| Flakpanzer IV "Kugelblitz"|
Flakpanzer auf Fgst Pz Kpfw IV Ostwind
|General Historical Information|
|Place of origin||Germany|
|Category||Selfpropelled Anti-Aircraft gun|
|Speed||38 km/h (24 mph)|
|Armour||80 mm (3.1 in) maximum|
|Main armament||Zwillingsflak 30mm MK 103 twin anti-aircraft gun|
|General Ingame Information|
|Ammunition||HE + APT (Random)|
|Seat 2|| 1× 7.92 mm MG 34|
The Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz ("Ball Lightning") was a German self-propelled anti-aircraft gun developed during World War II. By the end of the war, only a pilot production of five units had been completed. Unlike earlier self-propelled anti-aircraft guns, it had a fully enclosed, rotating turret.
Successor of the Ostwind, the Flakpanzer IV “Kugelblitz” was based on the chassis of the Panzer IV and would have been the most advanced anti-aircraft tank produced by Germany during the Second World War if it had ever entered production, but the first prototypes did not appear until 1945, and it never entered combat. It was the 4th design of the Flakpanzer IV tech tree.
The most advanced feature of the Kugelblitz was its fully enclosed spherical turret. The sphere was attached at its sides to a protective mantlet, and could rotate vertically, while the mantlet and entire turret could rotate horizontally.
It was to be armed with two 3cm FlaK 103/38 guns (based on the 3cm MK 103 aircraft gun). This gun had two big advantages in the confined space of a turret – as an aircraft gun it was designed to be as compact as possible, and it was belt fed. The anti-aircraft version had a longer gun barrel (2.3 meters instead of 1.61 meters), could fire 425 rounds per minute and was effective to 5,700m. Although this gun never entered service on the Kubelblitz, it was used in large numbers on other mountings. Also, version armed with two 30mm MK and two 20mm MK cannons was planned.
It had been hoped that the Kugelblitz would enter series production in February 1945, but by then only the five (or possibly only two) prototypes had been built due to the cancellation of Panzer IV production. Interest then switched to a similar vehicle which would have seen the Kugelblitz turret mounted on a Hetzer, but work on this design only began after November 1944, far too late for anything to come of the idea. In mid 1945, it was planned to mount Kugelblitz's turret on PzKpfw 38(d) chassis. It was also proposed to mounted Kugelblitz's turret on Panther's chassis, but it was never done.Its design was revolutionary for the time and served as an example until late 1950s. There is even some similarity between Kugelblitz and post-war American M42 "Duster" anti-aircraft system.