The Germans were famously not shy about using anti-aircraft guns against ground targets. The 88mm FlaK guns were the stuff of legend, and even these days their Gepard SPAAGs carry a decent amount of APHE ammo for their 35mms (and would have made mincemeat of flimsy Soviet BMPs if the Cold War had gone hot). So I don’t see why a Chain of Command player should feel shy about battering his opponents with an AA gun, either.

Plus, what a cool little model!

The FlaK 38

Some German dudes, hanging out in the sunshine and maybe shooting down aeroplanes

Some German dudes, hanging out in the sunshine wearing shades and maybe shooting down aeroplanes

The Flak 38 was a 20mm autocannon designed for AA use. However, the relatively low rate of fire (220 rpm cyclic) and 20-round magazine meant it was actually pretty pants at that. The German response was to add “moar gunz”, in the form of the wargamers’ favourite: the Flakvierling. That mounted four of the same gun and was a lot more deadly.

But the Germans never wasted anything, and so the FlaK 38 soldiered on. Having a 20mm autocannon with which to reach out and touch the bad guys is not something your average soldier dislikes, and so the gun found itself used more and more as a general purpose weapon. Sure, it could occasionally swat down a pesky allied jabo, but it was also useful for things like countersniping and taking out light AFVs. The weapon was capable of semi-automatic and automatic fire and ammunition included HEI-T and APHE, so it could either provide long-range precision shots (it had a decent 3×8 scope for ground use), suppress an area, or fire bursts at vehicles. The 20 round mags and modest rate of fire were no problem against ground targets.

This is the gun immortalised in Saving Private Ryan when it dusted down the immobilised Tiger as the paratroopers were swarming it:

In that video you see the gun mounted on a trailer, while the Warlord kit has a triangular base. That base actually slotted into the frame of the trailer, it’s just that the Warlord kit doesn’t include the trailer (their Flakvierling does). That’s a bit of a shame, but if we’re being honest trundling the thing around the wargames table could get a little silly, so I think I’m happy with a static gun, albeit on a handy 360 mount. The Private Ryan gun also seems to be lacking the gun shield, I know this was deleted for the mountain and air portable  version of the gun. I guess some other crews may have taken it off to cut weight if they were manhandling the thing, pics do seem to show guns both with and without them.

Stats in CoC would be identical to any other 20mm cannon: AP 4 HE 6. That means it won’t hurt tanks, but should cause damage to transports and other light vehicles. Shoot up some British carriers or an American half track with it and you should see the squad inside dismount with a bloody nose. It’s worth bearing in mind that the HE rating of 6 isn’t what it seems. There’s an oft-overlooked rule tucked away at Para 11.8.1 in the rulebook saying that 20mm autocannons don’t hit on a 4+ like other HE, they roll against troop quality like MGs. This means that at effective range you’re only hitting regulars on 5+, but you do get to reduce cover, which is really going to hurt anybody in light cover. Either use it at close range (under 24″), or if you want to sit back and/or shoot elites consider the le.IG18 instead. The good news is that the little FlaK 38 only sits on List 3 on the Consolidated Arsenal, so it’s a pretty cheap pick.

 

The Model

I really, really like this little model. It comes in a blister pack, and straight away I was pleased to see it had minimal flash. I hate cleaning up flash and casting defects on models. I’d rather get on with the fun stuff building and painting. As would we all, surely?

FlaK 38 WIPHaving said that, the gun required some work to get parts to mate neatly, but nothing too serious. At this stage I like to glue as much as I can get away with, and try out where the crew fit. In this kit you get one bloke sitting in the gunner’s seat on the right of the gun, a loader who can go on the left where the magazine is, and one guy with the funky stereoscopic rangefinder. He’s looking up (it is an AA gun) which isn’t ideal since I’m going to mostly be battering ground targets with it. The gunner actually has some of the parts of the gun (seat, elevation wheel) modelled onto him. I actually don’t have a brush-on colour that exactly matches my spray on base coat, but I mixed up something that’s near enough I reckon.

If you want, the kit can be left articulated, the gun raises and it rotates on the base. The barrel is thin and flimsy though, so make sure you base it in a way that will protect it. Warlord includes a lipped plastic base like you can see on the right. If you mount the gun at the rear edge it’s (hopefully) just long enough to stop any banana barrel happening when it bounces around in the back of the car.

Flak 38 WIPFor painting I’d recommend leaving the main gun shield off until you’ve done your base coat and the details on the gun itself, then stick it on once you start washing and weathering.

I actually got a couple of random spare parts in my kit. One that isn’t a duplicate is a spare set of controls, the kit cleverly includes duplicates of the parts the gunner is holding so you can leave the gunner off and still have a complete gun. That’s the kind of option most wargamers wouldn’t need, but modellers would appreciate.

The crew are in late war uniforms and well sculpted. Painting these guys actually took up most of the time I spent on this kit, as the gun itself is really only a couple of colours! As usual you don’t get anywhere near a full crew (wikipedia says 7!) so you’ll need extra miniatures if you want to make up the proper numbers.