WWII Italian trucks

The Fiat/Spa Dovunque was built by the Spa factory, at that time under Fiat control. ‘Dovunque’means cross-country (literally ‘go anywhere’).

Autocarro Unificato Medio, 5 ton, 4 x 2, Fiat 665, 1940-45, Italy.

 The Italian Army had a less rigid system of standardisation in military transport than most other nations. Certain vehicles were adopted as ‘standard’ in different load categories and the different requirements were specified. However, manufacturers did not have to comply to finely detailed specifications so there was degree of variety in the trucks in service. The standardised medium truck (Autocarro Unificato Medio) had a payload of at least 3 tons and a speed of 60 km.p.h. while the standardised heavy truck (Autocarro Unificato Pesante) had a payload of 6 tons or more and a 45 km. p. h. speed. The Fiat 66S NL was the most modern production type in the Medio category and was based on a Fiat commercial model. With forward control and very large wheels, it had a 5-ton capacity and was a powerful and tough vehicle. Built from 1942 to 1945, it was also used in small numbers by the Germans in North Italy after Italy’s capitulation. The Fiat 665 was 23 ft 3 in long and about 8 ft 9 in. wide.

A vehicle which was of similar appearance was the Fiat 666 which was uprated, strengthened vehicle designed to carry 6 tons and which fell into the Pesante class. The Fiat 665 had a six-cylinder diesel engine of 110 b.h.p. while the Fiat 666 had a similar engine rated at 115 b.h.p.

Trattore Medio, 4 X 4, Fiat TM40, 1940-45, Italy/Germany

Much favoured by the Italian Army was the specialised artillery tractor of compact dimensions but with big wheels and a powerful engine. First of these big wheel tractors was the Pavesi originally designed in 1914 and perfected between the wars. It is described and illustrated in the previous volume. While the Pavesi was unique in having an articulated chassis, later tractor types had a rigid wheelbase. Fiat took over Pavesi in the twenties. They built a light tractor in the late thirties, the TL37, and then a medium tractor, the TM40, in 1940. This latter vehicle is shown. It utilised the same diesel engine and cab front as the Fiat 665. The open-topped body held seats for the gun crew and there was a locker ammunition stowage at the rear. Overall length of this vehicle was just over 15 ft .

The history of military motorization in Italy is among the world’s most interesting. It started in 1903, with a single car which was-hardly surprisingly of F. l. A. T. manufacture. This company later became the huge Fiat concern which over the years absorbed numerous smaller enterprises, including MV makers Ceirano, OM and Spa. The Pavesi P4 articulated tractor was a revolutionary machine when it first appeared in 1914 as an agricultural mechanical horse. Improved versions served or decades, particularly with the armed forces, up to and including WWll and they were licence-produced in several countries. Among the outstanding non-Fiat products of the 1930s were those of Alfa Romeo, Bianchi, Breda, Isotta Fraschini and Lancia. In those years a certain measure of type standardization took place in respect of load carriers: medium trucks (Autocarri Unificato Medio) for GVW of 6500 kg and payloads of 2.5-3 tons and heavy trucks (Autocarri Unificato Pesante) for GVWs of 12000 kg and payloads of 6 tons and more. Also of interest were the Autocarretta of OM and the various medium and heavy artillery tractors (and derivatives) of Breda and Spa. It was a busy period for the MV producers: in October 1935 Italy invaded Ethiopia , during 1936-39 Italian (as well as German) troops were involved in the Spanish Civil War, in April 1939 they occupied Albania and in the following year they entered the war in Libya.

Many of Italy’s trucks were of old design, but during the build-up of the Italian armed forces before the out- break of World War II some measure of standardization was achieved. The largest supplier of trucks to the Italian army was Fiat. Fiat vehicles equipped most of the transport units, vehicles like the Fiat TL37 4×4 light truck having large wheels and tyres to suit the terrain of Ethiopia and the Western Desert. The OM Autocarretta 32 was a unique light truck, and was highly regarded by its crews, and even by British troops when examples were captured. The type was intended primarily for mountain operations, and featured a 4-cylinder air-cooled diesel engine and independent suspension front and rear, The gearbox was centrally mounted and drove both front and rear axles direct. The medium- truck range was dominated by the Fiat 38R 4 x 2 and the Lancia 3 RO N 6 1/2-ton 4×2. The latter vehicle also formed the basis of a mobile anti-aircraft mount. To start these trucks a hand-cranked inertia start unit was placed forward of the crankshaft. The power unit was a Junkers two-stroke engine. The Fiat 633 BM was built on similar lines to the Lancia.

Most Italian tanks were of the lighter types, and could therefore be carried in the bodies of the Lancia, though a tank-transporter trailer could also be used. Two other widely used vehicles were the Fiat 626BL powered by a 46-kW (62-bhp) engine, and the Fiat 665NL. The latter was quite advanced in truck body and cab design.

Italy’s Fascist government collapsed in 1943 and from then until 1945 a large part of Italy was under German control. During this time the Italian industry was forced to produce for Germany and the existing military equipment was largely taken over by the Wehrmacht. This explains why numerous Italian MVs formally entered service with the German forces. On the other hand, Italy had taken into use quantities of German-captured Renault R35 and Somua S 35 tanks following the fall of France in 1940

The Germans used large numbers of Italian vehicles, these seeing service on almost every German front. In Libya the British discovered that Italian diesel-engined trucks were of great value because of their lack of a carburettor, which had a tendency to clog up in dusty conditions.

Italian manufacturers

The Italian Army in North Africa – Trucks

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