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 on the AHF list, 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, but I am missing the RECAM here which also operated medium tanks. So still open questions.


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

Regimental associations as far as I can see were:


4 Regiment Babini Armoured Brigade

32 Regiment Babini Armoured Brigade

132 Regiment Ariete (Mediums)

32 Regiment Ariete (Carri d’Assalto)


132 Regiment Ariete (Mediums)

133 Regiment (Mediums – attached to 132 and Trieste)

El Alamein

132 Regiment Ariete (Mediums)

133 Regiment Littorio (Mediums)

Division / Fate Unit Battalion or Regiment Arrival Dates or Present Dates Tank State Tank Type
Not knownDestroyed COMPASS 1/32 July 1940 35-37 M11/39
Not knownDestroyed COMPASS 2/32 July 1940 35-37 M11/39
Not knownDestroyed COMPASS 3/4 July 1940 37 M11/39
Not knownFormed from crews of 21st Light Tank Battalion. Destroyed COMPASS 21/4 January 1941 36 M13/40
Not knownDestroyed COMPASS 6/33 later 6/32 January 1941 47 M13/40
Not known/ArieteDestroyed CRUSADER, not reformed 7/32 later 7/132 11 March 1941 50 M13/40
Not known/ArieteDestroyed CRUSADER, reformed 8/32 later 8/132 22 June 1941 67 M13/40
Not known/ArieteDestroyed CRUSADER, reformed 9/3 later 9/132 October 1941 90 M13/40
IndependentA training or security battalion probably stationed at Agedabia. It was used for loss replacement of Ariete in late Dec 1941.

Probably received 24 tanks delivered in late November 1941

52 October 1941 9




LittorioFirst set of M13/40 tanks sunk on Fabio Filzi and Carlo del Greco in attack by HM/Sub Upright on 13 Dec 41.

Rebuilt in Africa with M14/41 in May 42.

12/133 13 December 1941 (sunk)
May 1942




Littorio/ArieteTanks were assigned to Ariete to make up for losses 10/133 later ?/132 5 January 1942 52




Littorio/TriesteAssigned as armoured battalion of Trieste motorised division for the Gazala battles 11/4 later 11/133, later 11/Trieste 23 January 1942 26




Not known/LittorioDestroyed Alamein 4/31 later 4/133 August 1942 59 M13/40 M14/41
Not known/LittorioNo details known 13/31 later 13/133 later 13/132 August 1942 75 M14/41
Not knownNo details known 14/31 31 August 1942 60 M14/41
Not knownNo details known 15/1 later 15/31 15 December 1942 40



Semovente da 75L18

Not knownNo details known 16/32 ?? 17(?)




Not knownNo details known 17/32 Late 1942 45

1 Coy



Not known/LittorioFormed in Africa from crews of 2 and 4 Battalions. 51/31 later 51/133 25 August 1942 80 M14/41
Approximate numbers. 19 Battalions 109484




Total 1,094 Mediums

So fire away please!

18 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?”

    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 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

    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.”


    • 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.

      All the best



      • 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) 🙂



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

  6. Pingback: D.A.K. war diary 12 March 1941 – The Crusader Project

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s