Special Armored Brigade
The Special Armored Brigade (Brigata Corazzata Speciale), also known as "Babini Group", or Raggruppamento Babini) was an ad hoc armored unit formed by the Italian Royal Army (Regio Esercito Italia) in Italian North Africa during the initial stages of the Western Desert Campaign of World War II.
The group was formed in late 1940 and was destroyed at the Battle of Beda Fomm in February 1941.
In late 1940, the Italian Supreme Command moved quickly to organize the Brigata Corazzata Speciale (BCS). In hardly more than a month, the Italians dispatched this volunteer force to North Africa under the command of General Valentino Babini. The BCS included Italy's most up-to-date medium tanks, the M13/40.
The M13s were a vast improvement over the M11/39s used as part of the Maletti Group (Raggruppamento Maletti). As opposed to the M11s, the M13s had a superior turret-mounted 47 mm tank gun. This gun was more than able to pierce the armor of the British light and cruiser tanks.
The BCS included M13 tanks supported by three Bersaglieri battalions, one motorcycle battalion, one artillery regiment, two anti-tank gun companies, one engineering company, and several logistics units. Unfortunately, other than command vehicles, the M13s of the BCS were not equipped with radios. Communicating for most Italian tankers required the use of signal flags.
At Derna and Mechili, the BCS included fifty-five M13/40 tanks of the 3rd Battalion and the 5th Battalion from the 131 Armoured Division Centauro. This should have amounted to at least one-hundred-and-twenty M13s. But eighty-two tanks had just arrived at Benghazi and required ten days of "acclimazation" prior to operation.
The Italians tried to evacuate Cyrenecia in the face of the British advance, but a flying column had gotten behind them and blocked the road. In the course of an attempted breakthrough, the BCS along with the rest of the Italian 10th Army was destroyed or captured.
- Walker, p. 63
- Walker, p. 65
- Macksey, Major Kenneth (1971). Beda Fomm: Classic Victory. Ballentine's Illustrated History of the Violent Century, Battle Book Number 22. New York: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-02434-6.
- Walker, Ian W. (2003). Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts : Mussolini's elite armoured divisions in North Africa. Marlborough: Crowood. ISBN 1-86126-646-4.
- Wavell, Archibald (1946). Despatch on Operations in the Western Desert From 7th December, 1940 to 7th February 1941. London: War Office. in The London Gazette: . 26 June 1946. Retrieved 2009-10-31.
- "Archibald Wavell's Despatch on Operations in the Western Desert From 7th December, 1940 to 7th February 1941.". Supplement to the London Gazette, Number 37628. June 26, 1946. Retrieved October 31, 2009.