Möbelwagen/ 3.7cm FlaK auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen IV (Sf)

The Möbelwagen (furniture wagon) was the first attempt to mount an anti-aircraft gun on the chassis of a Panzer IV tank. The fighting in North Africa in 1942 had demonstrated how vulnerable tanks were to attacks by Allied fighter-bombers, while existing towed or self-propelled anti-aircraft guns could either not keep up or were themselves vulnerable.

General Guderian, Inspector-General of the Armoured Troops from March 1943, requested the development of fully tracked anti-aircraft weapons that would be capable of operating with the Panzer divisions. These vehicles would be able to keep up with the Panzers, and protect them against Allied fighter-bombers both in battle and while they were on the march.

Two different anti-aircraft guns were considered for use on the new Flakpanzer – a quadruple 2cm Flakvierling 38 or the 3.7cm FlaK 43. When the first prototype of the Möbelwagen was built it was armed with the quadruple 2cm guns, but all of the production versions used the single 3.7cm FlaK 43.

The 3.7cm FlaK 43 L/60 was introduced in 1943. It was similar to the earlier FlaK 18, 36 and 37 models, but was gas operated, while the earlier guns had been recoil operated. In the spring of 1943 Hitler had been unwilling to approve work on mounting this gun on a Flakpanzer, and even in October 1943 when work was approved he was still not sure that it would be a good use of a Panzer IV chassis. In the meantime a lightly armed Flakpanzer 38(t) was ordered, armed with the 2cm FlaK 38 L/112.5. 140 of these vehicles were produced between November 1943 and February 1944, but it didn’t have enough firepower to be effective.

On 7 December 1943 the first prototype, with the quadruple 2cm gun, was shown to Hitler. On 28 January 1944 it was decided to use the 3.7cm gun, at first alongside the quadruple gun but eventually as the sole weapon on the Möbelwagen. A production target of 20 vehicles per month was set, later increased to 30. This higher figure was actually achieved in June-August 1944, before production began to tail off, but the failure of the more advanced Kugelblitz meant that the Möbelwagen remained in production to the end of the war, and a total of 240 were built.

The Möbelwagen used a standard Panzer IV hull, but with the turret replaced by a simple fighting platform. The hand-traversed gun was mounted on this platform, which was protected by a four-sided armoured superstructure designed to protect the crew against nearby shell bursts. The four sides of the superstructure could be dropped into a horizontal position to allow the gun to traverse a full 360 degrees at a low elevation. This was an essential against the low level strafing attacks of the Allied fighter-bombers, and also gave the gun crew more room to work, but the design did mean that the crew were very exposed while firing. The first twenty Möbelwagens were given double 12m shields, the next 25 double 10mm shields, and the rest single 25mm shields. The high sides of the superstructure were responsible for the Flakpanzer’s nickname of Möbelwagen, or “furniture wagon”.

On 7 April 1944 Hitler was told that the first twenty Möbelwagens were ready for delivery in March. Hitler ordered that they should be sent to the west, where the Allied invasion of Europe was expected at any moment, and the first twenty-four vehicles were delivered in June 1944. The Möbelwagen was used to equipped the anti-aircraft platoons (Flugabwehrzug) of the Panzer regiments in the Panzer divisions.

The Möbelwagen was the first of a series of anti-aircraft weapons based on the Panzer IV. It was followed into service by the Wirbelwind, which mounted the quadruple 2cm gun, and by a small number of Ostwind Is, which carried the 3.7cm gun. In both of these vehicles the gun was carried in a custom-built turret. All of these vehicles were expected to be superseded by the Kugelblitz (ball lightning), and by the 3.7cm Doppelflak based on the Panther, but neither of these projects came to anything.

Sd Kfz 161/3

Number produced: 240
Produced: March 1944-March 1945
Length: 5.92m
Hull Width: 2.95m
Height: 2.73m
Crew: 6
Weight: 24 tons  
Engine: Maybach HL120TRM
Max Speed: 38km/hr
Max Range:  200km
Armament: One 3.7cm FlaK43 L/60 and one 7.92mm MG34






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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (5 August 2008), Möbelwagen/ 3.7cm FlaK auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen IV (Sf) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_mobelwagen.html

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