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Carro Veloce CV 33

 Carro Veloce CV 33 Tankette / L3/33; airbrush illustration by Les Still
Carro Veloce CV 33 Tankette / L3/33; airbrush illustration by Les Still

Carro Veloce CV 33 Tankette / L3/33

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Carro Veloce CV 33 Tankette / L3/33

Crew;- 2

Armament;- Twin 8mm GFIAT Model 18/35 machine guns.

Armour;- 15mm (0.6in) maximum 5mm (0.2in) minimum.

Dimensions;- Length 10'5" (3.16m), Wirth 417" (1.4m), height 4'2" (1.28m).

Weight;- combat 7,571lb (3435kg).

Ground Pressure;- 7.1lb/sq in (0.5kg/sq cm).

Engine;- SPA CV3 four cylinder petrol engine developing 43bhp at 2,400rpm.

Performance;- Road speed 26mph (42km/h), range 78 miles (125km), vertical obstacle 2'2" (0.65m), trench 4'9" (1.45m), gradient 100%.

History;- Entered service with the Italian Army in 1833 and phased out of service in 1943. Also used by Afghanistan, Albania, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Bulgaria, China, Germany ( a few in 1943-4), Greece, Hungary, Iraq, and Spain (Civil War).

Development;- In 1929 the Italians purchased some British Carden Lloyd Mark VI tankettes and also obtained a licence to manufacture the type in Italy. Twenty-five of these vehicles were produced in Italy under the designation CV29, production being undertaken by Ansaldo, with automotive components supplied by FIAT. The CV29 was armed with a 6.5mm water cooled machine gun, later replaced with an air cooled version of the same calibre. Further development resulted in the CV3, which was tested by the Italian Army in 1931-2, and with modifications this was placed in production as the Carro Veloce CV 33. The original production order was for some 1,300 vehicles. 1,100 armed with machine guns and 200 (CV 33special) armed with a 37mm gun. In the end only 300 or so were built, and these were known as the Series I, production being undertaken by FIAT/Ansaldo. These were armed with a single 6.5mm machine gun. The Series 1 was followed in production in 1935 by the Series II, and at a later date most Series I vehicles were brought up to Series II standard. Armament consisted of twin FIAT model 18/35 machine guns. A total of 3,200 rounds of machine gun ammunition was carried. The hull of the CV33 was of all riveted/welded construction with a minimum thickness of 6.5mm (0.256in) and a maximum thickness of 13.5mm (0,53in). The commander/gunner was seated on the left of the hull and the driver on the right. The engine was mounted transversely at the rear of the hull, and power was transmitted to the gearbox in the forward part of the hull by a shaft. The suspension consisted of six small road wheels, with the drive sprocket at the front and the idler at the rear, although there was also an adjustable idler wheel to the rear of the sixth road wheel. There were no track return rollers. Of the six road wheels, the four centre ones were mounted on two sprung bogies, two wheels to a bogie.
There were a number of variants of the CV 33. The flamethrower was called the Carro Lancia Flamme and has the machine guns replaced by a flamethrower. Some 109 gallons (500kitres) of flame fuel were carried in a two wheeled trailer towed behind the tankette. Alternatively a tank could be mounted on the rear of the hull, the tank holding 13 gallons (60litres) of flame fuel. The maximum range of the flamethrower was about 110 yards (100m). The vehicle was used in North Africa. The radio model was called the Carro Radio and had a loop type radio aerial on the rear of the hull. The command model was similar but had no armament. An armoured recovery vehicle known as the Carro Veloce Recupero was developed to the prototype stage but was not placed in production. The model was unarmed and was provided with a tow bar at the rear of the hull. The bridge layer was known as the Passerella and towed a trailer on which was a bridge 23ft (7m) in length and in four components. The crew had to leave the tankette to assemble the bridge, but this took less than 10 minutes. The CV 33 could also tow a tracked trailer carrying ammunition and supplies and some vehicles had an 8mm machine gun over the roof of the fighting compartment for use against aircraft. A few machines had their machine guns replaced by the Swiss Solothurn s18-1000 20mm anti tank gun which fired an armour piercing round with a muzzle velocity of 2,460fps (750m/s). A Savoia-Marchetti SM82 aircraft was modified to carry a CV 33 recessed under its fuselage, but this was for experimental purposes only. In 1933-4 the CV 33 was followed into production by the CV 35. This had a redesigned hull of bolted construction, and was armed with a single Breda 13.2mm machine gun. At least one CV 35 had it's superstructure removed and a 47mm anti tank gun mounted on the forward part of the hull, the vehicle being known as the Semovente L 3 da 47/32. The type did not enter service. The last model to enter service was the L3/38 which had a new suspension. In 1937 FIAT / Ansaldo built a light tank based on a CV 33 chassis, the L3. This had a redesigned hull and a turret mounted 20mm gun, but was not placed in production. In 1938 the designation of the CV33 was changed to L-3 33, and the CV35 became the L-3 35. About 2,500 of the CV 33/CV 35 were built both for the Italian Army and for export, although some of the latter were fitted with different armament. The CV 33 was used in the Spanish Civil War, where it's shortcomings soon became apparent when it encountered the Russian tanks used by the Spanish Republican
forces. It saw combat with the Italian Army in Albania, Ethiopia, France, North Africa, Russia and Yugoslavia. The tankette still formed a major part of the Italian armoured forces in North Africa when World war II started, but by that time the design was obsolete and the British had no trouble dealing with the vehicle as it's armour was so thin.

from The Illustrated Encyclopaedia of the Worlds Tanks and Fighting Vehicles - Salamander


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