Anti-aircraft troops - Fliegerabwehrtruppen

20 mm Oerlikon flab gun protects Reuss Bridge, Mellingen AG, World War II

The anti-aircraft troops (Flab Trp) ( French Défense contre avions DCA , Italian Difesa contraerea DCA , Rhaeto-Romanic Truppa da defensiun cunter aviuns ) were a branch of the Swiss Army . From 1936 onwards, together with the air force, they formed their own branch of service , the air and anti- aircraft troops (FF Trp). With the Army XXI , the Air Defense Brigade 33 was transferred to the umbrella organization Lehrverband Fliegerabwehr 33 (LVb Flab 33) in 2003.

First World War and the interwar period

During the First World War , the flab was only carried out improvised. In 1915, the Swiss Army introduced the first regulations for firing infantry weapons (infantry flab) at targets with rifles and machine guns 11 . The war events near the Pruntruter Zipfel led to increasing border violations by foreign pilots. Therefore, the army command decided to relocate an anti-aircraft battery from Forte Airolo (7.5 cm field guns on pivot, directional angle 360 ​​°, vertical directional angle 80 °, no binding firing method, shrapnel bullets) to the Ajoie .

The infantry air defense was confronted with the problem that it is not possible for the human eye to recognize and differentiate between aircraft at distances of more than 2 km in good time and the flab gunners run the risk of shooting down their own aircraft. This led to the establishment of an effective air scouting organization which, by means of identification plates, was able to distinguish the 11 German, 13 French and two English aircraft types in use from its own aircraft. In the absence of appropriate target practice, no foreign aircraft could be shot down until the end of the war.

In 1927, anti-aircraft recruits were trained as flab gunners on Monte Ceneri for the first time, and in 1935 an effective anti-aircraft defense system was established. In the study “Memorial Luftschutz” by Colonel Bandi, which he had written on behalf of the Federal Military Department (EMD), he described the difficulties of active and passive air protection.

The political development, the rapid technical development in air warfare and the massive armament in neighboring European states in the interwar period prompted the Federal Council in October 1936 to declare the air and anti-aircraft troops to be an independent branch of service and the chief EMD Rudolf Mingerdecreed the establishment of a department for aviation and air defense (AFLF) with a general at the top. The previous commander of the Dübendorf Air Force Base, Colonel Bandi, became the head of the AFLF department and weapons chief. In the summer of 1936, the first anti-aircraft recruit school took place in Kloten with three officers, 49 non-commissioned officers and recruits and the following weapons and equipment: Four 7.5 cm flab cannons "Vickers", a command device "Sperry", a telemeter 3 m base " Barr & Stroud ”, four 20 mm Oerlikon cannons , a flab searchlight“ Siemens ”, a listening device “ Elaskop ”.

In June 1937 eight “Oerlikon” 20 mm anti-aircraft guns were ordered. From June 1938 a further 28 20 mm Flab cannons "Oerlikon" were delivered. In addition, 7.5 cm flab cannons, 60 34 mm flab cannons KTA and 20 mm flab cannons from the Federal Arms Factory (W + F) were ordered. In addition, Zeiss Jena ordered Zeiss stereo telemeter 1.25 base with 20x magnification and a measuring range between 250 and 20,000 m. Cantons, cities and large industrial companies procured flab weapons for their own active air protection (local flab).

At the end of 1939, the light anti-aircraft defense had 131 20 mm Flab cannons Oerlikon and the heavy Flab 23 7.5 cm Flab cannons model "Schneider" and four 7.5 cm Flab cannons model "Vickers".

Second World War

During the Second World War , the Air Force and Air Force troops were the only ones with enemy contact . On August 29, 1939, the Federal Council deployed the air force and air force in addition to the border guards. The local Flab Zurich, which was also mobilized, had 21 20 mm Flab guns.

The anti-aircraft defense had the following troops with a total of 663 soldiers:

  • Two 7.5 cm Flab batteries (Flab Bttr 20-21)
  • Six 20 mm Flab Bttr 22-27 (six to 10 20 mm Flab guns each)
  • Two 20 mm Ortsflab-Bttr 301-302
  • Two Flab searchlight companies 28–29
  • 34 mm Ortsflab Bttr (planned)

The Oerlikon guns intended for Germany were no longer delivered from the beginning of the war, but handed over to the Swiss anti-aircraft defense. By the end of 1940, the army received a further 131 20 mm Flab cannons from Oerlikon. So that there could be no shortage of service teams, 50,000 20- to 40-year-olds were subsequently declared fit for duty and 18,000 of them were re-sampled as “only Flab fit for duty”.

During the 2nd mobilization on May 10, 1940, the army had 15 20mm Flab units and 5 Flab divisions. When the border was violated by German airmen in the Jura, a German Messerschmitt Bf 110 was hit by the Swiss Flab on June 8, 1940 and crashed near Nunningen . [1] On June 20, 1940, General Guisan, under pressure from Germany, banned the Luftwaffe from aerial combat over Switzerland after the Swiss pilots had shot down eleven German aircraft. [2] The preservation of Swiss air sovereignty [3]had to be done by the heavy flab because the high-flying planes could only be fought with 7.5 cm cannons. This could do little to counteract the overflight of Swiss airspace by German, English and American (from August 1943) bomb squadrons.

In 1941 the L Flab shooting range Savièse (34 mm Flab) was opened and the army owned 59 L Flab Bttr with 520 20 mm guns and 370 telemeter 1.25 m base from Wild Heerbrugg. The anti-aircraft defense was on standby all year round in 1942, but never got a shot. The army corps got one chief pilot and one chief flab. In 1943, the 20 mm flab was used to protect the Gotthard and Simplon lines and the airfields in the Central Plateau and the Réduit against low-flying attacks and sudden raids.

When the Allies landed in Normandy in 1944, the entire air defense system was mobilized. The accuracy of the Schweren Flab was judged to be precise by the crews of the aircraft that crashed in Switzerland as a result of flab fire or that were forced to land. On the other hand, there were hardly any hits from the light flab. Investigations revealed that the fire opened too far and that fast-flying aircraft were often shot at in flyby.

In February 1945, one of the 20 mm Flab batteries used to protect Chiasso station shot down an American “Thunderbolt” fighter. From 1943 to 1945, the Swiss air defense shot down nine Allied aircraft that had penetrated the neutral Swiss airspace, and the air forces shot down another six. [4]

At the end of 1945 the army had 67 light Flab Bttrs with 1,504 20 mm Flab cannons and 51 heavy batteries caliber 7.5 cm as well as 14 searchlight companies. The Flab had 2,000 cannons (274 7.5 cm; 278 34 mm; 1,448 20 mm), with those of the infantry and the fortresses there were a total of around 4,000 Flab cannons. There were also twelve 20 mm batteries and 33 34 mm batteries from the local Flab. The Brigels firing range was opened this year.

Cold War

In 1946 the motorization of the Flab from stocks ( Willis Jeeps , Dodge-WC ) of the US Army was increased. The 20 mm Flab platoons of the 36 fusilier battalions were subordinated to the twelve respective regiments as independent motorized Flab companies in 1949.

With the 1951 troop order, the Flab had the following stocks: eleven flab regiments with two heavy and one light flab departments, 15 mobile light flab batteries in the divisions, light brigades and fortress brigades, 21 airfield flab batteries, the stauwehrflabteilung 121 (new), twelve flab companies in twelve infantry regiments.

The first radar devices were introduced in the 1950s : the SFR air surveillance system (1955–1966) was the first comprehensive air surveillance system (early warning and guidance radar ER-200, SFR height radar antenna, LGR-1 radar ) of the Swiss Air Force. The target assignment radar TPS-1E (ZZR) (1958–1989) was an omnidirectional pulse radar device for the heavy flab. The Mark VII fire control radar (1958–1967) replaced the searchlightsand listening devices. From 1954, the Leichte Flab was modernized with 900 20 mm Flab cannons 54 Oerlikon (range up to 1500 m). In 1960, the Tug Corps, which was created for Flab shooting training after the Second World War and has since expanded to 80 aircraft, was incorporated into the FF troops as an independent Target Flier Corps 5 (ZFK 5).

Army 61

The Flab became a modern branch of service in 1963 with the acquisition of the Oerlikon 35 mm twin cannon and the “Superfledermaus” fire control device as well as the FLab guided missile system BL-64 Bloodhound introduced in the mid-1960s . The "Bloodhound" fire units were integrated into the Florida command system. [5]

As part of the reorganization of the command of the air and anti-aircraft troops, the Flab Brigade 33 was created in 1964 with a population of 15,000 men - a third of all Flab members. The Flugplatzflab was converted to the 20mm Flab-Kanone 43/57 triple cannon in 1964. In 1968, the Aircraft and Air Defense Department AFLF was given command of the Air and Air Defense Forces (KFLF). To protect the subterranean heights (2100 to 3200 m above sea level ) of the Flieger-Radar companies, 20 mm Flab twin cannons 54/60 Oerlikon were set up on base mounts in 1969.

In 1970, the federal councils approved the procurement of the digital all-weather fire control system “Skyguard” to combat low-flying aircraft. Every second it provided an air situation map within a radius of 15 km. From 1975 all 35 mm fire units were equipped with the new fire control system. In 1972 the weir flab was dissolved and the formation of the blue (heavy) and green (light) flab was adjusted. The aerial firing systems in Chur's Rossboden and in the Gastern Valley were now also used by the blue Flab. In 1972 the air defense had around 1500 guns 20 mm, 128 fire units 35 mm with fire control device "Super Bat" and 9 "Bloodhound" batteries at six fixed locations. With these means an effective all-weather defense against high-flying supersonic aircraft was possible,

In 1974 the target error display system Florett (ZFA64) was introduced for the 20 mm Flab. On June 1, 1979 the Department of Aviation and Air Defense (AFLF ) was renamed the Federal Office for Military Aviation and Air Defense (BAFF).

The Inf Flab recruit school (RS) Chur became Flab RS 247 in 1980, which was stationed on the now modernized Grandvillard firing range and was implemented as a summer school. The use of helicopters and drones for reconnaissance and combat tasks in the 1980s was only able to counteract the light flab by supplementing the 20 mm flab with an inexpensive, flexible system on the lower tactical level. This should be able to fight a target spectrum ranging from high-speed low-level aircraft to attack helicopters at low and medium altitudes with a high first-shot hit probability. During the Falklands War of 1982 and the war in Afghanistan , portable one-man anti-aircraft guided missiles (Manpads ) used.

In 1983, 250 20 mm flab cannons 54 were subsequently procured for the fortress and light airfield batteries, with which the 20 mm flab cannons 38 W + F of the fortress flab and the 20 mm flab cannons 43/57 triple of the Flugplatz-Flab were replaced. The light flab department 24 was retrained in 1984 on the flab guided missile system Rapier and renamed to mobile anti-aircraft missile department 11. Rapier was mainly used for the air defense of the mechanized units. The light Flab Department 25 and parts of the L Flab Abt 21 were retrained, converted into a mobile Flabenkwaffenabteilung (Rapier) in 1986 and placed under the mechanized Division 4 .

In 1987, the air defense consisted of the following units, which had the densest and most effective terrestrial anti-aircraft system in Europe:

  • Flab Brigade 33 (a trilingual association) with seven regiments and 220 35 mm Flab cannons.
  • Flab guided missile regiment 7 with long-range surface-to-air guided missiles "Bloodhound"
  • Each division had a mobile light flab department with 20 mm flab cannons 54. In each of the mechanized divisions, a flab guided missile department with the Rapier weapon system was also integrated.

A total of 60 Rapier fire units were procured with the 1980 armaments program. Other light flab units were divided into other formations such as fortress and border brigades and airfield flab departments. A total of about 1500 20 mm Flab cannons 54 were in use. [6]

With the Mob L Flab Abt 7, the retraining of all batteries I and II of the light Flab formations of the divisions and brigades of the Swiss Army to the L Flab Lwf Stinger Post RMP (armament program 1989) equipped with programmable control software began in 1993 .

Army 95 (1995-2003)

The flab density in relation to the airspace to be protected was high in 1996:

  • 56 FE Mob Flab Lwf Rapier
  • 90 FE Mittlere Flab 35 mm
  • 480 FE L Flab Lwf Stinger
  • 102 FE L Flab Kan 20 mm

However, there was no flab agent between the high level of effectiveness of the BL-64 system and the short deployment distances of the other weapon systems (between 1.5 and 7 km). Neither of these weapon systems could combat surface-to-surface guided missiles and air-to-surface guided missiles. Cruise missiles could only be fought if they could be detected early. The light Flab trains at the heights of the Flieger Radar Companies with their 20 mm Flab twin cannons 43/60 were disbanded at the end of 1993, at the end of 1997 the 20 mm Flab was retired and in 1999 the "Bloodhound".

The electronic FEBEKO System 2000 for the Switzerland-wide automatic coordination of aviator operations and anti-aircraft fire from the operations center to the fire unit level was introduced across the Flab from 1999. The nationwide coordination of the flabfire with the movements of one's own air force was necessary so that in an emergency, one's own planes were not shot down.

Army XXI

As part of Army XXI, the Flab Motor Driver School Payerne (Flab RS 48/248) was dissolved in 2003 and the Air Defense Brigade 33 and all remaining Flab formations and schools were transferred to the umbrella organization Lehrverband Flab 33 , which ensures the basic readiness of all Flab formations in the army (Allwetterflab in Emmen, Sichtwetterflab in Payerne). In the Army XXI has the flab, newly renamed ground air defense (Bodluv), eight L flab LWF departments with a total of 288 fire units. [7] The FLORAKO system was introduced in February 2004 to replace the Florida air surveillance system from the 1970s . [8th]Militia sergeants fired the Stinger flare gun from the shoulder for the first time in 2008 under operational conditions. The L Lwf Flab in 2009 consisted of the four L Flab Lwf Abt 1, 5, 7 and 9 as well as the reserve departments 8 and 10. [9]

The “Bodluv 2020” project aims to modernize ground-based air defense by replacing the three current systems (Stinger, Rapier and 35 mm anti-aircraft gun) with two systems with short and medium ranges that can be integrated into the FLORAKO system in order to be able to network all of the ground and airborne components. The project is currently suspended. [10]

Flab museums



Commons : Air Defense Forces - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Flab fire on a German Bf-110 with registration number 2N + GN
  2. Swiss television from May 6, 2015: Air battle over Switzerland
  3. ^ Ordinance on the maintenance of air sovereignty
  4. Aargauer Zeitung of December 24, 2014: December 25, 1944 - Suddenly there was a rumble in the sky over Würenlingen
  5. Jump up ↑ Bloodhound, Flab missiles for the upper airspace
  6. ASMZ No. 11/1987: Our large associations: The anti-aircraft brigade 33 a troop from the very beginning
  7. ^ Swiss Army: Fliegerabwehr (Flab) ( Memento of the original from October 12, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  8. Hans-Peter Hulliger: Florako replaces Florida. General Swiss military magazine ASMZ, issue 9, volume 170, 2004
  9. History of Leichten Flab ( Memento of the original from February 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Vorlage: Webachiv / IABot /
  10. The Federal Council: DDPS temporarily suspends the BODLUV project. Retrieved February 4, 2017 .
  11. NZZ of April 23, 2016: Before the inauguration of the expanded Air Force Museum. Flieger and Flab under the same roof
  12. Swiss Air Force: 75 years of anti-aircraft defense in Switzerland ( Memento of the original from May 23, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@2Template: Webachiv / IABot /