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Sahariana-The Desert Jeep

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A Sahariano in North Africa, March 1943, crewed by the PAI. It is part of the "103rd Compagnie Arditi Camionettisti", half of which fought on the Tunisian Front and the other half on the Libyan Front.


Officially the Camionetta 42 ‘Sahariana‘ – however, they are also referred to as – Camionetta ‘Sahariana‘ AS 42 – or – Camionetta SPA 43 ‘Sahariana‘ – (and incidentally the word Sahariana is singular, so if you are talking about more that 1 vehicle it is ‘Sahariane‘).

The letters AS are the Italian code for North Africa, “Africa Settentrionale“, which pretty literally translates as “North African” but is often translated as “African Service” in English texts. Any equipment, unit organization, or formation that was designed or organized specially for North Africa was given this designation. In this case, it refers to the mechanical specifications of the vehicle being able to handle the harsh environment.

SPA is a brand name, like FIAT, and they were one of the largest vehicle manufacturers in Italy (they were part of the Fiat group).

42 and 43 refer to respective models, effectively the year of production with each successive model featuring technical and/or weaponry improvements over the previous while retaining the same basic appearance (similar to AB 40, 41, 43 Armoured Cars, M13/40, M14/41, M15/42 Tanks and so on).

Camionetta loosely translates as Jeep, and is usually used to refer to most trucks and soft vehicles modified to mount a weapon and fight “in the front line”.


This photo clearly shows three vehicles from the original Raggruppamento Sahariano AS, the nearer is the SPA TL37 Camionetta AS mounting the 47/32 Anti-Tank Gun, the further vehicle is a Sahariana, probably 790 B, 792 B, or 798 B as it appears to mount a 20mm and a single MG, and finally in the right distance can be seen a second Sahariana.

The First Unit

“Raggruppamento Sahariano AS” was formed with some of the first vehicles manufactured. A Raggruppamento normally is a group of units (battalions) and is often larger than an equivalent British brigade or German Regiment. In this case, however its use would seem to be “untypical” and it may have been chosen to imply a force considerably larger than actually existed!

The Raggruppamento was equipped with 10 vehicles, their details are:




790 B armata

1 x 20mm AA & 1 x 8mm MG.

791 B armata

1 x 47mm CAN & 1 x 8mm MG.

792 B armata

1 x 20mm AA & 1 x 8mm MG.

793 B armata

1 x 20mm ATR & 2 x 8mm MG.

794 B armata

2 x 8mm MG.

797 B armata

1 x 20mm AA & 2 x 8mm MG.

798 B armata

1 x 20mm ATR & 1 x 8mm MG.

SPA TL37 Camionetta AS


1 x 47mm CAN.


1 x 20mm AA.

Unknown Vehicle Type



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