Wirbelwind/ Flakpanzer IV/2cm Vierling

The Wirbelwind (Whirlwind) was the second production vehicle to mount an anti-aircraft gun on the chassis of the Panzer IV tank. It was designed to satisfy a specification issued in the spring of 1944 for a Flakpanzer with a fully armoured turret, twin guns, the capacity to engage targets at ranges of under 2,000 meters, and a height of under three meters. The first Flakpanzer based on the Panzer IV, the Möbelwagen, lacked the turret and the twin guns.

The Wirbelwind was designed by the Ostbau company, and a prototype was ready by May 1944, when General Heinz Guderian, inspected a display of all current anti-aircraft tanks. The simple design and speed with which the Wirbelwind could begin production helped to convince Guderian to order series production of the Wirbelwind, while also approaching research on the more advanced Kugelblitz.

The Wirbelwind carried quadruple 2cm Flakvierling 39 guns in a distinctive angular open topped turret, which was widest half-way up. The gun was carried at the front of the nine sided turret. The gunner sat behind the gun, while one loader was placed on each side, with responsibility for two of the four guns.

Sources disagree on the number of Wirbelwinds that were produced. The majority (either 92 or 86) were produced between July and November 1944, in the Ostbau factory at Sagan, in Silesia. By the end of 1945 the Russians were dangerously close to Silesia, and Ostbau moved to Teplitz,  on the German coast north west of Berlin, where a small number of Wirbelwinds were probably built, bringing the total to 105. The majority of these vehicles were produced using Panzer IV chassis returning from the front for a major refurbishment.

As with the Möbelwagen, the Wirbelwind was issued to the Flugabwehrzug, or anti-aircraft platoons of the Panzer regiments in the Panzer divisions. It was followed into production by a small number of Ostwind Is, a similar vehicle but armed with the 3.7cm FlaK gun.

Names
Wirbelwind
Pz Fgst IV/3
Flakpanzer IV/2cm Vierling

Stats
Number produced: 86 or 105 converted
Produced: July-November 1944
Length: 5.92m
Hull Width: 2.9m
Height: 2.76m
Crew: 5
Weight: 22 tons  
Engine: Maybach HL120TRM
Max Speed: 38km/hr
Max Range:  200km
Armament: One 2cm Flakvierling 38 one 7.92mm MG34

Armour

Armour

Front

Side

Rear

Top/ Bottom

Turret

16mm/ 0.6in

16mm/ 0.6in

16mm/ 0.6in

open

Superstructure

80mm/ 3.2in

30mm/ 1.2in

20mm/ 0.8in

12mm/ 0.5in

Hull

80mm/ 3.2in

30mm/ 1.2in

20mm/ 0.8in

10mm/ 0.4in

Gun shield

10mm/ 0.4in

 

 

 

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 August 2008), Wirbelwind/ Flakpanzer IV/2cm Vierling , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_wirbelwind.html

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