Antiaircraft Artillery

 

 

Germany was the first country that examined the opportunity of having guns especially designed to combat balloon, dirigibles and planes. In 1906 at the Berlin automobile exhibition Rheinmetall showed a 5cm L/30 pivot gun mounted on a lightly armoured motor car, while Krupp choose a 6.5cm L/35 gun. The tactic suggested was to deploy these vehicles in likely places and, on the appearance of an aircraft, to drive them rapidly to some point of interception, and open fire there.

At that time the War Ministry believed that there were no need for special guns, and in 1907 the German Army tested as anti-aircraft guns the guns then adopted by field and foot artillery : 7.7cm field gun, 10.5cm light field howitzer and 10cm heavy gun. In spite of the lack of interest shown by the Army, studies went on. Between 1908 and 1910 a lot of new guns appeared. Krupp produced a 7.5cm L/35 gun on wheels and a 7.1cm L/30 gun on a motor car, while Rheinmetall a 6.5cm L/35 pivot gun. This time the War Ministry was more interested to, and laid down the rules for the Ballonabwehrkanone (Bak = anti-balloon gun). These demanded the calibre and the ammunition of the 7.7cm L/27 field gun, and devices for a rapid change in azimuth and elevation. The gun had to be transported by a field carriage or mounted on a motor car with a pivot. Between 1911 and 1914 both Krupp and Rheinmetall produced some different models of Bak.

 

It was only from 1910 to 1914 that the military leaders of the other major European countries began to examine the prospect of anti-aircraft weapons. In Great Britain Vickers produced a 3-pdr quick-firing gun mounted on a Daimler car chassis, while in France a high-angle mounting was developed to place the 75mm Mle 1897 field gun on the back of a De Dion Bouton car chassis. But at the beginning of the World War 1 only Germany could field a little number of anti-air guns.

 

In August 1914 Germany had available 6 motor Bak with a 77mm L/27, 2 wheeled 77mm L/27 with pivots, and 10 mixed older models of experimental guns dating back to 1910-1914. The horse drawn Bak were emplaced near bridges over the river Rhein at Dusseldorf and Mannheim, at the Zeppelin wharf at Friedrichshafen, and at the dirigible hangar at Metz. The six motorized Bak went to the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th (two) and 8th Army. They were emplaced to protect areas and objects important for mobilization. The development of anti-aircraft artillery in German Army was very quick.

 

In October 1914 there were 9 motorized and 27 horse-drawn Bak.

 

In January 1915, thanks to a great use of captured guns, there were 97 Bak, mostly armed with Belgian, French and Russian field guns transformed into anti-aircraft gun.

 

When World War 1 ended German Army had 2576 Flak (Fliegerabwehrkanone = anti-aircraft gun, from 31th May 1916 the new name of Bak).

There were :

-     116 heavy motorised batteries

-     39 light motorised batteries

-     168 horse-drawn batteries,

-     166 fixed batteries,

-     3 railway batteries,

-     183 motorised sections;

-     49 horse-drawn sections;

-     173 fixed sections;

-     80 individual motorised veihicles.

 

In September 1918 the German Army had in Macedonia :

-     bespannte FlakBt. 523 : horse-drawn Flak battery with 7,62cm RäderFlak L/30 (russ. 00);

-     bespannte FlakBt. 549, 550, 556 : horse-drawn Flak batteries with 7,62cm RäderFlak L/30 (russ. 02) ;

-     bespannte Flakzug 97 (Saxon) : horse-drawn Flak section with 7,62 Ortsfeste-Flak;

-     bespannte Flakzug 165 : horse-drawn Flak section with 7,7cm l.F.K. L/35 (franz.);

-     bespannte bayer. Flakzug 119 : horse-drawn Bavarian Flak section with 7,62 Ortsfeste-Flak;

-     bespannte bayer. Flakzug 148 : horse-drawn Bavarian Flak section with 7,7cm L.F.K. L/35 (franz.);

-     9cm FlakBt. 338 (9cm improvised Flak Battery - Saxon);

-     KraftwagenFlak 38, 85 (Flak on motor vehicles).

These units were assigned to the Flak Command of Army Group Scholtz (Kommandeur der Flak der Heeresgruppe Scholtz). There were also two Flak officers, one for German 11th Army and one for Bulgarian 1st and 2nd Army).