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Weapons of World War Two

CV 33/35 light tank

CV 33/35 light tank

Among the images of the Second World War, one of the most known ones, even for those who did not live the tragic events of those years, is surely that of the CV 33 (Carro Veloce 33 or Fast Tank 33) or L 3 (Leggero 3 or Light 3). Nicknamed "Sardine Can" or with other more or less ironical adjectives, often it had been used as example of the bad Italian armament during the war. But it should be reconsidered its performance, as well as the one of other Italian weapons, for it was not a bad instrument, but good in its genre however badly employed.

When in 1929 were being formed the armored forces of the Royal Army, it had not been still determined how the model of the new tank would be. Many of the high officers lacked clear ideas due to prejudices caused by wrong concepts about the utilization of armored vehicles. However, the operative usage of those that had been built until then had demonstrated beyond doubt that, for a modern army, more than a valid support weapon, they were a nuisance. In this climate of uncertainty, made apparition a small and original British tank of 1.7 tonnes, the Carden Loyd. Italy acquired 25 that were attentively studied and experimented. From these experiences it was born the project for a new light tank built by Ansaldo with Fiat engine, whose serial production started in 1933. It had been born the CV 33, which would be bought by the armies of several countries, such as Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, Brasil and China.

Of very small dimensions, it had a hull made of steel sheets that granted protection against light infantry weapons. The armament, initially consisting of a machine gun and later two of caliber 8 millimeters, was installed in fixed mounting, which limited the firing maneuver. Over the hood it had a tripod that allowed, if needed, to use one of the two guns onboard to fight on land. The engine Fiat CV 3, with four cylinders in line and started by electric generator, was of gasoline; its total power (43 horsepower) allowed to reach 43 kilometers/hours in road. The suspension, with half leaf spring bogies, granted a safe march even in rough terrain. And to end, its price was very good, quality of indubitable importance.

Unfortunately, it was used for the first time in Ethiopia, where, fighting against an enemy practically lacking of antitank means, it showed a value above the real one. This led to valoration mistakes that caused its utilization against much more powerful means, forcing it to operate if not as a heavy tank, at least as a medium one, whereas it should have been limited to reconnaissance tasks. When it was realized that the small L could not compete against the enemy tanks, it was already too late: the CV 33 was literally torn into pieces without having had the possibility to defend itself, and the heroism of its crews did not suffice to fill its gaps.

In total, it was built in three basic versions: 33, 35 and 38. Until 1943 the L tanks were not retired from the front and, after the sad events of September, they ended their career with the armored forces of the Social Republic, which would use them to serve the police and the counterinsurgency until the last days of the war.

Year: 1935

Weight: 3.4 tonnes

Length: 3.17 meters

Width: 1.40 meters

Height: 1.29 meters

Ground clearance: 25 centimeters

Maximum armor: 13.5 millimeters

Engine: Fiat CV 3 of 43 horsepower

Maximum speed in road: 42 kilometers/hour

Maximum speed in countryside: 14.4 kilometers/hour

Operational range in road: 120 kilometers

Operational range in countryside: 80 kilometers

Consumption for 100 kilometers in road: 40 liters

Crew: 2

Armament: Two 8-millimeter Breda 35 machine guns

Ammunitions: 3200 of 8 millimeters

Maximum surmountable trench: 1.45 meters

Maximum surmountable step: 0.70 meters

Maximum surmountable slope: 45 degrees

Fording: 0.70 meters

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