When the publication of Nuts & Bolts
Vol.27: 2cm Flakvierling 38 made the news on Armorama back in April, Bill_C’s response was “Excellent! I hope someone reviews it here on Armorama
.” Bill, this is for you.
The 2cm Flakvierling 38 can be traced back to two different 2cm anti-aircraft cannons of the first world war. The ban on German armaments after 1918 halted development, but by the late ‘twenties, Rheinmetall were working on improving the weapon that would become the Flak 30 and it was from this weapon that Mauser developed the Flak 38. Combat use revealed that a single gun with a low rate of fire was inadequate to combat increasingly fast enemy aircraft, and it seems that it was the Navy that came up with the concept of four Flak 38s on a single mounting, the production version of this being supplied from 1940: the “flak quadruplet”.
Detlev Terlisten is the author of volume 27 in the now well-regarded Nuts & Bolts series published by Heiner Duske. It’s described as a “magazine”, and indeed the print runs do seem limited, as a glance at the web site shows, with at least half a dozen of the titles now being out of stock, but of course this is a book, produced to a high standard on quality glossy paper, albeit with fairly floppy covers.
All text is bilingual, English / German (with a small number of translation oddities) 30 pages of historical and technical text preceding 130 pages of over 300 photographs; the photos break down into half wartime and half contemporary shots of a number of preserved examples. Between the two photo sections are the high quality illustrations. John L Rue’s drawings, with five plan views and four isometric views for each of four different configurations of the gun – the various sights, and with and without shields fitted – are followed by further detailed drawings of the sighting devices, as well as the Sd.Ah.52 trailer. Carlos de Diego Vaquerizo’s perfectionist colour paintings show eight different schemes based on some examples seen in the war time photos.
Both text and photo sections conclude with the modelling pages from Tony Greenland. Most who have considered building a Flakvierling over the past few years will know that there’s quite a number of manufacturers to choose from, and Tony Greenland, as many of us would do in just this situation, defers to Terry Ashley of PMMS, and so builds the Dragon kit. He doesn’t leave it there however, as he also uses etched parts by Griffon Models, as well as, naturally, adding a few further details of his own. In his usual thorough manner, he also provides charts analyzing all of the kits available at the time as well as the many detail enhancement sets. It should perhaps be stated that this modelling content forms a relatively minor part of the book, and although excellent stage photos show some of the detailing being added for example, it is not a comprehensive step by step manual to the entire build. Several photos of the finished article round things off, displaying both the “naked” gun and with the shield in place, as well as the trailer.
These books are not particularly cheap, but then they are specialist, limited run productions, and in the case of this volume, if you want an in-depth look at the Flakvierling, this is essentially it. The text, photos and drawings do combine to explain what can at first seem to be a relatively subtle evolution, principally of the sighting devices used, as the weapon developed during the years of the war. I built the AFV Club kit recently, and found the instructions offered a few part options without apparently explaining which of those options should correctly be found together, but this book clarified how the parts ought to combine to produce an accurate depiction of a particular version. I must say that some of this requires careful reading and study of the photos and drawings, as the story does get quite complicated! The close up photos of the museum pieces would also allow you to go for some seriously pernickety detailing of parts that just don’t appear in the kits.
The war time photos of the gun show it mounted in many ways: on open ground, on bridges, in a rail truck, in emplacements, on a river ferry, as well as on half-tracks and trucks, so there are plenty of modelling ideas, even an example manned by American soldiers. If you are looking for photos or details of its use on ships or U-boats however, none are included; despite the statement under the heading “The 2cm Flakvierling in its active service” that it was used by all four service arms – Heer, Luftwaffe, Waffen-SS and Marine – the rest of the section goes on to describe its use by only the first three of these.
Several photographs show the weapon socket mounted in fixed positions, such as flak towers, and one of the colour paintings does illustrate such a mount (in fact it appears on the front cover) but I thought it a pity that none of the line drawings depict this version, but instead all show the more usual flat triangular base. The circular pedestal is similar to the one that Trumpeter inadvertently used for their Sd.Kfz.7/1 2cm Flakvierling 38 auf Selbstfahrlafette, rather than the round three footed type in the Dragon version, so you can see that there is scope for confusion on the mounts, and again it seems a shame that the various mounts are not described in any detail, nor illustrated. The photographs of the surviving subjects, too, only include guns mounted on the normal triangular mobile base; a web search does reveal, for example, that there is at least one museum Flakvierling in existence with the socket type mount.
Nuts & Bolts may be purchased direct from Nuts & Bolts
, although mine came from Historex Agents in the UK for £21.20 p&p.