Nuts & Bolts Vol.25 Flakpanzer IV

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This book covers 3 different flakpanzers:

Wirbelwind: The Panzer IV’s turret was removed and replaced with an open-top, nine-sided turret that housed a quad-barrel 2 cm Flakvierling 38. Production of the tank was carried out by Ostbau Werke in Sagan, Silesia. However, in combat, the 2 cm shells were felt to be insufficiently effective against aircraft, and so a more powerful successor was produced which eventually replaced it. Known as the Flakpanzer IV Ostwind (East Wind). The combination of armor and rapid fire from the four guns of the Wirbelwind made it very effective against lightly armoured ground targets such as trucks and armored cars; infantry were particularly vulnerable. Between 87 and 105 Wirbelwinds were converted from repaired Panzer IV chassis, but due to discrepancies between the recorded production numbers at Ostbau Werke and Wehrmacht service records, the exact number may never be known.

Ostwind: The Flakpanzer IV “Ostwind” (East Wind in English) was a German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun based on the Panzer IV tank. It was developed in 1944 as a successor to the earlier Flakpanzer IV/2 cm Vierling Wirbelwind. The Panzer IV’s turret was removed and replaced with an open-top, hexagonal turret that housed a 3.7 cm FlaK 43. In addition to its intended role as an anti-aircraft weapon, the fast-firing gun was highly effective against light vehicles and minor fortifications. Although an order for 100 vehicles was placed in August 1944, only 44 vehicles were completed (37 converted from existing Panzer IVs and 7 new production vehicles) from December 1944 to March 1945, all work being carried out by Ostbau Werke in Sagan, Silesia.

Kugelblitz: The Kugelblitz was not yet out of development when the war ended. Only five prototypes were built. Several evaluation vehicles had been built, but it is unclear how many. It is also unclear what happened to the few Kugelblitzes which were built; some sources say that they ended up being used in the Battle of Berlin. One Kugelblitz was also involved in the fights near the town of Spichra, Thuringia, where it was destroyed and remained buried in the Spatenberg Hill [de] until its excavation in 1999.

From the publisher’s website:

168 pages A4, glue-bound, approx. 284 photos, of these 66 historical shots of the three types of Flakpanzer IV with all known variants in b/w, a number of them previously unpublished; 191 colour photos of surviving Wirbelwind vehicles, 27 colour photos of all three models from Tony Greenland, English / German captions, 34 pages English / German text, 20 pages of scale drawings of all versions in 1:35 scale from John Rue, 11 pages of camouflage schemes and ammunition from Laurent Lecocq, and a table of organization of units using the Flakpanzer IV (Kriegstärke-Nachweisungen KStN), revised and enlarged (almost double size) edition of Vol.13, first published May 15th, 2010

Volume 25: Wirbel- Ostwind, Kugelblitz – Sd.Kfz. 161/4

  • by Heiner F. Duske, Detlev Terlisten
  • published on May 15, 2010
  • 2nd reprint (revised)
  • softcover
  • german & English texts
  • 168 pages
  • 284 photos (66 historic, 27 model, 191 modern)
  • 10 blueprints
  • 10 camouflage schemes, table of organsisation (KStN)
  • Available from Nuts & Bolts for €29.90 (approx US$33.00)

The texts are in English and German with the English texts on the left of the page and the German on the right. All images and photographs have captions in both languages. The English translation is excellent. Now, let’s take a look at the book to see what we get.

The various sections of the book are:

  • Wirbelwind
    • Introduction page 2
    • Development page 3
    • Production Plans & Manufacturing page 6
    • Technical details page 8
    • Active Duty page 12
    • Organizational Charts page 14
    • COmbat page 15
    • Camouflage & Markings page19
    • Contemporary Photos page 21
    • Drawings page 37
  • Ostwind
    • Introduction, Development & Technical details page 44
    • Operational History page 46
    • Camouflage & Markings page 47
    • Contemporary Photographs page 49
    • Drawings page 54
  • Kugelblitz
    • Development page 62
    • Organizational Charts page 64
    • Contemporary Photos page 75
    • Drawings page 76
  • Colour Profiles page 82
  • Preserved Vehicles & Components page 89
  • Modeling page 157

The book has 3 sections, one each for Wirbelwind, Ostwind and Kugelblitz with generic sections at the end of colour profiles, preserved vehicles and modelling.

The first section on the Wirbelwind gives quite a lot of detail and has plenty of photographs since this vehicle was quite well known and approx 100 were produced. The section for the Ostwind is a bit smaller since less than 50 were made in the last 6 months of the war. The information about the Kugelblitz is limited since it never entered production.

Conclusion
This is a definitive text on these 3 anti aircraft tanks. If you’re building any of these vehicles then this is the only reference you will need.

Many thanks to Nuts & Bolts for the review sample.

This book is available from the publisher for €29.90.

Paul Tosney – Editor
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