WW2 German flak towers - impenetrable sky towers

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WW2 German flak towers - impenetrable sky towers

Like enormous fortressess or castles these huge structures dominated the major German cities during WW2. In many cvases they are still there, their bulk and size making the removal or adaption of them difficult.

After the RAF's raid on Berlin in 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered the construction of 3 massive flak towers to defend the capital from air attack. The flak towers, the design of which Hitler took personal interest in and even made some sketches for, were constructed in a mere 6 months. The priority of the project was evidenced in the fact that the German national rail schedule was altered in order to facilitate the shipment of the necessary materials, namely concrete, steel and lumber to the construction sites.

With concrete walls up to 3.5 metres thick, flak towers were considered to be invulnerable to attack with the usual ordnance carried by Allied bombers, though it is unlikely that they would have withstood Grand Slam bombs which successfully penetrated much thicker reinforced concrete.

Aircraft generally appeared to have avoided the flak towers. The towers were able to sustain a rate of fire of 8000 rounds per minute from their multi-level guns, with a range of up to 14 km in a full 360-degree field of fire. The 3 flak towers around the outskirts of Berlin created a triangle of formidable anti-aircraft fire that covered the center of Berlin.


The flak towers had also been designed with the idea of using the above-ground bunkers as a civilian shelter, with room for 10,000 civilians, and even a hospital ward, inside. The towers, during the fall of Berlin, formed their own communities, with up to 30,000 or more Berliners taking refuge in a single tower during the battle. These towers were some of the safest places in the fought-over city and some of the last places to surrender to Allied forces, eventually forced to capitulate as supplies ran out.

The Soviets, in their assault on Berlin, found it difficult to inflict significant damage on the flak towers, even with some of the largest Soviet guns, such as the 203 mm howitzers. Soviet forces generally maneuvered around the towers, and eventually sent in envoys to seek their submission.

Berlin Flak Tower
Hamburg Flak Tower

Unlike much of Berlin, the towers tended to be fully stocked with ammunition and supplies, and the gunners even used their anti-aircraft 20 mm cannons to defend against assault by ground units. The Zoo Tower was one of the last points of defence, with German armoured units rallying near it at Tiergarten, before trying to break out of the encircling Soviet Red Army.

For a time after the war, the conversion to representative objects with decorated facades was planned. After the war was lost, the demolition of the towers was in most cases unfeasible and many remain to this day.

Vienna flak tower


Vienna_flak_tower.jpg - 34.79kb
By netchicken: posted on 11-8-2009

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