Minggu, 31 Januari 2010

2 cm Flakvierling 38


Even as the FlaK 30 was entering service, the Luftwaffe and Army had doubts about its effectiveness, given the ever-increasing speeds of low-altitude fighter-bombers and attack aircraft. The Army in particular felt the proper solution was the introduction of the 37 mm caliber weapons they had been developing since the 1920s, which had a rate of fire about the same as the FlaK 38, but fired a round with almost eight times the volume. This not only made the rounds deadlier on impact, but their higher mass allowed them to travel to much longer distances, allowing the gun to engage targets at longer ranges and over longer periods of time.

The 20 mm weapons had always been something of a stop-gap measure, improving just enough to keep them useful. It was something of a surprise when Rheinmetall was able to "pull a fast one" again, introducing the 2 cm Flakvierling 38, which improved the weapon just enough to make it competitive once again. The name vierling means literally "quadruple" and refers to a four-barreled combination gun.

The weapon consisted of quad-mounted 2 cm Flak 38 AA guns with collapsing seats, folding handles, and ammunition racks. The mount had a triangular base with a jack at each leg for leveling the gun. The tracker traversed and elevated the mount manually using two handwheels. The gun was fired by a set of two footpedals—each of which fired two diametrically opposite Flak 38s—and could be operated either automatically or semi-automatically. When raised, the weapon measured 307 cm (10 feet 1 inch) high.

Each of the four mounted guns fired from a 20-round magazine at a maximum combined rate of fire of 1,400 rounds per minute (reduced to 800 rounds per minute for combat use). The guns could be fired in pairs (diagonally opposite) or simultaneously, in either semi-automatic or fully automatic mode. Its effective vertical range was 2200 meters. It was also used just as effectively against ground targets as it was against low-flying aircraft.[3]

The gun was normally transported on a Sd. Ah. 52 trailer, and could be towed behind a variety of half-tracks or trucks, such as the Opel Blitz, SdKfz 251 and SdKfz 11. It was also mounted onto half-tracks and tank bodies to produce mobile anti-aircraft vehicles, such as the SdKfz 7/1 (based on the SdKfz 7 half-track) and the Wirbelwind and original Möbelwagen prototype (both based on the Panzer IV tank). In Kriegsmarine use, it was fitted to U-boats and ships to provide short-range anti-aircraft defense, and was also employed in fixed installations around ports, harbors and other strategic naval targets. The Flakvierling was also a common fixture on trains, where it was mounted on a flatbed car and then covered to make it look like a boxcar.

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