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Flakpanzer IV Möbelwagen Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun

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By 1943 Allied air superiority on all fronts had reached a critical stage and compelled a reorganisation of German anti-aircraft measures. It was decided to specially adapt tanks for the anti-aircraft role, as had been continually demanded by General Guderian for protecting tank formations. The chassis of the PzKpfw IV tank was the obvious choice for the major production models because of its stability as a gun platform, its size and its availability. Various models were produced quickly and simply by fitting an existing AA mount in place of the tank turret.
In September 1943 Hitler approved the Flakpanzer IV with 3.7cm gun that had been demonstrated on 14 May 1943. A hastily improvised 2cm quadruple AA mount did not meet with his approval. Nevertheless Böhmisch-Mährische Maschinenfabrik of Prague received a contract for 150 vehicles so armed. This order was later cancelled and the chassis were used for the 3.7cm version instead.
Delivery of the Flakpanzer IV began late in 1943. The chassis was capable of being fitted with either the 2cm quadruple Flakvierling 38 or the 3.7cm Flak 43, but all production vehicles mounted the 3.7cm armament. The weapon was mounted on a PzKpfw IV hull and protected by four hinged armour flaps. These were lowered when engaging aircraft to give 360 degrees unrestricted traverse for the mount. The crew was left completely unprotected apart from the gun-shield. A further tactical disadvantage of the vehicle was its excessive height which led to it being known by the troops as Möbelwagen (furniture van).
The Möbelwagen was based upon the chassis of the PzKpfw IV Ausf H and J. It appears that the 2cm-armed prototype vehicle was based on the Ausf H with late-type sprockets while the 3.7cm production vehicles were based on the Ausf J with late-type sprockets and idlers and with four all-steel return rollers per side.
The chassis had a number of modifications. The superstructure was removed and replaced with one that extended across the full width of the vehicle. The bow machine gun was removed and the opening sealed over, and a bracket was added to the glacis plate to support the front hinged armour plate when it was folded down. Also an extension was apparently fitted to the engine exhaust outlet, probably to keep the exhaust gases clear of the crew working on the open superstructure above the engine decks. The 2cm vehicle had a large armoured back plate fitted to the gun layer’s seat to provide additional protection.
The hinged side armour shields on the Möbelwagen could be lowered to an angle of 30 degrees to allow limited traverse of the AA mount. In this case the side shields were held in place by small hinged brackets attached to the front and rear armour plates which remained vertical. The mount could then rotate through 360 degrees but, because of the cramped conditions, fast traverse was very difficult for the crew.
The 2cm weapon could be used against ground targets, when it was only necessary to lower the front plate. In this case, however, traverse was restricted to just 15 degrees either side of centre.

3.7cm Version

The 3.7cm weapon had an elevation of 90 degrees but could not be depressed low enough to be effective against ground targets. It was built by Rheinmetall and had a muzzle velocity of 800 m/s. It had a theoretical rate of fire of 250 rounds per minute, but had a practical rate of fire of 150 rounds per minute. Some 416 rounds of ammunition were carried in clips of eight, and these were fed horizontally from the left of the gun. A wire mesh cage was usually fitted to the right of the gun to prevent ejected empty cartridges from striking the superstructure.
3.7cm Möbelwagens were fitted with two different types of side armour shields, both lower than the type fitted to the 2cm version, and 20mm instead of 10mm thick. Initial vehicles had largely flat shields with a strip angled inwards along their upper edge, and were fitted with hinged brackets approximately rectangular in shape. Later vehicles had entirely flat side shields to simplify production. These were fitted with hinged brackets that were approximately triangular in shape.
The Möbelwagen was the first practical attempt to produce a worthwhile self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon but was a makeshift solution. It remained in service with anti-aircraft platoons of tank regiments until 1944 when it was replaced by the Wirbelwind. A total of 240 was produced by BMM in Prague.
All Flakpanzers based on the PzKpfw IV chassis were fitted with the Maybach HL 120 TR 112 engine. These had their performance improved by raising the rpm from 2600 to 2800 and the power to 272hp.

Model Id:221
Manufacture:Krupp-Gruson Werk AG, Magdeburg, Germany (Chassis manufacturer)
Ceskomoravsksa-Kolben-Danek (CKD), Prague, Czech Republic (Vehicle assembly 1944-5)

1) Museé Des Blindés, Saumur, France

Number of Photos: 4
Sample Photo from Album Number 207

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Unique ID: 207
Serial Number:
Other Identification:

This is a late-production 3.7cm Möbelwagen with flat armour shields. [Preserved Tanks in France: Number 171].

2) Auto und Technik Museum, Sinsheim, Germany

Number of Photos: 2
Sample Photo from Album Number 208

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Unique ID: 208
Serial Number:
Other Identification:

This is a late-production 3.7cm Möbelwagen with flat armour shields.