SPA-Viberti AS.42

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
SPA-Viberti AS.42
An AS.42 desert patrol vehicle of the Auto-Saharan Company
TypeReconnaissance vehicle
Place of originItaly
Service history
In service1942-1954
Used byRoyal Italian Army
WarsWorld War II
Production history
No. builtc.100
Mass4,500 kg (9,900 lb)
Length5.620 m (18 ft 5.3 in)
Width2.260 m (7 ft 5.0 in)
Height1.800 m (5 ft 10.9 in)

see Armament
Engine4,995 cc 6-cylinder petrol
100 hp (75 kW)
Transmission6 forward 1 reverse
300 km (190 mi), with spare cans 1,500 km (930 mi)
Maximum speed 84 km/h (52 mph)

The SPA-Viberti AS.42 Sahariana, or Camionetta Desertica Model 42 was an Italian reconnaissance car of World War II. The AS 42 Sahariana was developed by SPA-Viberti using the same chassis as the AB 41 armoured car, including its four-wheel steering, but with a 2x4 transmission specifically for desert operations, primarily in a reconnaissance role. Its origins trace back to requests stemming from units operating on the North African front for a long range, highly manoeuvrable vehicle, similar to those widely used by the highly successful British reconnaissance and raiding force, the Long Range Desert Group (LRDG).


The Camionetta Desertica AS.42 Sahariana was a 4x2 unarmoured vehicle with a boat hull based on the chassis of the AB 41 armoured car, but with a 2x4 transmission. The 100 horsepower (75 kW) SPA ABM 3 6 cylinder petrol engine was located in the rear which gave enough space in the middle of the hull to accommodate up to five fully equipped men and weapons, though the mission crew seldom exceeded three or four.[citation needed] The open compartment's only overhead protection was a waterproof canvas sheet. Besides the driver’s seat, the crew that served the on board weapons were seated on four folding seats on the sides.[citation needed] The AS 42 had internal fuel tanks of 145 litres with an additional 20 jerrycans externally mounted on both sides between the wheels plus 4 on the front fenders, holding a total of 80 litres of water and 400 litres of fuel. A full fuel tank and the additional fuel canisters allowed a maximum range of 1,500 km (930 mi).[citation needed]

A second model, called Camionetta II or Metropolitana, entered service in Italy in 1943.[citation needed] It differed from the first model by the absence of the two upper side rows of petrol jerrycans, replaced by two large caissons for ammunition, and the presence of a canvas top. In addition, this version was fitted with new Pirelli Artiglio tyres adapted to mud and snow of the mainland, unlike the previous Pirelli Tipo Libia or Superflex sand tyres.[citation needed]


The vehicles were fitted with a main weapon that was a 20 mm (0.79 in) Breda Model 35 autocannon or a 20 mm Solothurn S-18/1000 anti-tank rifle or, for heavier firepower, a 47 mm (1.9 in) Breda M35.[1]

In addition, they were fitted with one or two 8 mm Breda model 37 machine-guns.


The AS 42 Sahariana's performance was very good[according to whom?]. From September to November 1942, the first batch of 14 vehicles was delivered to the Regio Esercito. The unit that gave the AS 42 its baptism of fire in November 1942 was the “Raggruppamento Sahariano AS” (Africa Settentrionale meaning North Africa). The good results achieved by the “Raggruppamento Sahariano AS” quickly led to the formation of at least four more “Compagnia Arditi Camionettisti”: the 103rd, 112th, 113th, and 123rd.[citation needed]

The Sahariana was operated solely by desert raiding parties operating against the LRDG. Its low profile allowed it to hide behind the dunes and wait for the arrival of the enemy unseen, and its great capacity for autonomous action allowed it to chase enemy forces for long periods. Entering service in December 1942, the AS.42 participated in the final stages of the Libyan campaign and the entire campaign in Tunisia. It was mainly assigned to aviation companies of the Auto-Saharan Company and the 103rd Battalion.[citation needed]

Surviving vehicles were later used by the 2nd Battalion of the 10th Regiment in the defence of Sicily and southern Italy. The same unit and the Motorized Assault Battalion employed the “Sahariana” and “Metropolitana” models in the defence of Rome on 8 September 1943. After that, a few Saharianas stayed in Northern Italy with Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic.[citation needed] Seven vehicles fought on the Eastern Front as part of the 2. Fallschirmjäger Division. They were in service throughout 1944 and 1945 as reconnaissance vehicles on the Eastern Front, in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.[citation needed] Some of the vehicles were recovered and used by the Free Italian Battalion “Barbarigo” Xª MAS Flotilla.[citation needed]

The end of the war didn't mean the end of the AS 42’s service, as a dozen of these vehicles were supplied to the Italian Police, and, painted cherry red, were integrated into the ranks of the Department Celeri and Departments of Public Security, seeing service until 1954.[citation needed] The AS 42 was fast and dependable, but nevertheless complicated to build.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^


  • Vanderveen, beard: The Observer's Fighting Vehicles directory (World War II)
  • Camionetta Desertica Model 42/AS 42 Sahariana Reconnaissance Vehicle,
  • "SPA-Viberti AS.42 Sahariana", Comando Supremo, 8 March 2010
  • Cappellano, Filippo; Battistelli, Pier Paolo, Italian Armoured & Reconnaissance Cars: 1911-45, New Vanguard, Osprey Publishing

External links[edit]