As early as 1935, Germany began seriously investigating the construction of aircraft carriers for the Kriegsmarine. At the same time Germany also set about developing an air wing for these carriers. This would require aircraft suitable for shipboard use. The design of a modern naval dive bomber met with some difficulty, the initial aircraft being an outdated biplane type. When the construction of the Graf Zeppelin was placed on hold in 1939, efforts to create an air wing for it were also placed on hold. After the fall of France, Germany again took a hard look at making the Graf Zeppelin operational. By this time, a large number of Vought Vikings had been captured, some of the most recent in France having originally been built for the US Navy. Because of its clear suitability for the role, it was quickly decided to make the “Ju 187 Wiking” the standard shipboard dive bomber of the Graf Zeppelin. The first aircraft to be reassembled were transferred to Travemünde on the Baltic in Germany for testing using the catapults and arresting wires being tested for use with Germany’s carrier. Many of these were incomplete, having been stripped of some US Navy-specific equipment, but it did not take long for those components to be fabricated and replaced. Besides the obvious landing and takeoff trials were tests of naval camouflage, this early scheme being used on an ex-USN SB4U-2. Inspired by German fighter units, it was also found to be reasonably suitable for the Ju 187 in its intended dive bombing role over water. This aircraft was later lost during an Allied attack on Travemünde, being damaged beyond economical repair.
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