5 cm FlaK 41 & 5.5 cm Gerät 58

The 5-cm (1.97-in) Flak 41 was one of the least successful ofall the German anti-aircraft guns, for it had excessive recoil and flash and the carriage traversed too slowly. Despite their shortcomings, 60 were used until the war ended.

In World War II air warfare terms there was an altitude band that extended from approximately 1500m (4,921ft) to 3000m (9,843ft) that existing anti-aircraft guns could cover only with difficulty. Aircraft flying in this band were really too high or too low for small- or larger-calibre weapons. What was obviously required was an interim-calibre weapon that could deal with this problem but, as artillery designers in both the Allied and German camps were to discover, it was not an easy problem to solve.

The German solution to the interim-altitude band situation was a gun known as the 5-cm Flak 41, and the best that can be said of it was that it was not a success. It was first produced in 1936, and was yet another Rheinmetall Borsig design that was preferred over a Krupp submission. Development of the prototype was carried out with no sense of urgency, for it was 1940 before the production contract was awarded and in the event only 60 guns were completed, The first of them entered service in 1941 and the type’s shortcomings soon became apparent. The mam problem was the ammunition: despite its 50-mm (1.97-in) calibre, this was rather underpowered and on firing produced a prodigious amount of muzzle blast and flash that distracted the aimer, even in broad daylight. The carriage proved rather bulky and awkward to handle in action, and despite the characteristics of the expected targets the traversing mechanism was also rather underpowered and too slow to track fast targets.

Two versions of the Flak 41 were produced: a mobile one using two axles to carry the gun and carriage, and a static version for emplacing close to areas of high importance such as the Ruhr dams. Despite their overall lack of success the guns were kept in service until the war ended, but by then only 24 were left. During the war years some development work was carried out using the Flak 41s, not so much to improve the guns themselves but to determine the exact nature of the weapon that was to replace them. In time this turned out to be a design known as the Gerät 56 (Gerät was a cover name, meaning equipment) but it was not finalized before the war ended, One Flak 41 development was the formation of one battery operating under a single remote control.

In action the Flak 41 had a crew of seven men. Loading the ammunition was no easy task for it was fed into the gun in five-round clips that were somewhat difficult to handle. Though designed for use against aircraft targets, the Flak 41 was also provided with special armour-piercing projectiles for use against tanks, but this AP round appears to have been little used as the Flak 41 was one of the few German weapons that was not selected for mounting on a self-propelled carriage.

If the Germans were unsuccessful in their attempt to defend the interim-altitude band, it has to be stated that he Allies were no more successful. Typical of their efforts was the British twin 6-pdr, a 57-mm (2.244-in) weapon that never got past the trials stage because of its indifferent performance.
Altogether 60 examples of the 5 cm Flak 41 were produced, starting from 1941. Some of them were still in use in 1945.

Data

German designation: Flak 41

Calibre: 50 mm (1.97 in)

Length of piece: 4.686 m (184.5 in)

Weight: in action 3100 kg (6,834 lb)

Elevation: -10° to+90°

Traverse: 360°

Muzzle velocity: 840 m (2,756 ft) per second

Maximum effective ceiling: 3050 m (10,007ft)

Rate of fire: (cyclic) 180 rpm

Projectile weight: 2.2kg(4.85lb)
Later German attempts to create a medium anti-aircraft gun focused on 5.5 cm weapons (Gerät 58) and the 5 cm Pak 38-derived Gerät 241.

5.5 cm Gerät 58

Was designed as part of an integrated weapons system which included radar and fire control equipment. The development started in 1943 but not concluded before the end of the war. The carriage has an unusual feature: the differential recoil or soft recoil, based on the Flak 41 carriage and named Sonderanhänger 206, but the gun itself is no more than an enlarged version of the 5 cm Flak 41. A number of completed carriages are converted to take 5 cm Flak 214 guns in 1945. Only three guns were built.

One of the many things to note about this gun was its sophisticated servo drive systems intended for computerized aiming. Instead of the defective (in terms of accuracy) limited angular rate deflection system generally used for for aiming it was to calculate the complete and total firing solution in Cartesian co-ordinates. It was a one hit to kill weapon. It was not only for tanks but for naval systems as well as for ground based FLAK.

Post war the Soviet 57 mm AZP S-60 evolved from this weapon.

Data
German designation: Gerät 58
Caliber: 55 mm
Length of piece: 6.150 mm
Length of barrel: 4.211 mm
Breech mechanism: Gas-operated vertical sliding block
Traverse: 360º
Weight travelling: 5.490 Kg
Weight in action: 2.990 Kg
Weight of gun: 650 Kg
Elevation: -5º to 90º
Type of feed: 5 rounds clips
Muzzle velocity: 1.050 mps
Shell weight: 2,03 Kg (with Zerl 18V fuze)
Rate of fire: 140 rpm

Here is the entire list of Flak weapons (German Designations):

LIGHT AA
2 CM Flak 30
2 CM Flak 38
2 CM GebFlak 38
2 CM Flak Sondergeschütz
2 CM Flakvierling 38
2 CM Flakvierling 38/43
MG 151/20
3 CM Flak 103/38
3.7 CM SKC/30
3.7 CM Flak 18
3.7 CM Flak 36 oder 37
3.7 CM Flak M 42
3.7 CM Flak 43
3.7 CM Flakzwilling 43
Gerät 339 B.Kp. (3.7 CM)
Gerät 341 3.7 CM
3 CM Flak M 44
3 CM Flak M 44 (300 M)
3 CM MK 303 (Br)
Fledermaus 3.7 CM
IMPRESSED LIGHT AA
2 CM Flak 28 und 29
2 CM Flak Madsen
2 CM Flak Breda or 2 CM Breda(i) or 2 CM MG 282(i)
2 CM Flak Scotti oder 2 CM Scotti(i)
2.5 CM Flak Hotchkiss or 2.5 CM Flak Hotchkiss 38 und 39
3.7 CM Flak Breda or 3.7 CM Breda(i)
3.7 CM Flak M 39a(r)
4 CM Flak 28
MEDIUM AA
5 CM Flak 41
Gerät 56 V 1a 5 CM
Gerät 56 G 5 CM
Gerät 56 M 5 CM
Gerät 56 K 5 CM
Gerät 58 5.5 CM
Gerät 58 K 5.5 CM
5 CM Flak 214
5 CM Automatic Flak (A Skoda Prototype manufactured close to end of war. The actual German designation was unknown)
IMPRESSED MEDIUM AA
4.7 Flak 37(t)
HEAVY AA
8.8 CM Flak 18, 36 oder 37
8.8 CM Flak 41
8.8 CM Flak 37/41
8.8 CM Flak 39/41
8.8 CM Flak 41/2 (these 7 cannons were based on the classic 88’s)
10.5 CM Flak 38 und 39
10.5 CM Flak 39/2
12.8 Flak 40
12.8 Flak 40/1
12.8 Flak 40/2
12.8 Flakzwilling 40
12.8 CM Flak 45
7.5 Flak L/60
7.5 CM Flak L/59 or 7.5 CM Flak P L/65
Gerät 42 8.8 CM
Gerät 50 14.91 CM
Gerät 55 14.91 CM
Gerät 60 14.91 CM
Gerät 65 14.91 CM
Gerät 60F 14.91 CM
Gerät 65F 14.91 CM
Gerät 80 23.8 CM
Gerät 85 23.8 CM
IMPRESSED HEAVY AA
7.5 CM Flak (b)
7.5 CM FK 97(f)
7.5 CM Flak M 17/34(f)
7.5 CM Flak M 30(f)
7. CM Flak M 33(f)
7.5 CM Flak M 36(f)

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