Kitbashing a 3cm Flak103/38
using the Dragon & Ace kits

Article by Al Magnus

A Brief History

This gun was the marriage of a modified 2cm Flak 38 mount with the 3cm MK 103 aircraft cannon. Development started in 1944. Some 3,000 guns were ordered. According to [2], roughly 150 were actually produced, of which 40 guns arrived at the 17th Panzer Division in February 1945 and were evenly split between Panzergrenadier Regiment 40 and the Heer Flakabteilung 297. The gun reportedly was not too reliable due to the higher recoil forces of the larger gun setting up vibrations that made aiming difficult and also damaged the mount. Later production guns featured a modified muzzle break to help to reduce the recoil forces and a strengthened carriage.

Reference Pictures

First of all, let's look at the 3cm Flak103/38. Pictures of this weapon are scarce. The few I did find seem to indicate that it came in three slightly different configurations, possible due to changes on the production line as the gun was being produced.
  Early (possibly prototype) version

The gun is little changed from the Flak38.

White arrows are 2cm Flak38 features.
1 - traverse & elevation wheels
2 - seat back support (early version)
3 - sights mount & arm
4 - elevation wheel gear housing
Note: The ammunition box installed on the early gun looks like this:
Compare it to the late ammunition box below.

Red arrows are 3cm Flak103/38 features:
1 - ring & telescopic sights (Note: these appear to be standard on all versions of the gun)
2 - MK103 muzzle brake
3 - seat support
  Mid production version

White arrows are 2cm Flak38 features.
1 - traverse & elevation wheels
2 - seat back support (late version)
4 - elevation wheel gear housing

Red arrows are 3cm Flak103/38 features:
2 - same MK103 muzzle brake as on early version
3 - different sights mount & arm
4 - seat support
Note: From this picture it's not possible to tell if the equilibrator tubes are present, or what style of ammunition box is used.
  Late production version

White arrows are 2cm Flak38 features.
1 - traverse wheel (I assume the elevation wheel will be that of the 2cm Flak38 as well)
Note: The restored gun in [1] & [2] has another wheel style like this:
2 - seat back support (late version)

Red arrows are 3cm Flak103/38 features:
1 - ammunition box
2 - modified MK103 muzzle brake with attaching arm
3 - sights mount & arm
4 - equilibrator tubes
5 - this opening is where the no longer needed spare ammo tray was located on the 2cm Flak38 (found on all versions of the 103/38 gun)

The Kits

Kits of this gun are as rare as the real thing. Attack offers both an early and late version in resin. I did not consider either kit for my build as I've not been impressed with the few Attack kits I've purchased previously. That left me with the option of using the Ace kit or kitbashing the gun.

The Ace 3cm Flak 103/38 (kit no. 72249) represents a late version gun. It's the same kit as their 2cm Flak38 (kit no. 72288) with an extra sprue for the 103/38 parts: barrel, mount & sights. Molding quality is the typical short run injected plastic. Parts are rough with lots of seams and flash.

From the start I knew that I would want to cross kit this with the much superior Dragon 2cm Flak38 kit; after all, the real gun was a cross of the MK103 aircraft cannon with the standard Flak38 carriage. The plans was to use the Dragon kit for the carriage/mount, with modifications, and the Ace kit to supply the gun and part of the sights arm. Some minor scratch building along with parts from the spares box would round out the build and add some detail.

(Ace instructions above)

The Build

This is the Ace gun (dark grey parts) with modifications. The green barrel is a spare UM Soviet tank gun and the muzzle brake attaching rod directly above it is guitar wire. The plastic spacers were needed along the side of the breech to allow the gun to fit into the Dragon mount. Underside of the gun was detailed to look somewhat like this reference picture of a MK103. .
The two tan rods can been seen in the reference pictures in [1] & [2] and were made from stretched sprue. Afterwards I realized that the final restoration did not have these and I later removed them.

  The Ace ammunition box (dark grey parts) with modifications. The kit box is just a featureless blob, so I added the missing lid & hinge, horizontal support arms, handles and basket for the ammunition box.
Left side of the gun. This shows the hole cut into the side where the Flak38 spare ammo tray used to be. This is an easy modification as the Dragon already has the depression on the inside of the mount frame that can be used as a guide for the cut.

The equilibrator tubes can be seen sticking out the back of the mount just below the traverse wheel. On the real weapon they attach to the MK103 using a cable & pulley system. I didn't have any idea of how this system was routed so nothing was done regarding this. Besides the body of the gun pretty much blocked anything from view anyway.
  Right side of the gun. This shows the new seat mount and the modified elevation wheel gear housing. The housing is not quite perfect. Not wanting to do major surgery I just trimmed excess plastic from the rear of the housing and rounded the edge with some sanding. It's still a bit oversize but a definite improvement over both the Ace or Dragon moldings.   Oblique view of the gun from about 1 o'clock position. It shows the converted seat back & vertical support post, and the new panel spanning the gap between the mount's sides. The Ace box art features the new seat support & back, but the kit uses the seat back and support from the Flak38 kit.

The sights mounting arm supplied by Ace needs correcting. The kit's arm looks like this: . It really should look like this:

Those wanting to use the Sd.Ah.51 trailer, the one supplied by Dragon would be best. Not only is it designed for the Dragon gun but it also better detailed and molded than the Ace trailer. According to [1] & [2], all that needs to be changed is the removal of the fenders. Also remember the seat needs to be folded if the gun is on the trailer for towing (for details see my review of the Dragon 2cm Flak38 here or find the picture of the gun on its trailer in references [1] & [2]).


[1] armorama.com (thread on the 3cm Flak103/38 Nr.175 restoration done at US Army Air Defense Artillery Museum, Ft. Sill, Oklahoma)
[2] axishistory.com (another thread on the 3cm Flak103/38 Nr.175 restoration done at US Army Air Defense Artillery Museum, Ft. Sill, Oklahoma)

Dragon & Ace products are available at Tracks & Troops
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Article Last Updated: 31 January 2015