Thursday, 13 March 2014

Importance of Height

Ask yourself, what factors are most important in an anti-tank gun? Is it penetration? Rate of fire? Those are important, but if you want your gun to last for more than a few seconds after its first shot, you need to consider two more: mobility and concealablility. As the following photograph illustrates, the FlaK 36 may have had plenty of the former two characteristics, but its lack of the latter two made it a poor anti-tank weapon.

Reports from Guderian's 4th Tank Division confirm this conjecture:

"Combat with Russian tanks using 8.8 cm AA guns and 10 cm guns is insufficient. Both guns are clumsy compared to tanks, and are usually detected, targeted, and destroyed before they can reach their positions. In only one engagement between Orel and Mtsensk, two 8.8 cm guns and one 10 cm gun, all heavy guns available for defense, were detected and destroyed. These guns are as big as a barn door, and present a very large and easy target"
A. Ulanov, D. Shein, First T-34s, p. 161

Edit: I found a better picture, but it's marked with a reflection instead of a watermark. 


  1. What is 10cm gun ? K-18 ? or Flak 105mm ?

    The picture is disturbing, what do we see? Flak 36 with a shell instide the muzzle?

    Is it a ZiS-3 76.2mm gun? (I mean, what else could it be), wow ! I never guessed it was so small compared to a Flak 36 !

    1. Most likely K-18 field guns, since the Germans found them pretty reliable at knocking out KV-1 and T-34.

    2. 105 mm guns were called 10 cm guns. You'll see this name applied to them in several other documents.

  2. Guderian consistently rounds off caliber figures in his memoirs and, apparently, his official communiques. Thus, 100mm when he means 105. I think he may even refer to the 88mm as a 90mm at one point in Panzer Leader.

    This shows one weakness of the dual-purpose flak/pak 88mm. In order to elevate the gun high enough for it to be a useful flak gun, the mount has to be much larger than is desirable for an anti-tank gun.

  3. Heavy ATG used in prepared positions in defense is not the same as battalion level guns pushed into position during fluid movements. Nobody is destroying an emplaced 88 at 2500 meters. They're not likely to even see it. All weapons have pros and cons. The PAK version of the 88 was not considered a success, being far too heavy for that role, though having a lower profile. The dual purpose versions have a fearsome reputation for good reason. They succeeded in a wide open desert with little cover, so I find it hard to believe they were failures in European terrain. The simple expedient of placing them to fire obliquely from terrain covered from direct observation (ala Omaha Beach) is one way they were used.