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Semovente da 149/40 History and Specifications

by Jim H

Background on the Semovente da 149/40

The Semovente da 149/40 is an Italian World War Two self-propelled gun mounted with a 149 mm howitzer. Ansaldo designed this vehicle to provide direct fire support for infantry. Work began on the prototype in 1942 and field tests on the weapon started in 1943. Although the Regio Esercito ordered 20 units, the armistice signed in September 1943 ended any prospect of fielding this weapon. Only one prototype was made, which still exists today.

Image of the Semovente da 149/40 on the test firing range in Genoa.

Ansaldo believed mounting the Cannone da 149/40 on a chassis would be less costly and more practical to use. This seems logical since the Cannone da 149/40 required trail spade plates to be pounded into the ground to keep the artillery piece in place. The chassis came from the Fiat M15/42 and Carro P.40 hulls. But because the Regio Esercito had an urgent need for more Cannone da 149/40 artillery pieces and M15/42 tanks, the Semovente da 149/40 became an afterthought.


The vehicle could fire a 101 lb (46 kg) shell a distance of 25,900 yards (23,700 meters). At 800 meters per second, the SPG could fire up to 60 rounds per hour. Because of its extremely long firing range, Ansaldo found little need or use in fortifying it with armor. However, there are 12.7 mm of armor surrounding the driver’s area and certain vehicle components. The power plant mounted a SPA 228 petrol engine rated at 246 hp.

Fate of Prototype

The Semovente da 149/40 at the United States Army Ordnance Museum. Image: Mark Pellegrini

Following the Italian armistice, Germany seized the weapon and transported it by rail to Hillersleben, Germany. The Germans labeled the weapon gepanzerte Selbstfahrlette M 43 with 15 L / 42 854 (i).  U.S. troops eventually confiscated the prototype and shipped it to the United States.

The prototype is located at the U.S. Army Ordnance Training and Heritage Center, Fort Lee, near Petersburg, Virginia. Even today, the Semovente still looks like a thoroughly modern piece of equipment that would not be out of place in many modern armies.


Specifications Semovente da 149/40
Class Self-Propelled Gun
Crew 2 to 4
Weight 52,911 lbs (24,000 kg)
Length 21 ft 7.8 in (6.60 m)
Width 9 ft 10 in (3 m)
Height 6 ft 6.7 in (2 m)
Powerplant SPA petrol 250 hp (190 kW)
Speed 21.75 mph (35.00 km/h)
Armament Cannone da 149/40 modello 35
Armor 12.7 mm
Rate of Fire 60 RPM
Projectile Speed 800 m/ps
Firing Range 25,900 yards (23,700 meters)
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