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  1. German 88mm L71 Flak 41 Amusing Hobby 1:35 History The 8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37/41 is a German 88 mm anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun from World War II. It was widely used by Germany throughout the war, and was one of the most recognized German weapons of that conflict. Development of the original model led to a wide variety of guns. The name applies to a series of related guns, the first one officially called the 8.8 cm Flak 18, the improved 8.8 cm Flak 36, and later the 8.8 cm Flak 37. In addition to these Krupp designs, Rheinmetall later created a more powerful anti-aircraft gun, the 8.8 cm Flak 41, which was produced in relatively small numbers. Krupp responded with another prototype of the long-barrelled 8.8 cm gun, which was further developed into the anti-tank and tank destroyer 8.8 cm PaK 43 gun used for the Elefant and Jagdpanther, and turret-mounted 8.8 cm KwK 43 heavy tank gun of the Tiger II. As early as 1939 the Luftwaffe asked for newer weapons with an even better performance, to address the problems of defending against attack by high-flying aircraft. Rheinmetall responded with a new 88 mm design with a longer cartridge and a longer barrel. A prototype was ready in early 1941 leading to the designation 8.8 cm Flak 41. The new gun fired a 9.4-kilogram (20 lb) shell at a muzzle velocity of 1,000 m/s (3,280 ft/s), giving it an effective ceiling of 11,300 meters (37,100 ft) and a maximum of 14,700 meters (48,200 ft), which General der Flakartillerie Otto Wilhelm von Renz said to be "almost equal to the 128-mm." It featured a lower silhouette on its turntable mounting than did the 8.8-cm Flak 18/36/37 on its pedestal mounting. The barrel was at first a three-section one with a length of 74 calibres, and then redesigned to dual-section with a length of 72 calibres. Improvements in reloading raised the firing rate, with 20 to 25 rounds a minute. Because of problems in service, the guns were almost exclusively used in Germany where they could be properly maintained and serviced. The Flak 41 had the disadvantage of complexity, and was prone to problems with ammunition, empty cases often jamming on extraction. Because of the high cost and complexity of this weapon, the Germans manufactured relatively few of them, 556 in all. The first deliveries were made in March 1943 and, as of August 1944, only 157 were fielded; with 318 in January 1945. The Model The kit comes in a rather flimsy top opening box on which there is an artist’s impression of the gun in action. Inside there are five sprues of yellowish plastic and a small decal sheet. The mouldings and detail is first rate with no sign of flash or other imperfections and very few moulding pips. The instructions are really nice and clear with actual drawings of the parts rather than renders, which I know some modellers aren’t keen on. The build begins with the breech assembly, which consists of no less than nineteen parts. This assembly is then glued to the rear of the gun tube, which itself is made up from three slide moulded parts, so no seems to worry about. The two piece slide is then fitted to the underside of the gun tube before attention is given to the recoil slide section or carriage of the mounting. This is made up from fifteen parts and includes the elevation gear and numerous small parts. The recouperator tube is then fitted to its eight piece mounting which in turn is fitted over the carriage. The gun tube assembly is then slid into position on the mounting slide along with the five piece inner shield assembly. Each of the rear mounted trunnion pins are fitted to the rear of the carriage. The mounting base is then assembled from upper and lower halves, the two piece folding arms are sandwiched between these halves and can be left unglued if required. Each of the four arms are then fitted with separate ground bases, with the fixed arms also being fitted with small hooks at their tip and large hook like fittings to the fixed arms half way along. The spade like items that pin the trail arms to the ground can either be fitted to each arm or in their stowage points on the central base structure. The mounting itself is made up of two trunnions fitted within large panels. Each side is then fitted out with internal stowage and electrical boxes, while the left side is fitted with a complex array of fittings and controls for elevation and the right side fitted with two seats and all the dials and controls for ranging and azimuth. These controls are really well detailed and the instructions followed closely to get everything in the correct place and in the correct order. The only downside is that there aren’t any decals for the gauges and dials. The turntable on which the mounting is fitted is assembled from seven parts and it is this that the two trunnion mounts are glued with the gun assembly left unglued between each trunnion. The main gun shield is then built up from four main parts and twelve small fittings before they are glued into position at the front of the mounting. The completed gun/mounting is then attached to the trail assembly, completing the build. Decals The small decal sheet only has kill markings for the barrel and shield, but no indication on where these could actually be used. There are four different colour schemes on the painting guide but no indication on where these guns were used. Conclusion Normally, when you see a kit for a German 88, you think you know exactly what it is and the shape of the gun and mounting. This is something quite different though and shows a weapon that I hadn’t known of before. The shape and low silhouette makes it have a completely different look and stance to what I was used to so will look great in a collection towed weapons. I think the only things the modeller has to look out for are the fiddly parts on the gun controls systems, other than these, it looks to be a pretty straight forward build. Review sample courtesy of Available from all good model shops soon
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