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"88-mm German Antitank Gun Used in France: General Data" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A WWII U.S. intelligence report on the German 88-mm antitank gun Pak 43/41 encountered in the fighting in France during 1944, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 51, October 1944.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


Detailed information is now available concerning the German 88-mm (3.46-in.) antitank gun Pak 43/41 which was first encountered by United States forces in France, although it had been employed previously against the Soviets. General data:

Length of tube, including muzzle brake      258.66 in.
Length of muzzle brake 17.35 in.
Maximum traverse (30° R, 30° L) 60°.
Rate of traverse 1 turn per 34".
Maximum elevation 36°.
Maximum depression 7°.
Height of wheels 48 1/2 in.
Maximum recoil 28 in.
Minimum recoil 24 in.
Length of carriage without gun 216 in.
Length of carriage with gun 360 in.
Height of carriage in traveling position 78 in.
Total weight of equipment 9,660 lb.

The carriage of this equipment follows orthodox lines with trail legs hinged to a bottom carriage upon which is mounted a cradle providing lateral deflection and carrying the usual layout of traversing and elevating gears. The wheels, on cranked stub-axles, are independently sprung but there is no compensation between the wheels, and the carriage is on four-point support when firing. In general, the carriage appears as if it might be one of the earlier designs of field carriage adapted to take the Pak 43/41 gun.

[German 88-mm antitank gun Pak 43/41.]
German 88-mm antitank gun Pak 43/41.

The barrel is made in two sections. The front end of the rear section has an enlarged diameter which is prepared for the reception, jointing, and securing of the rear end of the front section. The correct positioning of the rifling is ensured by a key which is inserted from the outside. A locking collar, similar to that used on all German guns to lock barrel to breechring, locks the front section to the rear section, thus preventing longitudinal movement. Use of this locking collar obviates the necessity for start of thread. A gas seal is provided by inserting a steel expansion ring between the two sections of the barrel. This ring fits into recesses cut in each section.

The front section is supported by the rear section for a length of 32 inches and has two bearing surfaces, one at the front end and one at the rear end: these have a clearance of 0.004 and 0.003 inch respectively.

The lug which takes the recoil cylinder is not connected to the breech ring but is a part of a bracket welded to a band which splits into halves and is forward of the breechring. Breechring and mechanism are similar to the 75-mm Pak 40, slightly simplified. The gun is fired electrically, with two 2-volt batteries in series provided on the left side of the carriage. The muzzle brake is similar to that found on the Pak 40, Pak 36, and other guns. but in this case the rear baffle only is bushed.

The cradle is a welded design. It is attached to the carriage by a pintle at the rear and two adjustable rollers in the front. These rollers bear on a plain machined arc. Underneath the cradle a flat machined plate is attached by two bolts, and this plate in turn fits underneath the plain arc and serves as a stop to any upward movement of the cradle in firing.

The hydropneumatic recoil mechanism is on top of the gun. The pressure is 800 pounds per square inch. The buffer is housed in the cradle underneath the gun and is of orthodox design.

The elevating gear is arc-and-pinion type and is normal with the exception of two hand wheels, one on each side. The left handwheel can be used for final aiming, as it has a ratio of one and one-half turns to one of the right handwheel. The gun is fired from the left wheel. The traversing gear is normal, controlled by a handwheel to a worm on the center of the cradle, then to a worm-and-pinion onto the traversing rack on the carriage.

The trail is split and of riveted construction. It is rather short, only 10 feet 6 inches in length.

Attachment of the spades is interesting. They are forward, on top of the legs, in the traveling position and fold back over the legs for firing. The legs are locked in the traveling position by two locking devices, one of which also locks the cradle, and the other also locks the lunette in position. The lunette folds back and locks on the inside of the right leg when in the firing position.

The 88-mm Pak 43/41 may be confused with the 88-mm Pak 43 because of similar designation. While both have tubes based on the tube of the 88-mm Flak 41, the Pak 43 has a cruciform carriage not unlike that of the 88-mm Flak 18 and 36. However, the Pak 43 carriage does not permit sufficient elevation for AA fire.

[The German 88-mm antitank gun Pak 43.]
The German 88-mm antitank gun Pak 43.

Ammunition listed below is fired by the 88-mm Pak 43/41:

Type    Approximate
weight of
    MV (f/s)
HE (with point-detonating quick and delay fuze)—88-mm Sprgr Patr 43, Kw. K. 43 m. A. Z. 23/28    20.68  2,296
HE (with combination point-detonating quick and time fuzes)—88-mm Sprgr Patr 43, Kw. K. 43 m. Dopp. Z. S/60 Fl. or Dopp. Z. S/60 V    20.68  2,296
APCBC—88-mm Pzgr Patr 39/43, Kw. K. 43 m. Bd. Z. 5127    22.44  3,280
AP40—88-mm Pzgr Patr 40/43, Kw. K. 43    16  3,775


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