Flakvierling 38 20mm Quad Anti-Aircraft Gun
A Flakvierling unleashing hell.
|Role||Multi-purpose Anti-Aircraft gun emplacement|
|Unit Cost||300, 30, 3|
|Upkeep per Minute||
-1.34 (each crewman)
-4.02 (full crew)
-5.36 (weapon and full crew)
|Prereq.||Luftwaffe Tactics: Luftwaffe Ground Force|
|Produced By||Luftwaffe Ground Force|
|Production XP||+27 xp|
|Primary armament||4x 2 cm Flak 38 Anti-Aircraft Cannon|
85 (each crewman)
The Flakvierling 38 20mm Quad Anti-Aircraft Gun or Flakvierling 38 is a rapid-fire anti-aircraft emplacement. It appears in several single-player missions in Company of Heroes, and can be fielded by the Luftwaffe Tactics Panzer Elite company in Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts. Although very useful against enemy aircraft and paratroopers, it is also quite deadly against ground infantry and light vehicles as well.
Company of Heroes features several anti-aircraft weapons, most of them immobile Defensive Structures. While they are all quite adept at taking down enemy aircraft, each can be used to defend against ground-based targets as well. The Flakvierling 38 is no exception, doubling as a very powerful anti-infantry and anti-vehicle weapon that few commanders wish to go up against.
The Flakvierling 38 originally appeared in several single-player missions during the Company of Heroes "Invasion of Normandy" campaign, serving as a pre-placed weapon that could be destroyed and/or captured by the player's units. In Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts it was given to the Panzer Elite Luftwaffe Tactics company as one of the defensive structures that faction can build to protect their territory.
The Flakvierling 38 is available for construction by a Luftwaffe Ground Force squad, as soon as that squad is created. It costs 300, 30, and 1 for each of its 3 crewmen (for a total of 3; the gun itself costs nothing). The weapon consists of a swivel-mounted platform with a large armor plate at the front, through which four 20mm rapid-firing cannons are mounted.
The Flakvierling 38 will automatically engage airborne targets, including aircraft, Gliders and paratroopers. However, it will also engage targets that are on the ground. Its heavy shells give it tremendous capabilities against light-vehicles, which it can easily shred to pieces. It is also accurate enough to killing enemy infantry in short order. Its 360-degree swivel mount allows it to defend the entire area around its position, making it significantly superior to machine-gun emplacements in terms of defensive capability.
As a Weapon Team with no defensive entrenchment dug around it, the Flakvierling 38 is vulnerable to many different weapons, but is particularly vulnerable to losing its crew. If all crewmen are killed, the weapon is "abandoned" and may be captured by enemy infantry (or re-captured by yours).
The Flakvierling 38 is equipped with four rapid-fire 2 cm Flak 38 cannons. Together these cannons unleash a formidable hail of medium-caliber shells that can tear apart light vehicles and infantry.
2 cm Flak 38
The four 2 cm (20mm) Flak 38 guns are magazine-fed automatic cannons linked together through a mechanism that coordinates their firing, so they are all treated as a single weapon.
This weapon fires bursts of 12-15 shells, each 2-2.5 seconds long, followed by a cooldown period of about 4 seconds. After 3 bursts, the weapon must be reloaded, taking 6 seconds to do so. Although this may seem like a slow-firing weapon, each shell it fires has significant potential on its own, resulting in massive firepower being expended in each burst.
Each shell has about a 50-75% basic chance to hit its target, and each hit will deliver 15-20 points of damage. Against infantry, this means only half a burst is required to kill one man on average! The shells are also powerful enough to penetrate the front armor on enemy armored cars or other medium vehicles, but would have significant trouble piercing through tank armor, front or rear.
The Flak 38's range is 40 meters - just beyond its own sight-range. This is usually enough range to kill approaching infantry before they can pose any threat to the gun or its crew.
Like all other Panzer Elite units, the Flakvierling 38 can attain 3 levels of Veterancy, by accumulating experience points from the killing of enemy units. As it gains levels, its performance will increase proportionally.
Like all other Panzer Elite units, the Flakvierling 38 uses the Panzer Elite Shared Veterancy system to accumulate Veterancy points. In this system, units share experience from their kills with each other, within a certain radius.
Each kill the Flakvierling 38 makes will grant it 100% of the experience value of the killed unit.
In addition, it will pass 50% of that value to any Panzer Elite units within 35 meters of itself.
Vicariously, the Flakvierling 38 receives 50% of the experience value of kills made by other Panzer Elite units within 35 meters.
Every time the Flakvierling 38 gains a level, you'll be asked to choose which Veterancy Upgrade you wish to apply to it - either a Defensive bonus or an Offensive bonus, but not both. You can choose a different bonus at each Veterancy level, if you want.
The bonuses described below are specific to each level. Due to the way they are applied on top of each other, when computed together (see below) they may or may not add up as you may expect.
Note: Both the weapon and its crew receive the same bonuses you select. However, the crew only actually benefit from Defensive Bonuses, which increase their survivability through extra Maximum Health and resistance to damage. They do not benefit from any of the Offensive Bonuses!
When these bonuses are computed together with each other as well as the unit's basic statistics, the results at each level are as follows:
* Click the button at the top-right corner to view the entire table.
Selecting Veterancy bonuses for the Flakvierling 38 is tricky, because it can benefit greatly from from defensive and offensive bonuses. Defensive bonuses will ensure that the weapon remains intact, and also increase the survivability of the crew, reducing the chance of it being abandoned and captured by the enemy. Offensive bonuses will significantly increase the weapon's deadliness, allowing it to kill targets faster (thus being able to engage larger groups more easily too).
Whatever you choose, like most other Panzer Elite vehicles, it's usually best to at least take the first level in Defensive Bonuses, because it has the most effect and increases the vehicle's chance to reach higher veterancy levels alive.
Crewed Weapon Veterancy Rules
The Flakvierling 38 is treated by the game as a Weapon Team. Unlike normal vehicles, where the crew is part of the vehicle itself, the crew here are independent entities, who can also be killed independently (causing the gun to be abandoned). As a result, special (and difficult to explain) rules are in place to govern what happens when the gun loses its crew, or is crewed by new infantrymen, possibly from other factions.
When the weapon is abandoned, it keeps any bonuses it had previously acquired. These bonuses will not change when the weapon is re-crewed, regardless of which infantry unit (from any faction) captures it. The same is true for the capture crew, retaining any existing veterancy bonuses they had before capturing the gun. The "new" unit (gun and crew) is always considered to be at Level 0 Veterancy.
If the new crew is from a non-Panzer Elite faction, the gun and crew will not gain any further veterancy, regardless of how many enemies they kill. It will remain at Veterancy Level 0, with both the gun and its crew retaining only the bonuses they had before joining together.
If the weapon is re-crewed by a Panzer Elite infantry unit, it can continue to accumulate veterancy normally from level 0 to level 3. However, only the new crewmen will receive bonuses from veterancy, and only for levels they have not yet gained before being merged with the gun. Additionally, the bonuses they receive are based on their own Veterancy tables, i.e. the same bonuses they'd have received if those veterancy levels were acquired before crewing the weapon.
- Imagine that a Flakvierling 38 advances to Veterancy Level 2. The crew is then killed, and replaced by a Level 1 Panzer Grenadier crew. The weapon and its crew, now considered to be at Veterancy Level 0, can begin accumulating veterancy as normal.
- The gun itself retains all bonuses it had from advancing to level 2 before its original crew was killed. However, it will not receive any further bonuses from veterancy, regardless of which ones you choose.
- When the unit reaches level 1 again, whatever bonus you select is irrelevant, since the crew already have their level-1 veterancy bonus from before they were joined.
- At level 2 and Level 3 however, the Panzer Grenadier crew will benefit from the new Veternacy Upgrades you purchase - but the bonuses are the ones detailed in the Panzer Grenadier Veterancy Table, not the table shown above in this article.
- The crew of a new Flakvierling 38 are rather tough, having more health than all other Panzer Elite infantry. However, there is some benefit to replacing these crewmen with Panzer Grenadiers, if you can possible arrange it.
- The reason for this lies in the Defensive Bonuses that Panzer Elite infantry receive. They gain terrific Maximum Health bonuses, bringing them close to the toughness of the Flakvierling 38's original crew, but in addition also get a steady and constant health regeneration.
- To exploit this, follow these instructions:
- Get the Flakvierling 38 to as high a Veterancy level as you can without losing its entire original crew. Remember to purchase all the Veterancy bonuses you can - levels don't actually count for anything until either a Defensive or Offensive bonus is purchased.
- Get the crew killed. There are several ways to do this, ground-attacks with high explosive weapons work well. Keep a repair crew nearby to repair the gun so it doesn't get destroyed.
- Once the crew is killed, replace them with Panzer Grenadiers. You can use a Fallschirmjäger Squad or Luftwaffe Ground Force squad if you want.
- At each veterancy level this gun attains after the merge, select a Defensive Bonus.
- The resulting Flakvierling 38 has all the Veterancy benefits to the gun itself, a massive benefit to the crew, and on top of this the crewmen will automatically regenerate health, since they are benefitting from Panzer Elite Infantry veterancy!
The Luftwaffe Tactics Command Tree allows building two Active Defenses, the Flakvierling 38 and the Flak 36. These are the only Active Defenses available to the Panzer Elite at all, and their availability can radically alter the way this faction is played.
The Flakvierling 38 can fill the niche usually reserved for Machine-Gun nests, but is more akin to a Bofors 40mm Cannon, in that it is remarkably useful against light vehicles as well, and can rotate 360-degrees to protect itself from all angles.
As a result, a single Flakvierling 38 can protect several sectors at once, and should be placed in a way that allows it to do just that. If properly supported by an anti-tank unit, like the Marder III Tank Hunter, or better yet a Flak 36, the two can together defend against very powerful enemy assaults. This can free up other units from mobile defense assignments to carrying a more powerful punch against the enemy.
Due to its higher cost in Population Cap points, you cannot just rely on placing Flakvierling 38s to defend every territory - possibly not even just your front lines; they'll leave you with too few PopCap points to build an offensive army.
Instead, you'll want a Flakvierling 38 to defend either one high-value sector, such as a high resource production sector or a Victory Point, or several sectors at once.
In the first capacity a single Flakvierling 38, placed in a position where it can cover the sector point, can fend off any infantry and light vehicles coming to grab that point. Naturally, the enemy will send strong forces to attempt to grab such high-value points, so you shouldn't rely only on the Flakvierling, but it will provide sufficient firepower to hold its own until other units can arrive to support it.
In the second capacity, place the Flakvierling in a central position where its range will allow it to defend two or three sector points simultaneously. This is especially possible on maps with plenty of small, low-value sectors. Unless the enemy launches a massive assault, or sends tanks in to kill the Flakvierling 38, it should be able to protect these points just fine. You may want to demolish obstacles with a tank to make sure the Flakvierling's firing lines are clear enough to cover all approaches.
You can also place a Flakvierling 38 to protect a major roadway. However, when doing so, you may want to support it with some sort of anti-tank weapon, since enemy heavy vehicles will eventually be coming up that road.
If you can acquire the Flakvierling 38 early enough in the game, it may be worthwhile to place one in an empty field near the front lines. This way it can block enemy advances across an entire area, during that period of time where the enemy can only field infantry and light vehicles. Later on, the enemy will surely destroy such an emplacement with heavy vehicles and/or artillery.
The Flakvierling 38 is quite capable of defending itself against large groups of infantry and/or light vehicles. However, anything heavier than this may pose a serious danger to the gun. Therefore, it is often recommended to support the Flakvierling 38 with some kind of tank destroyer, whether mobile (defending one or more Flakvierling 38s as required) or static ("permanently" assigned to protect the Flak gun).
Naturally, once the 88mm Flak 36 becomes available, the two defensive emplacements are excellent when used together. The Flak 36 takes care of any incoming infantry, while the 88mm Flak 36 destroys tanks and other vehicles. In most cases, such a combination can prove a formidable defense, on par with (if not stronger than) a British Bofors 40mm Cannon-17 Pounder AT Gun combination.
Mobile defenses may be cheaper though. A single Marder III Tank Hunter sited close to the Flakvierling 38 can provide accurate and deadly fire to incoming vehicles. If you have two Flakvierling 38s protecting nearby sectors, the Marder can protect them both, packing up and moving from one sector to the other whenever necessary. While not as powerful as the 88mm Flak 36, it is both mobile and cheaper to maintain.
Always remember to keep your two defensive units some distance away from each other. Otherwise, they will serve as a perfect target for enemy artillery.
Flak 38 vs. Wirbelwind
Once the Luftwaffe Ground Force (responsible for constructing Flakvierling 38s) is unlocked, you have the choice to acquire the Wirbelwind Flakpanzer Command Upgrade, allowing you to call in a vehicle of the same name. This weapon is essentially a Flakvierling 38 tank, armored and mobile.
In many ways, this vehicle can be considered to make the Flakvierling 38 obsolete. Not only is this vehicle mobile, allowing one unit to defend several sectors as needed or even attack enemies as part of an assault force, its armor makes it much less vulnerable to enemy fire (especially Snipers). In addition, its crew cannot be killed off, so it may never be captured by the enemy and used against you. You can also recover a wrencked Wirbelwind using the Bergetiger Repair and Recovery Vehicle.
The trade-off is almost entirely in resources. A Wirbelwind costs 480 to field, compared to the Flakvierling 38's 300, 30. In addition, a Wirbelwind has a higher Population Cap requirement, at 8 vs. the Flakvierling 38's 3. Still, this price is usually seen as quite a good trade, because one Wirbelwind can usually do the work of two Flakvierling 38s, and will usually survive longer anyway.
Consider this when fielding your defenses. If you can get a Wirbelwind instead of a Flakvierling 38 (or two), it is generally a good idea to do so.
The greatest downside to a Flakvierling 38 is the fact that its crew is exposed. Although they are sitting behind an armor plate, their sides and rear are unprotected, and in-game this translates into significant vulnerability to almost any weapon in the game. If the crew aren't vulnerable to it, then the gun itself is vulnerable to it.
For one, an enemy Sniper can easily take out the crew of a Flakvierling 38 one-by-one from outside the weapon's firing range. If it manages to do so, the weapon will be abandoned and can be captured by enemy troops. This is very dangerous indeed.
To make matters worse, like any other static emplacement this weapon is very vulnerable to artillery strikes. A few shells will destroy it, and more likely its crew will be killed in the blasts before the gun is destroyed - again leading to it possibly being captured by enemy troops. Even mortar shells can easily kill the crew.
Enemy tank fire is devastating against the gun itself, as are infantry-carried anti-tank weapons.
For all these reasons, the Flakvierling 38 is mostly useful when placed defensively, so that any enemy trying to attack it has to go through the Flak's hail of fire. An anti-tank weapon nearby must provide support against incoming heavy vehicles, otherwise they will demolish the Flak cannon quickly. Finally, accept the fact that if the enemy has the means to carry out an artillery or mortar strike - he will.
For all these reasons, replacing your Flakvierling 38s with Wirbelwind Flakpanzers may be a very wise choice to make - if you can afford the Manpower and Population Cap expenditure.
- Technically, there are 2 versions of the Flak 38: the Wehrmacht and the Panzer Elite. The Wehrmacht Flak 38 20mm could fire anywhere by pressing G, while the Panzer Elite Flakvierling 38 20mm AA could not.
"Good to see you there commandant!"
"What's the good news!"
"shoot back idiot!"
"Looks like they want us dead!"
"Finally, I sent requirement for these upgrades months ago..."
"Upgrading in combat?!! That's Insane!"