Shooting the 88mm FLAK Gun (Watch)

One of the most famous weapons used by the Germans in World War II was the Flugabwehrkanoneor Flak for short. The word means ‘aircraft defense canon’. It was used to fire at Allied bombers and fighters. Over 21 000 of these 88 mm guns were built. Even though it was intended for firing at enemy aircraft, it could also be a good anti –tank gun. For that reason, a smaller version of it was built that could be put on a tank. It was called the KwK 36, which stands for Kampfwagen-Kanone (‘main battle tank cannon’). The Tiger I tank carried such a weapon.

The Flak could be mounted on a Hanomag gun tractor and transported to wherever it needed to be. They might be placed on top of tall flak towers, or flakturme, which might be six stories high. These flakturme were amongst the last buildings to fall to the Allies when Berlin was captured in May 1945.

The particular Flak in this video, made by the Historical Aviation Film Unit, has been recently destroyed by a team of enthusiasts in Blenheim, New Zealand. They were Dave Lochead, Craig Keown, Tim Babb, Roger Lauer and Reece Duncan. In this video, they demonstrate how the Flak fires. The gun had been disarmed so that it could not fire, but the team restored it to firing condition. It is, of course, firing blanks. The recoil you can see is not as powerful as it would be if it was firing real shells, but it is still quite impressive.

Joris Nieuwint

Joris Nieuwint is a battlefield guide for the Operation Market Garden area. His primary focus is on the Allied operations from September 17th, 1944 onwards. Having lived in the Market Garden area for 25 years, he has been studying the events for nearly as long. He has a deep understanding of the history and a passion for sharing the stories of the men who are no longer with us.