Cannone da 75/32 modello 37
When Italy emerged from World War I its economy, never particularly sound, was in no state to support a rearmament programme, and thus the weapons of World War I were bulked out by reparations from the AustroHungarian Empire, and the army was otherwise left to cope with what it already had. By the 1930s even the large numbers of weapons at hand were seen to be no real answer to more modern designs, so a programme of new weapon design was undertaken. The first weapons to be considered were those of the field artillery, and thus the first post-war artillery design to be introduced since 1918 was a field gun, the Cannone da 75/32 modello 37.
This new gun was an Ansaldo design. It was a good, sound and modern idea that was intended from the outset for powered traction, it had a long barrel fitted with a muzzle brake, and had a high enough muzzle velocity that it could be usefully employed on occasion as an anti-tank weapon. When the split trail was deployed it provided a traverse of 50∞, which was no doubt useful in armoured warfare, but this was rather negated by the use of large trail spades that were hammered down into the ground through the trail legs, and thus a rapid change of traverse angle was not easy. Even with this slight disadvantage the modello 37 was a very useful field gun and the Italian gunners clamoured for as many as they could get.
Unfortunately they clamoured in vain, for Italian industry was in no position to provide the numbers required. There was quite simply no industrial potential to spare to produce the guns and all the raw materials, or at least the bulk of them, had to be imported. Thus gun production had to get under way at a time when all other arms of the Italian forces were in the process of rearmament; the air force was given a far higher degree of priority than the artillery, and the Italian navy was also absorbing a large proportion of the few available manufacturing and raw material resources. So demand for the modello 37 constantly exceeded supply, and by 1943 most of the Italian artillery park was still made up of weapons that dated from World War I or even earlier.
In 1943 the Italians changed sides. The Germans had already noted the finer points of the modello 37 and as the Italian nation withdrew from the Axis the Germans swiftly moved in to take over the Italian armoury, or at least as much of it as they could lay their hands on. In this grab for possession large numbers of modello 37s on the Italian mainland changed their designation to 7.5-cm FK 248(i). The Germans used their booty until the war ended, not only in Italy but also in the confused campaigns against Yugoslav partisan forces.
Specification Cannone da 75/32 modello 37
Calibre: 75 mm (2.95 in)
Length of piece: 2,574 m (101.3 in)
Weight: travelling 1250 kg (2,756 lb) and in action 1200 kg (2,646 lb)
Elevation: -10∞ to +45∞
Muzzle velocity: 624 m (2,050 ft) per second
Range: 12500 m (13,675 yards)
Shell weight: 6.3 kg (13.9 lb)