Semovente M43 da 105/25 "Bassotto"
SPG - 90 built
DevelopmentA specification was emitted in mid-1942 for an SPG that can support infantry but also double as tank hunter, using the heavy Cannone da 105 mm (4.13 in) of 25 caliber. At that time, Odero-Terni-Orlando (OTO) and Ansaldo proposed their prototype. OTO's proposition was to fit the 105/23 gun instead on a P26/40 heavy tank chassis. However it was the prototype built at Ansaldo presented at the Study Center of Motor Vehicles on 28 February 1943 which was eventually tested and approved by Comando Supremo for a production of 878 vehicles. It entered production on 2 April 1943, and was in service between june and september, before the Italian Armistice, under the designation Semovente da 105/25 su scafo M43.
Design of the "Bassotto"
This heavy SPG followed the path of other Semovente in service. It was however based for good measure on the latest chassis available, the lengthened Carro Armato M15/42 medium tank, in its 1943 version. For the task, the chassis was even slightly widened at 7.9 feet (2.4 m) instead of 7.3 feet (2.20 m). The gun itself was positioned in the centreline, with a casemate protected at the front by a sloped plate of 75 mm (2.95 in), and 50 mm on the sides, down to 15 mm on the roof and bottom. The driver was located to the left hand side and had an hinged armoured shutter with a sight slit. A small headlight was fitted left to him on the sloped side. An emitter/receiver Magneti Marelli RF1 CA was also fitted with its wipe antenna located on the left side of the roof.
Two large roof hatches were installed for easier access and there was a single provision for Breda 8 mm on an AA pintle mount and a coaxial Breda 8 mm with 864 rounds for secondary armament. The main gun was derived from the 1916 105/28 field gun and had a rather low muzzle velocity (around 650 m/sec with AP rounds) and had a 34° traverse and -12°/+ 22° depression/elevation. But it could be deadly effective at short range because of its heavy HE shells. At 15.9 tons for 192 hp it was capable of a road top speed of 35 kph. The crew of three comprised the driver, the commander that double as gunner and the loader that double as radio. Variants of this model were the Semovente M43 da 75/34 and Semovente da 75/46 tank hunters (the latter were for the first time of welded construction).
Production and service
The armistice came after only 30 of these vehicles were built. The days following the armistice, these Italian SPGs saw action with the 135ª Armored Division "Ariete II", against German troops near Rome. However the factory and all vehicles were later taken over by German forces and the Semovente 105/25 was renamed Sturmgeschütz M43 mit 105/25 853(i). The production line was reactivated and 60 more of these were delivered until 1944 for the German forces, . Most were used for the defence of the Gothic line and some were passed onto the Italian forces of the puppet republic of Salo and stayed in service until may 1945 in northern Italy. The Semovente 105/25 was nicknamed "Bassotto", and the crews generally liked it. It was the most heavily armed SPG in Italian service, presented a low silhouette, and was well protected and reliable. Surviving German vehicle ended stripped of their main guns which were recycled into the Alpine Valley bunkers.
Links about the Semovente da 105/25The Semovente 105/25 on Wikipedia
Semovente M43 da 105/25 specifications
|Dimensions (L-W-H)||5.1 x 2.40 x 1.75 m (19.8 x 9.3 x 5.9 ft)|
|Total weight, battle ready||15.8 tons|
|Crew||3 (commander/gunner, driver, loader/radioman)|
|Propulsion||SPA 15TB M-15 diesel (360 l), 192 hp (143.17 kW), 15 hp/t|
|Suspension||Vertical volute springs|
|Maximum speed (road)||38 km/h (24 mph)|
|Operational range||150 km (93 mi)|
|Armament||Main: 75 mm (2.95 in) L46 modello 34, 40 rounds
Secondary: 8 mm (0.31 in) Breda 38 machine gun, 1100 rounds
|Armor||From 30 to 100 mm (1.18-3.94 in)|
Semovente 105/25 M43 in Italian service, prior to the armistice
Sturmgeschütz M43 mit 105/25 853(i), Gothic line, fall 1944.
Semovente 105/25 in service with the RSI (Social Republic or Salo), Northern Italy fall 1944.