8.8 cm Pak 43

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8.8 cm Pak 43/41
8.8 cm PaK 43-41 2.JPG
8.8 cm Pak 43/41 at US Army Ordnance Museum.
Type Anti-tank gun
Place of origin Nazi Germany
Service history
In service 1943-1945
Used by Nazi Germany
Wars World War II
Production history
Manufacturer Krupp, Rheinmetall
Produced 1943-1945
Number built ~2,100
Variants PaK 43 on cruciform carriage
Pak 43/41 on split-trail carriage
KwK 43 vehicle mounted
Specifications
Weight 4,380 kg (9,660 lb)
Length 6.4 m (21 ft 0 in)
Barrel length 6.61 m (21 ft 8 in) L/71
Height 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in)

Shell See Ammunition Table
Caliber 88 mm (3.5 in)
Breech Horizontal semi-automatic sliding block
Recoil hydro-pneumatic
Carriage split-trail
Elevation -5° to +38°
Traverse 56°
Rate of fire 20-25 rpm
Muzzle velocity See Ammunition Table
Effective firing range 4,000 m (4,400 yd)
Maximum firing range 16,000 m (17,000 yd)

The Pak 43 (Panzerabwehrkanone 43) was a German 88 mm anti-tank gun developed by Krupp in competition with the Rheinmetall 8.8 cm Flak 41 anti-aircraft gun and used during the Second World War. The Pak 43 was the most powerful anti-tank gun of the Wehrmacht to see service in significant numbers, also serving in modified form as the main gun on the Tiger II tank, and Elefant, Jagdpanther and Nashorn tank destroyers.

The improved 8.8 cm round had a relatively flat trajectory out to 910 m (1,000 yd) and was able to frontally penetrate any Allied tank at long ranges. Even the Soviet IS-2 model 1943 tanks and IS chassis-based tank destroyers were vulnerable to the Pak 43. The Pak 43 had certain drawbacks as the increase in muzzle velocity was offset by the need to keep down the weight of the gun. The light tube resulted in a "considerably reduced safety factor". German gun crews were instructed not to use high-velocity ammunition when the tubes had fired 500 rounds.[1] The gun's maximum firing range exceeded 13 kilometers (8 miles).

Versions[edit]

The main version of the Pak 43 was based on a highly effective cruciform mount, which offered a full 360 degree traverse and a much lower profile than the ubiquitous anti-aircraft 8.8 cm Flak 37. However the manufacture of this version was initially slow and costly.

As part of the design effort from Krupp to compete with the Flak 41 a barrel had been produced to prove the ballistics and design. This barrel design was developed, via an intermediate design known as the Garat 42, to become the barrel used with Pak 43 design. When the Pak 43 was delayed Krupp was asked to produce a weapon using this barrel using as many existing components as possible. This previous barrel design was then designated the Pak 41.

The Pak 41 barrel was fitted with a horizontal sliding block breech mechanism resembling that of the 7.5 cm PAK 40 and the semi-automatic gear was a simplified version of that used on the Pak 43. The two-wheel split-trail carriage was from the 10.5 cm leFH 18 field howitzer, with the wheels from the 15 cm s FH howitzer. The PAK 41 was ballistically identical to the Pak 43 and fired the same ammunition, hence its performance was identical. Sources are unclear as to whether the Pak 41 and the Pak 43 barrels were identical, either way it is responsible for the Pak 43/41 designation for the whole design.

The 43/41 proved heavy and awkward to handle in the mud and snow of the Eastern Front and gunners referred to 43/41 as the "barn door" (German: Scheunentor),[2] a reference to the size and weight of the gun. Nevertheless the Pak 43/41 proved just as effective as the earlier Pak 43.

The Pak 43 was also mounted in German armored vehicles and this version was known as the 8.8 cm KwK 43. Versions of this gun were mounted in a number of German armored vehicles under different designations, including the Tiger II heavy tank (KwK 43 L/71) and several tank destroyers: the Hornisse/Nashorn (Pak 43/1), Ferdinand/Elefant (Pak 43/2), and Jagdpanther (Pak 43/3 and Pak 43/4). A few examples of the Tiger II-based Jagdtiger were also completed with the 8.8 cm weapon due to a shortage of the 12.8 cm Pak 44, but these tank destroyers are not believed to have seen operational service.

Pak 43 on cruciform mount, in towing configuration
The 8.8 cm Pak 43/41 on the Eastern Front, 1943.

Ammunition and penetration[edit]

The Pzgr. 39/43 and HE shells were generally available. Pzgr. 40/43 were in severely short supply.


Pzgr. 39/43 APCBC-HE[edit]

  • Type: Armour Piercing Capped with Ballistic Cap - High Explosive
  • Projectile weight: 10.4 kg (22.92 lbs)
  • Muzzle velocity: 1,000 m/s (3,300 ft/s)
Performance
Penetration Hit probability versus 2.5 m x 2 m target[3]
Range RHA plate at
30° from vertical
in training in combat
100 m 202 mm 100% 100%
500 m 185 mm 100% 100%
1,000 m 165 mm 100% 85%
1,500 m 148 mm 95% 61%
2,000 m 132 mm 85% 43%
2,500 m n/a 74% 30%
3,000 m n/a 61% 23%
3,500 m n/a 51% 17%
4,000 m n/a 42% 13%

Pzgr. 40/43 APCR[edit]

Penetration figures established as average against a rolled homogenous armoured plate laid back 30 degrees from the vertical
Hit probability versus 2.5 m x 2 m target[3]
Range Penetration in training in combat
100 m 238 mm 100% 100%
500 m 217 mm 100% 100%
1000 m 193 mm 100% 89%
1500 m 171 mm 97% 66%
2000 m 153 mm 89% 47%
2500 m n/a 78% 34%
3000 m n/a 66% 25%

Gr. 39/3 HL (HEAT)[edit]

  • Projectile weight: 7.65 kg (17 lbs)
  • Muzzle velocity: 600 m/s (1,968 ft/s)
  • Penetration: 90 mm

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "The New 88 and its Carriages", Intelligence Bulletin (lonesentry.com), January 1945, The following article is wartime information on enemy equipment published for Allied soldiers 
  2. ^ Gander and Chamberlain (1979) p. 119
  3. ^ a b http://www.fprado.com/armorsite/tiger2.htm citing Jentz, Thomas L.; Kingtiger Heavy Tank: 1942 - 1945; ISBN 185532 282 X

References[edit]

  • Gander, Terry and Chamberlain, Peter. Weapons of the Third Reich: An Encyclopedic Survey of All Small Arms, Artillery and Special Weapons of the German Land Forces 1939-1945. New York: Doubleday, 1979 ISBN 0-385-15090-3
  • Hogg, Ian V. German Artillery of World War Two. 2nd corrected edition. Mechanicsville, PA: Stackpole Books, 1997 ISBN 1-85367-480-X

External links[edit]

8,8 cm Pak 43 (L/71) - Panzerworld