In 1939, to challenge the naval power of the United Kingdom the Fuehrer Adolf Hitler ordered the re-equipment and expansion of the Nazi German Navy.
Flugzeugträger Part 4:
Plan ZLike all of the unfortunate implementors of Hitler's madcap plans, it soon became apparent to its architect Grand Admiral Erich Raeder that "Plan Z" was hopelessly unachievable because there was far too much competition for common internal resource to build a Kriegsmarine of ten battleships, four aircraft carriers, three battlecruisers, three old panzerschiffe, twelve new panzerschiffe, five heavy cruisers, thirty-sx light cruisers M Class, twenty-four light cruisers typ spähkreuzer, sixty-eight destroyers, ninety torpedo boats and two hundred forty-night U-boats by 1945. And the political infighting was further complicated by intra-service rivalry; as usual Goëring was throwing a spanner in the works by insisting that all aviation assets should belong to the Luftwaffe.
To overcome this comand confusion, Raeder played directly to the Fuehrer's military fantasies, floating a number of implausible mission plans including an attack on the US Atlantic Fleet moored at Norfolk, Virginia. The main result of this gambit was a significant reduction in the number of U-boats. And instead of ambitiously building a purpose-built aircraft carriers from the keel up, the Admiral took the more realistic judgement to convert pre-dreadnoughts by building landing capability on the hull. This expedience was necessary in the game of catch-up, being precisely how the Royal Navy had built their first carriers HMS Eagle and HMS Furious. Because Raeder simply did not have the luxury of time, inside of six months war would break-out and he could not follow in the slow considered steps of a programme launched by the Royal Navy over fifteen years before.
This post shares some commonality with the sister articles in the Flugzeugträger thread.