Italian Medium Tanks: 1939-45
Several factors delayed and greatly hampered the development of an Italian medium and heavy tank during Rommel's Desert War in World War II. The first was the strategic stance of the country, focussed on a war against neighbouring countries such as France and Yugoslavia, and ill-prepared for a war in the Western Desert. Since these European countries bordered with Italy in mountainous areas, light tanks were preferred as these were deemed much more suitable for the narrow roads and bridges of the Alps. The failure to develop an effective operational plan for North Africa was another factor behind the failed development of an Italian medium tank, along with the lack of communication between the War Department and the Ministry of the Colonies, which not only had actual command over the Italian forces deployed in the Italian colonies of Libya and in Italian East Africa, but was also responsible for developing their defence plans. Furthermore, the development of the medium tank was hampered by the limited number of Italian industries, whose production was also heavily fragmented - hence the SPA-developed engines, the Fiat and Ansaldo hulls and armour, the Breda and army ordnance guns. All these factors delayed the development of the first prototype of an Italian medium tank - the M 11 - which would only appear in 1937 and did not enter production until 1939.
Inspired by its British and French counterparts, the M 11 / 39 was a 11-ton medium tank chiefly intended for use as an infantry tank, with its main gun (a 37/40 gun) mounted in a casemate in the hull and its small turret armed only with two machine guns. Actual production was limited to only 100 samples, 76 of which were sent to Libya and the other 24 to Eastern Africa, as production of the turret-gun-armed M 13 had started in the meantime. In June 1940, when Italy entered the war, her armoured inventory numbered fewer than 1,500 light tanks (including the obsolete Fiat 3000) and the 100 newly built M 11 medium tanks, divided amongst three armoured divisions, three cavalry groups and several independent tank battalions. Unsurprisingly, without a tank school, the Italian armoured force lacked the necessary training and experience in the use of tanks and AFVs, and with the tanks lacking radio equipment, there was a widespread absence of tactical and technical knowledge which, along with the limited effectiveness and numbers of the available tanks, made the perfect recipe for the defeats to come.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
What people are saying - Write a review
We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.
The M1340andM1441 tanks
TANKS AND SEMOVENTI IN COMBAT
CAMOUFLAGE AND MARKINGS
Other editions - View all
38 machine gun 40 tank 8mm Breda 38 access hatch AFVs Alamein ammunition anda andthe Ansaldo antiaircraft antitank Ariete armoured division Ariete division armour plates armoured division atthe August battery battlefield Breda 38 machine Breda 38 MG Brigade British bythe camouflage carro comando casemate Cecchignola Centauro chassis command tank crew dell’Esercito driver El Alamein equipped eventually fenders FIAT fighting compartment fromthe front armour German Gothic line greygreen gunnery gunsight heavy tank hull infantry inthe Italian armoured Italian army Italian surrender Italian tanks late production Libya Littorio medium tanks metres Motorizzazione Mtanks ofthe onthe Operation Crusader Panther tank Panzer Panzer IV petrolfuelled Pignato platoon production batch production M 13/40 prototype rear regiment road rounds selfpropelled gun semovente M 42 semoventi groups September 1943 side SPA 15TB speed Sturmgeschütz tactical insignia tanks and semoventi tanksand thefront theItalian thetank tons tothe tracks traverse Trieste units vehicles weight Western Desert witha withthe