Optimize the Axis Navies for WW2

Is there any reason to suppose that an aircraft carrier, cannot be employed as a commerce raider? If the 2nd or 3rd pair of German carriers weigh in @15,000 tons, how many aircraft will they carry? The USA built the USS Ranger in 1931-1934, and it was right around this same time period and tonnage, and carried 70+ aircraft.

That being said, what would the German carriers be like? A commerce raider mission I would suppose would be a one way trip, just like that of the GS, but would likely far outscore the ship she is taking the place of in terms of merchant ship tonnage sunk, and I wouldn't suppose the RN could even try to hunt her down with a tri of Cruisers.

I would also clarify that I don't see the German carriers going out alone, but their consort(s) would need range like their own (16,000 nmi), so this means a CA.
As written in Post 99 I was going to make my usual suggestion, which is to convert Dithmarschen class tankers into aircraft carriers. They're about the same size as the USN's Cimarron class tankers and the Sangamon & Commencement Bay escort carriers which were derived from it.

According to Conway's 1922-46 The OTL Sangamon class (which were converted Cimarron class tankers) had a range of 23,900nm at 15 knots and they could carry 31 aircraft. Both of which would be perfectly adequate for raiding operations on the trade routes. My guess is an air group of 18 torpedo-bombers to find & destroy the enemy merchant ships and 12 fighters in case one of the RN aircraft carriers that's looking for them is encountered. The fighters might be Mitsubishi A5M "Claudes" and the torpedo-bombers might Nakajima B5N "Kates" purchased directly from Japan or built under licence. The fighter won't be the Zero because the prototype didn't fly until April 1939 and it didn't enter Japanese service until July 1940.
 

marathag

Banned
Why are the carriers "stuck" in the Baltic or North Sea
Until France Falls, you have to get around a hostile Royal Navy, either the long North Sea way, or a Channel Dash.

That carrier needs a full Task Force to ensure safety of the Transit.

But a fleet size of a TF, that's harder to miss than a single raiding PB, per the cruises of Graf Spee and Deutschland in 1939.
 

marathag

Banned
there any reason to suppose that an aircraft carrier, cannot be employed as a commerce raider?
At the start of the War, the KM operated under Cruisr/Prize Rules set under the international Maritime Law of 1856 and Hague of 1899, and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.
It was Restricted Warfare in 1939.
So enemy shipping must be stopped and searched, and crews must be delivered to a place of safety.
Hard to do that with a dive bomber
 
At the start of the War, the KM operated under Cruisr/Prize Rules set under the international Maritime Law of 1856 and Hague of 1899, and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.
It was Restricted Warfare in 1939.
So enemy shipping must be stopped and searched, and crews must be delivered to a place of safety.
Hard to do that with a dive bomber
Another reason why a Amphibious plane carrier would make sense and obviously be easier to implement

The aircraft find the merchant ship and the Crusiers intercept it

Or they find the allied hunting group and 'brave sir robin' it in the other direction
 
At the start of the War, the KM operated under Cruiser/Prize Rules set under the international Maritime Law of 1856 and Hague of 1899, and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.
It was Restricted Warfare in 1939.
So enemy shipping must be stopped and searched, and crews must be delivered to a place of safety.
Hard to do that with a dive bomber.
That's all perfectly true.

In my suggestion I was thinking of them primarily as reconnaissance aircraft to "extend the horizon" of the Panzerschiffen the aircraft carriers would be operating with. They'd also help the Panzerschiffen evade the RN hunting groups. E.g. in an ALT-Battle of the River Plate the aircraft operating from Altmark (converted into an aircraft carrier ITTL) might spot Harwood's force well before they could spot the Germans. Then the Germans either make a sharp exit or organise an air strike against the cruisers. If it was the latter and depending upon how well it went the Panzerschiffen can finish-off any damaged RN ships without being mission-killed.

OTOH the prize rules for U-boats were gradually relaxed during the course of 1939 until they were allowed to conduct unrestricted submarine warfare. The same might be applied to he aircraft carriers operating on the trade routes.
 
The aircraft find the merchant ship and the Cruisers intercept it.

Or they find the allied hunting group and 'brave sir robin' it in the other direction
Sir, you Ninja'd me! Or as suggested above the German aircraft carrier launches an airstrike on the hunting group and if it goes well the German cruisers finish it off without being mission killed.
 

marathag

Banned
n my suggestion I was thinking of them primarily as reconnaissance aircraft to "extend the horizon" of the Panzerschiffen the aircraft carriers would be operating with.
That would be a good match. Just as fast and same range as the PBs.
Need to break the KM desire for the huge catapult systems they were enamored with, however.
 
At the start of the War, the KM operated under Cruisr/Prize Rules set under the international Maritime Law of 1856 and Hague of 1899, and the London Naval Treaty of 1930.
It was Restricted Warfare in 1939.
So enemy shipping must be stopped and searched, and crews must be delivered to a place of safety.
Hard to do that with a dive bomber
That's the best argument against my idea yet, and a good one.

1 CA + 1 CV, aircraft identify suspected enemy merchant men and tell the merchant ship to alter course to meet the raiders, if they broadcast a warning, then they stop being a simple merchant ship, and are now acting as a naval auxiliary, therefore an enemy warship, and subject to sinking with no further ado. If the ship heads to the raiders, and maintains radio silence, normal rules apply. Not sure if this will pass muster, but the best I can come up with at the moment.
Until France Falls, you have to get around a hostile Royal Navy, either the long North Sea way, or a Channel Dash.

That carrier needs a full Task Force to ensure safety of the Transit.

But a fleet size of a TF, that's harder to miss than a single raiding PB, per the cruises of Graf Spee and Deutschland in 1939.
The break out into the Atlantic, I just checked, using the G-I-UK gap, between G-I, I guesstimate means a round trip of 5,000 nmi, and that is just to get to the atlantic and back, so an actual useful sortie is going to require the ships to be able to sail in all sea states, break into the atlantic, conduct their raid, and then sail back to Germany, all with the fuel included in their designs. When Bismarck and Prince Eugene went out, they had no destroyers with them, so a pair of 15,000 ton ships, one a CV and the other a CA don't seem to need them either, right?

So any ships that the Germans are going to design, need to be able to have at least twice this, so a 10,000 nmi unrefueled range in their own bunkers, and as noted above, the GS had some 16,000 nmi worth of fuel. Did the Germans have any DD that could operate in the Atlantic off of their own fuel? if not, then we can dispense with thoughts of any German raiders traveling with them.
As written in Post 99 I was going to make my usual suggestion, which is to convert Dithmarschen class tankers into aircraft carriers. They're about the same size as the USN's Cimarron class tankers and the Sangamon & Commencement Bay escort carriers which were derived from it.

According to Conway's 1922-46 The OTL Sangamon class (which were converted Cimarron class tankers) had a range of 23,900nm at 15 knots and they could carry 31 aircraft. Both of which would be perfectly adequate for raiding operations on the trade routes. My guess is an air group of 18 torpedo-bombers to find & destroy the enemy merchant ships and 12 fighters in case one of the RN aircraft carriers that's looking for them is encountered. The fighters might be Mitsubishi A5M "Claudes" and the torpedo-bombers might Nakajima B5N "Kates" purchased directly from Japan or built under licence. The fighter won't be the Zero because the prototype didn't fly until April 1939 and it didn't enter Japanese service until July 1940.
My problem with that idea, at least for open ocean raiding, is they lack the speed needed to lead the allies on a merry chase, before they are run down. A pair of 30+ knot ships can give the RN a run for their money, but these ships cannot. That being said, I can see the Germans converting many such ships, but using them in another way, where their lack of speed will hopefully not doom them.
 
As written in Post 99 I was going to make my usual suggestion, which is to convert Dithmarschen class tankers into aircraft carriers. They're about the same size as the USN's Cimarron class tankers and the Sangamon & Commencement Bay escort carriers which were derived from it.

According to Conway's 1922-46 The OTL Sangamon class (which were converted Cimarron class tankers) had a range of 23,900nm at 15 knots and they could carry 31 aircraft. Both of which would be perfectly adequate for raiding operations on the trade routes. My guess is an air group of 18 torpedo-bombers to find & destroy the enemy merchant ships and 12 fighters in case one of the RN aircraft carriers that's looking for them is encountered. The fighters might be Mitsubishi A5M "Claudes" and the torpedo-bombers might Nakajima B5N "Kates" purchased directly from Japan or built under licence. The fighter won't be the Zero because the prototype didn't fly until April 1939 and it didn't enter Japanese service until July 1940.
My problem with that idea, at least for open ocean raiding, is they lack the speed needed to lead the allies on a merry chase, before they are run down. A pair of 30+ knot ships can give the RN a run for their money, but these ships cannot. That being said, I can see the Germans converting many such ships, but using them in another way, where their lack of speed will hopefully not doom them.
According to the below they had 4 MAN diesels producing 22,000shp driving 2 shafts for a maximum speed of 21.1 knots. Endurance was 12,500 sm at 15 knots.

I don't know, but my guess is that sm = statute miles.
According to the same website Graff Spee had 8 MAN diesels producing 53,650 shp for a maximum speed of 28.5 knots. Endurance was 17,460 miles at 15 knots.
 
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My problem with that idea, at least for open ocean raiding, is they lack the speed needed to lead the allies on a merry chase, before they are run down. A pair of 30+ knot ships can give the RN a run for their money, but these ships cannot. That being said, I can see the Germans converting many such ships, but using them in another way, where their lack of speed will hopefully not doom them.
Carrying on from Post 110.

I think the aircraft carriers based on the Dithmarschen class tankers conform to the "pocket battleship" concept by being able to outrun anything stronger and destroy anything faster.

In the second case the carrier's aircraft may spot RN cruisers in time for the German task group to take evasive action and mount a delaying air strike. If the air strike goes really well and some or all of the RN ships are badly damaged/crippled the accompanying Panzerschiffen can give them the coup de gras with no risk of being mission killed.
 
The Arado 196 seems to be a good multirole aircraft having a couple of dedicated 'aircraft cruisers' - perhaps improve on this already good design and have a cruiser capable of carrying a number of them that can escort the other ships in the fleet.
For what it's worth the OTL KM and Luftwaffe did have a modest carrier aircraft development programme.

At the outbreak of war the Maritime Luftwaffe had 3 squadrons of carrier aircraft, two with Bf109s and one with Ju87s which were expanded to three squadrons of each before the end of 1939.

However, I think the Fiesler Fi 167 would have been better than the Ju 87 as it looks looks very good from the "Top Trumps" perspective. Its performance is excellent considering that it was a biplane powered by a 1,100hp engine. Furthermore, I've heard that it's STOL characteristics were superb and if correct would come in rather handy when operating in the Atlantic.

Similarly, the Arado Ar 197 might have been a better carrier fighter in the early part of the war than the Bf109 as I think it would have been easier to operate from aircraft carriers in Atlantic weather conditions. It's performance on a 900hp engine was similar to the contemporary Sea Gladiator & Fulmar and it might go faster with an DB601 engine.
 
That would be a good match. Just as fast and same range as the PBs.
Thank you. FWIW, I thought so too, and for the same reasons.
Need to break the KM desire for the huge catapult systems they were enamoured with, however.
I thought the RM and IJN would cure the KM of that ITTL. (The RM would have had aircraft carriers since the late 1920s ITTL. See what I wrote in the Optimise RM thread.)

OTOH if, as I suggested, they do adopt the Ar 197 and Fi 167 instead of the Bf 109 and Ju 87 will the "I've got the biggest catapult! So there!" obsession be a problem on account of their good to excellent STOL characteristics?
 
For what it's worth the OTL KM and Luftwaffe did have a modest carrier aircraft development programme.

At the outbreak of war the Maritime Luftwaffe had 3 squadrons of carrier aircraft, two with Bf109s and one with Ju87s which were expanded to three squadrons of each before the end of 1939.

However, I think the Fiesler Fi 167 would have been better than the Ju 87 as it looks looks very good from the "Top Trumps" perspective. Its performance is excellent considering that it was a biplane powered by a 1,100hp engine. Furthermore, I've heard that it's STOL characteristics were superb and if correct would come in rather handy when operating in the Atlantic.

Similarly, the Arado Ar 197 might have been a better carrier fighter in the early part of the war than the Bf109 as I think it would have been easier to operate from aircraft carriers in Atlantic weather conditions. It's performance on a 900hp engine was similar to the contemporary Sea Gladiator & Fulmar and it might go faster with an DB601 engine.
I always thought the idea of a BF109 as a carrier fighter a bit suspect.

Given the problems of the Spitfire getting its sea legs and my understanding is that the 109s undercarriage was worse.
 

marathag

Banned
TOH if, as I suggested, they do adopt the Ar 197 and Fi 167 instead of the Bf 109 and Ju 87 will the "I've got the biggest catapult! So there!" obsession be a problem on account of their good to excellent STOL characteristics?
Would go with those two anyway, and look into Peroxide rockets for RATO in place of any catapult
 
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