MANUFACTURER(S): Ansaldo - Italy
OPERATORS: Australia; Argentina; Brazil; Colombia; Kingdom of Italy; New Zealand; Portugal
Detailing the development and operational history of the Obice da 75/18 modello 34/35 Towed Mountain Gun / Field Howitzer.
Entry last updated on 7/24/2017.
Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com.
Due to Italy's mountainous terrain, national Army forces have always been keen to stock weapons centering on mountain warfare. This included a range of mountain guns and howitzers of relatively light weight and capable of engaging targets over range at various operating altitudes. Heading into the 1930s, the Army realized their existing stock of such guns were getting 'long in the tooth' and the local concern of Ansaldo was charged with developing a modernized weapon for mountain troopers.
The resulting design (by Italian artillery officer LtCol Sergio Belese) appeared in 1934 as the "Obice da 75/18 Modello 34" and was more or less a traditional-looking howitzer system. One key element of its design was the system could be broken down into eight major components for ease-of-transportation. The gun package system weighed 2,310lb when made ready-to-fire and 4,040lb when in its travel mode. A box trail carriage unit was affixed under the mounting hardware of the gun tube and the usual handles and levers were built into the mounting section for elevation and traversal of the gun tube. Elevation spanned -10 to +45 degrees and traversal was 50 degrees from centerline to the right or left. Rubber-tired travel wheels straddled the design and these came into play when the gun would be moved by beast-of-burden or powered prime mover. Overall length of the weapon reached 1.6 meters.
The Modello 34 howitzer fired a 14lb High-Explosive (HE) projectile of 75mm (2.95") out to a maximum range of 10,500 yards. The projectiles exited the gun tube at 1,400 feet per second.
Beyond its use by mountain troops, the Modello 34 caught the attention of the regular Army which promptly adopted the type as the Modello 35 field howitzer. This variant did not feature the break-down capability of its mountain gun brethren but sported a split-trail carriage assembly. The new model was sold abroad to Italian allies in South America and to Portugal. It was also fitted as the primary weapon of the Semovente 75/18 self-propelled gun vehicle (detailed elsewhere on this site) of the Italian Army. Some forms, captured by the British at Crete, were turned on the Axis during the Battle of Crete (May - June 1941, an Axis Victory).
After the Italian surrender to the Allies in September of 1943, the Germans were quick to take control of existing Italian artillery stocks and what Modello 34/35 series guns could be had now operated under the German Army designation of '7.5cm leFH 255(i)' for the duration of the war.