5-cm Pak 38

Designed in 1938 and manufactured by Rheinmetall-Borsig, the 5-cm Pak 38 was a standard anti-tank gun, massively used by the German infantry on every front of World War II. It entered service in 1940 and first saw combat action in late June 1941, during Operation Barbarossa. Light and versatile, the 5-cm Pak 38 was much liked by the German troops as it was capable of knocking out a T-34 tank from 1,600 m. Among the Pak anti-tank guns in service with the Wehrmacht, It was surpassed in range and piercing power only by the 7.5-cm Pak 40.


It was a 50mm caliber weapon that fired tungsten-cored ammunition and HE shells, up to a maximum range of 2.65 km. Mounted on a two-wheeled, tubular, split-trail carriage, it was fitted with a 3-m(10′)-long rifled barrel and a 4mm-thick steel shield, weighing 830 kg. The Pak 38 replaced the 3.7 cm Pak 36 from 1940 and would be massively used on the Eastern Front against the Soviet T-34 tank, by both Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS units. The German designation for this gun was “5-cm-Panzerabwehrkanone 38”.


Type: anti-tank gun
Calibre: 50 mm (1.97 in)
Length of piece: 3.187 m (10 ft 5.5 in)
Length of rifling: 2.381 m (7 ft 9,7 in)
Weight: travelling 1062 kg (2,341 lb)
and in action 1000 kg (2,205 lb)
Traverse: 65°
Elevation:-8° to +27°
Muzzle velocity: 1,180 m/s (when firing the AP40)
Maximum range: 2,650 m


4.2-cm lePak 41

The 4.2 cm lePak 41 (leichter Panzerabwehrkanone 41) was a light, taper-bore, anti-tank gun in service with the Wehrmacht between 1941 and 1945. It was a light infantry cannon, fitted with a 2.25-m-long barrel, whose bore narrowed toward the end; this feature increased the projectile velocity as it came out of the gun muzzle. It was a leight and versatile, anti-tank weapon used by the German Infantry on all Fronts of the war.


Not only did the tapered bore provide the 4.2 cm Pak 41 with a longer range, but also with much more punching power, enabling the 0.336-kg, armor-piercing shell it shot to pierce a 65-mm-thick steel plate at 1,000 m away. Thus, this anti-tank gun caliber tapered from 42mm at the chamber to 29mm at the muzzle. Used by the German infantry on all fronts, it was mounted on a two-weeled carriage, fitted with split trail, and was towed by trucks and light military vehicles. Rheinmetall manufactured only 450 4.2 cm Pak 41 taper-bore guns. So, not all units got it.


Barrel length: 2.25 m

Weight: 560 kg

Elevation: -8º to +25º

Muzzle velocity: 1265 m/s (4,150 ft/s)

Effective range: 1,000 m

8.8-cm Flak Gun

The 8.8 cm Flak 18/36/41 was the most powerful anti-tank weapon of World War II, even though it had originally been conceived as an anti-aircraft gun. This German anti-tank weapon had been designed and developed by the German firm Krupp in the late 1920s as an 88-mm AA gun. Used by the Condor Legion, it first saw combat action in the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). It was also fielded in every military campaign of World War II, on the Eastern, Western, African, and Italian Fronts. The 8.8 cm Flak 18, 36, and 37 was massively produced, with more than 20,000 pieces delivered to frontline troops, but only 318 Flak 41s had been fielded by early May 1945.


It had a 4.9-m-long barrel and a semi-automatic, sliding block breech. The 88mm Flak was mounted a cruciform platform and was usually towed to the battelfield by halftracks on two, single-axled bogies, which could be detached from the gun’s platform when it was emplaced. Adapted as an anti-tank weapon, it was fitted with a steel shield as it was also mounted on either 4-wheeled carriages or 12-tons halftracks, from which it fired. With a high muzzle velocity of 820 m/s (2,690 ft/s), it could knock out an enemy tank located at 4,000 m away. The Flak 41 version had a muzzle velocity of 1,000 m/s!

Specifications for the 88mm Flak 18/36

Type: AA gun
Caliber: 88 mm
Weight: 6.8 tons
Barrel length: 4.93 m
Elevation: -3º to +85º
Traverse: 360º
Shell weight: HE 9.24 kg
Muzzle velocity: 820 m/s


German 88mm Flak Gun in Action

Canon de 75 M1897

The canon de 75 modèle 1897 was a 75mm field gun used by the French Army during World War I. It was the first cannon in history equipped with a hydro-pneumatic recoil mechanism, which made it possible to keep the gun trained on the target after it has been fired. This innovative feature gave the gun both accuracy and a high rate of fire, with 20 rpm. During the first two years of WWI, it was used in direct fire mode against advancing infantry troops. From 1916 onwards, however, the canon de 75 would also be employed in indirect fire, especially to shoot mustard gas and fragmentation ammunition. After the war, in the 1920s, it would be upgraded into an anti-tank gun; the canon de 75 Mle 1897/33.


Designed by army engineers Albert Deport and Etienne Sainte-Claire Deville, the French 75mm was produced by the French government arsenals from 1897, and, by the time the Great War broke out in 1914, the French Army had thousands of them in their arsenals. The American Expeditionary Forces were also issued with the 75mm Mdle 1897. A battery of four 75mm guns was manned by a well-trained crew of 24 men commanded by 4 officers recruited among graduates of engineering schools. The contribution of the 75mm gun to the French Army was very important, especially during the the First Battle of the Marne and the Battle of Verdun. During the latter engagement, over 1,000 French 75mm guns were constantly in action, night and day, on the battlefield during a period of eight months. From February 21 to September 30, 1916, almost 17 millions 75mm shells had been fired on the German positions. This French gun fired two types of shells: a 5.3-kg high-explosive (HE) shell with a time delay fuze, and a 7.24-kg time-fuzed shrapnel shell that contained 290 lead balls.


Type: artillery field gun
Country of origin: France
Caliber: 75mm
Barrel length: 2,69 m (8ft 10in)
Recoil: hydro-pneumatic mechanism
Weight: 1,544 kg (3,400 lb)
Rate of fire: 15 rpm
Maximum range: 6.9 km
Muzzle velocity: 500 m/s

French 75mm M1897 field gun in action (footage)

16-inch Naval Guns

The 16-inch naval guns were heavy artillery pieces mounted on the deck of battleships used during World War II and the Korean War. The US Navy Iowa-class battleships were armed with nine 16″/50 Mark 7 guns, which were mounted in three triple-gun turrets; two on foredeck, and one on aftdeck. These powerful 410mm naval guns fired 2,700 lb (1,225 kg) shells to a maximum range of 24 miles.

The Japanese Nagato-class was equipped with eight 16″/45 (410mm) guns, which were fitted in four double-gun turrets; two fore and two aft. These 19-m-long gun barrels were slightly shorter than the Americans and  had a maximum range of 22 miles.

Despite their destructive power, these 16″ naval guns were rarely used against enemy warships as they were mostly employed to provide fire support to landing troops, softening up the beaches of enemy-held islands, coastal bombardment.


US Navy’s 16-in guns in action in the Pacific (video)


The ISU-122 was a self-propelled anti-tank gun fielded by the Soviet Union during World War II. Produced by Chelyabinsk Kirvo Plant, it entered service with the Red Army in April 1944 and was phased at the end of the 1950s. It was a powerful, front line weapon that was always in the vanguard of the Soviet advances through Germany towards Berlin. More than 2,000 ISU-122s were made, about 600 of which were equipped with a semi-automatic breech block. This self-propelled, assault/anti-tank gun also saw combat action in Korea, used by the North Korean and Chinese Armies.

The ISU-122 consisted of one 122mm A-19 gun, mounted on the KV-2 heavy tank’s chassis. The vehicle carried 30 rounds and a crew of 5 men, who were protected by 90-mm-thick steel armor. This gun fired high-velocity projectile and could destroy a Panzer IV tank from a distance of 2,000 m; it was also used to destroy enemy bunkers and to provide indirect fire support. It was powered by one 520-hp, V-12 diesel engine.


Type: self-propelled anti-tank gun

Chassis Length: 6.8 m

Width: 3.56 m

Height: 2.52 m

Maximum speed: 23 mph (37 km/h)

Range: 112 miles (180 km)

Armament: one 121.92mm A-19 gun; one 12.7mm machine gun