88 mm gun

88 mm gun

Discussion
Ask a question about '88 mm gun'
Start a new discussion about '88 mm gun'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
The 88 mm gun was a German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 anti-aircraft
Anti-aircraft warfare
NATO defines air defence as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action." They include ground and air based weapon systems, associated sensor systems, command and control arrangements and passive measures. It may be to protect naval, ground and air forces...

 and anti-tank
Anti-tank warfare
Anti-tank warfare was created by the need to seek technology and tactics to destroy tanks and their supporting infantry during the First World War...

 artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 gun from World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. It was widely used by Germany throughout the war, and was one of the most recognizable German weapons of the war. Developments of the original models led to a wide variety of guns.

The name applies to a series of guns, the first one officially called the 8,8 cm Flak 18, the improved 8,8 cm Flak 36, and later the 8,8 cm Flak 37.In German, comma is being used as the decimal separator in German, hence "8,8 cm" and not "8.8 cm". Flak is a contraction of German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 FlugzeugabwehrkanoneAlso many sources say Flak is a contraction of Flugabwehrkanone (as provided by: Oberkommando des Heeres H.Dv.481/541 - Merkblatt für die Munition der 8,8 cm Flugabwehrkanone 18 (8,8 cm Flak 18) und der 8,8 cm Flugabwehrkanone 36 (8,8 cm Flak 36); Berlin: Oberkommando des Heeres, 1942) or Fliegerabwehrkanone or Flugzeug-Abwehr-Kanone (as provided by Wilhelm Oppermann, 1928). In any case, including the latter, the letter "k" in "Flak" was not capitalized. meaning "anti-aircraft cannon", the original purpose of the eighty-eight. In informal German use, the guns were universally known as the Acht-achtThe Allied slang for anti-aircraft fire, ack-ack, does not come from the Acht-acht, but is World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 signalers' phonetic spelling of letters "AA"; A Dictionary of Great War Slang by Paul Hinckley.
("eight-eight"), a contraction of Acht-komma-acht Zentimeter ("8,8 cm"). In English language, "flak" became a generic term for ground anti-aircraft fire.

The versatile carriage allowed the eighty-eight to be fired in a limited anti-tank mode when still on wheels, and to be completely emplaced only in two-and-a-half minutes. The successful use as an improvised anti-tank gun led the development of the tank gun, the main armament of tanks such as the Tiger I
Tiger I
Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...

, the 8,8 cm KwK 36, with the "KwK" abbreviation standing for KampfwagenKanone ("fighting vehicle cannon").

In addition to these Krupp's designs, Rheinmetall created later a more powerful anti-aircraft gun, the 8,8 cm Flak 41, produced in relatively small numbers. Krupp responded with another prototype of long-barreled 88 mm gun, which became developed into the anti-tank 8.8 cm Pak 43
8.8 cm PaK 43
The Pak 43 was a German 88 mm anti-tank gun developed by Krupp in competition with the Rheinmetall 8.8 cm Flak 41 anti-aircraft gun and used during the Second World War. The Pak 43 was the most powerful anti-tank gun of the Wehrmacht to see service in significant numbers...

 and vehicle-mounted 8.8 cm KwK 43 guns.

Background


Initially anti-aircraft artillery guns of World War I were adaptations of existing medium-calibre weapons mounted to allow fire at higher angles. By 1915 the German command realized that these are useless for anything beyond deterrence, even against the vulnerable balloons and slow-moving aircraft. With the increase of aircraft performance, many armies developed dedicated AA guns with high muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity
Muzzle velocity is the speed a projectile has at the moment it leaves the muzzle of the gun. Muzzle velocities range from approximately to in black powder muskets , to more than in modern rifles with high-performance cartridges such as the .220 Swift and .204 Ruger, all the way to for tank guns...

 – allowing the projectiles to reach greater altitudes – and high rate of fire. The first such German gun was introduced in 1917, and it used caliber 88 mm, common in the German navy.

After losing the war, Germany had been forbidden to procure new weapons of most types. Nevertheless, the Krupp
Krupp
The Krupp family , a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their steel production and for their manufacture of ammunition and armaments. The family business, known as Friedrich Krupp AG Hoesch-Krupp, was the largest company in Europe at the beginning of the 20th...

 company started the development of a new gun in partnership with Bofors
Bofors
The name Bofors has been associated with the iron industry for more than 350 years.Located in Karlskoga, Sweden, the company originates from the hammer mill "Boofors" founded 1646. The modern corporate structure was created in 1873 with the foundation of Aktiebolaget Bofors-Gullspång...

 of Sweden
Sweden
Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

. The original design was a 75 mm model. During the prototype phase, the army asked for a gun with considerably greater capability. The designers started over using 88 mm caliber.

Flak 18, 36 and 37


Prototype 88s were first produced in 1928. These early models, the Flak 18, used a single-piece barrel with a length of 56 calibres, leading to the commonly-seen designation L/56.

The Flak 18 was mounted on a cruciform gun carriage. A simple to operate "semi-automatic" loading system ejected fired shells, allowing it to be reloaded by simply inserting a new shell into a tray. The gun would then fire, recoil, and, during the return stroke, the empty casing would be thrown backward by levers, and a cam would engage and recock the gun. This resulted in firing rates of 15 to 20 rounds a minute, which was better than similar weapons of the era. High explosive ammunition was used against aircraft and personnel, and
armour-piercing and high-explosive anti-tank against tanks and other armoured vehicles.

Widespread production started with the Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 rise to power in 1933, and the Flak 18 was available in small numbers when Germany intervened in the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

. It quickly proved to be the best anti-aircraft weapon then available. Further, the high muzzle velocity and large calibre made it an excellent long-range anti-vehicle weapon. This experience also demonstrated a number of minor problems and potential improvement opportunities.
Many of these were incorporated into the Flak 36, which had a two-piece barrel for easier replacement of worn liners. The new, heavier, carriage allowed it to fire while in an emergency mode when still on wheels and without grounding outriggers, but with a very limited traverse and elevation. For normal emplacement, one single-axle
Axle
An axle is a central shaft for a rotating wheel or gear. On wheeled vehicles, the axle may be fixed to the wheels, rotating with them, or fixed to its surroundings, with the wheels rotating around the axle. In the former case, bearings or bushings are provided at the mounting points where the axle...

 bogie
Bogie
A bogie is a wheeled wagon or trolley. In mechanics terms, a bogie is a chassis or framework carrying wheels, attached to a vehicle. It can be fixed in place, as on a cargo truck, mounted on a swivel, as on a railway carriage/car or locomotive, or sprung as in the suspension of a caterpillar...

 was detached from the front outrigger, one from the rear outrigger, and side outriggers were hinged from vertical position to the ground, which was estimated at a minimum of two-and-a-half minutes. Both modes of operation made the gun much more suitable for fast-moving operations, the basic concept of the blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

. Flak 36s were often fitted with an armoured shield
Gun shield
thumb|A [[United States Marine Corps|U.S. Marine]] manning an [[M240 machine gun]] equipped with a gun shieldA gun shield is a flat piece or section of armor designed to be mounted on a crew-served weapon such as a machine gun or artillery piece, or, more rarely, to be used with an assault rifle...

 that provided limited protection for the gunners. The weight of the gun meant that only large vehicles could move it, and the SdKfz 7
SdKfz 7
The Sd.Kfz. 7 was a half-track military vehicle used by the German Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Waffen-SS during the Second World War....

 half-track
Half-track
A half-track is a civilian or military vehicle with regular wheels on the front for steering, and caterpillar tracks on the back to propel the vehicle and carry most of the load. The purpose of this combination is to produce a vehicle with the cross-country capabilities of a tank and the handling...

 became a common prime mover
Artillery tractor
Artillery tractor is a kind of tractor, also referred to as a gun tractor, a vehicle used to tow artillery pieces of varying weights.-Traction:...

.

Targeting indicators were attached from the central controller to each of the four guns of a battery, allowing for coordinated fire. Indeed, with the automatic loading system, the gun layers' job would keep the gun barrel trained on the target area based on the signals from the controller. The loaders would keep the Flak fed with live ammunition which would fire immediately upon insertion—all while the gun layer aimed the weapon according to the data.

The later Flak 37, included updated instrumentation to allow the gun layers to follow directions from the single director more easily. The parts of the various versions of the guns were interchangeable, and it was not uncommon for various parts to be "mixed and matched" on a particular example. Some sources mistakenly cite that the Flak 37 was not equipped for anti-armour purposes. The fact is all 8.8 cm Flaks were capable of the dual role.

8.8 cm Flak 41




Due to the problems of defending against attack by high-flying aircraft the Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

 asked for newer weapons with even better performance as early as 1939. Rheinmetall
Rheinmetall
Rheinmetall AG is a German automotive and defence company with factories in Düsseldorf, Kassel and Unterlüß. The company has a long tradition of making guns and artillery pieces...

 responded with a new 88 mm L/71 design with a longer cartridge, the 8,8 cm Flak 41, with a prototype ready in 1941. It fired a 9.4 kilograms (20.7 lb) shell at a muzzle velocity of 1000 m/s (3,280 ft/s), giving it an effective ceiling of 11300 metres (37,073.5 ft) and a maximum of 15000 metres (49,212.6 ft), which General Otto Wilhelm von Renz said to be "almost equal to the 128-mm
12.8 cm FlaK 40
The 12.8 cm FlaK 40, was a German World War II anti-aircraft gun built as the successor to the 88 mm gun. Although it was not produced in great numbers, it was one of the most effective heavy AA guns of its era....

." It featured a lower silhouette on its turntable mounting than did the 8.8-cm Flak 18/36/37 on its pedestal
Pedestal
Pedestal is a term generally applied to the support of a statue or a vase....

 mounting. Two types of gun barrel were used, with three or four sections. Improvements in reloading raised the firing rate, with 20 to 25 rounds a minute being quoted.

The first 44 guns produced (August 1942) were immediately sent to Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

 but, because of problems in service, the guns were afterwards used mostly in Germany where they could be properly maintained and serviced. The Flak 41 had the disadvantage of complexity, and was prone to problems with ammunition, cases often jamming on extraction. Because of the high cost and complexity of this Flak gun, the Germans manufactured relatively few of them, 556 in all. As of August 1944 only 157 were fielded, and 318 in January 1945. A final adaptation, known as the Flak 37/41, mounted the Flak 41 gun on the Flak 37 carriage, but only 13 were produced.

Production numbers



Thousands of 88 mm guns were produced throughout the war in various models and mounts.
Heavy flak production numbers
pre-war 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 Total
8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37 2,459 183 1,130 1,998 3,052 4,712 6,482 738 20,754
8.8 cm Flak 41 0 0 0 0 48 122 290 96? 556
10.5 cm Flak 38/39
10.5 cm FlaK 38
The 10.5 cm SK C/33 was a German anti-aircraft gun used during World War II by the Kriegsmarine on a number of their larger capital ships. It was later adapted for Luftwaffe as a competitor to the famed 8.8 cm FlaK 18 as the 10.5 cm FlaK 38...

? 38 290 509 701 1,220 1,331 92 more than 4,181
12.8 cm Flak 40
12.8 cm FlaK 40
The 12.8 cm FlaK 40, was a German World War II anti-aircraft gun built as the successor to the 88 mm gun. Although it was not produced in great numbers, it was one of the most effective heavy AA guns of its era....

 (including twins)
0 0 0 0 65 298 664 98 1,125


Comparing to other artillery types, in December 1943, German industry made for example 570 heavy (caliber 88–128 mm) flak guns, 1020 field artillery pieces (caliber 75–210 mm), and 1300 tank guns, anti-tank guns, plus self-propelled guns.

Combat history


The eighty-eight was used in two roles: as a mobile heavy anti-aircraft gun, and in a more static role for home defence.

Anti-aircraft defense of the Reich



Since 1935, the anti-aircraft defense of Nazi Germany was controlled by Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe
Luftwaffe is a generic German term for an air force. It is also the official name for two of the four historic German air forces, the Wehrmacht air arm founded in 1935 and disbanded in 1946; and the current Bundeswehr air arm founded in 1956....

. By 1 September 1939, at the beginning of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Luftwaffe anti-aircraft artillery employed 6,700 light (2 cm and 3,7 cm) flak guns and 2,628 heavy flak guns. Of the latter, a small number were 10.5 cm Flak 38 or 39
10.5 cm FlaK 38
The 10.5 cm SK C/33 was a German anti-aircraft gun used during World War II by the Kriegsmarine on a number of their larger capital ships. It was later adapted for Luftwaffe as a competitor to the famed 8.8 cm FlaK 18 as the 10.5 cm FlaK 38...

 and the majority were 8.8 cm Flak 18, 36 or 37. This was twice as many heavy flak guns as Air Defence of Great Britain
Air Defence of Great Britain
The Air Defence of Great Britain was a RAF command comprising substantial Army and RAF elements responsible for the air defence of the British Isles...

 (ADGB) had at the time, with France and the United States having even less.

Throughout the entire war, the majority of the 88 mm guns were used in their original anti-aircraft role.

As of costs associated with anti-aircraft cannon in general, they were substantial, especially when compared to fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

. For example, in January 1943 – at the time Germany desperately fought to regain strategic initiative
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 and 2 February 1943...

 in the East and also faced heavy bombing campaign in the West – expenditures on flak were 39 million reichsmark, whereas all the remaining weapon production and munitions production amounted to 93 million (including 20 million of the navy budget and only 9 million of aircraft-related budget).

By August 1944, there were 10,704 Flak 18, 36 and 37 guns in service, now complemented also by the formidable 12.8 cm Flak 40
12.8 cm FlaK 40
The 12.8 cm FlaK 40, was a German World War II anti-aircraft gun built as the successor to the 88 mm gun. Although it was not produced in great numbers, it was one of the most effective heavy AA guns of its era....

, owing to the increase in U.S. and British bombing raids during 1943 and 1944. There were complaints that, due to the apparent ineffectiveness of anti-aircraft defenses as a whole, the guns should be transferred from air defense units to anti-tank duties, but this politically unpopular move was never made.

Support of German ground troops



The 88 performed well in its original role of an anti-aircraft gun, but it proved to be a superb anti-tank gun as well. Its success was due to its versatility: the standard anti-aircraft platform allowed gunners to depress the muzzle below horizontal, unlike most other anti-aircraft guns. During the initial stages of the war, as it was becoming increasingly clear that existing anti-tank weapons were unable to pierce the armour of heavier enemy tanks, gunners increasingly put the weapon to use against enemy tanks, a situation that was aided by the prevalence of the 88 among German forces.

Similarly to the anti-aircraft role, in the anti-tank role the 88 guns were tactically arranged into batteries, usually four guns each. The higher-level tactical unit was, most commonly, a mixed anti-aircraft battalion (Flak-Abteilung, gemischte).The light anti-aircraft battalion usually did not deploy any 88s, and the heavy battalions were rarely used in practice. It totaled 12 such guns on average, supplanted by light cannons.

The German Condor Legion
Condor Legion
The Condor Legion was a unit composed of volunteers from the German Air Force and from the German Army which served with the Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War of July 1936 to March 1939. The Condor Legion developed methods of terror bombing which were used widely in the Second World War...

 made extensive use of the 88 in the Spanish Civil War, where its usefulness as an anti-tank weapon and a general artillery piece exceeded its role as an anti-aircraft weapon.

For the 1940 Battle of France
Battle of France
In the Second World War, the Battle of France was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries, beginning on 10 May 1940, which ended the Phoney War. The battle consisted of two main operations. In the first, Fall Gelb , German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes, to cut off and...

, the army was supported by eighty-eights deployed in twenty-four mixed flak battalions. The eighty-eight was used against heavily armored tanks such as the Char B1 bis
Char B1
The Char B1 was a French heavy tank manufactured before World War II.The Char B1 was a specialised heavy break-through vehicle, originally conceived as a self-propelled gun with a 75 mm howitzer in the hull; later a 47 mm gun in a turret was added, to allow it to function also as a Char...

 and Matilda II
Matilda tank
The Infantry Tank Mark II known as the Matilda II was a British infantry tank of the Second World War. It was also identified from its General Staff Specification A12....

, whose frontal armour could not be penetrated by the light 3.7 cm anti-tank guns then available. The 88 was powerful enough to penetrate over 84 mm of armour at a range of 2 km, making it an unparalleled anti-tank weapon during the early war, and still formidable against all but the heaviest tanks at the end of the war. Notably, Erwin Rommel
Erwin Rommel
Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel , popularly known as the Desert Fox , was a German Field Marshal of World War II. He won the respect of both his own troops and the enemies he fought....

's timely use of the gun to blunt the British counterattack at Arras
Battle of Arras (1940)
The Battle of Arras took place during the Battle of France, in the early stages of World War II. It was an Allied counterattack against the flank of the German army, that took place near the town of Arras, in north-eastern France. The German forces were pushing north toward the channel coast, in...

 ended any hope of a breakout from the blitzkrieg encirclement of May 1940. In the entire Battle of France, flak destroyed 152 tanks and 151 bunkers.
During the North African campaign
North African campaign
During the Second World War, the North African Campaign took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria and Tunisia .The campaign was fought between the Allies and Axis powers, many of whom had...

, Rommel made the most effective use of the weapon, as he lured tanks of the British 8th Army
Eighth Army (United Kingdom)
The Eighth Army was one of the best-known formations of the British Army during World War II, fighting in the North African and Italian campaigns....

 into traps by baiting them with apparently retreating tanks. When the enemy tanks pursued, concealed 88s picked them off at ranges far beyond those of their 2-pdr
Ordnance QF 2 pounder
The Ordnance QF 2-pounder was a British anti-tank and vehicle-mounted gun, employed in the Second World War. It was actively used in the Battle of France, and during the North Africa campaign...

 and 6-pdr
Ordnance QF 6 pounder
The Ordnance Quick-Firing 6-pounder 7 cwt, or just 6 pounder, was a British 57 mm gun, their primary anti-tank gun during the middle of World War II, as well as the main armament for a number of armoured fighting vehicles...

 guns. A mere two flak battalions destroyed 264 tanks throughout 1941.

For the invasion of the Soviet Union
Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

 Germany deployed the 88s in 51 mixed flak battalions. They were mostly Luftwaffe-subordinated units attached to the Heer on a corps or army level, with approximately one battalion per corps. The weapon saw continuous use on the eastern front. The appearance of the outstanding T-34
T-34
The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1940 to 1958. Although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it has been often credited as the most effective, efficient and influential design of World War II...

 and KV
Kliment Voroshilov tank
The Kliment Voroshilov tanks were a series of Soviet heavy tanks, named after the Soviet defense commissar and politician Kliment Voroshilov. The KV series were known for their extremely heavy armour protection during the early war, especially during the first year of the invasion of the Soviet...

 tanks shocked the German tank crews and antitank teams, who could only penetrate the Soviet tanks' armour at extremely close range when using the standard 37 mm
3.7 cm KwK 36
The 3.7 cm KwK 36 L/45 was a German 3.7 cm cannon used primarily as the chief weapon of variants of the German medium tank the SdKfz.141 Panzerkampfwagen III...

 and 50 mm
5 cm KwK 38
The 5 cm KwK 38 L/42 was a German 5 cm cannon used as the main armament of variants of the German SdKfz.141 Panzerkampfwagen III medium tank. It was used in vehicles that saw action in the Second World War. There were no towed anti-tank gun for this variant.-Ammunition:* PzGr * PzGr...

 guns.

The 88 was arguably most effective in the flat and open terrains of Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

, Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

 and the eastern front
Eastern Front (World War II)
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of World War II between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union, Poland, and some other Allies which encompassed Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945...

. The less open terrain in Italy
Operation Torch
Operation Torch was the British-American invasion of French North Africa in World War II during the North African Campaign, started on 8 November 1942....

 and Northern France was less suitable for the 88. The success of the 88 caused the Allies to take steps to defend against it in new tank designs.

By February 1945, there were 327 heavy anti-aircraft batteries delegated against the Soviet land armies, which was 21% of those dedicated solely to anti-aircraft defense of the country.

Use by other armed forces



The Flak 36 guns were briefly issued in late 1944 to the American 7th Army as captured weapons. The 79th Field Artillery Battalion (Provisional) was formed from personnel of the 79th and 179th Field Artillery Groups to fire captured German artillery pieces at the height of an ammunition shortage. Similarly, the 244th Field Artillery Battalion was temporarily equipped with a miscellany of captured German 88mm guns and 105mm and 150mm howitzers.

During the civil war in Yugoslavia
Yugoslav wars
The Yugoslav Wars were a series of wars, fought throughout the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995. The wars were complex: characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts among the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Serbs on the one side and Croats and Bosniaks on the other; but also...

 in the 1990s, various Flak guns were used, mainly by the naval artillery of the Yugoslav People's Army
Yugoslav People's Army
The Yugoslav People's Army , also referred to as the Yugoslav National Army , was the military of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.-Origins:The origins of the JNA can...

 (JNA). The Serbian Army (VJ) also used Flak carriages mounted with double 262 mm rocket launch tubes from the M-87 Orkan MLRS, instead of the 88mm gun. It was capable of deploying cluster bombs, as well as anti personnel and anti tank mines, at up to 50 km. However, only a few were made during the summer of 1993, and the entire project was generally regarded as unsuccessful.

Comparison to other anti-aircraft guns


The Flak 18 was not as powerful as its Italian
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 or Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 counterparts. As an anti-aircraft gun it fired a 9.2 kilogram (20 lb) shell at a muzzle velocity of 790 m/s (2,600 ft/s) to an effective ceiling of 7900 metres (25,918.6 ft) (at maximum 10600 metres (34,776.9 ft)). Although this was useful against U.S. daylight raids, which typically flew at 7600 metres (24,934.4 ft), many aircraft could fly higher than its maximum effective ceiling. In comparison, the British 3.7 inches (94 mm) Mark 3
QF 3.7 inch AA gun
The 3.7-Inch QF AA was Britain's primary heavy anti-aircraft gun during World War II. It was roughly the equivalent of the German 88 mm FlaK but with a slightly larger calibre of 94 mm and superior performance. It was used throughout World War II in all theatres except the Eastern Front...

 fired a 13 kg (28.7 lb) projectile at 790 m/s (2,600 ft/s) to an effective ceiling of 10600 metres (34,776.9 ft), and the American 90 mm M1 fired a 10 kg (22 lb) shell at 820 m/s (2,700 ft/s) to the same height, while the Italian Cannone da 90/53
Cannone da 90/53
The Cannone da 90/53 was an Italian designed cannon, and one of the most successful anti-aircraft guns to see service during World War II. It was used both in an anti-aircraft role and as an anti-tank gun...

 fired a 10.33 kg projectile at 830 m/s to an effective ceiling of 12000 metres (39,370.1 ft).
The Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 weapons' capabilities were augmented by the introduction of proximity fuses, which allowed them to remain effective even with the introduction of jet-engined aircraft. The Allies' and Italian weapons were heavier and less mobile, with the Allied weapons being almost useless for ground fire until numerous modifications were carried out. While the U.S. and Italian 90 mm would go on to serve as powerful anti-tank guns, they were by no means as universally deployed as tank-killers as was the German 88.

Pak 43 and KwK 43



At the time Rheinmetall developed Flak 41, Krupp's tried to compete with their 8.8 cm Gerät 42 proposal, but it was not accepted for production as an anti-aircraft gun. Krupp continued development, resulting in the dreaded 8.8 cm Pak 43
8.8 cm PaK 43
The Pak 43 was a German 88 mm anti-tank gun developed by Krupp in competition with the Rheinmetall 8.8 cm Flak 41 anti-aircraft gun and used during the Second World War. The Pak 43 was the most powerful anti-tank gun of the Wehrmacht to see service in significant numbers...

 anti-tank gun and 8.8 cm KwK 43 tank gun.

Pak 43 (abbreviation of Panzerabwehrkanone 43) used a new cruciform mount with the gun much closer to the ground, making it far easier to hide and harder to hit. It was also provided with a much stronger and more angled armour shield to provide better protection. All versions were able to penetrate about 200 mm of armour at 1,000 m, allowing it to defeat the armor of any contemporary tank. The standard armament of the Tiger II
Tiger II
Tiger II is the common name of a German heavy tank of the Second World War. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B,Panzerkampfwagen – abbr: Pz. or Pz.Kfw. Ausführung – abbr: Ausf. .The full titles Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf...

, the KwK 43 tank gun, was essentially the Pak 43 externally modified to fit into a turret. There were also self-propelled versions of the gun, including the lightly-armored Nashorn
Nashorn
Nashorn , initially known as Hornisse , was a German tank destroyer of World War II. It was developed as an interim solution in 1942 and was armed with the outstanding Pak 43 anti-tank gun...

 and, later, strongly-armored Jagdpanther
Jagdpanther
The Jagdpanther was a tank destroyer built by Nazi Germany during World War II based on the chassis of the Panther tank. It entered service late in the war and saw service on the Eastern and Western fronts...

 tank destroyers.

Guns using the early 88×571R mm cartridge

  • 8.8 cm Flak 18 New semi-automatic breech, high velocity gun. Entered production in Germany in 1933. Used the Sonderanhänger 201 trailer. Weight 7 tonnes. Rate of fire 15 to 20 rounds per minute. Later, fitted with a gun shield to protect the crew when engaging ground targets. Produced by Krupp.
    • Mod 1938 II: Approximately 50 guns modified so a single man could adjust elevation and traverse.
  • 8.8 cm Flak 36 Entered service 1936–37. It used the redesigned trailer Sonderanhänger 202 enabling faster time to action from the move. The SdAnh 202 had twin wheels on two similar carriages. Could engage ground targets from its traveling position. Weight 7 tonnes. Rate of fire 15 to 20 rounds per minute. Produced by Krupp. Later, fitted with a shield to protect the crew when engaging ground targets.
    • 8.8 cm KwK 36: Main gun of the PzKw VI Ausf. E (Tiger I
      Tiger I
      Tiger I is the common name of a German heavy tank developed in 1942 and used in World War II. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. E, often shortened to Tiger. It was an answer to the unexpectedly formidable Soviet armour encountered in the initial months of...

      ) tank. Despite its designation, some classify it as a parallel development with very similar specifications rather than a derivative of the Flak 36.
  • 8.8 cm Flak 37: An updated version of the Flak 36, the main difference being Übertragungser 37 (a data transmission system). Produced by Krupp.

Guns using the 88×855R mm cartridge

  • 8.8 cm Flak 41: A gun developed and produced by Rheinmetall-Borsig. A 71 caliber barrel and a 855 mm cartridge case. Fitted to the existing Sonderanhänger 202 as standard. Entered service 1943.

Guns using the 88×822R mm cartridge

  • 8.8 cm Gerät 42: a new Krupp design to compete with Flak 41; did not enter service as an anti-aircraft gun. Further development of the weapon led to the Pak 43 anti-tank gun.
  • 8.8 cm Pak 43: Anti-tank model developed from Krupp's 8.8 cm Gerät 42. New gun carriage, the Sonderanhänger 204. Developed by Krupp and manufactured in different versions, including KwK 43, by at least Dortmund Hoerder-Hüttenverein, Henschel, Weserhütte and Fr. Garny. A 71 caliber barrel and a 822 mm cartridge case.
    • 8.8 cm Pak 43/41: Pak 43 mounted on single axle split-trail field gun carriage produced as a stop-gap measure due to scarcity of materials. Weight 4.9 tonnes.
    • 8.8 cm Pak 43/1: Pak 43 as mounted in the Nashorn
      Nashorn
      Nashorn , initially known as Hornisse , was a German tank destroyer of World War II. It was developed as an interim solution in 1942 and was armed with the outstanding Pak 43 anti-tank gun...

       tank destroyer.
    • 8.8 cm Pak 43/2 Pak 43 as mounted in the Ferdinand
      Elefant
      The Elefant was a "schwerer Panzerjäger" of the German Wehrmacht used in small numbers in World War II. It was built in 1943 under the name Ferdinand, after its designer Ferdinand Porsche. In 1944, after modification of the existing vehicles, they were renamed Elefant...

      /Elefant tank destroyer. On occasion referred to as "StuK 43/1".
    • 8.8 cm Pak 43/3 and 43/4: Pak 43 as mounted in the Jagdpanther
      Jagdpanther
      The Jagdpanther was a tank destroyer built by Nazi Germany during World War II based on the chassis of the Panther tank. It entered service late in the war and saw service on the Eastern and Western fronts...

       tank destroyer. Falling wedge breech block.
    • 8.8 cm KwK 43: Pak 43 modified as a tank gun. Main gun of the Tiger II
      Tiger II
      Tiger II is the common name of a German heavy tank of the Second World War. The final official German designation was Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf. B,Panzerkampfwagen – abbr: Pz. or Pz.Kfw. Ausführung – abbr: Ausf. .The full titles Panzerkampfwagen Tiger Ausf...

       heavy tank. Falling wedge breech block.

See also


  • Flak tower
    Flak tower
    Flak towers were 8 complexes of large, above-ground, anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers constructed in the cities of Berlin , Hamburg , and Vienna from 1940 onwards....


Further reading

  • Gander, Terry, and Peter Chamberlain. Weapons of the Third Reich: An Encyclopedic Survey of All Small Arms, Artillery and Special Weapons of the German Land Forces 1939–1945. New York: Doubleday, 1979. ISBN 0-385-15090-3.
  • Hogg, Ian V. German Artillery of World War Two. 2nd corrected edition. Mechanicsville, Penn.: Stackpole Books, 1997. ISBN 1-85367-480-X.

External links and further reading