L3/35

L3/35

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The L3/35 or Carro Veloce CV-35 was an Italian tank used before and during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Although designated a light tank
Light tank
A light tank is a tank variant initially designed for rapid movement, and now primarily employed in low-intensity conflict. Early light tanks were generally armed and armored similar to an armored car, but used tracks in order to provide better cross-country mobility.The light tank was a major...

 by the Italian Army, its turretless configuration, weight and firepower make it closer to contemporary tankette
Tankette
A tankette is a tracked combat vehicle resembling a small tank roughly the size of a car, mainly intended for light infantry support or reconnaissance. Colloquially it may also simply mean a "small tank"....

s.

Development


The L3/35 was developed from the four Carden Loyd Mark VI tankettes
Carden Loyd tankette
The Carden Loyd tankettes were a series of British pre-World War II tankettes, the most successful of which was the Mark VI, the only version built in significant numbers...

 imported from Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 in 1929. The first vehicle developed by the Italians from the Carden Lloyd tankette was designated as the CV-29; "CV" being an abbreviation of Carro Veloce (Italian: "fast tank") and "29" as the year of adoption. Only twenty-one CV-29s were built.

L3/33



In 1933, a new design was built jointly by the Fiat Company
Fiat
FIAT, an acronym for Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino , is an Italian automobile manufacturer, engine manufacturer, financial, and industrial group based in Turin in the Italian region of Piedmont. Fiat was founded in 1899 by a group of investors including Giovanni Agnelli...

 of Turin
Turin
Turin is a city and major business and cultural centre in northern Italy, capital of the Piedmont region, located mainly on the left bank of the Po River and surrounded by the Alpine arch. The population of the city proper is 909,193 while the population of the urban area is estimated by Eurostat...

 and the Ansaldo Company
Gio. Ansaldo & C.
Ansaldo was one of Italy's oldest and most important engineering companies, existing for 140 years from 1853 to 1993.-From foundation to World War I:...

 of Genoa
Genoa
Genoa |Ligurian]] Zena ; Latin and, archaically, English Genua) is a city and an important seaport in northern Italy, the capital of the Province of Genoa and of the region of Liguria....

. This vehicle was introduced as the Fiat-Ansaldo CV-33
CV-33
The Carro Veloce CV-33 or L3/33 was a tankette originally built in 1933 and used by the Italian Army before and during World War II. Many CV-33s were retrofitted to meet the specifications of the CV-35 in 1935...

. About 300 CV-33s were built.

L3/35


In 1935, a slightly improved model of the CV-33 was introduced and designated as the CV-35. The primary differences were that the armour was bolted rather than riveted and the single 6.5 mm machine gun was replaced with twin 8 mm machine guns. Many older CV-33s were retrofitted to meet the specifications of the CV-35. In 1938, the vehicles were redesignated as the L3/33 ("L" for Leggero or 'light') and the L3/35.

L3/38


In 1938, a further development of the L3 vehicle was created and designated as the L3/38. It does not appear that many of these vehicles were built or saw service. The L3/38 had a torsion bar suspension and a single 13.2 mm Madsen machine gun
Madsen machine gun
The Madsen was a light machine gun developed by Julius A. Rasmussen and Theodor Schoubue and proposed for adoption by Captain Vilhelm Herman Oluf Madsen, the Danish Minister of War and adopted by the Danish Army in 1902...

.

Layout


The L3/35 was a lightly armored two-man vehicle typically armed with twin 8 mm machine guns, though variants were developed with other armament. Other than the number and type of machine guns, the differences between the L3/35 and the L3/33 were few. Both featured riveted and welded construction.

The vehicle's commander/gunner sat on the left and the driver sat on the right. The engine was mounted transversely in the rear. A circular radiator was mounted behind the engine. The transmission went to the front to the final drive. The Vickers-Carden-Lloyd type suspension had two three-wheel bogie
Bogie
A bogie is a wheeled wagon or trolley. In mechanics terms, a bogie is a chassis or framework carrying wheels, attached to a vehicle. It can be fixed in place, as on a cargo truck, mounted on a swivel, as on a railway carriage/car or locomotive, or sprung as in the suspension of a caterpillar...

s on leaf spring and a single unsprung wheel on each side. There was an acacia wood
Acacia
Acacia is a genus of shrubs and trees belonging to the subfamily Mimosoideae of the family Fabaceae, first described in Africa by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1773. Many non-Australian species tend to be thorny, whereas the majority of Australian acacias are not...

 rail that the top run of the tracks went on.

Production and sales


Between 2,000 to 2,500 L3 tankettes were built in different models and variants for the Royal Italian Army (Regio Esercito) and for other users. Twenty L3/33 tankettes were sold to China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

. Other L3 tankettes were sold to Afghanistan
Kingdom of Afghanistan
The Kingdom of Afghanistan was an Islamic monarchy in south Central Asia established in 1926 as a successor state to the Emirate of Afghanistan, following the ascension to the throne by Amanullah Khan and his proclaming Afghanistan a kingdom in 1926, after 7 years on the throne...

 (unknown number), Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

 (unknown number), Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 (72), Bolivia
Bolivia
Bolivia officially known as Plurinational State of Bolivia , is a landlocked country in central South America. It is the poorest country in South America...

 (14), Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

 (23), Bulgaria
Kingdom of Bulgaria
The Kingdom of Bulgaria was established as an independent state when the Principality of Bulgaria, an Ottoman vassal, officially proclaimed itself independent on October 5, 1908 . This move also formalised the annexation of the Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia, which had been under the control...

 (14), Croatia
Independent State of Croatia
The Independent State of Croatia was a World War II puppet state of Nazi Germany, established on a part of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia. The NDH was founded on 10 April 1941, after the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers. All of Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed to NDH, together with some parts...

 (10), Hungary
Kingdom of Hungary
The Kingdom of Hungary comprised present-day Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia , Transylvania , Carpatho Ruthenia , Vojvodina , Burgenland , and other smaller territories surrounding present-day Hungary's borders...

 (65), Iraq
Kingdom of Iraq
The Kingdom of Iraq was the sovereign state of Iraq during and after the British Mandate of Mesopotamia. The League of Nations mandate started in 1920. The kingdom began in August 1921 with the coronation of Faisal bin al-Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi as King Faisal I...

 (16), and Nationalist Spain. Many foreign buyers substituted other machine guns as the main armament. The Hungarians added a raised commander's vision cupola on some of the L3s they acquired. In 1938, the Brazilian Army bought several L3/35 tankettes which remained in active service until 1945 when some units were resold to the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic is a nation on the island of La Hispaniola, part of the Greater Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean region. The western third of the island is occupied by the nation of Haiti, making Hispaniola one of two Caribbean islands that are shared by two countries...

.

Combat history


In addition to seeing action in the Second Italo-Abyssinian War
Second Italo-Abyssinian War
The Second Italo–Abyssinian War was a colonial war that started in October 1935 and ended in May 1936. The war was fought between the armed forces of the Kingdom of Italy and the armed forces of the Ethiopian Empire...

, the Second Sino-Japanese War
Second Sino-Japanese War
The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan. From 1937 to 1941, China fought Japan with some economic help from Germany , the Soviet Union and the United States...

, the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

, the Slovak-Hungarian War
Slovak-Hungarian War
The Slovak–Hungarian War or Little War , was a war fought from March 23 to March 31/April 4, 1939 between the First Slovak Republic and Hungary in eastern Slovakia.-Prelude:...

, and the Anglo-Iraqi War
Anglo-Iraqi War
The Anglo-Iraqi War was the name of the British campaign against the rebel government of Rashid Ali in the Kingdom of Iraq during the Second World War. The war lasted from 2 May to 31 May 1941. The campaign resulted in the re-occupation of Iraq by British armed forces and the return to power of the...

, the L3 was used almost everywhere that Italian troops fought during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. L3s were found on the Italian/French border
Italian invasion of France
The Italian invasion of France in June 1940 was a small-scale invasion that started near the end of the Battle of France during World War II. The goal of the Italian offensive was to take control of the Alps mountain range and the region around Nice, and to win the colonies in North Africa...

, North Africa
Italian invasion of Egypt
The Italian Invasion of Egypt was an Italian offensive action against British, Commonwealth and Free French forces during the Western Desert Campaign of the Second World War. Initially, the goal of the offensive was to seize the Suez Canal. To accomplish this, Italian forces from Libya would have...

, Italian East Africa
East African Campaign (World War II)
The East African Campaign was a series of battles fought in East Africa during World War II by the British Empire, the British Commonwealth of Nations and several allies against the forces of Italy from June 1940 to November 1941....

, the Balkans, USSR, Sicily
Allied invasion of Sicily
The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis . It was a large scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of land combat. It launched the Italian Campaign.Husky began on the night of...

, and Italy
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

.

The combat history of the L3s during the interwar period
Interwar period
Interwar period can refer to any period between two wars. The Interbellum is understood to be the period between the end of the Great War or First World War and the beginning of the Second World War in Europe....

 was not good. On at least two occasions during the Italian invasion of Ethiopia
Ethiopian Empire
The Ethiopian Empire also known as Abyssinia, covered a geographical area that the present-day northern half of Ethiopia and Eritrea covers, and included in its peripheries Zeila, Djibouti, Yemen and Western Saudi Arabia...

, L3s were put out of action by massed infantry attacks
Ethiopian Christmas Offensive
The Ethiopian Christmas Offensive took place during the Second Italo-Abyssinian War. The Ethiopian offensive was more of a counteroffensive to an ever slowing Italian offensive which started the war.-Background:...

. In Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

, L3s of the Corps of Volunteer Troops
Corpo Truppe Volontarie
The Corps of Volunteer Troops was an Italian expeditionary force which was sent to Spain to support General Francisco Franco and the Spanish Nationalist forces during the Spanish Civil War...

 (Corpo Truppe Volontarie, or CTV) were totally out-classed by the T-26
T-26
The T-26 tank was a Soviet light infantry tank used during many conflicts of the 1930s as well as during World War II. It was a development of the British Vickers 6-Ton tank and is widely considered one of the most successful tank designs of the 1930s....

 and BT-5 tanks provided to the Republican forces
Second Spanish Republic
The Second Spanish Republic was the government of Spain between April 14 1931, and its destruction by a military rebellion, led by General Francisco Franco....

 by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

. Fortunately for the Hungarians
Kingdom of Hungary (1920–1946)
The Kingdom of Hungary also known as the Regency, existed from 1920 to 1946 and was a de facto country under Regent Miklós Horthy. Horthy officially represented the abdicated Hungarian monarchy of Charles IV, Apostolic King of Hungary...

, the L3s were not a factor in their brief war with Slovakia.

On 10 June 1940, when Italy entered World War II
Military history of Italy during World War II
During World War II , the Kingdom of Italy had a varied and tumultuous military history. Defeated in Greece, France, East Africa and North Africa, the Italian invasion of British Somaliland was one of the only successful Italian campaigns of World War II accomplished without German support.In...

, the Royal Italian Army (Regio Esercito) possessed only about one-hundred M11/39 medium tanks in two tank battalions. L3 tankettes still equipped all three Italian armored divisions, they equipped the tank battalions in the motorized divisions, they equipped the light tank squadron group in each "Fast" (Celere) division, and they equipped numerous independent tank battalions.

On 22 March 1941, two Iraqi L3s were reported to have been put out of action near Fallujah
Fallujah
Fallujah is a city in the Iraqi province of Al Anbar, located roughly west of Baghdad on the Euphrates. Fallujah dates from Babylonian times and was host to important Jewish academies for many centuries....

 during the Anglo-Iraqi War
Anglo-Iraqi War
The Anglo-Iraqi War was the name of the British campaign against the rebel government of Rashid Ali in the Kingdom of Iraq during the Second World War. The war lasted from 2 May to 31 May 1941. The campaign resulted in the re-occupation of Iraq by British armed forces and the return to power of the...

.

More than 40 captured L3 tankettes were used by the Greek Army during the Greco-Italian War
Greco-Italian War
The Greco-Italian War was a conflict between Italy and Greece which lasted from 28 October 1940 to 23 April 1941. It marked the beginning of the Balkans Campaign of World War II...

 fought from 1940 to 1941. After the invasion of Yugoslavia
Invasion of Yugoslavia
The Invasion of Yugoslavia , also known as the April War , was the Axis Powers' attack on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia which began on 6 April 1941 during World War II...

 in 1941 and Greece
Battle of Greece
The Battle of Greece is the common name for the invasion and conquest of Greece by Nazi Germany in April 1941. Greece was supported by British Commonwealth forces, while the Germans' Axis allies Italy and Bulgaria played secondary roles...

 in 1941, L3 tankettes were also captured by the Yugoslav
Partisans (Yugoslavia)
The Yugoslav Partisans, or simply the Partisans were a Communist-led World War II anti-fascist resistance movement in Yugoslavia...

 and Greek
Greek Resistance
The Greek Resistance is the blanket term for a number of armed and unarmed groups from across the political spectrum that resisted the Axis Occupation of Greece in the period 1941–1944, during World War II.-Origins:...

 resistance forces. From 1941, some L3 tankettes were given to the German puppet government
Puppet state
A puppet state is a nominal sovereign of a state who is de facto controlled by a foreign power. The term refers to a government controlled by the government of another country like a puppeteer controls the strings of a marionette...

 of the Independent State of Croatia
Independent State of Croatia
The Independent State of Croatia was a World War II puppet state of Nazi Germany, established on a part of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia. The NDH was founded on 10 April 1941, after the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Axis powers. All of Bosnia and Herzegovina was annexed to NDH, together with some parts...

 (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, or NDH).

Though numerous, Italy's tankettes proved to be outclassed from the start and also proved to be of low tactical value. They were vulnerable to the .55 caliber (14 mm) Boys anti-tank rifles. Other than those used for occupation duties in the Balkans and elsewhere, few L3s remained in front line service past the end of 1940. After the Kingdom of Italy quit the war in 1943, L3 tankettes were used by German Army forces and by the pro-Nazi National Republican Army
Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano
The National Republican Army was the army of the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945 that fought on the side of Nazi Germany during World War II....

 of the Italian Social Republic
Italian Social Republic
The Italian Social Republic was a puppet state of Nazi Germany led by the "Duce of the Nation" and "Minister of Foreign Affairs" Benito Mussolini and his Republican Fascist Party. The RSI exercised nominal sovereignty in northern Italy but was largely dependent on the Wehrmacht to maintain control...

.

Variants


The L3/35 appeared in several variants including an anti-tank vehicle and a vehicle with a flame thrower.

L3 cc anti-tank tank



The "L3 cc" anti-tank (controcarro) was an L3 with a Solothurn 20 mm
Solothurn S-18/1000
The Solothurn S-18/1000 20 mm Anti-Tank rifle was a Swiss and German anti-tank rifle used during the Second World War. It was a variant of the earlier S-18/100 with modifications for a higher muzzle velocity, as well as a larger cartridge size...

 anti-tank rifle
Anti-tank rifle
An anti-tank rifle is a rifle designed to penetrate the armour of vehicles, particularly tanks. The usefulness of rifles for this purpose ran from the introduction of tanks in World War I and until the Korean War...

 mounted in place of its normal machine gun armament. Only a few were so modified, and they saw action only in North Africa. This 20 mm weapon penetrated up to 18 mm of armor at 300 m (328 yards) which was effective against lightly armored vehicles.

The usurped upgrade


On 8 August 1937, Major General García Pallasar had received a note from Generalísimo Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 which expressed the need for a Panzer I armed with a 20 mm gun. Although originally forty Italian L3/35 tankettes were ordered with the original armament exchanged for the 20 mm Breda Model 35 instead, this order was subsequently canceled after it was thought that the adaptation of the same gun to the German Panzer I would yield better results.

Later, the Italians mounted a few L3 tanks with Solothurn 20 mm anti-tank rifles as opposed to the 20-mm Breda model 1935 anti-aircraft guns.

L3 Lf flamethrower flame tank



The "L3 Lf" flamethower (lancia fiamme) flame tank
Flame tank
A flame tank is a type of tank equipped with a flamethrower, most commonly used to supplement combined arms attacks against fortifications, confined spaces, or other obstacles...

 was another variant of the L3 tankette. Development began in 1935. The flamethrower nozzle replaced one of the machine guns, and the flame fuel was carried in an armored 500L (133 gallons) fuel trailer towed by the vehicle. Later versions had the fuel carried in a box-shaped tank mounted above the L3's engine compartment. The vehicle weighed 5 tonnes. The L3 Lf saw action in Abyssinia, Spain, France, the Balkans, North Africa, and Italian East Africa. From 1936 each CV/L3 company had a single L3 Lf platoon.

L3 Centro Radio


The basic L3 platform was also employed as a radio vehicle using the Marelli RF1 CA radio in platoon and company command vehicles. The diminutive L3 was considered too small to be effectively employed as a regimental level command radio vehicle. This task fell to the later and slightly larger L6/40 CR (Centro Radio= Radio Center).

L3 Passerella


The few L3 Passerella (Bridging Layer) vehicles constructed were assigned to units at Armored Brigade levels. The 7m (23 feet) long bridge was stripped down into sections on a trailer towed by the L3 itself for travel. On arriving at the combat zone, this bridge was assemble on the tanks front, suspended by cables from two small cranes located over the crew's superstructure. The crew laid the completed bridge over the obstacle from within the vehicle. A L3 Passerella crew took seven minutes to lay out this bridge.

See also

  • Carden Loyd tankette
    Carden Loyd tankette
    The Carden Loyd tankettes were a series of British pre-World War II tankettes, the most successful of which was the Mark VI, the only version built in significant numbers...

     - A comparable British tankette
  • Military history of Italy during World War II
    Military history of Italy during World War II
    During World War II , the Kingdom of Italy had a varied and tumultuous military history. Defeated in Greece, France, East Africa and North Africa, the Italian invasion of British Somaliland was one of the only successful Italian campaigns of World War II accomplished without German support.In...

  • List of tanks in the Spanish Civil War
  • Tank and Armoured Cars Group
    Tank and Armoured Cars Group
    The Tank and Armoured Cars Group was the first armoured formation of the Corps of Volunteer Troops involved in the Spanish Civil War. Between 3 February and 8 February 1937, Italian armour played a successful part during the Battle of Málaga...

  • Weapons employed in the Slovak-Hungarian War
    Weapons employed in the Slovak-Hungarian War
    The following are weapons employed by the military forces of Slovakia and Hungary during the brief Slovak-Hungarian War.-Slovakia:Infantry weapons* ČZ vz. 24 pistol* ZB vz. 24 rifle* ZB vz. 26 light machinegun* ZB vz. 30 light machinegun...

  • T-26: combat history

External links