8.8 cm FlaK 18/36/37 Anti-Aircraft Gun
|Country of Origin||Germany|
|Ammunition Weight||9.40 kg|
|Rate of Fire||15 rounds/min|
|Muzzle Velocity||820 m/s|
Contributor: C. Peter Chenww2dbaseForbidden 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
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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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945