FlaK.18 (88 mm)
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The FlaK 18 is the first variant of the venerable "Flak 88" cannons as known by the Allies. One of the most venerable weapons in the arsenal of the Wehrmacht (German Armed Forces) during World War II, it was intended as an anti-aircraft gun and while it served in that capacity throughout the war, it also had a successful career as an anti-tank gun due to its powerful cartridge.
The development of the FlaK 18 traces its roots back to World War I. The new field of air combat led to a pressing need for anti-aircraft defenses which was achieved in most nations by simply adapting medium-calibre cannons to fire at higher elevations. This was not an optimal solution however. These guns struggled even against the slow-moving aircraft and observation balloons of the time period, so Germany soon needed a higher velocity anti-aircraft gun. Using the 8.8 cm calibre already used by the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy), the FlaK 16 adopted in 1917 was the first dedicated anti-aircraft gun of Germany and their AA weapon of choice during World War I. However, the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the war forbade German arms development in several areas including air defense. However, the arms conglomerate Krupp soon exploited a loophole in the terms of the Treaty to continue developing the design: The Treaty of Versailles banned Germany from developing anti-aircraft weapons but did not forbid the development of such weapons in other nations.
In 1921, Krupp bought a majority share in the Swedish Bofors company and continued development of a 75 mm anti-aircraft gun through Bofors. However, it was later decided to switch back to the more capable 88 mm calibre. In 1928 the first prototypes of the FlaK 18 were created with a single-piece, 56-calibre barrel. The "FlaK 18" designation was another deception tactic by the Weimar Republic, implying that the gun was at some stage adopted during World War I and not from after the Treaty of Versailles. With a cruciform gun carriage, and a semi-automatic system that automatically ejected spent casings, the FlaK 18 started seeing widespread production after the Nazis came to power in 1933. It was deployed by German "volunteers" supporting Franco's nationalist faction during the Spanish Civil War. Intended to protect the airfields of the German Condor Legion, the FlaK 18 was found to be effective not only against aircraft, but the powerful 8.8 cm gun was an effective anti-tank or bunker-buster weapon and actually exceeded compared to its intended purpose as an anti-aircraft gun. The FlaK 18 saw action in 377 engagements during the Spanish Civil War, but only 31 were against aircraft.
The FlaK 18 also could be fired directly from its wheeled carriage and while lacking any stabilizing outriggers. While not the most optimal configuration, this was still an excellent design feature along with the 2 and a half minute time needed to convert it to stabilized firing. However, the weight meant only large prime movers such as the Sd.Kfz. 7 could transport the gun.
The FlaK 18 would see service during World War II along with its successor designs the Flak.36 and FlaK 37 where it served both in the German Air Defense, and as an anti-tank weapon for the Heer (Army) on multiple fronts. The RLM (Reich Air Ministry) also mounted the gun on the Krischan der Große, a prototype anti-aircraft boat produced for low-altitude air defense of the Dutch and French coast and supporting Operation Sea Lion, the planned invasion of the United Kingdom. The guns were not effective on this boat as they weren't stabilized for naval use and the prototype, while accepted for service, never saw combat.
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- Flak.36 (88 mm) - Improved variant of the FlaK.18
- Flak.37 (88 mm) - Further improvement of the FlaK.18
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|Germany naval cannons|
|15 mm||MG 151|
|20 mm||2 cm/65 C/30 · 2 cm/65 C/38 · 2 cm/65 Flakzwilling 38 · 2 cm/65 Flakvierling 38 · MG 151/20|
|37 mm||FlaK-Lafette C/36 · 3.7 cm FlaK-Lafette LM/42 · SK C/30 · FlaK.36 · FlaK43|
|40 mm||40 mm/70 MEL58 · Bofors Flak 28 · Bofors L/70 model 1948|
|52 mm||52 mm/55 SK L/55|
|88 mm||8.8 cm/76 SK C/32 · S.K.C/35 · FlaK.18 · Flak.36 · 88 mm/45 AA SK L/45 · 88 mm/45 casemate SK L/45|
|100 mm||100 mm/55 MLE model 53|
|105 mm||SK C/32 · SK C/33 AA|
|127 mm||SK C/34|
|150 mm||150 mm/45 SK L/45 · 15 cm/48 KC/36 · 15 cm/55 SK C/28 · 15 cm/60 SK C/25|
|203 mm||20.3 cm/60 SK C/34|
|283 mm||283 mm/45 SK L/45 · 283 mm/52 SK C/28 · 283-mm/54,5 SK C/34|
|305 mm||305 mm/50 SK L/50|
|380 mm||38 cm SK L/45|
|30 mm||AK-230 (USSR)|
|37 mm||V-11 (USSR)|
|76 mm||76 mm/62 OTO-Melara Compact (Italy)|
|100 mm||100 mm/56 B-34 (USSR)|