Italian Medium Tanks in North Africa – 1940 to 1942

The list below is based on a post by User nmao on the Axis History Forum at this link. I am sure it is not absolutely correct, but it gives a good overview 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.

 

SO please note the table below is provided ‘as is’, and not a definitive accounting exercise. I am also missing a delivery of 24 M13/40 tanks in November 1941, while on the other hand 9/132 seems to be far too strong, while 7 and 8/132 also seem overly strong. It is known that Ariete as a whole fielded 138 M13/40 on 17 November 1941. I am missing RECAM here.

 

I’d also be grateful if someone could point out to me what a ‘carro d’assalto’ is (I know what it means, but how is it armed, what chassis does it use)?

 

Regimental associations as far as I can see were:

 

COMPASS:

4 Regiment Babini Armoured Brigade

32 Regiment Babini Armoured Brigade

 

CRUSADER
132 Regiment Ariete (Mediums)

32 Regiment Ariete (Carri d’Assalto)

 

Gazala

132 Regiment Ariete (Mediums)

133 Regiment (Mediums – attached to 132 and Trieste)

 

El Alamein

132 Regiment Ariete (Mediums)

133 Regiment Littorio (Mediums)

 

Division

Unit (Battalion/Regiment)

Arrival Dates or Present Dates

Tank State

Tank Type

Fate

Not known

1/32

July 1940

35-37

M11/39

Destroyed COMPASS

Not known

2/32

July 1940

35-37

M11/39

Destroyed COMPASS

Not known

3/4

July 1940

37

M11/39

Destroyed COMPASS

Not known

21/4

January 1941

36

M13/40

Formed from crews of 21st Light Tank Battalion. Destroyed COMPASS

Not known

6/33 later 6/32

January 1941

47

M13/40

Destroyed COMPASS

Not known/Ariete

7/32 later 7/132

11 March 1941

50

M13/40

Destroyed CRUSADER, not reformed

Not known/Ariete

8/32 later 8/132

22 June 1941

67

M13/40

Destroyed CRUSADER, reformed

Not known/Ariete

9/3 later 9/132

October 1941

90

M13/40

Destroyed CRUSADER, reformed

Independent

52

October 1941

9

M13/40

Either training or security battalion probably stationed at Agedabia. It was used for loss replacement of Ariete in late Dec 1941.

Littorio

12/133

13 December 1941

May 1942

52

52

M13/40

M14/41

All M13/40 tanks sunk on Fabio Filzi and Carlo del Greco following attack by HM/Sub Upright. Rebuilt in Africa with M14/41

Littorio/Ariete

10/133 later ?/132

5 January 1942

52

38

M13/40

M14/41

Tanks were assigned to Ariete to make up for losses

Littorio/Trieste

11/4 later 11/133, later 11/Trieste

23 January 1942

26

66

M13/40

M14/41

Assigned as armoured battalion of Trieste motorised division for the Gazala battles

Not known/Littorio

4/31 later 4/133

August 1942

59

M13/40 M14/41

Destroyed Alamein

Not known/Littorio

13/31 later 13/133 later 13/132

August 1942

75

M14/41

No details known

Not known

14/31

31 August 1942

60

M14/41

No details known

Not known

15/1 later 15/31

15 December 1942

40

??

M14/41

Semovente da 75L18

No details known

Not known

16/32

??

17(?)

?

?

Semovente

No details known

Not known

17/32

Late 1942

45

1 Coy

M14/41

Semovente

No details known

Not known/Littorio

51/31 later 51/133

25 August 1942

80

M14/41

Formed in Africa from crews of 2 and 4 Battalions.

Total

19 Battalions

 

109

460

500

M11/39

M13/40

M14/41

Approximate numbers.

     

1,070

Mediums

 

 

 


 

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

 

So fire away please!

16 thoughts on “Italian Medium Tanks in North Africa – 1940 to 1942

  1. Dear Andreas,

    I take Carro d’Assalto to be a generic term in this context and used for everything from M13s to L3s in the way that the British would use “cruiser tank”, or “infantry tank” for example, and I take it that you know this already, as you say.

    Couldn’t find any primary sources re: Carri d’Assalto in 32 Reggimento, but a quick net trawl brought up this. Don’t know if it helps or adds anything new –

    1. “R. Riccio and other sources indicate the 32 Reggimento Carri d’Assalto was part of Ariete in Nov 41 with two of its battalions (of two companies each) and was equipped with 52 L.3 tankettes. Is there any indication of its presence at Bir El Gubi on November 19th?” http://www.comandosupremo.com/forums/topic/5260-oobs-for-bir-el-gubi/page__st__20

    2. Parri (http://www.paginedid…ri/carristi.rtf)

    I would hypothesise that Carro d’Assolto is just used to distinguish them from the the mediums (M13s and M11s) as listed in your table. So in this case the L3s would be armed with machine guns and perhaps the odd 20mm or flamethrower?

    Kind regards, Chris.

    • Hi Chris

      Many thanks. I thought they must be L3. Regarding Bir el Gubi, I think the history on Assocarri.it claimed 4th Regiment was there. The relevant scheme for deployment of Ariete shows 5 coys of L3 as sectoral maneuver mass (1/2/2 between sectors) and a regiment of L3 for the divisional mass of maneuver. So my guess is that they were there. 🙂

  2. Carri d’assalto were the FT17(Fiat 3000) tanks and the L tankettes were called Carri Veloce(CV) But that changed, when M appeared, the CV designation was changed for L(Leggero/Light) and M(medium) . M tanks were also called carri armati.

    But units with L tankettes were called “d’assalto” like these Battaglioni Coloniali Carri d’Assalto

    http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divisioni_del_Regio_Esercito_durante_la_guerra_di_Etiopia#Battaglioni_Coloniali_Carri_d.27Assalto

    Concerning Ariete L’s, they came by ship or were taken from stocks from Africa?

  3. diciassette2000 answered to my question, but says VIII Bn:

    “The Ariete disembark in Tripoli Harbour from 24 january 1941 and in it’s 32.o reggimento carri have 1.o, 2.o e 3.o battaglione carri L with each 3 coys x 9 carri L each , one for each of Hq battalion and 4 L and 8 L 3/35 flametrowers for the Hq coy (39 carri L for each battalion) and VIII battaglione carri M with 46 M13/40-41 (3 M13-40-41 coys and Hq coy). All the tanks came from Italy.
    32.o tank regiment went on cargo ship “Marco Polo” from Napoli (embark 22/1/1941) and disembark Tripoli 24/1/1941.”

    http://www.comandosupremo.com/forums/topic/6847-arietes-l-tankettes-origins/page__gopid__103137#entry103137

    • Nice, thanks for that.

      Just for clarity, I would expect that only personnel was on Marco Polo, and tanks on normal freight ships. I’ll correct the list to reflect this.

    • M.42 was cancelled, M.43 arrived on 22 December, and was supposed to bring the 52 tanks of 12 Battalion, but they were sunk on Fabio Filzi and Carlo del Greco on 13 December. I doubt they brought any. These 24 tanks were brought into Tripoli on 23 November on Fabio Filzi and Benghazi on 1 December on Sebastiano Venier (14 tanks). Venier was torpedoed with 2,000 Empire POW on its return voyage off Cape Methoni in Greece.

      https://crusaderproject.wordpress.com/2009/02/15/successful-supply-runs-for-the-axis-november-1941/

      All the best

      Andreas

      • M42 was cancelled!

        I did not know that.

        Does that mean that nothing arrived at either Benghasi or Tripoli (by sea) in December 1941 at all?

      • Sorry David,my mistake. Never post before first coffee… M.41 was cancelled. M.42 was supposed to bring about 90 German tanks and at least 52 Italian. Of these, 43 and 52 were sunk on Carol del Greco and Fabio Filzi on 13 December. The remainder of the operation went ahead, with Ankara delivering one German tank company to Benghazi, and another German tank company being delivered (I think on Monginevro) to Tripoli. I am away from the Italian Navy OH at the moment, so can’t check the detail, the above all from memory.

  4. Hello.
    III (3rd) battalion was equipped with M13-40 not the M11-39.
    The tank state is “number of tanks allocated to each bn, including replacements received during the campaign and including also the tanks lost in transit”, so not all available at once.
    The regimental affiliation are a complete nightmare, and most of the time operationally meaningless.
    The (medium) tank component of RECAM was LII (52nd) bn (still forming) with 9? x M13-40.

    Still hoping someone will make sense of all this incomplete (and sometimes incoherent info) 🙂

    regards,
    -nuno

  5. Pingback: British and US tank deliveries to Egypt July 1941 to January 1942 | The Crusader Project

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