8.8 cm KwK 43
The 8.8 cm KwK 43 L/71 is the successor of the already famous 8.8 cm KwK 36 gun of the Tiger I's, featuring a longer barrel and a higher chamber pressure, allowing the usage of much more powerful rounds than the original 8.8 cm cannon. This gun equipped most of the late-war German heavy tanks such as the Tiger II, and heavy tank destroyers such as the Jagdpanther. This gun was capable of taking out any tank fielded by the Allies during World War II.
The 8.8 cm KwK 43 is the ultimate gun of the Tier IV matches and can really stand against Tier V's. The massive penetration of the gun, penetrating more than 200 mm at a distance of 1000 meters, can destroy many of the medium tanks and tank destroyers of the tier while its caliber gives the gun a very destructive beyond-armor effect.
Guns of comparable performance
- American 90 mm Gun T15 on the "Super Pershings" and T32.
- British OQF 20-pounder on the Centurions and Caernarvon.
- Jagdpanzer V Jagdpanther
- Panzerjäger Tiger (P) Ferdinand
- Waffenträger Krupp-Steyr mit Pak 43
- Befehlswagen Jagdpanther ♠
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History of creation and combat usage
The "long 88" first served as an anti-tank gun called the 8.8 cm Pak 43 gun. It was the most powerful anti-tank gun in German service in World War II and was produced in significant numbers of about 2,000 units. The gun performed spectacularly and was able to penetrate the front of the IS-2 tanks with ease. Aside from its anti-tank gun version, attempts were made to place the gun onto a mobile platform for increased mobility. The first such vehicle was the Nashorn, but the design proved too lightly armored and lightweight for the gun. The second was the Ferdinand/Elefant tank destroyer, but this proved too unreliable and heavy despite its success. The Jagdpanther was another vehicle converted to mount the 8.8 cm Pak 43, which proved a good balance between mobility and armor for usage on the battlefield.
The 8.8 cm Pak 43 was modified into the 8.8 cm KwK 43 for mounting in the Tiger II. Aside from mounting, the two versions were essentially the same gun and can fire the same ammunition. Another tank planned for the KwK 43 was the Panther II, but this was cancelled with the termination of the tank project.
The 88 mm in the Tiger II was initially equipped with a binocular Turmzielfernrohr (TZF) 9b/1 sighting telescope and later with the monocular TZF 9d sighting telescope. The gun could be elevated to a maximum of 17 degrees and depressed to a maximum of 8 degrees. The rounds for the 88mm gun weighed almost 20kg (44 pounds) each, which resulted in a relatively slow rate of fire.
The KwK 43 had a length of L/71, or 6.24 meters (20.5 feet) long. Compared to its predecessor, the 8.8 cm KwK 36 on the Tiger I, it was 1.3 meters longer and had to use a different ammunition to make up for the different operating pressure. The new cartridge was much more powerful due to a longer casing that allows for the gun to penetrate any armored vehicle in World War II. The new round had the BdZ 5127 fuse that required a penetration of about 30 mm of armor or more in order to maximize the beyond-armor effect of the explosive filler in the shells.
The KwK/Pak 43 gun were initially made with a single barrel like every other gun in the war, but the excessive muzzle velocity and pressures the cartridges produce resulted in the barrel wearing out rather quickly. This was fixed with a two-piece barrel, which had no effect on the overall performance of the gun, but made changing barrels on the gun more efficient.
The gun all performed well on the vehicles they were mounted on, resulting in very high kill ratios for each tank's kill count. Accuracy of the 8.8 cm was much better compared to its predecessor, as the rounds follow a straighter trajectory than the shorter 8.8 cm cannon. A range test with the gun shows that if the range is predetermined, a gunner could achieve a 100% hit probability on a 2.5 m x 2 m target at a range of 1000 meters. This accuracy and the ability to penetrate any Allied armor in the war had the tanks that mounted the gun be able to confidently destroy any incoming armor that comes into their firing zone. The powerful 88mm gun was able to knock out Sherman, Cromwell and T-34/85 tanks at a range of 3,500 meters (2.2 miles), far beyond the range of enemy guns. As of April of 1945, stabilized gun sights and rangefinder were to be part of standard equipment. Plans were also made for an fully or partially automatic ammunition feed for the main gun and one turret was assigned to be used for testing, but not a single prototype was produced.