The Italian Army’s conduct in World war two is not thought as being overly flattering. They had already experience a lot of trouble suppressing uprising’s against them in Libya and the Empire building they had planned in Abyssinia (now modern Ethiopia). Therefore when they finally came up against professional armies such as the British and North American forces they were soon found to be on the defensive. To be fair, one of the problems they had was a total lack of up to date equipment. One of which was their tanks. A prime example of this was when the Carro Armato M14/41 turned up in North Africa. Sadly you can’t drive one of these now but you can have a go at what it is like to drive a tank in general with a Tank Driving Experience like those available at www.armourgeddon.co.uk/tank-driving-experience.html.
What was the problem the crew of four faced when going into battle with one? First of all, this tank was meant to be an upgrade to the M13/40. However it was not enough of an upgrade to make much of a difference. Whilst the armour had been improved and the hull made to a better design it was still pretty much the same tank in essence. It was already out of date compared to what it was going up against, namely the British Matilda’s, Comet’s and later the Sherman’s.
As they trundled off into battle the already cramped crew soon realised that they were basically in a mobile death-trap. The armour was not strong enough to withstand the power of the Matilda’s and Sherman’s cannons and they were unable to deal with the speed of the tanks against them as well, finding themselves outflanked on many occasions. As the Italians were beaten back it was more likely that the British would find them as fixed defence positions rather than mobile units. They were also just abandoned and as a final insult the captured ones were used by the Allies only because they were very short of tanks themselves. They were so poor that the Allies didn’t bother with them for very long.
However our tale does not end with complete ignominy for this weapon. Its chassis was the perfect base for the newly developed Semovente da 90/53. This was a very powerful self-propelled gun that could hit oncoming tanks from far away. This was a good thing as it had no armour and the crew were easily picked off by gunfire.