Aviation & Aerospace - Airpower 2024 - Aircraft by Country - Aircraft Manufacturers Vehicles & Artillery - Armor 2024 - Armor by Country - Armor Manufacturers Infantry Small Arms - Warfighter 2024 - Small Arms by Country - Arms Manufacturers Warships & Submarines - Navies 2024 - Ships by Country - Shipbuilders U.S. Military Pay 2024 Military Ranks Special Forces by Country

Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz (Ball Lightning)

Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG)

Nazi Germany | 1945

"The Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz was a late-war, self-propelled anti-aircraft initiative by Germany."

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 03/26/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
Due to increasingly limited resources, the Germans became masters at reconstituting existing armored vehicles and modifying them to serve new battlefield requirements. This was the case with the late-war Flakpanzerkampfwagen IV "Kugelblitz" ("Ball Lightning") - a self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicle based on the chassis of the famous PzKpfW IV (Panzer 4), the most numerous tank in the German Army arsenal. As the value of the Panzer IV deteriorated during the war due to the arrival of more powerful vehicles, its readily available chassis became the foundation of many-a-late-war project - some serving as anti-aircraft vehicles and others as self-propelled "big gun" carriers.

The Kugelblitz was unique in its design when compared to the earlier German attempts at self-propelled anti-aircraft vehicles for it housed its gunnery crew in a wholly enclosed, fully-traversable armored turret - protected from both battlefield dangers and the elements. The crew numbered five and included a driver in the front-left hull and a bow machine gunner/radio operator at front right. The remaining crew constituted the vehicle commander and two dedicated gunners in the turret. Primary armament was 2 x 30mm MK 103/38 series cannons which were based on the classic MK 103 series aircraft cannon used in many Luftwaffe designs - a weapon already in circulation within the German inventory. The bow machine gun was a 7.92mm MG 34 General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) offering some defense from infantry attacks - though its position as a bow-mounted machine gun limited its firing arc. On the whole, the vehicle retained the same general form and function of the Panzer IV medium tank line with its engine at the rear and its hull superstructure sporting vertical walls. The primary difference became its all-new turret structure which was of a low profile design with rounded walls for basic ballistics protection. Overall armor protection of the vehicle reached 80mm (3.1") in thickness and the vehicle weighed in the 25 ton (short) range.

The running gear remained the same as the Panzer IV with its many pairs of road wheels. The drive sprocket was located at front with the track idler at rear and five track return rollers managing the track links over the top of the run. Power was served through a Maybach HL 120 TRM series 12-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine of 296 horsepower output. Road speeds reached 24 mph with an operational range out to 120 miles.

The value of Flakpanzers in German service was priceless for the nation was fighting a wholly defensive war heading into 1945. The Soviet advanced from the East with the Western Allies breaking through from the West and the Italian buffer in the south long gone. With German Luftwaffe assets consistently committed elsewhere it fell to the Army to figure out its own local defense for its advancing convoys. The Allied fighter-bomber had become a major threat to any German land force attempting to move in broad daylight under clear skies.

German officials had hoped that the Kugelblitz would be in serial production by the fall of 1944 but the German war situation was such that the program (like other late-war initiatives) was continually delayed or slowed enough to make little impact in the whole of the war. With that, the vehicle was only realized through five completed pilot (prototype) forms before the end of the war in Europe during May of 1945.

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one land system design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz (Ball Lightning) Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG).
1 x Maybach HL 120 TRM 12-cylinder gasoline-fueled engine developing 296 horsepower driving conventional track-and-wheel arrangement.
Installed Power
24 mph
38 kph
Road Speed
124 miles
200 km
The physical qualities of the Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz (Ball Lightning) Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG).
19.4 ft
5.92 meters
O/A Length
9.7 ft
2.95 meters
O/A Width
7.9 ft
2.4 meters
O/A Height
50,706 lb
23,000 kg | 25.4 tons
Armament & Ammunition
Available supported armament, ammunition, and special-mission equipment featured in the design of the Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz (Ball Lightning) Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG).
2 x 30mm MK 103/38 autocannons (Zwillingsflak).
1 x 7.92mm MG34 machine gun.
Not Available.
Nightvision - NONE.
Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear Protection (CBRN) - NONE.
Notable series variants as part of the Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz (Ball Lightning) family line.
Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz ("Ball Lightning") - Base Series Designation; five pilot vehicles produced before the end of the war.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz (Ball Lightning). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national land systems listing.

Total Production: 5 Units

Contractor(s): State Factories - Nazi Germany
National flag of modern Germany National flag of Nazi Germany

[ Nazi Germany ]
1 / 1
Image of the Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz (Ball Lightning)
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.

Design Qualities
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to battlefield requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Flakpanzer IV Kugelblitz (Ball Lightning) Self-Propelled Anti-Aircraft Gun (SPAAG) appears in the following collections:
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Scale Military Ranks U.S. DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols US 5-Star Generals WW2 Weapons by Country

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Part of a network of sites that includes Global Firepower, WDMMA.org, WDMMW.org, and World War Next.

©2024 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2024 (21yrs)