Flak 37 88mm Gun
Place in history: The rugged, hard-hitting, and adaptable 88 mm gun was the most famous artillery weapon of World War II. German designers, working in Sweden to avoid treaty restrictions, developed the gun in the late 1920s. The "flak" gun got its name from the German word Flugabwehrkanone, meaning aircraft defense cannon. During the Spanish Civil War, German troops fired the guns at oncoming tanks and fortified bunkers with very effective results. This success in combat led to versions of the 88 mm gun equipped to engage ground targets that were in view or barrage enemies from long range. The gun's high muzzle velocity and heavy projectile made the "eighty-eight" particularly effective against tanks. During World War II, 88 mm guns were often employed to attack high-flying Allied bombers. The gun could propel its 20.25-pound high-explosive shell to altitudes beyond 30,000 feet at a rate of about 15 projectiles per minute. When an "eighty-eight" shell hit directly, it often completely destroyed a bomber.