- For the Steel Division II unit see SD2:FlaK 36 88mm
FlaK 36 88mm is a German Anti-air unit.
The iconic 8.8 cm FlaK (Flugzeugabwehrkanone or aircraft defense cannon) was a weapon whose initial designs dated back to the time of World War I and the emergence of aircraft as a tool of war. Introduced in 1917, 8.8 cm Flak 16 used the standard caliber of the Kaiserliche Marine (Imperial Navy), firing a heavy projectile at high velocities to reach aircraft at high altitudes. This feature allowed it to excel against enemy tanks in World War II.
Experiments with a new 8.8 cm Flak began shortly after the end of the war, in spite of the Treaty of Versailles. In collaboration with the Swedish Bofors, Krupp created the first new model Flak in 1928, designated Flak 18. This early variant incorporated most of the features the Flak would become known for: High muzzle velocity, large caliber, multiple types of ammunition (high explosive, armor piercing, HEAT), and a very high rate of fire, thanks to its semi-automatic method of operation, allowing for firing 15 to 20 rounds per minute. The Flak 18 distinguished itself in the Spanish Civil War, where small numbers were made available to Nationalist forces, proving to be an excellent weapon against all targets on land and in the air.
Flak 36 was an iterative development of the Flak 18, incorporating a number of improvements. These included a two-piece barrel for easier replacement of worn liners, a modified carriage allowing for firing without deploying outliers (albeit in a limited arc and elevation), and an armored shield to provide cover for the operators. An SdKfz 7 was the standard prime mover.
Over 20,000 8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37 guns were produced before the end of the war, becoming a major component of German defenses both on ground and in the air.