Flakpanzer-IV "Möbelwagen"

german ww2 tanks Germany (1944)- c205 to 250 built

Putting the 3.7 cm FLAK 43 on a tank

In the initial phases of creating Flakpanzers, the obvious choice at first fell on the 2 cm FLAK as the lightest to be compatible with now obsolete, earlier chassis such as the Panzer I for the Flakpanzer-I. However the limitations of the German war industry past 1942 limited the number of chassis that can be freed for such conversions, despite loosing the air battle. Earlier versions of the Panzer IV, including recovered turretless chassis, were tested with the same 2 cm Flakvierling anti-aircraft gun before it was estimated too weak.

The first Flakpanzer IV prototype was armed with the 2 cm Flakvierling. The gun and its crew were to be protected by four-hinged armored walls. Src: panzernet.net

In early 1944, authorities declared the new standard will be based on the stronger 3.7 cm Flak 43 anti-aircraft gun. In 21st December 1943, it was indeed decided to rearm the already converted Krupp chassis to the 2 cm Flakvierling, of which producttion as ongoinf at a rate of 20 vehicles monthly from April 1944. The new FLAKpanzer was to be decided in a reunion on 3 January 1944 between Heinz Guderian, Von Renz of AA Heer branch, Hitler, and Albert Speer. It was decided to go in step, with a first production order for 20 vehicles issued to Krupp, to be completed in February 1944, and then 20 miore for March and eventually a complete order for 100 to be delivered before mid-1944.

The final vehicle differered in many ways from the prvious Flakvierling, it had now a single 3.7 cm AA gun Flak 43, protected by folding panels all around. These could be folded down partially, fixed at an outward angle when in use, in order for the gun crew to move around, giving the ordnance its 360° unobstructed traverse. The panels were folded up and secured when on the march, providing good protection to the gun crew seated inside, at least until shrapnels came up. The gun itself had its own standard shield. In general when deployed, the rear armor wall could be completely lowered, the others partially raised, all all four fully lowered down, giving more room but also vulnerability all around.


The first prototype was tested near Oksbol in occupied Denmark for firing trials, leading to some improvements for production. The Flakpanzer IV shared its modified chassis with the previous Flakvierling variant, mixing Panzer IV Ausf.H and Panzer IV Ausf.J elements. The final production variant had a beefed-up Maybach HL 120 TRM rated for 272 hp@2,800 rpm instead of 265 hp also. So only the "payload" and armoured panels on all sides changed. But this boxy appearance had its users jockingly refer to it as Möbelwagen ("Furniture van"), this never was of course official.

Production slipped from February 1944 to March for the first batch of 20, and Krupp maintained that rate until the production was terminated by October 1944. It was to be replaced by the Ostwind, starting by November 1944. April 1945 figure is unknown, which left a generally accepted figure of 205 in 1944 plus c35 in 1945, so potential of 240.


The chassis ball mount was removed, replaced by a simpler MG port. There were also side small round-shaped firing ports. Actually the gun crew was seated inside the chassis when moving and existed via hatches to the platform, for the installation of the main armament. The driver and radio operator had two hatches positioned at the front of the superstructure. There were two additional hatches for the ammunition storage. As for the protective walls, the first 45 had them slightly curved, later simpler flat plates.

The 3.7 cm Flak 43 was more or less equivalent to the allied Bofors, very effective but built too late in few numbers to be impactful at that stage in the war. It was provided with 400 rounds (320 HE, 80 AP), and it could fire at 250 rounds per minute cyclic or 180 practical at a range of 6,585 m (7,201 yd) against ground targets with a 4,800 m (15,700 ft) ceiling. Loading used 8-round clips. This was completed by two 7.92 mm MG 34 machine guns and a 9 mm MP for the crew.

3.7 Flak 43 Flakpanzer IV specs (1st batch).

Dimensions5.92 x 2.95 x 3.25 m
Total weight, battle ready25 tonnes
Crew5-6 (Cdr, 2 gunners, loader, radio operator, driver)
PropulsionMaybach HL 120 TR(M) 265 hp @ 2,600 rpm
SuspensionTorsion Bars
Maximum speed42 km/h, 25 km/h CC
Range210 km, 130 km (cross-country)
Armament3.7 cm Flak 43, 2x 7.92 mm MG 34
Armor2×12 mm/2x 10 mm/25 mm walls, rest as Panzer IV J
Total production205-240

Combat Deployment

Vehicles were distributed in Panzer Flak Zuge, 8 vehicles each. June-July 1944 saw one of each platoon attached to the 9th, 11th, and 116th Panzer Divisions, Western Front (Normandy Campaign) and 6th, 19th on the Eastern Front. Later losses led to halve these units and assigned these to ten Panzer Brigades on both fronts, and experiment with mixed units with 4 Mobelwagen, 4 Wirbelwinds. Until May 1945, only 30 anti-aircraft platoons were created.

Some successes were recorded like on October 1944, against P-47s (389th Fighter Squadron) to the benefit of the 107th Panzer Brigade. Commander Lt William Grounds was hit and crashed. By Dec. 1944 these vehicles were used in Operation Northwind with Panzer Abteilung 5, and on the eastern front with the 20th Panzer Division, Hungary and the battle of Budapest. Surviving vehicles are rare, one is at the Musée des Blindés at Saumur, the secopnd today at the Auto-Technik Museum in Sinsheim.


On Tank Encyclopedia.com
3.7 cm flak 43
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Vehicle of the latter batches (flat side armour), western front December 1944 with its typical grun/rot braun improvized field pattern.


A group of three newly produced Flakpanzer IVs. Source: Digital Collection of Armin Freitag

Front view of the Flakpanzer IV, where the simple design of the new superstructure is evident. Src: forum.warthunder.com

A Flakpanzer IV with quite an interesting camouflage pattern. Source: Digital Collection of Armin Freitag

In Saumur Museum

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