Flexible and Formidable: The FlaK 88

FlaK 88 Photo Album

A photograph of a German 8.8cm FlaK 18 (FlaK 88) in North Africa in 1942, from Wikipedia.

An 8.8cm FlaK18 in North Africa in 1942.

Usually, a weapon is engineered to accomplish a specific task. That is, until human ingenuity finds other uses for it. During the Spanish Civil War in the late 1930’s, that’s exactly what happened with the 88 mm FlaK (commonly known as the FlaK 88). Originally intended to be solely used as an anti-aircraft cannon, the men of Germany’s Condor Legion soon discovered that it was extremely effective against tanks, ships, and really, anything it could be aimed at.

Its many uses made it popular with the German military (though unpopular with the Allies) and during WWII, it could be found on nearly every battlefield. The first Flugabwehr-Kanonen (anti-aircraft cannons) were produced in 1928 and designated FlaK18. Created during a time when most countries believed that anti-aircraft artillery was becoming useless, FlaK cannons were considerably better than similar weapons of the same time period.

The cannon was mounted on a gun carriage that allowed it to fire in all directions, as opposed to other designs that only allowed fire within a narrow arc. The cannons were relatively easy to use – ejecting spent shells after firing so a new shell could be placed in the loading tray. This resulted in an average fire rate of 15 to 20 rounds per minute. The FlaK18 was eventually replaced with the FlaK36, which was the same gun, but with improvements. FlaK36 cannons were usually equipped with a frontal shield that gave the gunners limited protection.

A screenshot photo of a German 8.8cm FlaK anti-aircraft cannon in the artillery battery near Arzew, Algeria, during "Lighting The Torch" in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault (MOHAA).

An 8.8cm FlaK cannon in the artillery battery near Arzew.

The FlaK36 was used as both a mobile anti-aircraft weapon and in fixed batteries as a defense weapon. The FlaK37 was soon introduced, allowing for better coordinated firing from artillery batteries. When used as an anti-tank weapon, the 88 mm FlaK could penetrate 15 cm of armor at ranges of two kilometers (1.24 miles) or more, making it one of the most formidable anti-tank weapons of the war. It was most effective over the flat, open terrain of North Africa and the Eastern Front.

The FlaK 88’s in Medal of Honor: Allied Assault appear to be FlaK36 cannons – the most common of the variants – though they could be any of the three. They first appear in a defense battery on the coast of Arzew, where Maj. Jack Grillo and Lt. Mike Powell must destroy two of them to allow the landings of Operation Torch to begin on time.

They appear once more, buried in the hedgerows of Normandy, as Powell and Capt. Ramsey of the 2nd Ranger Battalion search for lost paratroopers near Carentan. In this mission, they have been positioned to fire down roads where they can destroy Allied armor with ease. Since these deadly cannons make the roads impassable, Powell must call in air support to have them bombed.

These guns aren’t a serious threat until Powell captures a King Tiger and drives it to Brest. Five FlaK 88’s are positioned along the road, and on the hardest difficulty, they can kill the tank in two shots. Another one defends the bridge near Brest, but is quickly destroyed by the King Tiger.

~ by John on June 29, 2011.

4 Responses to “Flexible and Formidable: The FlaK 88”

  1. There was supposed to be a game based on WW1 called “To End All Wars” do you know if it was ever completed?

    • Hey Eileen,

      I’d never heard of it before, but I did some searching, and it sounds like something that I’d be interested in. However, to answer your question, I don’t think it was ever completed. I found the websites of all the companies involved (Ghostlight, Chemistry and Kujo Entertainment), and unless I went to the websites of similar, but different, companies, I couldn’t find anything that said the game had ever been released. It’s too bad, because I’ve never played a WWI game before. If you ever find out anything to the contrary, let me know, because I’d like to play it.

    • Eileen,

      I discovered today that the game was, in fact, canceled in 2008 before it could be completed.

  2. […] https://historythroughgaming.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/the-flak-88/ […]

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