The 88 Mil.

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by jonwilly, Aug 17, 2009.

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  1. Gents was the German 88 mill anti aircraft/anti tank gun designed as a dual purpose weapon or did it just happen when the BEF launched their flank attack against Rommel's 7th Panzer Div.
    john
     
  2. Really made its reputation when it was the only thing in the wermacht that could stop a T-34

    BTW in late 1944 900,000 Germans were employed in fielding and manning 88mm's against allied air raids . One of the reasons the Germans were doing so badly on the Eastern front was down to the need for industry to build 88mm AA guns intead of field artillery like howitzers .

    Don't let those bearded pipe smoking academics tell you that allied bombing achived nothing because it achieved one hell of a lot
     
  3. They're all clean shaven and in shiny suits now, pretending to be businessmen. Beards and pipes went out about the same time as the SLR.
     


  4. Whooooo said the SLR ever went out? Harrumph! (narrows eyes, twitches cavalry whiskers, shoots cuffs, stalks off in search of more gin)
     
  5. Wasnt our 3.7" AA gun similar to the 88? and why didnt we employ it in the same role?
     
  6. Beacsue it would have required massive modification - like a total re-design.Don't think that it didn't occur to people to use them in the ATk role - they weren't suitable at all although they were used in this role.
     
  7. Schaden

    Schaden LE Book Reviewer

    It was designed as a dual AA/PAK weapon - AP rounds were issued from the start and were I believe used against fortifications in the Polish campaign.

    I believe that the 88mm was lighter and more mobile than the Brit 3.7.

    However the Commonwealth forces did have the excellent 25lber - which I think by odd chance was also 88mm? Am sure someone can confirm.
     
  8. As Rickshaw-major says, the design of the 3.7" was less than suitable - particularly its height and its relatively slow speed into action from travel configuration. But I suspect there were a couple of other factors as well:

    1) The British did not face quite the same challenge in defeating armour that the Germans had. The Bosche had to cope with well protected Char Bs and Matildas in 1940, then KVs and T-34s from 1941. Until the Tiger came along in late 1942, German panzers were not that heavily armoured - in many ways a well-handled and concealed 2pdr was a far better proposition than a much more powerful but huge 3.7".

    2) Doctrine - the British, at least in the early days of the desert, tended to regard the tank as the best countermeasure to the tank. The Germans, on the other hand, preferred to throw their AT screen forward with the panzers to take the brunt of any armoured counter-attack.

    3) If one really had to use something a bit bigger than a 2pdr (or later the 6pdr), then the British had a rather good option for improvisation in the form of the 25pdr.

    4) Numbers - 3.7" were too valuable and relatively too scarce to misuse as AT weapons. Keep them for the job they were designed for! The Germans had always - even before Rommel at Arras, I believe - been aggressive in their use of the 88mm as a high velocity direct fire piece in the ground role. With light AA and the jagdgruppen providing effective air defence against low-level attacks, and the relative scarcity of high level interdiction attacks in the early phases of the war, they could get away with it. Not so later.

    It is one of the ironies of history that it is fashionable to slag off the British for only fielding the 2pdr in 1940 (plus of course the odd Bofors AT piece), yet ignore the fact that the Germans were in arguably a worse position with their blushes over the 3.7cm being spared only by misuse of the 8.8cm.
     
  9. The British did go on to use the 3.7" in a ground role in Italy (and also used captured 88mm batteries for the same purpose), but there were probably few tank targets by that stage.

    In the early war years, the 3.7" was simply prioritised in its AD role because UK had a lack of AD gun assets and so many vital strategic bases to protect - Gibraltar, Malta, Alexandria, Tobruk, etc - that would outweigh the armies tactical need.
     
  10. the answer is there if it was 88mm Flack it's an antiaircreft gun
    if it was an 88mm Pack it's antitank gun
    the guns in North Africa were Flack so they were not anti tank, but used in this role as a stopgap
     
  11. Even back in the Spanish civil war then the dual purpose qualities of the 88 were recognised apparently. And as has been mentioned they were often called into play to defeat Allied armour when nothing else in the German arsenal could defeat the Matillda otherwise. Interestingly though the Luftwaffe controlled gunners were not always keen to use their guns in support of the army. During Op. Goodwood in July44 then Col. Von Luck had to use his sidearm to convince the Luftwaffe to stop engaging the RAF and engage the tanks. This is often attributed to breaking up the attack:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_von_Luck

    The British 3.7in wasnt as appropriate in the same role for a number of reasons. Partly too heavy and slow to deploy, partly the sight system and the carriage werent designed to engage low targets, and partly I think that the 3.7in wasnt a divisional asset and would be deloyed further back (40mm bofors was Div AA btln weapon). So it just was rarely around to be used in the same way as the 88mm Flak 36.
    Also as said above the 25pdr was a much better weapon to step up in emergencies. But in fact for the most part the 6pdr and then the 17pdr were considered very capable high velocity A/T weapons anyway for most threats around at their time. I think when the Tiger threat came about then apaptations to the 3.7in to make it more effective as a stopgap were considered, but by that stage the 17pdr wasnt far off. Anti-tanks guns was something the British Army actually did pretty well.
     
  12. Amazing what you find on Wiki, Thanks cupoftea.
    So the 88 was used as early as the Spanich Civil War in the Anti Armour role.
    Also I consider jockass made a most interesting comment
    "I think that the 3.7in wasn't a divisional asset and would be deployed further back (40mm bofors was Div AA btln weapon). So it just was rarely around to be used in the same way as the 88mm Flak 36."
    Thanks.
    john
     
  13. For the most part the 88 wasn't a divisional asset. Only a very few German divisions included an organic AA Btl. The vast majority of 88s were to be found in Flak units of the Luftwaffe.

    What the Germans did was to simply attach luftwaffe flak units to the army as and when required.

    With regard to the 3.7". Captured examples put into service by the Germans were used in the ground role. One of these roles being coastal artillery.
     
  14. Agreed. I was pointing out that the British orbat held 3.7in at corps level or above as a reason for them rarely being in the front line (on purpose...) For the most part every German Panzer and Panzer Grenadier division had an organic Flak battalion, as did the Parachute Divisions (already luftwaffe though). The vast majority of infantry divisions did not though. These flak battalions had a mix of heavy and light companies but its difficult to tell if those heavies would be 37mm or 88mm in all but the most elite and well equipped divisions.
    However as you say doctrine was that the Luftwaffe flak corps units would be much further forward and when there was a lack of air targets they would be available for anti-tank duties. Doctrinally it was a different way of operating and using assets. The Germans were notoriously much better at cobbling together various mixed units and forming Kampfgruppe's. A skill that remained unsurpassed until the Territorial Army were later to perfect the practise in the 1990s and early 21st century... :roll:

    There are quite a few nice little pieces the 88, flak and pak versions on this source from allied intel reports of the time:
    http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ttt08/german-antiaircraft-units.html
    http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ttt08/antiaircraft-panzer-division.html
    http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ttt/german-88mm-gun.html
    http://www.lonesentry.com/articles/ttt/88mm-german-antitank-gun.html
    All in all quite a few interesting peices here on all sorts of kit and tactics to waste an afternoon.