Klein-Flugzeugträger – KFT (1942)
(Small-/ Mini-Aircraft Carrier)History
This design was developed by Dr. Heinrich Dräger (head of the Dräger Company, which produced parts for the Navy) and was submitted to Major General Prof. Dr.-Ing Gerloff, head of the Technical SS- and Police Academy on Jan. 27th, 1942, shortly after the declaration of war to the USA. Dr. Dräger had already submitted similar designs to the Kriegsmarine earlier (in the form of 3000, 6000 and 9000t designs, note the similarities to the Hansa-Construction Program), but had been rejected. By submitting the design to the SS, he had hoped to take the project out of the hands of the Navy and into the ones of a another branch of service (although other branches were similar rejective of third-party suggestiones).
Two days later, on Jan. 29th, 1942, Prof. Dr.-Ing. Gerloff submitted the KFT-design to the chief of police, General Daluege. General Daluege had close ties to Hitler and Himmler and Gerloff emphasized the overall authority the Luftwaffe
in this particular project. For almost a year, the Technical Academy did not work on this project, and neither did other departments of the SS. Instead, the project was submitted to the General of the Luftwaffe, Bodenschatz. On Feb. 10th, 1943, Heckenstaller of the SS requested informationfrom Prof. Gerloff if the project had progressed in any form. He was gathering information for General Wolff, who was about to discuss the KFT with Field Marshal Milch. Reports stated that Dr. Dräger also wanted to submit this project directly to Field Marshal Milch and the Luftwaffe, but whether this happened is unknown.
Answers and further requests were delayed until August '43, presumably due to the war. The Luftwaffe had no interest in the KFT and had the proposal submitted to the Kriegsmarine, where it was rejected on Oct. 11th, 1943. The rejection was given without any comment, emotion or remorse. It was rejected for 'tactical and operational reasons' and that the flightdeck with a width of 17m would be unsuited for modern carrier aircraft (presumable the newly-developed Me-109ST/-155A). The SS realized that other branches did not want any intervention or even suggestions form the outside and with the war taking a turn for the worst, the project was abandoned.Construction and Operation
In his proposal, Dr. Dräger put the KFT on on the same priority as U-Boats. For him, capital ships had not been proven useful in the war and larger carriers would take too long to build. He preferred safety in numbers and mass-produced ships over speed (Citing the HMS Glorious
with a top speed of 31.6kn as an example). A smaller design also had the advantage that smaller shipyards could built the carrier. However, with all German shipyards being occupied with U-Boat construction, the KFT construction would have to be taken over by foreign shipyards in occupied territories. Scheduled projects in these shipyards for 1943 and 1944 would have to be delayed, because they would become overall less important to the war effort than the aircraft carrier. In his original proposal of January 1942, Dr. Dräger projected that the first ship would have completed testing by April 1943. The mass production for the next 100 ships would begin at the end of 1943 and would be ready for duty at the end of 1944.
The KFT was designed to operate on its own or in a group as a commerce raider to control large areas of the sea. The possibility of repeated torpedo attacks of the KFT-stationed bombers would be superior to any kind of commerce-raiding cruiser. Larger groups of KFTs could serve as an advance post for aerial reconnaissance, extending the current reach of aircraft by about 100sm. Troop and supply transports for landing operations, like the Invasion of Norway, could also be supported. Larger combat operations could be conducted by a group of 20 to 50 KFT and fast cruisers.
Also included in the proposal was a map that showed the possible operation areas of these carriers: Overall, there would be seven groups of KFTs, two station on a line between Greenland and the Brittany (France) and two on a line between Newfoundland and Galicia (Spain) for the North Atlantic. One would be stationed on a line between Northeast Brazil and Liberia for the South Atlantic. One would be stationed on a line between Southern India and one in the Gulf of Oman to cover the Arabian Sea. Dräger's plans did not see any actions against the United states, presumable because his plans had been drafted before the declaration of war.Technical Details
Although the design never left the channels of bureaucracy, Dräger did include a first draft of the KFT in his proposal. It was a preliminary design as a base for discussions and purposefully omitted several details (like weapons, for example). The KFT had a displacement of 3500t, an overall length of 101.6m (waterline: 96m) and a draft of 4m. The landing deck was 90m in length and 17m in width, equipped with several arresting cables and three aircraft elevators. At the bow was a catapult for launch, the Hangar had a capacity for 4 Ju-87D-4 Torpedo/Bomber aircraft and 2 Bf-109T fighter aircraft, with an option for a third fighter launch-ready on deck. The main engines had 9000HP power for a top speed of 19kn (range: 4000sm or 14000sm/9kn).
Aside from the flight deck, the KFT had three additional decks. The upper deck housed the bridge, radio and navigation room in the front, workshops for engines and planes, med-bay, boats and arresting cable machines in the middle and back. Along the whole deck were cabins for the 80 soldiers for both ships and planes plus the pilots. The middle deck housed anchors and catapult mechanisms, aircraft fuel tanks, main and auxiliary engines, food storage and rudder control. Also included were additional cabins and the upper hangar levels. The lowest deck housed the main engines, water tanks, additional aircraft fuel tanks, bombs-, torpedo- and spare parts storage and the hangar floor.
Overall, the KFT was designed to be easily modified into a troop transport (troops only, without capacities for vehicles) or serve as a merchant ship in peaceful times.Technical data:
- Lenght (overall): 106,1 m
- Lenght (waterline): 96 m
- Width: 13,5-14 m
- Dreaft: 4m
- Top speed: 19 kn
- Range: 14.200 nmi / 9 kn (4.000 nmi / 19 kn)
- Crew: 80 + pilots
- 2 Me-109T Fighter planes (+1 ready on deck, optional)
- 4 Ju-87D-4 Torpedo/Bomber aircraft
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