Fiat L6/40

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Carro Armato L6/40
Fiat-Ansaldo L6 40.jpg
Fiat-Ansaldo L6/40 in 1940
Type Light Tank
Place of origin Italy Italy
Service history
In service 1940–1944, postwar to the early 1950s
Used by Italy Italy
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Republic of Italy
Wars World War II
Production history
Designer Fiat-Ansaldo
Designed 1939
Manufacturer Fiat-Ansaldo
Produced 1939–1944
Number built 283
Variants command vehicle, flamethrower, ammunition carrier, Semovente 47/32
Specifications
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)

Armor 6–40 mm (0.24–1.57 in)
Main
armament
20 mm Breda 35 with 296 rounds
Secondary
armament
8 mm Breda 38 machine gun with 1,560 rounds
Engine SPA 180 four-cylinder
70 hp (52 kW)
Suspension bogie
Operational
range
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 and on 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") L 6/40. This designation is understood as follows: "L" for Leggero (Italian: "light"), followed by the weight in tons (6) and the year of adoption (1940).

Design and development[edit]

The L6/40 was a conventional light tank design of riveted construction. A one-man turret in the center mounted a single Breda Modello 35 20 mm main gun and a Breda Modello 38 8 mm coaxial machine gun. The driver sat in the front right of the hull. The riveted armor 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.[1] Ultimately, the production configuration, named Carro Armato L6/40, was put into production in 1939, with 283 finally produced.

Variants[edit]

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.[1]

The most successful of the L6 variants was the Semovente 47/32, which eliminated the turret and substituted a 47 mm antitank gun in the open-topped hull.[1]

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 extra 90 mm ammunition, as the Semovente 90/53 itself could only carry six rounds.

Combat use[edit]

L6/40 light tanks were used by the Italians in the Balkans Campaign, in the war against the Soviet Union, in the latter stages of the North African campaign, and in the defense of Sicily and Italy.

The L6/40 was the main tank employed by the Italian forces fighting on the Eastern Front. The L6 fought alongside the L6/40-based Semovente 47/32 self-propelled gun.

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.[1] 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.

The L6 was also used by the German Army[citation needed] and the Croat Ustaše militia.

An L6/40 with German markings passes German infantrymen in occupied Albania, September 1943

The L6/40 was used postwar by the Italian militia until it was phased out during the early 1950s.[2]

Extended specification[edit]

  • Obstacle clearance:
  • Water fording: 0.8 m (2 ft 8 in)
  • Gradient: 60%
  • Vertical obstacle: 0.7 m (2 ft 4 in)
  • Trench: 1.7m (5 ft 7 in)
  • Elevation and Traverse: -12° to +20° through 360° of rotation

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Jackson, Robert (2010). 101 great tanks. New York: Rosen Publishing. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-4358-3595-5. 
  2. ^ 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.

External links[edit]