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Carro Armato L6/40
Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-201-1561-23, Balkan, italienischer Panzer
Italian L6/40 in service in the Balkans, August 1943.
Type Light tank
Place of origin Italy Italy
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany
Service history
In service 1941-1945
Used by Italy Italy
Wars World War II
Production history
Produced 1941 - 1944
Number built 283
Variants command vehicle, flamethrower, ammunition carrier, Semovente 47/32
Specifications
Weight 6.8 tonnes
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 2 (commander/gunner and driver)

Armor 6 mm to 40 mm
Primary
armament
20 mm Breda 35
Secondary
armament
8 mm Breda 38 machine gun
Engine SPA 180 four-cylinder
70 hp (52 kW)
Operational
range
200 km (125 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. 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).

Description and historyEdit

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. Armor was 6 to 30 mm in thickness, which was roughly equivalent to existing Allied light tanks.

Interestingly, the vehicle was designed by Fiat-Ansaldo as an export product, and was only adopted by the Italian Army when military officials learned of the design and expressed interest.

The L6/40 was the main tank employed by the Italian forces fighting on the Eastern Front alongside the L6/40-based Semovente 47/32. L6/40s were also used in the North African campaign.

DevelopmentEdit

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. Most successful of the variants was the Semovente 47/32, which eliminated the turret and substituted a 47 mm antitank gun in the open-topped hull. A final version late in the war was armed only with a single 8 mm Breda machine gun. It was used alongside the Semovente 90/53 in order to carry extra ammunition, as the Semovente itself only carried 6 rounds of ammunition.

DeploymentEdit

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.

Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-203-1680-14A, Albanien, deutsche Soldaten, italienischer Panzer

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

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.

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 may encounter. However, due to lack of suitable medium tanks, it was often employed in a combat role, for which it was unsuited.

Surviving examplesEdit

Three L6/40s survive to this day; one is kept in Legnano near the "Cadorna" barracks, one is in the inventory of the Kubinka Tank Museum, and another is preserved in a museum at Argirokastron in Albania.[1][2]

Extended specificationEdit

  • 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)
  • Armament
    • Ammunition: 296 rounds of 20 mm and 1,560 rounds of 8 mm
    • Elevation and Traverse: -12° to +20° through 360° of rotation

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. "Carro Armato L6/40 Light Tank". http://preservedtanks.com/Types.aspx?TypeCategoryId=5200. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 
  2. "CENSIMENTO DEI VEICOLI CORAZZATI STORICI IN ITALIA" (in Italian). http://www.ferreamole.it/contributi/censimento/censimento_02.htm. Retrieved 25 April 2015. 

ReferencesEdit

  • Bishop, Chris (ed.) 1998, The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Barnes & Noble, New York. ISBN 0-7607-1022-8.

External linksEdit

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