The Italian tank type built was the CV.29, designed in 1929, which was based on the Carden-Loyd Mk VI tankette, four of which were purchased from Britain; the CV.29 was in all respects similar to the British original, and 25 were built.
Fiat and Ansaldo improved on this version to produce the slightly more sophisticated CV.33 series.
Two heavier tanks were produced in 1933-6, as prototypes for possible production; they had diesel engines and differed in details though had similar suspension. Largest was the turretless Carro Armato 12ton Tank of 1933. The lighter of the two tanks, the Carro Armato 8ton Tank appeared in 1936 and featured a 37mm gun in the hull front and an MG in the turret. From this prototype was developed the M.11 of which 100 were ordered in 1938. About this time the designation system for tanks was changed and the old CV type (Carro Veloce 33) became ‘L’ (for Light, L.33).
Meanwhile a greatly improved version of the L.33 appeared, the L3/35 which had better armour and a superior engine. There were several variants of this vehicle including a flamethrower. A further improved model was the L3/38 of 1938 which featured new suspension and other detail changes. In 1936 Fiat-Ansaldo built prototypes of 5ton vehicles which were light tanks considerably bigger than the L3/35 and fitted with turrets and 8mm MGs; this type was known as the L.6.
CARRO VELOCE 33 TANKETTE
Designed by Ansaldo and closely derived from the basic Carro Veloce 29 (see above) in 1931-2. Officially tested and design finalised in 1933. Total of 1,300 ordered initially, later increased. Built by Fiat-Ansaldo. Numerous variants and improved models (see below). Widely used and widely exported. The vehicle was airportable beneath an aircraft and could tow a tracked ammunition trailer. It was distinguished by being very low and small, and lacking a turret, the gun(s) being set in the superstructure. Riveted and bolted construction was used throughout and the vehicle was of very simple shape. Rear engine and front drive. MG armament except in special variants. 3.15tons; crew 2; 1 MG or 2 MG; armour 5-l5mm; engine (gasoline) 43hp; 26mph; 10.4ft x 4.67ft x 4.25ft. Other users: Afghanistan (1936-?); Albania (1938-40); Austria (1935-9); Bolivia (1937-?); Brazil (special export model with Madsen MG, 1938-c. 1946); Bulgaria (1936-9); China (1936-9); Greece (captured vehicles, 1941), Hungary (1934-8); Iraq (1936-41); Spain, Nationalist (1936-9).
CV Fiat-Ansoldo L38: Improved 1937-8 model with stronger suspension, new tracks, episcope for driver, and Breda MG. Many older vehicles were retrospectively modified to this standard. From 1940 some vehicles were rearmed with a 20mm Solothurn anti-tank pun, as in the illustration above.
L35/Lf (later L3-35Lf in 1940): Flamethrower conversion of any of the, three production types. Featured a 500kg armoured fuel trailer towed behind the vehicle. Flame-gun was mounted in the hull, replacing MGs. On some later vehicles the fuel tank was mounted on the rear superstructure. Range up to 100 metres. JLf stood for ‘lanciafiamme’ (flamethrower); known as ‘Carro d’assalto lanciafiamme’.
CV 33/11 special export model for Brazil with torsion bar suspension and 13 2mm Madsen MG.
Other variants: Recovery Vehicle (unarmed and with towing equipment); Tank Destroyer (1939 prototype, not adapted); Radio Controlled Demolition Tank (conversion by a tank unit); AA Tank (L3 with 8mm MG on AA mount in limited service).