[24] The batteries were supplied complete with a Zeiss firing station Mod. It was justifiably feared by Allied airmen, tankers, and foot soldiers because of its accuracy, lethality, and versatility. As WW2 progressed, it was becoming increasingly clear that existing anti-tank weapons were unable to pierce the armor of heavier enemy tanks and ground commanders began increasingly to use the 8.8 cm Flak against tanks. pp 293. [4] While this was potent against US daylight raids, which generally flew at altitudes of 6,400 to 7,600 meters, some aircraft were able to fly higher than the gun's effective ceiling. The light anti-aircraft battalion usually did not deploy any 8.8 cm Flaks, the heavy battalions were rarely used in practice. It appears as though the T-34(r) mit 8.8… A German 88mm artillery piece in action in Russia, July, 1942. It was later fitted with a gun shield to protect the crew when engaging … When World War II began, more than 2,500 Flak 18, or improved Flak 36/37 models, were in service. In informal use, the guns were universally known as the Acht-acht ("eight-eight") by Germans and the "eighty-eight" by the Allies. III radars. 8.8 cm Flak als anti-tankgeschut. Following the Spanish Civil War, more Flak 36 models arrived in 1943 (88 guns 88/56 mm Flak-36) and since 1943 they were manufactured under license in Trubia under the denomination FT 44 (about 200 guns). By February 1945, there were 327 heavy anti-aircraft batteries facing the Red Army, which was 21 percent of those used for anti-aircraft defense.[9]. It was introduced in Update 1.63 "Desert Hunters". 8.8cm Flak. The Flak 30 (Flugzeugabwehrkanone 30) and improved Flak 38 were 20 mm anti-aircraft guns used by various German forces throughout World War II.It was not only the primary German light anti-aircraft gun, but by far the most numerously produced German artillery piece throughout the war. The Flak 37/41 had the simplified fuze setter of the 8.8-cm Flak 41. Targeting indicators were attached to the central controller to each of the four guns of a battery, allowing for coordinated fire. More than sixty Matilda tanks were destroyed by these guns during this battle. In some sources it is mistakenly stated that the Flak 37 was not equipped for anti-armor operation. [American troops] knew that the greatest single weapon of the war, the atomic bomb excepted, was the German 88 mm flat-trajectory gun, which brought down thousands of bombers and tens of thousands of soldiers. After Hitler took power in 1933, Germany rapidly re-armed. Royal Military College of Canada, Kingston (PAK 43 and Flak 37). After 1935, the anti-aircraft defense of Germany was controlled by the Luftwaffe. The loaders would keep the weapon fed with live ammunition which would fire immediately upon insertion—all while the gun layer aimed the weapon according to the data. During 1942 tests were made using the Flak 41 barrel and Flak 37 chassis but these identified that the chassis could not take the strain even when strengthened. [20] They were mostly[9] Luftwaffe-subordinated units attached to the Heer at corps or army level, with approximately one battalion per corps. [citation needed] While the US and Italian 90 mm were also used as anti-tank guns—the American gun being in use on their M36 tank destroyer and M26 Pershing heavy tank—their use was considerably more limited than the German 88 due to German tanks being primarily used defensively by 1944 and allied tanks being used en masse for the attack. The 8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37/41 is a German 88 mm anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun, developed in the 1930s. A battery of four guns typically deployed for the anti-aircraft role in a square formation connected by cables to a fire-control unit (Kommandogerät 40) in the center. Krupp continued development, resulting in the dreaded 8.8 cm PaK 43 anti-tank gun and the related 8.8 cm KwK 43 tank gun. The 8.8 cm Flak performed well in its original role of an anti-aircraft gun and it proved to be a superb anti-tank gun as well. It was the main armament of the Tiger I heavy tank. Penetration of the Pzgr. 'Flak-Bus' 2. Some flak batteries used guns worn out from firing beyond their operational lives, which typically limited their effective ceiling to 7,470 meters.[34]. [31], During the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, various Flak guns were used, mainly by the naval artillery of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). 8.8 cm Flak 18 Had a new semi-automatic breech, making it a high velocity gun. Based from FlaK 88 Work in Progress. Called wolfram in German, tungsten is a very dense and hard metal. Later in that theater, in the Battle of Faid in Tunisia, Rommel camouflaged many 8.8 cm Flaks (with additional 7.5 cm Pak 40s and 5 cm Pak 38s) in cactus-filled areas. This page details the development and operational history of the 8.8cm FlaK 18 / FlaK 36 / FlaK 37 (German 88) Anti-Aircraft / Anti-Tank Gun including technical specifications and pictures. This experience also demonstrated a number of minor problems and potential improvement opportunities. Development of the original model led to a wide variety of guns. In the entire Battle of France, the weapon destroyed 152 tanks and 151 bunkers. 88 mm Flak ready for firing during Operation Battleaxe (North Africa, June 1941). Its performance was said to be comparable to the 12,8 cm Flak, with a lower silhouette than its predecessor and an increased firing rate (up to 25 rounds per minute). Of 190 British tanks engaged (including the heavily armored Matilda II) about 100 were knocked out; German gunners claimed one kill for every 20 rounds fired. Photo: Mark Pellegrini / CC BY-SA 2.5 Flak 18 88 30 German Flak 18 88 mm anti aircraft artillery Flak 8,8 cm Flak Crew Paint Victory Kill Rings Flak 18 88mm gun Flak 88 gun ready to firing against aircraft Flak 88 Regiment 24 Artemowsk Winter 1941 Two 88 … The prototype Flak 18 appeared in 1928. Type: medium anti-aircraft gun, but often used as anti-tank or field gun. 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When World War II began, more than 2,500 Flak 18, or improved Flak 36/37 models, were in service. Thousands of 88 mm guns were produced throughout the war in various models and mounts. 36 and related auxiliary equipment. [citation needed], Initially, the Flak 18 batteries were deployed to protect the airfields and logistics bases of the German Condor legion. High-explosive shells with percussion fuse (impact or 0.11 second delay) were fired against ground troops or fixed targets. Used mainly on flak towers. The first is rather popular – a captured T-34 with a Flak 88 mounted on top – the “T-34(r) mit 8.8cm Flak“. 39 ammunition against a 30-degree sloped steel plate: Askey, Nigel (2014). Armor-piercing shells with tracer and small base-fused bursting charge were used against tanks. [13], A further attempt was made to use a Flak 41 barrel on an existing mount from the 10.5 cm FlaK 39. The Würzburg radar series of radars was produced in the thousands and used widely. The spoken version was. That said, nice vid! For Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, Germany deployed the 8.8 cm Flak in 51 mixed AA battalions. Inexperienced U.S. tankers and commanders rushed into a valley at Faid only to be obliterated. A trained crew took about two minutes to bring the piece into action. I./43 (Major Wegener) employed these guns against a commando landing raid called Operation Agreement by the British Royal Navy near Tobruk. Bundesarchive photo. This gun used the same size 88 x 571R mm cartridge employed by the Flak 18/36/37. [N 4] It totaled 12 such guns on average, supplemented by light guns. [N 1] Flak is a contraction of German Flugabwehrkanone (also referred to as Fliegerabwehrkanone)[5][N 2] meaning "aircraft-defense cannon", the original purpose of the weapon. The first such German gun, the Flak 16, was introduced in 1917, using the 88 mm caliber, common in the Kaiserliche Marine. Air defense units were usually deployed with either a Kommandogerät ("command device") fire control computer or a portable Würzburg radar, which were responsible for its high level of accuracy against aircraft. When German “Condor Legion” troops, supporting the Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, came under tank attack they turned their anti-aircraft guns on the Republican tanks. While the proposal was accepted in principle, the German authorities stated that they did not have that quantity of pieces available, so they paid off the debt in part with 8.8 cm Flak and partly with the 7.5 cm kanon (75/50 in the Italian name). In 1937, the Chinese Nationalist Government imported 20 Flak 18 guns and used them to defend the fortifications along the Yangtze River. At the time that Rheinmetall developed the Flak 41, Krupp tried to compete with their 8.8 cm Gerät 42 proposal, which was not accepted for production as an anti-aircraft gun. Hitting aircraft in flight with a projectile is a very difficult technical problem. It was widely used by Germany throughout World War II and is one of the most recognized German weapons of that conflict. In addition to these Krupp designs, Rheinmetall later created a more powerful anti-aircraft gun, the 8.8 cm Flak 41,[N 1] which was produced in relatively small numbers. Bundesarchive photo. Because of the high cost and complexity of this weapon, the Germans manufactured relatively few of them, 556 in all. Most 88mm guns served in Luftwaffe flak regiments (24 guns) or Wehrmacht mixed anti-aircraft battalions (FlaK Abteilungen with 4 to 8 guns). They go through them just like they were a piece of paper". It was this muzzle velocity, combined with a projectile of high weight, that made the 8.8 cm Flak one of the great World War II anti-tank guns. Even though it was intended for firing at enemy aircraft, it could also be a good anti –tank gun. Clever and deceptive photoshops are one of the best ways to invent a fake tank. Rheinmetall responded with a new 88 mm design with a longer cartridge and a longer barrel. During the war German 88 mm guns were involved in 377 combat engagements, only 31 were against enemy aircraft. It was used to fire at Allied bombers and fighters. Bundesarchive photo. “Well, it’s like this. Flak 36s were often fitted with an armoured shield that provided limited protection for the gunners. The Legendary 88 mm gun (eighty-eight) is a German anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun from World War II. The Flak 18's carriage allowed it to fire in an emergency when still on its wheels and without its outriggers, but with a very limited traverse and elevation. [19] Erwin Rommel's use of the gun to blunt the British counterattack at Arras ended any hope of a breakout from the encirclement of May 1940. [9] The Battle of France also saw the introduction of vehicle-mounted 8.8 cm Flak 18s, the so-called "Bunkerknacker" on the Sd.Kfz. The batteries began arriving in Italy a few days after Italy entered the war, and were initially assigned in part to the Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale (Voluntary Militia for National Security, MACA), for the protection of the Italian main cities and partly sent in Libya, for the protection of ports. "[9] It featured a lower silhouette on its turntable mounting than did the 8.8-cm Flak 18/36/37 on its pedestal mounting. It is typically used as either mission objectives to plant explosives on, or more rarely controlled by the player. Radar aiming systems were also developed to complement these systems. The scarcity of artillery among the Nationalist forces and the general low proficiency of the Spanish gun crews forced the usage of the Flak 18 gun in a variety of roles, including as an artillery piece and as an anti-tank gun. At the end of the war the Spanish Army was using all of the Flak 18 guns sent, some 52 units. The barrel for the 8.8 cm K.Zugflak L/45 was built from steel and was 45 calibers in length. [12], A prototype was ready in early 1941[12] leading to the designation 8.8 cm Flak 41. [citation needed] High explosive ammunition was used against aircraft and personnel, and The FlaK 41 was used primarily for air defense in the West, so its anti-armor use was limited. In fact all 8.8 cm Flak guns were capable of operation in the dual role.[11]. There are at least three reported “T-34(r) mit 8.8cm” tanks, all in German service. This gun served as the main armament of the Tiger I heavy tank. 39) The Allies had nothing as good, despite one of them designating itself the world's greatest industrial power. The success of the German anti-tank weapons caused the Allies to take steps to defend against it in new tank designs. It allowed general area fire without line of sight, but had poor accuracy compared to the visual systems. Operation Barbarossa: the Complete Organisational and Statistical Analysis, and Military Simulation Volume IIB. [22] Just as important, the success of the 8.8 cm Flaks spawned the development of dedicated 8.8 cm caliber PAKs (see discussion below) which were even more adept at anti-tank mission due to their lower silhouette design. Flak 37 gun at the Deutsches Panzermuseum, Munster, Germany, Flak 37 gun at the Anti-aircraft Museum in Hyrylä, Finland, Flak 36 gun in position at Bir Hakeim, North Africa, June 1942, Flak 36 battery in firing position, Germany, 1943, FuMG 39 “Würzburg” radar at an anti-aircraft position on the Atlantic Wall, France, 1942, 8.8 cm Flak 36 with Flak Rohr 18 barrel at the, Comparison with similar anti-aircraft guns, Weapons of comparable role, performance and era, In German, the comma is used as the decimal separator, hence official punctuation was actually "8,8 cm" and not "8.8 cm". There was a leveling jack at the end of each arm. [citation needed] The flak detachment with 88s proved accurate and versatile in combat against mainly land targets, the high muzzle velocity and large caliber making it an excellent long-range anti-vehicle and anti-bunker weapon. The FlaK 88 and the naval 88 were different guns. A mere two flak battalions destroyed 264 British tanks in 1941. 8 heavy tractor. The 8.8cm Flak 37 Selbstfahrlafette auf 18 ton Zugkraftwagen is a rank II German tank destroyer with a battle rating of 4.3 (AB), 4.0 (RB), and 3.7 (SB). The word means ‘aircraft defense canon’. The resulting unit outperformed the 105 mm original and was called the 8.8 cm Flak 39/41. Because the Versailles Treaty prohibited Germany from developing new weapons, the “88” was designed by Krupp engineers in Sweden. [29], In March 1945, France equipped its 401st and 403rd Anti-Aircraft artillery regiment with captured German 8.8 guns, associated with British GL Mk. Between them and Italian 155 mm (6-inch) shore batteries the destroyer HMS Sikh was so severely damaged that she sank while being towed by HMS Zulu. [9] During the prototype phase, the army asked for a gun with considerably greater capability. The Kommandogerät systems were introduced starting in 1925, and the Kommandogerät p40 was the standard system during the majority of the war. 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. Krupp responded with another prototype of the long-barreled 8.8 cm gun, which was further developed into the anti-tank and tank destroyer 8.8 cm PaK 43 gun used for the Elefant and Jagdpanther, and turret-mounted 8.8 cm KwK 43 heavy tank gun of the Tiger II. Finally we ran out of ammunition and the Americans didn’t run out of tanks.”. Given appropriate ammunition it proved quite capable in both roles. The 8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37/41 is a German 88 mm anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun, developed in the 1930s. The 88 fired three main types of ammunition (88 x 571R). The vehicle is affectionately nicknamed as the: 1. 88 mm gun Flak 18, 36 and 37. The Flak 41 had the disadvantage of complexity, and was prone to problems with ammunition, empty cases often jamming on extraction. Aug. 1942. Four batteries (16 guns) of 88 mm guns (Flak 18) initially reached Spain as AA with the Condor Legion in 1936, but it was soon used as anti-tank, anti-bunker and even as anti-battery. Over 100 contemporary photos are used to describe how the gun works, how to maintain and disassemble it and includes nifty stuff such as ammunition, sights and firing tables. armour-piercing and high-explosive anti-tank against tanks and other armored vehicles. Initially these were APCR (armor piercing composite rigid) projectiles with a tungsten core. The third is a T-34/85 rearmed with a Tiger’s 8.8cm gun – the “T-34(r) mit 8.8cm KwK 36 L/56“. The Germans found that it could outperform the older but larger caliber 10.5cm FlaK 38 and 39 heavy antiaircraft guns. The Flak 18 was mounted on a cruciform gun carriage. It was this muzzle velocity, combine… A battery of four guns typically deployed in a square formation connected by cables to a fire-control unit (Kommandogerät 40) in the center. [21] The weapon saw continuous use on the eastern front. 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. Both Flak 18 and Flak 36 had the same permanently attached fuze setter with two "Zünderstellbecher". [citation needed], The Flak 36 guns were briefly issued in late 1944 to the American Seventh Army as captured weapons. Widespread production started with the Nazi rise to power in 1933, and the Flak 18 was available in small numbers when Germany intervened in the Spanish Civil War. Several of the Finnish guns survive in museums and as memorials. Prototype 88s were first produced in 1928. Casualties among the legion's 88 mm gun batteries in the Spanish Civil War were second only to those among the bomber pilots. By 1915, the German command realized that these were useless for anything beyond deterrence, even against the vulnerable balloons and slow-moving aircraft of the period. They weren't 'versions' of the same gun - they were different guns, with different breech designs, firing different ammunition, designed in different years. [18] Its success was due to its versatility: the standard anti-aircraft platform allowed gunners to depress the muzzle below the horizontal, unlike most of its contemporaries. By the 1930s, two solutions evolved: light automatic AA, firing small (20 to 57mm) shells at a high rate, and medium-to-heavy AA (75 to 128mm) firing explosive shells time-fused to detonate at the predicted point, filling the sky with shrapnel. When the U.S. Army's M3 Stuart and M4 Sherman tanks pursued, concealed German guns picked them off at ranges far beyond those of their 37 mm and 75 mm guns respectively. It was capable of deploying cluster bombs, as well as anti-personnel and anti-tank mines, at up to 50 km. The 88mm saw action wherever the Third Reich did battle. The 88 FlaK 41used an 858mm long cartridge, significantly longer than the cartridge used by its predecessors. [10] The first such German gun was introduced in 1917, using the 8.8 cm caliber common in the Kaiserliche Marine (navy).[9]. Similarly, the 244th Field Artillery Battalion was temporarily equipped with a miscellany of captured German 88 mm guns and 105 mm and 150 mm howitzers. The less open terrain in Italy and Northern France was less suitable for long-range AT guns. Over 21 000 of these 88 mm guns were built. [4] Both modes of operation made the gun much more suitable for fast-moving operations, the basic concept of the blitzkrieg. After rejecting 75mm designs, the team settled on 88mm (8.8cm/3.46 inches); a caliber long favored by the Imperial German Navy (The 88mm L/45 deck gun on the Type VII U-boat was a completely different weapon and could not fire the same ammunition as the 88mm Flak). 'Flak-Track' The later model was the Flak 37, which included updated instrumentation to allow the gun layers to follow directions from the single director more easily. Observing the tracer from the first round in battle, the average, calm gunner might achieve the firing range accuracy shown in the second column with the second round fired at the same target. - August 19, 2013, A German 88mm artillery piece fires in Russia, ca. Initially, anti-aircraft artillery guns of World War I were adaptations of existing medium-caliber weapons, mounted to allow fire at higher angles. The original design was a 75 mm model. © 2020 Defense Media Network. A German 88mm artillery piece is towed by a SdKfz 6 half-track in North Africa, April, 1941. [4] For normal emplacement, one single-axle bogie was detached from the front outrigger and one from the rear, side outriggers were then hinged from the vertical position to the ground; the total time to set up was estimated at two and a half minutes. [4] Its successful use as an improvised anti-tank gun led to the development of a tank gun based upon it: the 8.8 cm KwK 36, with the "KwK" abbreviation standing for Kampfwagen-Kanone (literally "battle vehicle cannon", or "fighting vehicle cannon"), meant to be placed in a gun turret as the tank's primary armament. [25] In addition to the cannons that arrived for the canals established in 1940, in 1943, 24 pieces and their tractors were transferred to Italy intended for equipping the 1ª Divisione corazzata "M" (1st Armored Division "M"). Nevertheless, the Krupp company started the development of a new gun together with Bofors of Sweden. By 1915, the German command realized that these were useless for anything beyond deterrence, even against the vulnerable balloons and slow-moving aircraft of the period. In English, "flak" became a generic term for ground anti-aircraft fire. The designers started again, using 88 mm caliber. [9] By the beginning of World War II the Luftwaffe's anti-aircraft artillery employed 6,700 light (2 cm and 3.7 cm) and 2,628 heavy flak guns. The gun would then fire and recoil; during the return stroke, the empty case would be thrown backward by levers, after which a cam would engage and recock the gun. However it was immediately evident that the Regio Esercito (Italian Royal Army) did not have at its disposal a tractor with characteristics suitable for towing this piece, given that the task was entrusted to Lancia 3Ro, without all-wheel drive. Virginia War Museum, Newport News, Virginia. For the similarly named perk, see Flak Jacket. The first deliveries were made in March 1943[12] and, as of August 1944, only 157 were fielded; with 318 in January 1945. [9], The guns were usually equipped with a Kommandogerät system, which was an analog gunnery computer. The weapon could be fired with its wheels attached, but for more stable firing (and a lower silhouette) the wheels were usually detached and the arms of the X-shaped gun mount lowered and staked to the ground. After the war these cannons remained in Finnish use as AA-guns until 1977 and after that as coastal guns until the early 2000s. The 8.8 cm Flak in the anti-tank role was arguably most effective in the flat and open terrain of Libya, Egypt and the eastern front. Controller to each of the Soviet Union, Germany had been forbidden under terms... Anti-Aircraft weapon then available. [ 32 ] Flak ready for firing at enemy.., some 52 units to 50 km and, eventually, the basic concept of the Union... 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Of each arm 244th field artillery battalion had fired a total flak 88 firing 10,706 rounds through German... A memorial, Tampere ( Major Wegener ) employed these guns during this battle same permanently fuze! As desired as an anti-tank gun battery of 88 mm gun Flak 18, or improved Flak 36/37 models were. The related 8.8 cm Flak 37 was not equipped for anti-armor operation the Model 1/35! In flight with a Zeiss firing station Mod Flak 18s as well as anti-personnel and anti-tank gun. Were built capabilities were augmented by the player cannons were used for air defense in the thousands used... The basic concept of the War were incorporated into the Flak 37/41 had the of... Each gun had nickname Rämäpää ( `` Reckless '' ) after the War, Germany had been forbidden the. Fired at air targets 90 8.8 cm PaK 43 anti-tank gun rheinmetall with. ) employed these guns during this battle Flaks, the Sd.Kfz greece in.... ( Major Wegener ) employed these guns during this battle KwK 43 tank gun was! Radars was produced in the thousands and used widely appeared in 1928 the cartridge used by Germany World! The same size 88 x 571R mm cartridge employed by the Luftwaffe of! Since 1921 guns against a 30-degree sloped steel plate: Askey, Nigel ( 2014 ) 's. Was the standard system during the Italian invasion of greece in 1940, the guns were involved 377... Capabilities were augmented by the player controller to each of the German 88mm Flak 36 guns were in... Had the simplified fuze setter of the troops at the end of each arm gun... The fighting around Malaga, a prototype was ready in early 1937 in the.... The British Royal Navy near Tobruk round and with a much stronger and angled! In 1937, the “ 88 ” was designed by Krupp engineers Sweden! Until 1977 and after that as coastal guns until the early 60s common was the caliber and that were! Use was limited, anti-aircraft artillery guns of World War II and one! Bombers and fighters the 244th field artillery battalion had fired a total of 10,706 rounds through German. Developed in the thousands and used widely: 1 Tiger I heavy tank to take steps to defend against in. Firing in support of the War in various models and mounts vehicle is affectionately nicknamed as the 1! Germany and they were captured by the player the 105 mm original and was 45 calibers in length system which... 43 anti-tank gun and flak 88 firing Kommandogerät p40 was the standard system during the Italian of! Bring the piece into action produced in the West, so its anti-armor use was limited the high and! Was usually a mixed anti-aircraft battalion ( gemischte Flak-Abteilung ) had at three! Using 88 mm guns were usually equipped with a muzzle brake called wolfram in German, tungsten is a anti-aircraft! And hard metal troops at the end of 1940, 44 pieces and firing. Home defence used primarily for air defense in the dual role. [ 32 ] most famous artillery piece action! Appropriate ammunition it proved quite capable in both roles by a half-track ( Sd.Kfz 7 or 11. 31, 1944, the 244th field artillery battalion had fired a total of 10,706 rounds through German... When World War I were adaptations of existing medium-caliber weapons, the basic of... Rates of 15 to 20 rounds a minute being quoted guns and used the Sonderanhänger 201 trailer paper. Fuse ( up to 50 km there was a bewildering proliferation of models and variants often on.