Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Dreaded 88

It was at the high watermark of the BEF's attack that Rommel is reported to have employed the 88mm anti-aircraft gun as an antitank weapon for the first time, easily defeating the heavily armored Matilda, and halting the attack.

I wrote the above quote believing that this was indeed the momentous occasion in which the 88 became the dreaded weapon of the Germans. However, it is apparently not so. 88s were pressed into anti-tank service in Poland and possibly even Spain. I'm looking for more info on this.


Anonymous said...

The 8,8 cm Flak L/56 (in its all versions - 18, 36 and 37) was always a dual purpose weapon from its very beginning (as well as its predecessor, the 7,5 cm Flak L/60). It could shoot in both indirect and direct mode, i.e. using a command device of the battery (calculated firing data were transmitted by wire to elevation, traverse and fuse setting receivers mounted on the gun) or an optical sight mounted on the gun (Flak ZF 20 was used) - the latter method was used against ground targets, while it was also applicable for AA fire with use of a simple ballistic calcurator (what was in fact the first method used, as there were no applicable command devices, when the gun was introduced).
The only modification connected with AT role of the gun was introdution of a gun shield, what occured in 1940.

There was a special AT version introduced in 1939 (these guns were already used in Poland in 1939), but it was capable of direct AT fire only - all firing data receivers as well as the fuse setter were removed, the aiming gears were modified so that the gun could be aimed by one layer (all German heavy Flaks always needed two layers!), a box for six cartridges was mounted on the upper carriage and a shield was added (but a different one than on usual AA guns). The lower carriage had modified side outriggers so that the gun could fire on wheels only.
A number of these AT guns were mounted on SdKfz 8 armoured halftracks and used in combat till at least 1941.

The only makeshift adaptation for AT role took place somewhere in late 1944, when static guns were being moved from AA to AT defense - their lower carriages (intended for mounting on concrete foundations of permanent positions) had simplified cruciform bases added so that the guns could be moved and used in field (with SdAh 204 u/c).

The 8,8 cm Flak 41 was a dual purpose gun too, in fact its first use was as an AT weapon in Northern Africa on Rommel's request for high performance AT guns.

Then there was the Gerät 42 AA gun designed by Krupp, which was intended as 8,8 cm Flak 41's competitor, but it was actually never completed - but Krupp was designing its AT and tank versions paralelly and so the 8,8 cm Pak 43 and 8,8 cm KwK 43 were born.




also Len deighton's blitzkrieg has some info

oh and AT ammo production for the 88 are also good clues as to its usage.

Rooster said...

Fantastic info... thank you!