Italy became a nation-state belatedly - in 1861 when the city-states of the peninsula and Sicily were united under King Victor EMMANUEL. The Fascist dictatorship of Benito MUSSOLINI that took over after World War I led to a disastrous alliance with Nazi Germany and Italian defeat in World War II. Revival followed. Italy was a charter member of NATO and the European Economic Community (EEC) and joined the growing political and economic unification of Western Europe, including the introduction of the euro in 1999. Persistent problems include illegal immigration, the ravages of organized crime, corruption, high unemployment, and the low incomes and technical standards of southern Italy compared with the more prosperous north. - U.S. CIA World Factbook

The Fiat 2000 prototype going through testing.---This photograph is excellent. Notice the chain drive!---Fiat 2000 - Model 17

---Rear view---Fiat 2000 Model 17 - Photo thanks to Ion Fonosch.
Fiat 2000 - Model 17

The first Italian tank. It was conceived by Fiat as a private venture in October 1916. The first prototype was ready in June 1917. Fiat donated 2 tanks to Italian Army in February 1918. Total production until the end of 1919. encompassed 6 vehicles. Arguably the finest heavy tank built in WW1 and a great "what if...". The Fiat 2000 never saw combat. For more detail, go to: TANKS! e-Magazine Winter 2001 Issue #2

Crew 10
Engine 240hp - gasoline
Weight 40 tons
Speed 4.5 - 6mph (depending on the source)
Armament 6 x MG, 1 x 65mm Main Gun
Length 24' 3"
Width 10' 2"
Height 12' 5"
Armor 15 - 20mm.

Ita-FT17-diagram.jpg (32012 bytes)
Renault FT-17

While the Fiat 3000 was being developed, France sent 100 of these tanks to Italy in 1918 so that Italian troops could get aquatinted with tracked combat vehicles. Their fate is unknown. Details available in the French section of TANKS!.

Ita-schneider.jpg (21423 bytes)
Schneider CA

20 of these tanks were sent by France to Italy in 1918. They received little use or interest by the Italians. Their fate is unknown. For details, see the French section of TANKS!.

Fiat3000 - Model 21 prototype---Fiat 3000. I am not sure of this image's source, but I would sure like to know!---Fiat 3000. I am not sure of this image's source, but I would sure like to know!

Fiat 3000 Model 1921

Fiat 3000 B  prototype---Fiat 3000B Model 1930---Fiat 3000 mod.30---1936 - Fiat 3000B modified L5-21

A lineup of Fiat 3000B tanks and variations.---Fiat 3000 being transported. - Photo research by Ion Fonosch.
Carro d'assalto Fiat 3000 - Model 1921 & Model 1930

The Fiat 3000, whose design was based on that of the French Renault FT 17, was the first tank to be produced in series in Italy. It was to be the standard tank of the emerging Italian armored units in World War 1. Although 1400 units were ordered, with deliveries to begin in May 1919, the end of the war caused the original order to be cancelled, only 100 were delivered. The first Fiat 3000s entered service in 1921 and were officially designated as the carro d'assalto Fiat 3000, Mod. 21. (Fiat 3000 assault tank, Model 21). Tests of the Mod. 21 revealed that the armament, consisting of two 6.5 mm machine guns, was inadequate, and adoption of a 37 mm gun as main armament was urged. The up-gunned version of the 3000, armed with a 37/40 gun, was tested in 1929 and was officially adopted in 1930 with the designation of carro d'assalto Fiat 3000, Mod. 30. The Mod. 30, in addition to its improved armament, also differed from the Mod. 21 in that it had an improved engine developing more power, its suspension was improved, the engine compartment had a different silhouette, and external stores were stowed differently. Some Model 30s were also produced with two 6.5 mm machine guns as main armament, as on the Model 21, in lieu of the 37mm gun. A limited number of Model 21 vehicles were exported to Albania, Lithuania and Abyssinia (Ethiopia) prior to 1930.

The designations of these tanks were changed prior to the outbreak of World War 2, in accordance with the identification system that was adopted throughout the war by the Italians. The Model 21 was redesignated the L.5/21, and the Model 30 was redesignated the L.5/30.

The Fiat 3000 (Model 21) was first used in action in February 1926 in Libya, and subsequently also saw action against the Ethiopians in 1935. The Italians did not employ any of these tanks in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, however. With Italy's entry into World War 2 in June 1940, a limited number of Fiat 3000s still in service with the Italian Army were employed operationally on the Greek-Albanian front. They were also among the last Italian tanks to oppose the Allies, as in July 1943,' when the Allies landed in Sicily, two Italian tank companies on the island were still equipped with the 3000. One company was dug in. and their vehicles were used as fixed fortifications, while the other company was used in a mobile role, with few of the tanks surviving the Allied drive.

- Model 3000 Model 3000B
Crew 2 2
Engine 50hp - gasoline 63hp - gasoline
Weight 5.5 tons 6 tons
Speed 13mph ?
Armament 2 x MG 37mm Main Gun
Length 13' 6" ?
Width 5' 4" ?
Height 7' 2" ?
Armor 6 - 16mm. ?

Carro Veloce 29---Carro Veloce 29 Tankette---Carro Veloce 29 under review. I suspect that is Mussolini on the far right. - Photo input by Ion Fonosch

Carro Veloce 29 Tankette - This vehicle was equipped with one pintel-mounted 6.5mm Fiat AV machine gun on the upper hull. The front hull numbers indicated 3rd Company, 2nd tank in the Company.
Carro Veloce 29 Tankette

The first fast Italian tank designed to accompany infantry and to be used for reconnaissance. The design was based on the Vickers Carden Loyd Mark VI machine gun carrier. Four had been purchased from England for that purpose. A total of 21 were made between 1929 and 1930.

Crew 2
Engine Ford Model T - gasoline, 20hp
Weight 1.7 tons
Speed 25mph
Armament 1 x 6.5mm MG
Length 8' 1"
Width 5' 6"
Height 4'
Armor 4 - 9mm.

1st Prototype---2nd Prototype---3rd Prototype

L.3 photo courtesy of the late Mario Paesani---L3---L3--- Fiat Ansaldo-Command Tankette. This tank had no armament.---

A late model flame tank that ported it's own fuel.---early production models---L38 - The improved 1937/38 model. Stronger suspension, new track design, better episcope for the driver, and a Breda MG. Many older models were upgraded to this standard. In 1940, models were fitted with the 20mm Solothurn Anti-Tank Gun.

The 1935 model. Bolted construction, twin 8mm MG, improved vision ports.---Experimental torsion bar suspension.---Sometimes known as the L35/Lf, the final designator was L.3/35Lf. Shown here in action. The "Lf" designator stood for Lanciafiamme.

Sometimes known as the L35/Lf, the final designator was L.3/35Lf. The vehicle was sometimes called 'Carro de Assaulto Lanciafiamme"---1938 - Passing in review.---CV33 - Addis Ababa, Ethopia near the French Embassy on 30 May 1936 - Photo thanks to Ion Fonosch.
Carro Veloce L.3, CV.33, CV.35 L.3/35Lf

Designed by Ansaldo but based upon earlier Carro Veloce 29. Although commonly referred to as a tank, this vehicle falls more properly within the classification of a tankette. The Italian authorities showed an interest in a small, light vehicle which would be suitable for use in mountainous terrain, leading to the acquisition of 25 British Carden Loyd Mark VI tankettes in 1929. A Fiat-Ansaldo modification of the Mark VI, armed with a Fiat Model 14 water-cooled 6.5 mm machine gun was designated as the carro i,elo(-e (CV) 29. The armament was subsequently changed to a single Fiat Model 14 air-cooled anti-aircraft machine gun, still 6.5 mm. Subsequent modifications resulted in the CV 3/33, still armed with a single 6.5 mm air-cooled weapon. Apart from its distinctive armament, this first series of CV 3/33 had a characteristic track tension idler mounted in a bracket which was attached to the rear idler wheel. In 1934, the second series of CV 3/33 appeared, with the track tension idler separated from the rear idler, and with two 8 mm machine guns as standard armament. The earlier series of CV 3/33 were eventually retrofitted with the heavier armament also. Development continued, and in 1935 the CV 3/35 appeared, incorporating minor design and production changes, and retaining the 8 mm armament. A final version, of which only a limited number was produced, was introduced in 1938. It differed significantly in its suspension system, and was armed with a single Breda 13.2 mm machine gun. External stowage of entrenching tools, etc, varied from series to series. The designation of both the CV 3/33 and 3/35 was changed to L.3 in the late 1930s.

Variations of the L.3 were built for special applications. The most frequently encountered variant was the flamethrower, which was built in a version with a self-contained tank for flame liquid, and also in a version in which a wheeled tank trailer carrying the liquid was towed behind the CV. There were a number of radio-equipped variants of the L.3 used by company and battalion commanders. A limited number of L.3s were modified to mount the 20 mm Solothurn anti-tank gun in lieu of the machine guns. T ' wo experimental variants of the L.3 were also produced, the first being the carro gettaponte, or bridge-laying tank, very similar in concept to present-day AVLBS, and the second being a recovery vehicle with an A-frame on the rear which could be controlled from inside the tank, making it similar in concept to present-day VTRS. It is interesting to note that this appears to have been the only Italian attempt at building a tracked VTR.

The CV was not meant to be used in lieu of heavier tanks, but was designed according to the Italian doctrine of the period, for security and reconnaissance duties, and was also to be utilized in the elimination of small pockets of resistance. However, the outbreak of hostilities earlier than anticipated by Italy forced them to use what was at hand, namely large numbers of the L.3. More than 75% of the tank formations encountered by the British in their desert offensive of late 1940 and early 1941 were comprised of the L.3, whose armor was not even proof against the armament of British armored cars which they encountered. The L.3 continued to be used throughout the war, being employed after 8 September, 1943 by units of the RSI.

- Model CV.33 Model CV.35
Crew 2 2
Engine 43hp - gasoline 68hp - gasoline
Weight 3.15 tons 6.8 tons
Speed 13mph 26mph
Armament 1 x MG 20mm Gun, 1 x MG
Length 10' 4" 12' 6"
Width 4' 7" 6' 1"
Height 4' 2.5" 6' 1.5"
Armor 6 - 15mm. 6 - 40mm

Fiat Ansaldo L.6/40.---Fiat Ansaldo L.6/40 prototype.---Fiat Ansaldo L.6/40 prototype.

Fiat Ansaldo L.6/40 prototype.---Carro Armato L.6/40--L.6/Lf prototype
Carro Armato L.6/40, L.6/Lf, Centro Radio

Derived from the Fiat Ansaldo 5 ton experimental tanks, the L.6 was developed from a tank designed by Fiat-Ansaldo for export and seen as a replacement for the L.3 model. An initial order for 283 was placed, but that was later reduced. Based on a modified L.3 chassis. A 1936 prototype mounted a 37/26 gun in a left hand hull sponson and two machine guns in the turret. Further prototypes were built mounting a 37mm gun and a coax mounted MG in the turret. Another variant had twin 8mm MGs in the turret. The production model was fitted with a 20mm gun and a coax MG in the turret. Production began in 1939 and was considered about the same as the German PzKpfw II in terms of firepower and general mobility. This tank was not employed in any numbers until late in the war for Italy and it was then assigned to cavalry divisions and reconnaissance units. A few were sent to Russia to work with Italian units assigned there. There was a production variant that mounted a flame thrower in place of the 20mm gun. The command version was referred to as the Centro Radia. This unit had 2 radios and sometimes that turret was removed and a dummy gun was placed in the hull.

Crew 2
Engine 70hp - gasoline
Weight 6.8 tons (7 tons for the flame thrower)
Speed 42kmh (road) 25kmh (off road)
Armament 1 x MG, 1 x 20mm gun or flame thrower
Length 12' 5"
Width 6' 4"
Height 6' 8"
Armor 6 - 30mm.

Carro Armato M.11/39 - The top photo shows the prototype driven onto a Strafurini trailer which was designed for transporting "M" class tanks. The twin axle trailer weighed 10,890.6 pounds empty and could carry tanks weighing up to 15.4 tons (14 metric tons). The trailer was normally towed by the Lancia 3/Ro truck.---Carro Armato M.11/39---M.11/39 front view.

---Carro Armato M. 11/39---Carro Armato M. 11/39

Carro Armato M. 11/39---Carro Armato M. 11/39
Carro Armato M.11/39

Design based upon Carro Armato 8 ton with improved suspension, riveted armor and gun in the superstructure. M 11/39 was expected to replace CV 33, which proved to be inadequate during the Spanish Civil War. Due to its thin armor it was easily destroyed during the African campaign. 70 were in service when Italy entered WW2. The order for 100 vehicles was completed in 1940.

Crew 3
Engine 105hp - diesel
Weight 11 tons
Speed 21mph
Armament 2 x MG, 1 x 37mm gun
Length 15' 5"
Width 7' 1"
Height 7' 3"
Armor 6 - 30mm.

Carro Armato M 13/40---Carro Armato M 13/40---Carro Armato M 13/40---Armored Observation Post. The gun was a dummy.

Carro Armato M 13/40---Carro Armato M 13/40 - Rommel said that the manufacturing quality of Italian tanks would "make one's hair curl". Italian soldiers were constantly hampered by poor equipment.---M1340 being loaded on a transport just before the battle of El Alamein.---M1340 Aberdeen 1989 - Photo research by Dr. Georg von Rauch. Photo courtesy of Dr. André Louis Maurois.

8mm Breda Model 38 Machine Gun used in all Italian "M" tanks.---Italian M13/40 tracks.---Italian M13/40 suspension

Italian M13/40 destroyed by a Greek artillery shell. This photo shows the greatest weakness of Italian armor in WW2 - the armor's lack of tensile strength caused it to crack when hit. This tank was hit at Klisura in Albania on 27 January 1941. The wounded driver managed to return to base before fainting. The driver and bow machine gunner survived but the commander and turret gunner both died of their wounds.---M13/40 Centro Radio (Radio Center) parked on a transport trailer connected to a 3/Ro truck during a wartime parade. The Centro Radio variant was equipped with RF 1 CA radios for use by battalion commanders.
Carro Armato M 13/40

When it became apparent that the M 11/39 did not constitute a satisfactory medium tank, the development of a suitable successor was initiated. The basic hull of the m.11 was utilized, but the rest of the vehicle was much revised. The M 13/40 was the best known of the Italian tanks used during the war, and along with it's improved version, the M 14/41, was the standard medium tank used by the Italian armored forces. The tank suffered frequent mechanical breakdowns in the desert but it can be said that it faired no worse than the British tanks they faced. The tank did suffer from a very poor power-to-weight ratio which resulted in a very low speed for it's class. The armor was not on par with other industrial nations, being brittle and prone to crack and split when hit. Armament can be said to be on par with the British in Africa. It held it's own against the British cruisers and the US M3 Stuart, but was totally outclassed by the US M3 Lee/Grant. Variations of this tank included a prototype with a specially equipped turret with range finding equipment. This vehicle was intended for artillery support. Another variant consisted (which appears to be a field modification) of the removal of the turret and replaced with a slightly built but fixed structure. This vehicle was used as a moble repair shop. 799 of these units were produced and they saw service in North Africa, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Montenegro.

Crew 4
Engine 125hp - diesel
Weight 14 tons
Speed 32kph (road) 14kph (off road)
Armament 2 x MG, 1 x 47mm gun
Length 16' 2"
Width 7' 3"
Height 7' 10"
Armor 14 - 40mm

Carro Armato M 14/41
Carro Armato M 14/41

In mid-1941, a Spa diesel engine developing 145hp was installed in the M 13/40. The vehicle was then renamed the M 14/41. The engine, equipped with special desert air filters as standard equipment, improved the performance and reliability of the tank. 1,103 units (depending on the source) were produced.

Crew 4
Engine 145hp - diesel
Weight 14.5 tons
Speed 33kph (road) ??kph (off road)
Armament 2 x MG, 1 x 47mm gun
Length 16' 2"
Width 7' 3"
Height 7' 10"
Armor 14 - 40mm

Carro Armato M 15/42---Carro Armato M 15/42
Carro Armato M 15/42

This tank can be regarded as a product improvement of the M 14/41 though external resemblence is close. The tank is slightly longer and can be distinguished from earlier models by the lack of a crew hatch on the left side and the appearance of a crew hatch on the right! The gun was longer, the turret was electrically traversed, speed improved, improved armor, and in general, a better ride. 82 of these tanks were built in 1943 before the war ended for Italy, but, these units did see action against the Germans. The rebuilt Ariete Division, located in Italy, took part in the Italian attempt to deny Rome to the Germans between 8 and 10 September 1943. The M.15s captured by the Germans were put to good use by their new owners.

Crew 4
Engine Spa 15 TB M42 V8 gasoline
Weight 15.5 tons
Speed 40kph (road) 20kph (off road)
Armament 3 x MG, 1 x 47/40mm gun
Length 16' 7"
Width 7' 4"
Height 7' 11"
Armor 14 - 40mm

P40 mock up---P40---P40---P40 in German service

P.26/40---P.26/40 This is the first prototype with the 75/18 gun.---P.26/40 This is the 2nd prototype with the 75/32 gun.
Carro Armato P.75, P.40, P.26/40

In 1940 the need for a "heavy" tank was perceived by the Italians and plans were drawn up into what became the P.40 (originally designated as the P.75). The prototype was tested in early 1942 and mounted a 75/18 gun/howitzer and was powered by a 330hp diesel engine. Armament on the first prototype was changed to the longer 75/32 gun. This was the gun selected for use on all production models. The diesel engine proved to be wanting and consideration was given to the V12 engine from captured Soviet T-34 tanks! Productions models of the tank were equipped with a 420hp gasoline engine. No P.40, completed prior to the Italo-Allied armistice, saw service with Italian armored units. All units produced were captured and added to German stock. Some hulls, without engines, were dug in and used as static forts. Some sources state that 21 while others state 24 units were produced under Italian administration. As many as 80 were produced by the Italians under German direction.

Crew 4
Engine 420hp V12 gasoline
Weight 26 tons
Speed 40kph (road) 25kph (off road)
Armament 1 x MG, 1 x 75/32mm gun
Length 18' 11"
Width 8' 3"
Height 7' 11"
Armor 14 - 60mm

Renault R.35
Renault R.35

These tanks were part of the war booty the Italians received from the French after the Battle of France. Most of the vehicles were gifts by the Germans to the Italians who had captured large numbers. The Italians promptly equipped two battalions with the Renault tank. Both battalions were used against the Allied landings in Sicily in 1943. Some units were re-possessed by the Germans after the Italian Armistice in 1943. Modifications are unknown.

Crew 2
Engine -
Weight 9.8 tons
Speed 19kph
Armament 1 x 7.5mm MG, 1 x 37mm gun
Length 13'
Width 6'
Height 6' 10"
Armor 40mm (max)

(no photo)
Somua S.35

These tanks were part of the war booty the Italians received from the French after the Battle of France. Most of the vehicles were gifts by the Germans to the Italians who had captured large numbers. The Italians promptly equipped one battalion with the Somua tank. The Somua saw limited action against the Germans on Sardinia in 1943. Some units were re-possessed by the Germans after the Italian Armistice in 1943. Modifications are unknown.

Crew 3
Engine -
Weight 19.5 tons
Speed 35kph
Armament 1 x 7.5mm MG, 1 x 47mm gun
Length 17' 3"
Width 6' 11"
Height 8' 6"
Armor 55mm (max)

(no photo)
German PzKpfw VI

These (36) tanks were to be part of the crack 1st Mussolini Armored Division formed in the early summer of 1941. The division saw only limited action before the armistice. The remaining vehicles went back into German hands.

Photo submitted by Mark Holloway
U.S. M4 Sherman

No details.

A captured Soviet T34 being used by the Italians. - Photo thanks to Rick Mente---Italian T34 - Photo thanks to Rick Mente
Soviet T34

It is known that Italians operated captured Soviet T34 tanks in 1943 on the Eastern Front. Exact numbers or modifications are unknown.

Ariete actual makup on 1 November 1941.---Ariete proposed makeup for 1 January 1942.---Ariete actual makup on 1 February 1942.
Organization Of The Ariete Divison



Last Update: Tuesday, March 04, 2003