As was true with every navy during World War Two, the German Navy or Kriegsmarine greatly expanded their AA fit as the war progressed. Again as true with others, the quantity as well as size of AA guns increased over time.

The smallest effective weapon was the 2cm C30 developed by Rheinmetall. The weapon was developed from an earlier design, the Solothurn ST-5. The weapon did not swing freely like the 20mm Oerlikon cannon used by the allies but instead was transversed and elevated by handwheel. The weapon originally appeared as a single or twin mount. In 1939 German destroyers and cruisers mounted a number of these weapons and these gave them a significantly better AA fit than other navies at the time. These 65-calibre weapons were fully automatic. This weapon had a fairly slow rate of fire of 280 rounds cyclical rate and 120 rounds per minute practical rate of fire. The slow rate was due in part to an unsatisfactory breech mechanism that was prone to jamming. The C30 20mm were supplanted during the war with the C38 improved 20mm gun.

2cm C30 by Rheinmetall
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The redesign of the 20mm was given to Mauserwerke. The breech mechanism was changed and the rate of fire increased to 480-420 rounds per minute design but only 220-180 rounds per minute actual. Production started in 1940 however, the C38 gun was outwardly indistinguishable from the earlier C30 guns.

Also in 1940 a new mount was developed to further increase armament. Designed by Mauser and produced by Rheinmetall, the weapon was the very effective quad 20mm. Known as the 2cm Flak 35 im Vierling L/38, the new mount had four C38 guns on a new mount.

2cm Zweiling, Twin 20mm Guns
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The 37mm twin gun mount, 3.7cm DoppelFlak C30, was the main anti aircraft weapon of the warships of the Kriegsmarine at the start of the war. Also manufactured by Rheinmetall. This weapon had a monoblock barrel with a drawn-on breech ring and a vertical sliding block breech mechanism. The gun was semi-automatic and used eight round clips of High Explosive and Tracer ammunition. They also came equipped with gyro-stabilization to compensate for pitch, roll and corkscrew but this proved too weak during sharp turns in combat. Designed for 160 rounds per minute the weaponís effective rate was 80 rounds per minute. By late war the C30 guns were scheduled for replacement by the newer 3.7cm Flak M/42 gun and even newer M/43 on some cruisers. It was not until late war that shielding was introduced to the light AA guns.

The Kriegsmarine also imported some 40mm Flak 28 Bofors guns from Sweden. These were mounted on some of the surviving cruisers by 1944. Large numbers were used by 1945, replacing twin 37mm and quad 20mm mounts.

2cm Flak 35 im Vierling L/38, Quad 20mm
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By 1944 the Kriegsmarine found that the 20mm guns had lost effectiveness, so they planned to increase the 37mm guns in the AA fits. In November 1944 the Kriegsmarine came up with a detailed plan to augment the AA fit of their remaining warships. Code named Barbara it greatly increased the 37mm gun mounts at the expense of main armament and 20mm guns. In this manner itís purpose was similar to the Kamikaze fit designed by the USN in 1945. (History from German Destroyers of World War Two by M.J. Whitley)

White Ensign Models Kriegsmarine AA Weapons
Now that you know some of the history behind the light anti aircraft guns of the Kriegsmarine, you may better appreciate one of the newest brass photo-etch frets from White Ensign Models. Since this set WEM PE 4006 is in 1:400 scale, the clear modeler audience are the builders of the Kriegsmarine warships from Heller. Although there are some 1:400 scale kits of Kriegsmarine subjects produced in Poland, the battleship, cruiser and panzerschiffe kits in this scale are all from Heller.

3.7cm DoppelFlak C30, Twin 37mm
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GerAA4583twin37.JPG (109730 bytes) GerAA4574twin37.JPG (123784 bytes) GerAA4626twin37Comp.JPG (165542 bytes)

The Heller kits are a good starting point, they certainly can be dramatically improved by this new WEM photo-etch. Would you build your Heller Scharnhorst or Gneisenau with the plastic railing provided in the kit? The odds are that you replace that with photo-etch railing. If you compare the stock Heller light AA guns with the brass pieces from this fret, you would have to ask yourself the same question.

WEM PE 4006 provides five types of light AA weapons on this fret. There are fourteen single 20mm guns, 2cm Flak C30, each of which consists of three parts, pedestal with handwheel, barrel with folding shoulder rests and ammunition clip. There are ten twin 20mm mounts, each of which has seven parts, barrels with folding shoulder rests, pedestal, two ammunition clips, half shield, full shield and base plate. There are six of the quad 20mm mounts, 2cm Flakveirling, each with seven parts, two twin barrels, mount, two shield halves, base with two folding gunnerís seats and a separate site/gunnerís seat piece. You have to shape the center part of the mount from resin scrap or plasticard.

Bofors 40mm Flak L28
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The fret provides two pieces of ordnance for the heavier guns. There are six 37mm twin mounts, 3.7cm DoppelFlak C30, each of which has six parts, barrels, mount, gunnerís seats, foot plate, base plate and frontal bar. Lastly you get fourteen Flak 28 single Bofors 40mm mount for your late war Kriegsmarine. Each Bofors has four parts, combined barrel/mechanism, shield and two base plates.

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GerAA4622Inst1b.JPG (79932 bytes) GerAA4623Inst2.JPG (54816 bytes) GerAA4624Inst2a.JPG (81942 bytes) GerAA4625Inst2b.JPG (71442 bytes)

Mad Pete strikes again. Peter Hall turns out fret after fret at a dizzying pace and yet continues to produce first class designs without missing a beat. If you build the warships of the Kriegsmarine in 1:400 scale from Heller or from any other company for that matter, these should be as indispensable as brass railing or inclined ladders.