Fortress Italy

Italian Armoured Vehicles in German Service, Italy 1944-45

In September 1943 the Italians signed an armistice with the Allies, ending hostilities and bringing to end their alliance with the Germans. The Germans quickly took control of northern Italy and the Italian arms industry. Many captured vehicles and we quickly put into service fighting in Italy, as well as in the Balkans against Tito’s Partisans. The Germans quickly assessed the state of Italian vehicle production and soon put the choice fighting vehicles back into production, including some new designs that had not yet seen service in the war.

Panzerkampfwagen M13/40 735(i) and M14/41 735(i)

By 1944 the M13/40 or M14/41 tank design had become somewhat obsolete. Production had halted and the new M15/42 had replaced it, but in September 1943 the Germans seized those tanks remaining. They were pressed into action in anti-partisan duties with two SS Sturmgeschütz Abteilungs and Panzerabteilung Adria.

M14/41 (IT040)...

Panzerkampfwagen M15/42 738(i)

The new Italian medium tank the M15/42 was never used against the Allies by the Italians, but did see their first combat around Rome against the Germans during September 1943. After the disarming of the Italian Army by the Germans 92 M15/42 were pressed into German service. They were issued to three Heeres Panzerabteilungs.

Right: M15/42s in Serbia being used by Panzerabteilung 202. 

M15/42 738(i)
The M15/42 had increased armour over previous models (30mm to 42mm superstructure front), a more powerful petrol engine to replace the old diesel and an improved gun. The gun was still 47mm but had a lengthened barrel (L32 to L40), increasing its penetration power by about 30%. The hull was slightly longer because of the change of engine, increasing the space between the two sets of bogies. The superstructure hatch was also moved from the left to the right side.

In December 1944 approximately 68 M13/40, M14/41 and M15/42 tanks were still in services with the German forces.

P40 737(i)

The P40 Tank, only a few ever saw combat. 

Panzerkampfwagen P40 737(i)

The P40 was the Italian heavy tank. It had been in development since 1940, but had only just been finalised as a design and ordered by the Italian army in 1943. Its major bugbear in development was finding a suitable engine. Italian supplied engines proved unreliable and when the factories fell into German hands in 1943 it was proposed that they should be powered by a German built Maybach HL120 and pressed into service.

Deliveries of the engines never eventuated and only the original five pre-production demonstration vehicles were ever running. They served with the Panzer training unit of Army Group C. The P40 was a surprisingly good tank. It was well armoured with 50-60mm of plate on the front and armed with the long 75/34 gun.

Substantial numbers of P40 turrets were used as static gun emplacements on the Gustav Line and around Anzio in 1944.

P40 Heavy Tank (MM13)...

Panzerbefehlswagen M41 771(i) and M42 772(i)

Originally designed as the command vehicle for the Semoventes they were also used by the Germans as company and battalion command vehicles in Italy and the Balkans.

Carro Commando M41 (IT110)...

Sturmgeschütz M42 mit 75/18 850(i)

The Germans confiscated 123 Semovente 75/18 in 1943 and were able to get another 55 manufactured in 1943 and 1944.

StuG M42 75/18 (IT111)...

 

Right: A StuG M42 75/18 from 278. Panzerjäger Abteilung.

Sturmgeschütz M42 mit 75/18 850(i)
Sturmgeschütz M42 mit 75/34 851(i)

Sturmgeschütz M42 mit 75/34 851(i)

The Semovente 75/34 was an improved vehicle armed with the new 75/34 gun and based on the M15/42 hull with the more powerful petrol engine.

The Germans usually referred to both Semoventes as the StuG M42 and they issued a total of 294 to German units from 1943 to 1944. In December 1943 they were in service with six infantry divisions, two panzer divisions, three Panzergrenadier divisions and one Gebirgsdivision in Italy and the Balkans. By 1944 most were supporting Infantry, Gebirgs, Jäger or Fallschirmjäger Divisions.

StuG M42 75/34 (MM14)...  

Left: A StuG M42 75/34 captured by the British 78th Division. 

Sturmgeschütz M43 mit 105/25 853(i)

The Semovente 105/25 was the final Italian development of their assault gun series. Initially they intended to mount a 105mm gun on the new P40 hull, but P40 development issues saw this dropped in favour of the M15/42 hull.  To fit the larger 105/25 gun the M42 hull had to be widened. The new chassis became the M43. As well as a wider hull the M43 also sported a new hull front armour layout. It had 75mm of front armour.

Right: "Gerda" is a StuG M43 105/25 captured near Aquino airport. 

Sturmgeschütz M43 mit 105/25 853(i)
Sturmgeschütz M43 mit 105/25 853(i)

A total of 27 M43 were in service with the Germans in December 1943. They were in service with the 336. Infanterie Division and the 26. Panzer Division. A year later 66 were in service with Army Groups C and F in Italy and the Balkans.

Officially the Panzerjäger companies of the infantry divisions were to be issued with one company of M42 or M43 StuGs, but not all division were issued them with some retaining Marders or operating with towed guns only.

The official strength of  Italian assault gun armed battalion was six M42 75/18, eight M42 75/34 and one command Pzbfwg M41 or M42. Later issues included the M43 105/25.

Later the companies were designated Sturmgeschütz Abteilungs and given their own number (1000 + the original Panzerjäger abteilung’s number).

A M42 (left) next to a M43

A M42 (left) next to a M43 showing the difference in width and height between the two marks. 

Sturmgeschütz M43 mit 75/34 851(i)

A small number of StuG M43s were fitted with the 75/34 or 75/46 gun, which was an Italian anti-aircraft gun modified to fit in the M42 and M43 vehicles. A total of 22 were built and saw action in Italy in late 1944 and early 1945.

The Germans were not entirely happy with the Italian StuGs due to issues with mechanical reliability, though the crews of the Fallschirm-Sturmgeschütz Brigade XI seem more than happy. In autumn 1944 the remaining StuG M43s were concentrated in the Luftwaffe unit as the other Sturmgeschütz units in Italy replaced them with German vehicles such as StuG IIIs, IVs and Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzers (December 1944).
AB41/43

Panzerspähwagen AB41 201(i) and AB41/43 201(i)

37 AB41 armoured cars were captured by the Germans in 1943, with a further 20 produced for their use. Another 120 were produced with an improved engine and turret known as the AB41/43.

These excellent Italian armoured cars were issued to the Aufklarungsabteilungs (Reconnaissance battalions) of some German divisions in Italy.

Autoblindo AB41 (IT303)...

Left: An AB41/43 on the way to the front.

Panzerspähwagen Lince 2021(i)

This small Italian armoured car was actually a copy of the British Daimler Dingo. It proved an excellent vehicle for light recce operations and escort duties. Lancia made approximately 100 for the German forces.

The Italian armoured cars were very popular with the Germans and they found much use in liaison roles and as protection vehicles in headquarters units.

Daimler Dingo (BR310)...

Lince 2021(i)

Panzerkampfwagen L6/40 733(i)

The L6/40 was issued to Panzerabteilung Adria, police units and the Croatian Army. Plans also involved the issuing of these light tanks to reconnaissance companies of divisions operating in the Balkans.

L6/40 light tank (IT010)...

Sturmgeschütz L6 mit 47/32 770(i)

16 Semovente 47/32 were issued for Special Employment and the remainder were exported to Croatia.

Semovente 47/32 (IT101)...

A knocked out StuG M42 75/18. Who used the Italian Vehicles?

During the Italian campaign the following divisions used StuG M42 and M43 vehicles.

94. Infantry Division
 194. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1 company of StuG M42 75/18 and 75/34

71. Infantry Division
 171. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1 company of StuG M42 75/18 and 75/34
   (later 1171. Sturmgeschütz Abteilung with additional StuG M43 105/25 and 75/34)
44. Reichsgrenadier Division Hoch und Deutschmeister
 46. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1 company of StuG M42 75/18 and 75/34

5. Gebirgs Division

 95. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1 company of StuG M42 75/18 and 75/34

114. Jäger Division

 114. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1 company of StuG M42 75/18 and 75/34

334. Infantry Division

 334. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1 company of StuG M42 75/18 and 75/34

305. Static Infantry Division

 304. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1 company of StuG M42 75/18, 75/34 and StuG M43 105/25 and 75/34

65. Infantry Division

 165. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1 company of StuG M42 75/18, 75/34 and StuG M43 105/25 and 75/34

162. (Turkistani) Infantry Division

 262. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1262. Sturmgeschütz Abteilung
      1 company of StuG M42 75/18 and 75/34

278. Infantry Division

 278. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1 company of StuG M42 75/18 and 75/34

356. Infantry Division

 356. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1 company of StuG M42 75/18 and 75/34

362. Infantry Division

 362. Panzerjäger Abteilung
   1 company of StuG M42 75/18 and 75/34

Fallschirm-Sturmgeschütz Brigade XI
   StuG M42/M43, slowly replaced all M42 with M43

Fallschirm-Sturmgeschütz Abteilung "Schmitz"
(later Brigade XXI)
   StuG M42/M43 likely received the above's M42/M43.

242. Sturmgeschütz Abteilung

   33 StuG M42/M43 (May 1944)

Other Italian vehicles were scattered throughout German units in Italy and the Balkans. The 114. Jäger Division had a small detachment of L6/40 light tanks with its HQ.

Italian Assault Guns in German Forces in
Flames Of War


As well as supporting the Herman Goring Panzerdivision forces in Fortress Italy (HG Assault Gun Platoon on page 43) other divisions also could call on the support of these unique vehicles.

Each divisions’ Panzerjägerabteilung has three companies. One of these companies is armed with Italian Semovente assault guns.

The Reichsgrenadier Tank-hunter Platoon on page 89 of Fortress Italy can also field either the StuG M42 75/34 (Semovente 75/34) or the StuG M43 105/25 (Semovente 105/25).

The Gebirgs Assault Gun Platoon on page 100 of Fortress Italy can take StuG M42 75/18 (Semovente 75/18) or StuG M42 75/34 (Semovente 75/34).

The Panzerjager Platoon on page 119 of Fortress Italy can take StuG M42 75/34 (Semovente 75/34) or the StuG M43 105/25 (Semovente 105/25), or even one Semovente 90/53.

Finally the StuG M42 75/18 (Semovente 75/18), StuG M42 75/34 (Semovente 75/34) or the StuG M43 105/25 (Semovente 105/25) can all be taken in the Looted Assault Gun Platoon on page 144 of Fortress Italy.

Fortress Italy
The Semovente 75/18 model (IT111)

Modelling Italian Semoventes in German Service

The StuG M42 75/18 is simply the IT111 Semovente 75/18 model and requires no converting.

StuG M42 75/18 (IT111)...
  

The StuG M42 75/34 is now available in the Mid-war Monsters range.

StuG M42 75/34 (MM14)...

The Semovente 75/34 model (MM14)
StuG M43 105/25

The StuG M43 105/25 is also available now.

StuG M43 105/25 (IT113)...

Have a look at the photographs to see the differences and details of the guns and hulls.

Enjoy,
Wayne


Last Updated On Wednesday, September 27, 2017 by Wayne at Battlefront