Obice da 75/18 modello 35
Ever since the establishment of Italy as a nation, a certain sector of its armed forces has associated itself with the specialized art of mountain warfare. This has included the provision of special types of artillery adapted for the mountain role. Many of these mountain artillery pieces came from the Austrian firm of Skoda, and during World War I the Italians were happily firing Austrian mountain guns at their former suppliers.
By the 1930s much of this mountain artillery material was obsolescent and overdue for replacement. The Italian firm Ansaldo thus undertook to produce a new mountain howitzer design. By 1934 this had emerged as the Obice da 75/18 modello 34, a sound and thoroughly useful little howitzer that was intended for the mountain role and could thus be broken down into eight loads for transport. In the interests of standardization and logistics it was decided that the 75/18 was just what was required as the light howitzer component of the normal field batteries, and thus the weapon was ordered for them as well, but this time with a more orthodox carriage with no provision for being broken down into loads. This field version became the Obice da 75/18 modello 35.
The modello 35 was ordered into full-scale production but like its contemporary, the modello 37 gun, could not be produced in the numbers required. This was despite the fact that the carriage used by the modello 35 howitzer had many features in common with the later modello 37 gun, and the same barrel and recoil mechanism as that used for the mountain howitzer was carried over to the field howitzer design.
The supply situation was not eased in any way by the need for the Italians to sell the modello 35 abroad in order to obtain foreign currency. In 1940 a sizable batch was sold to Portugal, and more went to some South American states to pay for raw materials. More production capacity was diverted to the production of versions for use on various forms of Italian semovente (self-propelled) carriages, but very few of these ever reached the troops. Those that did proved to be as efficient as any of the comparable German Sturmgeschütze (assault guns).
After 1943 the Germans took the modello 35 under their control as swiftly as they took over the rest of the available Italian gun parks, and the little howitzers took on a new guise as the 7.5-cm leFh 255(i).
ln contrast to many other Italian artillery pieces of World War II the Obice da 75/18 modello 35 was a very modern and handy little field piece. Designed by Ansaldo, it was the field howitzer version of a mountain howitzer design and thus lacked the ability to be broken down into several pack loads.
Specification Obice da 75/18 modello 35
Calibre: 75 mm (2.95 in)
Length of piece: 1.557 m (61.3 in)
Weight: travelling 1850 kg (4,080 lb) and in action 1050 kg (2,315 lb)
Elevation: -10∞ to +45∞
Muzzle velocity: 425 m (1,395 ft) per second
Range: 9565 m (10,460 yards)
Shell weight: 6.4 kg (14. lib)