Graf Zeppelin file photo [8122]

Graf Zeppelin

Ship ClassGraf Zeppelin-class Aircraft Carrier
BuilderDeutsche Werke Kiel
Yard Number252
Slip/Drydock NumberI
Ordered16 Nov 1935
Laid Down28 Dec 1936
Launched8 Dec 1938
Sunk16 Aug 1947
Displacement33,550 tons standard
Length861 feet
Beam103 feet
Draft24 feet
Machinery16 La Mont high-pressure boilers, geared turbines, four shafts; two Voith-Schneider cycloidal propeller-rudders for berthing or to provide emergency power
Bunkerage5,000t oil pre-May 1942, 6,500t oil post-May 1942
Speed35 knots
Range8,000nm at 19 knots
Armament16x15cm guns, 12x10.5cm guns, 22x3.7cm guns, 28x2cm guns
Armor20mm deck, 40mm deck at elevators/funnels, 40mm hangar deck, 60mm hangar deck at magazines, 30mm belt at bow, 60mm belt at magazines, 100mm belt at machinery, 80mm steering gear, 20mm bulkhead
Flight Deck242m x 30m
Aircraft30 Bf 109 fighters, 20 Ju 87 diver bombers
Work Stopped29 Apr 1940


ww2dbaseOn 18 Jun 1935, the Anglo-German Naval Treaty allowed Germany to build aircraft carriers with displacement up to 38,500 tons, and shortly after, Adolf Hitler announced that one such aircraft carrier would be built. In the autumn of 1935, German military representatives visited Japan to obtain flight deck equipment blueprints and visited the modern aircraft carrier Akagi. In 1937, the keel for Aircraft Carrier A (Flugzeugträger A) was laid down at Kiel, Germany. The ship was launched in 1938 and christened Graf Zeppelin. Head of German Navy Grand Admiral Erich Raeder found political oppositions from Air Force (Luftwaffe) head Hermann Göring for his carrier-building program, and within the navy, influential brass officers such as Admiral Karl Dönitz thought resources could be better spent elsewhere, thus Raeder found his ambitions to expand the German carrier fleet to four extremely difficult. Construction was delayed on 19 Sep 1939 as the European War began and political battles with Göring continued. On 28 Feb 1940, the frustrated Raeder ordered the hull of the second carrier, Flugzeugträger B, to be broken up and scrapped to free resources for other construction projects, though Graf Zeppelin continued to sit at Kiel, rusting. On 29 Apr 1940, Raeder recommended the transfer of Graf Zeppelin's 16 15-centimeter guns to coastal installations in Norway, which was approved by Hitler. On 12 Jul 1940, she was towed to Gotenhafen, Germany where she continued to sit without any progress. Between Jun and Nov 1941, she was at Stettin, Germany in order stay outside of Russian air strike range. Between Nov 1941 and early 1942, she served as a floating warehouse for hardwood supply for the German Navy. The successful Japanese carrier attack on Pearl Harbor in United States gave Raeder the necessary ammunition to secure permission to continue the construction, which was granted by Hitler on 13 May 1942, even though by this time the only fighter aircraft made available to Raeder were the aging Bf 109 fighters, as the strained German industry had no capacity to built dedicated carrier-borne fighters. On 5 Dec 1942, she was towed to Kiel and was placed in a floating drydock. In late Jan 1943, Hitler became disenchanted with the German Navy and ordered all large ships scrapped. During the ensuing political arguments, Raeder was relieved from command, replaced by Dönitz. Dönitz was able to convince Hitler to retract most of his order to scrap active warships, but agreed to stop all large ships still under construction, for that Dönitz also though the resources would be better spent elsewhere, namely for a larger submarine fleet. On 2 Feb 1943, the Graf Zeppelin project was ended. In Apr she was towed to a wharf in the Parnitz River near Stettin, where she sat with a 40-man skeleton crew. In Apr 1945, as the Russian forces neared, the crew flooded the ship and set demolition and depth charges, which were detonated at 1800 hours on 25 Apr. Graf Zeppelin left the legacy of being the only purpose-built aircraft carrier of the WW2-era German Navy.

ww2dbaseAfter the war, against agreements with other Allied powers, Russia refloated Graf Zeppelin in Mar 1946. She left port on 7 Apr 1947 with her flight deck loaded with containers, possibly looted factory equipment from Germany and Poland. The history after this point was not entirely certain; she either struck a naval mine and sank or, more likely, was sunk as a target ship on 16 Aug 1947. Her wreck was found on 12 Jul 2006 by a Polish ship near the port of Leba, Poland.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Last Major Revision: Jul 2009

Aircraft Carrier Graf Zeppelin Interactive Map


German carrier hull Flugzeugträger A (future Graf Zeppelin) under construction, Kiel, Germany, 22 Mar 1937, photo 1 of 9German carrier hull Flugzeugträger A (future Graf Zeppelin) under construction, Kiel, Germany, 22 Mar 1937, photo 2 of 9German carrier hull Flugzeugträger A (future Graf Zeppelin) under construction, Kiel, Germany, 22 Mar 1937, photo 3 of 9German carrier hull Flugzeugträger A (future Graf Zeppelin) under construction, Kiel, Germany, 22 Mar 1937, photo 4 of 9
See all 16 photographs of Aircraft Carrier Graf Zeppelin

Graf Zeppelin Operational Timeline

28 Dec 1936 The keel of Graf Zeppelin was laid down in Dry Dock I of Deutsche Werke Kiel, Germany.
8 Dec 1938 Graf Zeppelin was launched by Deutsche Werke Kiel in Kiel, Germany.
19 Sep 1939 The construction of Graf Zeppelin was halted temporarily as Erich Raeder and Hermann G√∂ring competed for resources.
29 Apr 1940 The work on carrier Graf Zeppelin was stopped.
12 Jul 1940 Graf Zeppelin was towed to Gotenhafen (Gdynia), occupied Poland.
13 May 1942 Adolf Hitler gave Erich Raeder the permission to continue with the construction of Graf Zeppelin.
27 Aug 1942 9 British Lancaster bombers attacked Graf Zeppelin at Gotenhafen (Gdynia), occupied Poland with 5,550-pound bombs, causing no damage.
5 Dec 1942 Graf Zeppelin was towed to Kiel, Germany.
2 Feb 1943 The construction of Graf Zeppelin was stopped at Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland).
25 Apr 1945 Graf Zeppelin was scuttled with demolition charges at Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland) at 1800 hours to prevent Soviet capture.
7 Apr 1947 Graf Zeppelin departed Stettin, Germany (now Szczecin, Poland) with loot aboard.
16 Aug 1947 Graf Zeppelin sank in the Baltic Sea, possibly as a target ship for the Soviet Navy.

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Ricky Bixler says:
9 Jul 2009 09:02:24 AM

Hello i want to know can they photos of the wreck site on the web
2. Anonymous says:
29 Apr 2020 09:53:01 AM

Such a sad end to a promising ship

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Aircraft Carrier Graf Zeppelin Photo Gallery
German carrier hull Flugzeugträger A (future Graf Zeppelin) under construction, Kiel, Germany, 22 Mar 1937, photo 1 of 9
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