An AB 41 in North Africa.
|Place of origin||Italy|
|Used by||Regio Esercito
|Wars||World War II|
|Variants||AS 42 "Camionetta Sahariana" and AB 43|
|Length||5.21 m (17 ft 1 in)|
|Width||1.93 m (6 ft 4 in)|
|Height||2.48 m (8 ft 2 in)|
|Crew||4 (1 x forward driver, 1 x rear driver, 1 x gunner and 1 x commander)|
|Armor||18 mm maximum|
|20 mm Breda 35 autocannon
|2 x 8 mm Breda 38 machine guns
|Engine||FiAT-SPA 6-cylinder petrol
88 hp (for AB 40) and 120 hp (for AB 41)
|400 km (250 miles)|
|Speed||78 km/h (48 mph) (road)|
The Autoblinda 41 (AB 41) was an Italian armored car in use during World War II. It was armed with a 20 mm Breda 35 autocannon and a coaxial 8 mm machine gun in a turret similar to the one fitted to the Fiat L6/40, and another hull mounted rear-facing 8mm machine gun.
The AB 41 (named after its first year of production, 1941) was based on the machine gun armed Autoblinda 40. Made with an all-riveted construction, the AB 41 had four-wheel drive and a four wheel steering system that proved troublesome. The spare wheels fitted to its sides were free to rotate, thus helping the vehicle over rough terrain and allowing it to drive over higher obstacles. It could also be fitted with wheels that would allow it to run on railway tracks and some were modified further to better serve in this role, with the addition of sand boxes and rail guards to deflect objects from the rails. This version was designated AB 41 Ferroviaria.
It had six forward gears and four reverse gears, with a driving position at the front and one in the rear, so two crew members were drivers. Overall the AB 40/41 family was well thought out, with a top speed of over 70 km/h (45 mph), good armor (15 mm on the front plates) and good road and cross-country performance, but there were some examples of poor detail design like difficult access to the powerplant, an unprotected fuel tank, one man turret, exposed traverse gear and lack of an interior bulkhead separating the engine and crew compartments. Nevertheless, the AB 41 was considered a good vehicle and one of the best armored cars of its era. Its chassis was later used as a basis for the SPA-Viberti AS.42. About 550 vehicles were built in all. The Italians planned to upgrade the AB 41 with a 47 mm anti-tank gun as the AB 43, but those plans were disrupted by the armistice with the Allies in September 1943.
During World War II, the Autoblinda AB 41 operated in North Africa, the Balkans, Italy, Hungary, and on the Eastern Front. Italy issued the AB 41 only to cavalry, Italian Africa Police (PAI) and Bersaglieri units. The AB 41 was also organized into reconnaissance battalions (or cavalry groups) of 3 or 4 companies each. Each armoured car company consisted of 3 armoured car platoons of 4 armoured cars each, 1 armoured car for the company commander, and 1 armoured car for the company HQ (Headquarters) totaling 42 or 56 AB 41s in all. Each fully equipped independent armoured car company proved highly suitable for reconnaissance, escort and security duties.
The AB 41 could be quickly adapted for operation on any terrain. Sand tires could be fitted for desert work and it could run on railway tracks with special bogies and extra lights. The rail-converted vehicles were primarily used in anti-partisan patrols in the Balkans. After the Italian armistice the Germans confiscated some 57 AB 41s and also built 120 more. The German designation was Panzerspähwagen AB41 201(i).
- The Complete Guide to Tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles, page 302, Hermes House ISBN 978-1-84681-110-4
- An artist's view of an AB 41 Ferroviaria
- Pignato, Nicola, Italian Armored Vehicles of World War Two, Squadron Signal series=6089.
- Chamberlain, Peter and Hilary Doyle. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two. Wigston Leicestershire, UK: Silverdale Books, 2004. ISBN 1-84509-012-8. p. 232.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Autoblinda AB 41.|
- AUTOBLINDA 40 and 41 at comandosupremo.com
- Autoblinda AB 40, AB 41, AB 43 armored cars at wwiivehicles.com