Cannone da 90/53

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Cannone da 90/53
El Alamein10.jpg
Cannone da 90/53
Type Anti-aircraft gun
Place of origin Italy
Service history
Used by Italy, Germany
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer Ansaldo
Designed 1939
Manufacturer Ansaldo
Produced 1 June 1939 - 31 July 1943
No. built 539
Specifications (Cannone da 90/53)
Weight 8,950 kg (19,730 lb)
Length 5.039 m (16 ft 6.4 in)
Barrel length 4.736 m (15 ft 6.5 in) L/53
Crew 6

Caliber 90 mm (3.54 in)
Elevation -2° to +85°
Traverse 360°
Rate of fire 19 rounds per minute
Muzzle velocity 850 m/s (2,789 ft/s)
Maximum firing range 17,400 m (57,100 ft), 12,000 m (39,000 ft) max ceiling

The Cannone da 90/53 was an Italian-designed cannon used both in an anti-aircraft role and as an anti-tank gun during World War II. It was one of the most successful anti-aircraft guns to see service during the conflict.

The designation "90/53" meant that the gun had a 90 mm caliber and a barrel 53 caliber-lengths long.

History[edit]

Naval version[edit]

In 1938, after a development period, the Ansaldo company produced a new heavy AA gun for the Regia Marina, to replace the obsolescent Škoda 10 cm K10 and K11 used for that role on Italian warships; initially 48 calibers long, it was eventually brought to 50 calibers.

The Cannone da 90/50 Ansaldo Model 1938 and OTO Model 1939 had an autofretted monobloc barrel with a screwed-on breech ring containing the horizontal sliding breech block and seatings for the recoil and run-out cylinders. The most interesting part of the weapon was the single quadriaxal mounting designed for it: those were pre-stabilized, with a complex system controlled by 11 gyros, with two electric motors providing the necessary RPC; the whole complex was enclosed in an oval shielded turret, mainly to protect it from the blast effects from the battleship's main caliber guns. The turret weighed some 20 tons, and the practical rate of fire was 12 rounds per minute. After testing on the armoured cruiser San Giorgio, the 90/50 was fitted on the new Littorio-class battleships and the two Andrea Doria-class battleships being rebuilt, for a respective total of 12 and 10 mountings.

This system has been described as too advanced and being ahead of its day, and in fact, while ballistically the gun had good performance, the mountings proved delicate, and in the Andrea Doria-class battleships the electrical RPC motors were removed in 1942 because of water damage; on the Littorio-class battleships, where the mountings were placed higher, the RPC was retained. Also, early rounds tended to be flawed and fragment into very small pieces, reducing their effectiveness, although improved rounds were issued during the war.[1][2]

Land version[edit]

Cannone da 90/53 on Lancia truck abandoned by Rommel's army in February 1943

The Cannone da 90/53, derived from the naval version,[3] was also designed by Ansaldo, with the first examples being produced in 1939. The original plan was for the gun to be manufactured in three variants:

  • The Modello 41P was for static emplacement; 1087 were ordered.
  • The Modello 41C was to be towed; 660 were ordered.
  • 57 were ordered to be mounted on heavy trucks designated autocannoni da 90/53.

Italian industry was not up to producing these quantities and by the end of production in July 1943 only 539 guns had been delivered, including 48 converted for use on the Semovente 90/53 heavy tank destroyer; some, owing to delays in producing the adequate mountings, were fitted on makeshift ones or on the flatbed of trucks like the Lancia 3Ro.

Drawing upon the German experience with the comparable 8.8 cm FlaK 18, this gun was also used as field artillery in the indirect fire role or as an anti-tank gun; in the latter role its performance was excellent, with its AP shell being able to pierce 190 millimetres (7.5 in) of armour at 500 metres (550 yd), and 150 millimetres (5.9 in) at 1,000 metres (1,100 yd),[4] thus being able to destroy every Allied tank it could face in North Africa and in the mainland.

After Italy surrendered, guns captured by Germany forces were designated 9-cm Flak 41(i) or 9-cm Flak 309/1(i). Some of these guns were used for the air defence of Germany, while others were kept in Italy.

Characteristics[edit]

  • Calibre: 90 mm (3.54 in)
  • Barrel length: 4.736m (15 ft 6.5 in)
  • Travelling weight: 8950 kg (19,731 lbs)
  • Weight in action: 6240 kg (13,757 lbs)
  • Elevation: -2° to +85°
  • Traverse: 360°
  • Muzzle velocity: 830 m/s (2,723 ft/s)
  • Maximum ceiling: 12,000 m (39,370 ft)
  • Shell weight: 10.33 kg (22.77 lbs)
  • Rate of fire: 19 RPM

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Campbell, p. 341-2
  2. ^ Bagnasco, p. 64-7
  3. ^ Bagnasco, p. 66-7
  4. ^ Cappellano, F.; Battistelli, P.P (2012). Italian medium tanks : 1939-45. Oxford: Osprey Publ. pp. 35–6. ISBN 9781849087759. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Bagnasco, Erminio (1978). Le armi delle navi italiane. Parma: Ermanno Albertelli Editore. ISBN 8887372403. 
  • Campbell, John (1985). Naval weapons of World War Two. Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870214594. 
  • Artillery by Chris Chant, published by Amber Books, ISBN 1-84509-248-1

External links[edit]