3.7 Cm Flak 18/36/37/43 - Development

Development

The original 37 mm gun was developed by Rheinmetall in 1935 as the 3.7 cm Flak 18. It had a barrel length of 98 calibers (hence the additional designation L/98), which allowed 4,800 m (15,700 ft) effective ceiling. The armour penetration was considerable when using dedicated ammunition, at 100 m distance it could penetrate 36 mm of a 60°-sloped armour, and at 800 m distance correspondingly 24 mm. It used a mechanical bolt for automatic fire, featuring a practical rate of fire of about 80 rounds per minute (rpm). The gun, when emplaced for combat, weighed 1,750 kg (3,900 lb), and complete for transport, including the wheeled mount, 3,560 kg (7,800 lb).

The Flak 18 was only produced in small numbers, and production had already ended in 1936. Development continued, focusing on replacement of the existing cumbersome dual-axle mount with a lighter single-axle one, resulting in a 3.7 cm Flak 36 that cut the complete weight to 1,550 kg (3,400 lb) in combat and 2,400 kg (5,300 lb) in transport. The gun's ballistic characteristics were not changed, although the practical rate of fire was raised to 120 rpm (250 rpm theoretical). A new sighting system introduced the next year produced the 3.7 cm Flak 37, otherwise an identical gun. The Flak 37 was known as 37 ITK 37 in Finland.

The Flak 36/37 were the most produced variants of the weapon.

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