Hey guys today I’ll be suggesting the Chinese Seaplane Carrier Zhen Hai
Originally laid down as the Manila in Bremerhaven, Germany 1904 the Zhen Hai started her warship career in China with the Machurian Warlord Zhang Zuo Lin, leader of the Feng Clique. In the early 1920’s General Zhang was looking for warships to acquire for his plan to build a North Sea Fleet as the only warships he had at the time were shallow water gunboats and couldn’t be used for sea faring operations. He appointed Shen HongLie to build up the fleet and in 1922 the Zhen Hai, then called Xiang Li, was bought from the Zhengji shipping company which had acquired it from a Chinese based Russian company in 1917. After purchasing the ship she was fitted with 2 x 120mm guns and 4 x 76 mm anti aircraft guns and became part of the Northeast Fleet. Later her cranes were repurposed to carry seaplane bombers. She is often referred to as China’s first “Aircraft Carrier”.
In 1924 during the Second Zhili-Fengtian war she played a mostly passive role with the only time she fired guns was when she was shelling the retreating Zhili army in Qinhuangdao.
Afterwards in 1925 the Zhili sought vengeance against the Fengtian and launched a war against the Fengtian once more. In this war the Zhenhai and her sister WeiHai shelled the Zhili in Wu Song and Zha Pu preventing their advance.
In 1926 she was converted into a seaplane carrier and in 1927, threatened by the National army gaining the Fujian fleet, the Northeast fleet launched a surprise attack. The ZhenHai was disguised as a merchant ship with the pseudonym “Chang Da” painted on her sides and her accompanying warship the Haiqi was disguised as a Italian warship. They sailed to Wu Song and attacked the Nationalist warships there. In the same year she launched her seaplanes to attack Haishi, Shinpu, and other cities.
In early 1928 Zhenhai along with the Haiqi launched a seaplane attack on Shanghai, this was the first time in history Shanghai came under attack by aircraft.
In mid 1928 Zhang Zuolin was assassinated by the Japanese and his son Zhang Xueliang took control. He allied with the nationalists in late 1928 and the Northeast navy was incorporated into the nationalist navy. After this the ZhenHai was turned into a training ship.
In 1937 her weaponry was removed and she was sunk with other ships outside of the Qingdao XiaoGang wharf to block Japanese ships from entering inland waters. After the Second Sino-Japanese War she was salvaged and scrapped.
Her seaplanes are 2-3 FBA 19 (though some sources say FBA 17) HMB 2 ”Schrek” bombers from France. With a top speed of 184km/h they had the ability to mount 1 x 7.7mm gun for the back gunner and a bomb load of up to 200kg (more than likely 2 x 100kg bomb).
List of FBA seaplanes. Zhang Zuo Lin ordered 8 of the 9 FBA 19 HMB 2 seaplane bombers produced.
Other note: it was a bit tough finding any Chinese sources for the FBA 19 “Schrek” as the Chinese name for it shares the same name as Shrek from the movie.
In game the Zhen Hai would be a unique ship. With her slow speed, size, lack of armor, and mediocre armament she could be contender for a low tier warship for the Chinese coastal tech tree. Her seaplanes, though slow, could be used to cap distant points and bomb enemy boats as she lumbers to battle. Her 2 x 120 mm and 4 x 75mm guns could do serious damage to any low tier boat she meets and with the 75mm anti aircraft guns she has some protection against aircraft.
Standard Displacement (as Manila/ Xiang Li): 2,708 tons
Full length: 81.25 meters
Waterline length: 77.17 meters
Full width: 11.39 meters
Draft: 5.98 meters
Boiler: coal fired boiler
Power: reciprocating steam engine with single shaft propulsion (1200 hp/ 890 kW)
Top speed: 10.8 knots (20km/h)
Main guns: 2 x QF 4.7 inch (120mm) naval guns
Anti Air guns: 4 x QF 3 inch 20 cwt anti aircraft gun
2x machine guns (unspecified)
Wing span: 14.40 m
Length: 9.85 m
Height: 3.80 m
Wing area: 45,70 m2
Empty weight: 1300 kg
Maximum take-off weight: 1860 kg
Engine: 1 PD Hispano-Suiza 8Fb (300hp)
Maximum speed: 184 km/h
Cruising speed: 151 km/h
Max range: 400 km
Max ceiling: 6000 m
Armament: One 7.7 mm Lewis machine gun, up to 200 kg of bombs
作者 (author): 陈悦 著