A7V FLAKPANZER

The A7V Flakpanzer anti-aircraft tank had two Russian M1902/30 76.2mm (3in) field guns mounted on each end.

ANTI-AIRCRAFT TANK

In the First World War, the Germans used the A7V tank chassis as a starting point in the development of several other variations. Although most would be used for the A7V Überlandwagen rough-terrain tracked supply vehicle, others were used to create unique vehicles, such as a trench-digging machine and the anti-aircraft version known as the A7V Flakpanzer.

Plans were also made to produce an A7V Funkpanzer wireless communication tank fitted with a Graben-Funkstation 16 radio transmitter and large circling antenna positioned on the roof.

In order to combat the ever more numerous aircraft in the skies, the German Army needed something that could fend off the enemy aviators, but also relocate to a more defensible position if necessary. Little is known about this mysterious A7V Flakpanzer – the earliest recorded tracked anti-aircraft vehicle – save for a few photographs. Three prototypes were being tested in the closing stages of the First World War.

The fate of these machines is unknown; it is possible that they were captured by the Allies and scrapped, or dismantled and the parts used for other things.

The guns themselves were positioned at each end of the platform. Ammo boxes were placed around the driving position and just under the guns. The Flakpanzer A7V was very similar to the Überlandwagen, which also had the A7V chassis and suspension, with the engines mounted centrally. The driving compartment was placed above them and was open and unarmoured, but had a tarpaulin cover to be used in bad weather.

The cargo bays were extended well over the front and rear of the vehicle, making the Flakpanzer longer. Each of these bays held an anti-aircraft gun mounted on a pedestal. These guns could traverse 360 degrees and could also elevate to fire at enemy planes.

Also present were two elevated guard rails, which seem to have had a double purpose. They could keep the crew from falling off the vehicle and serve as sitting places when moving. Under them were the ammunition compartments, which could be accessed from the outside of the vehicle when the wooden side panels were lowered.

The crew consisted of around ten men, with four needed to service each gun. There was also a driver and a commander, although it is not clear if these positions were somehow amalgamated.

THE ARMAMENT

There is no verified information on the armament used by the Flakpanzer. However, it is believed that two of the prototypes were equipped with captured Russian M1902/30 76.2mm (3in) field guns. They were mounted on a new trunnion and elevation assembly to enable high elevation.

The Germans had captured copious numbers of such guns from the Tsarist Empire and pressed them into service; they even manufactured the ammunition for them.

The third prototype A7V Flakpanzer was equipped with a German Krupp-manufactured gun. It is believed that it was a 7.7cm (3.03in) German leichte Feld Kanone (l.F.K.) 1896 n/a (7.7cm light field cannon). Only one gun was fitted to this vehicle.

Whether these guns were effective against their intended targets remains a mystery as no paperwork related to their use has been found.

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