Siebelfähre (Siebel Ferry) Color Photographs

The Siebelfähre (Siebel Ferry) were conceived as one of several types of landing craft intended to support the German invasion of England, Operation Sea Lion.  They were constructed by combining two large bridging pontoons with a cargo deck to form a catamaran arrangement.  Power was provided with either truck or aircraft engines located within the pontoons, and a small pilothouse was constructed in the center.  The ferry could carry any vehicle in the German inventory, including Tiger tanks.  The stability of the catamaran configuration was not lost upon the Luftwaffe, who converted several into flak barges after the cancellation of Sea Lion.

Here is a beautiful series of color photographs taken by Carl Rosenquist on 13AUG42.  The occasion was a review of several Siebel Ferries on Lake Ladoga by German and Finnish officers.  Photographs are held by SA-Kuva, the Finish National Archives.

Reviewing officers in place on the fo’c’sle of a small gunboat, the second officer from the left is a Finn. Behind them is a 20 mm flak gun.
Further aft other members of the crew are seen around the pilothouse as a signalman communicates via semaphore. MG 34s are ready with mounts on either side.
The Luftwaffe employed two basic versions, the SF40 Leichte (light) and SF40 Schwere (heavy). This is the light version, armed with four 2cm/65 Flakvierling 38, one at each corner, and a 3.7 cm Flak-Lafette C/36 atop the pilothouse.
The armament of the heavy version was even more impressive, up to four 8.8 cm Flak 36 and two 2 cm/65 C38. Here an SF40 plows by the reviewing boat giving a good view of the pontoon’s construction.
Here is another heavy SF40 with her crew manning the rail. When configured as flak barges they carried a compliment of 40 to 50 men. The Luftwaffe was responsible for anti-aircraft defense in the German military and provided the crew. This one is still in her winter camouflage.
The same barge seen from astern. There was variation in the configuration and armament of these ferries, this one only carries three 8.8 cm guns. Close inspection reveals none of these vessels are exactly alike.
Another ferry passes the reviewing boat with her crew at the rail. This view shows details of the armored gun mount construction. Note the starboard 2 cm mount is missing two of its barrels.
A stern view which reveals details of the engine room access and exhausts. The gun mounts on this ferry each have their own rangefinder. The nearest mount is also missing two of its barrels.
Another ferry approaches with her crew at the rails. The pontoon hulls were originally designed to be bridging units, and while rugged and easy to construct, they were not very hydrodynamic as evidenced by the excessive bow spray.
A view as the flotilla passes by. The Siebels were designed from the outset to be transported by road or rail, and could be disassembled to be hauled overland if needed.
Another Siebel seen in the Black Sea in July 1941. This one is armed with two 8.8 cm guns on the bows and two 2 cm amidships and has a different superstructure configuration. (Bundesarchiv)
Generalleutnant Kurt Steudemann, Inspector der Flakartillerie, talks to Luftwaffe crewmen manning the rangefinder of a SF40 Schwere. The heavy Siebels mounted a rangefinder for the 8.8 cm guns atop the pilothouse. (Bundesarchiv)

19 thoughts on “Siebelfähre (Siebel Ferry) Color Photographs

  1. OK, this is the first time I’ve ever heard about any of this. Congratulations Jeff, you’ve finally made a WWII post regarding something I’d never heard of at all, LOL!.
    So, when are we going to see at least two scratch-built versions of these in 1/72nd?
    Is this something you’ve known about for years and just now decided to make a post, or is this something you recently stumbled across?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. These are really obscure, I’d love to have a history of these and the MFP “flak lighters”. I was aware of the SF40s, but only recently figured out that the Lake Ladoga photos were a series and began digging them up.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. There are kits is various ship scales, and one in resin in 1/72 but it’s expensive. The boxy design lends itself to scratchbuilding. The cargo version is interesting as well, a flat deck with a pilothouse in the center and a light flak gun on top. Lots of room for vehicles.

      Liked by 6 people

  2. Nice pictures, Jeff! 🙂 Back in the 90s I scratchbuilt two of these in 1:600th scale for coastal forces wargames, along with two MFPs and I still have them all (relatively easy in 1:600th scale)! Both types seem to be sorely neglected in any coastal forces reference books, so nice to see you posting these pics!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks John! The SF lend themselves well to scratchbuilding and would make interesting subjects. I agree, there were several types of these improvised vessels in German service but very few reference books today, I’d love to see some good books on the topic!

      Liked by 1 person

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