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Italy's Autoblinda AB 40, AB 41, and AB 43 armored cars

Design

The requirements for a new armored car for the Italian Colonial Police and the Italian Cavalry were combined into one specification.

The four wheel steering did cause problems for the Autoblindas. There were two drivers in the crew as there were positions in the front and the rear that could drive the Autoblinda.

Wheels

The Autoblindas could be outfitted with extra wide sand tires for used in North Africa.

There were also kits that could allow the Autoblindas to ride on railroad tracks. These could be changed in 30 minutes by the crew. These were primarily used in anti-partisan patrols in the Balkans.

AB 40

The AB 40 used the chassis from the FIAT-SPA artillery tractor.

Sahariana

Based on the success of the British Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) the Italian Army wanted a similar vehicles for long range desert missions.

The driver sat in the central position and usually there were three additional crewmen. The main armament was mounted in the center and various other mounts around the outside for machine guns.

There were two racks on either side with room for 20 20-liter jerry cans and four on the front bumpers that could carrying gasoline or water.

The main armament could be a 20 mm antitank rifle or 20 mm anti-aircraft gun. Two gun mounts could also carry a machine gun.

Prototype

The first Autoblinda prototypes appeared on May 15, 1939. There was one for the Italian Army and the other of the Polizia dell'Africa Italiana (Italian African Police). In July Mussolini was show one of the prototypes.

After being test by army exercises and a 13,000 km drive in Italian East African 185 were ordered in March 1940 from SPA Ansaldo. Nine of those would go to the African Police.

In January 1941 Yugoslavia ordered 54, that were never delivered.

Production

Production started in 1940 with the AB 40. These were the most produced Italian armored car in World War II.

360 AB 43s were ordered and though production started, none were ever finished.

  • Manufacturer: Ansaldo
  • AB 40: 22, 24
    • Production: 1940 - 1941
  • AB 41: 550, 624
    • Production: 1941 - July 1943
  • AB 43: 0
    • Production: September 1943
  • Sahariana: 100
    • AB 41 or AB 42 chassis: 80
    • AB 43 chassis: 20

Variants

  • AB 40: Initial production model. Initially had two machine guns in the turret, one of which was facing to the rear. A few had a 20 mm gun in the turret.
  • AB 41: Turret from L6/40 was used. Was 4-wheeled drive. 25% of the vehicles had a mount for an anti-aircraft gun.
  • AB 43: This was to mount a 47 mm gun but was never put into production.
  • ??: One that had no turret and was used as a command vehicle or artillery observation post.
  • Camionetta Desertica mod. 42, Sahariana: Used AB 41 chassis. No turret or armored plates and the hull sides were lower.
  • Camionetta II SPA ABM 42, Metropolitana: Used mostly in Europe. Side racks for jerry cans replaced by compartments to carry items.

Usage

Autoblinda 41

The Autoblinda 41 was used in North Africa, the Soviet Union, Italy, and Hungary.

The AB 41 was first used by the African Police battalion Romolo Gessi in Libya.

Anti Partisan

The Autoblinda 41s were used widely in the Balkans against partisans.

Sahariana First Use

On September 21, 1942, six Saharianas were delivered to the 10th Arditi regiment at Brindisi.

Once Africa was abandoned the 10th Arditi regiment ended up in Catania, Sicily and fought with the 1st Fallschirmjäger Division at the Primosole Bridge.

German Captured Use

  • Panzerspähwagen AB41 201(i): 37 (57) confiscated from Italian Army in September 1943. 20 (120) more were produced. Later models had a new motor installed and were called the AB41/43. This had a 108 HP engine, could go 81 kph, and go 350 km.

 

Specifications

   
Crew 4
Physical Characteristics  
Length 17' 3.5"
Height 8' 1"
Width 6' 5"
Armament  
MG - coaxial 8 mm Breda modello 38
MG - rear 8 mm Breda modello 38
Engine (Make / Model) SAP Abm 1, Ansaldo
Cylinders 6
Cooling Water
Net HP 80
Fuel type Gasoline
Performance  
Speed - Road 49 mph
Speed - Cross Country 24 mph
Range - Road 248 miles
Fording depth 2' 4"
Vertical Obstacle 1'
Suspension (Type)  
Tires 4
  AB 40
Crew 4
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 15,344 lb
6 tons, 7.38 tons
7,500 kg
Length 17' 1"
5.2 m
Height 7' 11"
2.48 m
Width 6' 4"
1.92 m
Ground clearance 0.3 m
Armament  
Main 1: 20 mm, 20 mm Breda 35
OR 2: 8 mm, 8 mm Breda 38
MG 2: 8 mm MGs, 8 mm Breda 38
MG - rear 1: 8 mm Breda 38
Quantity  
Main 456
MG 1,992
Armor Thickness (mm) 8.5, 9
Hull Front, Upper 8.5
Hull Sides, Upper 8.5
Hull Top 6
Hull Bottom 6
Turret Front 18
Turret Sides 10
Engine (Make / Model) SPA 6T
Net HP 80 @ 2,700 rpm
Transmission 5 forward / 4 reverse
Performance  
Speed - Road 49 mph
75 kph, 78 kph, 78.38 kph
Speed - Cross Country 20 kph
Range - Road 248 miles
400 km
Fording depth 0.7 m
Vertical Obstacle 0.3 m
  AB 41
Crew 4
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 16,500 lb
7.4 tons, 7.5 tons
7,500 kg, 7,518 kg
Length 17' 1.5", 17' 2"
5.2 m
Height 7' 11.5", 8'
2.34 m, 2.48 m
Width 6' 4", 6' 4.25", 6' 4.5"
1.9 m, 1.92 m
Ground clearance 0.3 m
Armament  
Main 1: 20 mm Breda cannon, 20 mm Breda modello 35 AA, 20 mm modello 35 L/65, 20 mm Breda 35
MG 2: 8 mm modello 38, 8 mm MG, 8 mm Breda 38
MG - coaxial 1: 8 mm (0.315") modello 38 air cooled MG
MG - rear 1: 8 mm (0.315") modello 38 air cooled MG
Quantity  
Main 456
MG 1,992
Armor Thickness (mm) 6 - 40, 17
Hull Front, Upper 8.5, 9@23°
Hull Front, Lower 9@45°
Hull Sides, Upper 8.5, 9@30°
Hull Sides, Lower 9@0°
Hull Rear 9@20° & 9@40°
Hull Top 6, 6@90°
Hull Bottom 6, 6@90°
Turret Front 18@16°
Mantlet: 9, 18 round
Turret Sides 9@20°, 10
Turret Rear 9@16°
Turret Top 6@90°
Engine (Make / Model) SAP Abm, SAP Abn, SPA Abm 1, SPA 6T
5 liters
Cylinders 6, I-6
Cooling Water
Net HP 80, 80 @ 2,700 rpm, 88 @ 2,700 rpm
Transmission (type) 6 forward, 4 reverse
Fuel (type) Gasoline
Capacity 118 liters
Performance  
Traverse 360°, hand.
Speed - Road 49 mph
78 kph
Speed - Cross Country 24 mph
20 kph, 38 kph
Range - Road 248 miles
400 km
Elevation Limits -10° to +20°
Fording depth 2' 4"
0.7 m
Trench crossing 1' 4"
0.4 m
Vertical Obstacle 1'
0.3 m
  AB 43
Crew 3
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 16,732 lb
7.8 tons, 7.87 tons
Length 5.4 m, 5.41 m
Height 2.48 m
Width 1.9 m, 1.92 m
Ground clearance 0.35 m
Armament  
Main 1: 47 mm
OR 1: 20 mm Breda 35
MG 2: 8 mm Breda 38
MG - coaxial 8 mm
Quantity  
Main 408
MG 1,704
Armor Thickness (mm)  
Hull Front, Upper 8.5
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper 8.5
Hull Top 6
Hull Bottom 6
Turret Front 22
Turret Sides 10
Turret Top 6
Engine (Make / Model) SPA ABM 3
Net HP 100 @ 2,800 rpm, 110
Performance  
Speed - Road 56 mph
81.2 kph
Range - Road 334 miles
460 km
  Sahariana
Crew 4
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 4.5 tons
Length 5.62 m
Height 1,8 m
Width 2.26 m
Ground clearance 0.41 m
Armament  
Main 1: 47/40 mm
OR 1: 20 mm Breda 35
OR 1: 20 mm Solothum antitank rifle
MG 8 mm Breda 38
Armor Thickness (mm) None
Engine (Make / Model) SPA ABM 3
Net HP 110
Performance  
Speed - Road 84 kph
Range - Road 720 km
Range - Road with extra fuel 1,400 km
Vertical Obstacle 0.8 m

Sources:

  1. The Encyclopedia of Tanks and Armored Fighting Vehicles - The Comprehensive Guide to Over 900 Armored Fighting Vehicles From 1915 to the Present Day, General Editor: Christopher F. Foss, 2002
  2. Encyclopedia of German Tanks of World War Two, Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Doyle, 1999
  3. The Encyclopedia of Weapons of World War II, Chris Bishop, 1998
  4. World Encyclopedia of Armored Fighting Vehicles, Jack Livesey, 2006
  5. Armored Fighting Vehicles, 300 of the World's Greatest Military Vehicles, Philip Trewhitt, 1999
  6. Italian Armoured & Reconnaissance Cars 1911-45, Filippo Cappellano and Pier Paolo Battistelli, 2018
20th Century American Military History Crucial Site