Tamiya /Verlinden 1 /35 Panzer IV Kugelblitz

                                               Background

The Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz (ball lightning) or abbreviated Flak Pz.Wg IV was a Wehrmacht self-propelled anti-aircraft gun developed during the Second World War. However by the end of the Second World War, only a small production run of 2 units had been completed. Unlike earlier self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, it had a fully enclosed, rotating turret.

The need for a specialised self-propelled anti-aircraft gun, capable of keeping up with the armoured panzer divisions, had become progressively more pressing for the Wehrmacht Armed Forces, as from 1943 on the Luftwaffe was to a lesser extent unable to protect against opposition fighter bombers.

Consequently a large number of makeshift 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.

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.

The most advanced feature of the Kugelblitz was its fully enclosed spherical turret. The sphere was attached at its sides to a protective mantlet, and could rotate vertically, while the mantlet and entire turret could rotate horizontally.

Alternatively, the 3 cm MK 103/38 twin gun, a twinned mount version of the 3 cm MK 103/38, was used, which had also been fitted to the Henschel Hs 129 and Dornier Do 335. The rate of fire of the twin 3 cm MK 103/38 was 450 rounds a minute per gun.

It had been hoped that the Kugelblitz would enter series production in February 1945, but by then only the five (or possibly only two) prototypes had been built due to the cancellation of Panzer IV production. Interest then switched to a similar vehicle which would have seen the Kugelblitz turret mounted on a Hetzer, but work on this design only began after November 1944, far too late for anything to come of the idea.

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.

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