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Tony Williams

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I am currently researching the history of automatic cannon and their ammunition and would appreciate some help with an obscure German naval AA gun: the 3,7 cm Flak SK C/36. I have put down my thoughts on this almost unknown project as follows:

The evidence in favour of its existence is as follows:

1. 37 x 248R cartridge cases do survive, headstamped C/36.

2. No other gun used this cartridge except for the Flak M42, which raises the question: why did the Flak M42 use this round instead of the standard 37 x 263B of the other Flak guns of this calibre, unless it was already in existence for an earlier gun?

3. An informal drawing of the gun exists, in Skwiot's book on German naval guns of WW2.

4. A C/36 mounting was initially used for the Flak M42 (which emerged in 1943). What was that first used for, if not the C/36 gun?

However:

1. I have been unable to find any photos or descriptions of the SK C/36; only the drawing in Skwiot mentioned above (but the gun is not referred to in the text). One problem in identification is the great similarity to the M42 (judging by the drawing), which could make them hard to tell apart.

2. A highly detailed German study of the 3,7 cm Flak M42, which lays out the development path for the gun in some detail, makes no mention of the C/36 gun, only the mounting (Waffen Revue, issues 106 and 107).

Conclusion (provisional):

On the face of it, the C/36 was a mid/late 1930s attempt to produce an automatic naval AA gun which was probably built in small numbers (enough to be worth establishing a production line for the unique ammunition) but not followed through. The M42 looks remarkably similar, both guns having a strong resemblance to the Bofors gun family, with a vertical clip ammunition feed, a long-recoil mechanism, and a boxy receiver. So perhaps the M42 was just a refinement of the C/36.

There is also a very close resemblance to the Soviet 37 mm M1939, which was developed very rapidly over a few months in 1938 after a 45 mm version was abandoned as being too big and heavy. The M1939 is normally described as being based on the Bofors 25 mm, but scaling-up that design would have required a lot of development work in a very short space of time.

Given the close technical cooperation which existed in the late 1930s between Germany and the USSR, and the fact that while the ammunition for the C/36 and M1939 is not identical it is almost exactly the same size, it would seem not unreasonable to suggest that the C/36 played some part in the development of the M1939 and subsequently the M42. However, I have so far been unable to find any solid evidence for the existence of the gun.

Can anyone help, and provide more information about the C/36 (assuming it existed?)
 

starviking

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Can anyone help, and provide more information about the C/36 (assuming it existed?)

I’m a naval fan, but really don’t know much about the Kriegsmarine, however, for ships I am interested in I can access a lot of information on data and equipment - might be an idea to repost this in the Naval section too - I’m sure we have a fair few KM fans who may have info on odd mountings.
 

Tony Williams

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Can anyone help, and provide more information about the C/36 (assuming it existed?)

I’m a naval fan, but really don’t know much about the Kriegsmarine, however, for ships I am interested in I can access a lot of information on data and equipment - might be an idea to repost this in the Naval section too - I’m sure we have a fair few KM fans who may have info on odd mountings.
Thanks for this, will do.
 

Tony Williams

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Presumably this was a Rheinmetall design.

Technically - although it bore a very close resemblance to a Bofors gun and was presumably strongly influenced by it. The mechanism (as well as the ammunition) appears to be quite different from that of the contemporary Flak 18/36/37, also from Rheinmetall.
 

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Tony, I recall having something about it, with possibly illustrations. Give me a few days and I will check it out.
 

Tony Williams

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Excellent! Thank you very much.

The only illustration of the gun I have seen is this one:

file.php
 

Wurger

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My source has this illustration as well. I reckon there is another one, with a different mount. I`ll check.
 

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i found these but the m42 uses the same 37mmx 264 round
Sry the source is Enzyklopädie Deutscher Waffen from Terry Grander
 

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Tony Williams

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Thanks for posting, but that source is incorrect in saying that the M42 used the same ammunition as the Luftwaffe Flak guns. No surprise, it is a very common - and much copied - mistake. Only ammo anoraks like me are sufficiently interested to know!

The guns pictured in your source are all the Luftwaffe type. Some of these guns were mounted on ships, but that was never planned. Only with the M43 did the Navy mountings use the same guns and ammo as the others.
 

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thx for the clarification, i am currently digging some of my books and i also asked my nephew to check the library in cologne which has many rather older books from the 60-70s to check for me
here is another pic of a naval version but not the one you want
 

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Jemiba

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In the Waffen Revue, N° 106, III. quarter 1997, the C/36 is mentioned and shown, but as AA gun mount only.
But the photos show a strong similarity to that in Tonys post :
 

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Tony Williams

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In the Waffen Revue, N° 106, III. quarter 1997, the C/36 is mentioned and shown, but as AA gun mount only.
But the photos show a strong similarity to that in Tonys post :
Thanks, good pics.

One thing is for certain: the gun is either an M42 (which initially did appear on the C/36 mounting, but not for long) or an SK C/36 which of course appeared with the C/36 mounting. I do not have enough clear illustrations of both types of gun to decide which it is, because they are so similar.

It is clear that identification can be hazardous in such circumstances, with the gun and mounting designations liable to be confused.
 

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From "Leichte und Mittlere Artillerie auf Deutschen Kriegsschiffen", by Stehr and Breyer (Marine-Arsenal Sonderheft 18). The text adds nothing to this question and the caption states it`s a FlaK M 42 in a FlaK-Laffete M 42.
 

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Wurger

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Interesting to notice that, according this document, the 3,7cm SK C/36 was to be triaxially stabilised, in a C/36 "lafette", (not depicted in any of the illustrations published before), and using the cartridge (the weight is the same) as the "land" 3,7 cm Flak 18, 36/37 and 43 (ceiling is also the same). This does not correspond to the naval Flak 42, which fired a lighter case with a slightly higher ceiling (100m). In my opinion it is a "navalised" Flak 36, just like the one at post #11, in a hitherto unseen stabilised mount (Rheinmetall had several proposed mounts in the late 30`s, some triaxial). Posts #7, #13 and #15 represent Flak 42. Just to add another image of the C/96, in the same mount as in post #7, here it goes, taken from the Zeiss Archives: http://www.archive.zeiss.de/vimg.FA...4&qpos=2633&ipos=1&erg=M&hst=1&rpos=faust.jpg
 

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Tony Williams

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Interesting to notice that, according this document,
Which document?

There is confusion in most documents that I have seen about the relationship between the Flak SK C/36, the Flak M42, the Flak 36 (land-based but some fitted to ships) and their ammunition.

A key point is that I have been told by German cartridge collectors that 37 x 250R cartridge cases (the same as used by the M42) exist, headstamped "C/36". That is pretty definite.

My view of all of this (unless someone comes up with hard evidence to prove me wrong) is that the SK C/36 was based on the Bofors 40 mm and 25 mm guns, and used the rimmed 37 x 250R ammunition. The M42 seems to have been closely based on the SK C/36 and fired the same ammunition. I would love to find a document describing the changes made to the C/36 to turn it into the M42, but I'm not optimistic... The Flak 36 guns designed for army and air force use, and also sometimes fitted to ships, used 37 x 264B ammo, as did the multi-service Flak M43 (which bore no relationship to the Flak M42).
 

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Interesting to notice that, according this document,
Which document?

There is confusion in most documents that I have seen about the relationship between the Flak SK C/36, the Flak M42, the Flak 36 (land-based but some fitted to ships) and their ammunition.

A key point is that I have been told by German cartridge collectors that 37 x 250R cartridge cases (the same as used by the M42) exist, headstamped "C/36". That is pretty definite.

My view of all of this (unless someone comes up with hard evidence to prove me wrong) is that the SK C/36 was based on the Bofors 40 mm and 25 mm guns, and used the rimmed 37 x 250R ammunition. The M42 seems to have been closely based on the SK C/36 and fired the same ammunition. I would love to find a document describing the changes made to the C/36 to turn it into the M42, but I'm not optimistic... The Flak 36 guns designed for army and air force use, and also sometimes fitted to ships, used 37 x 264B ammo, as did the multi-service Flak M43 (which bore no relationship to the Flak M42).
I meant the document you have posted before my last entry. My source (Gander/Chamberlain) states the M42 as using the 37 x 264 cartridge, and that matches the data in the aforementioned table.
 

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My source (Gander/Chamberlain) states the M42 as using the 37 x 264 cartridge, and that matches the data in the aforementioned table.

Which merely makes both sources wrong... No great surprise, few authors check the sources for everything they include, they just copy from existing texts. Some errors get perpetuated in book after book. Ammunition is a specialist subject which most technical military historians know little about.

I can assure you, with 100% certainty, that the M42 did not use the 37 x 264B ammo.

Below, you can see a photo of a round of 37 x 264B ammo in my collection. Below that, you can see a photo of a disassembled 37 x 250R for the M42. Look at the bases of the two rounds - the M42 has a simple rim, the 37 x 264B has a complex belted design.
Third one down is a page from Waffen-Revue 107, giving technical data on the M42, and finally a close-up of the ammo pic in that document. You can see that the M42 used the ammo with the simple rim, not the belted case.

37x264B.jpg

3_7_flak_m42.jpg

Flak M42 ammo.jpg

3,7 cm Flak M42 ammo.jpg
 

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Wurger

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Ok, I have that same source, and they look quite different designs all right! Back to the 3,7 cm SK C/36, the "Handbuch für Admiralstabsoffiziere" shows it to have the same velocity and cartridge weight as the Flak C/36.
 

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Ok, I have that same source, and they look quite different designs all right! Back to the 3,7 cm SK C/36, the "Handbuch für Admiralstabsoffiziere" shows it to have the same velocity and cartridge weight as the Flak C/36.

I have checked my references and the two cartridges had very similar performance. The projectiles were the same, and the muzzle velocities were very close. This is surprising because the Flak 36 round looks bigger so should have had room for more propellant, but on the other hand, its barrel is shorter.
 

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Sticking to the "Handbuch für Admiralstabsoffiziere", my best guess is that the triaxial 3,7 cm Flak L. C/36 mount was never mounted in the intend receivers (aviso Hela, fishery protection boats, torpedo boats, Type I , IX and XII U-boats, Elbe, Weser) and, by memory, most of them having just the older C/30 double mount (besides the never built Type XII). About the gun, again, in my opinion it is already depicted in posts #7 and #17, being a naval Flak 36. This is as far as my knowledge and guessing goes.
 

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Just to add to the confusion, this drawing shows a Flak 42 lookalike with the feeding guides set at the extreme gun rear, with no case deflector. Taken from "Leichte und Mittlere Artillerie auf Deutschen Kriegsschiffen", by Stehr and Breyer (Marine-Arsenal Sonderheft 18). Never mind the caption.
 

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