Several factors delayed and greatly hampered the development of an Italian medium tank during World War II. The first was the strategic stance of the country, focussed on a war against neighbouring countries such as France and Yugoslavia, and ill-prepared for a war in the Western Desert. Since these European countries bordered with Italy in mountainous areas, light tanks were preferred as these were deemed much more suitable for the narrow roads and bridges of the Alps. Furthermore, development was hampered by the limited number of Italian industries, whose production was also heavily fragmented. All these factors delayed the development of the first prototype of an Italian medium tank - the M 11 - which would only appear in 1937 and did not enter production until 1939. Although technically inferior to their German and Allied counterparts in 1941-43, the Italian M tanks proved to be quite effective when used by experienced crews with adequate combat tactics. In fact, their major shortcoming actually proved to be their limited production figures. While production was limited, innovation was not and, between 1941 and 1943, several experiments were carried out on the Italian tanks that produced interesting prototypes such as the anti-aircraft semovente.
Filippo Cappellano is a lieutenant-colonel of the Fanteria Carrista (tank corps) currently serving at the army historical branch (Ufficio Storico Esercito) in Rome. He is the author of several books and essays on the history of weapons, organization and tactics of the Italian army in the twentieth century. He frequently collaborates with Italy's defence industries and military history journals. Pier Paolo Battistelli earned his PhD in Military History at the University of Padua. A scholar of German and Italian politics and strategy throughout World War II, he is active in Italy and abroad writing titles and essays on military history subjects. A contributor to the Italian Army Historical Office, he is currently revising his PhD thesis for publication: The War of the Axis: German and Italian Military Partnership in World War Two, 1939-1943.
Introduction/ Design & Development/ Operational History/ Bibliography/ Index