Carro Armato (Fiat) M14/40 tank 1941
Armoured Fighting Vehicles 1918-1945
In April 2001 after 56 years it was discovered this tank was an M14/40 – not an M13/40. The visual difference was marginal. Both were manufactured by Fiat. The M14 was first employed in the North African Campaign where its shortcomings quickly became apparent. The M14/41 was a slightly improved version of the earlier M 13/40 with a more powerful diesel engine. It was produced in limited numbers as it was already considered obsolete by the time of its introduction. The M14/41 used the same chassis as the M13/40 but with a redesigned hull with better armour. The M14/41 was manufactured in 1941 and 1942. Nearly 800 had been produced by the time production ended. The M13 had been an improved version of the M11 which the Italians began to equip their armoured units with at the start of the War. It was at the Battle of Beda Fomm that the new M13 tank made its first appearance. In other respects, however, it was a much better design than its predecessor and was to be the principal Italian battle tank of the war. Introduced during the last and decisive battle of the first Libyan campaign the M13/40 made little difference to the outcome although, coming at a crucial time, its influence could well have been critical. At the time it was a serviceable machine though the quality of the armour was inferior to that of the British cruiser tanks. At the end of the campaign so many tanks had been captured that some British units were issued with them in lieu of British replacements. The 6th Royal Tanks were entirely re-equipped with M13/40s. After February 1941 M13/40s were used by the Italian armoured formations working with Rommel’s Afrika Korps, which debouched from Tripoli and pushed the British back across North Africa and nearly into Egypt again. The M14 played its part in the battles of the next two years, but though improvements were made it became outclassed. By 1942, the Allies had numbers of 75-mm-arrned Grant and Sherman tanks and the Germans were using a high velocity 7·5-cm gun on PzII. To increase the fire power of their tanks Italians adopted the German method of fitting larger guns on to existing tank chassis at the expense of the traversing turret. The Semovente self-propelled guns mounted on the M13 chassis comprised a short 75-mm howitzer on the 75/18 model, and a high velocity 90-mm anti-tank gun on the 90/53. The performance of this gun was equal to that of the German 8·8-cm and it could knock out any Allied tank in the field – but very few were built.
|Dimensions||47.5 × 35.6 cm|