Fiat M16/43

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Carro Armato M Celere Sahariano
Celere-Sahariano.jpg
Carro Armato Celere Sahariano
Type Medium tank
Place of origin  Kingdom of Italy
Service history
Used by  Kingdom of Italy
Production history
Designer Fiat
Produced 1943
Number built 1 (incomplete prototype)
Specifications
Weight 16 tonnes
Length 5.8 m (19 ft 0 in)
Width 2.8 m (9 ft 2 in)
Height 2.0 m (6 ft 7 in)
Crew 4

Armor

30 mm front

25 mm sides [1]
Main
armament
47 mm 47/40 L40
Secondary
armament
2 x 8 mm Breda 38 machine guns
Engine FIAT-SPA gasoline
275 hp
Power/weight 17.19 hp/tonne
Suspension Christie suspension
Operational
range
300 km (190 mi)
Speed 55 km/h (34 mph)

The Carro Armato M Celere Sahariano (Italian for "Saharian Fast Medium Tank") was a prototype medium tank developed by the Kingdom of Italy during World War II to match the speed and firepower of contemporary British cruiser tanks encountered by Italian forces during the Western Desert Campaign. The project was cancelled following the expulsion of Axis forces from North Africa in May 1943. Had it entered service, the tank's designation would likely have been M16/43: "M" for Medio, "16" representing the vehicle's weight in metric tons and "43" being the planned year of introduction.[2]

Development[edit]

In early 1941, the Italian Army requested that Fiat and Ansaldo develop a low profile 15 to 16 t (15 to 16 long tons) tank to counter the faster and more heavily armed A-13 series tanks exemplified by the Crusader tank. Fiat-Ansaldo began the new tank project in June 1941 by creating a wooden mock-up on a M14/41 medium tank chassis, inclining the tank's armor plates to create a glacis. The armor remained, like other contemporary Italian tanks of the period, bolted rather than welded together and generally thinner than tanks of other countries. Many different engines, including petrol-fueled aircraft engines, were tested on the chassis before development of the Sahariano tank was halted. At the time of cancellation a 275 hp gasoline engine was being tested. An elongated M14/41 turret housing a 47mm 47/40 L40 was tested on the Sahariano tank and would also be used by the M15/42 medium tank. There were plans to later fit a 75mm cannon on the production model of the Sahariano tank as well. The Sahariano was the first Italian tank to feature a modified Christie suspension system,[3] a more robust and faster suspension system than the leaf spring bogies used on previous Italian tank designs. Ansaldo based the Sahariano's suspension on British tanks encountered in North Africa and a captured Soviet BT-5 from the Spanish Civil War. By the time of the project's cancellation, the design looked very similar to their British counterparts but with a notably lower design profile, making the tank easy to conceal and potentially more difficult to hit.

Several factors contributed to the project's demise: the concurrent development of the Carro Armato P 40 heavy tank; the strain of introducing a new tank model on an already weakened Italian industrial base; the potential of license production of foreign tanks such as the Czechoslovakian T-21 medium tank; and, most decisively, Italy's loss of its Libya colony and the seeming end of a need for a fast tank.[4]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Carro Celere Sahariano
  3. ^ without the road wheel/track conversion system
  4. ^ Il Carro Celere Sahariano

External links[edit]