Weapons That Were Never Built

In World War II, the world was shocked at some of the advanced weapons built by Germany. It was a lucky thing for the allies that most of these weapons came near the end of the war where they could be defeated by sheer numbers. The allies had the sheer numbers thanks to the enormous production of weapons by the United States. We were supplying most of the weapons to the allies besides ourselves. Never had the world seen such production. In the last year of the war we were producing over 50,000 planes. But there were some weapons that Germany was designing that never made it off the drawing board in time for the war. We also had some that became unnecessary.

Hitler did not like the sea. He became seasick very easily and by his own admission, he did not understand naval tactics, but he claimed he understood army maneuvers and tactics. This is debatable but there is one thing we know for sure, he felt the bigger the weapon the better it was. He also felt that huge capital ships gave status to a country. He wanted to build a new class of battleship which would be much bigger than ships like the Bismarck. The first ship of this type he envisioned was the Friedrich der Grosse. This was a battleship that would weigh 52,600 tons empty and sport 16" guns. It would be designed to have a top speed of 30 knots. The only bigger battle wagons would be the giant Japanese ships like the Yamoto which was a 65,000 ton monster. The US had begun construction of the Montana class battleship in 1941 but cancelled it in 1943 when it felt that there was no need for such a huge battleship since carriers were the most powerful ships and planes could sink any battleship. The Montana class would have weighed in at 60,500 tons. If Montana class battleships would have been built, they would have been the only US battleships that would have had armor that could protect them from guns that were the same size as their own. The ships would have had 12 16" guns. in four triple turrets and 20 5" guns in ten twin settings

Photos of Model of Montana Class Battleship
Photo Source: US Navy

First Set of Plans of Montana Class Battleship
Photo Source: US Navy

Hitler was not satisfied with a ship that was smaller than the giant battleships of the Japanese. Even the 52,600 ton Friedrich der Grosse did not completely satisfy him, so the ship he wanted built after that would have belonged to a new class of battleship. The class was known as the Fuehrer class and the first ship to be built would have been the Fuehrer You have to wonder how much bigger a Fuehrer class ship could be? Let me answer that question for you. The Fuehrer was to be the unbelievable weight of 122,000 tons. It would have 8 21" guns set in pairs of two. Never had a naval gun achieved this size. The ship was designed to reach 30 knots.

The Fuehrer class had tremendous size and tremendous problems. A ship this big could hardly dock anywhere, she just drew too much water.

The giant Japanese Battleship Yamoto
Photo Source: US Navy

Battleships were not the only weapons that Germany was working on. She had decided that she didn't have a need for her passenger liners once the war started and was going to convert some of them to aircraft carriers. She studied the concept and studied it. The more it was studied the more it was felt that the liners would not be stable enough to be carriers. The Germans had begun to construct an aircraft carrier in 1938 named the Graf Zeppelin. The record is unclear, but it seems that the project was never entirely finished. The flight deck was 790 feet long and 88.5 feet wide. It was estimated to weigh 27,650 tons. The ship itself may have been completed but its engines and weapons were not. If the Germans had deployed carriers they would have destroyed many more merchant ships. For example there was a huge convoy battle in March 1943 where 50 allied merchant ships were attacked by 40 U-Boats. While the Germans lost only one U-Boat, 21 merchant ships were sunk. If the convoy had been attacked by planes they may have all been sunk. The only reason the U-Boats were driven off was because we sent B-24s from Ireland to drive off the subs and they were flying at the extreme end of their range.

The Germans didn't have heavy bombers for most of the war. Instead, Hitler believed that the resources should be put into fighter planes, dive bombers and light bombers. Obviously these planes were of shorter range and could not carry the bombs necessary to bomb long range targets, such as the U.S. Another obstacle had been that Germany lacked an engine powerful enough for a long range bomber since it had been precluded from building aircraft for over a decade by the Versailles Treaty of World War I. Heinkel was a famous German aircraft company. They were working on a new model the He 177. This was a heavy bomber. The plane was very complicated. It was to have two engines on each wing but each set of engines would drive only one propeller. The prototype crashed many times due to the engines going on fire. Even though 1160 were eventually built they weren't the best of planes. The Germans tried enlarging some of their medium bombers such as the Dornier Do 17 and Junkers Ju 88 but this still didn't produce the ideal heavy bomber. Hitler never allowed the best prototypes of heavy bombers to be manufactured.

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