8.8 cm FlaK 18/36/37 file photo [9793]

8.8 cm FlaK 18/36/37 Anti-Aircraft Gun

Country of OriginGermany
TypeAnti-Aircraft Gun
Caliber88.000 mm
Weight4985.000 kg
Ammunition Weight9.40 kg
Rate of Fire15 rounds/min
Ceiling8.000 km
Muzzle Velocity820 m/s


ww2dbaseForbidden to produce large caliber weapons, the first German 8.8 cm FlaK anti-aircraft guns were built in partnership with the Swedish firm Bofors. The prototypes were completed in 1928, designated FlaK 18. FlaK 18 guns were designed to be mounted on cruciform gun carriages, which allowed the guns to aim at any direction. Although they were heavy, they were still designed to become mobile relatively quickly, albeit requiring large vehicles for towing. They were also designed with a high rate of fire in mind, with the guns automatically ejecting spent shells so that the crews were spared of this task. While they fired high explosive shells against aircraft, they were also given anti-tank shells so that they could be used in an anti-tank role. Although FlaK 18 guns were only available in limited numbers, they quickly gained popularity. They were tested in action during the Spanish Civil War, which provided valuable information for the improvement of the design.

The FlaK 36 anti-aircraft guns were the result. The design made use of a two-piece barrel for easier replacement of worn liners. The trailer design was also improved for quicker setup time, though the weight of the trailer had increased. The trailer design improvement was significant, as guns mounted on these new trailers could be dropped into firing position while they were still mounted on their towing wheels. This new feature allowed FlaK 36 guns to accompany fast-moving mobile offensive units that characterized the first years of the war in Europe and North Africa. In North Africa, they were also used to ambush Allied tanks to great effectiveness. It was around this time that 8.8-centimeter guns began to appear in in German cities. They were often deployed in multi-gun static anti-aircraft batteries, usually in groups of four guns each coordinated by a single controller. The next variant, FlaK 37, had its instrumentation improved to allow the commander of each battery-deployed gun to better follow directions from battery directors. As the 8.8-centimeter guns were improved, the designers attempted to keep the parts as interchangeable across variant designs as possible to improve logistics.

During the invasion of France, while the German tanks were out-classed by the heavier French counterparts, 8.8-centimeter guns were deployed in anti-tank roles against French tanks. In North Africa, they began to serve in anti-tank roles more often. They were reported on a few occasions to have penetrated over 150-millimeter of armor at a distance of 2 kilometers, making them very effective tank killers. When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in mid-1941, they continued to serve in the dual anti-aircraft and anti-tank role. As the war went on, however, they gradually reverted back to their original role as anti-aircraft guns in an attempt to counter the intensifying American and British air raids.

Informally, all 8.8 cm FlaK guns (including the FlaK 41 successors) were known by the German military as Acht-acht, 8-8.

By Aug 1944, there were 10,704 8.8 cm FlaK 18, FlaK 36, and FlaK 37 guns in active service.

Source: Wikipedia. ww2dbase

Last Major Revision: Apr 2010

8.8 cm FlaK 18/36/37 Anti-Aircraft Gun Interactive Map


Crew of an 8.8 cm FlaK gun in Denmark, 1940A Flak 18 gun and its crew in Belgium, May 1940; note British Morris C8 tractor and German BMW R18 and DKW NZ350 motorcycles in foregroundGerman Army SdKfz. 7 half-track vehicle towing a 8.8 cm FlaK gun in North Africa, Apr 1941German gunboat with 8.8 cm FlaK gun on the Black Sea off Constanta, Romania, Jul 1941, photo 1 of 4
See all 65 photographs of 8.8 cm FlaK 18/36/37 Anti-Aircraft Gun

8.8 cm FlaK 18/36/37 Timeline

14 Apr 1941 Australian infantry outside Tobruk, Libya reported the sighting of a number of "long-barrelled guns on strange carriages". This was the first indication that the Germans were deploying the dreaded 88-mm anti-tank gun in the Western Desert (although on this occasion the guns were soon withdrawn when German infantry failed to create a gap).

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Commenter identity confirmed Alan Chanter says:
25 Aug 2016 07:02:29 AM

By the outbreak of World War II the Germans already possessed almost two and a half thousand of these 88mm guns. Their lethality against armoured vehicles was aptly demonstrated during the Battle of France in 1940 where they proved to be the only gun capable of stopping the heavier French and British tanks - the standard issue 37mm Pak 35/36 proving to be totally ineffective, and the introduction of the 50mm Pak 38 was so slow that there was never enough of them. In Cyrenaica the 88's longer ranges was definately a bonus when well dug into static positions. This usage was not particularly appreciated by anti-aircraft commanders who did not like having their precious guns deployed in another role. Indeed, it was tantamount to losing them completely, since typically, the anti-aircraft fire-control equipment would be stripped off, rudimentary shields attached and the weapon generally rendered unfit for its primary role. But their effectiveness against the British armoured brigades in North Africa created a fanciful legend among the Desert Rats that every British tank knocked out was claimed to have been destroyed by an '88'.
2. Anonymous says:
8 Mar 2019 07:44:42 AM

How many tanks and air-crafts did this weapon take down?

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Crew of an 8.8 cm FlaK gun in Denmark, 1940
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