Tag Archives: 8.8cm flak

Flak Boot!

Heavy artillery ferry of the German Air Force’s Einsatzstab Fähre Ost parading at the Finnish mouth of the Aura River at Lahdenpohja, Laatokka, 13.08.1942.

Note the twin 88 mm flak guns, camo pattern, and her assembled crew. SA-Kuva

The above was a 143-ton “Siebel” pontoon ferry, named after designer Fritz Siebel. Some 23 of these shallow-draft vessels were constructed for the aborted Sea Lion invasion of England in 1940 but never used. Once Finland entered WWII on the side of Germany– against the Soviets only, not the Western Allies, an event known in Finland today the the “Continuation War” as something of the second season of the 1939-40 Winter War– the Luftwaffe moved a number of Siebels from Belgium in the summer of 1942 to Kiel by inner waterways then dismantled and transported by ship to Finland where they were put into service on Lake Ladoga, the huge inland sea just to the Northwest of Leningrad.

Other Siebel ferries served in the Black Sea against the Soviets. 

German Siebel Ferry with 8.8cm 88mm Flak Gun, operating in the Black Sea out of Romania. Photographer Horst Grund

Powered by a mixture of Ford truck engines and surplus aviation motors, the Siebel flak ferries were all-Luftwaffe manned and equipped with a variety of flak guns of all sizes.

By all accounts, these Air Force-crewed monstrosities did not have a good service record against the Soviets on the shores of Ladoga but at least one has been raised from those depths in recent years.

Catching Flak

U.S Navy and Air Force tactical aircraft operating over North Vietnam in the early stages of the involvement in the South East Asian conflict in the mid-to-late 1960s faced an ever-increasing array of Soviet/Chicom-supplied air defenses ranging from eyeball-guided 12.7mm Dshk guns to the latest S75/SA-2 SAMs manned under the eye of Western experts and everything in between.

Some young aircrews even had to brave weapons their forerunners had to dodge over Western Europe in 1942-45. Specifically, among the Communist military aid delivered to Hanoi was at least 70 former German Luftwaffe/Wehrmacht 88mm Flugabwehrkanone delivered to the NVA in the mid-1950s from Moscow.

The Flaks were withdrawn in the late 1960s as the supply of ammo, out of production since 1945, dwindled. However, if you told me there was a warehouse full of these around Hanoi, perfectly preserved, I would not be surprised.

The big 88s were delivered alongside boatloads of MG42 machine guns, Kar98K Mausers, MP40 submachine guns, and Walther P-38 pistols, which came with millions of rounds of 7.92mm and 9mm ammo, all complete with funny little dirty bird markings.

For American forces facing VC irregulars and NVA regulars on the ground, 1965 seemed a lot like 1945 in some ways, with former vintage Soviet, Japanese, and French small arms often captured in secondary amounts when compared to Warsaw Pact-supplied German trophies from WWII.

A lot of former German guns captured in the hands of VC in Vietnam showed signs of being arsenal re-worked and assembled post-1945 from several different firearms and parts, such as this MP40.

New-made Chinese Type 56 AKs didn’t become the standard until the war matured.