The 88 mm gun. Used in WWII in both the anti-tank and anti-aircraft roles.
About this creation
The German eighty-eight is probably one of the best known artillery pieces of World War II. It was not one gun, but a series of anti-aircraft guns officially called the 8,8 cm Flak 18, 36 or 37, and could also include newer and more powerful models, the FlaK 41 and 43, although these were different weapons. FlaK is a German short form of Flugabwehr-Kanone (hence the capital K, nowadays one word) meaning anti-aircraft gun, the original purpose of the eighty-eight.
The eighty-eight was used in two roles, one as a mobile heavy anti-aircraft battery, and also in a more static role for the defence of Germany. In this latter role the guns were arranged into large batteries, directed by a single controller, and were moved only rarely. Changes for the FlaK 36 improved mobility at the price of weight, so another set of modifications were made for this role, the FlaK 37. The FlaK 37 used a simpler and lighter trailer design, as might be expected, but also included additional instrumentation to allow the gun layers to more easily follow directions from the single director.
During the initial phases of the Battle of France, the eighty-eight was continually pressed into service against heavily armored French and British designs such as the Char B1bis and Matilda II, whose heavy frontal armour was impossible for most weapons to penetrate except at point-blank range.
Anti-tank usage became even more common during battles in North Africa and the Soviet Union.
The 88 was powerful enough to be able to penetrate over 150 mm of armour even at long ranges of 2 km or more. This meant that it was an unparalleled anti-tank weapon during the early war and still formidable against all but the heaviest tanks right up until 1945.
It was arguably most effective in the North African and Russian campaigns where the terrain was often flat and open, allowing the long-range performance of the 88 to be decisive.
FlaK 36's were often modified with an armored shield for the gunners, although this provided only limited protection and the high profile of the gun made it easy to spot on the battlefield.
The success of the 88 mm as an anti-tank weapon led the Germans to develop tanks and tank destroyers mounting 88 mm guns, for instance the Tiger tank and the Nashorn tank destroyer. While the Nashorn used the new long 88/L71 gun of the FlaK 41, the Tiger I gun was based on the older, shorter 88/L56 FlaK 18 gun.
Hard to believe it's been 5 years since this was uploaded... I remember the first time I saw this, before my current account, and I really wanted to build my own. I eventually did, but still. 5 years... Seems it was but yesterday. I'm getting old.