Plan Z (1939) was a Germany’s fleet-building program that started immediately before the Second World War. In the mid-1930s, there was a discussion about the fleet program that started in Germany. Two major opinions were made regarding this program, which included the kind of program that would have been selected. One plan was concentrated on a massive submarine fleet, as well as a smaller surface fleet to be used for coast protection. The plan was opted by the U-boat fraction, and an alternative was the U-boat fleet that comes with a smaller size. This boat fleet was quite similar to the ones used by the Imperial Navy during World War I. Eventually, the plan was selected as the new program for fleet-building, and it was referred to as the Plan Z.
Highlights and Beginning of the Plan Z
Based on the Plan Z, the Kriegsmarine of Germany was expected to increase in number, which was about 800 units. This consisted of 13 battlecruisers and battleships, 15 Panzerschiffe, 22 large destroyers, 4 aircraft carriers, and 23 cruisers. The ships were intended to be built from 1939 to 1946, and the number of troops was expected to reach about 201,000 men.
However, the project was never turned into a reality, and it was rather questionable because the German industry should have completed such goals considering the resources required for the accomplishment of the program. Moreover, a number of European nations barely made any move as they failed to show any reaction to the plan. Nevertheless, Plan Z was nearly completed by January of 1939. There were 2 H-class battleships that were laid down, and Germany quit the fleet treaty after three months. Eventually, Germany attacked Poland, and the work on the Plan Z projects were postponed. In the next months, the incomplete ships of Plan Z were scrapped, and the excess materials were used in building more and more powerful submarines.
The Nazis’ Rise to Power
Adolf Hitler rose to power in 1933, when he was appointed as Germany’s chancellor. He eventually withdrew from the statements included in the Versailles Treaty, and started to rebuild the armed forces. His prestige also led him to become even more motivated to create and improve vessels for the war, which included the Panzerschiffe. With much improvements and careful planning on the production, the ships were capable of functioning as full battleships.
Planning for the War and Intensive Building of Battleships
In 1938, Hitler opted to create a fleet that is capable of defeating the Royal Navy, in case Great Britain will wage war. He requested the Kriegsmarine to prepare plans for the fleet, and it was decided to go on a large-scale restructuring of the entire German navy, and the X,Y, and Plan Z were proposed.
In order to undertake commerce raiding that would exist in the Atlantic Ocean, there was a need for the German ships to successfully pass through the Northern Sea, although it was likely to be occupied by British battleships. Hence, a larger fleet was considered as the best option.
The Plan Z was a mixture of a powerful battle fleet that has the capability of challenging Great Britain’s fleet, and it included a large U-boat fleet for the commerce raiding. This plan was also intended for the building of larger surface battleships. Eventually, the plan turned into a reality in September of 1939. The production of the U-boat was prioritized and the “large ship program” was postponed.
In a short amount of time that the Plan Z was introduced, only two of these plans were concretized. Moreover, the components of three battleships were planned and produced. Hence, large ships were ordered during the onset of the war, and several military arms were ready for action. When the World War II started, the work on the production of H-class battleships and battlecruisers was halted.
In addition, the building of two aircraft carriers was laid down even before Plan Z started. The reason for the postponement was the fact that such project was rather expensive because of the large construction project required for it. It would also take too much of the different war essential tools and materials, so the plan was diverted to the thorough and meticulous construction of the large U-boats.