Military Review

Flakturma: "shooting cathedrals" or the last millennium fortresses

Flakturma: "shooting cathedrals" or the last millennium fortresses

Nowadays, speaking of armaments, somehow the issues of architecture fade into the background. Yes, the third millennium, the times of the fortresses of both floating and flying have sunk into oblivion. About the ground fortress, we just keep quiet. Have ended.

Nevertheless, a few words should be said about the last representatives of the ground fortresses.

Arguably, of course, but it seems to me that flakturms (Flakturm), air defense towers built in Germany and Austria during the Second World War are quite suitable for the role of the last fortresses. Advanced readers will say that they were and then built, but - I will object. Bunkers But so, in a big way ... However, you judge.

So flakturmy.

Multi-purpose buildings that were part of the structure of the Luftwaffe. Intended to accommodate groups of anti-aircraft guns to protect strategic cities from aerial bombardment. They were also used to coordinate air defense and served as bomb shelters and warehouses.

The idea of ​​construction came at the very beginning of the war. Even when the Germans were bombing London with might and main, and the British tried to do the same. The Germans won, because in September 1940, 7 320 tons of bombs were dropped on England, and only 390 tons fell on Germany’s territory.

However, after the first bombing of Berlin, it became clear that the capital's air defenses could do little to counter the attacking aircraft of the British Air Force. And then in 1941, Russians also added to the company of those who want to bomb the capital of the Reich.

There is a need to seriously increase the defense of Berlin. And to solve the problem by simply increasing the number of anti-aircraft guns was difficult. Anti-aircraft guns need a wide sector of fire and a sufficient angle of lift of the barrel. Minimum - 30-40 degrees.

However, air defense batteries can only be placed on fairly open spaces, such as stadiums, city squares, vacant lots. And there are not so many of them in any city.

In addition, for reliable operation of radars (well, as far as possible for radars of the 1939 model of the year), it was required that there were no objects between the antenna and the target, especially near.

On the other hand, the presence of radars made life much easier for the Germans. It is worthwhile to talk about the detection system of the German air defense system separately, but here I will say that it consisted (simply) of two zones. Far and near.

The far zone is the FuMo-51 locators (“Mammoth), which were usually located outside cities and had a detection range of up to 300 km with an accuracy of determining the distance - 300 m, azimuth - 0,5 °. The antenna height is 10 m, width is 30 m, mass is 22 t. Everything is clear. Early detection system.

Radar FuMO-51 "Mammoth"

Command post radar "Mammoth"

However, the anti-aircraft gunners needed to obtain data for firing (azimuth and elevation of the target, from which it was possible to determine the course, speed, and altitude of the target) at distances from 30 kilometers before the moment of fire contact. These data could produce radars of the type FuMG-39 "Würzburg" and "Freya". Again, when the condition that the antenna is above the city roofs and trees.

FuMG-39G "Freya" radar

FuMG-39T Radar "Würzburg"

FuMG-62-С radar (Würzburg-C)

For zenith spotlights and sound finders, the presence of a free zone is also a necessary condition, especially for the latter, since the sound of the engines of enemy aircraft reflected from high local objects led to errors in the azimuth of the target (direction to the flying plane) to 180 degrees. Yes, and optical rangefinders, which was made the main rate in clear weather, telescopes, binoculars also require a fairly open space.

Originally it was planned to build towers in the parks of Humboldthine, Friedrichshain and Hasenheide (one each), three more towers were planned to be built in Tiergarten.

According to the plan, the towers were to be armed with paired naval anti-aircraft guns with a caliber of 105-mm and several 37-mm and 20-mm direct-protection guns.

For the personnel inside the towers it was supposed to equip well-protected premises.

The design of the anti-aircraft towers was entrusted to the Office of the Inspector General of the construction of Speer, and their construction was entrusted to the military construction organization Todt. Todt was responsible for the design and technical execution, Speer dealt with issues of selection of places in parks, architectural decoration and classification.

It was decided jointly that each air defense tower would consist of four interconnected separate gun positions, in the middle of which the fire control point is located in the middle of 35 radius (command point II). The external dimensions of the tower are approximately 60 x 60 meters, the height must be at least 25 meters.

Facilities should have provided protection for personnel, including against chemical weapons, complete autonomy of the supply of electricity, water, sewage, medical care, food.

The use of towers as shelters for the population was not yet thought of.

It is said that Hitler himself came to this idea, having decided that these structures would be approved by the population only if civilians could receive shelter in them during the bombing.

Funny, but in a country where there was already war on two fronts, the construction of these towers was accompanied by many problems. For example, the places of their construction must be coordinated with the general construction plan of Berlin! The towers should not violate the monumental unity of the architectural appearance of the city and be combined as much as possible with buildings or street axes ...

In general, when developing and implementing a plan for the construction of towers, many issues were resolved. Which to a certain extent does honor to the Germans.

For example, the firing of guns is usually accompanied by a smoke zone above the combat tower, which negates the possibility of visual detection of targets. At night, flashes of shots dazzle observers, interfering with targeting. Well, the gentle locators of the time could interfere even with projectiles flying out of the barrels.

The Germans, in order to avoid these problems, acted simply and wisely. They divided the towers into a fighting Gefechtsturm, aka the G-tower and a leading Leitturm, aka the L-tower. Leading, she is the control tower, served as a command post. The control tower was supposed to be at least 300 meters from the combat tower.

In general, the Germans turned out air defense complex.

In 1941, on a hill near Tremmen, in 40 km west of Berlin, a tower was built, on which the Mamont radar was installed. This tower was intended for the detection of enemy aircraft and direct results to the command post of the 1 anti-aircraft division of the Luftwaffe anti-aircraft of Berlin, which was located in the control tower in Tirgarten. So, in fact, it can be said that the complex in Tiergarten consisted of three towers.

In 1942, this tower was equipped with a FuMG 403 Panorama radar Panorama with a detection range of 120 km.

Short-range radars were located on control towers.

In the background is just visible control tower with the antenna "Würzburg".

As the towers were built, a very useful innovation was made to the project. The command post at the control tower was assigned as CP-1, and at each combat tower, in its center, a place was assigned to CP-2, the command post of direct fire control. This was done to work in situations of loss of communication and the like.

As a result, the following tasks were formulated for the air defense towers:

- detection and determination of the coordinates of air targets;
- issue of data for firing anti-aircraft guns, both own and ground batteries of this sector;
- command of all air defense assets of the sector and coordination of actions of all air defense weapons;
- Destruction of air targets that are in the zone of reach of the guns of the battle tower;
- using light anti-aircraft guns to protect the tower itself from low-flying targets and to support the Luftwaffe in the fight against enemy fighters;
- shelter civilians from the bombing.

At the same time, one of the towers in Tiergarten led the defense of the entire city and coordinated the actions of anti-aircraft batteries with fighter aviation.

Friedrich Tamms, the designer and architect of the towers

In October 1940, the laying of the towers began. At the same time refinement of the project continued.

October 25 Tamms presented detailed plans and first models of the final design of the combat tower and control tower. According to his plan, the towers were to have a representative facade and at the same time look like the majestic monuments of the Luftwaffe.

In March, 1941, Tamms introduced new large model towers. Finished models presented to Hitler for his birthday 20 April 1941. Responsible Minister Speer presented the whole project to Hitler in detail. Fuhrer was impressed by the project, and he wished that on all four sides "there would be large boards above the entrances to the anti-aircraft tower to perpetuate the names of the aces of the Luftwaffe."

According to the original plans, the first flakturm complexes were planned to be built in Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna. Later - in Bremen, Wilhelmshaven, Kiel, Cologne, Königsberg. However, very soon the plans had to make serious adjustments.

As a result, Berlin received three complexes, Hamburg - two, Vienna - three.

Huge masses of reinforced concrete were spent on the construction of each tower with its full six floors. The first combat tower in Tiergarten was filled with 80 000 cubic meters of concrete; the control tower also required 20 000 cubic meters.

In Friedrichshain for the construction of towers, walls and ceilings of which were even more powerful, it took already 120 000 cubic meters of concrete. Almost 80% of concrete from this volume was spent on the construction of a combat tower. To this should be added about another 10 000 t high-quality structural steel.

The first Berlin tower was built exclusively by the hands of German construction workers, but later began to attract first unskilled German citizens (as part of labor service), and then foreign workers and prisoners of war.

The external dimensions of the towers were impressive. The dimensions of the main combat platform were 70,5 x 70,5 m with a height of approximately 42 m (for gun turrets), several smaller leading towers had the same height 56 x 26,5 m.

The thickness of the upper flooring reached 3,5 m, the walls had a thickness of 2,5 m on the first floor and 2 m on the other floors. Windows and doors had 5 - 10 cm thick steel shields with massive locking mechanisms.

So far, no documents have been found by which it would be possible to accurately establish the real costs of the construction of flakturms. Available sources are controversial. A letter from the management of the Luftwaffe, dated 1944 for the year, indicates that 210 million Reichsmarks were spent on the construction of flakturms in Berlin, Hamburg and Vienna.

In total, three anti-aircraft tower projects (Bauart 1, Bauart 2 and Bauart 3, respectively) were developed and implemented.

In the basements of the towers were stored spare barrels and other spare parts and repair materials for tools. In the basement there was a warehouse of shells for heavy anti-aircraft guns, as well as entrances from three sides of the tower with dimensions 4 x 6 meters (in the north, west and east facades). They were intended for the importation of a stock of projectiles, the exportation of spent cartridges and the reception of civilians hiding in the turret.

Both in combat and in control towers, two to three floors were set aside for bomb shelters for civilians. Part of the premises of the second floor of all the towers was set aside for the storage of museum valuables. In rooms with a total area of ​​1500 square. m in July-August 1941, the most valuable exhibits of Berlin museums were placed. In particular, the golden treasure of Priam, the numismatic collection of Emperor Wilhelm, a bust of Nefertiti, the Pergamon altar. In March 1945, the museum's valuables began to be taken out for storage in the mines.

The third floor of the bunker in Tiergarten was occupied by the Luftwaffe hospital, which was considered the best in the entire Reich, and therefore prominent figures were readily treated here. The wounded and sick were taken on elevators, of which there were three. The hospital had an X-ray room and wards for 95 beds. 6 doctors, 20 sisters and 30 auxiliary workers worked in the hospital.

The fourth floor housed the entire military personnel of the anti-aircraft tower. At the level of the fifth floor around the tower there was a lower combat platform encircling the entire tower for light anti-aircraft guns. This platform in the corners around the turrets for heavy anti-aircraft guns had barbety for quad 20-mm and twin 37-mm automatic guns.

In the rooms of the fifth floor were placed shells for light anti-aircraft guns and shelter for the personnel of all anti-aircraft guns.

But the Flakzwilling 40 / 2 installations, caliber 128-mm, became the main weapon of flakturms. Four twin anti-aircraft guns, each producing up to 28 shells weighing 26 kg per minute at a distance of up to 12,5 km in height and up to 20 km in range.

The supply of ammunition to the guns was carried out with the help of special chain electric hoists (like a ship), which delivered shots from artillery cellars of the basement directly to the gun platforms. From a direct hit, the lifts were protected by armored domes weighing tons of 72 each.

In one cycle, upward 450 shells could be lifted.

According to the plan, the defensive fire of heavy anti-aircraft guns was intended to force the Allied planes to attack the capital of the empire from a great height, as a result of which the bombing accuracy would be greatly reduced, or lower, substituting for smaller-caliber artillery fire.

Each combat tower had its own water well and fully autonomous water supply. In one of the rooms there was a diesel electrical unit with a large fuel reserve. On alert, the tower was disconnected from the city network and switched to autonomous power supply. The towers also had their own kitchen and bakery.

Attack towers and control towers were located at a distance from 160 to 500 meters from each other. The towers were interconnected by underground communication lines and electrical cables, all lines were duplicated. Also laid backup lines of water pipes.

As already mentioned, the air defense command center in the Tiergarten ruled all of Berlin's air defense. To control the fire of the anti-aircraft complex in this tower had its own separate command.

The command post of the 1 anti-aircraft division, as it began to be called from the 1942 year, besides its direct duties, was the center of air traffic warning for civilians. From here via the radio-broadcasting network, there were reports on which cities the Anglo-American bombers were approaching. Since the fall of 1944, the 121 anti-aircraft observation division has also been housed in the tower.

It remains to talk about the following topic: did the air defense towers justify the hopes placed on them?

Definitely not.

They cost Germany a huge amount of money, materials and man-hours. And to build so many complexes to close the sky of all Germany, of course, was unreal.

Yes, some sources claim that during the raids on Berlin and Hamburg, the Allied airplanes were forced to operate at much higher altitudes due to the work of the calculations of the towers.

However, it is well known that the Allies did not bomb specific objects in these cities, but simply Berlin and Hamburg themselves. And with carpet bombing, flight altitude does not matter. Something may fall somewhere, here you can take quantity.

And no one especially bombed Vienna.

So the effectiveness of flakturm was as low as the line of fortified Maginot, Siegfried, Stalin.

But the ideological significance of the towers significantly exceeded their military value. Friedrich Tamms, the author of the anti-aircraft tower projects, called them "shooting cathedrals", hinting that the main role of flakturms is to some extent similar to the purpose of cathedrals and churches - to bring peace, hope and faith in the best outcome to German souls. Another "miracle weapon", but not mythical, but embodied in concrete.

Man by nature is characterized by a craving for security. Especially during the war. Especially when bombs fall every day. And here the towers had a significant impact on the spirit of the Germans. Although neither Berlin nor Hamburg were saved from destruction.

Berlin towers were all destroyed. The remaining fragments are still available for visiting.

Preserved two G-towers in Hamburg. One is partially damaged, the other is rebuilt: it houses a television station, a recording studio, a nightclub and shops.

And in Vienna, all three complexes are preserved. One tower is seriously damaged and not used, one is located on the territory of a military unit. In the other two - museums. But the most interesting is the fate of the L-tower in Esterhazy Park. It is used as an aquarium (“Haus des Meeres”) and a climbing wall (on the facade).

The twentieth century is gone and took with it the concept that a person can feel protected. Atomic and nuclear weapons finally killed any fortress, as something solid and able to protect. The age of fortresses, land, floating and air ended completely and irrevocably.
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  1. Firework
    Firework 10 March 2018 06: 25
    thank you very impressive these tower structures
    1. Cat
      Cat 10 March 2018 06: 55
      I used to read about them, but when I saw firsthand a complete understanding of the phrase gloomy teutonic genius!
      1. mr.ZinGer
        mr.ZinGer 10 March 2018 08: 24
        I agree with you, experienced a similar feeling ...
      2. Narak-zempo
        Narak-zempo 10 March 2018 12: 50
        Not gloomy, but gloomy
    2. 210ox
      210ox 10 March 2018 15: 20
      A very interesting article. I heard about these structures, but for me it was news that they were preserved, although not all.
      Quote: Salute
      thank you very impressive these tower structures
  2. smart ass
    smart ass 10 March 2018 06: 44
    The article is excellent, a lot of cool photos. Thanks to the author for work
  3. Strashila
    Strashila 10 March 2018 06: 51
    "Any fortress completely killed nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons" ... of course it is, but in modern conflicts where non-nuclear weapons are massively used, it was probably worth thinking about. Even in modern conditions, place an air defense post and electronic warfare systems ... given that it is actually higher than buildings ... which horizon is just a fairy tale.
    1. igordok
      igordok 10 March 2018 09: 38
      Padded IS-2 on the background of the tower.

      Interesting is their participation in urban battles. Anti-aircraft, even small-caliber artillery was hardly involved - a large "Dead Zone". But for small arms (machine guns, sniper rifles) the defense is not bad.
      1. Monarchist
        Monarchist 10 March 2018 10: 47
        You are absolutely right: if a garrison of even 50 people occupies such a flakturm, they are able to resist for a long time. Read the memoirs of war veterans, how many old forts annoyed, but here it’s cooler than the old fort
        1. genisis
          genisis 10 March 2018 12: 42
          Specifically, the tower in the Humbolt Hein Park was blocked in late April - early May 1945 by 89 SD forces. After Zinaida Stepanova, translator of the headquarters 52 Guards. The SD negotiated with the fascist bosses hiding in the tower, several thousand surrendered !!! person.
  4. Basil50
    Basil50 10 March 2018 07: 09
    The author is wrong. Protective * lines * were very much in demand. To break through the defensive lines, a lot of things were required, and it was necessary to give a lift and prepare.
    1. Narak-zempo
      Narak-zempo 10 March 2018 12: 58
      Quote: Vasily50
      The author is wrong. Protective * lines * were very much in demand. To break through the defensive lines, a lot of things were required, and it was necessary to give a lift and prepare.

      If the budget is unlimited, you could play in the construction of defensive lines. But in reality, the same French, driving a large share of military expenses into the Maginot line, saved on tanks and planes, training troops, and the hope of sitting behind fortifications led to a distortion in the thinking of the French military and the inability to adequately resist the Germans.
      1. faiver
        faiver 10 March 2018 20: 37
        but about the French saving on tanks and planes can be more detailed? if my memory serves me, the French were second after the USSR in the number of armored vehicles ... hi
  5. andrewkor
    andrewkor 10 March 2018 07: 21
    There is information on fortification sites for these structures, but the author did a good job for the HE. Thank.
  6. bionik
    bionik 10 March 2018 07: 26
    The British also had such epic structures, "Mansell Air Defense Forts."
    1. Monarchist
      Monarchist 10 March 2018 10: 49
      Cool towers in the middle of the water
      1. igordok
        igordok 10 March 2018 14: 47
        They remind me of the Martians from H. Wales.
    2. loft79
      loft79 11 March 2018 21: 56
      Yes, cool buildings, read about them. There were other designs there. One of these structures today is the "Principality of Sealand" smile
  7. mr.ZinGer
    mr.ZinGer 10 March 2018 08: 09

    One of the Viennese towers, in the outgarden park, shows a trace from the shell.
  8. Snail N9
    Snail N9 10 March 2018 08: 21
    Here is more complete information about the German anti-aircraft towers of the Second World War and not only about them:
  9. Snail N9
    Snail N9 10 March 2018 08: 35
    I would not say that ground-based concrete fortresses lost their significance in the era of nuclear weapons. After the nuclear explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, only light wooden buildings were swept away by the blast and fires. Stone buildings survived even in the epicenter of explosions, with damage of varying degrees, but survived, and it must be borne in mind that these stone-concrete buildings were not "fundamental" as in the case of "anti-aircraft towers"
    1. Monarchist
      Monarchist 10 March 2018 10: 54
      Snail, you’re right: I once watched d / f on TV and they said that the Americans deliberately withstood cities where there is a high density of wooden buildings
  10. alex86
    alex86 10 March 2018 08: 50
    Hamburg, summer 2016
    1. alex86
      alex86 10 March 2018 08: 51
      it's closer
  11. Clumsy
    Clumsy 10 March 2018 09: 01
    A good article, of course, you can’t convey the full scale in the photo, but it still impresses.
  12. antivirus
    antivirus 10 March 2018 10: 02
    in the late 70s, the father said the prisoners were forced to work on unnecessary work, paved roads around the lake, for example; their work was not needed.
    so much labor and mate of values ​​down the drain.
  13. Ingvar 72
    Ingvar 72 10 March 2018 10: 21
    Damn Roma, smart article! good
  14. Yak28
    Yak28 10 March 2018 13: 17
    Interesting strongholds, but during the Patriotic War they were already ineffective.
    Plus per article
  15. Fedor egoist
    Fedor egoist 10 March 2018 14: 25
    A very interesting article. I read about these towers, but still did not know that they were also used as bomb shelters and as a repository of "gold of the Reich" :)
  16. Oslyabya
    Oslyabya 10 March 2018 16: 24
    Great article, thank you! It was very informative.
  17. Curious
    Curious 10 March 2018 18: 07
    "The use of towers as shelters for the population was not yet thought of.
    Hitler himself came to this thought, having decided that these structures would be approved by the population only if civilians could get shelter in them during the bombing. "

    The author confuses Winkelturme and Flakturme.

    In the year 1935. the architect Leo Winkel developed a completely unexpected bomb shelter design for the public. He proposed not to bury the shelters in the ground, but to build them in the form of tall and narrow towers. Soon, the first projects of such towers (Winkelturme) appeared. Outwardly, these were cone-shaped multi-story reinforced concrete structures similar to termite mounds or rockets. Their capacity ranged from 300 to 750 people. Occupying a minimum area, the towers could be erected quite close to crowded places - for example, near schools, factory floors, in residential areas. With the same consumption of materials as for underground shelters, Winkel towers removed a lot of problems associated with earthworks, groundwater, underground utilities, which are usually so many in cities. The probability of a bomb entering the tower is relatively small. Moreover, its shape is such that even a bomb falling on a tower slides along its outer wall without penetrating inside. And high resistance to close explosions of structures such as factory chimneys is well known. After all, even in Hiroshima, after a nuclear explosion, the pipes stood where all the rest was swept away by the shock wave. The Winkel tower was supposed to be pivotally attached to the foundation in the form of a slab freely lying on the ground. With close explosions of any bombs, she could swing like a pipe, and this was precisely what saved her from destruction, and people from death.
    Already in 1937, Winkel's projects aroused great interest among the command of the Luftwaffe, the Wehrmacht and the railway workers. Goering's department began to build towers at the enterprises of the aviation industry, calling them "Luftschutzturme" (Luftschutzturme). The Luftwaffe built 29 such towers, the railway workers - 17. The Wehrmacht built 34 towers for its command posts in Potsdam and Zossen. A significant number of towers were built by companies engaged in the production of military products.

    In October, 1940, Hitler ordered the construction of such bomb shelters (designed by Winkel and his rival Paul Zombek) for the population of cities. They should have contained at least 5% of the total number of citizens.

    When German experts were seriously engaged in the development of a German air defense system and, in particular, anti-aircraft defense of large cities, they did not lose sight of Winkel's bomb shelter towers and offered to build special structures called anti-aircraft towers (Flakturme).
  18. Alf
    Alf 10 March 2018 20: 59
    The Germans won, because in September 1940, 7 tons of bombs were dropped on England, and only 320 tons fell on German territory.

    If only 40 tons fell on Germany in September 390, what about this table?

    13 thousand tons for the entire 40th year. Even if just divided, more than one thousand comes out.
  19. Crimea26
    Crimea26 10 March 2018 21: 48
    I remember when I landed on such a parachute - I was amazed at its size ... And when I cleaned all its floors with a landing - I drank a lot of blood .... In the game, either KalOfDuty, or the MedalOfHonor
    1. Alf
      Alf 10 March 2018 22: 51
      Quote: Crimea26
      I remember when I landed on such a parachute - I was amazed at its size ... And when I cleaned all its floors with a landing - I drank a lot of blood .... In the game, either KalOfDuty, or the MedalOfHonor

      In Medals, in Duty Free, she is not.
      1. Olfred
        Olfred 15 March 2018 19: 08
        back in sniper elite 2, as far as I remember hi
  20. demiurg
    demiurg 11 March 2018 04: 53
    It seems to me alone that the Germans would spend resources from the construction of these towers on the construction of aircraft factories, would there be much more use? Or in the production of synthetic fuels.
    Detection posts could be set in the suburbs.
    1. NF68
      NF68 11 March 2018 17: 29
      Quote: demiurg
      It seems to me alone that the Germans would spend resources from the construction of these towers on the construction of aircraft factories, would there be much more use? Or in the production of synthetic fuels.

      German aircraft factories could have produced significantly more aircraft even before the start of WWII, but the increase in the productivity of all types of aircraft in Germany was limited by the insufficient number of produced aero engines and synthetic liquid fuels for the production of which a lot of electricity was required.
    2. Alf
      Alf 11 March 2018 20: 06
      Quote: demiurg
      Detection posts could be set in the suburbs.

      It is impossible, the architectural unity of the city will be violated. laughing
      Order above all.
  21. NF68
    NF68 11 March 2018 17: 23
    + + + + + + + + + +
    1. Pingo
      Pingo 11 March 2018 23: 51
      ????? lol
    ALEA IACTA EST 11 March 2018 19: 28
    They should have been built just for the sake of being. Thick walls, big guns - these towers are beautiful!
  23. sleeve
    sleeve 14 March 2018 10: 43
    Modestly, concisely, on business, very successfully ... Thank you
  24. Zounds
    Zounds 15 March 2018 11: 14
    Atomic and nuclear weapons finally killed any fortress, as something solid and capable of defending.

    But this is a very controversial issue. In Hiroshima, an uncle survived, who was in a stone building 300m from the epicenter.

    The effectiveness of the impact of an air nuclear explosion on fortifications is highly questionable. At least the US Navy at one time perfectly withstood an air nuclear explosion. The truth could not stand the underwater, but that's another story.