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Is the 88.mm KwK 36 an overrated gun for the era?

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  • Is the 88.mm KwK 36 an overrated gun for the era?

    It's often called an outstanding gun with extremely impressive accuracy for the time. However I saw someone claiming there were far more impressive guns mounted on prototypes (Russia was used as an example) that the Tiger's gun wasn't really anything special at all - quite unimpressive actually.

    Would anyone like to fill me in?

  • #2
    Originally posted by oldngruff View Post
    It's often called an outstanding gun with extremely impressive accuracy for the time. However I saw someone claiming there were far more impressive guns mounted on prototypes (Russia was used as an example) that the Tiger's gun wasn't really anything special at all - quite unimpressive actually.

    Would anyone like to fill me in?
    The German 88 was a highly versatile and lethal weapon, useful for anti-aircraft - it's original purpose - as well as anti-armor because of it's high velocity and flat trajectory and then as main gun for the German heavy armor because of it's long range anti-armor capability. The Tigers utilized their 88's superbly to kill enemy armor at ranges well beyond effective return fire, out to about as much as 2 km, IIRC.

    Soviet weapons were largely developed in response to German weapons, and leaned towards larger and larger calibers, particularly since the Soviets regarded all armor as essentially assault weapons needing large caliber weapons to punch through bunkers, fortifications and well-constructed city buildings.. The Soviet 152 mm main gun was a huge weapon, but the AFVs that carried it could not carry much ammo and the shell required separate charges making loading slow and further reducing the ammo load, and in the end the larger ccaiber main gun did little to stop the Germans. The primary Soviet anti-tank AFV - the SU-122 - used a 122 mm main gun.

    The Germans, of course, eventually adapted their 128 mm AA gun to their heaviest tanks such as the Jagdtiger in order to kill heavily armored Soviet AFVs, and because they had a fetish for bigger-is-better. Frankly, I think the 128 was a waste of resources. It's not, after all, the caliber but the type of ammunition that does the job, and it's the aiming sights that make it possible to score long range kills. The Germans had outstanding optical sights.The 88 mounted in Panthers would have been far more useful, but the Panther had a turret restriction that didn't allow it.

    All of the Allied nations generally regarded the 88 as a lethal opponent able to kill them while remaining well beyond retaliatory range, so my response would therefore be that the German 88 mm was not over-rated or mediocre at all, but one of the best weapons produced by Germany during the war. It would have made a huge difference if Allied tanks had carried a comparable weapon.
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    • #3
      It was numerous and used in all roles from Spain to the end of war. By the end of the war it was still pretty good against most of tanks but definitely behind the new guns.
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      • #4
        The 88mm were solid until they met the IS-2- the first action was in Targus Frumos, May 1944. The G.D. Tigers tried to do the usual long-ranged sniping and their rounds bounced off. They IIRC, maneuvered to 500 meters and finally got penetrations.

        I think the main problem with the 88mm gun was weight. It required a lot of AFV to move it. In Anti-tank action it was inferior to the long 75mm on the Panther- both heavier and slightly less penetration. However, the heavy 88mm HE shells were superior to the 75mm.
        Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
        Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
        Barbarossa Derailed I & II
        Battle of Kalinin October 1941

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        • #5
          I think the design held up well. How many other similar designs held up as well? I think the American 90mm and the British 3.7" could have done as good a job, but both were held back for AA duty. The 3.7" lacked ground sights. The Jadgtiger was a waste of money and resources. The Jadgpanther was one of, if not the best, Tank Destroyers.

          Pruitt
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          • #6
            Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
            I think the design held up well. How many other similar designs held up as well? I think the American 90mm and the British 3.7" could have done as good a job, but both were held back for AA duty. The 3.7" lacked ground sights. The Jadgtiger was a waste of money and resources. The Jadgpanther was one of, if not the best, Tank Destroyers.

            Pruitt
            Jagdtiger did not have an 88 and Jadgpanther did not use KwK 36, but Pak 43.
            Last edited by Salinator; 29 Jul 18, 19:28.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by oldngruff View Post
              It's often called an outstanding gun with extremely impressive accuracy for the time. However I saw someone claiming there were far more impressive guns mounted on prototypes (Russia was used as an example) that the Tiger's gun wasn't really anything special at all - quite unimpressive actually.

              Would anyone like to fill me in?
              I know nothing about the 88 against armour, I can vouch for its accuracy and rate of fire though. I suspect that a certain amount of praise for that must be directed at the well trained gun crews though. lcm1
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              • #8
                The 8.8 flak 18, 36, 37 was a well designed piece for what it was supposed to do. That the Germans used it as both artillery and in an anti-tank role is more a statement about their poverty in heavy weapons, artillery, and antitank guns than anything. The Italian 90mm, the US 90mm, and the British 3.7" could all be used in similar roles, albeit not quite as adaptable to them mostly due to their weight and deployment times, but generally weren't.

                Neither the US nor the British had any desperate need to shove heavy flak guns into the field antitank or artillery work. Both used their heavy flak guns on rare occasions at antitank guns, mostly on the defensive and in situations were the guns were deployed for AA work and just happened to be drawn into the ground combat. As artillery, they were used when available and not needed for AA work.

                For the Germans, the 8.8cm was often the only heavy antitank gun or artillery available for use in a particular ground combat situation. The Germans had to use what was available. The US and British were never so desperate. For the Italians, they were in the same boat as the Germans but their 90mm was considerably rarer than the German piece.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                  The Jadgtiger was a waste of money and resources. The Jadgpanther was one of, if not the best, Tank Destroyers.

                  Pruitt
                  IIRC from my Jagdtiger book the Jagdtigers were a way to use chasis'. A bit like the Elephant, both were improvised out of available materials. That is why there were so few of them. The Jagtiger was amazingly overweight and cumbersome & a failure in combat.

                  Jagdpanther had some mechanical issues to due weight balances, and so did the much more common Jagdpanzer IV. There is precious little on the combat history of the Jagdpanther however the smaller Jagdpanzer IV was the meat & potatoes of the armored force from autumn 1944 to spring 1945.

                  Overall the more efficient 75mm long barreled won out over the 88mm and other larger types in German AFVs. The 88mm equipped on the Tiger saw an unparalleled "sweet spot" in AFV history from Dec 1942 to May 1944 where it could destroy everything it saw at extremely long range.
                  Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                  Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                  Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                  Battle of Kalinin October 1941

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                  • #10
                    On the Jadgpanther. Most went to the West. Their use in combat was unexceptional for the most part and they were used in small numbers only.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                      On the Jadgpanther. Most went to the West. Their use in combat was unexceptional for the most part and they were used in small numbers only.
                      huh?

                      I don't think there are any unit history books about the Jagdpanther in combat.
                      Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                      Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                      Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                      Battle of Kalinin October 1941

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post

                        huh?

                        I don't think there are any unit history books about the Jagdpanther in combat.
                        I did separate research on Jadgpanther abteilungs. For the most part I reviewed histories of various battles from mid '44 on looking for accounts of these vehicles in action. Few battalions were ever at full strength. Most end up with a mix of Jadgpanthers and other jadgpanzer. I'll see if I can dig that out. The majority of them went to the West. There were some in the East, particularly after the Soviet summer offensives, but you really don't see them there prior to that.

                        Jadgpanzer abt. 654 (the second battalion of Elefant at Kursk) was converted to Jadgpanthers in late 1943 handing their Elefant to S. PzJr abt 653 and fought from Normandy on in the West for example. Most of the jadgpanther units rarely had more than about 12 to 18 vehicles available.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post

                          huh?

                          I don't think there are any unit history books about the Jagdpanther in combat.
                          There is this: https://www.amazon.com/Combat-Histor.../dp/0921991606

                          Also, Spielbergers book on Schwere Jagdpanzer quotes a number of combat reports regarding the Jagdpanther.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Cult Icon View Post

                            IIRC from my Jagdtiger book the Jagdtigers were a way to use chasis'. A bit like the Elephant, both were improvised out of available materials. That is why there were so few of them. The Jagtiger was amazingly overweight and cumbersome & a failure in combat.
                            The Jagdtiger used the Tiger II chassis, so every Jagdpanther made, meant that a Tiger II was not made. The exception was the first 10 or so Jagdpanthers, that were built using a modified Tiger II chassis with a different suspension, but IIRC that was purpose made, not something that was available. So quite a different story from the Ferdinand/Elefant.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cbo View Post

                              There is this: https://www.amazon.com/Combat-Histor.../dp/0921991606

                              Also, Spielbergers book on Schwere Jagdpanzer quotes a number of combat reports regarding the Jagdpanther.
                              Thanks for pointing this out. I will buy this book.

                              The Spielberger book has a small amount of information about the Jadpanther (one chapter).

                              The actual number of completed Jadpanthers are far less than the "planned" (415). 270 accepted by HWA and 149 units finished.



                              Zhitomir-Berdichev, West of Kiev: 24 Dec 1943-31 Jan 1944
                              Stalin's Favorite: The Combat History of the 2nd Guards Tank Army
                              Barbarossa Derailed I & II
                              Battle of Kalinin October 1941

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