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Krasnaya Ploshchad

Painting of Krasnaya Ploshchad

Displacement 18,000 tons
Armament 8 x 2   6"
plus light AA
Aircraft 38
Speed 26 knots
VTS Rating   1   1   5 2

The Soviet Union's first purpose-built CV was barely completed when Germany invaded. Part of the "red" fleet (Krasnaya is the "feminine" of "red", "Ploshchad" is "square") under construction during the last 5-Year Plan, Krasnaya Ploshchad was designed to scout for the Baltic battlefleet with her aircraft and fight smaller ships, if need be, with her light cruiser guns as a last resort reminiscent of a cheaper version of Pommern. A hodge-podge of carrier styles, KP had German-style high-pressure steam propulsion with all their attendant problems, British-style closed hangars and main armament impinging on the flightdeck, an island mounted port-side like some Japanese CV's, and American and Franco-Soviet aircraft. . Dewoitine-Petlyakov DP-750 twin-engined attack planes (a joint French-Soviet project that also produced planes for the French carriers Painleve and Joffre) and American-made F4F Wildcat fighters (originally part of a batch ordered for France) made up her air complement.

Engine trouble or fuel shortages kept KP in port most of the war. On her one "big" sortie deep into the Baltic, Krasnaya Ploshchad's aircraft managed to turn back the snooping German Cruiser Anschluß and the panzerschiffe Schlesien with incessant strafing. Unfortunately, a Ta-152T-2R reconnaisance plane from Peter Strasser shadowed KP's bombers back to their carrier and directed prowling Schnorkel-equipped U-boats to intercept. Krasnaya Ploshchad twisted to comb the torpedo tracks and fought against the U-boats with her 6" guns, once severing a schnorkel so that seawater poured into the U-boats's engines, but a few too many torpedoes found their mark and the Soviet aircraft carrier began flooding and sinking. In the shallow waters of the Baltic, she beached herself upright, though leaning a little to the left, and became an offshore emergency landing field until her aviation fuel ran out.

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