Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Flak Train

This is coolbert:

Thanks here in large part to Major Alan Koenig, USAR!!

Again, we are on the subject of trains. Another Soviet innovation of World War Two [WW2]that found widespread use. Fighting armored trains the use of which will never be seen again?

The flak train. Anti-aircraft artillery [AAA] mounted on a rail cars, a integrated system of air defense, including locomotive, command cars, weapons, etc.

Gondola type railroad cars, open on the top, armored on the sides, allowing for AAA to have an unobstructed field of fire in all directions, horizon to zenith.

Flak, the term, referring to AAA, comes from the German word: "Fliegerabwehrkanone", or "airplane defense cannon".

The flak trains does appear to be a predominantly Soviet innovation? A war-time measure, part of the total Soviet air defense apparatus, PVO "Protivo-vozhdushnaya oborona"!

"During World War 11, Russian rail- roads conveyed huge quantities of men
and munitions to the front. The Luftwaffe accordingly sought to inter-
dict these vital arteries through which supplies constantly flowed. In response,
the Russians strengthened their anti air-craft defenses and employed about 200 armored trains [flak trains]"

[it must be understood that within the Soviet/Russian context the PVO was and perhaps continues to be a SEPARATE MILITARY SERVICE! On an equal basis with the Soviet/Russian army, navy, air force! NOT part of the army or the air force, but an totally independent and unique entity, integrating, in the current form, missiles, interceptor aircraft, and AAA!!]

Armored trains [the fighting units], designed to thwart Luftwaffe attacks.

Trains consisting of:

* "an armored locomotive"
* "a tender" [carrying coal behind the locomotive]
* "seven armored flat cars"

Armored flak trains carrying a variety of AAA weaponry. To include: [to engage all aircraft types.]

* "two cars each had one 37mm antiaircraft gun and one 12.7mm DshK machine gun." [To ward off dive bombers and fighters]
* "Three other open-top cars had 76mm antiaircraft guns [to engage horizontal bombers."
* "remaining two cars carried additional equipment, personnel and track repair equipment."

"A logistics, or "base" train, supported each flak train . . . A base train accommodated personnel and stored ammunition, track repair materials, equipment, supplies and rations. It had one unarmored loco-motive, a few flatcars, covered sleeping wagons, a kitchen, a medical station and additional cars when necessary."

"Flak trains were often in harm's way as they escorted lucrative targets such as":

* "railway stations and depots."
* "Marshaling yards."
* "troop, ammunition and fuel trains."
* "rail bridges and junctions"

Also found use as:

* "Roving patrols, frequenting those areas used by German aviation."
* "close to the front, flak trains might support Red Army units."

Used by the Soviet on an ever-widening scale from the very first year of the war [1941].

* "Leningraders equipped the first anti-aircraft train [1941??]."
* "Eight flak trains fought in the Battle for Stalingrad in 1942"
* "35 flak trains operated at Kursk, summer of 1943"

For the situation, from the Soviet standpoint, on the eastern Front, the flak train was an idea that had a lot of merit? Well, it would seem so. If they were not so useful, the Soviet would not have employed them to the extent that they did!

Anachronistic, antiquated, never to be seen again? Probably so.


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