1:72 Standard-Flakpanzer E-50/55 mm (Sd.Kfz. 191/3); Flakregiment 22, 1946

Started by Dizzyfugu, September 13, 2021, 03:30:27 AM

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1:72 Einheits-Flakpanzer E-50/55 mm (Sd.Kfz. 191/3); vehicle 'R 03' of the Flakregiment 22, Deutsches Heer; Flakgruppe Süd, Lankwitz (Berlin region), summer 1946 (What-if/ModellCollect kit)
by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr

Some background:
The "Entwicklung" tank series (= "development"), more commonly known as the E-Series, was a late-World War II attempt by Germany to produce a standardized series of tank designs. There were to be six standard designs in different weight classes, from which several specialized variants were to be developed. This intended to reverse the trend of extremely complex tank designs that had resulted in poor production rates and mechanical unreliability.

The E-series designs were simpler, cheaper to produce and more efficient than their predecessors; however, their design offered only modest improvements in armor and firepower over the designs they were intended to replace, such as the Jagdpanzer 38(t), Panther Ausf. G or Tiger II. However, the resulting high degree of standardization of German armored vehicles would also have made logistics and maintenance easier. Indeed, nearly all E-series vehicles — up through and including the E-75 — were intended to use what were essentially the Tiger II's 80 cm (31½ in) diameter, steel-rimmed road wheels for their suspension, meant to overlap each other (as on the later production Tiger I-E and Panther designs that also used them), even though in a highly simplified fashion. For instance, while the E-50/75's running gear resembled outwardly the Tiger II's, the latter's torsion bar suspension, which necessitated a complex hull with many openings, was replaced by very compact conical spring coil packages that each held a pair of interleaved road wheels – with the benefit that all suspension elements remained outside of the hull. This considerably simplified production and saved time as well as scarce material.

Focus of initial chassis and combat vehicle development was the E-50/75 Standardpanzer, designed by Adler. These were two mostly identical vehicles and only differed in armor thickness, overall weight and running gear design to cope with the different weights. While the E-50 was the standardized replacement for the medium PzKpfw. V "Panther" and the last operational PzKpfw. VI "Tiger", with an operational weight of around 50 tons, the E-75 was intended to become the standard heavy tank in the 70 ton class, as a replacement for the Tiger II battle tank and the Jagdtiger SPG. They were to share many components, including the same Maybach HL 234 engine with up to 900 hp output and the drivetrain, as well as running gear elements and almost all peripheral equipment. Both E-50 and E-75 were built on the same production lines for ease of manufacture.

This universal tank chassis would, beyond the primary use for battle tanks, also become the basis for a wide range of specialized support vehicles like self-propelled artillery, assault guns, tank hunters and anti-aircraft weapon carriers, which would gradually replace and standardize the great variety of former support vehicles, dramatically optimizing maintenance and logistics.
The E-50/75 SPAAG sub-family itself was quite diversified and comprised a wide range of vehicles that mainly carried different turrets with the respective weaponry as well as air space surveillance, targeting and command equipment. The range of armament included not only guns of various calibers for short, medium and long range in armored and mostly fully enclosed turrets. There were furthermore armored launch ramps for anti-aircraft missiles, including the guided "Rheintochter", "Wasserfall" or "Enzian" SAMs as well as batteries with unguided "Taifun" anti-aircraft missiles.

The most important vehicle among this new family was the Einheits-Flakpanzer E-50/55mm, even though its development was delayed and protracted. In May 1943, Oberleutnant Dipl. Ing von Glatter-Götz, responding to the orders of Inspectorate 6, initiated the development of a new series of Flakpanzers based on already existing chassis. The Panzer I and II were outdated or used for other purposes. The Panzer III tank chassis was earmarked for the production of the StuG III and thus not available. The Panzer IV and the Panzer V Panther were considered next. The Panzer IV tank chassis was already in use for several German modifications, so it was decided to use it for the Flakpanzer program, eventually leading to the light "Kugelblitz" SPAAG. The Panzer V Panther was considered in case even the Panzer IV chassis proved to be inadequate for the task, as an interim chassis for new turrets until the new tank generation, the "Einheitspanzer" or "E-Serie", had become available. This would only happen in late 1945, though.

In the meantime several SPAAG proposals were made on the Panther basis, including the "Coelian" family of AA turrets with weapons like the 37 mm Flak 37 and the new 3.7 cm (L/77) Flak 341 twin gun, the Luftwaffe's 30 mm MK 103 machine cannon and a new 55 mm autocannon, mounted in a fully closed turret on a medium to heavy tank chassis.
The new 55mm gun had its roots in a newly developed medium 50 mm gun, the Flak 41, which had been banned in 1942 to save resources and focus on existing anti-aircraft weapons. Nevertheless, the German field troops demanded such a weapon to finally be able to deal with Allied attack aircraft, esp. the Soviet Union's armored Ilyushin Il-2 "Shturmovik". Since the development of the Flak 41 had expressly been forbidden, Rheinmetall and Krupp set about building a completely new weapon with a bigger caliber for longer range and a heavier explosive shell that would fill the operational gap between the established 37 and 88 mm anti-aircraft guns.

This new gun project was handled under the alias "Gerät 58" and launched in early 1943. It gradually evolved in the course of the year with only little (if any) official support. In fact, it was rather a private venture that responded to the army's needs, and it was already the attempt to anticipate a worsening war situation. For instance, all experiences made with the construction of the 37 mm Flak 43 with regards to the sheet metal stamping technology, which saved material as well as production time, were adopted for the Gerät 58, too. The result was – for its size – a relatively compact and foremost simple gun which, thanks to its low fire height and a modern design of the mount, showed very good shooting results.
Initial work was centered around a single-barrel field gun version. Its lower carriage consisted of a turntable to which the wheel racks of the special trailer 204 were attached to two spars. In the firing position, the carriage was set down as with all other anti-aircraft guns. Three small hydraulic supports were attached to the mount ring, on which the weapon could be fired in the driving position. The Krupp design had some problems but required 300 kg less raw materials to manufacture than the Rheinmetall design. However, when the prototypes were presented to Heeresamt authorities, the development of this very successful weapon was again prohibited in November 1943 as "not necessary".

In 1944, however, the lack of usable anti-aircraft weapon systems between the light and heavy flak guns was finally recognized, supported by the analysis of experiences from the Battle of Kursk during the last year. After revisions, three experimental guns (2 from Rheinmetall, one from Krupp) were tested in comparative shooting in mid-1944 at the Luftwaffe's development center. A few shortcomings emerged and it was agreed to build a fourth experimental gun based on the Rheinmetall designs by the end of 1944. New trials began in February 1945 and were completed in April. By the time a twin mount for the Gerät 58 in a modified "Coelian" turret was also ready for trials, and tests with this weapon in the new Rheinmetall Einheits-Flakturm for the Einheitspanzer series started, too.

In these final forms the Gerät 58 was quickly cleared for production and service, and the weapon's project designation was retained, even though "Flak 45" was also common. The autocannon had an overall length of 8,15 mm (26.7 ft) and weighed 2.990 kg (6,586 lb). The barrel length was 4,21 m (13 ¾ ft) for a bore of 77, and the weapon fired a HE/fragmentation shell (weighing 2.030 g/4 ½ lb) with a muzzle velocity of 1.050 m/sec /3,440 ft/sec). Recoil was 280 mm (11 in). Against aerial targets, the Gerät 58 had a maximum effective ceiling of 6,000 m (6,560 yards) and a practical rate of fire of 140 RPM. Armor-piercing rounds were able to penetrate 110 mm vertical hardened steel armor at 500 m or 70 mm at 2,000 m. The ammunition could be fed in from both sides and the spent cases were ejected downwards, so that the gun could be easily adapted to multiple mounts and to fully enclosed tank turrets. In the Rheinmetall turret the Gerät 58 received a manual magazine feed for each barrel that could store five rounds (plus one ready in the gun chamber) for short continuous bursts. These magazines were driven by gravity, though, and once expended, had to be reloaded manually. The ammunition supply in the Rheinmetall turret comprised 104 rounds in total.

In its operational form the Gerät 58/Rheinmetall turret combination introduced another novel feature: The rangefinding point on the gun had been dispensed with, but instead of this the most modern radio-based measuring devices were able to feed their data directly into the sighting device – what meant that the fire control input had to come from an external device in the form of electric impulses. In the case of the Gerät 58, this was the newly developed Kommandogerät 44, a very compact combined stereoscopic sight, coupled with an analogue range calculator. This replaced the traditional scope. Due to the weapon's weight and bulk, all weapon orientation was carried out by means of hydraulic motors via a control column that were slaved to the gunner's Kommandogerä, so that aiming and firing was semi-automatized. The gunner still had to use an optical scope to find and pinpoint the target, but the Kommandogerät translated this, together with additional information like range, temperature or wind shear, into electrical input for the guns that automatically corrected the weapon's orientation and triggered them with a respective lead at an ideal moment.

Thanks to the Gerät 58's innovative electronic input interface and its motorized controls, aiming and firing could also be slaved to an external director. This could be the bigger and more capable Kommandogerät 40 or the Sd.Kfz. 282 "Basilisk" mobile anti-aircraft radar. Furthermore, several anti-aircraft weapons could be guided and operated this way by a single command unit with improved sensors, for higher accuracy under any weather condition as well as for concentrated and more effective fire and an improved first shot hit probability

Due to the dire war situation and an urgent need for this formidable new anti-aircraft weapon, the Gerät 58 and its highly innovative periphery were immediately pushed into production. The first field guns reached the frontline units in September 1945, with mixed success. Due to parallel delays with the new E-50/75 chassis and material shortages, which highly limited the output of the new tanks from early 1945 on, the new Gerät 58, mounted together with the Kommandogerät 44 in the new Rheinmetall Einheits-Flakturm, were initially combined with other chassis, primarily revamped Panzer V battle tanks as well as some leftover heavy Tiger I tanks.

The first complete E-50/55mm SPAAGs reached the frontline units in March 1946, but since both chassis and weapons had been ushered into production and service, many teething troubles emerged and it would take until late 1946 that the Sd.Kfz. 191/3, how the new vehicle had officially been designated, had turned into an effective and reliable weapon system.

    Crew: Six (commander, gunner, two loaders, driver, radio operator)
    Weight: 56.5 tonnes (62.2 short tons)
    Length: 7.27 m (23 ft 10 ¾ in), hull only
                   9.29 m (30 ft 5 in) with guns forward
    Width: 3.88 m (12 ft 9 in)
    Height 3.38 m (11 ft 1 in)
    Ground clearance: 495 to 510 mm (1 ft 7.5 in to 1 ft 8.1 in)
    Suspension: Conical spring
    Fuel capacity: 720 liters (160 imp gal; 190 US gal)

    30 – 60 mm (1.2 – 2.4 in)

      - Maximum, road: 55 km/h (34 mph)
      - Sustained, road: 45 km/h (28 mph)
      - Cross country: 20 to 30 km/h (13 to 19 mph)
     Operational range: 160 km (99 miles)
     Power/weight: 16 PS/tonne (14.5 hp/ton)

    V-12 Maybach HL 234 gasoline engine with 900 PS (885 hp/650 kW)

    ZF AK 7-200 with 7 forward 1 reverse gears

    2× 5,5 cm (2.17 in) L/77 Gerät 58 anti-aircraft cannon with 104 rounds

The kit and its assembly:
Finally I found the motivation to build a "standard" E-50 Flakpanzer to complete my growing German SPAAG collection. I had this kit stashed away for years, but never was in the right mood to tackle this OOB build of the ModelCollect kit. It's s decent kit that comes with brass barrels for the 55 mm guns and a small PE sheet for grates on the engine cover and small bits like lugs and protectors for the hull crew's periscopes. It's finer than the similar Trumpeter kit and more friend – but this also comes at a price, because some molding solutions are quite doubtful, e. g. three(!) sprue attachment points for tiny and most delicate bits or placing sprue channels between the teeth of the sprocket wheels. WTF? As a bonus you get all the parts to build an E-75 chassis – for the E-50 you just leave a pair of wheels per side away.

The kit went together well, and I used all the PE options for this one. The only modification I made are dented and partly deleted armor mudguards, so that the tank looks less "uniform".

Painting and markings:
Another variant of German late WWII standards, with roots in the "Hinterhalt" scheme. The paint scheme was inspired by a real Panther Ausf. D from the Eastern front in late 1943, which consists only of Dunkelgelb (RAL 7028) and Olivgrün (RAL 6003) in rather pale shades and in a kind of rough splinter pattern.
I interpreted the scheme as if the tank had been painted all-green and then the lighter color had been applied on top of that. Since no view for the upper surfaces were available, I assumed that this might have been a late-war "Sparanstrich" with only minimal use of the Dunkelgelb, so that hull and turret roof remained green – even though I added mottles in Dunkelgelb to them, as if sun was shining through the leaves of a tree, to better break up the vehicle' outlines. Dunkelgelb was also added under the gun to reduce the contrast of the barrels against the sky when they are raised.

True to this concept, the model received initially an overall coat with modern RAL 6003 from the rattle can, plus a light coat of RAL 6011 (Resedagrün) on top to the upper surfaces as a shading and weathering measure – and for a rather pale look. The wheels were painted uniformly in the same way, too.
Once dry, the "wedges" on the more or less vertical surfaces were added with a brush, using a mix of Humbrol 121 and 72 for a pale and less yellowish interpretation of RAL 7028.

The kit received the usual washing with dark brown, highly thinned acrylic paint before the decals were applied – puzzled together from the scrap box. A dry brushing treatment with light olive green (Revell 45) followed, highlighting surface details and edges. More dust and dirt traces as well as some rust marks with watercolors followed, and then a coat of matt varnish.

Unfortunately. the kit's tracks were molded in a yellowish sand color and had to be fully painted. Onto a black base coat, a cloudy mix of dark grey, red brown and iron acrylic paints was added. The many delicate tools on the tank's hull are molded, and instead of trying to paint them I rubbed over them with graphite, leaving them with a dark metallic shine. Just some wooden handles were then painted with a reddish brown. The antennae were made from heated sprue material, and, finally, the tank's lower areas were dusted with a greyish-brown mineral pigment mix, simulating dust and mud residue.

A quite simple build, since the kit was built straight OOB with no conversions at all. However, the Modellcollect E-50/75 model is still tricky and need some attention, the Trumpeter kit is easier (but also not as detailed). The result looks a bit odd, thanks to the pale paint scheme (pistache and vanilla?), but it's something different from the usual standard "Hinterhalt" tri-color variations. And it's certainly not the last semi-fictional German SPAAG...


My Ability to Imagine is only exceeded by my Imagined Abilities

Gondor's Modelling Rule Number Three: Everything will fit perfectly untill you apply glue...

I know it's in a book I have around here somewhere....

Old Wombat

Has a life outside of What-If & wishes it would stop interfering!

"The purpose of all War is Peace" - St. Augustine

veritas ad mortus veritas est


Thank you very much. I am just not happy with the pictures - probably a lighting problem (I made them last weekend during daytime, so the sun might have added a rather yellowish hue to everything!), and I might re-shoot some of them and replace them. However, a quick and simple build, because the model was built almost OOB, just the mudguards were tuned for a more natural look.

As a funny side note: the Gerät 58 existed as a prototype, but did not make it in time into serial production or service. It became, however, the basis for the Soviet  57 mm L/76.6 S-60 anti-aircraft autocannon that was armed the popular ZSU-57-2 SPAAG!

More German SPAAGs coming soon. At least two more are in the pipeline, but they will take a while to materialize because I have to organize some extra/aftermarket parts for both of them.


Magnificent. Again. But this looks more balanced, or rather - I though the fkakvierling looked underarmed with its tiny barrels. So my bad.

I am continuously impressed b your technique and execution though. Regardless of subject.  ;)
Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!


The Panther with the stubby Flakvierling WAS underarmed - that's why it was axed and replaced with the Coelian turret that carried al least a pair of 37 mm guns. But that's where reality (fortunately) ended, as well as SPAAG hardware development. The Gerät 58 on this one here was real, too, and the turret as well as the chassis were on the drawing boards, so that this one here represents more or less a 1946 standard AA vehicle.

What's reallc challenging is to create even new variations of Hinterhalt camouflage or other suitable/plausible patterns! I do not want to repeat myself too much, and this is becoming more and more challenging.  ;)


Updated some pictures. Still not 100% happy, but it's better now.  :rolleyes:


Decals my @r$e!