12.8 cm KwK 44
The 12.8 cm Pak 44 is a heavy anti-tank gun developed and used by Nazi Germany late in World War II. The development of this vehicle arise from experience in the Eastern Front, where the Soviet's 122 mm gun in the IS-2 showed such a positive performance that the German military requested for a similar weapon. The weapon, based off the caliber used on their naval weapons, would prove superior to any German anti-tank weapons in World War II.
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History of creation and combat usage
The German military's experience in the Eastern Front showed that heavy caliber bunker-buster weapons like the 122 mm Soviet gun on their new IS-2 heavy tanks was a necessary addition in their arsenal to be able to deliver a very potent firepower onto the enemy. The choice of the 12.8 cm caliber was made due to the machinery available for that size due to the production of naval weapons of the same caliber. The assignment of building the gun went to Rheinmetall and Krupp, which delivered the first prototypes in late 1944. Rheinmetall sent a design that was derived from the 12.8 cm FlaK gun, while Krupp made a dedicated anti-tank gun. Krupp's design won out and continued development. The Krupp's design was intended to be a towed anti-tank gun, but the heavy 11 ton weight of the gun made this an impractical applications so the towing feature was eliminated from the design. 50 barrels and breeches were made for use on carriages, but these designs were deemed too heavy for infantry use.
It was proposed that, since the Pak 44 was too heavy for infantry use, the gun would be mounted onto the vehicles to carry into battle. The first two designs to use the vehicle were the heavy Jagdtiger tank destroyer and the super-heavy Maus and the proposed E-100. About 100 guns were made for this mounting, the one mounted on the Jagdtiger was designated the Pak 80 while the Maus and E-100 variant were the KwK 44. Other than designation, these guns had no large difference from the Pak 44.
The gun, using a two-piece ammunition, had a slow firing rate in comparison to a single-piece round. However, an advantage of the two-piece ammunition is that it allowed for a different size propellant to be used for different roles, such as a "light" and "medium" load for artillery and a "heavy" load for anti-tank. The gun in the anti-tank role can fire a 28.3 kg round at a muzzle velocity of 950 meters/second. While its penetrating capabilities in short to medium range is comparable to the 8.8 cm Pak 43, the gun had a longer firing range and effectiveness, able to engage targets more than 2,700 meters away in ideal condition. This made the gun the most lethal anti-tank weapon in the war.