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M 13-40 Medium Tank

M 13-40 Medium Tank

M 13-40 Medium Tank

The M 13-40 Medium Tank was the most important Italian tank of the Second World War, and due to the slow development of better medium tanks and the P 40 Heavy Tank had to bear the brunt of the fighting in North Africa despite being under-gunned and under-armoured by 1941-42.

The M 11-39 was the first medium tank to enter Italian service. It was developed from a series of prototypes produced in 1933-36, and carried its main 47mm gun in the superstructure, with a machine gun in the small turret. This layout must have been seen as problematic right from the start, for work began on a modified version with the main gun in the turret late in 1937, well before the M 11 had actually entered service.

The M 13-40 used the basic hull, suspension and engine (a 125hp SPA 8T diesel engine) as the M 11, but the superstructure was modified to carry a large central turret in place of the offset machine gun turret of the M 11. The 37mm gun of the M 11 was replaced with a more powerful 47mm gun while the twin turret machine guns were moved to the front of the superstructure. Armour protection was improved with the thickest armour increasing from 30mm up to 45mm. All of this extra weight was reflected in the change of designation, from the eleven ton M 11 to the thirteen ton M 13-40. There was no increase in horsepower and so performance was reduced.

The prototype of the M 13-40 was delivered to the Italian army late in 1939. A production order for 400 tanks was placed in the same year, and this eventually rose to 1,900, although many were completed as the improved M14-41. At most 800 were completed as M 13-40s but the figure is probably a little lower. They were followed by a similar number of tanks with a more powerful engine, sand filters and other modifications and that had the semi-official designation of M 14-41 .

The M 13-40 entered service in the summer of 1940 and by the end of the year 250 had been delivered. They were rushed into service where they suffered from inevitable teething troubles (much as happened with some British tanks rushed into service in the same way). Three battalions reached Libya in October 1940, but as with the M 11-39s all of these tanks were lost during Operation Compass, the first British offensive in the Western Desert. In late 1940 the M 13-40 was a capable tank, with a good gun and sufficient armour but it was underpowered giving it a low top speed in difficult terrain. Many tanks also lacked sand filters and the design was untested in desert conditions.

The M 13-40 was the main Italian tank in North Africa during 1941 and the first half of 1942. It equipped four battalions of the Ariete armoured division and one battalion each from the Littorio and Centauro armoured divisions and the Trieste Motorized Division. Some M 13-40s were still in front line service for the advance into Egypt in the summer of 1942. M 13s were amongst the first Axis tanks to reach the harbour at Tobruk on 20 June 1942, the day before the garrison surrendered. They were present at the battle of El Alamein in the autumn, but many were lost during that battle or the retreat west to Tunisia.

The M 13-40 was used extensively in the Balkans. Two companies from the 4th Battalion became the first M 13s to reach Albania in November 1940, the month after the start of the unsuccessful Italian invasion of Greece. Neither of these companies fared well. The 1st Company suffered heavy losses in the Voiussa valley in January 1941 and the second was badly hit during an attack in mountainous terrain in northern Greece.

In April 1941 the battalion took part in the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia, losing two of its medium tanks in the very first clash. After that the M 13-40s performed well, and tanks from both the Centauro and Littorio armoured divisions made their way into the heart of Yugoslavia without many problems.

Some later production was diverted to produce Semovente (self-propelled guns). Armed with heavier guns than the M 13, these self-propelled guns were rather more useful than the original tanks and were produced in a number of different versions.

Weight: 14 tons/ 30,864lb
Crew: 3
Armament: 47mm Ansaldo 47/32 gun in turret, one 8mm machine gun in turret, two machine guns in hull, mounting for one machine gun on turret roof
Armour: 14-45mm
Engine: 125hp SPA 8T eight-cylinder liquid cooled inline diesel
Top Speed: 19mph
Length: 16ft 1inft
Width: 7ft 6.6in
Height: 7ft 10.5in


Tank Battles of the M13/40 Italian Tank

there is this notion sometimes being thrown around that Italian tanks didn’t fight as hard as their allied/other axis counterparts. This is obviously not true, Italian armor saw plenty of action in WW2 and despite being overshadowed by their German “cousins”, Italian tankers gave the Allies a run for their money on more than one occasion. In this case, Vollketten will be talking about the M13/40 tank action. I hope you enjoy it.

Tank Battles of the M13/40

Just to be clear: I did not write this, this is a piece of work from NA player Rivit who did all the work and who deserves all the credit. My assistance is with some minor editing and formatting for the purposes of putting it onto FTR. It appears in full on the NA forum as a thread here and if you have further information I’m sure Rivit would appreciate it. Enjoy.

From the pages of the British war diaries and the official histories of three nations, comes the forgotten story of the battles of Italy’s Fiat Ansaldo M13/40 from Derna Mechili and Beda Fomm, to Operation Crusader, the Gazala battles and El Alamein, through El Guettar Valley and to the hills of Sicily, the M13/40 and its brothers were there. For the men who fought and died, lost and won, and lived their lives within its hull, all that can be offered is the always incomplete, always forgotten, and always surprising tank battles of the M.13/40.

Operation Compass – 9/12/1940 – 7/2/1941
Derna – Mechili tract – 24/1/1941
Beda Fomm – 5/1/1941 – 7/1/1941
Operation Brevity – 15/5/1941 – 16/5/41
Operation Scorpion – 26/5/1941 – 27/5/1941
Operation BattleAxe – 15/6/1941 – 17/6/1941
Siege of Tobruk – 10/4/1941 – 5/12/1941
Operation Crusader – 18/11/1941-1/6/1942
First battle of Bir El Gubi – 19/11/1941
Battle of Totensonntag (Sunday of the Dead) – 23/11/1941
Rommel’s dash to the wire and Sidi Rezegh – 24/11/1941
Sidi Rezegh retaken – 29/11/1941
2nd Battle of Bir el Gubi – 1/12/1941-4/12/1941
The Axis withdraw, from Gazala and beyond – 8/12/1941 – 21/1/1942
Rommel’s advance to Gazala – 21/1/1942 – 11/2/1942
The Gazala Battles – 26/05/1942 – 7/7/1942
Southern flanking attack – 27/5/1942 -29/5/1942
The Cauldron battles – 30/5/1942 – 6/6/1942
Fall of Bir Hachiem – 10/6/1942 – 11/6/1942
Battles South of Knightsbridge – 10/6/1942 – 12/6/1942
Fall of Tobruk – 20/6/1942 – 21/6/1942
Mersa Matruh – 25/6/1942 – 28/6/1942
1st El Alamein – 1/7/1942 – 10/7/1942
El Alamein, British counterattack – 10/7/1942 – 12/6/1942
Alam Halfa – 31/8/1942 – 4/9/1942
El Alamein, Montgomery’s attack – 23/10/1942 – 4/11/1942
Supercharge begins – 2/11/1942
Rommel begins withdraw – 4/11/1942
German and Italian reinforcements land in Tunisia – 9/11/1942
Coxen’s Farm – 25/11/1942
Rommel’s withdraw reaches Tunisia – 12/2/1942
Djebel el Hamra – 21/2/1943 – 22/2/1943
El Guettar valley/ Djebel el Mcheltat – 29/3/1943 – 8/4/1943
Axis surrender in Tunisia – 13/5/1943
Favarotta, Sicily – 11/7/1943
Canicatti, Sicily – 11/7/1943 – 12/7/1943

24/1/1941, Derna-Mechili tract
Although small numbers of M13/40s were present at both Bardia and Tobruk, no tank battles were reported. The first tank battle of the M13/40 occurred along the Derna-Mechili tract. A squadron of Mk.VI light tanks stumbled into a group of M13/40s and retreated under-fire. Six Mk VIs were knocked out and the pursuing M13/40s fell into an awaiting ambush. In the ensuing battle, a single A9 cruiser tank was knocked out, while nine M13/40s were destroyed.[1]
Outcome/Losses: 9 x M13/40s / 7 x British tanks (6 lights and 1 cruiser)

5/1/1941-7/1/1941, Disaster at Beda Fomm
O’Conner cuts off the Italian retreat from Cyrenaica and wipes out the remaining Italian armor force. Only four Italian Medium tanks and about thirty lorries manage to break through the southern roadblock. Sent in piecemeal, often attempting to fire on the move, the M13/40s were destroyed one group at a time. Sources vary over the number of Italian medium tanks (M13/40 and M11/39s) knocked out from tank vs tank fights. Osprey’s ‘Operation Compass’ claims between twenty to forty[2] and ‘Australia in the War of 1939-1945’ places the number at around sixty.[3] The rest were knocked out, captured, or abandoned from engagements with antitank guns, portees (truck mounted AT guns), and artillery.
Outcome/Losses: 112 x M13/40s and M11/39s [4] / 8 x Cruisers from breakdowns and artillery

10/4/1941, Siege of Tobruk, multiple dates / multiple battles
10/4/1941 to 11/4/1941, During a long range tank battle along the Tobruk perimeter, one M13/40, a German medium tank, and three light tanks (L3s) are knocked out for the loss of two British medium tanks. [5]
Outcome/Losses: 1 x M13/40 / 1 x British Med.

17/4/1941
Antitank rifles and AT guns, later joined by cruiser tanks, capture one M13/40 and four light tanks. That evening, it appears the cruisers knock out three more tanks, until the Rommel papers reveal a friendly fire incident in the same location at the same time.[6]
Outcome/Losses: 1 x Italian Medium tank captured / 0 British tank losses recorded

13/12/1941, The Relief of Tobruk, Point 204, Late Operation Crusader
Nine “I” tanks, three cruisers of 1RTR, and a troop from the 31st Field Regiment, RA help repulse an attack, at midday, by ten to twelve tanks (wrongly reported as German) and claimed to put three of them out of action. Fifteen Italian tanks renew the attack and overrun a troop of six 25-pounders.[7] This is one of the only tank engagements I have been able to find between the British ” I” tanks (Matildas/Valentines) and the M13/40.
Outcome/Losses: 3 x Italian tanks (claimed only) / 0 British tank losses recorded

Map of Operation Crusader:

19/11/1941, Bir el Gobi(Gubi)
The opening move of Operation Crusader found the 22 Armoured Brigade launching an attack against the Ariete’s fixed positions at Bir el Gobi. Before long, truck mounted artillery claimed about fifteen cruiser tanks. Meanwhile, Ariete’s M13/40s launched a counterattack into the tanks of the 22 Armoured Brigade. The tank losses for the Italians are widely known and accepted. Thirty-four M13s are knocked out and fifteen more suffered repairable damage and mechanical breakdowns. Eight M13/40s were reported in base workshops at the start of the battle. The British losses are still debated to this day. While British war diaries reveal accurate losses for the 6RTR and 4CLY, the losses suffered by the 3CLY are not completely revealed in their war diary. One squadron reports four tanks lost, but other squadrons seem to vanish from the pages for several days. Correlli Barnett’s, ‘The Desert Generals’ places the British losses at fifty-two[8]. The British retrieved some of their knocked out tanks during the night, further complicating any accurate counts. Although the battles importance should not be exaggerated, it was the first time the British faced a fully fledged Italian tank division.
Outcome/Losses: 29 x M13/40, 5 x Light tanks / 52 x British cruiser tanks

21/11/1941, Area around the aerodrome at Sidi Rezegh
During the morning, 6RTR launches an attack from the southwest corner of the Sidi Rezegh aerodrome.
The 6RTR war diaries claim five Mk.II German tanks, one M13, and several guns destroyed. However, Agar- Hamilton, and Turners, ‘The South African Official History’ claim these were actually L3 tankettes/light tanks.[9]
Outcome/Losses: ? / ?

23/11/1941, Battle of Totensonntag (Sunday of the Dead), Sidi Rezegh [10][11]
After spending the next several days in the area of Bir el Gubi, Ariete finally comes under German command (the first time during Operation Crusader). Meeting the 15th PZ. Division coming from the northeast, Ariete falls behind (the 3CLY war diaries reveal they were refueling). While the tanks of the 15th PZ. Division plunge into the guns of the 5th South African Brigade, Ariete clashes with a composite regiment of “some thirty” British tanks (remnants of previous battles)[12], including eight from 3CLY. The tank battle erupts at 800 yards when, for some unknown reason, Lt. Col. WG Carr orders his tanks to assault from left to right across the path of Ariete’s sixty M13/40s. The composite regiment is left with only four battle worthy tanks, down to one towing another the next day. Later, they were joined by two more tanks from a separate leaguer.
Outcome/Losses: 0 Italian Tank Losses recorded / 24 x British tanks knocked out

Following the Battle of Totensonntag, over the next several days, the British began receiving replacements from a reserve of about two-hundred tanks. By November 27th the 22nd Armd. Bde. had been rebuilt to a strength of forty-two Crusaders and 4th Armd. Bde. rebuilt to seventy-seven tanks[13].

30/11/1941, The area of Pt.175 (North of Bir Reghem)
Keeping a corridor open for the New Zealanders and the 1st S. African Brigade, tanks of the 4th Armoured Brigade then advance north. Twenty-six Stuart tanks fell on an Italian tank group, knocking out thirteen M13/40s and five light tanks, for no loss to themselves.[14]
Outcome/Losses: 13 x M13/40s / 0 British tank losses recorded

1/12/1941, Pt.175
The next day, the 11th Hussars war diary states that the 4th Armd. Bde. was having “a very rough time”, while engaged by approximately ten M13/40s. No British losses are given and the RHA (Royal Horse Artillery) eventually engaged the M13/40s with “marked success”.
Outcome/Losses: ? / ?

12/12/1941, Area NW of Mtgataat el Adam

2RGH war diaries report one M13/40 knocked out by H squadron when it returns from “Currie” Column, somewhere NW of the unit leaguer.
Outcome/losses: 1 x M13/40 / 0 British tank losses recorded

The Gazala battles and the Cauldron
Unfortunately, for the beginning and middle of the Gazala Battles, including the Cauldron, the British war diaries cease. The war diaries of Individual British units are unavailable online, or missing altogether. A useful tool for determining the whereabouts of the M13/40 can be found here: General Major Alfred Toppe, ‘German Experiences in Desert Warfare During World War II’: link
Although useful for both the Crusader and Gazala Battles, be warned, the mentioned tank losses on a specific date are only for the British. Italian armor engaged in several tank battles on various dates and served in “The Cauldron”.

10/6/1942, South of Knightsbridge, Semovente 75/18 vs the Grant [15][16]
In his Book, ‘Italian Armored Vehicles of World War Two’, Nicola Pignato briefly describes a battle at Bir Hakeim (Hacheim) between Semovente 75/18s and about forty Grants, leaving twenty British tanks destroyed. Actually, the battle in question occurred between Bir Hacheim and Knightsbridge, on the 10th of June 1942.

Lined up abreast thirty Grants and ten Stuarts, from both the 6th and 1st RTR, launched an attack on a position held by the Ariete. On the British right, 6RTR came under fire from some tanks and truck mounted guns, while on the left (1RTR), a tank attack was reported at 10:30. When it is over three Grants and two Stuarts from 6RTR are knocked out and twelve Grants and three Stuarts from 1RTR are lost. Later that night, tanks from the 15 and 21 PZ. Div. arrive and shoot up several trucks and five or six more tanks. Author Liddell-Hart claims the British only lost sixteen, but appears to only be counting the losses from 1RTR.
Outcome/Losses: 2 x M13/40s / 15 x Grants and 5 x Stuarts (20 total)

12/6/1942, South of Knightsbridge, Trieste’s M13/40s and the Grants

Capt. Buxton and his Crusader from 3CLY are sent out to meet a squadron of ten Grants from the 4th Hussars. Together they attempted to engage a group of eight armored cars and nine M13/40s of the Trieste Mot. Division. Ten tanks were overwhelmed by a large number of Italian tanks and destroyed, minus a single Grant which managed to escape. Capt. Buxton and his crew were captured and remained prisoner until they managed to escape the following day. The war diaries of the 3CLY report Capt. Buxtons version, while the 4th Hussars war diary claims it was twelve Mark IIIs and eight Mark IVs supported by eight 88 millimeters and 50mm guns. It is possible the single frantic Grant believed German tanks must have done the damage, but Capt. Buxton was captured and remained in the area, making him a far more reliable witness.
Outcome/Losses: 0 Italian Tank Losses recorded / 9 x Grants and a single Crusader (10 total)

30/6/1942, Alam el Tamr, The Grant strikes back
Following the the Gazala Battles and the fall of Tobruk, Grants from both the 6RTR and 3rd County of 4th County of London Yeomanry engage in two separate battles with a surprised Italian column that wandered too far east. The 6RTR claimed two M13/40s knocked out while the 4CLY destroyed ten.
Outcome/Losses: 12 x M13/40 / 0 British tank losses recorded

15/7/1942-16/7/1942, Area of El Ruweisat
Although the 9th Lancer’s war diaries are unavailable, their actions are included in the 2RGH and 6RTR war diaries for July 15th.
Two tanks from the 9th Lancer were destroyed (according to the 2RGH war diaries from AT guns, but according to 6RTR diaries it was a tank attack) and one Crusader from the 6RTR was knocked out. One M13/40 was knocked out on the 15th and either a M13/40 or a captured Grant was knocked out on the 16th. July 15th was the day the New Zealand Div. grabbed around two-hundred prisoners and several guns from the Ariete.
Outcome/Losses: 1 x M13/40 + 1 x M13/40 or captured Grant / 3 x Crusaders

El Alamein and the long retreat

2/11/1942, Tel el Aqaqir
From the war diaries of the 11th Hussar and 4CLY, fifty enemy tank losses are reported as a result of battle with the 22nd and 8th Armd Bde.
The 15th Pz.Div. and Littorio participated in a counter attack on this day.
Outcome/Losses: 50 x German and Italian tanks / ? British tank losses

3/11/1942, El Alamein
By November 3rd the 15th PZ. Div had ten tanks left, the 21st Pz .Div only fourteen and The Littorio Armour Div. had seventeen tanks.[17]

4/11/1942, Ariete’s last signal[18]
On the day Ariete was overwhelmed, only twenty-nine tanks fell during its last broadcast.* Another forty tanks were captured in their repair workshops. The rest of Ariete was destroyed the next day after clashing with the 7th Armour Division.[19]

[*At 15:15 hours that day 4th November surrounded by the British the Ariete Division sent it's last message:
“Enemy tanks broke us through the south. The Ariete, surrounded we are now 5 km North-East of Bir el-Abd.
We are going to fight until the final destruction of our last tank.Viva Italia!"
]

4/11/1942, West of Dier Murra
Again reported from the 11th Hussars and 4CLY, the 1RTR, 5RTR, and 4CLY engage and knock out ten M13/40s for no loss to themselves.
Outcome/Losses: 10 x M13/40s / 0 British tank losses recorded

5/11/1942, Escape from El Alamein
“A” Sqn, 11th Hussars captured five M13/40s and knocked out two more. “B” Sqn. witnesses twenty German and Italian tanks attack Calal from the east and are all destroyed.
Outcome/Losses: 25 x German and Italian tanks / 0 British tank losses recorded

14/12/1942, El Aghelia
“A” Sqn. 11th Hussars witnessed a battle between M13/40s and the Sherwood rangers, the 3RTR and the Staff Yeomanry. Seven M13/40s are seen brewed up. Regimental HQ claims twelve M13/40s destroyed.
Outcome/losses: 7-12 x M13/40s / ? British tank losses

11/11/1942 , Fort Capuzzo and the road to Bardia
Several M13/40, Semovente 75/18, and L6s totaling eight tanks are found abandoned by elements of the 4CLY. Two Cruisers are reported lost from artillery and anti tank fire.
Outcome/Losses: Not all of the Italian tanks were lost at El Alamein.

25/11/1942, Coxen’s Farm
The Chieftain’s Hatch already covered the following battle:

At Coxen’s farm two Semovente 47/32s are knocked out by Stuarts. One Stuart is lost by AT fire.
Outcome/Losses: 2 x Semovente 47/32 / 1 x Stuart

21/2/1943, Djebel el Harma

The American 9th Infantry and 13th Armored Regiment halt the Centauro and 15th Panzer Division. This battle is widely known, but finding losses for the Centauro’s M14/41s has proven difficult.
The Italian tank losses were most likely twenty-three M14/41s incorporated into a DAK assault group.
Outcome/Losses: Most likely 23 x M14/41s / 0 British tank losses recorded

30/3/1943 – 10/4/1943 – Djebel Berda , Djebel el Mcheltat (El Quettar Valley), Centauro and Benson Force

For over eight days the Centauro and Bersaglieri held back Benson Force and the 9th Infantry Division. During the first assault, Benson Force loses five M3 Lees to mines and enemy fire. During the next attempt on the 31st, nine M3 Lees and two half-track tank destroyers are knocked out from AT-fire, mines, and a flanking attack from Centauro’s sixteen remaining tanks, including two Semovente. Six M14/41s are lost during the counter-attack.
Outcome/Losses: 6 x M14/41s / 9 x M3 Lees

10/7/1943, Position 9147, Invasion of Sicily
Still investigating (unconfirmed)
Between midnight on July 10th and midnight on July 11th, the 15th Infantry Division advances north along Highway 123. Running into position *9147, two Semovente da 90/53s and a light tank are discovered abandoned after an artillery strike.
*Position 9147 doesn’t match any elevation in the area. Most likely, it’s the fire designation numbers used while calling for fire. This area possibly matches Monte Morotta.
Outcome/Losses: 2 / —

11/7/1943, Favarotta, Sicily
Still investigating (unconfirmed)
After landing at Licata, The Americans begin to advance north as part of the plan to provide a guard for Monty’s flank. They reach Favarotta and a four hour battle ensues.
Outcome/losses: Several armored vehicles and tanks (claimed) / 2 x Semovente da 90/53 (claimed by half-tracks)

11/7/1943-12/7/1943, Canicatti, Sicily, Captain Perkins and the Semovente da 90/53

On the 11th of July, three M4 Shermans are lost while attempting to advance down the forward slope of ridge “A”. Before nightfall, a combined artillery/tank fire-for-effect on a village forces the loss/abandonment of four Semovente 90/53s. On the 12th, two more Shermans are lost outside Canicatti.
Outcome/Losses: 4 x Semovente da 90/53 / 5 x Shermans

Although there are plenty of other tank battles, especially during the Gazala period, these are the tank battles that are available and accessible online. The compilation will always be incomplete. For those interested, Ian Walker’s ‘Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts’ provides a thorough account of Italian tank battles.

Map of Favarotta and Canicatti

Sources:
[1] Jon Latimer, Operation Compass 1940: Wavell’s Whirlwind Offensive, Osprey, 2000, pg.65
[2] ibid, pg 80, Gavin Merrick, Australia in the War of 1939-1945,Series I – Army, Vol.1 To Benghazi, pg.270: http://static.awm.gov.au/images/collection/pdf/RCDIG1070233𔂿-.PDF
[3] ibid, pg. 270-271
[4] ibid, pg 272
[5] Barton Maughan, Australia in the War of 1939-1945,Series I-Army, Vol.III, Tobruk and El Alamein, (1st edition ,1966) Chapter 4, At Bay – the Easter Battle, pg 134
[6] ibid, pg. 168, http://www.awm.gov.au/histories/second_world_war/AWMOHWW2/Army/Vol3/
[7] From W.E. Murphy, The Official History of New Zealand in the second World War 1939-1945, Chap. 26 – Gazala and Beyond pg.499
[8] Correlli Barnett, The Desert Generals, pg. 97
[9] Agar-Hamilton and Turner, South African Official History, no page number
[10] Andreas,The Crusader Project, Ariete’s Contribution to the Battle of Totensonntag(Sunday of the Dead) Sidi Rezegh:
http://rommelsriposte.com/2013/08/10/arietes-contribution-to-sidi-rezegh-di-nisio-column/
[11] War diaries of the 3CLY
[12] Agar-Hamilton and Turner, South African Official History, pg 231
[13] Ibid,” ”
[14] 7th Armoured Division, Engagements 1941 http://www.desertrats.org.uk/battles1941.htm#Crusader
[15> 1RTR site (war diaries unavailable online):http://www.1rtr.net/frontpage.html
[16] War Diaries of the 6RTR
[17] David Irving, The Trail of the Fox, pg.277
[18] 7th Armoured Division, Engagements 1942: http://www.desertrats.org.uk/battles1942.htm
[19] Playfair I.S.O: and Molony, Brigadier C.J.C. with Flynn R.N., Captain F.C. & Gleave, Group Captain T.P. (2004) [1st. pub. HMSO 1966]. Butler, J.R.M, ed. The Mediterranean and Middle East, Volume IV: The Destruction of the Axis Forces in Africa. History of the Second World War United Kingdom Military Series. Uckfield, UK: Naval & Military Press. pg.78-79

Other Sources:

• 2RGH War Diaries: http://www.warlinks.com/armour/2nd_rgh/index.php
• 3CLY War Diaries: http://www.warlinks.com/armour/4_cly/index.php
• 4th Hussars War Diaries: http://www.desertrats.org.uk/WarDiaries/4th_Hussars/index.htm
• 6RTR War Diaries: http://www.warlinks.com/armour/6th_royal_tank/index.php
• 11th Hussars War Diaries: http://www.warlinks.com/armour/11_hussars/index.php
• Montecuccoli’s war reports of the Italian High Command “Ballettini di guerra”
• The Italian Army in WW2 pg.9: http://forum.panzer-archiv.de/viewtopic.php?t=3653&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=120
• CGH-5th Bersaglieri Regiment, Unit History in North Africa: http://home.earthlink.net/

frenchgreg/id2.html / http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Kasserine_Pass
• George F. Howe, Hyperwar: U.S.Army In WWII: Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West, Chapter XXIX, II Corps Operations Beyond El Guettar, Pg 571: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-MTO-NWA/USA-MTO-NWA-29.html
• II corps AAR,10 APR 43,1st Armd. Regt. AAR, 10 JUL 43, Patton Diary,31 Mar.43
• CGH- 5th Bersaglieri Regiment, Unit History in North Africa: http://home.earthlink.net/

frenchgreg/id2.html
• Combined Arms Research Library Digital Library, After Action Report 81st Armored Recon Battalion pg.60: http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p4013coll8/id/3642/filename/3652.pdf
• Report on Operations Conducted by the 9th Infantry Division, 26 Mar 1943-1 July 1944:pg.6 http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p4013coll8/id/30/filename/19.pdf
• Appendix C, Report on Artillery Operations, Section #29 of El Guettar report, pg.2 http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/singleitem/collection/p4013coll8/id/5/rec/3
• Operations report, 3rd Infantry Division, Sicilian Operations ,pg.11 http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-MTO-Sicily/USA-MTO-Sicily-6.html
• Hyperwar: US Army in WWII: Garland & Smith, Sicily and the Surrender of Italy, Part II, Operations and Negotiations, Chapt VI: The Assault, pg. 128
• Diary of the 10th Grouping Self-propelled antitank
• Garland and Smith, Hyperwar: U.S Army in WWII Sicily and the Surrender of Italy, Chapter X ,The Beachhead Secure. Pg 191, pg 195-196 http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/USA-MTO-Sicily/USA-MTO-Sicily-10.html
• Combined Arms research Library Digital Library, Lessons of the Sicilian Campaign: pg 50 http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p4013coll8/id/2441/filename/2424.PDF
• Cpt. Perkins, Armor Magazine May-June 1987
• Lessons learned in the attack on Canicatti. pg 32, pg. 36 http://www.benning.army.mil/armor/eARMOR/content/issues/1987/MAY_JUN/ArmorMayJune1987web.pdf
• Lessons from the Sicilian Campaign. pg50 http://cgsc.contentdm.oclc.org/utils/getfile/collection/p4013coll8/id/2441/filename/2424.PDF


Variants

The M13/40 had a number of variants that were created mainly in a period of about two to three years. The first variant is M13/40 Centro Radio which had added antennas and radio equipment, but it was still more or less an M13/40. The next variant was the M14/41 which had several modifications including a new and more powerful SPA 15T engine. It also had an access door for the crew, improved air filters, and was able to carry 5.3 gallons of fuel. The M13/40 and M14/41 were later succeeded by the M15/42 which had an improved main gun and a petrol engine. The last variant of the M13/40 series was the Semovente M40, built on the Carro Armato M13/40's chassis, with a 75 mm L/18 (a short-barreled 75 mm) in the hull.


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The primary tank used by the Italians until 1943, the Carro Armato M13/40 was quite effective against many of the first Allied tanks to appear in World War II. Easy to produce, readily available, and effective against infantry and light armor units, the Italians utilized the M13/40 heavily in North Africa, as well as the Albanian and Greek campaigns. As Allied armor became more advanced, the Carro Armato quickly found itself overmatched, however the Allies deployed captured M13/40&rsquos in North Africa as a short-term solution for the extreme lack of available Allied armor in several key battles, including at El Alamein.

Specifications:

Crew: 4
Armament: 47mm M35 main cannon, 3x 8mm Modello machine guns (two mounted in bow)
Engine: FIAT V-8 diesel
Speed: 21 mph (33 km/h)
Range: 124 miles (200 km/h)

Additional information about this Brickmania® custom building kit:

This model features fully custom printed details, no stickers, and a custom WWII Italian Tanker minifig. Play features include a fully rotating and elevating/depressing turret, along with opening top and side hatches with access to the chassis. The design is sturdy, tracks roll smooth, and the build is intricate and satisfying with a very playable end result.

Model Statistics:

Designed by Mary Wilson
431 LEGO®, BrickArms® & Brickmania® elements
1x custom minifigs designed by Landon Reimer
Additional custom printed elements
Full-color printed building instructions
1/35th scale to match other Brickmania kits
Intermediate Skill Level (4-6 years building experience recommended)

All Brickmania® model kits are made of new-condition LEGO® bricks. This model comes disassembled and includes complete printed building instructions. This is a limited-edition kit and production may be discontinued at any time.

This is not a LEGO® Product. LEGO and the LEGO minifigure are trademarks of the LEGO Group, which does not sponsor, authorize or endorse this product. The LEGO Group is not liable for any loss, injury or damage arising from the use or misuse of this product.


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Every item in our inventory has been inspected, very strictly graded, and bagged for its protection.

Shrink Wrapped. Still in the original factory shrink wrap, with condition visible through shrink noted. For example, "SW (NM)" means shrink wrapped in near-mint condition.

Near Mint. Like new with only the slightest wear, many times indistinguishable from a Mint item. Close to perfect, very collectible.
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Very well used, but complete and useable. May have flaws such as tears, pen marks or highlighting, large creases, stains, marks, a loose map, etc.

Extremely well used and has major flaws, which may be too numerous to mention. Item is complete unless noted.


Italian M13/40 Medium Tank - 132 Divisione Corazzata "Ariete," El Alamein, Egypt, July 1942

The Fiat-Ansaldo M13/40 was an Italian medium tank ("M" for Medio (medium) according to the Italian tank weight standards at the time: 13 tons was the scheduled weight and 1940 the initial year of production), designed to replace the Fiat L3, the Fiat L6/40 and the Fiat M11/39 in the Italian Army at the start of World War II. The design was influenced by the British Vickers 6-Ton and was based on the modified chassis of the earlier Fiat M11/39. Indeed, M11/39 production was cut short in order to get the M13/40 into production.

The M13 was constructed of riveted steel plates as follows: 30 mm front (as M11), 42 mm on turret front (30 mm for M11), 25 mm on the sides (M11 had only 15 mm), only 6 mm bottom (that made it very vulnerable to mines) and 15 mm on top. The crew were housed in a forward fighting compartment, with the engine at the rear and transmission at the front. The fighting compartment accommodated the crew of 4: driver and machine-gunner/radio operator in the hull, and gunner and commander in the turret.

The Vickers-derived running gear had two bogie trucks with eight pairs of small wheels on each side, using leaf-spring suspension. The tracks were conventional skeleton steel plate links, and were relatively narrow. Together, this system was thought to allow good mobility in the mountainous areas in which future combat was expected. In the desert where most M13s were actually employed, mobility was less satisfactory. The tank was powered by a 125 hp (93 kW) diesel engine. This was an innovation that many countries had yet to introduce. Diesel engines were the future for tanks, with lower cost, greater range and reduced danger of fire compared to gasoline-powered engines.

The tank's main armament was a 47 mm gun. It could pierce about 45 mm of armor at 500 meters. This was sufficient to penetrate the British light and cruiser tanks it would face in combat, though not the heavier infantry tanks. One hundred four rounds of armor-piercing and high explosive ammunition were carried. The M13 was also armed with three or four machine-guns: one coaxially with the main gun and two in the forward, frontal ball mount. A fourth machinegun was sometimes carried in a flexible mount on the turret roof for anti-aircraft use. Two periscopes were available for the gunner and commander, and a radio was also theoretically available as standard equipment.

Pictured here is 1:43 scale replica of an Italian-built M13/40 medium tank that was attached to the 132 Divisione Corazzata "Ariete"


The L3/33 was Cheap and Allowed for Quick Production, it also Served as the Basis for Experimenting with Variants Like Flamethrower and Bridge Layer Models.

However, an instrument to achieve the desired mobile battlefield results as envisioned by Prasca was lacking. In 1933, the main Italian armored vehicle was the Carro Veloce CV33, or Fast Tank, later renamed the Carro Armato L3/33. A version of the 1929 British Carden Lloyd Mark V tank, it weighed three tons and was powered by a gasoline engine with a top speed of nine miles per hour. Its crew of two manned two Fiat 6.5mm machine guns fitted in the front of the hull. Its 13.5mm riveted armor plating at the front and rear was complemented by side armor of 8.5mm and 6mm of armor on the top and undercarriage. It could travel up to about 90 miles without refueling.

Cheap to build, the L3/33 design allowed for large numbers to be manufactured and put into service quickly. It also was the basis for experimenting with variants like flamethrower and bridge layer models. In 1935, it was upgraded in the form of the CV35 (later the Carro Armato L3/35), with two hull-mounted Breda 8mm machine guns, a little more armor plating, and a cross-county speed of 26 miles per hour. It was powered by a Fiat-Spa CV3 four-cylinder diesel, liquid-cooled 43 horsepower engine. Essentially tankettes due to their comparatively small size, both CV series—the 500 used in the 1935 Ethiopian War and 120 in the Spanish Civil War—proved vulnerable to close-quarters combat and enemy artillery, antitank weapons, and tanks.

The events in Spain in 1936-1937 had convinced the Italian authorities that a better tank had to be developed, but a number of major problems stood in the way. First, over 1,800 L3 types had been built (over 2,500 by 1941) since 1931. The vast number and low cost of the model made the government reluctant to move to another tank type. Second, lacking many raw materials such as iron, oil, and steel, Italy’s industrial base was too weak to sustain the manufacture of a large number of quality armored fighting vehicles, let alone maintain them in the field, even if such a design were present.

Moving toward the front in the Libyan desert in 1940, a column of M14/41 medium tanks of the 133rd Tank Regiment of the Litorio Armored Division raises a cloud of dust.

At its peak, the county’s tank producers, the automobile manufacturer Fiat and the ship- building company Ansaldo, could produce no more than 150 tanks a month. Further, much of the nation’s war production resources went to the pride of the nation’s armed forces, the Navy, or to the Air Force, which was a Fascist Party creation. The Army got what was left. The artillery branch was given priority in men and materiel, leaving the relatively new armored force to make do with what remained of the yearly Army appropriations.

Regardless of these problems, it was apparent to Rome by 1938 that a new and more powerful tank had to be designed and built. A new machine, the M11/39, the M standing for Medio or Medium, had been in the works for few years. It was built to be a breakthrough tank in support of attacking infantry and the mainstay of the two Italian armored brigades that existed in 1937. In reality an upgraded L3, it weighed 11 tons and had a rear-installed Fiat SPA 8T V-8 liquid-cooled 43 horsepower diesel engine which allowed it to travel at 21 miles per hour with a range of 124 miles. Armed with one low-velocity 37mm Vickers-Terni cannon placed in the right front hull, with only a minimal traverse up and down, and two Breda Model 38 machine guns, it was shielded by only 30mm of riveted plate armor. Sporting a high profile, standing seven feet, four inches high, the M11 was quickly spotted and so poorly protected that it was easy prey to any Allied tank or antitank weapon it faced. Like the L3, it had no radio, a poor suspension system, and was mechanically unreliable. The M11 did not enter service until 1939, but it was quickly determined that it would only serve as an interim tank until a more powerful weapon could be developed.

Italian troops, tanks, and aircraft invade and capture Adua, putting the ill-equipped Ethiopian army to flight. This painting appeared in the publication Illustrazione del Popolo on October 13, 1935.

With new, more potent armored fighting vehicles expected in the late 1930s, Italian armor doctrine continued to mature. In 1938, General Edoardo Quarra, commander of the Tank Regiment from 1933 to 1936, urged the use of tanks en masse with artillery and infantry support to both break the enemy’s line and exploit that penetration. In 1937, General Carlo di Simone, chief of the 2nd Armored Brigade, advocated the addition of more truck- borne or mechanized infantry to the armored unit. He also suggested the attachment of motorized artillery and antitank weapons and ready air support. He stopped short of calling for the creation of an armored division since the absence at that time of a medium or heavy tank precluded such a formation from having the punch it needed.

If General Simone was wary of forming full armored divisions, his ideas did spur the Italian Army to embrace mechanization, which would greatly impact its future armor doctrine. In late 1938, General Alberto Pariani introduced the concept of guerra di rapido corso (high-speed mobile warfare). It announced a new doctrine, which put the tank, used en masse, at the heart of all offensive operations. Infantry and artillery were to act as support for the tanks and not vice versa. The exploitation of a breakthrough in enemy lines became a key role for armor.

As progressive as it was, the new doctrine failed to address the issue of tank versus tank combat. Nevertheless, the new policy created a single Corpo d’Armata Corazzato (Armored Corps) made up of two armored and two motorized infantry divisions. A tank worthy of the new theory was needed. The proposed M13/40 seemed to provide the solution.


Italian Medium Tanks in North Africa – 1940 to 1942

I am sure (as is he) that it is not fully correct, but it gives a good overview of Italian medium tank deliveries to North Africa nevertheless, and by posting it I am hoping somebody maybe able to help me. The original list seemed to be from the Official History, but with a bit of research it is possible to discover a number of errors in it. Those errors I have identified by checking the unit histories on the Italian Association of Tankers I have corrected, but I am sure they are not all.

Health Warning

Please note the table below is provided ‘as is’, and not a definitive accounting exercise. For example, a delivery of 24 M13/40 tanks in November 1941 is missing on the AHF list (I have added it here), and some battalions, such as 9/132 seem to be far too strong, while 7 and 8/132 also seem overly strong.

What is known is that Ariete as a whole fielded 138 M13/40 on 17 November 1941, but I am missing the RECAM here which also operated medium tanks. So still many open questions.

Italian Medium Tank M13/40 Column in Libya, Date unknown (from Wikipedia)

Regimental associations In terms of regiments, a quick overview is provided below. By mid 1941 4 Regiment had become the training centre in Italy, and any new crews would be affiliated to it before being posted to their destination unit in North Africa. COMPASS

4 Regiment Babini Armoured Brigade

32 Regiment Babini Armoured Brigade

All medium tanks delivered were lost. By early February 1941, 209 light tanks remained operational in North Africa. Prior to CRUSADER many light tanks had been allocated as support to the infantry divisions, while Ariete also held a substantial number. All light tanks were lost in CRUSADER and were not replaced.

132 Regiment Ariete (Mediums)

32 Regiment Ariete (Carri d’Assalto light tanks)

132 Regiment Ariete (Mediums)

133 Regiment (Mediums – initially used to rebuild 132 and give Trieste a tank battalion)

132 Regiment Ariete (Mediums)

133 Regiment Littorio (Mediums) This regiment was used for loss replacement of Ariete in late Dec 1941/January 1942.

135 Regiment Centauro (Mediums) This regiment is not included and I have no numbers for it.

You can download the PDF file here for better readability. Italian Tank Arrivals


Carro Armato M11/39

The Fiat M11/39 Medium Tank was another in the long line of tanks born from the influential British Vickers 6-Ton of 1928 (by way of the Italian L3 Tankette). Key to the design was its use of a leaf-spring bogie system reengineered from the original British imagining and the Italian design was more akin to the American M3 Grant/Lee Medium Tank series with its hull-mounted armament. The M11/39 was initially conceived of as a medium-class, tracked infantry support system intended to work in close proximity to infantry forces - protecting such elements from enemy infantry and armored vehicles alike. Like other Italian tanks developed prior to World War 2, the "M11/39" designation was a direct reflection of certain characteristics of the tank itself - "M" marking its categorization as a "medium-class" tank, "11" marking its weight in tons and "39" marking its year of formal adoption into the Italian Army (1939). Design work on the M11/39 began in 1937 by Ansaldo-Fossati to which production began in January of 1939, finishing in June of that year and producing 96 compete examples. Four prototypes were used in the development process and these were never fielded in action.

Outwardly, the M11/39 was of a conventional tracked armored vehicle design. The engine was concentrated within a compartment at the rear of the hull. The chassis was supported by two suspended, four-wheeled bogie systems with the drive sprocket at the front of the hull and the track idler at the rear. There were three track return rollers managing the upper regions of the track linkage system. The hull incorporated a fixed superstructure to provide internal room for the 37mm main gun armament, crew and ammunition supply. One of the critical failings of the M11/39 series was its implementation of the 37mm Vickers-Terni L/40 main gun which was fixed in place - forcing the crew to turn their entire tank to face a given target (as in the American M3 series). Traverse of the main gun was limited to 15-degrees left or right. This also promoted a rather tallish hull superstructure in the process (as in the American M3 series), making for a tempting target to anti-tank crews. There was a 360-degree traversing turret on the hull roof though this was only used to manage 2 x 8mm Breda 38 series machine guns for anti-infantry defense and fitted one crew. Additionally, the turret was powered by hand which made reaction times to incoming targets somewhat slow and cumbersome. The M11/39 was crewed by three personnel made up of the commander, gunner and driver. The driver was positioned in the front left hull with the gunner to the right. The gunner also doubled as his own loader while the commander doubled as the radio operator (if so equipped). While provisions for radio were made in the basic design, M11/39s were known to be delivered without, severely hampering tank-to-tank communications now reliant on hand signals and "runners". The fact that the gunner had to reload his own weapon was another tactical detriment to the M11/39 design and all this was further compounded by the fact that armor protection was only 30mm at its thickest facing - designed to counter shots up to 20mm in caliber - British tank guns had graduated to 40mm in caliber by this time. The M11/39 carried 84 x 37mm projectiles as well as 2,808 rounds of 8mm ammunition. Power for the series was supplied via a single Fiat SPA 8T V8 diesel-fueled engine developing 105 horsepower. This allowed for a top road speed of 20 miles per hour with an operational range nearing 125 miles.

Italy entered World War 2 on the side of the Axis powers in June of 1940. The M11/39 series was already in stock and promptly shipped to the battlefront that was North Africa (an improved version - the M13/40 - was already in the works by this time). About 72 M11/39 series vehicles were delivered for the North African campaign while a further 24 were sent to the east portion of the continent - providing a much needed "punch" for Italian armor offensives. At the beginning, the M11/39 proved a serviceable combat tank though, when ultimately pitted against thicker-armored foes, it fared quite poorly - particularly in its own armor protection and main armament. Additionally, the M11/39 - like other complex machinery of the interwar years - proved mechanically unreliable, particularly when pressed by the rigors of combat in environments for which it was never designed for. As such, the M11/39s tactical reach was rather limited in the broad scheme of war and the later British cruiser tank developments - primarily the Matilda and Valentine - proved more than a match for the Italian design. Once British tacticians realized their superiority over the M11/39, definitive steps were enacted to expose the Italian weakness in several campaigns. The M11/39 was simply in a fight that it was never truthfully designed for and its war record would go on to prove this. Some examples were known to be captured by the Allies - specifically the Australian Army - who reused these vehicles against their original owners for a time. These were appropriately painted with the white kangaroo insignia to mark their new owners. M11/39 tanks served operationally up until about 1944 - its production limited by the arrival of the more-capable M13/40 series.

An attempt to improve upon the M11/39 became the aforementioned "M13/40" - its designation marking it as a medium-class tank weighing in at 13 tons and adopted by the Italian Army in 1940. This model fielded a 47mm main gun in a 360-degree traversing turret with 104 x 47mm reloads as well as up to 4 x 8mm machine guns. 779 of this type were ultimately produced and used by several parties including Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom. The M13/40 became Italy's most-produced tank of World War 2 - leaving the M11/39 to the pages of history for other, less reputable reasons.


The Cromwell was produced in response to a requirement for a more heavily armed and armoured tank to replace the Crusader. The first Cromwells appreared in 1943 armed with a 6-pounder gun. However, it was realised that this would be inadequate and the tanks were soon being equipped with heavier weaponry, which gave some parity with contemporary German tanks.

Armament: one 75mm gun one coaxial 7.62mm machine gun

American Light Tank - M3 Stuart

The light tank M3 Stuart entered full-scale production in 1941, and nearly 6000 were built. Many were passed to tbe Soviet Red Army and to British forces where they were known as crews, being used in all theatres of the war. Obsolete as a combat tank by 1944, many were converted to command and reconnaissance vehicles with the turrets removed and extra machine guns added instead. Variants included mine-clearing, flame-throwing and anti-aircraft versions.

Armament: one 37mm gun two 7.7mm machine guns

Soviet Union Heavy Tank - T35

The T35 is unique, in that is the only five turreted tank to enter serial production. It's role was to break through enemy strongpoints. The main turret was armed with a short barrelled 76.2mm gun, and also three DT machine guns. The two medium sized turrets were armed with 45mm anti tank guns, and a DT machine gun each. The two small turrets housed a single DT machine gun each.

Armament: one 76.2mm gun two 45mm anti tank guns five or six 7.62mm machine guns

German Tank - Sturmpanzerwagen A7V

Following the appearance of the first British tanks on the Western Front in World War I , the first German tank - A7V was first used in combat on 21 March 1918 . It was deployed north of the St. Quentin Canal . The A7Vs helped stop a minor British breakthrough in the area. On April 24th, 1918, the A7V took part in the first known tank-versus-tank engagement against three British Mk IV tanks (only one being of the "male" type however). The end result was two damaged of the "female" tanks with only one damaged A7V.

Armament: one 57mm gun four 7.92mm machine guns

British Tank - Mark I Male

The Mk I was produced in 1916 and the design was what one might consider typical of World War One tracked systems. It was the first tank used in the battle field of the World War I. Armament for the Mk I consists of two 6-pounder cannons. Four Hotchkiss .30 caliber machine guns were also offered for self-defense. A wire mesh assembly was fitted to the top of the tank in an effort to deflect oncoming enemy grenades. the Mk I was an effective tool for ground forces as the design could easily navigate over the trenches dotting the battlefields.

Armament: two 6-pounder guns four 8mm machine guns

Soviet Union Tank - T-34/76

The T-34 was a Soviet medium tank produced since 1940. It is widely regarded as having been the world's best tank when the Soviet Union became involved in World War II, and although its armour and armament were surpassed by later tanks of the era, it has been often credited as the war's most effective, efficient and influential design. By the end of 1945, over 57,000 T-34s had been built: 34,780 original T-34 tanks in 1940–44, and another 22,559 T-34-85s in 1944–45.

The appearance of the T-34 in summer 1941 was a psychological shock to German soldiers, who had been prepared to face an inferior Soviet enemy. During the winter of 1941–42 the T-34 again dominated German tanks through its ability to move over deep mud or snow without bogging down German tanks could not move over terrain the T-34 could handle. The Panzer IV used an inferior leaf-spring suspension and narrow track, and tended to sink in deep mud or snow.

Armament: 76mm gun 7.62mm machine gun

German Sturmpanzer IV - Brummbar

The Sturmpanzer IV was an armoured infantry support gun based on the Panzer IV chassis used in the Second World War. It was used at the Battles of Kursk, Anzio, Normandy, and helped to put down the Warsaw Uprising. It was known by the nickname Brummbär (German: "Grumbler") by Allied intelligence, a name which was not used by the Germans. German soldiers nicknamed it the "Stupa",a contraction of the term Sturmpanzer.

The Sturmpanzer IV was a development of the Panzer IV tank designed to provide direct infantry fire support, especially in urban areas. The result was the Sturmpanzer IV, which used a Panzer IV chassis with the upper hull and turret replaced by a new casemate-style armored superstructure housing a new gun, the 15 centimetres (5.9 in) Sturmhaubitze (StuH) 43 L/12 developed by Skoda. It fired the same shells as the 15 cm sIG 33 heavy infantry gun.

Production of the first series of 60 vehicles began in April 1943. 52 of these were built using new Panzer IV Ausf. G chassis and the remaining 8 from rebuilt Ausf. E and F chassis. Survivors, about half, were rebuilt beginning in December 1943 were mostly rebuilt to 2nd series standards.

Armament: 150mm heavy infantry gun two 7.92mm machine gun

American Heavy Tank - M26 Pershing

The M26 was a long time in development and only just reached combat status during WW2. A small number were brought across to Europe under the Zebra Technical Mission which included tanks, spares and military and civilian observers. They were assigned to General Omar Bradley's 12th Army Group and split between the 3rd and 9th Armored Division. They first saw combat in February 1945. Ten Pershing tanks were assigned to the 9th Armored Division, which was among the first to reach the Rhine river as American forces surged toward Germany. With American armor fast approaching, Nazi war planners sought to thwart - or at least delay - the advance by dynamiting major bridges spanning the river. When forward elements of the 9th Armored Division discovered that the Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen was still passable, they knew they would need to act quickly and decisively. On March 7, 1945, the 9th Armored arrived at the bridge, securing it as a strategic foothold across the Rhine. Of the ten Pershing tanks assigned to the 9th Armored, three made it to the bridge.

Armament: 90mm gun two 7.62mm Browning machine gun, one 12.7mm Browning heavy machine gun

Soviet Union Heavy Tank - SMK

SMK (Sergius Mironovitch Kirov) was an armored vehicle (tank, AFV or armoured fighting vehicle) prototype developed prior to the Second World War (World War II or WWII). The SMK was a fully tracked all-terrain vehicle designed for military operations. SMK, also known to German intelligence as the T-35C, was designed by the Red Army of the Soviet Union (USSR).

The SMK was among the designs competing to replace the unreliable and expensive T-35. The testing ground for the SMK and other competing models, which included the KV-1, was the Winter War. The KV-1 design was chosen due to its resistance against Finnish anti-tank weapons.

Armament: 45mm gun (front), 76.2mm gun (rear), three 7.62mm machine gun

German Half-track - Maultier (SdKfz 3)

In the autumn of 1941 upon arrival on the Eastern Front the German army faced a problem about which nobody had given proper consideration during the planning for Operation Barbarossa - the absence of normal hardened roads in Russia. In the spring of 1942, when it became clear that war had settled in for the long term, and the problem would return with new force, it was decided to construct special semi-caterpillar versions of the standard models of truck. The Opel firm developed their own suspension bracket, more simple and technologically advanced in construction. Nevertheless, a uniform standard design was selected, a Ford suspension bracket which near-copied Carden Lloyd. The truck with caterpillar tracks instead of a back wheel pair received the name “Maultier” (”donkey”). The official name Opel Blitz Opel 3.6-36S/SSM Gleisketten-Lastkraftwagen did not achieve common use, and semi-caterpillars have for ever remained “Maultier”.

The Maultier was widely employed everywhere in all theaters of operations on the Eastern Front, but in 1944 when the German armies were forced back from the borders of the USSR, their role was considerably reduced - in the territories of Europe there were generally good road conditions during the war years. The numbers of Opel Maultiers substantially declined - new machines were not built, and during repair many Maultiers were converted back to conventionally wheeled vehicles. The Maultier was also used as a platform of AA gun and carry the Flak 38 20mm gun.

Armament: AA gun version with 20mm (Flak 38) gun

French Somua S35 Cavalry Tank

The SOMUA S35 was a French cavalry tank of the Second World War. Built from 1936 until 1940 to equip the armoured divisions of the Cavalry, it was for its time a relatively agile medium-weight tank, superior in armour and armament to both its French and foreign competitors, like the contemporary versions of the German Panzerkampfwagen III. It was constructed from well-sloped, mainly cast, armour sections, that however made it expensive to produce and time-consuming to maintain. During the German invasion of May 1940, the SOMUA S35 proved itself to be a tactically effective type, but this was negated by strategic mistakes in deploying its units. After the defeat of France in June 1940, limiting production to a number of 430, captured SOMUA S35s were used by the Axis powers. A derived type, the mostly welded SOMUA S40, with an improved engine, suspension, armour and armament, had been planned to replace the original version on the production lines in July 1940.

German Half-track Troop Carrier - SdKfz 250/1

The vehicle was used in a wide variety of roles throughout World War II. The basic troop carrier version was used as an armored personnel carrier for reconnaissance units, carrying scout sections. This basic variant usually mounted one or two MG34 machineguns. Later variants carried 20mm, 37mm, and even 75mm guns to support the more lightly-armed versions.

The initial design had an armoured body made of multi-faceted plates which gave good protection against small arms fire, but which made the design both expensive to manufacture and quite cramped. Production of this early version stopped in October 1943 with some 4,200 built, and a second version, greatly simplified to speed up manufacture, began replacing it. In both variants, the armour was useful only for stopping small-arms fire and small artillery fragments. Heavy machinegun fire, anti-tank gun fire, or almost any tank gun could penetrate the Sd.Kfz. 250 at long range.

Armament: 7.92mm MG34 machine gun

German Marder I - SdKfz 135

The Marder I was developed in May 1942 and carried the 75 mm PaK 40 anti-tank gun, on a Lorraine chassis. The original crew compartment superstructure was removed and the gun placed on top of the chassis. Around this a new, open-topped compartment was built, to give the gun and crew some protection from small arms fire.

Between July and August 1942, 170 Marder I's were built on the Lorraine chassis. Several other French and Polish tanks were also used as a conversion base for the Marder I, including the Hotchkiss H39 and FCM 36, though these were only built in small numbers.

German Marder II - SdKfz 132

The Marder II came in two major versions. The first version Marder II (Sd.Kfz. 132) was based on the light Panzer II Ausf. D/E and Flammpanzer II chassis with Christie suspension. It was armed with captured Soviet 7.62 cm guns, re-chambered to accept German 7.5 cm Pak 40 ammunition, which improved its penetrative capablities. These early Marder IIs had a very high silhouette (2.60 m high), thin armor of only 30 mm (front) and 10 to 15 mm (sides). There was no armour on the top or rear, leaving the crew with very little protection. Alkett and Wegmann produced 201 Marder II (Sd. Kfz. 132) from early 1942 to early 1943.

Armament: 76.2mm Anti-tank Gun

German Marder III - SdKfz 139

While the Panzer 38(t) had largely become obsolete as a tank in early 1942, it was still an excellent platform for adaptation into a tank destroyer, among other roles. Since the Soviet 76.2 mm field gun was captured in large quantities, the decision was made to mate this gun to the Panzer 38(t).

To do so, the turret and upper superstructure of the Panzer 38 were removed and a new superstructure was bolted on to the chassis. The upper structure mounted the gun and an extended gun shield, giving very limited protection for the commander and the loader. Armour protection overall ranged from 10 to 50 mm. The gun, commander and loader were located on top of the engine deck. It had higher silhouette than Panzer 38, which made it more vulnerable to enemy fire.

The now-called 7.62 cm PaK 36(r) was rechambered to be able to use standard German 75 mm ammunition, of which 30 rounds could be carried inside the vehicle. Apart from the main gun, there was a 7.92 mm machine gun mounted in the hull.

This tank destroyer was put into production as the Panzerjäger 38(t) für 7.62 cm PaK 36(r), Sd.Kfz. 139. A total of 363 of this Marder III variant were built from April 1942 to 1943.

Armament: 76.2mm PAK 36r or 75mm PAK 40

German Marder III M - SdKfz 138

The last Marder III variant was based on the Panzer 38(t) Ausf. M (with Ausf. M standing for Mittelmotor (middle engine), again armed with the 75 mm PaK 40 anti-tank gun. In this variant, engine was moved from the rear to the middle between driver and the rest of crews. Because there was no engine in the rear, the gun and the crew did not have to sit on top of the engine deck like the previous models. The fighting compartment could be lowered down to the bottom floor level where the engine used to be. This decreased crew exposure, as well as visibility. Unlike the previous two Marder IIIs, fighting compartment was closed at the rear protecting the crew up to their mid-section. It stayed open-topped. It could only carry 27 rounds of ammunition. Machinegun port at the front was eliminated in Ausf. M, instead a MG 34 or MG 42 was carried by the crew. In previous two models, commander served as a gunner. However, in Ausf. M, radio man moved to the rear with commander and gunner, serving as a loader. Combat effectiveness increased because vehicle commander was freed from manning the gun.

The Ausf. M was the variant which was produced in the largest numbers, some 975 vehicles being manufactured in 1943 and early 1944. Its full name was the Panzerjäger 38(t) mit 7.5 cm PaK 40/3 Ausf.M, Sd.Kfz. 138.

British Infantry Tank - Valentine

The Tank, Infantry, Mk III, Valentine was an infantry tank produced in the UK during the WW-II. More than 8,000 of the type were produced in 11 different marks plus various purpose-built variants, accounting for approximately a quarter of wartime British tank production. Over its lifetime it went from a riveted construction to entirely welded, and from a petrol powerplant to a safer, less ignitable, two stroke diesel engine produced by GMC. It was supplied to the USSR and built under license in Canada. Developed by Vickers, it proved to be both strong and reliable.

Based on the A10 Cruiser tank, the Valentine was privately designed by Vickers-Armstrongs (hence its lack of a General Staff "A" designation) and was submitted to the War Office on 10 February 1938. The development team tried to combine the weight of a cruiser tank with the greater armour of an infantry tank, which resulted in a very small vehicle with a cramped interior and two-man turret. Though its armour was still weaker than the Infantry Tank II Matilda and, due to a weaker engine, it shared the same top speed, the new design was easier to produce and much less expensive.

It finally approved the design in April, 1939. The vehicle reached trials in May, 1940, which coincided with the loss of nearly all of Britain's equipment during the evacuation at Dunkirk. The trials were successful and the vehicle was rushed into production as Infantry Tank III Valentine. The Valentine remained in production until April 1944, becoming Britain's most produced tank during the war with 6,855 units manufactured in the UK (by Vickers, Metropolitan-Cammell Carriage and Wagon and Birmingham Railway Carriage and Wagon), and a further 1,420 in Canada. They were the Commonwealth's main export to the Soviet Union under the Lend-lease Act, with 2,394 of the British models being sent and 1,388 of the Canadian Pacific built models, and the remaining 30 being kept for training.

British Self-Propelled Artillery - Bishop

The Bishop was a British self-propelled artillery vehicle based on the Valentine tank. A result of a rushed attempt to create a self-propelled gun armed with the 25 Pounder gun-howitzer, the vehicle had numerous problems, was produced in limited numbers and was soon replaced by better designs.

The Bishop was based on the Valentine II hull, with the turret replaced by a fixed boxy superstructure with large rear doors. Into this superstructure the 25 pounder gun-howitzer was fitted. As a consequence of the gun mounting the resulting vehicle had very high silhouette, a disadvantage in desert warfare.[1] The maximum elevation for the gun was limited to 15 degrees, lowering the range considerably to about 6,400 yards (about half that of the gun on its wheeled carriage), the maximum depression was 5 degrees and traverse 8 degrees. In addition to the main armament the vehicle could carry a Bren light machine gun. By July 1942 80 Bishops had been built, and as the last 20 were being built an order for a further 50 was placed, with an option for a further 200, but the tender was abandoned in favour of the American M7 105 mm SP gun.

German Puma - SdKfz 234/2

The SdKfz 234 (Sonderkraftfahrzeug 234, or special purpose vehicle 234) was an eight-wheeled armoured car used by the German Army in the Second World War.

The combat experience of the existing 8-wheeled armoured cars during the German invasions of Poland and France, indicated some deficiencies in the current design. Therefore, in August 1940 an improvement program was started, based on a new set of requirements learned from these combat experiences. The result was the SdKfz 234.

Developed from the Büssing-NAG SdKfz 232, design of the Sd Kfz 234 began in 1940. It was to have a monocoque chassis with eight wheels, like its predecessors, and an aircooled engine for use in North Africa.

Chassis were built by Büssing-NAG in Leipzig-Wahren, while armoured bodies were provided by Deutsche Edelstahlwerke of Krefeld and turrets by Daimler Benz in Berlin-Marienfeld and Schichau of Elbing, with engines from Ringhoffer-Tatra-Werke AG of Nesseldorf.

German - SdKfz 222

The Leichter Panzerspähwagen (German: roughly "Light Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle") were a series of light four-wheel drive armoured cars produced by Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1944.

They were developed by Eisenwerk Weserhütte of Bad Oeynhausen. Chassis were built by Auto Union in Zwickau and assembled by F. Schichau of Elbing and Maschinenfabrik Niedersachsen in Hanover-Linden.

It used the standard sPkw I Horch 801 (heavy car) chassis with an angled armoured body and turret.

The rear mounted engine was a 67 kW (90 hp) Horch 3.5 petrol engine, giving it a road speed of 80 km/h (50 mph) and a cross-country speed of 40 km/h (25 mph). It had a maximum range of 300 km (186 mi).

Used by the reconnaissance battalions (Aufklärungs-Abteilung) of the Panzer divisions, the type performed well enough in countries with good road networks, like those in Western Europe. However, on the Eastern Front and North Africa, this class of vehicle was hampered by its relatively poor off-road performance. In those theaters, it gradually found itself replaced in the reconnaissance role by the Sdkfz 250 half-track. The Sdkfz 250/9 was the Sdkfz 250 with the same turret as the Sdfkz 222.

This version of the vehicle was armed with a 2 cm KwK 30 L/55 autocannon and a 7.92 mm MG34 machine gun. The third crew member was the gunner, relieving the commander of that task. Some versions included a 28 mm armored piercing cannon. A prototype version included a 50 mm cannon. Two armored prototype versions were completed.

Armament: 20mm auto cannon

Italy M13/40 Medium Tank

The Fiat-Ansaldo M13/40 was an Italian medium tank ("M" for (medium) according to the Italian tank weight standards at the time: 13 tonnes was the scheduled weight and 1940 the initial year of production), designed to replace the Fiat L3, the Fiat L6/40 and the Fiat M11/39 in the Italian Army at the start of World War II. The design was influenced by the British Vickers 6-Ton and was based on the modified chassis of the earlier Fiat M11/39. Indeed, M11/39 production was cut short in order to get the M13/40 into production. Although designated a medium tank, the M13/40 was closer to contemporary light tanks in armor and firepower.

Armament: 47mm cannon, 8mm machine gun

British AEC Matador Truck

The AEC Matador was an artillery tractor built by the Associated Equipment Company for British and Commonwealth forces during the Second World War. AEC had already built a 4 x 2 lorry, also known as the Matador (all AEC lorries received 'M' names).

The Matador was distinctive with its flat fronted cab with gently curved roof, wheels at the corners and a flat load carrying area covered by a canvas or tarpaulin tilt. The cab was made from Ash and clad in steel. It was equipped with a winch (7-ton load in its case) like all artillery tractors. The O853 provided the basis for the 'Dorchester' Armoured Command Vehicle.

German Neubaufahrzeug Heavy Tank

The German Neubaufahrzeug series of tank prototypes were a first attempt to create a heavy tank for the Wehrmacht after Adolf Hitler had come to power. Multi-turreted, heavy and slow, they did not fit in with the Blitzkrieg tactics and therefore only five were made. These were primarily used for propaganda purposes, though three took part in the Battle of Norway in 1940.

Though these tanks were never placed in production, they provided a propaganda tool for Nazi Germany, for example being shown at the International Automobile Exposition in Berlin in 1939.

This propaganda role was extended with the German invasion of Norway, when a special Panzerabteilung was formed which took the three armored prototypes with them to Oslo. They saw some combat there, with one being blown up by German engineers when it got stuck in swamps near Åndalsnes. To replace it, one of the mild steel prototypes was used.

Armament: 75mm KwK L/24 gun and 37mm KwK L/45

Soviet Union ZIS-5 Truck

The ZIS-5 (Russian: ЗиС-5 ) was a 4x2 Soviet truck produced by Moscow ZIS factory from October 1933 on. It was an almost identical copy of the American Autocar Model CA truck.

During the war the ZIS-5 was used on all fronts, where it was greatly appreciated for its remarkably simple and reliable construction. Apart for cargo duties, the ZIS-5 was used as a light artillery tractor and for troops transportation (25 soldiers could seat in five benches placed in the rear body). ZIS-5 served also as base for many special trucks, like refuellers, field workshops, ambulances, portee guns or AA platforms.

After the GAZ-AA, the ZIS-5 was the 2nd most used Red Army truck of 1933-1943 period. The intensive growth of Lend Lease trucks shipping in 1943-1944 did not affected the first line use of the "Tryohtonka" (as soldiers called the ZIS-5 for its 3-ton payload), while GAZ-AA got somewhat phased out to secondary roles.

The ZIS-5 showed remarkable service on the "Road of Life", the only supply line to the besieged city of Leningrad, opened on the frozen surface of the Ladoga Lake in the winter months during 1941–1944.

USA Tank Destroyer - M18 Hellcat

The 76 mm Gun Motor Carriage (GMC) M18 was an American tank destroyer of World War II. The manufacturer, Buick, gave it the nickname "Hellcat" and it was the fastest tracked armored fighting vehicle during the war with a top speed up to 60 mph.

The M18 served primarily in Western Europe, but was also present in the Pacific. However, due to the comparitive rarity and poor quality of Japanese armour it was often used in a fire support role instead of as a tank destroyer.

On September 19, 1944, in the Nancy Bridgehead near Arracourt, France, the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion was attached to the 4th Armored Division. Lt. Edwin Leiper led one M18 platoon of C Company to Rechicourt-la-Petite, on the way to Moncourt. He saw a German tank gun muzzle appearing out of the fog 30 feet away, and deployed his platoon. In a five minute period, five German tanks of the 113 Panzer Brigade were knocked out for the loss of one M18. The platoon remained in their position and destroyed a further ten German tanks, with the loss of another two M18s. One of the platoon's M18s, commanded by Sgt Henry R. Hartman, knocked out six of these and lived to fight another day. Most of the German tanks were Panthers.

The M18 Hellcat was a key element during World War II in the Battle of the Bulge. On December 19 and 20, the 1st Battalion of the 506th PIR, was ordered to support Team Desobry, a battalion-sized tank-infantry task force of the 10th Armored Division (United States) assigned to defend Noville located north-northeast of both Foy and of Bastogne just 4.36 miles (7 km) away. With just four M18 tank destroyers of the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion to assist, the paratroopers attacked units of the 2nd Panzer Division, whose mission was to proceed by secondary roads via Monaville (just northwest of Bastogne) to seize a key highway and capture, among other objectives, fuel dumps—for the lack of which the overall German counter-offensive faltered and failed. Worried about the threat to its left flank in Bastogne, it organized a major joint arms attack to seize Noville. Team Desobry's high speed highway journey to reach the blocking position is one of the few documented cases wherein the legendary top speed of the M18 Hellcat (55 miles per hour (89 km/h), faster than today's M1A2 Abrams) was actually used to get ahead of an enemy force as envisioned by its specifications.

The attack of 1st Battalion and the M18 Hellcat tank destroyers of the 705th TD Battalion near Noville together destroyed at least 30 German tanks and inflicted 500 to 1000 casualties on the attacking forces in what amounted to a spoiling attack. A Military Channel expert historian credited the M18 destroyers with 24 kills, including several Tiger tanks, and believes that, in part, their ability to "shoot and scoot" at high speed and then reappear elsewhere on the battlefield and therefore appear to be another vehicle entirely played a large part in confusing and slowing the German attack, which subsequently stalled, leaving the Americans in possession of the town overnight.


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