anchor chain


Line drawing of Dedalo

Displacement 10,800 tons
Armament Light AA
Aircraft 11 seaplanes,
One Airship
Speed 13 knots
VTS Rating   0   0   1 1

Spain was being "badgered" by Hitler to join the Axis powers, especially after the assistance given by Germany during the recent Civil War had put the Fascists, and Francisco Franco, in power. Franco was too shrewd to embroil Spain in another war so soon (perhaps losing his own hard-won political stature) and was rightly afraid of a possible British invasion that would bring the war to his doorstep, so he deftly avoided committing himself and his country to the Axis side. However, he owed Hitler something, so he sent the "Blue Division" into Russia when that country was invaded by Germany. It was only a token force, and somehow the Allies didn't think that such assistance to enemies was worth declaring war over, so Spain somehow retained its official "neutral" political status.

(The actual Dedalo had the misfortune to side with the Republicans during the Spanish Civil War and got sunk by Nationalist aircraft)

In "Grand Fleet" a somewhat similar situation exists, but here the Spanish Navy was allowed to sail unhindered into the Black Sea, where it joined the Turkish Fleet against the Soviets. The "Blue Fleet" consisted of the 12"-gunned, 15,000-ton battleship Jaime I (truly a "pocket battleship" if ever there was such a thing), large cruiser and flagship Isabel La Catolica , the heavy cruiser Canarias, some destroyers, and an unusual "aircraft carrier"--the Dedalo.

Built in the early 'teens to accompany the small battlefleet, Dedalo was a plodding, but effective scouting ship. The small airship could fly high over the Fleet and provide "over the horizon" early warning of an approaching enemy and spot fall of shot. (Conversely, of course, if the enemy could see the airship, they knew where the Spanish Fleet was!) Originally the seaplanes carried were small Sopwith floatplanes that could act as fighters to fend off enemy planes approaching the airship. As naval tactics developed, the airship became increasingly vulnerable to potential enemy fighters. By World War II the airship was still with Dedalo, but the aircraft were split 7/4 between Heinkel He-112ES floatplane fighters and the larger and just-as-fast Heinkel He-119ES torpedo-reconnaissance floatplanes.

Once beyond the Bosporous, the Spanish Fleet bombarded coastal targets and tried to entice the Soviet fleet out to do battle. Dedalo's aircraft found and sank some lurking Soviet submarines but was herself disabled by a torpedo that half-detonated. In the one big sortie by the Soviets, Dedalo's torpedo planes harassed the Sovietski Soyuz but all torpedoes were dodged. The airship was shot down by land-based Soviet fighters, and with other damage the Fleet was somewhat neutralized. As Soviet power repulsed the invaders and began moving westward, the Blue Fleet wisely decided to return to Spain. While the Spanish fleet was getting underway in the Sea of Marmara, Soviet Ilyushin Il-4 bombers torpedoed and sank Dedalo. An expended dud torpedo was later found on a nearby beach with the painted Russian inscription "Too Close to the Sun, Dedalo!" on it.

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