Italian tanks and armoured cars of the second world war
translation
TANKS ENCYCLOPEDIA
The ultimate tank database
Italian tanks industry
Some M13/40 and other vehicles at the final assembly line in Ansaldo Fossati Factory of Genoa, one of the main industrial center were these tanks were built.



FIAT Ansaldo Carro Veloce 33
The CV 33 Tankette, the best-seller and biggest tank production in Italy so far.



Carro Armato L6/40
The L6/40 was the next generation of light tanks, initially developped on the basis of the CV35 tankette. It has a new suspensions system and a 20mm in a traversing turret. It was the Italian equivalent of the Panzer II.



Carro Armato M11/39
Some Captured M11/39 by Australian troops after British counter-offensive of early 1941. This medium tank was strongly influenced by 1938 British designs like the Matilda I and Cruiser I.



Carro Armato M13/40
Some M13/40 in manoeuvers. This medium tank derived from the M11/39 has a long lineage and was built since 1940 to 1943, in several versions. With a 30-42mm protection and a high-velocity 47mm gun, it was the mainstay of Italian armour.



Carro Armato M14/41
A Captured M14/41 formerly used by the Wehrmacht to deal with Polish insurgents, here in Warsaw in 1945. The M14/41 was one of the last evolution of the M11/39.



Autoblinda AB42
The Autoblinda AB40 to 43 was the main armoured car in the Regia Esercito. It was a sturdy and well-armed design, with off-road capabilities.



Semovente 47/32
The Semovente 47/32 was a derivative of the L13/40, strongly influenced by the German STUG design. It was used as a tank hunter as well for close infantry support.



Semovente 75/18
The Semovente M75/18 was also a self-propelled artillery based on the M11/39 but equipped with a fixed 75mm.



Semovente 90/53
The Semovente 90/53 was the heaviest adaptation of the M11/39 chassis, and was used as artillery support as well as tank hunting.



Carro Armato P40
The Carro Armato P40, the last evolution of Italian tanks, was a good design armed with a high-velocity 75mm. However it came too late.



Comparison graphics of Italian tanks

WW2 ITALIAN ARMOR

Light, medium & heavy tanks, armoured cars.
Up to 4000 armoured military vehicles by november 1943.

Genesis of Italian armour:

Fiat 2000 As other involved nations, Italian tank development dates back from WW1. Following the observation of Allied effort in 1916, and first success in the field, the initial view was limited in scope because of the landscape where most divisions fought on. Along the entire Austro-Hungarian border, it was mostly an Alpine battleground, which prevented any efficient use of tanks. However, in some areas, like Northern Dalmatia, tanks were ideally suited. Also the general staff ordered a single French Schneider CA-1 for extensive trials by 1916. But the design was ultimately rejected. A similar study for an indigeneous model started the same year when FIAT, by then the industrial giant of Italy, proposed a new design, the FIAT 2000. It was ordered on plans, and the construction of two prototypes began soon. It was a 40 tons, boxy model, which beared some superficial resemblance to the German Sturmpanzerwagen A7V, but was never followed by a production, as the war came to an end. It has innovative features, like a completely separated engine compartment, with the crew beeing posted above. One of these two machines was operationally tested in Libya, and the other displayed in several propaganda shows.

From 1927 to the Ethiopian invasion :

By 1918, FIAT and Ansaldo, were the only industrial complex large enough to deal with tank production. The first model produced for the Royal Army (Regia Esercito), was the French Renault FT, largely modified locally and called FIAT 3000 (By 1935 L5/21). But they were ready by 1922, and served well to forge Italian interwar armoured tactics. Another model developed in 1930, was the gun-armed (Vickers-Termi 37mm) serie II or FIAT 3000B). Both formed the bulk of the italian army corp until new models arrived in 1935. Form now on, offical designations incorporated "Carro Armato or "CA" meaning "armored carriage", the Factory name, model, and an abbreviation composed of the army model designation L for "Leggera", here, and the army number, followed (slash) by the year of first production. The FIAT 3000B (later L5/30) was an important step towards a full-scale tank production. But only 153 were built in all, and they never achieved all the expectations placed on them. Despite of this, some were exported, incuding to Eritrea, and other fought during the second Italian-Ethiopian war of 1935. They also soldiered in East Africa, in the Balkans and Greece, and still operated in 1943, when the allied landed in Sicily, at Gela.

Italian Tank development during the thirties.

By 1928, an Italian army commission took very seriously the first public demonstrations of the British fast one-man tankette designed by Major Giffard LeQuesne, which later became the first Carden-Loyd tankette design. The Mk.VI, distributed by Vickers, was an instant success, widely selled and produced under licence abroad. It was fast, versatile, and cheap. The tankette fad lasted well until 1936. Ansaldo and FIAT earned contracts for the first Italian design, the CV-33 (For "Carro Veloce"). It was followed by the CV-35, and the CV-38. This was the biggest tank production in Italy so far, a model which found also export successes abroad, as beeing even cheaper than the original Vickers model. Accordingly, these tanketes saw extensive service, despite beeing obsolete in 1940.

World war two light Italian armour.

Carro Armato L6/40 By june 1940, the bulk of the Regio Esercito armoured forces was made of tankettes. These had several limitations like a weak protection, machine-gun armament, and no traversing turret, which all prevented any use against other tanks. This issue was first adressed with a prototype, the Fiat-Ansaldo Carro d'Assalto L/36 or 5-tons modello 36, a CV-35 tankette equipped with a new suspension and a light traversing turret, armed with a L/26 37mm and a coaxial Breda 6.5mm Mg. The amor was raised to 30mm, speed lowered to 32 kph and the range was only 80km. A second prototype had the gun replaced in the hull, and a full traverse light machine-gun turret. Despite some production advantages, the Army choosed a new scaled-up model. The Carro Armato Leggera M6T (1938) was given a stronger chassis, more powerful engine SPA 8-cyl and a reworked suspension, and a light turret bearing a twin 8mm Breda modello 38. It has an impressive 42 kph top speed and far better range (200 km). But despite these performances, the Army insisted for a better armed model. This came only by early 1940 with the L6/40, the first prototype beeing delivered and a preserie soon after by mid-1940. The L6/40 was almost identical to the previous prototype, but with a 20mm 37/26 rapid-fire antitank gun, and a coaxial Breda 8mm. The preseries and serie were armed with a Modelo 35 gun. The L6/40 was fast, but it was barely more than an improved tankette, with 6,8 tons in battle order.

World war two Italian medium tanks.

The need for a medium infantry tank urged FIAT and Ansaldo to design a brand new hull in 1938. Army specifications included a 37mm gun, two machine-guns and a good armor. At first, the M11/39 came with strong influences from the British Vickers Matilda I and Cruiser I. But still, there was no turret design strong enough to support the designed M40 37mm gun, and it was fitted in the hull. The light turret was equipped with a twin Breda 8mm. For the first time, this was a three-man crew design. The armour was 30mm thick, and the engine was a 105 bhp V6 diesel, sufficient to a 32 kph max speed and 200km range. It was a 11-ton model, hence its denomination. The next step was the M13/40, a 13-14 tons medium tank fitted with a gun turret (47 mm Cannone da 47/32 M35) and a four-men crew. This gun has armor-piercing capabilities. After a single prototype, a serie began in late 1940. The late production (by 1941) had a 42mm armour, similar to the next model, the M14/41, almost identical. The last evolution of the type was the M15/42, equipped with a much powerful petrol engine, FIAT SPA 145 bhp. But all these designs were limited by a rather obsolete suspension system, dating back from the Vickers 6-ton. By 1942 the Italian army tried to develop a true "cruiser tank". This could only be achieved with a Christie style suspensions system. This led to the M16/43, better known as the Carro Celere Sahariano, which bears some resemblance to the British Crusader. It has a very low profile, long hull, and the same armament as before, probably a 40mm armor, and a powerful FIAT SPA (275 hp). It was capable of a sustained speed of 71 kph (44 mph). But it also came too late. Production was cancelled as the Axis was driven out of Tunisia...

Italian heavy tanks.

Since ww1 FIAT 2000, no heavy model was ever studied, mostly due to the lack of funds, industrial capabilities or priorities. However this has to change by 1939, with some german assistance. The Carro Armato Pesante P26/40 was equipped with a powerful 420 hp FIAT V12 diesel, and had a welded hull protected with a 50-60mm armor of hardened steel. The large two-man turret housed an efficient 75mm L/34 which has armor-piercing capabilities. Because of the lack of resources the first single prototype was not ready before 1942, and production really started by 1943. In november, only 70-80 has been delivered so far. The production was then taken in hands by the new German authorities, and ultimately 103 would be completed. Most served with the Wehrmacht in Italy until the armistice.

Light tanks:

- L5/21 : 100 units - Light infantry tank, designed in 1919, armed with twin Breda 6.5mm Mgs.
- L5/30 : 52 units - Light infantry tank, modified in 1930, armed with a single 37mm +coaxial 6.5mm Mg.
- L3/33 : 1200 units - Tankette, twin Breda 7,9mm.
- L3/35 : 1300 units - Tankette (improved), twin Breda 7,9mm.
- L3/38 : 200 units - Upgraded tankette with a new suspensions system, twin Breda 7,9mm.
- L6/40 : 283 units - New light tank, One 20mm +coaxial Breda 8mm. Several derivatives.

Medium tanks:

- M11/39 : 100 units, built 1939. 37mm Vickers-Termi hull +twin Breda 8mm turret.
- M13/40 : 779 units, built 1940-41. 37mm hull Vickers-Termi turret +twin Breda 8mm hull, better engine and armor.
- M14/41 : 800 units, built 1941-42. 37mm hull Vickers-Termi turret +twin Breda 8mm hull.
- M15/42 : 118 units, built 1942-43. Same characteristics but better armour.
- M16/43 : 1 unit, 1943. Cruiser tank (project).

Heavy tanks :

- P26/40 : 103 units. 75mm armed, good armor. Developed too late, by 1943.

Tank destroyers :

- Semovente .

Armoured cars :

- Lancia-Ansaldo.



Links


Sorry, no dedicated website to ww2 Italian armor found yet.