Book Review
Italian Medium Tanks 1939-45
Italian Medium Tanks 1939-45
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by: Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]


** At the start of World War II, Italian armoured units were still mostly equipped with light tanks. A latecomer to the development of heavier armour, Italy’s few medium tanks were of poor quality compared to those of other nations. Early battlefield experiences were quite disastrous, with the bulk of the Italian medium tank force being destroyed in Egypt and Libya in the winter of 1940-41. Italian armoured units soon returned to the battlefield, however, and from 1941 through to the final surrender in May 1943 the M 13/40 and M 14/41 tanks, and the semoventi self-propelled guns built on their chassis, formed a key part of the Axis spearhead in North Africa alongside the Afrika Korps. Although inferior to their peers in terms of armour and weaponry, the Italian medium and heavy tanks were manned by skilled and tenacious crews and saw service with the famous Ariete, Littorio and Centauro armoured divisions, the Trieste motorized infantry division, and with German forces after the Italian surrender. **

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.


Osprey Publications Ltd has released Italian Medium Tanks 1939-45 as Number 195 in their New Vanguard series. It is a paperback book with 48 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs and color photographs, color illustrations, informational charts, a cutaway view and detailed captions. It has a 2012 copyright and the ISBN is 978-1-84908-775-9. The book details the design, development, operation and history of the Italian medium tanks of 1939 through 1945 during World War II.


  • Historical Background
  • The Medium tanks
  • The M 11/39 tank
  • The M 13/40 and M 14/41 tanks
  • Development of the medium tank: the M 15/42 tank
  • The Heavy Tank
  • The P 40 tank
  • The Semovente – Self-Propelled Gun
  • The M 13/40 and M 14/41 – based semoventi
  • The M 15/42 and P 40-based semoventi
  • Production And Use
  • M Tanks And Semoventi In Combat
  • Medium Tanks In German Service
  • Camouflage And Markings
  • Specifications
  • Bibliography
  • Index


The book contains a well written and extremely detailed text. Filippo Cappellano and Pier Paolo Battistelli cover the Italian medium tanks and their variations used in World War II very well and goes into great detail about the armor and armored units, both Italian and German, as well as specific actions and their outcomes. This is a well written history that will be of great use and interest to the well-seasoned and knowledgeable World War II Italian armor historian or the individual that is new to World War II Italian armor in World War II and wants to learn about its history. As I read through the text I didn’t notice any spelling or grammatical errors. Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings. I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing. Anyone wanting to add an excellent reference and history book on Italian medium tanks during World War II to their personal library will be pleased with this very informative and interesting book.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the text for yourself.


There are a total of 33 black and white photographs and 8 color photographs. The majority of the photographs are very nice and will help the military armor modeler well. They range from wide angle photographs to close-up detailed photographs. There are some of the same old photographs shown in other publications. Then again there are several photographs that were new to me and I consider that a great bonus. The majority of the photographs are clear and easily viewable, however there are some that have an out of focus look to them and some appear to be too dark, and some appear too light, which is typical for photographs of that period of time. I do know that several military photographs are actually stills taken from video so that could be one reason as well as the fact that the photographs are close to 70 years old. With that said the quality of the photographs is of no fault of the author and take away nothing from the book. Filippo Cappellano and Pier Paolo Battistelli stuck to the title of the book and chose photographs that are specific to Italian medium tanks during World War II and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book. The majority of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information due to the details they contain.

The photographs contain subjects such as:

  • Benito Mussolini inspecting a M 11/39 tank
  • A German paratrooper guarding tanks and AFVs of the Ariete division
  • Interior color photograph of the fighting compartment of a M 15/42 tank
  • Interior color view of a semovente da 78/18 showing the gun breech, radio set with battery,
  • instrument panel and machine gun ammunition racks
  • M 13/40 tank possibly of the XI M tank battalion
  • A carro comando M 41 at the Ansaldo works
  • A M15/42 tank carried on a Viberti tank transport trailer towed by a TM 40 tractor
  • Semovente M 40 da 75/18
  • A semovente M 43 da 75/46 at the Ansaldo factory
  • A semoventi da 90/53 captured by US troops in Sicily in 1943. This semoventi da 90/53 was later sent to the Aberdeen Proving Grounds where it is still preserved.
  • A brand new semovente M 43 da 105/25 with the new three-tone camouflage at the Ansaldo factory in 1943
  • The gun breech and the inside of the fighting compartment of the semovente M 41 da 90/53
  • A color photograph of mid-production M 13/40 tanks with crew members standing near and on the closest tank.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the photographs for yourself.


There are 7 color illustrations by illustrator Richard Chasemore. The illustrations are very well done, nicely detailed and are of:

  • M 11/39 Comando Carri Armati Della Libia, Egypt, September 1940
  • M 13/40 XXI Battaglione Carri, Libya, January 1941
  • Symbols

  • M 13/40 Of Ariete Armoured Division, Western Desert, August 1942

  • Semovente M 40 DA 75/18, Ariete Division, May 1942
  • M 15/42 Tank Of The Ariete Division, Rome, Summer 1943
  • Symbols

  • M 14/41 – this is a cut-away view with 55 points of interest shown and listed.

  • Semovente M 40 DA 75/18 Of The Ariete Division, Western Desert, January 1942

  • M 14/41 XIII Battaglione Carri Ariete Division, Egypt, Autumn 1942

  • 1. P 40 Tank, 24th Waffen-Grenadier Brigade Der SS, April 1945
  • Semovente M 43 DA 105/25, Italy, May 1944

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the illustrations for yourself.


There are no maps included in this volume.


There are 3 informational charts provided which provide information on:

  • Tank and semovente production, 1940-45
  • Specifications
  • M 11/39
  • M 13/40 (M 14/41)
  • M 15/42
  • Specifications
  • Semovente M 40 da 75/18 (M 41)
  • Semovente M 42 da 75/18 (M 42 da 75/34)
  • Semovente M 43 da 105/25


There is one note included in this volume which is:

- Author’s note explaining Italian nouns in language


The captions are well written and are very detailed and explain the accompanying photographs in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown and taking place in the accompanying photograph. The captions go into very specific detail as to armor, vehicles and locations as well as specific individuals and other such pertinent information. I was very impressed by with Filippo Cappellano’s and Pier Paolo Battistelli’s captions as they are very helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions I have seen that are very brief and lack detail.

Please refer to the scans that I have provided so that you can judge the captions for yourself.


All in all I am very impressed with the book. This is a very nice reference book that contains many excellent and subject specific photographs and illustrations and well detailed captions. It details the Italian medium tanks during World War II very well. This volume will be of particular interest and beneficial to anyone interested in World War II Italian armor. I would have no hesitation to add other Osprey titles to my personal library nor would I hesitate to recommend this book to others as it will be a welcome addition to one’s personal military reference library.


The Illustrated Encyclopedia of the Worlds Tanks and Fighting Vehicles
Christopher F. Foss
Chartwell Books, Inc.

Italian Medium Tanks in action
By Nicola Pignato
Color by Don Greer
Illustrated by Andrew Probert and Richard Hudson
Armor Number 39
Squadron/Signal Publications

Tank And AFV Crew Uniforms Since 1916
Martin Windrow
Color Illustrations by Gerry Embleton
Squadron/Signal Publications

Tanks of World War II
Duncan Crow
Exeter Books

Tanks Of World War II
Chris Ellis
Chancellor Press

An Illustrated History Of Fighting Vehicles
Armin Halle
Illustrated By Carlo Demand
Crescent Books

Great Tank Battles of WWII
A Combat Diary of the Second World War
George Bradford
Arco Publishing

Panzer Tracts No. 19-2
British, American, Russian, and Italian Tanks Captured from 1940 to 1945
Created by Thomas L. Jentz and Werner Regenberg
Panzer Tracts

German Army S.P. Weapons 1939-45
Part 2 – Foreign Built Fully Tracked Chassis
Compiled by Peter Chamberlain and Hilary Louis Doyle
M.A.P. Publications
Printed by Oval Press

Osprey web site Live links
Osprey Publishing also has Vercors 1944 Resistance in the French Alps available as a:

- PDF ebook
- ePub eBook

Amazon web site Live links

Kindle Edition Live links
Highs: Informative text and captions Excellent photographs and illustrations
Lows: Nothing to mention
Verdict: This is a very nice reference book of Italian medium tanks of 1939 through 1945 during World War II that is well researched and written.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: ISBN 978-1-84908-775-9
  Suggested Retail: US $17.95 / UK £9.99
  PUBLISHED: Apr 07, 2013

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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About Randy L Harvey (HARV)

I have been in the modeling hobby off and on since my youth. I build mostly 1/35 scale. However I work in other scales for aircraft, ships and the occasional civilian car kit. I also kit bash and scratch-build when the mood strikes. I mainly model WWI and WWII figures, armor, vehic...

Copyright ©2021 text by Randy L Harvey [ HARV ]. All rights reserved.


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