Tanks Encyclopedia, the first online tank museum. A World history of tanks and armored vehicles from WWI to this day.
TANKS ENCYCLOPEDIA
The online tank museum

 FIAT-Ansaldo L6/40

Italy (1939-44)
Light infantry tank - 283 built

A new light tank design

In 1938, the latest light tank design available for the Regio Esercito was the CV-38. In 1936, a specification for a new turreted design was issued. The Carro Armato (armored vehicle) L6 (L for Leggera, "light" and 6 for the standard weight, 6-tons in battle order) model 1940 wasn't designed from scratch. Prior to this, the 5-ton Carro D'Assalto modello 1936, based on the previous CV-35 tankette, was tested with a short barrel L26 37 mm (1.46 in) gun and coaxial Breda 6.5 mm (0.26 in) machine-gun. The suspensions were redesigned, with two bogie arms and one rear independent bogie, similar to that on the previous tankettes. The central superstructure was higher and a small one-man turret fitted. The Carro Cannone 5t modello 1936 was another prototype, testing a 37 mm (1.46 in) L/26 gun mounted in the hull, and a turret held a Breda machine-gun. Since the suspensions needed to be reworked, a new Ansaldo-Fiat prototype was tested by the m6T, featuring the new hull design and the light turret mounted on the Autoblinda AB-40, with a twin Breda 6.5 mm (0.26 in), and a sponson-mounted 37 mm (1.46 in), in 1938. The final prototype was reequipped with the larger turret of the Autoblinda 41, initially sporting a short barrel Vickers-Termi L/21 37 mm (1.46 in) and, on production models, a 20 mm (0.79 in) Cannone-Mitragliera da 20/65 modello 35 (Breda), with good antitank capabilities, and a coaxial Breda M38 8 mm (0.31 in) machine-gun.

Design and production

L6/40 photoThe L6/40, first introduced in 1940, was produced from early 1941 to the fall of 1942. It was the latest light tank design in Italy, although seemingly obsolete by 1942 standards. The bolted hull was derived from the M6T and the suspension was a revamped model of the one used on the 1936 Carro D'Assalto. The hull was short and the maximum armor, 40 mm (1.57 in), was only found on the gun mantlet and frontal glacis, thought capable to stop 37 mm (1.45 in) gun fire. The rest of the armor was and 20 to 6 mm (0.24-0.79 in) thick. This was a cramped tank, with the gunner/commander on the left side, in the turret, and the driver on the right. The overall weight, in battle order, was 6.8 tons. The main turret, similar to the one on the Autoblinda 41 model, could fully traverse and had -12° to +20° elevation (manual). The Fiat SPD 18D petrol four-cylinder developed 70bhp@2500 rpm, with a 10.3 hp/ton ratio. The gearbox was 4 forward-1 reverse, and steering was done by clutch brake. Fuel capacity was 200 l of gasoline. The suspensions used a modern torsion-bar system, with front drive sprocket and rear idler wheel, two rubberized pairs of road wheels and three return rollers on each side. The 89 shoe link tracks had a 2.69 m contact surface. Consumption was 100 liters/100 km on road and 250 liters off-road. On trials, the L6/40 was found capable of climbing 31° slopes, 1.7 m wide trenches and 0.7 m high obstacles, with a maximum 80 cm fording depth. The preseries production started in May 1941.

L6/40 variants

Fiat-Ansaldo had initially designed the vehicle for the export market, as a response to the earlier Vickers 6-ton. However, the army showed interest in it, and production was initiated in early 1941. One variant was equipped with a new transmission, in 1943 (late production), with no exterior differences. The radio version had an open-turret, and the L6LF (Lancia-flamme) was equipped with a 200 l gasoline fuel tank. The best-known and most successful variant was the Semovente 47/32 tank-hunter, with no turret and a 47 mm (1.85 in) mounted in the hull. Around 300 units of this derivative were produced and formed the bulk of Italian AVFs during the eastern campaign. The last version was the ammunition carrier, used alongside the Semovente 90/53, carrying additional ammo for the howitzer, as only 6 rounds could be carried by the SPG. It was open-topped and only carried a 8 mm (0.31 in) Breda machine-gun.

The L6/40 in action

Although efficient as a scout tank and deployed in cavalry and reconnaissance units, the L6/40 was also quickly put in regular units, due to the shortages of medium tanks the Italian army experienced by 1941. The L6/40 saw its baptism of fire in the Balkans (April-May), and formed a large part of available Italian armor during Operation Barbarossa. By the beginning of 1943, the survivors or the Russian Stalingrad offensive retreated across the Ukrainian steppes. In North Africa, some L6/40s took part in operations through the summer to the fall of 1942, with the Ariete division and Bersagliers independent companies. They soldiered in Tunisia, Sicily and Italy. After November 1943, the Germans took over all existing vehicles and the production of the final version. They saw service with the Wehrmacht and Italian forces of Salo, but also in France, Albania and Greece in 1944.

Links about the L6/40


The L6/40 on Wikipedia
The L6/40 on Comando Supremo
An L6/40 technical 3 view drawing
L6/40 specifications
Dimensions (L-W-H) 3.78 x 1.92 x 2.03 m (12.4x6.3x6.66 ft)
Total weight, battle ready 6.8 tons
Crew 2 (driver/gunner)
Propulsion SPA 180 4 cyl, 70 hp (52 kW)
Speed (road) 42 km/h (26 mph)
Range (road) 200 km (120 mi)
Armament (see notes) 1xBreda 35 20 mm (0.79 in), 395 rounds
1xBreda 38 8 mm machine-gun, 1560 rounds
Armor 6-40 mm (0.24-0.6 in)
Total production 283
Carro Armato L6/40 prototype, 1940
Carro Armato L6/40 prototype, northern Italy, March 1940. Notice the model 1932 gun.

Carro Armato L6/40 preserie
Carro Armato L6/40, preseries, LXVII battalion of Armored "Bersaglieri", Celere Division, Armir, southern Russia, summer 1941.

Carro Armato L6/40 Radio tank
Carro Armato L6/40, radio version, Bersaglieri recce unit, Eastern front, summer 1942.

L6/40 serie 1942
L6/40 1941 series, Vth Regiment "Lancieri di Novara" - North Africa, summer 1942.

L6/40 supply version
L6/40, supply version, attached to the 90/53 self propelled howitzers, "Bedogni" artillery group, Sicily, September 1943.

Pzkpfw L6/40 733(i)
Pzkpfw L6/40 733(i), SS Polizei division, Athens, 1944.
ALL TANKS OF THE MONTH
April tank of the month: The T34/76 April 2012
May tank of the month: The M3  Halftrack May 2012
June tank of the month: The Panzer III June 2012
July tank of the month: The Cruiser VI Crusader July 2012
August tank of the month: The Char B1 bis August 2012
September tank of the month: The T26 September 2012
April tank of the month: The M3 Lee/Grant October 2012
November tank of the month: The Panzer IV November 2012
December tank of the month: The Mathilda infantry tank December 2012
January tank of the month: The Type 97 Chi Ha January 2013
February tank of the month: The Russian KV-1 February 2013
March tank of the month: The M4 Sherman March 2013
April 2013 tank of the month: The Merkava MBT April 2013
Sd.Kfz.250  Hanomag May 2013
June tank of the month: The Panzer III June 2013
July tank of the month: The T34/85 July 2013
August tank of the month: M4 Sherman Part 2 August 2013
September tank of the month: The Panther September 2013
October tank of the month: The Renault FT October 2013
November tank of the month: The Churchill November 2013
December tank of the month: The IS-2 December 2013
Chitsmas tank of the month: The Tiger January 2014
February tank of the month: The February 2014
March tank of the month: The AMX-13 March 2014
December tank of the month: The Centurion April 2014
May tank of the month: The T54/55 May 2014
June tank of the month: The Leopard I June 2014
July tank of the month: The M48 Patton July 2014
August tank of the month: The T-72 August 2014
September tank of the month: The AMX-30 September 2014
October tank of the month: The Chieftain MBT October 2014
November tank of the month: The M60 Patton November 2014
December tank of the month: The T-64 December 2014
January tank of the month: The M1 Abrams January 2015
February tank of the month: The STUG-III February 2015
March tank of the month: The AMX-56 Leclerc March 2015
April Fish: The Asad Babil MBT April Fish
April tank of the month: Chinese Type 96 PLA MBT April 2015
May tank of the month: The Cruiser VII Cromwell May 2015