The German eighty-eight is an anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun from World War II. Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany ( ˈbʊndəsʁepuˌbliːk ˈdɔʏtʃlant is a Country in Central Europe. Anti-aircraft warfare, or air defense, is any method of engaging hostile military Aircraft in defence of ground objectives, ground or naval forces Artillery (from French artillerie) is a military Combat Arm which employs any apparātus machine World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nations, including They were widely used throughout the war, and could be found on almost every battlefield. Developments of the original models led to a wide variety of guns that could be identified as "an 88".
The name applies to a series of anti-aircraft guns officially called the 8,8 cm FlaK 18, 36 or 37. FlaK is a German contraction of either Fl(ugzeug)a(bwehr)-K(anone) or Fl(ug)a(bwehr)-K(anone) (hence the capital K, nowadays one word) meaning anti-aircraft gun, the original purpose of the eighty-eight. The German language (de ''Deutsch'') is a West Germanic language and one of the world's major languages. In informal German use, the guns were universally known as the Acht-acht (8-8), a contraction of Acht-komma-acht Zentimeter ("German" 8. 8 cm).  The name could also describe newer and more powerful models, the FlaK 41 and 43, although these were different weapons. In general terms the gun was less capable in the anti-aircraft role than the British QF 3.7 inch AA gun or United States 90 mm gun models. The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain,is a Sovereign state located The 37-Inch QF AA was Britain's primary heavy Anti-aircraft gun during World War II, the equivalent of the German 88 mm FlaK with a slightly The United States of America —commonly referred to as the The American 90 mm family of guns served as primary heavy anti-aircraft and Anti-tank guns playing a role similar to the renowned German 88 mm Unlike those weapons, however, the 88 was built in very large numbers, widely deployed in the field, and could be found on every battlefield.
Success as an improvised anti-tank gun led to a separate line of guns for anti-tank use, the Panzerabwehr-Kanone (PaK) 88 (German: "anti-tank gun") and as the main armament for tanks such as the Tiger I, the 8.8 cm KwK 36. Tiger I ( is the common name of a German heavy Tank of World War II. The 88 cm KwK 36 L/56 or (88 cm Kampfwagenkanone 36 L/56 was an 8 The introduction of the FlaK 41/43 led to a similar series of anti-tank conversions with even higher performance, under the name 8.8 cm KwK 43. The KwK 43 L/71 was an 88 cm tank gun used by the German Wehrmacht, during the Second World War. These later models were capable of penetrating the frontal armor of any tank of the period at ranges over 1000 m. For body armour see Armour, for armoured forces see Armoured warfare, for other uses see Armour (disambiguation.
Most anti-aircraft guns of World War I were adaptations of existing medium-calibre weapons mounted to allow fire at higher angles of attack. The term caliber or calibre designates the interior Diameter of a tube or the exterior diameter of a wire or rod These weapons were fairly useful, if only as a deterrent nuisance, against the vulnerable and slow-moving aircraft of WWI. But as the performance of aircraft increased during the inter-war period, their usefulness decreased dramatically. They could not reach the higher altitudes new aircraft could fly at, now regularly over 6,000m (20,000 ft) as opposed to half that, nor could they fire rapidly enough to be effective against fast aircraft. A foot (plural feet or foot; symbol or abbreviation ft or sometimes &prime – the prime symbol) is a non-SI unit Many military planners concluded that anti-aircraft artillery would no longer be effective, and only limited development was carried out by most countries.
German planners instead developed more powerful guns with high muzzle velocity to reach high altitude, and much faster rates of fire. A gun's muzzle velocity is the speed at which the Projectile leaves the muzzle of the gun As Germany had been forbidden to produce new weapons of almost every sort after World War I, the German Krupp company developed the new guns in partnership with Bofors of Sweden. The Krupp family, a prominent 400-year-old German dynasty from Essen, have become famous for their Steel production and for their manufacture of The name Bofors has been associated with the Iron industry for more than 350 years "Sverige" redirects here For other uses see Sweden (disambiguation and Sverige (disambiguation. The original design that led to the 88 was a 75 mm model. During the prototype phase, the army asked for a gun with considerably greater capability than the 75. The designers started over, using another common German calibre, 88 mm.
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 88/L56.
The FlaK 18 was mounted on a cruciform gun carriage that allowed fire in all directions, as opposed to split-trail designs, which allowed fire to the front only. The two "side" members of the carriage could be quickly folded up, allowing the gun to be lifted onto two wheeled chassis for high-speed towing. The weight of the gun meant that only large vehicles could move it, and the SdKfz 7 half-track became a common prime mover. The SdKfz 7 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 7 was a Half-track military vehicle used by the German Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS during the 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 A simple to operate "semi-automatic" loading system ejected fired shells, allowing it to be reloaded by simply inserting a new shell and pulling the firing lever. 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. A shell is a payload-carrying Projectile, which as opposed to shot, contains an explosive or other filling though modern usage includes large solid projectiles A shell is a payload-carrying Projectile, which as opposed to shot, contains an explosive or other filling though modern usage includes large solid projectiles A shell is a payload-carrying Projectile, which as opposed to shot, contains an explosive or other filling though modern usage includes large solid projectiles
Widespread production started with the Nazi rise to power in 1933, and the FlaK 18 was available in small numbers when Germany joined the Spanish Civil War. Nazism, which was a short name for National Socialism (Nationalsozialismus refers primarily to the Ideology and practices of the National Socialist German The Spanish Civil War was a major conflict in Spain that started after an attempted Coup d'état committed by parts of the army against the government of 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 improvements.
Many of these were incorporated into the FlaK 36, which had a two-piece barrel for easier replacement of worn liners, and a new, but heavier, trailer that allowed it to be set up much more quickly, simply dropping the base while still mounted on the wheels. This made it much more suitable for fast-moving operations, the basic concept of the blitzkrieg. Blitzkrieg (German for "lightning war" is a popular name for an Offensive operational-level Military doctrine which involves an initial FlaK 36s were often fitted with an armoured shield that provided limited protection for the gunners, although this gave the gun a high profile and made it more easily seen. A gun shield is a device designed to be mounted on a Crew-served weapon such as a Machine gun or Artillery piece sometimes improvised in the field in an
The eighty-eight was used in two roles: as a mobile heavy anti-aircraft gun, and in a more static role for home defence. In this latter role the guns were arranged into large batteries, groups of four directed by a single controller, and were moved only rarely. The less mobile but lighter FlaK 37, using a simpler and lighter trailer design, was developed for this purpose, and included additional 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.
During the initial phases of the Battle of France, when the French and British counter-attacked, the eighty-eight was pressed into service against their heavily armored tanks such as the Char B1 bis and Matilda II, whose frontal armour could only be penetrated at point-blank range by lighter anti-tank guns. In World War II, the Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries This article is about the country For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic France topics. For body armour see Armour, for armoured forces see Armoured warfare, for other uses see Armour (disambiguation. The Char B1 was a French heavy tank manufactured before the Second World War. The Tank Infantry Mk II Matilda II (A12 (sometimes referred to as Senior Matilda was a British Tank of World War II. Anti-tank usage became even more common during battles in North Africa and the Soviet Union. North Africa or Northern Africa is the Northernmost Region of the African Continent, separated by the Sahara from Sub-Saharan The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR was a constitutionally Socialist state that existed in Eurasia from 1922 to 1991 The 88 was powerful enough to penetrate over 150 mm of armour at ranges of 2 km or more, 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. The kilometre ( American spelling: kilometer) symbol km is a unit of Length in the Metric system, equal to one thousand It was arguably most effective in the flat and open terrain of the North African and Russian campaigns, where the long-range performance of the 88 became decisive. During World War II, the North African Campaign, also known as the Desert War, took place in the North African desert from June 10, 1940 The Eastern Front of World War II (die Ostfront 1941-1945, der Rußlandfeldzug 1941-1945 (Russian campaign or der Ostfeldzug 1941-1945 (Eastern Campaign
By August 1944, there were 10,704 FlaK 18, 36 and 37 guns in service. Owing to the increase in U. S. and British bombing raids during 1943 and 1944, the majority of these guns were used in their original anti-aircraft role, now complemented with the formidable 12.8 cm FlaK 40. There were complaints that, due to the apparent ineffectiveness of anti-aircraft defences as a whole, the guns should be transferred from air defence units to anti-tank duties, but this politically unpopular move was never made.
Comparatively, the 88 was not as powerful as its Allied counterparts. In the anti-aircraft role it fired a 9. 2 kg (20. 3-pound) shell at a muzzle velocity of 790 m/s (2,600 ft/s) to an effective ceiling of 7,900 m (26,000 feet) (at maximum 10,600 m, 32,000 ft). Although this was useful during the U. S. daylight raids, which typically took place at 7,600 m (25,000 ft), many aircraft could fly higher than its maximum effective ceiling. In comparison, the British 3. 7-inch Mark 3 fired a 13kg (28-pound) projectile at 790 m/s (2,600 ft/s) to an effective ceiling of 10,600 m (32,000 feet), and the American 90 mm Mark 1 fired a 10 kg (23-pound) shell at 820 m/s(2,700 ft/s) to the same height. They also had the advantage of a higher rate of fire, a side-effect of their automated fuse-setters that raised the rate of fire to about 20 rpm, as opposed to the original 88 which could generally reach only 15 rpm in the anti-aircraft role. To this was added proximity fuzes. These weapons were much more useful against aircraft even during WWII, and continued to have some use into the jet age. On the downside, the Allies weapons were heavier and less mobile, as well as being almost useless in the ground-attack roles until numerous modifications were carried out. While the U. S. 90 mm would go on to serve as a powerful anti-tank gun in some roles, it was by no means as universally deployed as the 88.
These problems were not unknown to their operators, and as early as 1939 the Luftwaffe, now in charge of anti-aircraft defences instead of the army, asked for newer weapons with even better performance. ( German 'luftvafe is a generic German term for an Air force. Wehrmacht (literally "defense force" was the name of the unified Armed forces of Germany from 1935 to 1945 Rheinmetall responded with a new 88 mm L/74 design with a longer cartridge. Rheinmetall AG is a German Automotive and defense company with factories in Düsseldorf, Kassel and Unterlüß It fired a 20. 7-pound shell at a muzzle velocity of 3,280 ft/s, giving it an effective ceiling of 11,300 m (37,000 feet) (maximum was 15,000 m, 48,000 ft). The metre or meter is a unit of Length. It is the basic unit of Length in the Metric system and in the International It also featured a lower silhouette on its turntable mounting than did the 8. 8-cm FlaK 18/36/37 on its pedestal mounting. Pedestal (from French piedestal, Italian piedistallo, foot of a stall is a term generally applied to the support of a Statue or a Vase Because of the high cost and complexity of this FlaK gun, the Germans manufactured relatively few of them (556 in all) and, in February 1944, fielded only 279. Improvements in reloading further raised the firing rate, with 20 to 25 rounds a minute being quoted. Two types of gun barrel were used, with three or four sections. Krupp's proposal was the 8. 8 cm Gerät 42, but it was not accepted for production as an anti-aircraft gun. However, Krupp continued development, resulting in the dreaded PaK 43 anti-tank gun.
The FlaK 41 had the disadvantage of complexity, and was prone to problems with ammunition, cases often jamming on extraction. The first guns produced were used in Tunisia, but because of problems in service they were afterwards used almost exclusively in Germany where they could be properly maintained and serviced. Tunisia (تونس Tūnis officially the Tunisian Republic ( is a country located in North Africa. Only 157 FlaK 41 guns were in use as of August 1944, and 318 in January 1945. A final adaptation, known as the FlaK 37/41, mounted the FlaK 41 on the FlaK 37 carriage, but only 13 were produced.
A dedicated anti-tank gun, the PaK 43 was developed from Krupp's Gerät 42, mentioned above. The PaK 43 ( Panzerabwehrkanone 43) was a German 88 mm Anti-tank gun developed in competition to the Rheinmetall Flak 41 88 mm anti-aircraft This 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. The standard armament of the Tiger II, the KwK 43 tank gun, was essentially the PaK 43 externally modified to fit into a turret. Tiger II is the common name of a German Heavy tank of the Second World War. The KwK 43 L/71 was an 88 cm tank gun used by the German Wehrmacht, during the Second World War. There were also self-propelled versions of the gun, including the Nashorn and Jagdpanther tank destroyers. Nashorn ( German " Rhinoceros " pronounced Nahz-horn not Nash-orn initially known as Hornisse ( German The Jagdpanther ("Hunting Panther" was a Tank destroyer built by Nazi Germany during World War II based on the chassis of the Panther 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 forces of the Third Reich employed the 88 extensively in World War II, not only in its original role as an anti-aircraft gun, where it performed well, but also as an anti-tank gun. The Imperial War Museum Duxford in Cambridgeshire, England, commonly referred to simply as 'Duxford', houses the Imperial War Museum 's Throughout the war the gun had few rivals.
The German Condor Legion made extensive use of the FlaK 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. The Condor Legion (Legion Condor was a unit composed of "volunteers" from the German Air Force ( Luftwaffe) which served with the Nationalist Erwin Rommel also used the 88 as an anti-tank weapon, first in France and later in North Africa. Erwin Johannes Eugen Rommel ( ( 15 November 1891 – 14 October 1944) (also known as the " Desert Fox " Wüstenfuchs His timely use of the gun to blunt the British counterattack at Arras ended any hope of a breakout from the blitzkrieg encirclement of May 1940. The Battle of Arras (1940 took place during the Battle of France, in the early stages of World War II. In Libya and Egypt, he lured British tanks into traps by baiting them with apparently retreating panzers. Libya ( ليبيا ar-Latn Lībiyā; Libyan vernacular: Lībya; Amazigh:) officially the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab This article is about the country of Egypt For a topic outline on this subject see List of basic Egypt topics. A panzer, pronunced, is a German Tank, especially in the context of World War II. When the British pursued, concealed 88s picked them off at ranges far beyond those of the 2-pdr and 6-pdr guns of the British tanks. The Ordnance QF 2-pounder (or simply "2 pounder gun" was a 40 mm British anti-tank and vehicle-mounted The Ordnance QF 6-pounder 7 cwt, or just 6 pdr, was a British 57 mm gun their primary Anti-tank gun during the middle of World War II, The unparalleled penetration of the 88's shells destroyed many Allied tanks and other armoured vehicles. The British 8th Army eventually learned to coordinate their heavy artillery with their ground advances, destroying the relatively immobile 88s in their emplacements once they revealed their positions. The Eighth Army was one of the best-known formations in World War II, fighting in the North African and Italian campaigns It was a British
The weapon saw continuous use on the Russian Front. It played a crucial role in the early months of Operation Barbarossa. Operation Barbarossa ( Unternehmen Barbarossa) was the Codename for Nazi Germany 's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II The appearance of the outstanding T-34 shocked the Wehrmacht Panzer Truppen, whose 37 mm and 50 mm tank guns could only penetrate the Russian tank's steel armour at extremely close range. The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced from 1941 to 1958 It is widely regarded as having been the world's best Tank when the Soviet Union The 37 cm KwK 36 L/465 (37 cm Kampfwagenkanone 36 L/465 was a German 3 The 5 cm KwK 38 L/42 (5 cm Kampfwagenkanone 38 L/42 was a German 5 cm cannon used primarily as the chief weapon of variants of the German medium tank the Until the Panzer IVF2 and the Tiger reached the front, the 88 was the only weapon that possessed the punch to stop the Russian T-34 and KV tanks. The Panzerkampfwagen IV (PzKpfw IV commonly known as the Panzer IV, was a Medium tank developed in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and used extensively The Kliment Voroshilov ( KV) Tanks were a series of Soviet Heavy tanks named after the Soviet defense commissar and politician Kliment Voroshilov
The less open terrain in Italy and Northern France was less suitable for the 88; it was used successfully, but with less spectacular results. Italy (Italia officially the Italian Republic, (Repubblica Italiana is located on the Italian Peninsula in Southern Europe, and on the two largest During Operations Overlord and Cobra, Allied artillery and airpower often neutralized the 88's impact on the tide of battle, although a few well-positioned German guns often hindered the Allied breakout from Normandy. Operation Cobra was the codename for the World War II operation planned by United States Army General Omar Bradley to break out from the Normandy (Normandie Norman: Normaundie) is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy.
The success of the 88 caused the Allies to take steps to defend against it in new tank design. Stopgap measures included adding more armour, or even using sandbags, to defeat the 88's projectiles. The Germans took advantage of this effective design in the armament of vehicles such as the Tiger tank and the Elefant tank destroyer (with an 88 mm Pak 43/2 anti-tank gun). The Panzerjäger Tiger (P Elefant (SdKfz 184 was a Panzerjäger ( tank hunter) of the German Wehrmacht in The PaK 43 ( Panzerabwehrkanone 43) was a German 88 mm Anti-tank gun developed in competition to the Rheinmetall Flak 41 88 mm anti-aircraft
In the civil war in Yugoslavia various FlaK guns were used mainly by the naval artillery of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA). A civil war is a War between a State and domestic political actors that are in control of some part of the territory claimed by the state See also Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Yugoslavia ( Serbo-Croatian The Yugoslav People's Army (JNA YPA ( Serbo-Croatian, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian: Jugoslavenska Narodna Armija or Jugoslovenska
|German artillery of World War II|
Tank & anti-tank guns
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