During the late 1930s, the Italian Army decided to replace the bulk of their heavy artillery park that by that time resembled an oversize military museum with all the World War I pieces. The army selected two good and thoroughly modern designs, one a gun with a caliber of 149mm and a howitzer with a caliber of 210mm.
An Italian Army team designed the 210mm howitzer, but Ansaldo produced the howitzer. The howitzer was known as the Obice da 210/22 modello 35. Although shown in prototype form in 1935, it was not accepted for service until 1938 when a production order for no less than 346 was placed. The modello 35 was a very sound and modern design. It used a split trail carriage with two road wheels on each side. When the howitzer went into action these wheels were raised off the ground and the weight was assumed by a firing platform under the main axle.
The entire weapon could then be traversed 360 degrees once the stakes that anchored the trail spades to the ground had been raised.
The main problem for the Italians was that having designed a first-rate howitzer, they could not produce it quickly enough. Despite the good intentions of the Italian Army not to enter the war with the antiquated gun park still largely undisturbed by modern equipment, by the autumn of 1942, only 20 modello 35s had been built – 5 were retained in Italy and 15 were in action on the Eastern Front. Part of the state of affairs was due to the fact that despite the requirements of the Italian Army, modello 35s were sold to Hungary as they came off the assembly line in exchange for raw materials and food. The Hungarians found it necessary to make their own carriage modifications to suit this 21-cm 39.M to the rigors of their service and eventually set up their own 21-cm 40.M and finally 21-cm 40a.M production line in 1943.
In service the modello 35 was successful enough. It could be transported in two loads, but for prolonged moves it could be broken down further into four loads with extra loads for assembly equipment and accessories. The modello 35 attracted the attention of the Germans and, when the Italians surrendered in 1943, Ansaldo was forced to continue production of the modello 35 for the German units in Italy and in German service was known as the 21-cm Haubitze 532(i) and was still in action when the war ended.
After 1945 attempts were made By Ansaldo to sell the modello 35 on the home and export market. There were no takers as the home market was sated with American equipment that was freely supplied to the Italian Army and war surplus equipment was freely available elsewhere.
|Caliber||210mm (8.26 inches)|
|Length of Piece||5m (16ft 4.85in)|
|Travelling Weight||24,030 kg (52,977lbs) – in two loads|
|Weight in Action||15,885kg (35,020lbs)|
|Elevation||0º to +70º|
|Muzzle Velocity||560m/sec (1,837 ft/sec)|
|Maximum Range||15,407m (16,850 yards)|
|Shell Weight||101 or 133kg (222.7 or 232.2lbs)|
Information courtesy JDG