PaK 43 (PanzerAbwehrKanone 43)
88mm Towed Anti-Tank (AT) Gun
Production of the PaK 43 spanned from 1943 to 1945 to which some 2,000 examples were delivered to the German military.
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There were a series of large-caliber field and anti-tank guns showcased by the German Army during World War 2 (1939-1945) utilizing the famous "88" caliber (8.8cm). One mid-war development became the Krupp 8.8cm PaK 43 (PanzerAbwehrKanone 43) series which was produced from 1943 until 1945 to the tune of some 2,100+ units. The weapon was featured on its typical cruciform carriage and developed into the PaK 43/41 on its split-trail carriage mounting. The KwK 43 was a tank gun version used in several notable German vehicles. Due to its battlefield lethality, the PaK 43 grew into one of the finest of the "88" guns put forth by the Germans in the whole of the war and gave good service against even the stoutest of Allied armor.
Overall weight of the system was a hefty 9,660 pounds and length measured 21 feet with its L/71 barrel assembly. It stood nearly six feet tall. The shell was a 3.5" projectile (16 to 23 lb depending on type used) loaded through a horizontal semi-automatic sliding block breech arrangement. Recoil was handled through a hydro-pneumatic system mounted under the barrel in the traditional way. A double-baffle muzzle brake capped by the long-reaching barrel and a gunshield protected the immediate operating crew from forward fire. The base mounting hardware allowed for an elevation span of -5 to +38 degrees and traverse was 56-degress from centerline. A trained and experienced crew could expect to fire six to seven rounds per minute out to 17,000 yards maximum (4,400 yards effective).
The PaK 43 proved itself a devastatingly effective battlefield weapon, particularly at close range (100 to 500 meters), and retained excellent penetration value against targets as far out as 1,000 meters. It could engage as far out as 4,000 meters though with very reduced hit probability. Its major restrictions were its inherent weight which became a disadvantage along the softer East Front terrains as the war progressed.
Three types of shells were eventually used with the PaK 43 series guns: the Pzgr. 39/43 APCBC-HE ("Armor-Piercing Capped with Ballistic Cap - High-Explosive") weighing 23 lb, the Pzgr. 40/43 APCR ("Armor-Piercing, Composite Rigid" weighing 16 lb and the Gr. 39/3 HL(HEAT) ("High-Explosive, Anti-Tank") weighing 17 lb.
The gun was also used as the primary weapon aboard several key tank designs of the war (as the "KwK 43"). This included the storied Tiger II heavy tank and the Ferdinand / Elefant, Jagdpanther and Hornisse / Nashorn families of dedicated tank destroyers.