Background on the Semovente da 90/53
The origin of the Semovente da 90/53 Self-Propelled Gun started with an urgent request by the Italian Expeditionary Corps in Russia (CSIR) urgently asking for an anti-tank weapon that was capable of neutralizing the menacing T-34s and the fearsome KV-1s. Ansaldo industries developed a plan to mount a 90/53 flak gun on an armored carriage.
It mimicked the German example of turning an AA weapon into an equally good AT one.
Unusual for an Italian production, designers and engineers worked at a feverish pace. It was decided to enlarged and lengthened M14-41 chassis with a diesel engine positioned centrally and mount the vehicle with a Cannone da 90/53 anti-aircraft gun.
The first prototype delivery occurred on 5 March 1942. An order of thirty vehicles plus 15 command vehicles came soon after for a delivery date no later than the end of April 1942.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The Semovente da 90/53 was armed with the new Effeto Pronto (E.P.) rounds, which is the Italian name for HEAT rounds). It reached a kill range of 2000-2200 meters. However, the vehicle lacked armor protection for its crew. German ‘Nashorn’ and ‘Hornisse’ vehicles mounting the powerful ’88’ on a Pz III or IV chassis also suffer this armor deficiency. They allowed no room for a protected fighting chamber.
Additionally, the Semovente da 90/53 carried only 6 rounds. A specialized ammo carrier was designed from the Carro Armato L6/40.
The Semovente da 90/53 is notable for two reasons. The production was fast and it mounted the largest AT gun ever used by Italian troops.
A few Semovente M41 da 90/53 saw combat in North Africa and had a respectable showing. The 10th Reggimento Artiglieria Controcarro Semovente, Gruppi CLXI, CLXII, and CLXIII, had eight units each which fought on the Sicilian Front. Germany acquired six remaining units and used as long-range artillery pieces. Although intended for the Eastern Front, the vehicle never served there.
|Specifications||Semovente da 75/34|
|Crew||3 Commander/Gunner, Driver, Loader/Radio Operator|
|Length||16 ft 6 in (5.04 m)|
|Width||ft 4 in (2.3 m)|
|Height||5 ft 11 in (1.8 m)|
|Powerplant||FIAT SPA 15TB M42 (192 hp)|
|Speed||20 mph (32 km/h)|
|Operational Range||143 mi (230 km)|
|Armament||75 mm L/34 gun One 8 mm Breda 38 machine gun|
|Firing Range||13,670.2 yards(12,500 m)|
|Muzzle Velocity||2047.2 fps (624 mps)|
|Ammunition||42 Rounds 75 mm Armor Piercing (AP) + High Explosive (HE) Ammunition|
|Armor||Up to 42 mm|
Article by Paolo Marcenaro.