Kugelblitz

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For other uses, see Kugelblitz (disambiguation).
Kugelblitz
Kugelblitz.jpg
1/35 scale model of Kugelblitz
Type Self-propelled anti-aircraft gun
Place of origin Nazi Germany
Production history
Produced 1945
Number built 2-6
Specifications
Weight 23 tonnes
Length 5.92 m (19 ft 5 in)
Width 2.95 m (9 ft 8 in)
Height 2.4 m (7 ft 10 in)
Crew 5 (commander, two gunners, radio operator, driver)

Armor 80 mm (3.1 in) maximum
Main
armament
Zwillingsflak 30mm MK 103 twin anti-aircraft gun
Secondary
armament
7.92 mm MG34
Engine 12-cylinder Maybach HL 120 TRM gasoline
300 PS (296 hp, 221 kW)
Power/weight 13 PS/tonne
Fuel capacity 470 l (120 US gal)
Operational
range
200 km (120 mi)
Speed 38 km/h (24 mph)

The Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz ("ball lightning") was a German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun developed during World War II. By the end of the war, only a pilot production of five units had been completed. Unlike earlier self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, it had a fully enclosed, rotating turret.

Development[edit]

The need for a specialised self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, capable of keeping up with the armoured divisions, had become increasingly urgent for the German Armed Forces, as from 1943 on the German Air Force was less and less able to protect against enemy fighter bombers.

Therefore a multitude of improvised and specially designed self-propelled anti-aircraft guns were built, many on the Panzer IV chassis, starting with the Flakpanzer IV Möbelwagen and progressing through the Wirbelwind and Ostwind models. The Kugelblitz was the final development of the Flakpanzer IV.

"Kugelblitz" (Model)

The first proposal for the Kugelblitz envisioned mounting a modified anti-aircraft turret developed for U-boats on the Panzer IV chassis, which was armed with dual 30 mm MK 103 Brunn guns (a configuration known as Doppelflak, "dual flak"). This was however abandoned as impractical, as development of this gun had not yet been completed, and in any case the entire production run of this gun turret was reserved for Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine.

Instead, the 30 mm Zwillingsflak ("twin flak") 103/38 twin gun, a twinned-mount version of the MK 103 cannon, was used, which had also been fitted to such planes as the Henschel Hs 129 and Dornier Do 335. The rate of fire of the twin 30 mm guns was 450 rounds a minute per gun.

The Kugelblitz had the chassis and basic superstructure of the Panzer IV tank, on which a newly designed turret was mounted. This turret was fully enclosed, with overhead protection and 360° traverse.

As production of the Panzer IV was about to be terminated further work was under way to change to the Jagdpanzer 38(t) chassis which was in turn based on the Panzer 38(t). No prototypes based on Hetzer hulls were completed.

Service[edit]

The Kugelblitz was not yet out of development when the war ended. 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 until its excavation in 1999.[1]

Survivors[edit]

Today, one complete Kugelblitz turret is exhibited at the Lehrsammlung der Heeresflugabwehrschule (collection of the German army anti-aircraft school), Rendsburg. An incomplete Kugelblitz cradle also exists (without the turret itself), but is in a private collection.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lämmerhirt, Rainer. "Vor 60 Jahren: Die Kämpfe um Hörschel, Spichra und Creuzburg - Teil 2" (in German). Mihla.de. Retrieved 2011-07-17. 

Sources[edit]