In 1938, on this day the German Kriegsmarine aircraft carrier codename Flugzeugträger A was christened the Graf Zeppelin and launched from the Deutsche Werke in the port of Kiel.
Flugzeugträger Part 1: Launching of the Graf ZeppelinGrand Admiral Erich Raeder congratulated the German naval architects1 for overcoming immense difficulties despite their inexperience in building such vessels. The design challenges included a complement of cruiser-type guns for commerce raiding and defense against British cruisers, American and Japanese carriers, designed along the lines of task-force defense, used supporting cruisers for surface firepower, which allowed flight operations to continue without disruption and kept carriers out of undue risk of damage or sinking from surface action.
But the truth was that Raeder himself had saved Plan Z by providing the caste iron guarantees needed for the Fuehrer (who exercised his supreme authority through the Oberkommando der Marine) to sustain his interest in the programme. Because in May 1941, the Graf Zeppelin, along with the Tirpitz, Bismark and Prinz Eugene successfully mounted a German invasion of Iceland.
This post shares some commonality with the sister articles in the Flugzeugträger thread.