Aircraft Carrier Graf Zeppelin . . “In this war, which broke out some eight years before the point in time at which we could have built even 35% according to the fleet treaty of June 18, 1935- in this war, the little bit that is finished or can be made ready for service, can only go down fighting honorably.” This was written by the Commander-in-Chief of the German Navy, Grand Admiral Raeder two days after the German invasion of Poland. I guess you don’t have to be a professor of history to know that he was quite right… Graf Zeppelin actually managed to survive the war, but only because she never became operational. Laid down in 1936, launched in 1938 accompanied with great ceremonies, she was 90% complete by the time the war started. Early course of war did not show real need for the German aircraft carrier, Luftwaffe did not put much effort into carrier planes needed, so the work on the hull was halted, and by the time when German leadership realized how valuable aircraft carriers are, war was already raging for three years. Hitler’s ideas about uselessness of existing large surface units and cancelling of all in build, sealed the carrier’s fate. Even the Allies knew it was pointless to bomb her, because she was just a floating mamooth. After the war she was transferred to Soviet Union and sunk as a target ship. She proved to be a tough one, having survived all together 23!!!! explosions, only to be finished off by torpedoes. Köln on the other hand was a K-class light cruiser, launched in 1928, with pretty much uneventful operational career. She ended up shooting on tank groups in Varel area just before capitulation, lying on the bottom, with only turrets clear.
Graf Zeppelin is often overlooked in naval history books and we are still waiting for a decent plastic model. I am personally a big fan of what-if projects, and even though Graf Zeppelin does not fit in this category completely, it is still a fascinating looking ship. Sometimes they say; ’think big’ and so I’ve ended up with approximately 120 cm/4 feet long aircraft carrier, weighing a little bit over 5 kg/ 11 lb. So the scale used is around 1:215. LEGO purists will be terrified, because mega bloks are unfortunately included in this MOC. Creations like this include thousands and thousands of bricks as you all know, and when forced to use a single-color scheme, it becomes very hard/ impossible to gather enough LEGO pieces from your childhood collection. Probuilder sets produced by megabloks are therefore dream solution for brick ships lovers. And beside this, some of the megabloks parts are invaluable for ship building, and are not there to replace LEGO, but to add some extra flavor. I will always say: ‘Even though LEGO will remain my first choice whenever possible, it’s still all about the bricks. And we are here to put them together in order to create something that will all make us happier.’
My personal fav. I think that Graf Zeppelin is one of those ships that you either love or hate. It was a strange combination of designs popular in mid-thirties. Courageous and Akagi spent an unforgettable night together…
Port view with Bf-109T-s and Ju-87 Seestukas lined up on the flight deck. Bf-109s notorious landing gear was a headache in all theatres of war, and one has no problem imagining, what would have happened during a rough landing on a rolling carrier. It is true that the Germans strengthened not only the landing gear but also the whole airframe for this role, but still…
Starboard view exposing the long island.
Light cruiser Köln. Notice the Ar-196 seaplane and torpedo tubes.
I wanted to add some extra depth to the creation, so I built a fictional north German port. I used the LEGO train shed (10027) and then added some basic buildings. Looking back now, I know that I could have put more effort into them, but I still think they create some special atmosphere. Pay special attention to the cranes, there is also a drydock, power plant, and a small rail yard with typically colored German locomotive. Hospital ship is moored aside to serve as an accommodation vessel. Probably for tired U-Boot crew...
Had the Graf Zeppelin been finished early enough, she could have been a headache for the Royal Navy. It is not hard to imagine what would have happened to the Swordfishes attacking Bismarck, if they had been attacked by Bf-109s. But nevertheless, it is also quite clear, that sooner or later she would have been caught up by superior force and destroyed, a fate similar to majority of German capital ships. The cost in terms of allied shipping probably remains the only open question here.