Tanks / Italy
Fiat M 15/42 medium tank
The Carro Armato M 14/41 was essentially the M 13/40 fitted with a more powerful diesel engine which was equipped with air filters designed to cope with the harsh conditions of the desert. Production amounted to just over 1,100 of these vehicles, which had a similar specification to the M 13/40 except for an increase in speed to 33 km/h (20 mph) and in weight to 14.5 tonnes. Further development resulted in the Carro Armato M 15/42, which entered service in early 1943. A total of 82 of these was built, most being issued to the Ariete Division which took part in the Italian attempt to deny Rome to the Germans in September 1943. Some of these vehicles were captured by the Germans and then used against the Allies.
The M 15/42 was slightly longer than the M 14/41 and distinguishable from it by the lack of a crew access door in the left side of the hull. It was driven by a more powerful engine which made it slightly faster, and had improved armour protection and other more minor modifications as a result of operator comments.
The hull of the M 15/42 was of allriveted construction which varied in thickness from 42mm (1.65 in) to 14mm (0,55 in), with a maximum of 45 mm (1.77 in) on the turret front. The driver was seated at the front of the hull on the left, with the bow machinegunner to his right, the latter operating the twin Breda Modello 38 8-mm (0.315-in) machine-guns as well as the radios, The turret was in the centre of the hull and armed with a 47-mm 40calibre gun with an elevation of +20∞ and a depression of -10∞; turret traverse, which was electric, was 360∞. A Modello 38 8-mm (0.315-in) machine-gun was mounted co-axial with the main armament, and a similar weapon was mounted on the turret roof for anti-aircraft defence. Totals of 111 rounds of 47-mm and 2,640 rounds of 8-mm (0.315-in) ammunition were carried. Suspension on each side consisted of four double-wheel articulated bogies mounted in two assemblies each carried on semi-elliptical springs, with the drive sprocket at the front and the idler at the rear; there were three track-return rollers, The engine was at the rear of the hull and coupled to a manual gearbox with eight forward and two reverse gears.
By the time the M 15/42 had been introduced into service it was already obsolete, and design of another tank had been under way for several years. In 1942 the first prototypes of the Carro Armato P 40 heavy tank were built. This was a major advance on the earlier Italian tanks and used a similar type of suspension to the M 15/42. The layout was also similar with the driver at the front, turret in the centre and engine at the rear. Armour protection was much improved and the hull and turret sides sloped to give maximum possible protection within the weight limit of 26 tonnes. The P 40 was powered by a V-12 petrol engine that developed 420 hp (313kW) to give it a maximum road speed of 40 km/h (25 mph), Main armament comprised a 75-mm (2,95-in) 34-calibre gun with a co-axial Modello 38 8-mm (0.315-in) machine-gun. Totals of 75 rounds of 75-mm (2.95-in) and 600 rounds of machine-gun ammunition were carried, The P 40 was produced by Fiat in northern Italy, but none of these entered service with the Italian army and most were subsequently taken over by the German army, which ensured continued production for itself, some reports stating that over 50 vehicles were built for German use.

Specification Carro Armato M 15/42 Crew: 4 Weight: 15500 kg (34,800 lb) Dimensions: length 5.04 m (16 ft 7 in); width 2.23 m (7 ft 4 in); height 2.39 m (7 ft 11 in) Powerplant: one SPA 15 TB M42 eightcylinder petrol engine developing 192hp(143kW) Performance: maximum road speed 40 km/h (25 mph); maximum range 220 km ( 136 miles); fording 1,0 m (3 ft 3 in); gradient 60 per cent; vertical obstacle 0.8 m (2 ft 8 in); trench 2.10 m (6 ft 11 in)
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