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88 mm Flak 37 Anti-Aircraft Gun

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The “88” was the most famous and feared artillery weapon of World War II.  Krupp company designers, working in Switzerland to avoid post-World War I treaty restrictions, developed the gun in the late 1920s.  The famous “flak” gun got its name from the German word Flugabwehrkanone, meaning aircraft defense cannon.  During the Spanish Civil War, German troops fired the guns at oncoming tanks and fortified bunkers with very effective results.  This success in combat led to versions of the 88 mm equipped to engage ground targets that were in view or barrage enemies from long range.  The gun’s high muzzle velocity and heavy projectile made the “88” particularly effective against heavily-armored vehicles.  The weapon was rugged, hard-hitting, and adaptable.

Across Occupied Europe during World War II, 88 mm guns were often employed to fire at high-flying Allied bomber formations.  The heavy gun could propel its 20.25-pound high-explosive shell to altitudes beyond 30,000 feet at a rate of about 15 projectiles per minute.  When an “88” shell hit directly, it often completely destroyed a bomber.

The versatile gun earned nearly mythical status among Allied flyers, infantrymen, and tank crews.  Beleaguered troops often attributed bombardment from other types of weapons to the much-feared and seemingly ever-present “88.”  One Australian soldier commented that the 88 mm gun was not only an effective anti-aircraft or anti-tank weapon—“it was anti-everything."

History of the Artifact
This 88 mm gun was built at the Skoda Werke armaments factory in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia for the German armed forces.  It was discovered in Spain and brought back to Germany by a collector after World War II.  The piece was restored in 2008 by Alexander Kuncze in Germany.

Did you know?
88 guns equipped Germany’s most famous tanks, the Tiger and Tiger II.
General Statistics
Muzzle Velocity: 2,755 ft/sec
Maximum Horizontal Range: 16,600 ft
Maximum Vertical Range: 35,700 ft
Maximum Effective Ceiling: 34,770 ft
Theoretical Rate of Fire: 25 rounds/min
Practical Rate of Fire: 12 to 15 rounds/min
Weight: 4.9 tons
Weight in Draft (with accessories): 7.1 tons
Elevation: -3 to +85 degrees