8.8 cm Pak 43
|8.8 cm Pak 43/41|
8.8 cm Pak 43/41 at US Army Ordnance Museum.
|Place of origin||Nazi Germany|
|Used by||Nazi Germany|
|Wars||World War II|
|Variants||PaK 43 on cruciform carriage
Pak 43/41 on split-trail carriage
KwK 43 vehicle mounted
|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|
|Elevation||-5° to +38°|
|Rate of fire||6-7 rpm|
|Muzzle velocity||See Ammunition Table|
|Effective firing range||4,000 m (4,400 yd)|
|Maximum firing range||16,000 m (17,000 yd)|
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (April 2009)|
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 8.8 cm KwK 43 main gun on the Tiger II tank, and Elefant, Jagdpanther and Nashorn tank destroyers.
The improved 8.8 cm gun 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 less 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 13 kilometers (8 miles).
KwK 43 and Pak 43's 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 had no effect on performance but made replacing a worn out barrel much faster and easier than before.
The massively increased 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 a increased weight of 10.4 kilograms for the PzGr.39/43. 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 30mm or thicker to ignite after penetration for maximum behind armour effects.
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), 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.
Ammunition and penetration
The Pzgr. 39/43 and HE shells were generally available. Pzgr. 40/43 were in severely short supply.
Pzgr. 39/43 APCBC-HE
- 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|
|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%|
Pzgr. 40/43 APCR
- Type: Armour-piercing, Composite Rigid construction)
- Projectile weight: 7.3 kg (16 lbs)
- Muzzle velocity: 1,130 m/s (3,707 ft/s)
|Hit probability versus 2.5 m x 2 m target|
|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%|
Gr. 39/3 HL (HEAT)
- Projectile weight: 7.65 kg (17 lbs)
- Muzzle velocity: 600 m/s (1,968 ft/s)
- Penetration: 90 mm
- 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
8,8 cm Pak 43 (L/71) - Panzerworld
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