Dragon 88mm Flak 36 w/Flak Artillery
by Cookie Sewell
609 parts (561 in grey styrene, 34 etched brass, 8 turned aluminum, 3
turned brass, 1 length copper chain, 1 length steel chain, 1 length vinyl
tubing); price not known but estimated at US $34-38
Advantages: "in your face" kit of this popular weapon; state-of-the-art
molding and research; many useful accessories; decent new "full-size"
crew (see text)
Disadvantages: very complex kit requires very careful study of parts,
especially with the components of the Sd.Ahn. 202 gun carriage bogies
Rating: Highly Recommended
Recommendation: for all WWII German fans as well as all "duck hunters"
(Air Defense Artillery)
F I R S T L O O K
There is arguably no other gun on the planet that is as famous –
or infamous – as the German 8.8 cm FlaK 36 antiaircraft gun. Legendary
as the "Kraut 88" (which nearly every American soldier in Europe
or North Africa claims shot at him) this was one of the handiest and most
useful weapons in the German arsenal. Designed as an antiaircraft gun,
the power to sling a shell up to nearly 25,000 feet (8,000 meters) also
enabled it to propel an antitank projectile through nearly any tank built
during the Second World War.
The origins of the 88 stem from German joint projects carried out during
the 1920s when Germany was proscribed from building armaments. They instead
carried out "scientific" projects which saw the development
of the 3.7 cm PaK 36 antitank gun with the Soviets and a 7.5 cm AA gun
with Bofors of Sweden. This was a purpose-built weapon from Krupps on
a cruciform carriage that used single wheel bogies front and rear in march
order, and unfolded two legs to the sides when emplaced. The simple yet
effective carriage design permitted 360 traverse and elevation up to 85
degrees, both of which permitted the effective tracking and engagement
of aircraft of the day. But in 1930 the gun was rejected by the German
War Office as it was not sufficient for the needs they saw in the future.
In 1931 Krupps and Bofors returned to the design of an antiaircraft gun,
and essentially scaled up their 7.5 cm effort to 8.8 cm. This threw a
projectile 43% heavier to a slightly lower altitude (8000 meters vice
9000 for the 7.5 cm) but was more effective due to the larger fragment
pattern of the heavier shell. The carriage was more sophisticated with
controls and adjustments to level the carriage before firing, and the
gun also had a semi-automatic breech with flip-out loading tray. This
gun was adopted as the 8.8 cm FlaK 18 soon after the Nazis came to power
in 1933. The FlaK 18 was used in Spain with good effect; later it was
joined by its replacement on the production lines, the 8.8 cm FlaK 36
which began production in 1936.
The FlaK 36 did not differ greatly from the FlaK 18, and in point of
fact many parts were interchangeable. The barrels from the Flak 18 and
FlaK 36 were interchangeable (although the latter was of a superior design
with replaceable liner). The carriages were slightly different with the
FlaK 18's Sd.Anh. 201 using a single front wheel and dual rear wheels,
and the FlaK 36's Sd.Anh. 202 using duals front and rear. This provided
it a bit better cross-country mobility. Standard tractor for these guns
was the Sd.Kfz. 7 8-ton halftrack, configured to carry the crew and a
large number of ready rounds in four-round cases.
While the FlaK 18 and FlaK 36 were dual-purpose weapons – fitted
with AA and direct fire sights, and occasionally gun shields for crew
protection, the FlaK 37 was a more sophisticated version dedicated strictly
to antiaircraft tasks. Overall more than 11,000 88s were built between
1933 and 1945.
The 88 came into sharp prominence during the invasion of Russia in 1941
when the Germans found to their horror it was the only gun capable of
stopping the Soviet KV-1 and KV-2 heavy tanks, and not always with reliable
penetration. New projectiles were fielded, and by the time of the major
battles in North Africa the Germans knew the full capabilities of the
gun and what it could do to tanks. The gun's ballistics were also used
in the creation of the 8.8 cm KwK 56 gun used in the Tiger I tank.
While later guns such as the FlaK 41 were considered the best of the
88mm weapons, the FlaK 36/37 are the ones most people think about when
they think 88.
In 1973 Tamiya released a then-stunning kit of the FlaK 36/37 with a
full crew and a BMW motorcycle for good measure. For a then pricey cost
of $10.98, this was the 1973 Kit of the Year, hands down. But time has
rolled on, and this kit is still 1973 vintage and it shows. Details are
soft or too thick (such as the gunshield) and the Sd.Anh. 202 bogies are
attached with bolts and nuts. To top it off, the crew that seemed so good
then now shows up to be a bunch of stocky 5'2" dwarves.
Happily, DML has now released a brand-new ground up kit of the famous
88 and it is stunning to say the least. DML has lately pioneered the way
in providing a variety of options, and this kit is no exception. It comes
with a total of four gun barrels – two aluminum, two styrene –
to provide the options for either a Flak 18 or Flak 36 barreled weapon.
The kit can be built with or without gunshield, and that is only the start.
The box is "packed with vitamins" as they used to say –
20 sprues, a cardboard sheet with the decals, etched brass and highlighted
parts, and a small case with the turned aluminum and brass parts. These
include either aluminum or styrene balance cylinders, both for travel
(zero elevation) or operational (high angle elevation) settings. The loading
tray, seats, stakes, jack pads, and other elements all provide a choice
between march order and combat order display. This is a much more sophisticated
kit than the Tamiya one, and the parts are far more accurate in scale
and representation of the original parts (I just shot photos last year
of the Ordnance Museum's Flak 18 and Flak 36 for a fellow modeler, so
am familiar with all of the "bits" on them.)
The kit does not come with vinyl tires but "hard" styrene ones;
as they have a "street" pattern to match the originals, each
tire consists of two sidewalls and three inner sections with offsets to
create tread depth.
The majority of the assembly steps cover the two Sd.Anh. 202 bogies,
and there are just enough differences to make life miserable if you mess
up. The directions appear clear but you must take your time and pay attention.
Also the bogies are attached more like the actual carriage (look Ma, no
bolts) so the modeler will have to be patient.
The crew are new and well done in the now traditional DML standard, but
are in the winter "snowsuits" which may cause some problems
for modelers who want a more generic crew. (For those of you stuck with
the Tamiya "dwarves" DML is going to offer this kit separately
as No. 6275, but then you are still stuck with the Tamiya gun at the end
of the day.)
No crew weapons are provided, but the stereoscopic rangefinder is a six-piece
The model comes with three turned brass 88 rounds, as well as six full
and six empty styrene ones; end caps are all etched bras with headstamp
markings on them. A total of eight ammo cases – four wood crates
and four wicker cases – are included with the kit.
Finishing directions are provided for a total of six different pieces,
covered on two decal sheets: U/I, North Caucasus 1942; "Herman Goering"
Division, Sicily 1943; U/I, Stalingrad 1942; 10th Panzer Division, Tunisia
1943; 18th Luftwaffe Flak Regiment, Lybia 1941; and "Grossdeutschland"
Division, Eastern Front 1943. The gun shield for the "Herman Goering"
gun is provided with decals in the sheets included with the kit.
Overall this kit is a true state-of-the-art piece and one that will be
a star in many dioramas – even out of the box it is an impressive
model. Now the question I hear most is – "Is DML going to do
a new 8-tonner to match it?" Well, that's not my call!
Thanks to Freddie Leung of DML for the review sample.