The Carro Armato M15/42 Italian Medium Tank
This Carro Armato M15/42 Italian Medium Tank can be found at the French Tank Museum in Saumur in the Loire Valley. The Museum is called Musée des Blindés ou Association des Amis du Musée des Blindés, 1043, route de Fontevraud, 49400 Saumur, France www.museedesblindes.fr . The word Blindés means armoured.
Carro Armato M15/42 Italian Medium Tank
The Carro Armato M15/42 Italian Medium Tank was an upgrade to the M14/41 and the M13/40. Its main area of operation was in the deserts of North Africa. The M15/42 tank had a four man crew: Commander, Gunner/loader, Radio operator and Driver. Despite its 47mm Cannone da 47/40 main gun, this tank may be compared with the German panzer I and II. It was soon out of date because of its feeble armour plating and because of its poor mechanical reliability. However it was to stand on duty in the Italian armoured division until the Italians surrendered in September 1943.
The words Carro Armato roughly translated means 'armoured car' or tank. The letter 'M' stands for Medium and the number 15 denotes the weight in tonnes. The last number is the year of adoption 1942. In fact production started 1st January 1943 and only 90 were made for the Italian Army. Some of these tanks fought against the German panzers and troops in an effort to disarm them in Rome. They were part of the Italian 135th Armoured Ariete Division. They were no match against the German tanks with bigger guns and heavier armour plating.
Rear view of a Carro Armato M15/42 Italian Medium Tank
The M15/42 had front armour of 50mm and the side armour was only 42mm thick. It had a top speed of 40 km/h (25mph). The engine was a single SPA 15TB M42 8-cylinder petrol engine that gave 192hp. It was mounted in the rear of the hull. The car company Fiat produced the tank. The same tank chassis was used in the Semovente 75/34 self propelled gun. The tank had four machine guns. Two 8mm Breda 38 machine guns were mounted in the hull. Two more either side of the main gun in the turret and one mounted on top of the turret for anti-aircraft defence. The 192 hp petrol engine was fitted with air filters to cope with desert conditions.
Track wheels of a Carro Armato M15/42 Italian Medium Tank
After the Italian surrender the Germans seized all the Italian Army Carro Armato M15/42 tanks and made Fiat build a further 28 tanks for the German Army. They were already under production at the time of the Armistice. The Germans renamed these captured tanks as Panzerkampfwagen M15/42 738(i). They were used in a combat, policing, reconnaissance and training role. They saw action in the German Army in Serbia and Croatia in 1944. The Germans used them in Budapest in Hungary in 1945 with the 22nd SS Freiwilligen-Kavallerie-Division Maria Theresa
Front view of a Carro Armato M15/42 Italian Medium Tank and its dual hull mounted 8mm Breda 38 machine guns. You can see the mounting ring on top of the turret where the anti-aircraft machine gun would have been located.
Where can I find preserved Carro Armato M15/42 Italian tanks?
- 2x Museo della Motorizzazione Militare della Cecchignola, Rome, Italy
- 2x Caserma De Carli, Cordenons, Italy
- Caserma Babini, Bellinzago Novarese, Italy
- Caserma Paglieri, Codroipo, Italy
- Caserma Forgiarini, Tauriano, Italy
- Caserma Durli, Palmanova, Italy
- Caserme Nacci e Zappala, Lecce, Italy
- Fabio Temeroli Collection, Italy
- Kalemegdan Military Museum, Belgrade, Serbia
- Musee des Blindes, Saumur, France
- Source - Pierre-Oliver Buan - http://the.shadock.free.fr/Surviving_Panzers.html