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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Introducing the 8.8 cm Flak 36/37

The dreaded 88mm German gun saw its initial designs during the inter-war period. The most popular desing being the one from 1937. By the time WWII started it had already seen action and proved itself in the Spanish Civil War.While initially developed as an anti-aircraft weapon (Flak comes from Flugzeugabwehrkanone or gun to defend against airplanes), primarily used by the Luftwaffe ground troops, the 88s were used extensively in the role of anti-tank weapons. This was not initially meant that way, but the appearance of tanks on the battlefield with armor thicker than what other anti-tank guns could deal with, pressed it into this role. What made the 88s very well suited for both purposes, were multiple factors: the high-velocity muzzle gave it a very long range (25,000 - 39,000 ft vertically) and up to twice that distance horizontally when firing indirectly as traditional artillery. When it comes to direct horizontal fire, it could knock out well armored tanks comfortably at a range of 6,000 feet, well out of range of their return fire. Its mobility, the fact that it could fire while still being towed, its quick delpoyment time (under 3 mins), and that it could depress the barrel below the horizontal plane also made it very effective and versatile. In addition to that, it could fire high-explosive (HE) shells, useful against aircrafts and infantry, as well as armour-piercing, and anti-tank HE shells. This gun was so effective that after a while it was incorporated as the main armament on other tanks and anti-tank vehicles. Before and over the course of the war over 20,000 of them were built. There was another model designed in 1941, but it never became as popular and less than 600 were built by the time the war ended.

Forces of Valor 88 Flak - Towed
Forces of Valor produced a very nice version of this gun. Here we see it attached to the 8 Ton prime mover that would tow it. The factory paint job gives it a weathered look, and as usual, the fact that it's mostly made out of metal gives it a nice feel.

Forces of Valor 88 Flak - Rear View
As you can see from this angle, the attention to detail is substantial. The gun can rotate 360 degrees around the vertical axis and the gun can be elevated up to a vertical position, allowing it to fire virtually in every direction.

Forces of Valor 88 Flak - Artillery Mode
Here we see it already deployed as traditional artillery. There is a scene in Band of Brothers in which the screaming eagles are being shelled with 88mm HE shells while in a forest, causing shrapnel and wood splinters to rain down on them with nasty consequences. Also note that the carriage is actually made of two separate sections. The front and rear wheel axles can be attached and removed independently. It also comes with a nice ground crew to operate it.

Forces of Valor 88 Flak - Anti Tank Mode
Here we see it deployed the way it would be used to fight against tanks. The air and land 'kills' on the shield add a nice touch of realism. FOV also manufactured this gun in a tan color scheme however I did not get around to buying that one.

21st Century Toys 88 Flak - Afrika Korps
21C Toys also produced a very nice 88mm gun. Not quite at the level of the one from FOV but far superior to anything that had come before in plastic. Here we see it ready to be deployed to fight the British in the deserts of North Africa.

21st Century Toys 88 Flak - Grey
Deployed in an anti-tank role. The wheel axles are also detachable. Note how the level of paint detail is not quite the same as the one from FOV, both for the carriage and the gun itself. The crew consists of just 2 figures.

21st Century Toys 88 Flak - Side View
Here is a view from the side. This gun also moves 360 degrees around and from horizontal to vertical, so it is just as functional as the one from FOV. And from this angle it looks just as lethal.

Dinky Toys 88 Flak - Part I
Here is an earlier model of an 88 courtesy of Dinky Toys. Not as detailed as the newer versions from FOV and 21C, but still fairly nice. Made in metal, it has a good, solid feel to it. The round knob/gear visible on the side, allows you to lower and raise the barrel. It comes with three crew members. The crew is made in some very light, stiff plastic, so you get the feeling that they might easily break. 

Dinky Toys 88 Flak - Part II
The gun also comes with its carriages to allow it to be towed. And it also happens to have a few shells that you can fire using a spring mechanism. The sticker on the barrel may or may not be present, as the glue loses its binding power over time. All in all a nice item to add to the collection. Unfortunately there are not many complete sets left, so getting one of these can get a bit pricey or you must settle for an incomplete set. I actually got lucky and managed to get the complete set for the price of what you usually pay for the gun by itself.

Click here to see a post about the 8 Ton Prime Mover used to tow these guns.


  1. You need the "Dinky" 88 and crew to complete your weapons

    1. Thanks for the tip. I once bought a few Dinky items but they turned out to be made in a much smaller scale. Do they also have them in 1:32?