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Flakpanzer IV Ostwind

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The Flakpanzer Ostwind was an open turreted, self-propelled anti-aircraft gun mounted on the chassis of a Panzer IV and manufactured by the Ostbau Company fo Germany during World War II.

Description

The Ostwind, being based upon the Panzer IV chassis, the Ostwind retained the same Maybach HL 120TRM engine which was capable of propelling the vehicle at speeds of up to 38 km/h on roads. Two other components shared with the Panzer IV were the Ostwind's 6 speed forward, 1 speed reverse transmission and suspension.

Armament consisted of a single 37 mm Flak 43 anti-aircraft gun mounted in the box-like 'turret' along with a 7.92 mm MG 34 machine gun mounted in the hull.[1] Frontal armor protection was about 50 mm thick with the turret being half that at 25 mm thick. However, the largest the problem for the Ostwind remained, it was that it possessed an open-top turret which meant that nearby infantry had the ability to throw a grenade into the vehicle and kill the crew with ease.

The total weight of the vehicle was around 25,000 kg while its total length was 5.92 meters. In order to operate, the Ostwind also required a crew of at least seven men. Although it was initially designed for anti-aircraft use, like many other mobile anti-aircraft vehicles in the Wehrmacht that used fast-firing 20 mm or 37 mm anti-aircraft guns, the Ostwind was particularly useful in the anti-infantry role. In one instance, an Ostwind operating during the Battle of the Bulge was successfully able to knock out an American anti-tank gun crew with a single 37 mm round after its convoy was ambushed.[2]

Variants

Also designed but never put into production was the Ostwind II, which boasted two 3.7 mm Flak 44 cannons mounted in a side by side configuration. The Ostbau manufacturing plant was scheduled to begin production but the plant was attacked by Allied forces and production effectively cancelled.[3]

History

The Flakpanzer IV Ostwind was developed in early 1944 following concerns that the Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind before it simply did not perform its role well enough. The largest point brought up was the argument that even if the 20 mm rounds of the Wirbelwind should hit an oncoming aircraft, the damage simply would not be enough to disable that aircraft and thus the vehicle become useless. As such, the same 37 mm autocannon used previously with the Flakpanzer IV Möbelwagen was placed into the frame of the much improved Wirbelwind design and the Ostwind was created.[4] By August that same year, the German military had requested at least 100 vehicles for service. However, by the end of the war only 37 Panzer IV chassis' could be converted and another Ostwinds were built from scratch. Making do with what they could, Ostwinds saw limited service in very few numbers up until the end of the war.

References

  1. Forty, George. German Tanks of World War II. Sterling Publishing Co. (1987), Page 96
  2. Macdonald, B. Charles. The Battle of the Bulge. Weidenfeld & Nicolson (1985), Page 202
  3. http://www.wwiivehicles.com/germany/vehicle/flak-panzers/ostwind-flakpanzer.asp
  4. http://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=714


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