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When was the 88 first used as direct fire against land targets?

Discussion in 'Weapons & Technology in WWII' started by Poppy, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Our friend, Mr. Hogg has this to say on the matter:

    "The progress of the war soon showed that, on occasion, any and every gun might be called upon to fight tanks, and so almost every gun in the German armoury was provided with some sort of anti-tank projectile. These were origininally piercing shells, but the issue was soon supplemented by hollow charge projectiles; even some genuine anti-tank guns were provided with hollow charge shells in addition to their standard high-velocity ammunition." This indicates that these came out after the war started. Even the little 75mm infantry gun (IG 18) the Germans started out with had hollow charge projectiles.
     
  2. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    From what I know the germans called the ammo for all calibers the same way (must have confused the quartermasters no end)
    Panzergranate 39 (armour piercing, capped, balistic capped, withh explosive filler and tracer) was the standard AP round but I also found reference to K.Gr.Rot Pz. for the 75/24
    Panzergranate 40 was the more advanced AP round with tungsten carbide core and no explosive filler.
    Granate 38 HL or Granate 39 HL (???) was the HEAT and improved rounds were called GR 38 HL/A Gr. 38 HL/B and Gr. 38 HL/C and Gr.39/43 HL is mentioned for the 88/L71 Pak 43 and the similar Kw.K 43 of the Tiger II.
    Sprenggranaten (Sprgr.) was HE
    Nebelgranaten was smoke

    AFAIK the production of Panzergranate 40 for the 88 was limited as the conventional Pz.Gr. 39 was powerful enough to deal with most allied tanks and there were shortages of tungsten carbide, the Pz.Gr.40 round was much more common for the 50mm Pak but as it was produced in limited quantities even for the 88/L71 Pak apparently production for the 88 was not stopped completely due to tungsten carbide shortages.
    The HEAT round for the 88 was inferior to the Pz.Gr.39 in AP performance and less accurate, AFAIK it was introduced as a "general purpose" round as it could engage both soft and hard targets.
     
  3. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    I have this on the 88mm Gun Half-Tracks.
    8.8cm Flak 18 (Sfl) auf Zugkraftwagen 12t (Sd Kfz 8) und Zugkraftwagen 18t (Sd Kfz 9)
    10 built in 1939, 15 built in 1940
    Crew 9
    Used by the 8[SUP]th[/SUP] Schwere Panzerjagerabteilung in both Poland and France
    Yan.
     
  4. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    25 Built but only 6 in service ..... wonder where the rest ended up, the 1940 production couud not be Polish campaign losses.
    Probably the SP proved no more useful than a towed gun + SdKfz 7 combination, after all the 88 had a remarkably fast setup time for such a large gun and a 12t half track is a really big target.

    Back to the original question, we find mentions of 88 usage in the ground role in Spain all over the place but does anyone know the primary source for that?
    After all the opponents in Spain were T-26 and BT tanks neither of wich was an impossible match for the Pak 36 at normal combat ranges and a lot easier to depoy/camouflage.
     
  5. Black6

    Black6 Member

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    Food for thought; pt. 812 in H.Dv.300 (1934) Clearly states that anti-aircraft weapons are to be used in ground operations, albeit sparingly and against vehicles (armor implied).
    Also, there we quite a few mobile FLAK divisions in amongst the Heer during the war, so perhaps there were Luftwaffe FLAK units in Spain as well?

    Perhaps the mobile dual purpose gun of WWII started with the 75mm armed truck of late WWI? http://www.vectis.co.uk/AuctionImages/211/1263_l.jpg
     
  6. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    When the 88mm Flak 18 was designed in 1928 it was planned for it to have a dual capability to engage both aircraft and land targets.
    That is why the models sent to Spain had both the sights and ammo to engage land targets in the direct fire role.
     
  7. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Wonder why it was such a big deal when it was actually employed against land targets in WW2 then? Were there any other comparable large caliber, AA/AT guns available? Was it the mount that originally made the 88 so versatile?..Maybe the English had a decent comparable gun but could not manufacture in time or enough for war in 1940?
     
  8. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    The British AA gun was the 3.7inch, it was a better AA gun than the German 88mm but it wasn't designed to be dual purpose, and so was a lot heavier and far less mobile. The British A/T gun was the 2 pdr and it was an effective weapon capable of KOing all the German tanks at a reasonable range until mid 1941.
     
  9. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    AFAIK no German tank had more than 30mm armour upto mid 1941, so the allied 25mm, 40mm (2lb), and 47mm guns were good enough, first time the Gemans tankers were ahead on the gun/armour race was against the British with the upgrade to 50mm face hardened armour on the Pz IIIh that was very hard to penetrate for the then current 2lb AP round, upgraded ammo (and using the 25lb in AT/ role) partly fixed the issue and the 6lb evened up the field until the Tiger with 100mm plates appeared.
    The Germans A/T gunners were at the loosing end of the gun/armour race until the introduction of the Pak 40 in mid 1942, stopping a Matlida or B1bis with 60 or 76mm plates with the 37mm Pak 36 was a a job for vey brave men and dealing with a 90mm armoured KV-1 1941 or the sloped 45mm plates of the T-34 with the standard ammo Pak 38 was chancy (leaving aside a lot of AT units were still stuck with the Pak 36 in Barbarossa).
    This goes a long way to explain the widesprerad use of the 88 in A/T role, AFAIK the 105mm K18 gun (not the LeFH 18 howitzer) were also used to bolster A/T positions in the USSR whenever available.
     
  10. Vanir

    Vanir Member

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    Theoretically the 2pdr could penetrate 35-50mm at 500yds (there are other, very questionable claims which royal artillery has a great tendency for, but these figures are extremely generous to put it mildly). In practise you need to hit a PzIII from behind or a PzIV from the side or behind and you'll want to be more like under 150yds and you're better off using a 25-pdr if you want to live and have a much better chance of success in a time frame somewhat before the end of the war from when you start firing. Even later PzII auf were virtually impervious to the little woodpecker frontally. There are much worse reviews on the 2pdr in action than this, from operators.

    And there were a number of problems, not the least being this gun was designed to be used in static mounts, not mobile carriages and the one it had was very obsolete by design. Towing any real distance damages the weapon (a major complaint). There aren't split trail arms. You know that it weighs almost as much as a Soviet ZiZ-2 3" DP field gun complete and travelling don't you? And almost the entire British inventory of 2pdrs up to 1940 got left behind at Dunkirk, which nobody really missed. It was put back into production (which delayed the 6pdr) but bulk of the entire British stock of 2pdrs after 1940 were went to the Far East, and what the Japanese called a tank everybody else called a tankette that spalls if you speak to it harshly.

    North Africa wanted and needed antitank guns but the bulk of theirs went on tanks (British designated all AFV tanks whether they were wheeled or not), which was worse than useless for anything but light armour. Field commanders wound up leaving artillery without any field guns and moving 25-pdrs to the antitank scrimmage, this was such a common theme during 1941-42 that the Bishop SPG was a direct result. The 2pdr was a massive headache all round, about the only decent thing it ever did was get mounted as a vehicle gun for light AFV or the Hurricane IID, both for which it was very popular with British authorities and manufacturers, probably because they just wouldn't stop producing them no matter how much the troops asked for something that might actually help against enemy tanks.


    OT, the thing about the 88 was that it wasn't really designed as the 88 as we know it at all. It was designed as the Bofors 7.5 M29 which was designed in conjuction with Krupp in 1928 to avoid German treaty conditions. The Swedish from the beginning intended to use it as a naval and coastal defence gun but Krupp funded the whole thing (using credit notes lol) and they worked on it together. So there's why the dual purpose thingy. Naval gun. It was the basis for two shell sizes from the start, 7.5cm and 8cm and both for two forms M29 and M30. They were an instant world leader and exported by Sweden (hungary bought 8cm and china 7.5cm). Krupp produced their own 7.5cm version with minor changes and original parts (eg. Swedish is L/50-51 and Krupp is L/60), including a far more complicated fire control system and it was also less wieldy, these were equipped in small numbers to the Kriegsmarine for coastal defence (DP, naval gun) and exported to Spain and Brazil, Krupp rechambered it to 8.8cm for army and luftwaffe: the 8.8 FlaK 18. When shipped with the Condor Legion it was sent with suitable rounds for use against ground targets as well as the AAA ones just like the original DP naval gun it was based on.

    So the thing about the 88 was that it really started off as a DP naval and coastal defence gun. That's why the big surprise. Even the cruciform carriage was somethign you only saw at coastal forts. At the time a dual purpose field gun was one that could be used as a gun or as a howitzer. Advanced technology meant something that wasn't horse drawn. The latest thing in heavy AAA was just being mobile and that was a bit experimental. Just getting someone to make a field gun you could manhandle was hard enough. Most militaries were still calling a large rifle an anti-tank gun. Only the Germans had managed their way past slab riveted low grade cast tank armour yet (a char 1bis does not stand up to a PzIII). A lot of militaries were actually using 19th century howitzers as heavy AAA, the French were. The QF Vickers 3" (standard British heavy AAA entering the war) weighed 2 tons more than the FlaK 18 for about 75% the power and you pretty much need a road train to move one anywhere, naturally it's got one use and one only.

    That would make a large towed AAA being used in the AT role pretty novel until people got more used to seeing the latest technology around more frequently, which isn't until well into the 40s.
    Even in 1940 France the 88 being used in the surface attack role must've looked like a coastal defence mounting sitting in the middle of grassy hills in a field to enemy troops. They'd be standing there saying WTF? Where's the harbour? No they'd say, if you're going to improv AT guns you use a 105mm schneider at 500yds. That's what normal people do.


    It's weird and probably a propaganda effort that the 88 is sometimes reported as being pioneered in the AT role in North Africa, as it was designed to sink small armoured ships from the very blueprint phase as a secondary role, and in North Africa was when the British finally caught up and started using their QF 3.7" AAA as heavy antitank improv, although notably they were extremely unwieldy...it weighs 4 tons more than a 10.5cm Kanone 18 for similar overall size and shell weight. True that it would probably desintegrate any tank it hit, but scoring a hit was rare.
    So it was the Allies who first started using heavy AAA in the antitank role in North Africa. The 88 family was intentionally meant for this from 1928.
     
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  11. Markus Becker

    Markus Becker Member

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    That sounds very pessimistic. Until early/mid-41 German tanks had 30mm of vertical armour. The French 25mm AT-gun could reliably penetrate that up to 500 meters and 700 meter if the angle of impact was good.
     
  12. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    LOL...Yes, a coast gun. Imagine an 88 would look pretty evil if you were on the wrong end.
     
  13. scrounger

    scrounger Member

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    I don,t think any other artillary piece of the war invoked more fear and profanity than the 88, My father in law was in the Canadian army in northern France and spoke often about " those #$%^& 88's" he told me about seeing a tank ripped apart after being hit by one of those shells. They were also used on Uboats , I believe type VII's had 88's mounted on them . They were definately an all purpose gun ..
     
  14. Vanir

    Vanir Member

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    Conceded that I was being opinionated, I lack the ballistics and weapons system familiarity of true gun experts like Tony Williams and some folks here to get into a true gun debate. I do tender myself open to correction upon anything I post for this reason, but I will reiterate there are worse reviews I've read by servicemen and the real experts do continually state categorically that specific conditions of individual tests for things like armour penetration vary dramatically between nations, between time periods, occasionally between publications from the same sources (including armourers, for various reasons including such things as troop moralé which is one thing the British always took very seriously).

    Now say for example Rechlin ammo handbooks gives specific and exact tensile ratings (ie. hardness scale), as well as test conditions, for specific data, which varies between pages. eg. penetration for the 2cm (MG151) might show a graphed table against cast steel plate 2cm behind a duralumin deflection plate, to represent its penetration into the critical framework of a bomber at various angles and ranges. On the next page the ammunition might show a graphed table against rolled steel. On another one against case hardened tank armour. Obviously the latter two are provided for ground attack or FlaK ammunition applications.

    So you can see blatantly where statements like "this gun penetrates this much armour" are superfluous at best, honestly I mean no offence. I'm just a student so to speak too.



    edit. I knew I had something on the antichar mle 34 (25mm) laying around, French armourers published (during production) a 40mm penetration against armour at 400 metres. However these guns were used by the BEF and they published something very different: effective range is limited to less than 300yds and the weapon is useless against anything but light scout armoured vehicles (and some other stuff about being horse drawn, etc.).
    Now lets keep in mind pretty much all tanks in the mid-thirties were using low grade slab plates with rivets for a start...that doesn't describe any Panzer... (and if available any antitank/hardpoints were by doctrine assaulted using PzIV with the extra heavy frontal armour)
     
  15. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    AFAIK the 88//45 of the type VII U-Boat was a different weapon from the 88/56 Flak 18. Let's not forget WW1 era German torpedo boats carried 88mm guns and the AA on the early German warships was 88/76 so (again) apparently not the army's gun. We really need somebody yo look at Krupp's archives to get the true story.The coastal defence angle is intersting but it would make more sense for Krupp to work from existing naval 88 at Bofors (IIRC Bofors was practically a Krupp subsidiary at the time).The official 2lb performance figures do not match most stores I've read on real life engagement ranges, any input on why recorded ranges were usually well below 500m if the gun could penetrate well beyound that?
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Just in case it might prove useful here's Tony's page with info on the 88 cartridges:
    78- MM CALIBRE CARTRIDGES
    In particular here's the 88 info but it will probably be poorly formated:
    The table actually formatted properly I'm amazed. The first colum is the round diamter and the case length. The second collum is rim diameter. The third collum is nationality (Germany = Deutchland = D). The Forth collum is projectile weight. The fifth muzzle velocity. The sixth self explanatory.
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    88mm was a common caliber in the German navy from at least the 1890s. Capital ships and large cruisers usually had both 150mm secondary and 88mm anti-torpedo-boat batteries. This continued into the dreadnought era; due to the increasing size and power of destroyers, 88mm batteries were progressively reduced, and many of the remaining 88s were reconfigured as AA mountings in WWI. The growth of "high seas torpedo boats" in the early 1900s allowed them also to carry 88s. It also came to be used on submarines; although it sounds odd to us, adapting submarines for military use in that period involved improving their capabilities for surface operations.
     
  18. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    According to NavWeaps the 88/78 SK C/31 of the Deutschland class was different from the 88/76 SK C/32 of the later light cruisers and both look to be more poverful weapons than the contemporary army's 88/56. Probably some confusion in their data as the give the same muzzle velocity for both (3,117 fps) but a much heavier shell for the C/31. Probably the naval 88 AA was a technological dead end as the very high velocity meant low barrel life and it was later replaced by a 105mm weapon on the pocket battleships. The 88/75 SK C/25 was also a failure though what actually was put on the K class in their place is confusing, the C/25 page says they were replaced with single old 88 Flak L/45 while the page for that weapon says they were replaced by SK C/32 mounts.
     
  19. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    My impression is that naval guns often have longer barrel life for a given caliber and velocity. If so I suspect it's because they have heavier barrels. The 5"/38 for instance has a respectable MV of ~800m/s (new gun) and a barrel life of over 4,000 rounds. Even the Japanese 3.9" gun whose main short comming was barrel life had one of ~400 rounds. Quite respectable for a land vehicle and lower rate of fire would likely have lengthened it if it were say carried by a tank or TD. I suspect the reason for the increased caliber was more to get extra range and altitude as well as a larger leathal radius for the shells.
     
  20. JimboHarrigan2010

    JimboHarrigan2010 Member

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    Rommel used them in desperation at the battle of arras in 1940
     

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