Introduced into the Italian Army in 1933, the Carro Veloce or “fast tank” became the mainstay of the Regio Esercito in the early campaigns of Africa and in the Balkans. Although quaint by late 1930’s standards, it saw great success in the export arms market and found service in South America, China and Spain. This guide will quickly contextualise its unique quirks and qualities.
Powered by a petrol six-cylinder water-cooled engine and crewed by a driver and commander – The CV-33 would make several minor iterations in its design evolution, namely with its armament and armour compositions. The original models however were armed with a single 6.5 mm machine gun and a protection layout composing of 12 mm of frontal riveted armour. With an on paper speed of 42 km/h, the CV-33 was indeed a fast tankette.
The 1935 iteration saw the armament being replaced by it’s infamous twin 8 mm machine gun configuration, and its armour being increased and bolted as opposed to riveted. Although its armament was improved, it was almost entirely relegated to an anti-infantry role, armed solely with its twin machine gun mount. Later models swapped the 8 mm guns for a heavier Breda 13 mm gun.
The final evolution of the CV series, the 38 model replaced the bogie suspension for a more reliable torsion bar suspension. The changes were so minor many 35 models were simply converted to the 38 standard. There was some flexibility in its armament as it could also swap its 8 mm machine guns for a 13 mm heavy machine gun.
The CV-33 Contro Carro
Some 33 and 35 models were converted into tank destroyer configurations, armed with the Swiss Made Solothurn S-18/1000, a high velocity 20 mm anti-tank rifle. Its cumbersome weigh made it ideal for vehicle-borne use, and it served well on the CV chassis. It’s late introduction however relegated it to a novelty status in the African campaign.
The CV-35 Lancia Fiamme
For dealing with fixed fortifications, the 33 and 35 models had a flamethrower configuration. Armed solely with a napalm or gasoline mixture heavy flamethrower, with fuel stowed on a trailer tank or on the tank itself.
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