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"German Heavy Antiaircraft Battery" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on German heavy antiaircraft battery was originally printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 20, March 11, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


A report has been received, based on German sources, which indicates that a German heavy antiaircraft battery usually consists of four 88-mm guns and two 20-mm guns. In some cases there are batteries with six 88's and two 20-mm guns.

The following chart shows the reported organization of a German heavy antiaircraft battery equipped with six 88-mm guns. The 88-mm guns have a crew of 10 to 12, the 20-mm gun a crew of 6.

[German Heavy Antiaircraft Battery]

The fire-control point, known as the Befehlsstelle or Feuerleitstelle, is placed according to the position of the battery and maybe at some distance from the guns. Normally, however, it is spotted to the rear or to one side of the battery, usually at a distance of 300 yards.

The main instruments at the Befehlsstelle are the Kommandergeraet (for calculating firing data), the Entfernungsmessgeraet (for measuring distance to the target) and a Hilfskommandogeraet (for auxiliary calculations). The Kommandogeraet used by one battery reported was the K.G. 36. The K.G. 40 was also in evidence; this is similar to the K.G. 36 but has a power-operated lever. The firing data calculated by the Kommandogeraet is transmitted to the gun-pits by means of an electric indicator. The only orders passed verbally to the guns are loading and firing orders which are transmitted to the gun commanders by telephone.

During air raids on industrial towns in Germany, raid warnings were passed to the Batterie Befehlsstelle by the Untergruppe. The Untergruppe is a regional control which may, for operational purposes, control a number of batteries belonging to different Abteilungen (battalions) or even different regiments. The interval between the receipt of the warning and the appearance of hostile airplanes varies considerably, but is always at least half an hour and often much more. The guns also receive 30-minute notices of cease-fire periods during which night fighters would be operating. Warnings of this nature come by telephone from the Untergruppe, which receive them by direct line from the night-fighter control.

In the field a battery operates very often independently, the battery commander being solely responsible for effective employment of his guns. During operations the battery commander himself usually takes charge of the Befehlsstelle.

If gun crews are standing by, it is said that the 88-mm gun can be put into action within 3 to 10 seconds. An average gun crew can feed the guns at a rate of 10 rounds per minute; a very efficient crew can reach 15 rounds per minute.

The maximum effective height for the 88-mm gun is stated to be 22,000 to 26,000 feet, although the extreme height is 33,000 feet.

The extreme angle of elevation is said to be 85 degrees, but in practice the angle of elevation is limited to 60 degrees.


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