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"German 88-mm Dual-Purpose Gun" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A report on the German 88-mm gun based on three damaged guns captured in North Africa, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 36, October 21, 1943.

[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.]


The new German antiaircraft-antitank 88-mm (3.36 in) gun (8.8-cm Flak 41) was described in some detail in Tactical and Technical Trends No. 29 p. 5 with two sketches of the gun on page 6. The following additional details are taken from a report on three damaged guns of this type that were recovered in North Africa.

*          *          *

a. The Gun

The barrel which has an overall length of approximately 666 centimeters (21.1 ft) or about 76 calibers, is built up in the same manner as the 88-mm Flak 36 with a securing collar at the forward end of the jacket.

The gun slides on a cradle on guideways secured to the jacket and breech ring. The breech ring is prepared to receive the various parts of the breech mechanism and the automatic rammer. On top of the breech ring is a lever secured to the end of a shaft at the outer end of which is mounted the female portion of a dog clutch. The male portion of the clutch is secured to the end of the recuperator piston rod. Underneath the breech ring is a lug for attachment to the buffer mechanism. The breech block is of the horizontal sliding block type. Additional data follows:

Height of trunnions    108 cm (42.5 in)
Maximum elevation 88°
Maximum depression -8°
Traverse 360°

b. The Mounting

The mounting has a platform which rests squarely on the ground when in firing position. Four stabilizing pickets are provided; these are driven through prepared slots in the legs of the platform. For transport, a four-wheeled carriage is provided on which the platform is raised or lowered on a three-point lift by chain winches. The carriage appears to be identical with that of the 88-mm Flak 36.

(1) The platform consists of a longitudinal girder having a wide diamond-shaped center. At the side points of the diamond are bearings which take the two side members. These swing sideways and forwards when in travelling position. They are locked in the firing and travelling position by "D" pins. Large oblong levelling pads are mounted at the end of each of the four legs. A "T" spirit level is provided on the right side of the body just behind the traversing handwheels. In the center of the diamond is a circular base-plate on which the body pivots.

(2) The body consists of a rectangular base with two sidepieces shaped roughly like a right angled triangle with the right angle at the base at the forward end. The side pieces are approximately 2.8 meters (9.2 ft) long and 1.2 meter (3.9 ft) high at the front. On the left sidepiece are mounted twin fuze-setting cups, lying horizontally one above the other. A seat is provided at the forward end for the fuze-setting number of the crew. On the right sidepiece at the forward end is mounted the traversing gear (two parallel handwheels with receiving dials) and an adjustable seat; at the rear end is the elevating gear (two handwheels and dials) and two adjustable seats. At the front of the body is provided a traverse travelling-clamp.

(3) The cradle is bolted on to two massive half-brackets carrying the trunnions which are mounted at the extreme rear of the body. The right trunnion supports a quadrant elevation reader arm and a sight reader arm. The buffer mechanism lies inside the cradle. The recuperator (and automatic rammer) is mounted above the piece and is attached to the cradle by means of a heavy triangular bracket at the rear, and a lighter frame, on which is set a small shield, at the front. A recoil indicator is mounted on the right hand side, reading from 700 to 1,190 mm (27.6 in to 46.9 in).

The elevating arc is secured, under the center of the cradle, to the brackets carrying the trunnions. A dial-sight carrier is mounted above the recuperator cylinder.

(4) Compensators are fitted and lie along the inside base of the side-pieces, one on each side. They are operated by large springs which are attached to the rear of the cradle by two sets of 11-strand cables.*

(5) Firing mechanism. The gun is fired electrically. A push button is secured to the right footrest of the traversing number.

(6) The shield consists of the following parts in addition to the small portion attached to the cradle. The center section is made up of two sheets of 7-mm (.21 in) metal, 1 meter (3.28 ft) in width and 1.5 meter (4.9 ft) in height, set 36 centimeters (14 in) apart on each side of the piece. Two hinged side pieces are provided, 78 centimeters (30.7 in) in width. For a depth of approximately 20 centimeters (7.8 in), the whole of the top of the shield is set back at an angle of about 30 degrees.

(7) Fuze setter. The mechanism appears to be essentially similar to that on the Flak 36 consisting of a flywheel and the electric receiving-dial and circular scale for fuze readings. The dials are set in the front of the machine so that the fuze number faces to the rear of the piece.

(8) Sights. The telescopic sight used is the Z.F.20 E6 fach 8.8/41, which differs slightly from the Z.F.20E sight used with the 88-mm Flak 36. It has the following optical characteristics:

Magnification  x6
Field of view11°
Exit pupil diameter4 mm
Moderating glasses Plain glass
Light neutral
Dark neutral
Intensely dark neutral for sun shots.

The illuminating window is at right angles to the axis of the eyepiece. The range drum is graduated every 100 meters (109 yds) from 0 to 12,100 meters (13,189 yds) being numbered every 1,000 meters (1,093 yds) from 0 to 7,000 meters (7,630 yds) and every 500 meters (545 yds) from 7,000 to 12;000 meters (13,080 yds). Other features of the sight, including the T.E. drum, are similar to the Z.F.20E sight.

*The source material states, "two sets of 11 cables."


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