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Cannone da 90/53

Cannone da 90/53

Of all the anti-aircraft guns in service with Italy from 1941-1943, none was better than the Cannone da 90/53. It was an excellent weapon that could stand comparison with any of its contemporaries and it was a good, sound and modern design. The Cannone da 90/53 was built and designed by Ansaldo and the first examples were produced in 1939, with production being authorized in three main versions. The most numerous version was supposed to be the modello 41P intended for static emplacement only with 1,087 guns of this version being ordered. A further 660 guns were ordered as the towed modello 41C, while another order was for a further 57 guns to be mounted on a variety of heavy trucks and called the autocannoni da 90/53. A later order requested yet another 30 barrels for mounting on self-propelled tracked vehicles.

Ordering these weapons was one thing, but producing them was another and the final production figures never reached the optimistic totals. By July 1943 only 539 weapons of all variants had been delivered. In July 1943, the production line fell into German hands and was continued for German use alone. German forces in North Africa had already had the 90/53 in service for some time as they recognized it was a good gun comparable with their own 88. At first the 90/53 resembled the 88 Flak 18 and Flak 37 weapons, but there were many differences and the similarities were only superficial. The 90/53 had a pivot carriage mounted on a cruciform platform, but on the carriage itself the arrangement of the fire control instruments was quite different from those of the German guns. In addition, the barrel was a one-piece construction instead of the multi-section arrangement of the German 88s.

The Italians used the 90/53 as a multi-purpose weapon on occasion, but some were emplaced as dual-purpose anti- aircraft/coast defense weapons. At times they were used as long-range field guns and the performance of the gun was such that it could match the 88 as an anti-armor weapon. Numbers of the gun were also diverted to the Italian Navy. The Germans valued the 90/53 so highly that following the Italian surrender in July 1943, they impressed as many of the 90/53s as they could find and sent many of them back to Germany for defense of the Reich as the 9-cm Flak 41(i), although the official designation was the 9-cm Flak 309/l(i). By December 1944, 315 such guns are mentioned in German records, though many were emplaced in Northern Italy. The Allies too captured many 90/53s in their march north and used them for the coast defense role with British coastal batteries around the main Italian captured ports.

Specifications
Caliber 90 mm (3.54 inch)
Barrel Length 4.736 m (15 ft, 6.5 in)
Travelling Weight 8950 kg (19,731 lbs)
Weight in Action 6240 kg (13,757 lbs)
Elevation -2 to +85 degrees
Traverse 360 degrees
Muzzle velocity 830 m/sec (2,723 ft/sec)
Maximum Ceiling 12,000 m (39, 370 ft)
Shell weight 10.33 kg (22.77 lbs)

Information courtesy JDG

Sources
The Encyclopedia of Weapons: From World War II to the Present Day