8.8 cm Pak 43

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8.8 cm Pak 43
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-698-0038-07, Russland, 8,8cm Pak.jpg
8.8 cm Pak 43/41 on display at a weapons show on the northern sector of the Eastern Front in 1943.
TypeAnti-tank gun
Place of originGermany
Service history
In service1943–1945
Used byGermany
WarsWorld War II
Production history
Henschel & Son
No. built~2,100
VariantsPak 43
Pak 43/41
KwK 43
WeightSee Specifications Table
LengthSee Specifications Table
Barrel lengthSee Specifications Table
WidthSee Specifications Table
HeightSee Specifications Table

ShellSee Specifications Table
Caliber88×822 mm.
BreechSemi-automatic vertical sliding-block
CarriageCruciform mount (Pak 43)
Split trail (Pak 43/41)
Elevation-8° to +40° (Pak 43)
-5° to +38° (Pak 43/41)
Traverse360° (Pak 43)
56° (Pak 43/41)
Rate of fire6-10 rpm
Muzzle velocitySee Ammunition Table
Effective firing rangeSee Ammunition Table
Maximum firing range15,150 m (16,570 yd)

The Pak 43 (Panzerabwehrkanone 43 and Panzerjägerkanone 43[1][2][3]) 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 World War II. 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 8.8 cm KwK 43 main gun on the Tiger II tank, to the open-top Nashorn, and fully enclosed, casemate-hulled Elefant and Jagdpanther tank destroyers.

The improved 8.8 cm gun was fitted with a semi-automatic vertical breech mechanism that greatly reduced recoil.[4] It could also be fired electrically while on its wheels.[4] It had a very flat trajectory out to 914 m (1,000 yd), making it easier for the gunner to hit targets at longer ranges as fewer corrections in elevation were needed. In addition to this, the gun's exceptional penetration performance made it able to frontally penetrate any Allied tank to see service during the war at long ranges, even the Soviet IS-2 tanks and IS chassis-based tank destroyers. The gun's maximum firing range exceeded 15 kilometers (9 miles).


KwK 43 and Pak 43s were initially manufactured with monobloc barrels. However, the weapons' extremely high muzzle velocity and operating pressures caused accelerated barrel wear, resulting in a change to a two-piece barrel. This did not affect performance but made replacing a worn out barrel much faster and easier than before.

The higher operating pressures of the new gun in turn required a new armour-piercing shell to be designed. The result was the PzGr.39/43 APCBC-HE projectile, which, apart from the addition of much wider driving bands, was otherwise identical to the older 10.2-kilogram PzGr.39-1 APCBC-HE projectile used by the 8.8 cm KwK 36 and Pak 43 guns. The wider driving bands resulted in an increased weight to 10.4 kilograms for the PzGr.39/43.[5] However, up until the full transition to the new PzGr.39/43 round was complete, the older PzGr.39-1 was used for the KwK & Pak 43, but only provided the gun had been used for no more than 500 rounds. Over this, the expected barrel wear combined with the narrow driving bands could lead to a loss of pressure. The new PzGr.39/43 could be fired without loss of pressure until the barrel was worn out, thus requiring no restriction.

PzGr.39-1 FES & Al all up weight: 10.2 kg (9.87 kg without fuse & bursting charge)

PzGr.39/43 FES & Al all up weight: 10.4 kg (10.06 kg without fuse & bursting charge)

The same 278-gram BdZ 5127 fuse and 59-gram Amatol bursting charge was used for both types of projectile (PzGr.39-1 & PzGr.39/43), requiring armoured targets of 30 mm or thicker to ignite after penetration for maximum behind-armour effects.


Pak 43 and Pak 43/41 specifications[6][7]
Specification Pak 43 Pak 43/41
Weight Travel: 4,750 kg (10,470 lb)
Combat: 3,650 kg (8,050 lb)
Combat: 4,350 kg (9,590 lb)
Length 9.2 m (30 ft 2 in) 9.144 m (30 ft 0 in)
Barrel length 6.35 m (20 ft 10 in) 6.36 m (20 ft 10 in)
Width 2.527 m (8 ft 3.5 in)
Height 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in) 1.981 m (6 ft 6.0 in)
Pak 43/41 in firing position overlooking a river in Ukraine in September 1943

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 Gerät 42, to become the barrel used with Pak 43/41 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.[8]

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.[9][10][11][12]

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),[13] a reference to the size and weight of the gun. Nevertheless, the improvised Pak 43/41 proved an effective substitute for the Pak 43 until sufficient numbers of the more complex cruciform mounts could be manufactured to replace it in service.

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, early name Stu.K. 43/1), and Jagdpanther (Pak 43/3 and Pak 43/4, early name Stu.K. 43). 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
8.8 cm Pak 43/41 at US Army Ordnance Museum


There were 578 88mm Pak in German army service on 1 October 1944 and 829 on 1 January 1945.[4]

Ammunition and penetration[edit]

Pak 43 from the rear

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)
Penetration Hit probability versus 2.5 m x 2 m target[14]
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[14]
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]


  1. ^ D 2030 – 8,8 cm Panzerjägerkanone 43/2 (L/71), Beschreibung, 28.1.1944. Berlin.
  2. ^ D97/1+ Gerätliste, Oberkommando des Heeres Heereswaffenamt, s.45, Berlin 1.7.43
  3. ^ "Gerätliste s.45".
  4. ^ a b c Haupt 1990, p. 39.
  5. ^ US Army Technical Manual TM9-1985-3, United States Government Printing Office Washington, 1953
  6. ^ Haupt 1990, p. 40.
  7. ^ Haupt 1990, p. 44.
  8. ^ I V Hogg, German Artillery WW2 Pages 217-218
  9. ^ I V Hogg, German Artilliry WW2 Pages 217-218
  10. ^ T Gander, German 88 Page 114 - 115
  11. ^ Bob Carruthers, German Tank Hunters Page 174
  12. ^ New Vanguard 46: 88mm Flak 18/36/37/41 & Pak 43
  13. ^ Gander and Chamberlain (1979) p. 119
  14. ^ a b http://www.fprado.com/armorsite/tiger2.htm citing Jentz, Thomas L.; Kingtiger Heavy Tank: 1942 - 1945; ISBN 185532 282 X


  • 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
  • Haupt, W. (1990) [1989]. Panzerabwehrgeschütze 1935–1945 [German Anti-Tank Guns 1935–1945]. Translated by Force, E. West Chester, PA: Schiffer Publishing. ISBN 978-0887402418.
  • Hogg, Ian V. German Artillery of World War Two. 2nd corrected edition. Mechanicsville, PA: Stackpole Books, 1997 ISBN 1-85367-480-X
  • Wolfgang Fleischer. Die Deutsches Panzerjägertruppe Waffen, Munition und Fahrzeuge 1935-1945. — Eggolsheim: Dörfler im Nebel GmbH, 2003 ISBN 978-3-89555-439-1.
  • H.Dv. 119/329 ± Vorläufige Schußtafel für die 8,8 cm Kampfwagenkanone 43 (L/71) (8,8 cm Kw.K 43), 8,8 cm Panzerjägerkanone 43/1 (L/71) (8,8 cm Pak 43/1), 8,8 cm Panzerjägerkanone 43/2 (L/71) (8,8 cm Pak 43/2), 8,8 cm Panzerjägerkanone 43/3 (L/71) (8,8 cm Pak 43/3) und 8,8 cm Panzerjägerkanone 43/41 (L/71) (8,8 cm Pak 43/41), Juni 1943 mit eingearbeiteten Deckblättern Nr. 1 bis 9 (Ausgabe 1944).
  • New Vanguard 46: 88mm Flak 18/36/37/41 & Pak 43 1936-45 (Osprey Publishing). Written by John Norris, iIlustrated by Mike Fuller.
  • Bob Carruthers "German Tank Hunters" Pen and Sword, 2013 ISBN 1781591326, ISBN 9781781591321
  • Terry Gander "German 88: The Most Famous Gun of the Second World War" Pen and Sword, 2009 ISBN 1783374799, ISBN 9781783374793

External links[edit]