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Breda Model 35 Anti-Aircraft Gun

by Shelly Barclay

Background on the Breda Model 35

Societa Italiana Ernesto Breda of Brescia designed the Breda Model 35 anti-aircraft gun, also known as the Cannone-Mitragliera da 20/65 modello 35, in 1932.  Italy used this anti-aircraft gun during World War II, but it first saw deployment in 1935. It was an effective weapon and had widespread use in both expected and unexpected places during the war.

A Breda Model 35 ready for action in North Africa.

A Breda Model 35 ready for action in North Africa.

Transport of the Breda Model 35 often occurred by truck. However, the Model 35 also had a two-wheeled trailer that allowed soldiers to manually tow the gun. Soldiers could also break down the unit and carry it in four packs, which was a rather handy feature. In many cases, it was simply mounted directly to a vehicle, particularly tanks and armored cars. In fact, Torpedo Boats had Model 35’s mounted on them as well. Mounting the weapon on a moveable platform was far better than towing the guns around, as the trailer could only be pulled at a scant 12 mph (20 km/h) before becoming unstable.

The Model 35 was an effective anti-aircraft weapon.

The Model 35 was an effective anti-aircraft weapon.

The Breda Model 35 had a tripod platform that was more stable than its trailer. The Model 35 was effective against a variety of targets, to include ground vehicles, as well as aircraft. Troops used armor-piercing rounds against ground vehicles and high explosive projectiles against aircraft. The weapon required three men to use it and had a sight arm that allowed the gunner to keep it at face level, regardless of the weapon’s elevation.

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International Use

Germany procured many Italian weapons during World War II, either while they were allies or after Italy’s armistice in 1943. In the case of the Breda Model 35, Germany was not the only country to get their hands on them. Finland legitimately purchased the weapons. They mounted four on torpedo boats and used the rest on land. After they seized the Breda Model 35 from the Italians in the North African front, several countries added the weapon to their own arsenal.

Specifications of the Cannone-Mitragliera da 20/65 modello 35

Model Cannone-Mitragliera da 20/65 modello 35 (Breda)
Caliber .79 inches (20 mm)
Length 10 ft 11 in (3.34 m)
Traveling Weight 730 lbs (330 kg)
Weight in Action 678 lbs (307.35 kg)
Elevation -10 degrees to +80 degrees (-10 degrees to +90 degrees mounted on boats
Traverse 360 degrees
Muzzle Velocity 2,800 ft/sec (840 m/sec)
Range 4,900 ft (1,500 m) when targeting aircraft
Shell 20 x 138 mm - 12 Round Capacity
Shell Weight .298 lbs (.135 kg)
Rate of Fire 240 rounds per minute
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