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WW2 German SPAAGs

Flakpanzerkampfwagen IV 3.7 cm Flak 43 “Ostwind”

Nazi Germany (1943)
Self-propelled anti-aircraft gun

As the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) lost control of the skies over Germany in the second half of the Second World War, it could no longer provide sufficient protection against Allied aircraft. Panzer divisions were especially affected by the lack of cover from fighter aircraft because they were always at the center of the most intense fighting.
The Germans already had copious amounts of half-tracked Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Guns (SPAAG) of different calibers and weights (Sd.Kfz.10/4, Sd.Kfz.6/2, Sd.Kfz.7/1, etc.). As these vehicles had very limited or no armor, they were vulnerable to enemy fire either from the ground or the air. The crew needed better protection from small arms fire and shrapnel. A tank-based anti-aircraft vehicle, or Flakpanzer, could solve this problem, as it would have thick enough armor to resist most ground-based attacks with the exception of larger caliber guns. It would also provide some protection against air attacks, but even tanks could be destroyed by air ground-attack fire. An open-topped Flakpanzer’s best defense against air threats was its anti-aircraft gun.
The word “Flakpanzer” comes from combining the abbreviation for Fliegerabwehrkanone (literally Aircraft-Defense-Cannon) and Panzer (Tank).
The first attempt at producing such a vehicle was the Flakpanzer I, which was built only in limited numbers and was more of an improvisation rather than a purpose-built vehicle. The later 20 mm-armed Flakpanzer 38(t) had insufficient firepower and armor protection and was more of a temporary solution. Later, the Möbelwagen (based on the Panzer IV tank chassis) was armed with the more powerful 3.7 cm Flak 43 anti-aircraft gun, which solved the problem with the weak main armament, but was not without its defects. The Möbelwagen needed too much time to set up for firing and was thus ineffective against a sudden enemy attack. A Flakpanzer that could respond without preparation was more desirable, and the first such vehicle was the Flakpanzer IV 2 cm Flak 38 Vierling, commonly known as the ‘Wirbelwind’. While it was produced in small numbers and was generally viewed as an effective vehicle, the 2 cm caliber was deemed too weak by the late stages of the war. For this reason, a much stronger 3.7 cm Flak 43 was installed in a new turret and the ‘Ostwind’ (Eastwind) was born.

Three Flakpanzers from the same family based on the Panzer IV chassis. From left to right, they are the Ostwind, Möbelwagen and the Wirbelwind. Source

History

By 1943, it had become apparent that the Luftwaffe was losing control of the skies, and that the need for a Flakpanzer was dire. For this reason, the German Heer (German Army) took the first steps in developing new Flakpanzer designs. Given the long development time necessary to bring a new chassis to maturity and the shortage of available production capacity, it was decided to amend existing designs to fulfill the Army’s needs. The simpler and more logical solution was to simply reuse already produced chassis. The Panzer I and II were outdated or used for other purposes. The Panzer 38(t) was used in small numbers as a temporary solution, but it was needed for anti-tank vehicles based on this chassis and, in any case, it was deemed inadequate for this task due to its small size.
The Panzer III tank chassis was used for the production of the StuG III and thus not available. The Panzer IV and the Panzer V Panther were considered next. The Panzer IV tank chassis was already in use for several German modifications, so it was decided to use it for the Flakpanzer program. The Panzer V Panther was, for a short time, considered to be used as a Flakpanzer armed with two 37 mm anti-aircraft guns, but mostly due to the high demand for tank hulls, the project never went beyond a wooden mock-up.
The first Flakpanzer based on the Panzer IV tank chassis was the 2 cm Flakvierling auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen IV. It did not receive any production orders but the prototype was modified and upgraded with the larger 3.7 cm Flak 43 (known as the Möbelwagen to its crews) and around 240 of this version were produced. The Möbelwagen had sufficient firepower to destroy enemy planes and the crew was protected by armored plates on four sides, which needed to be dropped down to use the gun effectively. The Möbelwagen needed time to set up for action and was therefore not a success.
It was apparent that a Flakpanzer with a fully rotating turret, enclosed on all sides and open-topped, was needed. For this reason, in early 1944, Generaloberst Guderian, Generalinspekteur der Panzertruppen (Inspector-General for Armored Troops), gave In 6 (Inspektion der Panzertruppen 6/ Armored Troops Inspection Office 6) direct orders to begin work on a new Flakpanzer.
The main requirements for such a vehicle were:

  • The turret should be fully traversable (360°)
  • The new turret should have three or four crew members
  • The crew operating the anti-aircraft gun should be well protected and it should be open-topped so as to give the crew a better view of the skies and because of the smoke produced by the guns
  • The turret traverse mechanism should be simple
    The main weapons (it had to have at least two guns) should have a minimum effective range of 2000 m, with enough ammunition to operate efficiently in a combat situation
  • The height must be lower than 3 m
  • Radio equipment was important
  • From this requirement, two new projects were developed: the Wirbelwind armed with four 2 cm guns and the later Ostwind, armed with one 3.7 cm gun.

Name

There are several names given to this vehicle, which include Flakpanzerkampfwagen IV 3.7 cm Flak 43, Leichte Flakpanzer mit 3.7 cm Flak 43 auf Panzerkampfwagen IV or, much simpler, Flakpanzer IV/3.7 cm. It is most well-known today under its Ostwind nickname and this is very common in many sources. The origin or even if it was an original German designation is not clear, as none of the sources give a specific explanation of the origin of this name. This article will use the Ostwind name mostly for simplicity but also because of its common use in the literature.

First Prototype

While the Wirbelwind was an effective vehicle, its main drawback was the lack of effective range and the limited destructive power of the smaller caliber 2 cm rounds. The 3.7 Flak 43 had much greater range and destructive firepower and, for this reason, a decision was made to begin developing a new Flakpanzer armed with this weapon. To speed up the development time, the Ostwind was constructed using the same principle as on the Wirbelwind. The gun, enclosed in an all-round protected (except the top) turret was added on a Panzer IV chassis (with some modifications). Originally, to save time, it was intended to reuse the Wirbelwind turret, but mounting the larger 3.7cm Flak 43 in it was not possible, so a new design had to be made.
The prototype was completed by Ostbau Sagan in July 1944. The man in charge of designing and building the Ostwind project was Lt. Graf von Seherr-Thoss. This man was also responsible for the Wirbelwind program development. At his disposal, he had a small team of 80 workers who were mostly recruited from Panzer-Ersatz und Ausbildungs-Abteilung 15. The Ostwind, similar to the Wirbelwind, was to be built by the German Army itself, without the inclusion of any commercial firms. Lt. Graf von Seherr-Thoss and his team reused an older refurbished Panzer IV Ausf. G chassis and added a simple new six-sided turret (made of mild steel) with 10 mm thick plates in which the 3.7 cm Flak 43 with its crew were placed.

The Ostwind prototype front view. The man in the picture is the Ostwind chief designer Lt. Graf von Seherr-Thoss. Source: Pinterest

The Ostwind prototype was built using an older Panzer IV Ausf.G tank chassis (Ser.Nr. 83898) and a mild-steel turret. This vehicle would actually see combat during late 1944. Source
The Ostwind prototype, together with the Wirbelwind, were transported in late July 1944 to Bad Kuhlungsborn on the Baltic Coast for live-firing tests of the guns. During these tests, only a limited number of shots were fired by the Ostwind, less than 130 rounds in total. Observers from In 6 reported positive results for both these two vehicles and that the whole construction was feasible and without major problems. The only modifications that were required for the Ostwind was an increase in the size of the turret and improving the traverse system.
Based on this report, on 16th August 1944, Generaloberst Heinz Guderian ordered the Army Ordnance Office Wa I Rü (WuG 6) to arrange the construction of 100 new Ostwinds. The chassis would be provided by Krupp-Grusonwerk, the turrets by Roehrenwerke and assembly would be carried out by Deutsche Eisenwerke AG-Werk Stahlindustrie. At the end of 1944, Ostbau Sagan also became involved in producing the Ostwind.
Due to the rapid Allied advance in France following D-Day, the development of the Ostwind was temporarily stopped and the prototype was sent to France in late September 1944. A few days later, it was reported to have successfully participated in combat despite its mild steel turret. Although the combat results were promising and there was an urgent need for such a vehicle, the development and production of the Ostwind were slow and, by the end of 1944, there was little to no progress. The reason for the slow development process was the deterioration of the German war industry due to Allied bombing actions. In late 1944, Deutsche Eisenwerke A.G. Werk Stahlindustrie came under heavy bomber attack by the Allies and had to be evacuated. This was also the case with Ostbau Sagan, which was relocated in January 1945. The production of the first Ostwind vehicles began at the end of 1944 or early 1945, depending on the source.

Construction

As already mentioned, the Ostwind prototype was built using a Panzer IV Ausf.G tank chassis. For the production version, it was decided to use new Panzer IV Ausf. J chassis provided by Krupp-Grusonwerk. Whether this plan was ever fully implemented or if reused damaged Panzer IV chassis were provided by Krupp-Grusonwerk instead is not known. In Ostbau Sagan, the Ostwinds were built using any available chassis returned from the front, due to the high demand for new Panzer vehicles from the German Army.
The suspension and running gear were the same as those of the original Panzer IV, with no changes to its construction. It consisted of eight pairs of small road wheels on each side, with each two pairs suspended by leaf-spring units. There were two front drive sprockets, two rear idlers and six to eight (depending on the model used) return rollers in total (three to four on each side). The engine was the Maybach HL 120 TRM that produced 265 hp at 2600 rpm, but, according to Panzer Tracts No.12, the engine was modified to put out 272 hp at 2800 rpm. The design of the engine compartment was unchanged. The maximum speed was 38 km/h and, with a fuel load of 470 l, the operational range was 200 km.
The upper tank hull was unchanged from the original Panzer IV. The driver’s front observation hatch and the ball-mounted hull machine gun remained the same as well. In some sources, it is mentioned that the Ostwind production model had a Tiger turret ring installed instead of the standard one. This information is also mentioned in the Panzer Tracts No.12 book, ‘Flak Selbstfahrlafetten and Flakpanzer’ (H.L. Doyle and T. J. Jentz) from 1998. However, in the new version from 2010, it is mentioned that the Ostwind turret was placed on an unchanged Panzer IV tank chassis without mentioning the Tiger turret ring. In addition, author D. Terlisten stated that this was planned by the Germans but never implemented on any production vehicle. So it highly likely that the Ostwind was never equipped with the larger Tiger turret ring, and that the whole thing was misinterpreted by some author after the war. It is possible to understand why this confusion could arise as the Ostwind was built at the end of the war, a period from which much documentation is missing.
For the installation of the main weapon, two metal beams were welded inside the Panzer IV hull to make a stable platform on which the 3.7 cm Flak was placed. For crew protection, an open-topped turret was provided. The new turret had a much simpler design than that of the Wirbelwind, constructed using only 12 larger armored plates (in contrast to 16 used on the Wirbelwind). This made the new turret much easier and faster to produce. This six-sided turret received the Keksdose (cookie tin) nickname. The prototype used a smaller turret, but to provide the crew with more working space, a somewhat larger turret was to be used on the production vehicles. For turret movement, a simple mechanism was provided. A steering rod was used to connect the Flak 43 traversing mechanism and the Panzer IV turret ring. This allowed the crew to move the turret by using the gun traverse. While more precise details regarding the turret construction are not known due to a lack of information, we can assume that it used a ring-shaped turret base welded to the hull top, with added ball bearings to help with the rotation, similar to the Wirbelwind. On the production Ostwinds, the lower part of the turret front had an additional pyramid-shaped sheet of armor welded to it. Its purpose was to provide additional protection against any possible ricochet (from smaller caliber rounds) in the direction of the vehicle hull. The larger turret also had one drawback, as it made it difficult to open the engine compartment. To do so, the turret had to be rotated 90°.

The new turret provided the crew with sufficient protection against low caliber rounds. Being open-topped, it provided a good view of the surrounding area and the skies. Source
The maximum hull armor thickness was 80 mm thick on the front, the sides were 30 mm, the rear 20 mm and the bottom and top armor were only 10 mm thick. The armor thicknesses noted here are for the late-build Panzer IV versions. Due to a lack of proper information and the chaotic state that Germany was in during late-1944 and early-1945, it is possible that some older chassis were used for this modification too. The new turret was protected by 16 mm of armor all-round, placed at a 30° angle. A number of sources note that the armor thickness was 25 mm. According to W. J. Spielberger (Gepard The History of German Anti-Aircraft tanks) the armor thickness was originally 16 mm, but later, during production, it was increased to 25 mm.
The main weapon used was, as already stated, the 3.7 cm Flak 43. Although sharing the same 3.7 cm caliber as the earlier Flak 18, 36 and 37 models, the newer Flak 43 (built by Rheinmetall-Borsig) was a completely different weapon. The primary goal of this design was to be simple to operate and easy to produce. It had a new gas-operated breech mechanism which was loaded with a fixed loading tray with eight-round clips. There was also a Flakzwilling 43 version with two guns mounted on the same carriage. In order to be installed in the new turret, some modifications were needed. The lower part of the carriage and the original gun shield were removed. In addition, the spent ammo basket was smaller due to the turret size. Only the small rectangular shield in front of the gun was left in order to cover the front embrasure opening. The Flak 43 could rotate a full 360°, with a range of gun elevation between – 10° to + 90°. The maximum rate of fire was 250-300 rounds per minute, but 150-180 was the more practical rpm. It is not clear, but it is estimated that between 400 to 1,000 rounds of spare ammunition were carried inside the vehicle. With the muzzle velocity of 820 mps, the maximum effective ceiling was 4,800 m. The upper right front armor plate had a small hatch that could be opened to allow the gunner to see and engage ground targets. The spare barrel (or barrels) were kept in a box mounted on the right side of the vehicle’s hull. For self-defense, the crew could rely on the hull-mounted MG 34, retained from the Panzer IV design, and their personal weapons.

The Flakzwilling 43 had two 3.7 cm guns, but other than that it was the same as the single barrel version. Source
The crew consisted of the commander, gunner, radio operator, driver and the loader. But, according to Panzer Tracts No. 12-1 (2010), there were actually two gunners. The driver and radio operator were placed in the vehicle hull. For the radio operator, the Fu 5 and Fu 2 radio equipment were provided. In addition, he also operated the hull-mounted machine gun. The remaining three (or four) crew members serving the main weapon were placed inside the new cramped turret.
Due to changes made so that the gun could fit the turret, the gunner’s pedals had to be put far back. The gunner had to sit with his legs very close to his upper body. As the open-topped turret exposed the crew to the elements, a canvas cover was provided for protection.

In this view, the position of the crew in the turret is observable. To the gun’s right is the gunner, behind it, the commander, and to its left, the loader. Source: Pinterest


Illustration of the Flakpanzerkampfwagen IV 3.7 cm Flak 43 ‘Ostwind’ produced by Tank Encyclopedia’s own David Bocquelet

Production

In early September 1944, Deutsche Eisenwerke A.G. Werk Stahlindustrie (from Duisburg) received orders for the assembly of 100 Ostwind vehicles. The Panzer chassis were to be provided by Krupp-Grusonwerk, with 30 chassis each month. The first five chassis were to be ready no later than mid-October. The turrets were to be provided by Roehrenwerke with first 10 in September followed by 30 in each month until the end of the year. According to the initial plans, Ostwind production would begin in November with 35 vehicles, followed by 30 in December and 10 in January 1945.
Due to many delays (Stahlindustrie had to be relocated to the Sudetenland in late-1944, a lack of materials, and the Allied bombing campaign), the plans had to be changed and the order for production of 80 Ostwind was placed in late January 1945, with 30 in February, 40 in March and 10 in April. In February there were again changes to the production orders with 20 in February, 40 in March and 20 in April. Despite these plans for the production of 80 vehicles by March 1945, Stahlindustrie managed to complete only 7 vehicles. The total number of assembled Ostwinds by the Stahlindustrie was 22 vehicles. Because in late 1944, it was apparent that the Stahlindustrie could not reach the arranged Ostwind numbers, unknown numbers of turrets were also transported to Ostbau Sagan for assembly. The estimated production numbers of the Ostbau are 1 in December, 13 in January, 7 in February and 1 in March. Altogether, the production of the Ostwind (by both factories) is around 44 vehicles in addition to the prototype. This information is based on Panzer Tracts No. 12-1 – Flakpanzerkampfwagen IV and other Flakpanzer projects development and production from 1942 to 1945. This low number should not be surprising if we take into account the chaotic state that Germany was in 1945.
When the actual Ostwind production began and how many were built is unclear. The production could have started in late-1944 or early-1945, with sources disagreeing. The exact number of produced vehicles is difficult to determine as the various authors give different numbers. Beside the prototype, the number of produced vehicles goes from as little as 6 to over 40. For most sources, including authors A. Ludeke (Waffentechnik im Zweiten Weltkrieg), D. Nešić (Naoružanje Drugog Svetsko Rata-Nemačka) and W. J. Spielberger (Gepard The History of German Anti-Aircraft tanks), the number of completed Ostwinds is believed to be 43 vehicles. According to P. Chamberlain (Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two – Revised Edition) though, 36 were converted and 7 were new-build vehicles. H.L. Doyle (German Military Vehicles) gives a number of only 6 produced. D. Terlisten (Nuts and Bolts Vol.13 Flakpanzer, Wirbelwind and Ostwind) gives a number of 40 vehicles based on the information provided by Lt. Graf von Seherr-Thoss. In addition, he also notes that according to German Heereswaffenamt Wa I Rü document, 7 vehicles were built in March 1945. The number of 40 built vehicles is also noted by B. Perrett (Panzerkampfwagen IV Medium Tank 1936-1945).

Organization

All Flakpanzers based on the Panzer IV chassis were used to form special anti-aircraft tank platoons (Panzer Flak Zuge). These were used primarily to equip Panzer Divisions of the Heer and Waffen SS, and in some cases given to special units. By the end of March 1945, there were plans to create mixed platoons equipped with the Ostwinds and other Flakpanzers. Depending on the source, they were either to be used in combination with six Kugelblitz
, six Ostwinds and four Wirbelwinds or with eight Ostwinds and three Sd. Kfz. 7/1 half-tracks. Due to the war’s end and the low number of Ostwinds built, this reorganization was never truly implemented.

In Combat

Only being completed in small numbers by the war’s end, the Ostwind’s operational combat use was limited. The prototype was, as mentioned earlier, used successfully during the Allied liberation of France. According to W. J. Spielberger, it was also used during the German Ardennes Offensive in late-1944. It managed to survive the defeat of the German Forces in France despite its turret being built only using mild steel. It was returned to Germany and its fate is not known.
By the time the first production Ostwinds were completed, the Allies and the Soviets were already rampaging through Germany. In the chaotic state that Germany was in, it is not clear how many or which units received Ostwind vehicles. There is an additional problem in the identification of which unit received Ostwinds due to the sources’ lack of distinction between Ostwinds and Möbelwagens.
One example that we know used Ostwinds was the 501st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion. This battalion had, by November 1944, lost all its anti-aircraft weapons and equipment. The surviving personnel of its anti-aircraft tank platoon (part of the 4th Kompanie) was moved from Wilhelmsdorf to Schwabhausen in Thuringia for resupply and training on the new Flakpanzers. By the end of December 1944, it was again moved to Bruggen, near Cologne, for further training.
While the 501st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion was engaged in the Ardennes Offensive, due to being in the process of reforming, its anti-aircraft platoon was not able to participate in this German offensive. This unit was first equipped with four Wirbelwinds followed by four Ostwinds. The commanders of these Ostwinds were SS Oberscharführers Kastelik, Deitrich and Rätzer. The last Ostwind was commanded by a Luftwaffe officer who was not part of this unit. For the anti-aircraft tank platoon HQ, only two Schwimmwagens were provided.

It is difficult to notice, but the production vehicles were provided with an additional armored bulge on the lower part of the turret’s front. This was meant to prevent the possible deflection of small caliber fire into the hull top. The large box on the hull side is for the spare 3.7 cm barrel. Source

The same abandoned Ostwind, possibly somewhere in Germany. Note the different positions of the main gun and the turret in contrast to the previous picture. Source
By February 1945, the training process was complete and this platoon would take part in the upcoming Operation Southwind (Unternemen Südwind). This was a planned German offensive operation against the Soviet bridgehead in the Nitra region of Hungary that lasted from 17th to 24th February 1945. While the 501st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion’s Tiger IIs were spearheading the attack, the Flakpanzers (Wirbelwinds and Ostwinds) followed up in a support role. They were, thanks to their speed and firepower, successfully able to engage and destroy enemy infantry, anti-tank and machine-gun positions while the Tiger tanks concentrated on enemy armor. With the capture of Kemend and Bina, the last Soviet resistance in this bridgehead was destroyed. Operation Southwind was one of the last successful German offensive actions on the Eastern Front. Only one Wirbelwind was lost during this operation.
The next occasion when the Ostwind would see action was the failed German offensive at Lake Balaton, Operation Spring Awakening (Unternehmen Frühlingserwachen), that lasted from 6th to 14th March 1945. The offensive began and, once again, the 501st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion was spearheaded by its Tiger and Panther tanks and supported by the Flakpanzers. It is interesting to note that the Flakpanzers’ commanders received orders not to engage enemy aircraft but to preserve ammunition for use against ground targets and in support of the Tigers only. The Flakpanzer commander Oberscharführer Kurt Fickert later wrote “…We drove in open formation behind the Tigers and Panthers to subdue enemy infantry. I was instructed by Peiper to support our infantry in house-to-house fighting. Several Panthers followed us to destroy any enemy tanks that might appear …. Peiper forbade us to engage enemy aircraft, our infantry was to defend themselves and we were to conserve our ammunition for the ground battle.”
During the Soviet offensive at Veszprem in March 1945, the Germans were forced to pull back their forces. On 20th March 1945, the Leibstandarte division’s position east of Inóta-Bakonykuti was attacked by the Soviet 4th Army and 6th Guards Tank Army. To support the withdrawal of the German units, four Flakpanzers (two Ostwinds and two Wirbelwinds) commanded by Oberscharführer Fickert were positioned on a nearby hill at Várpalota, from where they engaged the advancing Soviet units.
By April 1945, the 501st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion lost most of its armor and, without any hope for new replacements, the surviving crew members were gathered to form mixed infantry battle groups. This also included a number of surviving crew members from the anti-aircraft platoon and even their supporting repair workshop personnel. The final fate of the Ostwinds from that unit is not known, but they were all probably lost by the time of the German surrender in May 1945.
An interesting fact is that, on 15th March 1945, there were still around 159 operational Flakpanzers of all types. Most (97) were stationed on the Eastern Front, 41 in the West and 21 in Italy. In contrast to other Flakpanzers based on the Panzer IV chassis, no Ostwind vehicles survived the war.

Ostwind based on the Panzer III

As the new Flakpanzers were only provided to the Panzer divisions, the Sturmartillerie (Assault artillery) units were left without a proper defense against the Allied air forces. In order to provide their own units with adequate anti-aircraft protection, the Assault Artillery Generals demanded a similar vehicle be designed. As the assault artillery units mostly used StuG IIIs and because of the lack of spare Panzer IV chassis, this meant that only the Panzer III was available for this modification. The whole development process was slow and, in early 1945, a delegation lead by Baurat Becker was sent to Ostbau-Sagan for evaluation of possible turret installations. Ostbau Sagan lacked production capabilities and was barely managing to keep up with Flakpanzer production. For this reason, Assault Artillery officials had decided that the production of the Flakpanzer III could be carried out in other factories.
The Ostwind and Wirbelwind turret was deemed sufficient for the job and in March 1945 an order for 90 turrets was placed. The Waffenamt reluctantly gave only 18 turrets. How many were completed is not known but according to new information around 14 were built and given to Sturmgeschuetz Brigaden (Stu.G.Brig.). This includes the Stu.G.Brig. 341 with 5, Stu.G.Brig. 244 with 2, Stu.G.Brig.341 with 3 and Stu.G.Brig. 667 with 4 vehicles.

Ostwind II

This was a proposed improvement of the original Ostwind, armed with two 3.7cm Flak 43 guns mounted side by side in an enlarged turret and crewed with an additional loader. Some sources claim that one prototype was built by Ostbau-Sagan in January 1945 and sent to a training center at Ohrdruf. Peter C (Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two), on the other hand, maintains that no such vehicle was completed.

Conclusion

The Ostwind was the German solution to the need for an effective Flakpanzer. It had strong firepower, relatively good protection, was easy and simple to build, its tracked Panzer IV chassis gave it the mobility to keep up with the Tigers and Panthers and, most importantly, it could immediately engage enemy aircraft. The greatest downside was that it was built too late into the war and in too small numbers (less than 50) to even have a theoretical chance of influencing the outcome of the war.

Specifications

Dimensions 5.92 x 2.9 x 2.9 meters
Total weight, battle-ready 22 tonnes
Crew 5-6 (1-2 gunners, commander, loader, driver and radio operator).
Armament 3.7 cm Flak 43
Elevation: -10 – +90 Degrees
Hull Armor Front 80 mm, side 30-20 mm, top and bottom 10 mm and rear 10-20 mm
Turret Armor 16 mm all-around – later increased to 25 mm
Propulsion Maybach HL 120 TRM
Suspension Leaf springs
Speed on road 38 km/h (24 mph)
Range (road/off road) 200 km (120 miles), 130 km (80 miles)
Total production 6-45

Source

D. Nešić, (2008), Naoružanje Drugog Svetsko Rata-Nemačka, Beograd
P. Chamberlain and H. Doyle (1978) Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two – Revised Edition, Arms and Armor press.
Walter J. Spielberger (1982). Gepard The History of German Anti-Aircraft tanks, Bernard & Graefe
Walter J. Spielberger (1993). Panzer IV and its Variants, Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
T. L.Jentz and H.L. Doyle (2002) Panzer Tracts No.20-2 Paper Panzers, Panzer Tract
P. Chamberlain and T.J. Gander (2005) Enzyklopadie Deutscher waffen 1939-1945 Handwaffen, Artilleries, Beutewaffen, Sonderwaffen, Motor buch Verlag.
W. Oswald (2004). Kraftfahrzeuge und Panzer, der Reichswehr, Wehrmacht und Bundeswehr ab 1900, Motorbuch Verlag,
P. Agte (2006) Michael Wittmann and the Waffen SS Tiger Commanders of the Leibstandarte in WWII, Stackpole Books
D. Doyle (2005). German military Vehicles, Krause Publications.
B. Perrett (2008) Panzerkampfwagen IV Medium Tank 1936-1945, Osprey Publishing.
D. Terlisten (1999). Nuts and Bolts Vol.13 Flakpanzer, Wirbelwind and Ostwind,
Ian V.Hogg (1975). German Artillery of World War Two, Purnell Book Services Ltd.
T. L.Jentz (1998). Panzer Tracts No.12 Flak selbstfahrlafetten and Flakpanzer
T. L.Jentz (2010). Panzer Tracts No. 12-1 – Flakpanzerkampfwagen IV and other Flakpanzer projects development and production from 1942 to 1945.
A. Lüdeke (2007) Waffentechnik im Zweiten Weltkrieg, Parragon books.

2 replies on “Flakpanzerkampfwagen IV 3.7 cm Flak 43 “Ostwind””

Would you guys be able do an article on the Sd.Kfz. 9 with the 8.8cm flak gun? i haven’t been able to find alot of accurate info on it.

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