More Bang For Your Buck

More Bang For Your Buck More Bang For Your Buck:
Getting The Most from the 8.8cm FlaK36 in Mid-war
with Blake Coster

They say necessity is the mother of invention, but in terms of the 8.8cm FlaK36 (or 88), a true legend of World War Two (or nightmare, depending on which side you were on) was born out of desperation.

Originally designed as an anti-aircraft gun, the 8.8cm Flugzeugabwehrkanone ('aircraft defence cannon) 36 was pressed into action as an anti-tank gun when the conventional anti-tank guns fielded by the Germans proved ineffective against the thick armour of the British Matilda II and French Char B during the campaign in France, 1940.

The British counterattack at Arras was halted by Rommel’s use of the 8.8cm FlaK36 after several Matilda IIs simply brushed aside the German defences near Hill 111. In the aftermath, the British were then forced to withdraw during the night and with them, they took all hope of a breakout.

This lesson was not lost on Rommel when he arrived in North Africa in early 1941. While commanding the forces of the Afrika Korps, Rommel made extensive use of the 8.8cm FlaK36 in the anti-tank role. His preferred tactic was to lure the British forces into prepared positions after feigning retreat. Once lured into these killing grounds, the British tanks were picked off at ranges beyond those in which they could effectively fight back. So effective was the 8.8cm FlaK36 during the fighting around Halfaya Pass that it earnt the nickname Hellfire Pass by the British.

So what is the best way to emulate the successes of Rommel when fielding the 88 in Mid-war? Following these three basic principles should help.

1. Deployment
Games can be won and lost during employment, so it is essential to deploy your 88 so that its position plays to it strengths, especially its maximum range of 40”/100cm. A majority of British tank guns have a range of 24”/60cm, which means with the right battlefield conditions, the 88 can enjoy a 2-to-1 ratio (even more so in missions played lengthways) in terms of the number of times it gets to shoot before the enemy can return fire. This helps tip the odds in your favour and means (in theory) that more should go right for you throughout the course of your game.

Of course, excellent deployment is terrain dependent. But whenever possible deploy your 88 with best lines of sight the terrain will allow.

2. Support
While the 88 possesses more firepower than you’ll ever need on a Mid-war Flames Of War battlefield, it is still quite vulnerable. And at 6 points per gun, it is an investment that you will want to protect. If you’ve deployed well, you haven’t left it out on an island, you’ve deployed an infantry platoon and maybe some additional 5cm PaK38 anti-tank guns nearby in support.

Supporting the 88 is essential; an infantry platoon will provide a buffer between the 88 and any assaulting units. In turn, the 88 can whittle down the number of advancing tanks the infantry would have to deal with in the pending assault. Adding more even anti-tank guns in the form of the 5cm PaK38 will create your very own PaK Front, making it very tough for your opponent and forcing them to make some very difficult decisions.

3. Utilise
All of the range and anti-tank means nothing if you don’t utilise it during the game. As Brian Johnson of AC/DC once sang, “You’ve got to fire your guns.” Do this and do this as often as you can. Simple, really. The 88 has enough range to reach out a provide cover for the objective on the opposing end of the table, so in most games there should be plenty of targets to engage somewhere, even if things stay quiet in the 88s' immediate vicinity.

The Gun Shield on the 88 provides it with Bulletproof Cover, and the No HE (or High Explosive) rule of the British 2 pdr and 6 pdr guns means that Crusaders will struggle to engage your 88. However, artillery is still a serious threat. With excellent deployment and well-placed support, this should keep your 88 in the fight long enough to turn the tide of war in your favour.

I hope you found this article useful when it comes to getting the most of your 88s in Mid-war.

~ Blake.