Italian artillery in ww2

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Setsurinvich
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Italian artillery in ww2

Post by Setsurinvich » 09 May 2021 07:11

So how was the quality of italian artillery in WW2 could it be said to be the "worst" amongst the major powers? What are some good pieces that they had and how many was made? As well what were the "standard pieces" in their arsenal?

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: Italian artillery in ww2

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 09 May 2021 13:42

Actually it had a good reputation. Accurate, reasonably well trained, and in the Western Desert or Lybian battles the cannon crews were usually the last to surender. I've seen claims the weapons were only upgrades of pre WWI models, but have never looked into that. One large defect was the lack of a robust 'corps group' of cannon above the infantry division. In the British & US, or French practice there was invariably a large artillery group the army or corps commander could reinforce the division artillery with. The Italians had less of that.

Setsurinvich
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Re: Italian artillery in ww2

Post by Setsurinvich » 09 May 2021 20:22

I took a look at the list of cannons they did have, most of them were introduced before or during WW1, and i did find some modern cannon but cant tell how many were used. As well there are some ancedotes of people saying most of their cannon shells fired were duds in the north african campaign

Dili
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Re: Italian artillery in ww2

Post by Dili » 14 May 2021 01:09

Most of artilery was WW1. Yes it was by far the worse of major powers.
If you consider a country that was unable to develop a competitive aircraft engine a major power.

Basileus
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Re: Italian artillery in ww2

Post by Basileus » 20 Jul 2021 21:18

@ Carl Schwamberger

Information about artillery can be found in many sources.

Just a few hints about divisional artillery:

Divisional artillery had 75/27 mod.06 and mod.11 guns, and 100/17 mod.14 and mod.16 howitzers. (The latter were former austrian howiters). All such pieces were WW1 vintage. During '30s new ammunition was introduced (mod.32 ammunition), which increased the range (e.g: maximum range of 75/27 gun increased from 8380 m to 10240 m), and many pieces were modernized (new wheels and suspesions) in order to allow them to be towed by lorries (more precisely, by mechanical artillery tractors) and not only by horses.

In june 1940 there were around 1700 mod.06 and 1300 mod.11 (but less then 300 of the latter had been modernised). As regards the 100/17 howitzer, Italy had captured 1222 howitzers during WW1 and had obtained other 1472 as war reparations [This howitzer produced by Skoda had a long service life in Italy: the surviving guns were modernised during '50s and later converted to 105/22 mod.14/61 by modifying the barrel. In the end of '60s was put in reserve but was 'radiated' only after the end of the cold war...]. It had a maximum range of 8180 m, increased to 9328 m with mod.32 ammunition.

Alpine and mountain division had the 75/13 mod.15 mountain howitzer, again an Austrian WW1 vintage produced by Skoda. Italy captured 392 during WW1 and obtained other 268 as war reparations plus 55 barrels (plus and a small numbers were seized when Italy entered the war from a ship in route to China, interned in 1914, and used during WW1). During '30s additional 75/13 howitzers were produced by Ansaldo, even if it was considered obsolescent, so that 840 were available in 1938. The 203 howitzers which survived the war remained in service till '60s in Alpine brigades [while all other 75 mm guns were radiated as too light after WW2]. Range was 6700 m, increased to 8250 m with mod.32 ammunition.

Now, what were the modern pieces? Duting '30s it was acknowledged that available guns were obsolescent, so that, apart from some modernisation of existing artillery, a programme to develop and build new pieces was began. As regards divisional artillery, the 75 mm caliber was retained.

The new guns were:

75/18 mod. 34 and mod.35 howitzer. (mod.34 was the mountain version and mod.35 the field artillery version). It was a modern howitzer, a significant improvement over the existing pieces, but rather 'light' for field artillery (most armies were adopting larger caliber artillery) with a maximum range of 9500 m and an horizontal fire sector of 48° (mod.34) or 50° (mod.35) against the 7° of 75/27 mod.06 and 75/13 mod.15).
Mod.34 should have replaces the 75/13 mountain howitzer, while mod.35 should have been the artillery of 'celere' divisions (this gun was really light: mod.34 had an overall weight of 800 kg).
Even if adopted in 1935 and the first pieces entered service in summer 1936, production was very slow and only 114 were available in 1940. A total of around 600 mod.34 were built (but at least 56 were exported to Portugal), while the first deliveries of mod.35 were in 1941! In fact most of the production of mod.35 was used in 'semoventi' (assault guns on M tank hull). As a result, 96 mod.34 were used against Greece in 1940/41 while mod.35 was used only in Russia (1941/42), Tunisia (spring 1943) and Sicily (1943).

75/32 mod.37: this gun should have been the standard field artillery. It can be considered an improvement of 75/18 mod.35 (in fact, it used the same carriage), when it was realized that modern artillery introduced by other armies has a longer range. The higher muzzle velocity (580 m/s) due to the longer barrel should have allowed a larger range (around 11 km) and also the usage as AT gun (but it had no optical aiming devices for AT fire). 192 guns were ordered in 1938 and many more after the beginning of the war, however only a small part of the 542 ordered guns was ever produced: only 5 guns in 1937-39, 30 guns during 1940-41, 44 guns in 1942 e 98 in the first three months of 1943. Three batallions used it in Russia (1942, all lost in january 1943), other five batallions remained in Italy (i.e. a total of 96 guns were 'operative').

Now you can compare the availability of WW1 guns with the modern productions... similar situation with heavier guns or even AA guns.

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