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1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; Berlin region, summer 1945

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Dizzyfugu:

1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Some background:
In the first years of the war, the Wehrmacht had only little interest in developing self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, but as the Allies developed air superiority and dedicated attack aircraft threatened the ground troops from above, the need for more mobile and better-armed self-propelled anti-aircraft guns increased. As a stopgap solution the Wehrmacht initially adapted a variety of wheeled, half-track and tracked vehicles to serve as mobile forward air defense positions. Their tasks was to protect armor and infantry units in the field, as well as to protect temporary forward area positions such as mobile headquarters and logistic points.

These vehicles were only lightly armored, if at all, and rather mobilized the anti-aircraft weapons. As Allied fighter bombers and other ground attack aircraft moved from machine gun armament and bombing to air-to-ground rockets and large-caliber cannons, the air defense positions were even more vulnerable. The answer was to adapt a tank chassis with a specialized turret that would protect the gun crews while they fired upon approaching Allied aircraft. Furthermore, the vehicle would have the same mobility as the battle tanks it protected.

Initial German AA-tank designs were the ‘Möbelwagen’ and the ‘Wirbelwind’, both conversions of refurbished Panzer IV combat tank chassis’ with open platforms or turrets with four 20mm cannon. Alternatively, a single 37mm AA gun was mounted, too – but all these vehicles were just a compromise and suffered from light armor, a high silhouette and lack of crew protection.


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Further developments of more sophisticated anti-aircraft tank designs started in late 1943 and led into different directions. One development line was the ‘Kugelblitz’, another Panzer IV variant, but this time the ball-shaped turret, armed with very effective 30 mm MK 103 cannon, was fully integrated into the hull, resulting in a low silhouette and a protected crew. However, the ‘Kugelblitz’ only featured two of these guns and the tilting turret was very cramped and complicated. Venting and ammunition feed problems led to serious delays and a prolonged development stage.
The ‘Coelian’ family of bigger turrets with various weapon options for the Panzer V (the ‘Panther’) was another direction, especially as a response against the armored Il-2 attack aircraft at the Eastern front and against flying targets at medium altitude. Targets at high altitude, esp. Allied bombers, were to be countered with the very effective 8.8 cm Flak, and there were also several attempts to mount this weapon onto a fully armored hull.

The primary weapon for a new low/medium altitude anti-aircraft tank was to become the heavy automatic 55 mm MK 214. Like the 30 mm MK 103 it was a former aircraft weapon, belt-fed and adapted to continuous ground use. However, in early 1944, teething troubles with the ‘Kugelblitz’ suggested that a completely enclosed turret with one or (even better) two of these new weapons, mounted on a ‘Panther’ or the new E-50/75 tank chassis, would need considerable development time. Operational vehicles were not expected to enter service before mid-1945. In order to fill this operational gap, a more effective solution than the Panzer IV AA conversions, with more range and firepower than anything else currently in service, was direly needed.
 
This situation led to yet another hasty stopgap solution, the so-called ‘Ostwind II’ weapon system, which consisted primarily of a new turret, mated with a standard medium battle tank chassis. It was developed in a hurry in the course of 1944 and already introduced towards the end of the same year. The ‘Ostwind II’ was a compromise in the worst sense: even though it used two 37 mm FlaK 43 guns in a new twin mount and offered better firepower than any former German AA tank, it also retained many weaknesses from its predecessors: an open turret with only light armor and a high silhouette . But due to the lack of time and resources, the ‘Ostwind II’ was the best thing that could be realized on short notice, and with the perspective of more effective solutions within one year’s time it was rushed into production.


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


The ‘Ostwind II’ system was an open, roughly diamond-shaped, octagonal  turret, very similar in design to the Panzer IV-based ‘Wirbelwind’ and ‘Ostwind’ (which was re-designated ‘Ostwind I’). As a novelty, in order to relieve the crew from work overload, traverse and elevation of the turret was hydraulic, allowing a full elevation (-4° to +90° was possible) in just over four seconds and a full 360° traverse in 15 seconds. This had become necessary because the new turret was bigger and heaver, both the weapons and their crews required more space, so that the Ostwind II complex could not be mounted onto the Panzer IV chassis anymore and movement by hand was just a fall-back option.
In order to provide the ‘Ostwind II’ with a sufficiently large chassis, it was based on the SdKfz. 171 Panzer V medium battle tank, the ‘Panther’, exploiting its bigger turret ring, armor level and performance. The Panther chassis had, by late 1944, become available for conversions in considerable numbers through damaged and/or recovered combat tanks, and updated details like new turrets or simplified road wheels were gradually introduced into production and during refurbishments. Mounting the ‘Ostwind II’ turret on the Panzer VI (Tiger) battle tank chassis had been theoretically possible, too, but it never happened, because the Tiger lacked agility and its protection level and fuel consum,ption were considered impractical for an SPAAG that would typically protect battle tank groups.

The ‘Ostwind II’ turret was built around a motorized mount for the automatic 3.7 cm FlaK 43 twin guns. These proven weapons were very effective against aircraft flying at altitudes up to 4,200 m, but they also had devastating effect against ground targets. The FlaK 43’s armor penetration was considerable when using dedicated ammunition: at 100 m distance it could penetrate 36 mm of a 60°-sloped armor, and at 800 m distance correspondingly 24 mm. The FlaK 43’s theoretical maximum rate of fire was 250 shots/minute, but it was practically kept at ~120 rpm in order to save ammunition and prevent wear of the barrels. The resulting weight of fire was 76.8 kg (169 lb) per minute, but this was only theoretical, too, because the FlaK 43 could only be fed manually by 6-round clips – effectively, only single shots or short bursts could be fired, but a trained crew could maintain fire through using alternating gun use. A more practical belt feed was at the time of the Ostwind II's creation not available yet, even though such a mechanims was already under developmenta for the fully enclosed Coelian turret, which could also take the  FlaK 43 twin guns, but the armament was fully separated from the turret crew.


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


The new vehicle received the official designation "SdKfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V", even though "Ostwind II" was more common. When production actually began and how many were built is unclear. The conversion of Panther hulls could have started in late-1944 or early-1945, with sources disagreeing. The exact number of produced vehicles is difficult to determine, either. Beside the prototype, the number of produced vehicles goes from as little as 6 to over 40. The first completed Ostwind II SPAAGs were exclusively delivered to Eastern front units and reached them in spring 1945, where they were immediately thrown into action.
All Flakpanzers based at that time were used to form special anti-aircraft tank platoons (so-called Panzer Flak Züge). These were used primarily to equip Panzer Divisions, and in some cases given to special units. By the end of March 1945, there were plans to create mixed platoons equipped with the Ostwinds and other Flakpanzers. Depending on the source, they were either to be used in combination with six Kugelblitz, six Ostwinds and four Wirbelwinds or with eight Ostwinds and three Sd. Kfz. 7/1 half-tracks. Due to the war late stage and the low number of anti-aircraft tanks of all types built, this reorganization was never truly implemented, so that most vehicles were simply directly attached to combat units, primarily to the commanding staff.

The Ostwind II armament proved to be very effective, but the open turret (nicknamed "Keksdose" = cookie tin) left the crews vulnerable. The crew conditions esp. during winter time were abominable, and since aiming had to rely on vision the system's efficacy was limited, esp. against low-flying targets. The situation was slightly improved when the new mobile "Medusa" and "Basilisk" surveillance systems were introduced. These combiend radar/visual systems guided the FlaK crews towards incoming potential targets, and this markedly improved the FlaKs' first shot hit probality. However, the radar systems rarely functioned properly, the coordination of multiple SPAAGs in the heat of a low-level air attack was a challenging task, and - to make matters worse - the new mobile radar systems were even more rare than the SPAAGs themselves.

All Ostwing II tanks were built from recovered ‘Panther’ battle tanks of various versions. The new Panther-based SPAAGs gradually replaced most of the outdated Panzer IV AA variants as well as the Ostwind I. But their production immediately stopped in the course of 1945 when the more sophisticated 'Coelian' family of anti-aircraft tanks with fully enclosed turrets, which was based on Panzer V hulls, too, entered production, which was soon followed by the first E-50 SPAAGs with the new, powerful twin-55 mm gun.


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Specifications:
    Crew: Six (commander, gunner, 2× loader, driver, radio-operator/hull machine gunner)
    Weight: 43.8 tonnes (43.1 long tons; 48.3 short tons)
    Length (hull only): 6.87 m (22 ft 6 in)
    Width: 3.42 m (11 ft 3 in)
    Height: 3.53 m (11 ft 6 3/4 in)
    Suspension: Double torsion bar, interleaved road wheels
    Fuel capacity: 720 litres (160 imp gal; 190 US gal)

Armor:
    15–80 mm (0.6 – 3.15 in)

Performance:
    Maximum road speed: 46 km/h (29 mph)
    Operational range: 250 km (160 mi)
    Power/weight: 15.39 PS (11.5 kW)/tonne (13.77 hp/ton)

Engine:
    Maybach HL230 P30 V-12 petrol engine with 700 PS (690 hp, 515 kW)
    ZF AK 7-200 gear; 7 forward 1 reverse

Armament:
    2× 37 mm (1.46 in) FlaK 43 cannon in  twin mount with 1.200 rounds
    1× 7.92 mm MG 34 machine gun in the front glacis plate with 2.500 rounds


The kit and its assembly:
This was a spontaneous build, more or less the recycling of leftover parts from a 1:72 Revell Ostwind tank on a Panzer III chassis that I had actually bought primarily for the chassis (it became a fictional Aufklärungspanzer III). When I looked at the leftover turret, I wondered about a beefed-up/bigger version with two 37 mm guns. Such an 'Ostwind II' was actually on the German drawing boards, but never realized - but what-if modelling can certainly change that. However, such a heavy weapon would have to be mounted on a bigger/heavier chassis, so the natural choice became the Panzer V, the Panther medium battle tank. This way, my ‘Ostwind II’ interpretation was born.
The hull for this fictional AA tank is a Hasegawa ‘Panther Ausf. G’ kit, which dates back to 1973 and clearly shows its age. While everything fits well, the details are rather simple, if not crude (e .g. the gratings on the engine deck or the cupola on the turret). However, only the lower hull and the original wheels were used, since I wanted to portray a revamped former standard battle tank.

The turret was a more complicated affair. It had to be completely re-constructed, to accept the enlarged twin gun and to fit onto the Panther hull. The first step was the assembly of the twin gun mount, using parts from the original Ostwind kit and additional parts from a second one. In order to save space and not to make thing uber-complicated I added the second weapon to the right side of the original gun and changed some accessories.
This, together with the distance between the barrels, gave the benchmark for the turret's reconstruction.  Since the weapon had not become longer I decided to keep things as simple as possible and just widen the open turret - I simply took the OOB Ostwind hexagonal turret (which consists of an upper and lower half), cut it up vertically and glued them onto the Panther turret's OOB base, shifting the sides just as far to the outside that the twin gun barrels would fit between them - a distance of ~0.4" (1 cm). At the rear the gap was simply closed with styrene sheet, while the front used shield parts from the Revell Ostwind kit that come from a ground mount for the FlaK 43. Two parts from this shield were glued together and inserted into the front gap. While this is certainly not as elegant as e.g. the Wirbelwind turret, I think that this solution was easier to integrate.
Massive PSR was necessary to blend the turret walls with the Panther turret base, and as a late modification the opening for the sight had to be moved, too. To the left of the weapons I also added a raised protective shield for the commander. Inside of the turret, details from the Ostwind kit(s), e.g. crew seats and ammunition clips, were recycled, too.


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Painting and markings:
Since the Ostwind II would be based on a repaired/modified former Panzer V medium battle tank, I settled upon a relatively simple livery. The kit received a uniform finish in Dunkelgelb (RAL 7028), with a network of greenish-grey thin stripes added on top, to break up the tank's outlines and reminiscent of the British "Malta" scheme, but less elaborate. The model and its parts was initially primed with matt snad brown from the rattle can and then received an overall treatment with thinned RAL 7028 from Modelmaster, for an uneven, dirty and worn look. The stripes were created with thinned Tamiya XF-65 (Field Grey).


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


Once dry, the whole surface received a dark brown wash, details were emphasized with dry-brushing in light grey and beige. Decals were puzzled together from various German tank sheets, and the kit finally sealed with matt acrylic varnish.

The black vinyl tracks were also painted/weathered, with a wet-in-wet mix of black, grey, iron and red brown (all acrylics). Once mounted into place, mud and dust were simulated around the running gear and the lower hull with a greyish-brown mix of artist mineral pigments.



1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


1:72 Sdkfz. 171/2 Flakpanzer V „Ostwind II“; vehicle "R 01" of the Panzer Regiment Brandenburg, Panzerkorps Großdeutschland; Märkisch-Oberland (Berlin region), summer 1945 (Whif/kitbashing) by Dizzyfugu, on Flickr


A bit of recycling and less exotic than one would expect, but it’s still a whiffy tank model that fits well into the historic gap between the realized Panzer IV AA tanks and the unrealized E-50/75 projects. Quite subtle! Creating the enlarged turret was the biggest challenge, even, even more so because it is an open structure and the interior can be readily seen. But the new/bigger gun fits well into it, and it even remained movable!

NARSES2:
Very neat conversion  :thumbsup:

Gondor:
Simple and effective  :thumbsup:

Gondor

Old Wombat:
 :thumbsup:

Dizzyfugu:
Thank you. Not a spectacular whif, but I think the result is quite convincing.  :lol:

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