Leichter Flakpanzer IV (3cm) Kugelblitz/ Gerät 556

The “Kugelblitz” (Ball lightning) Flakpanzer would have been the most advanced anti-aircraft tank produced by Germany during the Second World War if it had ever entered production, but the first prototypes did not appear until 1945, and it never entered combat.

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. The entire setup was hydraulically powered, producing a traversing speed of 60 degrees per second, or a complete circuit in six seconds (some sources give a much lower speed of 10 degrees per second, the equivalent of a complete traverse in thirty-six seconds, far too slow to be any use against the Allied fighter-bombers the Kubelblitz was designed to counter).

This revolutionary turret had originally been designed by Oberleutnant Josef von Glatter-Götz, an officer in the office of the Inspector of the Panzer Troops (In 6), and was developed by Daimler-Benz.

It was to be armed with two 3cm FlaK 103/38 guns (based on the 3cm MK 103 aircraft gun). This gun had two big advantages in the confined space of a turret – as an aircraft gun it was designed to be as compact as possible, and it was belt fed. The anti-aircraft version had a longer gun barrel (2.3 meters instead of 1.61 meters), could fire 425 rounds per minute and was effective to 5,700m. Although this gun never entered service on the Kubelblitz, it was used in large numbers on other mountings.

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. 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.

Gerät 556
Flakpanzerwagen 604/4

Number produced: 2
Produced: February 1945
Length: 5.92m
Hull Width: 2.95m
Height: 2.3m
Crew: 5
Weight: 25 tons  
Engine: Maybach HL120TRM112
Max Speed: 38km/hr
Max Range:  200km
Armament: Two 3cm MK103/38 and one 7.92mm MG34






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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 August 2008), Leichter Flakpanzer IV (3cm) Kugelblitz/ Gerät 556 , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_kugelblitz.html

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