tier III. The Grossflugzeugkreuzers ought to interest anyone and pose the question, are they viable in the game?

If you want know more about the plans for German aircraft carriers here are a few resources:

And from our World of Warships forums:

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