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"New Ultra-High-Velocity German 88" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following U.S. report on the German 88-mm Flak 41 is taken from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 29, July 15, 1943. Several Flak 41 were captured in Tunisia in 1943 and analyzed by Allied forces.

[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.]


a. General

The well-known German 88-mm dual-purpose Flak 36 has, according to a recent British report, now been greatly improved upon in the new dual-purpose 88-mm Flak 41, which develops, without choked boring, the remarkable estimated velocity of 3,400 fs. The 36 was considered a high-velocity gun with a muzzle velocity of only 2,690 fs. As an antiaircraft weapon, the new gun is believed to have a maximum ceiling of 45,000 feet, and an effective ceiling of 36,000 to 38,500 feet as compared to 32,500 maximum and 26,250 effective, for the older gun. This excellent performance is not the result of firing a lighter projectile. In fact, the new shell weighs 22.4 pounds against 21 pounds for the 36. The propelling charge has been stepped up from 5.34 pounds to 11.9 pounds, more than half the weight of the shell.

b. The Gun

As indicated in the accompanying sketches, the new gun can be recognized by the thick sleeve that projects about a yard in front of the shield and by the longer barrel--about 3 feet more than that of the 36. In spite of its increased power, the gun is reported to be lighter than the old 88, due to a better and lighter design of the carriage. The shield has been built up on the sides, an improvement on the 36, and the gun is equipped for electric firing. According to report, the recoil mechanism is quite similar to the Flak 36, but strengthened. It is probable that some of these guns have been provided with self-propelled mounts, thus enabling them to be used for antitank as well as antiaircraft purposes. Such weapons would be a formidable answer to our own tank-destroyer with the long 155. The armor penetration at long antitank range is practically 6 inches, and the trajectory is obviously quite flat.

[German 8.8-cm Flak 41]

Against homogenous armor the performance with the APCBC* shell, as compared with the Model 36, is as follows:

Range yards Normal 30 Deg.
     Flak 41      Flak 36       Flak 41      Flak 36   
 Point Blank    7.76 in    ---  6.65 in    ---
500  7.28 in  5.08 in  6.26 in  4.33 in
1,000  6.85 in  4.69 in  5.87 in  3.97 in
1,500  6.42 in  4.33 in  5.47 in  3.58 in
2,000  5.98 in  3.94 in  5.12 in  3.23 in
2,500  5.59 in    ---  4.76 in    ---

c. The AP Ammunition

The APCBC projectile, as stated, weighs 22.4 pounds, with the remarkably small bursting charge of 2.12 ounces of HE--scarcely more than the load of some hand grenades. The decrease in the HE capacity from 1.6 percent in the Flak 36, 21-pound shell to only 0.59 percent in the 41 is in line with the German policy of decreasing the HE capacity while increasing the weight of the APCBC shell. The complete round is 45.5 inches long against 34.2 for the Flak 36. The propellant charge of 11.9 pounds is of the flashless type. While hitherto only the heavier antiaircraft guns have been electrically fired, this ammunition is fitted with an electric-type primer instead of a percussion primer. The projectile is reported to have a black-and-white tip. From documentary sources, a similar type of shell is known to exist for ordinary 88's. The rounds are stated to be packed separately in metal cylinders.

*Armor-piercing capped with ballistic cap (British abbreviation)


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