Two new arrivals in the desert

Two new arrivals in the desert

The successful convoy operations of mid-December 41 and first week of January 42 also brought some new technology to the Axis forces, which managed to somewhat restore their hitting power.

Ariete’s support was strengthened by the arrival of the Semovente da 75/18, a self-propelled gun on the M13 tank chassis. Two batteries of these guns were established and almost certainly participated in the January reconquest of Cyrenaica. I presume that despite the short barrel this gun could have been reasonably effective, because of its use of a hollow-charge round (Effeto Pronto) with good penetration capabilities – this site gives 120mm, but would have suffered from low accuracy due to low muzzle velocity.

Semovente da 75/18 – I presume it is Rommel in the staff car to the rear, and the picture is most likely from the start of the January 42 counter-offensive.

90.Leichte Afrika-Division’s anti-tank battalion was strengthened by the arrival of the first Dianas, a somewhat haphazard-looking (shotgun) marriage between a medium halftrack chassis (Sdkfz 6, with this variant being the 6/3) and a captured Russian Feldkanone 36(r) (the Russian F-22 Divisional Gun), which, with its high hitting power would have been bad news for anything in the tank department of the Commonwealth. I am somewhat less certain however how much action these saw during the reconquest, or how efficient they were overall. A lot of technical info can be found at this link, and there are lots of pretty pictures of the Flames of War model of the Sdkfz 6/3 at this link. While the whole thing looks like a contraption, I should think that if put in a good position for long-range sniping it could have been quite effective, and the crew was certainly better protected than the crews of the Commonwealth 2-pdr portees, or the Italian gun crews on their truck-mounted artillery pieces.

2-pdr Portee on Belhamed during CRUSADER.

The very useful Lone Sentry site has information from a wartime bulletin on both of these, including nice drawings, at this link.