The design and subsequent production on what can be easily considered the best armored item to have served actively with the Italian forces (The P26/40 did not qualify as having actually served) is to be traced back to a desperate request coming from the Russian Steppes. The CSIR urgently asked for ‘something’ capable of fighting on par with the menacing T-34’s and the fearsome KV-1’s. To this end, the Ansaldo industries were requested a mounting of the 90/53 flak gun on an armored carriage.
It was not bad an idea, and it followed closely with the German example of turning an AA weapon into an equally good AT one.
Unusual for an Italian production, the designers and engineers worked at top speed, and the efforts were quickly directed to an enlarged and lengthened M14-41 chassis with a diesel engine positioned centrally.
The first prototype was completed on 5 March 1942 and after some tests a first order was placed for thirty vehicles plus 15 command ones which were to be delivered no later than the end of April.
The design had good and bad aspects:
The range was the best feature, the 90/53 was armed with the new E.P. rounds (E.P.=Effetto Pronto, rapid effect, which is the Italian name for HEAT rounds). It reached a kill range of 2000-2200 meters. On the minus side there was the lack of any protection for the crew. It was much similar to the situation of the German ‘Nashorn’ and ‘Hornisse’ which mounted a powerful ’88’ on a Pz. III or IV chassis and had no room or weight allowance for an enclosed fighting chamber.
Another thing to take account, was that this Semovente only had room for 6 rounds. A specialized ammo carrier was designed from the inferior L6/40. It was a hastily designed stopgap vehicle, but notable for the high speed with which it traveled from blueprints to the assembly yards and for having mounted the largest AT gun ever used by Italian troops.
|Weapons||1×90/53||Armor||8mm to 30mm|
|Engine||SPA 15T Deisel Powered 145 BHP||Max Speed||35 kmh|
|Range||200 km||Weight||17 tons|
Special thanks to Paolo Marcenaro for history and specifications