- For the Steel Division II unit see SD2:FlaK 41 88mm
FlaK 41 88mm is a German Anti-air unit. It is moved onto the battlefield by the sdfk 7 transport unit. Once deployed, the FlaK 41 88mm can be used a formidable anti-aircraft unit as well as a potent anti-tank unit, with the added bonus of being able to fire HE shells. Its shells reach aircraft further than most anti-aircraft units, and groups of FlaKs can pose as a sizable deterrent to Allied airpower.
Historically, FlaK 41s were a rare sight and were seldom deployed outside of Germany due to their sheer complexity: They were prohibitively expensive to manufacture and maintain.
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 41 was an updated design based on the perfected Flak 36, which in turn was a perfected version of Flak 18. Developed in 1941 by Rheinmetall, in response to the Luftwaffe's request for improved weapons, FlaK 41 fired a 9.4 kg shell at 1,000 m/s, with an effective ceiling of 11,300m. Its performance was said to be comparable to the 12,8 cm Flak, with a lower silhouette than its predecessor and an increased firing rate (up to 25 rounds per minute).
However, the complexity of the design greatly impacted their reliability and limited their deployment to Germany and select units outside of it. A total of 556 guns were manufactured from March 1943 until 1945, less than 1/40th of the total production of Flak 18/36/37.
21. Panzer's Heeres-FlaK-Abteilung 305 had two batteries with equipped with four Flak 41 along with two self-propelled 2 cm flak guns.
1. SS-Panzer's SS-FlaK-Abteilung 1 had three batteries of eight 88mm Flak Guns supported by 2 cm flak guns.
Panzer-Lehr's Heeres-FlaK-Abteilung 311 had three batteries of six 88mm Flak Guns supported by 2 cm flak guns.
2. Panzer's Heeres-FlaK-Abteilung 273 had two batteries of four supported by the usual 2 cm flak guns.
9. Panzer's Heeres-FlaK-Abteilung 287 was still rebuilding but were authorized to have two batteries of 88mm Flak Guns.
The FlaK 41 is first and foremost an anti-aircraft unit. It is very effective against enemy aircraft and can fire from a great distance, though this is partially offset by its long reload time (6 shells / minute). This slow rate of fire can be remedied by fielding multiple FlaKs or augmenting it with other anti-aircraft units. Of course, the legendary piece of machinery also doubles as a fearsome and accurate anti-tank weapon, able to pierce all but the most heavily armoured Allied tanks. It also fires effective HE shells against infantry and other soft targets such as anti-tank guns.
Its biggest enemy is artillery, though enemy aircraft can also pose a threat if deployed in numbers too great for the FlaK to counter. The FlaK unit moves at an excruciatingly slow pace of 8 km/h, allowing artillery to easily hit it. With a crew of 12, the FlaK 41 can withstand some punishment, but prolonged artillery fire will be sure to wipe out this unit.