This weapon has a true Battle of Normandy provenance. It was painted in the standard “Dunkel Gelb” ordark and finish and supplied in 1942 to a Luftwaffe anti-aircraft division where it found its way to Normandy in early 1943. By June 44, it was positioned in defense of a German Command Center located in an occupied chateau near to Cherbourg.
When the Cherbourg pensinsula was over-run by the Allies in July/August, our weapon was captured intact by the Americans who, deciding it might be of some use, painted it olive drab green and presumably had some intention of using it.
As the Liberation of Europe continued, this 88 was left behind and was eventually destined to become a hard target on a firing range. To this end, it was daubed with great splashes of bright orange paint but, thankfully, was rescued after the war by the French Army who repainted it in their own color and who most probably used it for training and educational purposes. After all, it was a very advanced weapon for its day and possessed many innovative technical features.
Finally, our weapon left French military service and passed through the hands of scrap dealers until finally being shut away in a huge barn by an eccentric collector – it has to be remembered that back in the 1970’s there was not a great deal of interest in German WW2 hardware.
And so it languished, becoming covered in grime and dirt until 2014 – all the time the multiple layers of paint flaking and peeling and ending up a bizarre variegated hue. The Normandy Tank Museum rescued the weapon and placed it in the hands of their highly experienced German restoration expert who, over a period of 8 months, brought the sad relic back to the amazing condition one sees today.
Missing or badly damaged parts have been replaced with locally sourced original replacements – an example of which was a set of the 3 part “Trilex” wheel rims and locking ring which our restorer found amidst a load of farmer’s scrap dumped in a forest when walking his dog.
The 4 brand new wheels and cartridge cases came from the Finnish Army who used them as practice rounds up till the 1980’s. They are obviously empty but, interestingly, are dated June 1944. The fuse nosecones are 3 anti-aircraft and one anti-tank.
So a weapon with true Normandy provenance and a major rarity these days as many of the surviving and displayed “88’s” are of Spanish origin. This cannon is one of true German manufacture- a fact which adds significantly to its value.
This 1942 Flugabwehrkanone Canon “Flak” 36 88mm is being offered for sale for just 70,000 – 130,000 €. More information on Artcurial