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Italy's L3/33 (CV 33) and L3/35 (CV 35) tankettes

Design

The L3/33 and L3/35 was designed for reconnaissance, security, and to support larger tanks.

L stood for light, and 3 for 3 tons. 33 and 35 stood for 1933 and 1935 respectively. Originally called CV.33 and CV.35 until 1938 when were redesignated.

L3/33, Carro Veloce 33

During the 1920s the Italians saw a Carmen-Loyd two man tank and purchased some as well as getting the rights to manufacture them. Twenty-five were built and called the CV (Carro Veloce) 29 (CV-28).

Was armed with a 6.5 mm water cooled machine gun, and later armed with and air cooled machine gun.

It had a bolted superstructure, improved vision equipment, and a Breda 13.2 mm machine gun.

L3/35, Carro Veloce 35

1,300 of the L3/35s were initially ordered (1,200 with machine guns, and 200 with 37 mm gun).

Only 300 were built and were designated Series I and were armed with a 6.5 mm MG.

Riveted and welded construction. The commander/gunner was on the left and the driver on the right.

Engine was mounted in the rear, transversely. A circular radiator was mounted behind it. The transmission went to the front to the final drive.

The suspension had two 3 wheel bogies on leaf spring and a single unsprung wheel on each side. There was a acacia wood rail that the top run of the tracks went on.

In 1935 the Series II was produced with twin FIAT Model 18/35 machine guns

Production

  • CV29: 25
    • Manufacturer: Ansaldo
  • CV33, L3/33: 760
    • Manufacturer: Ansaldo
      • Components: FIAT
    • Production: 1931 - 1932
  • L3/35: 300
    • Manufacturer: Ansaldo, FIAT
  • L3/33, L3/35: 2,250, 2,500
    • Production: 1933 - ?

Variants

  • L3/33; Carro Veloce 33 Tankette:
  • L3/35:
  • CV Fiat-Ansaldo L38: Strong suspension and new tracks. From 1940 on some had a Swiss Solothum s18-2000 20 mm antitank gun in place of machine gun.
  • L3 Lf (Carro Lancia Fiamme); Carro Veloce L35/Lf Flamethrower Tankette: Had a hooded long barrel flamethrower in place of the machine gun with a towed 110 gallon/500 liter fuel trailer.
    Another tank was sometimes mounted on the rear of the hull and carried 13 gallons (60 liters) of flame fuel. Range of 328'/100m. One platoon in each tank company was equipped with the L3 Lf. Was used in North Africa.
  • Carro Radio: Carried a radio on the rear hull.
  • Carro Veloce Recupero: Was developed as an armored recovery vehicle but never entered production.
  • Passerella: Had a 23' (7m) bridge on a towed trailer that was broken down into 4 pieces. The bridge could be assembled in 10 minutes.
    Was not used in combat.
  • Semovente L3 da 47/32: Had it's superstructure removed and a 47 mm antitank gun mounted.

Usage

All the battalions in the Littorio and Centauro armored divisions started the war with L3s.

The L3/33 saw action in Ethiopia, Spain, France, Greece, Yugoslavia, Albania, Crete, North Africa, Russia, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and Italy.

They were also sold to Afghanistan, Albania, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Nationalist Spain, and Salvador.

Ethiopia

The L3/33s first saw action against Ethiopian tribesman at Ual-Ual in December 1934.

First used the L3/35 in Dec. 1934 against Ethiopians at Ual-Ual in Italian Somaliland.

Spain

A total of 155 were supplied to the Nationalist forces. Two battalions of the L3/35s were sent to Spain to fight with Franco. When returned from Spain they became the basis for the Littorio Armored Division created in May 1940.

Russia

The L3/35 was used with Italian troops that fought in Russia.

Specifications

  CV 33, L3/33
Crew 2
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 3.15 tons, 3.2 tons, 3.3 tons
3,200 kg
Length 10.4', 10' 5"
3.03 m, 3.17 m, 3.18 m
Height 4.25', 4' 3"
1.2 m, 1.3 m
Width 4.67', 4' 8"
1.4 m, 1.42 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance 0.29 m
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Armament  
Main 1: 6.5 mm MG
1: MG
1 or 2: MG
1: 6.5 mm Breda MG
1: 6.5 mm Type 14 MG (1933-1935)
2: 8 mm MG (1935 on)
1: 6.5 mm Fiat-Revelli Model 14 MG
2: 8 mm Breda Model 38 (1935 on)
1: 6.5 mm / 0.26"
OR 2: 8 mm MG
2: 8 mm Breda MG
2: 8 mm / 0.32" Breda MG
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main 4,800
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 14, 15, 5 - 13, 5 - 15
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Engine (Make / Model) Fiat
Fiat-SPA CV3
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders 4
Capacity  
Net HP 40, 42, 43
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse 12° both directions
Speed - Road 26 mph
42 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 78 miles
110 km, 125 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits +15° to -12°
Fording depth 0.9 m
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability 45°
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  CV 35, L3/35
Crew  
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 3.2 tons
Length 10' 4"
Height 4' 2"
Width 4' 7"
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Armament  
Main 2: 8 mm Breda 88 MGs
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 13.5
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Engine (Make / Model) Fiat
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders 4
Capacity  
Net HP 43
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type)  
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 26 mph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road  
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type) 2: 3 wheel bogies, 1 unsprung wheel
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  
  L35/Lf
Crew 2
Physical Characteristics  
Weight 3.2 tons
3,200 kg
Length 10' 5"
3.18 m
Height 4' 3"
1.3 m
Width 4' 8"
1.42 m
Width over tracks  
Ground clearance  
Ground contact length  
Ground pressure  
Armament  
Main Lanciaflamme Flamethrower
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Quantity  
Main  
Secondary  
MG  
Side arms  
Armor Thickness (mm) 14
Hull Front, Upper  
Hull Front, Lower  
Hull Sides, Upper  
Hull Sides, Lower  
Hull Rear  
Hull Top  
Hull Bottom  
Engine (Make / Model) Fiat-SPA CV3
Bore / stroke  
Cooling  
Cylinders 4
Capacity  
Net HP 42
Power to weight ratio  
Compression ratio  
Transmission (Type)  
Steering  
Steering ratio  
Starter  
Electrical system  
Ignition  
Fuel (Type) Gasoline
Octane  
Quantity  
Road consumption  
Cross country consumption  
Performance  
Traverse  
Speed - Road 26 mph
42 kph
Speed - Cross Country  
Range - Road 78 miles
125 km
Range - Cross Country  
Turning radius  
Elevation limits  
Fording depth  
Trench crossing  
Vertical obstacle  
Climbing ability  
Suspension (Type)  
Wheels each side  
Return rollers each side  
Tracks (Type)  
Length  
Width  
Diameter  
Number of links  
Pitch  
Tire tread  
Track centers/tread  

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. Tanks of the World, 1915-1945, Peter Chamberlain, Chris Ellis, 1972
  3. The Illustrated Guide to Tanks of the World, George Forty, 2006
  4. Tanks of World War II, Duncan Crow, 1979
  5. Italian Medium Tanks in Action, Nicola Pignato, 2001
  6. Atlas of Tank Warfare From 1916 to the Present Day, Dr. Stephen Hart, 2012
  7. World War I and II Tanks, George Forty, 2012
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