Flakpanzer IV (Furniture Van) Möbelwagen
(Sd.Kfz.161/3)3.7cm FlaK auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen IV (Sf)
Production Model Möbelwagen.
As the war progressed, German Luftwaffe was no longer in complete control of the airspace over the battlefield. This was especially dangerous to the panzer units, first on the Eastern Front and then on the Western Front. Mobile air-defence was needed for both offensive operations to support fast moving panzer units and for defensive operations to provide anti-aircraft cover for defending or withdrawing units under attack.
In early 1943, it was proposed to utilize PzKpfw IV‘s chassis for anti-aircraft gun carrier urgently needed by the front lines units. Originally, Flakpanzer IV Möbelwagen armed with four 20mm Flak 38 guns was designed by Krupp in early 1943, but it was rejected on May 14th of 1943 and did not enter production, although single prototype (or possibly few pre-production examples) was produced. It was designated as 2cm Flakvierling auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen IV. Its design utilized well proven chassis of Panzerkampfwagen IV, which were provided by Krupp-Gruson (rebuild battle damaged panzers). The standard hull was modified and mounted with wider open-top superstructure with four hinged 20mm armor shields. Shields could be lowered allowing all-round traverse when operating against low flying aircraft or ground targets. The lack of armoured protection when operating with lowered shields made the crew extremely vulnerable to any enemy fire and shrapnel, while raised shields limited the operations of the gun. The raised shields gave the vehicle its boxy appearance resulting in the nickname Mobelwagen - German for furniture van.
The only prototype was ready in October of 1943 and was presented to Adolf Hitler on December 7th of 1943, but on January 28th of 1944, an "interim solution" armed with 37mm Flak 43 was ordered. Flakpanzer IV Möbelwagen was then modified and rearmed with 37mm Flak 43 gun. The gun had an effective anti-aircraft range of 4800m and maximum range of 6500m, with 150-250 rounds per minute rate of fire.
On April 7th of 1944, first 20 were produced and by June 15th of 1944 were put in service with panzer units stationed in the Western Europe. Production was to start in February, but started in March of 1944, by Deutsche-Eisenwerke and BMM and continued until March of 1945. During that period only 240(250) were produced and were issued to Flugabwehrzug (AA platoons) units of panzer division operational on the Western Front. German ground units suffered heavy losses as a result of Allied air superiority over Western Europe and desperately needed mobile anti-aircraft platforms.
Overall,Mobelwagen provided mobile platform capable of dealing with aircraft as well as soft ground targets including lightly armored vehicles. It also proved to be an adequate "interim solution", while new generation of Flakpanzers were being designed.
2cm Flakvierling auf Fahrgestell Panzerkampfwagen IV (Sf)
Experimental Möbelwagen armed with four 20mm Flak 38 guns.
Front Superstructure: 50/9
Front Hull: 80/14
Front Gun Shield: 25/0
Side Superstructure: 30/0
Side Hull: 30/0
Side Gun Shield: 25/0
Rear Superstructure: 20/11
Rear Hull: 20/9
Rear Gun Shield: 25/0
Hull Top / Bottom: 10/90
Top / Bottom Gun Shield: open