The Autoblinda 40 and Autoblinda 41 armored cars had their origins in a requirement for a high performance car for use by the Italian colonial police in the new Italian colonies in Africa. The Italian cavalry branch also had a requirement for a new armored car at about the same time so the two were merged to produce a new vehicle design that appeared in 1939. This new design had the engine at the rear and a turret mounting a machine gun towards the front. There was another machine gun in the hull rear and the vehicle could be driven from either the normal front position or another position in the hull rear. From this design evolved the Autoblinda 40 that began production in mid-1940 with twin 8mm machine guns in the turret.
When the original production order was placed it was specified that a small number of Autoblinda 40s be produced with a 20mm cannon in place of the twin 8mm machine guns in the turret. This was achieved by using the turret of the L 6/40 light tank in place of the original turret.
This then became the Autoblinda 41 and it was soon realized that this vehicle/weapon combination was more effective than the twin 8mm machine guns and thereafter production concentrated on the Autoblinda 41. Relatively few Autoblinda 40s were produced and many of these were converted to Autoblinda 41s.
For its time, the Autoblinda 41 was an advanced design and possessed good performance marred only by recurring steering troubles that never were entirely eliminated. The main
armament was a converted 20mm Breda modello 35 anti-aircraft cannon that was mounted co-axially with an 8mm Breda modello 38 air-cooled machine gun specially designed for use in armored vehicles. Another 8mm Breda was mounted at the rear of the hull. One vehicle in four had a provision for an anti-aircraft machine gun mounting on the turret top. Special sand or normal road tires could be fitted and there was a kit available to convert the vehicle for use on railway tracks. This kit included railway wheels and extra lighting and signaling devices along with a searchlight to be mounted on the turret. Autoblinda 41s fitted with these kits were used exclusively for anti-partisan patrols in the Balkans.
The Autoblinda 40 and 41 were extensively used by Italian reconnaissance units in the Western Desert and Tunisia. At the end of September 1942 there were 298 Autoblinda 41s in use and more were employed by the colonial police.
Some development work was carried out on the basic design that later led to the AB-43 mounting a 47mm anti-tank gun in the turret, while an open hulled version mounting a German 50mm anti-tank gun was also explored. Only a very few AB-43s were produced before the Italian surrender. There was an open-hulled variant produced in small numbers as a command vehicle or forward observation post for artillery units.
|Engine||One 80hp SAP Abm 1 6-cylinder water-cooled inline gasoline engine|
|Max Off Road Speed||24 mph|
|Weight||16,500 lbs (7500 kg)|
|Verticle Obstacle||12 inches|
|Armament||One 20mm Breda modello 35 cannon, one hull mounted 8mm Breda modello 38 machine gun and one 8mm Breda modello 38 machine gun
at hull rear
Article Courtesy JDG.