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Author Topic: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53  (Read 837 times)

Offline Sinewgrab

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Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« on: June 29, 2018, 05:34:37 AM »
So, as an American, I don't necessarily trust British or German sources for anything relating to the Italian military in WW2, as there seems to be a bias that colors everything (no judgements here - we do the same thing when it comes to things like the history of the Native Americans or African slavery.  You just have to recognize bias when you see it, and try to reconcile it.)

Did the Semovente 90/53 get used in North Africa or not?  I have read both - sources that say it was highly effective, and others that say it never made it past Sicily.  Does anyone actually know?
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Offline Poiter50

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2018, 05:49:34 AM »
According to Tank Encyclodaedia - The Semovente 90/53 was ready for service before the end of April 1942, just a few weeks after the idea first emerged.

Eventually, with the situation fast degrading in Russia, these tank hunters were instead shipped to North Africa, were they found themselves at an advantage, due to the flat landscape and excellent visibility. They soldiered well until the end of the Tunisian campaign, most managing to escape in Sicily. 24 vehicles of the 10 Ragruppamento Semoventi were heavily used during the Allied invasion in 1943. Later on, the surviving ones were stationed in Italy.
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Offline Arrigo

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2018, 02:07:23 PM »
sometime Tank Encyclopedia writes some 'interesting' stuff (like the ROK M60A3... with a nice white sun on it and a three tone camo rather than MRDC... hint hint...!)

As far I am aware no 90/53 made its way to north-africa, at least according to the records of the Italian Army. It happens that a friend of mine did research in the archives  on Italian Troops deployed in Tunisia for an osprey-like volume and I was one of the proofreaders...  even more suspicious is the claim that some made it back to Italy/Sicily  from Tunisia, very little equipment made its way back from there.  At least Italian Navy reports never mentions a shipment of Semovente 80/53 back to Italy. With 30 produced you cannot really play around with the numbers.  According to Nicola Pignato (one of the foremost italian expert on armoured vehicles) 30 vehicles were produced and assigned to three groups  (gruppi) CLXI, CLXII and CLXIII, with 8 vehicles per group. They were controlled by the 10th Raggruppamento Semoventi later renamed 10th Antitank Regiment. The unit was supposed to be deployed on the Eastern Front and was indeed assigned to the 8th Italian Army, but then it was transferred first to Calabria and then to Sicily. They fought in Sicily to destruction. by 17 July 1943 the 10th had only 4 runners that were then attached to the 15th PanzerGrenadier Division.  By August 6 there were three left and that day it is the last known action. Two of them reached Messina but lack of barges left them stranded there. Possibly one of the two is the one on the APG collection (I think now in Fort Sill). 

The 6 Semovente left in Nettuno (30 produced, 24 assigned to the 10th) were captured by the Germans and assgined German designations, but then I do not have more information.

The reference from the Tanks encyclopedia on Aorth Africa service is almost verbatim reported on the English Wiki and attributed to Chis Bishop. I think Sinewgrab it something about sources...  Yet I have to found any Italian reference to it. I would say it is an hoax. All semovente used in North Africa (including Tunisia) were 47mm or 75mm.

Nicola Pignato is usually well sourced and is usually basing his work on primary sources. Andrea Santangelo is also extremely good, and again his work on Tunisia and el alamein was based on primary sources... Chris Bishop... well it is one of those survey authors that often relies on tertiary materials. I am not saying he is biased, but certainly he is not a definitive source himself. So my personal and professional opinion is the 90/53 fought only in Sicily.

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Arrigo
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Offline dadlamassu

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2018, 03:04:50 PM »
None of the books I have mention the Semovente da 90/53 being present in North Africa. I cannot find it mentioned in the records of captured equipment in Tunisia that I have. 

All, however, mention them in Sicily and with the Gruppo Corazzato Leonessa later in the war.
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Offline Sinewgrab

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2018, 02:07:06 AM »
Bloody hell.  I have two, and am painting them in North Africa colors, but then I started running into sources that said they never made it there.  So, hey, I thought I would consult what I consider to be the most knowledgeable group I have access to.  You lads (and lasses - can't even consider leaving out Helen and her half of the race).

Offline Helen

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2018, 04:52:39 AM »
Very kind of you to say. The fellows have come up trumps with the info you required. I was also looking at my reference books for Italy. Only one source of German use. Sicily is the main battle front for these beauties use by the Regio Esercito.

Best wishes,

H

Offline Arrigo

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2018, 01:54:21 PM »
Colours:

now this is a bit of a hassle... because the pictures are black an white... anyway I assume there were two possibly three main liveries. What we know:

Fort Sill survivor: sand base with green stripes. Not 100% accurate I would say.

Sicily: they are camoed with stripes. Looking at the pictures I have and trying to compare hues with the vegetation I would say it was standard yellow with camo my hunch is green (Italian Verde Oliva Mimetico, I can dig some vallejo equivalency). Possibly with borwn, but the picutres suggest a two rather than three tone camo.  There are also pictures labelled southern Italy 1944 on tanks ency... I have seen the same picture in Italian sources but linked to sicily. Having Regio esercito marking and no known samples having survived in Italian units after the armistice... I would say they are from sicily, and despite what Tanks Ency says... based on the surrounding vegetation it should be a sandy colour rather than the green grey of the colour profile. 

There is another picture that change the 'picture' a bit. It is a 'parade' column of 90/53 and crews. Italian uniforms, Italian matriculation plate visible (but not readable!) but central or northern Italy background.  The tanks look darker than in every other picture I have seen. Possibly it is during training at Nettuno (the kind of vegetation seems close to what I saw there).

In conclusion, base North Africa colors should be fine, you can apply camo if you want. Remember that sicily does not look that different from Tunisia... especially in summer (oh well, a Sicilian friend once complained that it was cold for Xmas... 24 degrees... at the same time in northern Italy I was shoveling snow outside my door!).

Offline Etranger

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2018, 02:16:15 PM »
Some photos to go with Arrigo's commentary. All from Google/internet.


The 'parade' mentioned above.


Another dark scheme.


A two (or three?) coloured scheme.


A captured example. (perhaps the one at Aberdeen?)


A dark (?green) scheme. Supposedly Southern Italy 1944.


In German service, 26th PzD, Rome, March 1944. It looks to be in the late war three colour sand, brown and green scheme.

« Last Edit: June 30, 2018, 02:24:53 PM by Etranger »
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Offline Arrigo

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2018, 02:54:06 PM »
The picture in southern Italy is suspicious for the reason I said earlier, plus if you look at the vegetation and the small dry walls  they are in reality very very light, the grass in that season should have been yellowish, and the contrast with the vehicle is not that big... so probably the color is more sandy yellow than anything darker.

Offline Sinewgrab

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #9 on: June 30, 2018, 05:35:28 PM »
From a purely historical point of view, it seems a pity they did not make it to the African Theater - I suspect they would have been very effective.

Everyone's come up gangbusters for me - thank you.  The Regio Esercito became one of those projects that started simple (what Bolt Action army does no one use around here that has a good selection of figures?) and became a major historical investigation, with many comments to oneself of "why would someone make a model if it was never in use?" And "how did the Desert Fox get credit for the win when according to these sources, he wasn't anywhere near, nor were any German forces?"

Good times, good times.

Offline Arrigo

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #10 on: June 30, 2018, 09:03:57 PM »
Question, how good is your Italian? There are some good works here...  :D

Offline Etranger

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #11 on: July 01, 2018, 03:36:07 AM »
The picture in southern Italy is suspicious for the reason I said earlier, plus if you look at the vegetation and the small dry walls  they are in reality very very light, the grass in that season should have been yellowish, and the contrast with the vehicle is not that big... so probably the color is more sandy yellow than anything darker.

I agree, it could easily be Sicily. I couldn't find an original source for the photo, but presumably a US Military photographer. It does of course have a thick coating of dust all over, which is lightening the underlying colour anyway.

Offline Sinewgrab

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #12 on: July 01, 2018, 04:14:29 AM »
Question, how good is your Italian? There are some good works here...  :D

Unfortunately, I only speak English and a little Japanese, so unless I can find a translation, I am out of luck.

Offline moiterei_1984

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Re: Italian tank destroyer question - Semovente 90/53
« Reply #13 on: July 01, 2018, 06:49:47 AM »
Question, how good is your Italian? There are some good works here...  :D
My Italian certainly isnt the best, but Id be highly interested in some good books. Might even bring me to finally polish my skills again  :D
So Id appreciate any input.