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|Carro Armato L6/40|
Fiat-Ansaldo L6/40 in 1940
|Place of origin||Italy|
|In service||1940–1944, postwar to the early 1950s|
|Used by|| Italy
Republic of Italy
|Wars||World War II|
|Variants||command tank, flame tank, ammunition carrier, Semovente 47/32|
|Weight||6.8 tonnes (7.5 short tons; 6.7 long tons)|
|Length||3.78 m (12 ft 5 in)|
|Width||1.92 m (6 ft 4 in)|
|Height||2.03 m (6 ft 8 in)|
|Crew||Two (commander/gunner and driver)|
|Armour||6–40 mm (0.24–1.57 in)|
|20 mm Breda 35 with 296 rounds|
|8 mm Breda 38 machine gun with 1,560 rounds|
|Engine||SPA 180 four-cylinder
70 hp (52 kW)
|200 km (120 mi)|
|Speed||42 km/h (26 mph) Road|
The Fiat L6/40 was a light tank used by the Italian army from 1940 through World War II. It was designed by Fiat-Ansaldo as an export product, and was adopted by the Italian Army when officials learned of the design and expressed interest. It was the main tank employed by the Italian forces fighting on the Eastern Front alongside the L6/40-based Semovente 47/32 self-propelled gun. L6/40s were also used in the North African campaign.
The official Italian designation was Carro Armato ("armored tank") L6/40. This designation means: "L" for Leggero (Italian: "light"), followed by the weight in tons (6) and the year of adoption (1940).
Design and development
The L6/40 was a conventional light tank design of riveted construction. A one-man turret in the centre mounted a single Breda Modello 35 20 mm main gun and a Breda 38 8 mm coaxial machine gun. The driver sat in the front right of the hull. The riveted armour was six to 30 mm in thickness, which was roughly equivalent to existing Allied light tanks.
A further development of the Fiat L3 light tank, the L6 went through a number of prototypes during the late 1930s. The first was armed with a sponson-mounted 37 mm main gun and a machine-gun armed turret. A later version featured a turret mounted 37 mm gun and yet another version had only twin 8 mm machine guns. Ultimately, the production configuration, named Carro Armato L6/40, was put into production in 1939, with 283 finally produced.
The L6 Lf flame tank variant was developed in which the main gun was replaced by a flamethrower with 200 litres of fuel. A command-tank variant carried extra radio gear and had an open-topped turret.
A final version late in the war was an ammunition carrier armed only with a single 8 mm Breda machine gun. It was used alongside the Semovente 90/53, carrying 26 extra 90 mm rounds, as the Semovente 90/53 itself could only carry six rounds.
Although a good light tank for its size and an improvement over the tankettes that were common within the Italian army, it was already obsolete by the time of its introduction. The low silhouette of the vehicle (somewhat taller than the average man) made it useful for reconnaissance, and its armament was effective against any light vehicles it might encounter. However, due to a lack of a suitable medium tanks, it was often employed in a combat role, for which it was unsuited.
- Obstacle clearance:
- Water fording: 0.8 m (2 ft 8 in)
- Gradient: 60%
- Vertical obstacle: 0.7 m (2 ft 4 in)
- Trench: 1.7 m (5 ft 7 in)
- Elevation and Traverse: -12° to +20° through 360° of rotation
- Jackson, Robert (2010). 101 great tanks. New York: Rosen Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-4358-3595-5.
- Chant, Chris and Jones, Richard Tanks Zenith Imprint (2004), ISBN 0760318719, p.94
- Bishop, Chris (ed.) 1998, The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Barnes & Noble, New York. ISBN 0-7607-1022-8.