I seem to have been painting Italian Tanks in reverse order (mainly due to delayed orders) so today its the turn of the earliest of my vehicles so far, the M11/39 Medium Tank. These particular models are from Old Glory and are cast in white metal. The quality of the casting was excellent with minimum defects and flash. The only exception was some slight misalignment of the moulds for the turrets but I was able to mostly file this out.
|Three Fiat M11/39 Medium Tanks|
As its name suggests the M11/39 is an eleven ton tank that first entered service in 1939. It was a development of a specification originally laid down in 1936. and was heavily influence by the British Vickers 6-Ton tank, several of which the Italian army bought for evaluation purposes. The final evaluation tank was ready for inspection by Mussolini in 1938 and 100 units were commissioned. Lack of raw materials and other issues limited expansion of this to the 400 vehicles first envisaged and the development of the M13/40 made the earlier model obsolete.
The finished vehicle had a 3 man crew (commander, driver, gunner) but conditions were still cramped inside this tank. It had bolted and riveted armour plates ranging in thickness from 6mm in the floor to 30mm on the front. Main gun was the 37mm semi-automatic Vickers-Terni L/40 gun mounted in the hull. This was a common feature in several countries tanks of this period but the configuration was short lived. The main disadvantage was the limited traverse available to the gunner of just 16° to left or right.
|An M11/39 in Egypt in 1940|
The M11/39 was powered by a 12-litre 105hp SPA eight cylinder engine which wasn't really suitable for an 11 ton tank. Reliability for the overworked engine became an issue, especially in the desert where the conditions strained even the most mechanically sound vehicles. Despite its shortcomings this was an important step forward for Italian tank designers and the lessons learned would find their way into the larger M13/40 and M14/41.
I have painted these in a camouflage pattern adopted by the Ariete division, 4th Tank Regiment, in Egypt, September 1940. It appears to share some similarity with Caunter but covers less of the vehicle and is a single colour. The aim however was the same, to break up the outline of the tank. However from what I have read it would seem that most camouflage patterns were a little pointless in this theatre of war. Dust, heat haze and the dazzling glare of the sun would have done as much to obscure targets as any colour scheme painted on them.
|Front, side and rear showing the National colours on the rear of the MG turret and the company identification colours on the side.|