Year old company in 1943 was radical change in the entire second World War. The collapse of the Nazi plans of Kursk, surrender colonial corps in Africa, rugged head of allied forces in the Italian countryside dramatically changed the military-strategic situation and undermined the very military power of Nazi Germany. The occupying forces of Hitler in their own skin felt that such a rule of the enemy in the air.
The capture of the air
This was first realized permanent German troops and SS units on Italian soil, because the best part of the German Air Force fought on the eastern direction. And here aces "Luftwaffe" is not a very manageable with the combat puzzles — Russian troops managed to utter the cost of work and effort of the people in the rear to provide an advanced and units of airfield services all necessary equipment and military equipment. By early summer 1944 for service of the Red Army was made Yak-9D, which is characterized by strong arms and the highest speed, which dramatically reduced the ability of the aviation fleet of Germany.
According to the views of military historians, unparalleled frisky end of "Operation Bagration" in the areas of Belarus came mainly due to the rule of Russian pilots in the air. A number of large fortifications Germans were actually wiped out under the blows of bombers and attack aircraft of the Red Army. Prior to the complete defeat of Hitler's armies case has not yet reached, stepped in control of military — industrial complex and militaristic, tough-minded circles of big industrialists. In a situation where the enemy took possession of the sky, had acquired a special significance in the fact of receipt of the Wehrmacht self-propelled anti-aircraft systems (ZSU) — anti-aircraft artillery, combat vehicles, which are rapidly translated into the firing position from traveling. Just in 1944, the Wehrmacht learn from outright some kinds of new combat vehicles.
New weapons of the Wehrmacht
In fairness, it must be said that in fact the beginning of the second World War, Hitler's military commanders are developing a method of protective action of their own troops from air attack by enemy aircraft. But obviously an advantage in the air, especially at first on the Eastern Front, the Germans played a cruel joke. Until the end of 1943 still somehow managed to operate with non-armored gun mount and towed anti-aircraft guns, and in 1944 the military — strategic situation lobbied for immediate action. Puzzle to ensure the desired density antiaircraft fire had to decide how to march, and in the areas of fire positions. Was in service ZSU weakly consistent with their requirements because of the unreliability of fire protection systems and combat calculations (on the battlefield, they were left defenseless.) To carry out military operations required ZSU-protected fragments and bullets mnogokalibernyh, with all this anti-aircraft gun to be installed on a rotating turret fighting vehicle. These products have been designed by German designers were called Flakpanzer — anti-aircraft tank, at the then terminology.
The basis for the 20-mm anti-aircraft gun served as a tank Pz Kpfw I, who in 1944 was removed from service — his usefulness was not clear. The basis for the ZSU also served as a tank Pz 38 (t) and Pz Kpfw IV, but, despite the use of a tank base, weak armor protection was there solely to its stowed position, and in fighting condition as before flak was defenseless.
Rarabotki of "Ostbau"
Subsequently, all in solving this problem has moved the company "Ostbau", which for the creation of their own ZSU applied restored after fighting gear Pz Kpfw IV.
On the basis of this product installed tower under anti-aircraft gun. Regardless of the caliber of guns, anti-aircraft tank called Wirbelwind (with 20 mm guns), and a 37-mm single instrument — Ostwind
Wirbelwind firstborn went with the flow of the assembly in May, and Ostwind — in July 1944.
Create ZSU Ostwind
Due to the enormous dimensions of the anti-aircraft tower, attached to the base of Pz Kpfw IV is not equipped with armored protection. The strategy of ZSU at the time did not mean to find these systems in the first strip acts of military units, because the requirements for bronezaschishennosti were significantly lower.
The open tower complex configuration mounted on OEM chassis, its armor was 25 mm in circumference. The tower nahodilos37-mm automatic anti-aircraft gun Flak43 L/89, sights, and part of the crew of ammunition. The rest of the ammunition was in the turret box. Calculation of ZSU consisted of 6 people, coupled with the commander of the gun. They took their places inside the self-propelled guns on analogue for the crew of the tank. Wirbelwind was equipped with a turret, which differed from the total Ostwind "Ostbau" upgraded 33 combat vehicles under the Pz IV FlakPz Ostwind and made 7 new machines.
Fighting application ZSU Ostwind
At the current time, in fact there is nothing left in the archives of the Wehrmacht on the strategy and criteria for the implementation of these self-propelled anti-aircraft guns. At various web — portals evaluation of the implementation ZSU Ostwind very different estimates are sometimes diametrically reversed. Researchers have come up in the presentation of this prepyadstviya, using different sources, some even simply refer to the need for them in the German army combat formations.
37-mm anti-aircraft gun had certain advantages over very popular in the German army 20 mm artillery systems. Power 37-mm round made it possible to counteract Russian IL-2 and IL-10, which kept getting projectiles caliber 20 mm. More than the highest percentage of high-rise defeat the purposes of ZSU Ostwind made it possible to use these systems against targets at medium vysotah.37-mm anti-aircraft gun could be used against light and medium tanks. At the same time, the 37-mm anti-aircraft gun was losing quad 20 mm anti-aircraft systems on the rate of fire and, therefore, could not resist so well infantry divisions, as a 20-mm "Flakfirlingi."
The use of prototypes Ostwind
These systems participated in the Ardennes operation as part of an elite Nazi SS Regiment "Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler". Despite the need for volume shipments, ZSU release was limited. This is explained with 2 reasons. First — the evacuation of the equipment of supplier company "Ostbau" in dang
er of capture plants advancing Russian troops. Second — a conflict in the leadership of the Ministry of the arms of Germany. Some bureaucrats considered previously developed anti-aircraft gun mount time systems before adopting a new anti-aircraft tank, Kugelblitz on the same chassis Pz IV. But the coming of the Red Army, the Germans no time left, Kugelblitz never left the prototype stage
Flak Pz Ostwind can be called in the middle of a unique system of air defense systems made over the years of the second World War. These developments have only a few units in the middle of such products with the same design and layout decisions. The basic amount of ZSU, which were in service with the Allies, were a half-track armored personnel carriers. Our ZSU before the end of the war, the general was the installation of anti-aircraft guns on the truck. ZSU standard T-90 (T-70 with 2 12.7-mm machine guns ANC), though tested, but in the "series" did not go. Only the beginning of 1945 to adopt anti-aircraft artillery was adopted ZSU-37-based light SPG SU-76M.