Today, lets talk about FIAT 3000 model 21 (1st serie) which was probably one of the best tanks in service in the armies of Europe in the early 1920s. The Fiat 3000 was the first tank built in series in Italy, remained in service until 1943, when it really exhausted its military value. Avanti!!!
|FIAT 3000 model 21 - early|
Notice the track links flat (not drilled)
The FIAT (Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino - Italian Automobile Factory Turin) - 3000 was the first tank to be produced in series in Italy. It was to be the standard tank of the emerging Italian armored units after World War I. The 3000 was based on the French Renault FT.
|Renault FT-17 tank with British and French troops -Bois de Reims - Battle of Tardenois|
2nd Battle of the Marne - 24 July 1918.
In 1917, after study the first engagements of the English and French tanks in Flanders, the Italian Headquarters decided to buy from France one Schneider tank. The armored vehicle was tested in rugged terrain and mountainous corresponding to the future sector of operation in which this equipment was to be engaged. The results obtained were considered satisfactory and the Italian army considered buying others. However, the negotiations did not succeed.
|Schneider CA1 French tank|
In May 1918, France sent four Renault FT 17 light tanks to Italy: two with Girod turret: One armed with a 37mm Puteaux gun and other with a machine gun Hotchkiss mod.14 replaced in a second time by a model S.I.A. 6.5mm. The other two with Berliet polygonal turret armed with a Hotchkiss mod.14 machine gun then replaced by a FIAT mod.14.
|Renault FT-17 Girod with SIA machine gun in demonstration|
Rome - 1918.
Following the demonstration of the tanks in August 2, 1918 in front of the authorities, decision was taken to license the Renault vehicle in Italy. The building program was entrusted to a consortium of companies including FIAT, Ansaldo, Breda, Vickers, Terni and Armstrong. The first request for 1400 copies provided for a monthly production of 200 tanks with a first delivery on May 1, 1919.
The sudden end of WWI led to the cancellation of this initial order. In January 1919, faced with the difficulties of buying 60 FT-17 from Renault, the Italian Ministry of War once again solicited the national industry to build 150 Renault derived tanks. Ansaldo was initially approached, but was finally FIAT that was selected, reduced the request to 100 copies, in April 1919.
The new Fiat tank, which was to be an improved version of the Renault, was designed to meet the demands of combat on hard and mountainous terrain. The prototype started in June 1919 was not completed until June 1920 and began testing in August of the same year. In January 1921, one of the Renault FT 17 was sent to Turin for comparative tests. Like the FT-17, the prototype of the Fiat 3000 had two access hatches on the front of the body, which were removed on the standard models.
|FIAT 3000 prototype on his transportation trailer.|
Notice the two acess hatches in the front of the hull.
|FIAT 3000 mod.21 (left) and the FT 17 armed with a machine gun S.I.A|
Fort Tiburtino - 1927.
The light tank, which received the official name of the FIAT 3000 mod.21 carro d'assalto (attack car) , looks similar to the Renault FT-17, but was lighter and much faster.
|FIAT 3000 mod.21 carro d'assalto - first version|
The tank was subjected to a series of tests intended to determine the performances, the consumptions and the possibilities of operational employment. At the end of the tests in 1923, the evaluation commission, chaired by Gen. Costa, gave a positive report about the tank's capabilities, while expressing reservations about the effectiveness of an armored vehicle armed only with machine guns, in this case two S.I.A. 6.5 mm.
|S.I.A. Aircraft Machine Gun, 6.5 mm, Dual Flexible Mount.|
Gen. Costa proposed the turret with a 37mm quick-firing gun, a more appropriate weapon that could be used against other enemy tanks.
The first modification made in the armament was in the spring of 1922: installing two 7.7mm Lewis machine guns in turret, solution tested on two copies sent to Cyrenaica in 1925.
|FIAT 3000 with 7.7mm Lewis machine gun|
1a sq. autoblindo mitragliatrici della Tripolitania - 1925
The War Games of 1927 in Umbria and 1928 in Venezia-Juliana highlighted the need for tanks armed with a gun acting jointly with other armed with machine guns. The ARET was then commissioned to study together with Fiat the possibility of mounting a 37/40 gun in the Fiat 3000.
|Fiat's blueprint of Fiat 3000 B unarmed dated December 15, 1928.|
This study led to the creation of a new version, whose factory designation was FIAT 3000 B. The prototype was tested during the maneuvers of 1929 in Val Varaita, in Piedmont.
|FIAT 3000 B prototype loaded on a trailer for its transfer|
to the ARET where it will receive its new gun.
|FIAT 3000 B armed with a 37/40 gun.|
|FIAT 3000 with a 37/40 gun equipped with an experimental|
device of tension of the tracks on the front of the sponson.
The Fiat 3000 Mod.21 kept the same general configuration of the Renault FT-17: a body based on propulsion tracks and supporting an armed turret with 360° of rotation. The vehicle was distinguished externally from the French tank by a larger turret armed only with machine guns, a modified undercarriage and the rear of the redesigned hull.
The tank had a lower center of gravity, a more powerful engine (50 hp vs. 40 hp for the FT) and a simplified gearbox. The engine was mounted transversely, while it was longitudinal on the FT, which allowed to reduce the total weight of the vehicle by simplifying the transmission and shorten the box.
The vanadium steel armor offered effective protection against firing machine guns and shrapnel. The hull was watertight and the vehicle was equipped with a pump for the evacuation of any infiltration of water, which allows it to cross fords of 1.1 m.
The armored interior was divided into two parts by a firewall that isolated the combat and steering compartment at the front of the rear propulsion section. The driver station with controls and steering devices was located at the hull's front. The bottom of the personnel cabin is equipped with a moving element floor which isolates the tank drive transmissions between the floor and the bottom of the hull.
|FIAT 3000 mod. 21 in training|
Italy - 1926.
|FIAT 3000 cutaway view|
On the floor, the builder had four accommodations for the storage of tools, equipment on board, spare parts and equipment needed to clean the equipment. The driver, sitting at the front of the hull on a folding seat, had two side slots and a shielded central hatch with a slot. This hatch could be raised and locked in the desired position to increase the visibility of the driver during the trip.
|FIAT 3000 driver station|
The tank commander was sitting behind the driver on a height-adjustable seat. He could, if necessary, start the engine from inside the vehicle. In the central part of the battle compartment occupied by the tank commander, just below the turret, magazines were found for ammunition ,protected by the thickness of the side armour and the tracks.
The engine compartment, in the rear of the hull, was accessible by two panels located on the top of the rear deck. Inside was the FIAT four-cylinder in-line petrol engine with 6235 cm³ developing 45 hp at 1500 rpm and 50 hp at 1700 rpm (for mod.21).
The ignition was provided by the ignition magneto (Dixie on mod.21 and Marelli on mod.30). The main fuel tank had a capacity of 90 L on the mod.21 and 85 L on the mod.30, the auxiliary tank, the cooling radiator and the transmission completed the motorization area at the rear of the hull. The transmission include: clutch, gearbox, differential, speed reducers. The clutch is of the wet type, with multiple discs; the gearbox is direct drive with three forward and one reverse.
At the rear part of the hull was installed a removable trench tail on which were fixed two dismountable lifting devices (jacks).
The external equipment included a crank for starting the vehicle from the outside and a pickaxe. The exhaust pipes on each side of the body were protected by a shielding plate. The tank was equipped with four towing rings (2 front x 2 rear) that could withstand a pull of four tons. The tracks of about 3.2 m were driven by rear sprockets.
The suspension sponson consisted mainly of a riveted metal spar fixed to the bottom of the hull. The idler wheel was placed at the front, the sprocket at the back. Each of the longitudinal members rested on the bearing part of the track by means of eight rollers distributed in four bogies.
These bogies were assembled by terminal pins in suspension leaf springs, which are stabilized by rubber damping pads to absorb the oscillations. This articulated assembly made it possible to maintain a sufficiently constant pressure and to distribute it uniformly on all the supports of the road rollers whatever the deformation of the track imposed by the shape of the ground.
At the mid-height of the hull was the second part of the undercarriage consisting of five carrier rollers supported by a small stringer. was fastened to the hull by a pin, which allowed a pivotal movement of the entire set. In the front portion of the return rollers set, the stringer was supported by a vertical spring, which kept the track in constant tension. The thrust exerted by this spring gave it the necessary elasticity in accordance with the operation of the suspension.
The track included 52 links. The prototype and the first tanks, among which are those sold in Albania, had a hollow sprocket and the track links were flat. On the following models, the links were opened to obtain better grip and better ground pressure.
The 360° turret contained the armament, the access hatch in the rear, and the attachments for the tank commander's seat. In the top, a cupola (with three slots for observation, ventilation and lighting) with a dome that could open to improve ventilation or allow rapid evacuation in case of emergency. . This dome was pierced in its top center to allow the passage of means of signaling.
About armament, the Fiat 3000 mod.21 was initially equipped with two S.I.A. 6.5 mm machine guns with an initial ammunition of 2000 cartridges divided into 50 magazines supplied with 40 rounds (then increased to 91 magazines with 40 rounds). The difficulties encountered while loading the moving machine guns and the unreliability of the weapons led to a request for the change of armament. The Fiat Arsenal in Turin (ARET) proposed in 1922 the assembly of a pair of Lewis machine guns but the project was not retained.
With the abandonment of the version armed with Lewis, the Modello 21 were adapted to use a a pair of FIAT mod.14/35 8mm machine guns, powered by 80-round magazines (5760 rounds). The tubes of the weapons were protected by armored sleeves. The main recognition feature of this model was that the machine guns were mounted higher on the turret and more robust frame of the suspension's sponsons.
Whatever the type of machine gun mounted in the turret, the armament was coupled in parallel on the same axis and the commander of the tanker had a collimator placed between the two arms. The shooting could be done independently but the aiming was unique.
As quoted before, during the 1927 field manoeuvres, it appeared clear that there was a need for a better and heavy armament rather than just a couple of machine guns. Accordingly, it was planned to mount in the turret a Vickers-Terni 37mm gun, at that time a match for any tank in Europe.
But with a 125 kg weight of the gun, the Fiat 3000 become underpowered and with poor cross country performance without an improved engine. The Fiat Arsenal in Turin started to plan and design fundamental alterations like a more powerful engine and a reworked turret, and in 1928 the Italian military authorities ordered 52 tanks with the designation FIAT 3000 Carro Armato modello 1930 (Tank, model 1930). However, it was not possible to complete all vehicles with the 37 mm guns, because they were in very short supply, and at least 24 of them kept the same machine gun armament of the previous Model 1921. Again, the production rate was slow and only after February 1933 more tanks were ready. Externally, the model 1930 differed from the earlier model 1921 in some ways. Besides the bigger engine deck, other points of recognition were the larger idler wheel and, the most fundamental alteration, the new turret. Other novel features were the access for the driver by means of a new hatch in the glacis plate and a sloped skirt added to the hull sides, a protection from mud and debris accumulated on cross country duty.
When equiped whit 37/40 gun, the FIAT 3000 mod. 30, the main weapon was assembled offset to the right of the turret. The elevation and depression of the gun was -10 ° to + 20 °. The ammo was 68 rounds of 37mm ammunition.
|FIAT 3000 mod.30 - 37/40 gun version - front and rear view|
|FIAT 3000 mod.30 - 37/40 gun version - side view|
For some ten years, until 1935, the little Fiat tank became the main equipment of the Italian armoured units. In an effort to correct at least some faults, modifications were introduced both during production and retrospectively. Few other details changed: in 1935 the bottom frames of the suspensions were reinforced in four locations at every side.
|FIAT 3000 mod. 30 with the 1935 modifications (final version)|
The new mantlet for the Fiat 14/35 - 8mm machine guns can be seen,
along with the 4 box-shaped reinforcements on the suspensions (red arrows)
By the same time, the original armament of SIA machine guns was found unfit and from April 1936 the FIAT 14/35 machine gun was used on many of the early examples instead. The two weapons were mounted higher and had armoured jackets.
|FIAT 3000 with Fiat 8mm machine guns in the winter.|
The weapon had the same calibre as the infantry equipment and the CV tankettes, but remained cumbersome and prone to jams.
In the same period, the 37mm guns were gradually dismounted from the vehicles carrying it because they were needed for the FIAT M11/39 tanks.
This unsatisfactory armament soon turned out to be a poor choice for use on tanks and it was soon shown that only two machine guns on tanks in 1940 were inadequate.
Beside the Italian Army, some FIAT 3000s were sold to Albania (2), Denmark (1), Greece (1), Latvia, Lithuania (6), Hungary (5), Spain (1), Argentina (1), Japan (1) and Ethiopia (4). It is possible that Latvian tanks took part in the war against Polonia in 1939, but certainly later they were seized by the Red Army. Japanese FIAT 3000s took part in the Sino-Japanese War in 1937. Interesting is the Hungarian communists offered a mod.21 to the USSR in 1926, rearmed with a Soviet 37 mm gun.
At the beginning of WWII, the FIAT 3000 was totally obsolete, yet a number of them was assigned to frontier duties, and some of them took part somehow in the short Italo-French war in 1940 and in the Balkan war, 1941.
|CV 33 tankette armed with two FIAT machine guns mod.14 / 35 8mm|
|FIAT M11/39 armed with 37/40 gun in the front hull|
The debut of Fiat 3000 in operational was in 1926, when two FIAT 3000 took part in the operations for the reconquest of the Giarabub Oasis, in Lybia.. The Italian military expedition departed on February 1, 1926, as a military column which comprised 36 armored vehicles (a squadron of Tripoli armoured cars, 8 armed trucks, a section of 2 Ford T armored cars) and 2 FIAT 3000. The tanks greatly slowed down the velocity and advance of entire column, which did not yield a good initial assessment.
|The 2 FIAT 3000s of the Giarabub Oasis operation. Lybia - 1926|
A small number of FIAT 3000s took part in the second Italo-Ethiopian war in 1936, when they met the FIAT 3000s which were sold earlier to the Ethiopian government, but no duels between them took place since the Ethiopian FIAT 3000s were unarmed.
Two FIAT 3000s in Makallè, Ethiopia - 1936
| 2 ex-Ethiopian unarmed FIAT 3000 captured by the Italians|
guard the door of the Imperial Palace. Addis Ababa, May 1936
|Soviet FIAT 3000 mod. 21 armed with a 37 mm gun.|
The designations of these tanks were changed prior to the outbreak of World War II, in accordance with the identification system that was adopted throughout the war by the Italians. The FIAT Model 21 was redesignated L5/21, and the FIAT Model 30 was redesignated L5/30.
|Real pic (not colorized) of FIAT 3000 with the 1935 modifications in the Balkans, 1941|
In the first months of 1943 some – at least 18 – FIAT 3000 were reactivated and handed over to two new tank companies – the so called 1st and 2nd "Compagnia Carri Armati Fiat 3000" (Fiat 3000 Tank Company) – for the defence of Sicily. After much cannibalisation and improvisation – always a strong Italian tradition –, the two small units were kept ready. Very few of them were encountered by the Allies during the invasion of Sicily in July 1943, one company of them was dug in as pillboxes, while other tanks were attached to Mobile Group "E". Both of these units could not fight allied tanks on equal terms and lost large amounts of equipment. Those FIAT 3000s which had not been destroyed in action were captured by the Americans.
|Fiat 3000 waiting for the shipment to the USA.|
Sicily, summer of 1943
The last FIAT 3000 tanks were dumped among the other various AFVs which rested in the depots. No one of these found their way into the Panzerwaffe after the Italian surrender in the September of 1943. The basic chassis could not be upgunned or uparmoured, so gradually they went for scrap, but unfortunately not even one vehicle had been put aside as a museum piece.
|Place of origin||Italy|
|Wars||Pacification of Libya|
Ethiopian coup d'état of 1928
Second Italo - Abyssinian War
World War II
|No. built||152 (100 mod 21, 52 mod 30)|
|Armor||6 mm-16 mm|
|2x 6.5mm S.I.A. MG or2x 8mm FIAT 14/35 MG or|
1x 37 mm Vickers-Terni da 37/40
|1x 6.5 mm MG|
|Engine||Fiat 4-cylinder - 6.235 cm³|
50 hp - gasoline
This project was a upgrade in old kit from Tauro Model, another built scrap I found on my wanderings over the web. The kit was this: FIAT 3000 mod. 21(#104):
With great care and patience, I started taking off the pieces ...
Starting the improvements: Opening the spokes of the sprocket, like the real one...
Time to primer the girl...
This project was a upgrade in old kit from Tauro Model, another built scrap I found on my wanderings over the web. The kit was this: FIAT 3000 mod. 21(#104):
|Tauro Model box art|
|Condition that I received the kit...|
Hull and (awful) vinyl tracks...
|This is a well-made union !! Oh my God!!!|
|The rear axle was fully warped ...|
|Disassembled parts ...|
|The rear axle!!! Man...|
|The paint was very bad and rough ... The only option is strip off the paint ...|
|As the old paint was acrylic, the best recipe for its removal is a strong detergent.|
Soaps for dishwashers are ideal ...
|Bye, bye old painting...|
Using an old brush to scrub and remove the paint
|The FIAT with no paint...|
|Using drills and abrasive tips ...|
|The rack for vertical springs of return roller stringer... Totally wrong!!!|
|After the surgery...the rack for vertical spring|
|Upgradind the rear trench tail|
|I will replace the plastic axle by a metal one ...|
|Tracks in position... The "weight" aspect was made with the track|
glued on the return- rollers with cyanoacrylate ...
One thing that really bothered me was the Taurus machine guns; poorly detailed and oversized. more resembled 40mm barrel guns than 6.5mm machine guns...
|The S.I.A. guns|
My idea: Wrap a thin copper wire around a 1mm diameter drill bit (the same diameter as the new pipes made of Plastruct rods). Wear these "sleeves" on new Plastruct machine guns with the (more delicate) conical metal barrels of RB Models (# 35B64 - 7.92mm BESA British MG). See below:
|Notice the cooper wire after to be curled up in the 1mm dril|
I perfored the 1mm Plastruct rod in the point and glued the BESA metal gun there
Notice the comparison between my scratch and Taurus part...
|The new S.I.A. MG 6,5mm gun...|
|New guns in position...|
|The real guns, again...|
Presto, nuove foto !!!