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8.8cm Flak Kanone 17

AA Artillery

Contributor :
Bernard Plumier      http://www.passioncompassion1418.com
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Location :
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD
Ordnance Museum
Coordinates : Lat : 39.49050 / Long : -76.14120
General comments on this surviving gun :
The extraordinary tanks and artillery collections of the Aberdeen Proving Groun unhopefully has been scattered amongst several othe US sites. The new location of this particular gun is not known to me.

Identical items in the same location : 1
Items covered by this file : 1

The rich collection proposes both this WW1 gun and its famous WW2 successor

Characteristic profile. Breech markings : '8.8cm Flak 191?? - FRIED.KRUPP - ESSEN 1917'

This view demonstrates the foldable lateral arms of the cruciform firing station

Historic and technical information
Denomination :     8.8cm Flak 17 Origin :       ( Krupp)          

Historic context :

In 1916, Germany had a abundant but heterogeneous AA weapons arsenal. It was composed with some tens of reglementary 7.7 cm L/35 Flak 16 made by RheinMetall and Krupp, several prewar prototypes designed by the same two plants, but mostly with high numbers of of improvised weapons built with old 9cm German field guns, 7.7cm fieldguns, or Belgian, Russian, French or Italian captured fieldguns.

At this time of the war, the air supremacy began to become the property of the allies forces on the West Front, and the technological improvements of the airplanes made them targets that were more and more difficult to hit for guns initially designed for the hunt for airships. At the start of 1916, the APK ('Artillerie Prüfungs Kommission') solicited Krupp and RheinMetall for the manufacture of Flak (Flüg abwehr kanone) weapons with calibres 8 to 10 cm, mobile even of the devastated roads and battlefields of the front, and specifically designed for the fight against modern airplanes at altitudes over 6000 m.

The same year Krupp proposed a 80 mm AA gun, named '8cm schwere K. Flak L/45'. Additionally to the very long 45 calibres barrel allowing intial speeds of 715 m/s, the weapon seduced with its cruciform fire base with foldable lateral arms, giving both a good mobility when mounted on wheel trailers, and a good stability when firing on all sorts of grounds. 80 such weapons were built until March 1918,

Meanwhile, Krupp and RheinMetall engineers were working on new designs for 8.8cm L/45 AA guns, concept already in use since 1913 by the German Navy as AA guns protected under shielded turret on its ships, then as fix AA guns on the fortified Belgium coast. Both companies proposed the result of these developments simultaneously at the end of 1916.

Surprisingly this time, the RheinMetall design was the less revolutionary. It was directly inspired by the good 7.7cm L/35 Flak 16 RheinMetall gun. Its firing base and its tranport carriage system had some design flaws making them not resistant enough. It was only produced in 28 weapons.

On the other hand the Krupp design was obviously inherited from the developments and fight learnings of the 7.7cm L/35 Flak 16 Krupp, but also integrated some innovations of the the 8cm L/45 Flak, including the good technological concept of the cruciform fire base and transport mode. The family link between both guns was so evident that it is almost impossible to distinguish them from each other by their profile on war time pictures. This gun soon proved to be an exceptional weapon. With a 6850 m maximum altitude range and an initial speed of 785 m/s, the '8.8cm L/45 schwere Flak Kp' was undoubtedly superior to the one of RheinMetall.

It was equipped with a cruciform base whose both lateral arms could be folded for the transportation, the longitudinal ones then being mounted on two wheeled trailers. The hydrospring recoil brake / recuperating system was located on the top of the barrel. The performances - and the victories - of this weapon produced at more than 132 items at the end of the war and feared by the allies were such than the 8cm and 8.8cm calibres were the only ones retained in a AA material rationalization program dated 1918.

This brilliant gun was taken as a base for the development of the 8.8cm Flak 18 L/56 in 1933, then the legendary RheinMetall 8.8cm Flak 36 of the IIIrd Reich, formidable weapon both in it original AA mission, but also as a tank killer.

Technical data :

  • Complete description : 8.8cm Flak 17 anti-aircraft gun
  • Design year : 1917
  • Calibre : 88.00 mm
  • Weight in firing position : 3010 kg
  • Weight for transportation : 7300 kg
  • Tube length in calibres : 45.00
  • Grooves : 0 unknown
  • Projectile weight : 9.6 kg
  • Initial speed : 785 m/s
  • Fire rate : 10 rounds / min
  • Range : 6850 m in altitude (10800 m horizontally)
  • Elevation range : 0 to 70 degrees
  • Direction range : 360 degrees range

  • German Artillery of World War One           Herbert Jager                   Crowood   2001  
  • La Flak 1914-1918 - Volume N°1       Bernard Delsert       Jean-Jacques Dubois       Christian Kowal       Editions La Plume du Temps   1999  
  • La Flak 1914-1918 - Volume N°2       Bernard Delsert       Jean-Jacques Dubois       Christian Kowal       Editions La Plume du Temps   1999  
  • The 88mm Flak in the First and Second World Wars       Werner Müller                   Schiffer Military / Aviation History   1998