Semovente da 75/18 su scafo M. 41
By 1941 early campaigns in France, Africa and Yugoslavia had made it clear that the contemporary Italian designs needed to be replaced by more modern ones or updated as soon as possible. The Germans had already successfully tested the first examples of the Sturmgeschutz during the French campaign and this was seen as good starting point.
Under artillery Colonel Berlese several prototypes of assault guns were built making use of the standard M13/40 chassis.
Ansaldo produced a prototype mounting the 75/18 howitzer on the M13/40 hull in February 1941. After successful tests, an order was placed for 60 vehicles. The Semovente 75/18 was of simple design, but performed well and, most importantly, could be made easily in existing facilities. Another 120 vehicles were built on the M41 hull, production starting later in 1941. The first 60 were delivered in 1941 and shipped to the Italian divisions in Libya in January 1942.
They were organised into two battalions. 16 Semovente 75/18 and 8 Carro Commandos were assigned to the 132nd Divisione Corazzata Ariete (132nd Ariete Armoured Division). Despite their weak armour and slow speed they became valued because their gun was able to penetrate 50mm of armour at 1000 metres (using 75mm EP ~ Effetto Pronto; Ready Effect, or HESH rounds).As anti-tank vehicles their gun, combined with their low profile (easily concealed), made them a very valuable weapon, earning the respect of the enemy.
The cramped fighting compartment could be quite unpleasant for the crew. The heat inside could reach up to 60º Celsius, while the gases expelled after firing were unpleasant. This lead the crew to often fight with the hatches open to remain cool and let the gases escape.
Davide Beretta, Commander of the 1st Battery of the DLIV Gruppo Semoventi 75/18 (604th 75/18 Assault guns Group) of the 3rd Articelere "Duca D’Aosta" (Mechanized artillery regiment "Duke of Aosta"), appreciated the vehicles abilities and its effect on the enemy:
“The Semovente M.14/41 was a true war-machine which was able, with its 75mm howitzer, to gain respect by all the enemy armoured vehicles in action on the El Alamein front. Its magnificent elevation of 40 degrees, its rapid and precise fire and its remarkable range did provoke a comprehensible fear in the British armoured units.”
Specifications of the Semovente da 75/18
Weight: 13.1 metric tons
Rate of Fire: 4 rnds/min
Fire Range: 8,000m (75mm AP)
Fuel Range: 200km
Weapons: 75mm L/18 with 44 rounds; Breda Model 38 MG (early models); 6.5mm Breda Model 30 MG
Elevation: -12º to +22º
Gun Traverse: 40º
In Flames Of War
The Semovente 75/18 is well armoured (F4, S2, T1) and well armed (75mm gun: Range 24”/60cm, ROF 2, AT 9, FP 3+) and has good mobility (Fully–tracked), which makes it one of the best Italian vehicles available to the Italians.
It can be brought as a support choice for the Compagnia Carri, Bersaglieri, and Motociclisti.
They are rated Elite.