P-40 Tank in Combat?

jwsleser

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Staff member
Posted 01 June 2003 - 11:48 PM by Robin Kalhorn

I am curious about the combat performance of the Italian P-40 medium tank, a much needed improvement over the M13/40. A web site linked to Comando Supremo claims it was used in Northern Italy in the last stages of the war. Are there any records of the P-40 in action against Allied tanks?

Posted 01 June 2003 - 11:48 PM by Guido Ronconi

As I wrote in an article of mine, that was published in the italian military magazine "Storia Militare", issue of August 2000, the Germans employed 15 P.40 with the 10. Polizei-Panzer-Kompanie, stationed in San Michele (Verona), 13 P.40 with the 15. Polizei-Panzer-Kompanie stationed in Novara, and about 20-22 P.40 with the Panzerkompanie of the 24. Waffen-Gebirgs-Brigade der SS Karstjäger, stationed in Cividale (Udine). The P.40 of the Karstjäger had a fight against the british 6th A.D. in May 1945, it could also be that they had a tank fight, sure is that at least 2 P.40 were destroyed by A.T. gun fire during the german rethreat toward Austria.
If you read italian I can send you per e-mail my article, or per post. You can find more informations about the Polizei-Panzer-Kompanien in the book of Dr. Werner Regenberg "Panzerfahrzeuge und Panzereinheiten der Ordnungspolizei 1936-1945", Podzun-Pallas Verlag, 1999.

I hope I helped you, best greetings

Guido Ronconi

Posted 01 June 2003 - 11:49 PM by Lupo Solitario

For what is known, only 60 efficent P-40 were produced by italian industry in german-occupied zone. In a first moment, some were employed by unidentified fascist units but at the end of 1944, they were taken by germans to assembly three tank companies (2 of army and 1 of SS) and employed all against guerrilla. All surrendered in May 1945, without having met allied tanks

Posted 01 June 2003 - 11:50 PM by NICK

yes, about 20-22 of these medium/heavy tanks were used by northern italy. my granfather was a driver in one of them. i could give you a report based on what my grandfather said during his only real engagement. statistical: the P.40 was i fine tank. armed with a 75mm gun it could, for the first time, measure up to allied standards. the tank had a good road speed, relatively thick armour, and was overall a well balanced thank. actual statistics i can give to you if you wish!

Posted 01 June 2003 - 11:52 PM by NICK

Its NICK agian. my e-mail is not working, so ill tell you the statistics of the P.40 here:

Weight= 26ton
Crew=4
Range=150km
Armor(Max) 60mm
Weapons= 1 75mm, 1 8mmMG
No. Produced: 3 Pre Production tanks by the Italians, 100-200 by the Germans.
 
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I think most of the fighting is covered in Panzers in the Ozak ( available on- line) :


Panzers in the Ozak-New Information
http://www.panzer-ozak.it/newinfo_eng.htm
2.2) "On the Pz.Kp. further retreat and the fighting near Godia, from a text on the partisan war in Friuli – Venezia Giulia:
From the Povoletto church tower at 15.00 h. [of 1st May 1945] the alarm was gives as a German column, with 12 Tiger tanks and several trucks loaded with SS, coming from Cividale and belonging to the Car-Division [ricto: Karstjäger-Division], was seen stopped near Salt, not far from the bridge on the Torre stream; the partisan detachment there had taken shelter. The intervention of Allied forces, that had just entered Udine, was requested; these arrived around 17.00 h. and with the support of partisan units attacked the enemy column, which was approaching the Torre [to be precised the fighting took place after the German column had passed the Torre stream, at the entrance of the village of Godia].
In half an hour of hard fighting the column was destroyed [actually only one tank was destroyed, the rest of the colum was able to drive past]. After the battle, while they were inspecting a Tiger tank fallen in a ditch, two British soldiers – Cap. Robinson Henry James and tank private Keith James Alexander – heard moans coming from inside the tank; with difficulty they managed to get inside the vehicle, where one crew member was still alive. This, instead of accepting the help that the two British wanted to offer him, shot them with his pistol, and died shortly afterwards. The two British soldiers, badly wounded, were immediately given assistance and taken to the field hospital in Magredis.

(from: G.A. Colonnello, Guerra di liberazione. Friuli – Venezia Giulia – Zone Jugoslave, 1965, pg. 289)
Interesting, if correct, is the information that the Pz.Kp. had 12 P 40 tanks when it arrived near Udine; this means that it had 13 efficient P 40 tanks before leaving Cividale."

A tank fight between Italian L3s and P26/40s:

2.3): Karstjäger Pz.Kp. and Gruppo San Giusto:
"This excerpt from the war diary of an Italian partisan unit gives information on the last days of the two units:
Earlier on the 24th [April 1945] the Brigade Commander with ca. 30 men had set out for the Collio region [west of Gorizia], from where they reached the plain; on the 27th they brought about the surrender of the RSI tank detachment in Mariano del Friuli [Gruppo San Giusto], capturing 5 light tanks, one armoured car, 4 trucks, weapons and ammunition.
After contacting some elements of the insurrectional committee of Cividale, the Brigade Commander decided to attack that town, still guarded by 200 SS-men. The attack was started in the hope for an insurrection, which indeed entusiastically broke out when our troops entered the town.
While furious fighting was going on in the streets, “Tiger” tanks, whose presence was unknown to us, came out from enemy barracks and quickly knocked out our light tanks. The attack was therefore stopped and the town abandoned, after unprecised casualties had been caused to the enemy. No casualties occured on our side.

(from: Guerra di Liberazione. Friuli-Slovenia 1943-1945 - Divisione D'Assalto Garibaldi Natisone. Diario Storico operativo)
The repelled partisan attack on Cividal occured, it seems, on 28th April 1945. The Germans kept control of the town until it was abandoned on 1st May.
Interesting is the fact that captured vehicles from the Gruppo San Giusto were used in combat against the P 40 of the Karstjäger Pz.Kp."




2.The Telegraph
Geoffrey Merrick took part in the fighting near Udine and outside Godia and manned a 6 pounder:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obi...army-obituaries/9891304/Geoffrey-Merrick.html

"On May 1 1945, three German tanks were preventing 7th Battalion the Rifle Brigade (7 RB) crossing the river Tagliamento north of St Vito. Merrick’s platoon of six-pounder anti-tank guns was part of a force that was ordered to destroy them.
There were deep ditches on either side of the road, and it was possible to get only one gun into position. This was highly hazardous, since the platoon was in full view of the enemy; but despite heavy fire, Merrick got the gun into action with such speed that the enemy was forced to pull back, and the way across the river was opened.
That same afternoon Merrick was in charge of an anti-tank gun supporting a small force of carriers which had been sent out to take the surrender of five German tanks which were reported to be ready to give up.
While the surrender was in progress, the enemy tanks treacherously opened fire on the carriers, and three of the tanks charged down the road towards them. Merrick got his gun into action at once and, under intense fire, directed the gun in person.
His retaliation was so effective that the leading tank was knocked out at a range of 100 yards and the others were forced to withdraw. The citation for his award of an Immediate MC paid tribute to the speed and courage Merrick had shown in turning two critical situations into a defeat for the enemy."
Further into the article:
" At Udine, 20,000 people gathered to greet them, while several hundred partisans, armed to the teeth, saluted with repeated volleys from their weapons. But north of the town, contact was made with the small group of German tanks which appeared to be willing to surrender. That this was a deceitful ruse became clear when an officer of 7 RB went forward on foot and the leading tank commander shot him. As a general firefight ensued, Merrick brought his gun into action decisively.

There's also a May 1945 report posted by Vollketten that I have to dig up.

In addition there's the common picture of the two British soldiers sitting on top of a P40 and pointing to a ridge line (and another pic showing them reading a map on top of a tank) following an engagement during surrender negotiations. During said negotiations, two Shermans crest the ridge line and notice some vehicles attempting to get away. Seeing this, the British decide to open fire on the two P40s below.

Finding the pics shouldn't be too difficult
 
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jwsleser

Member
Staff member
I read through the accounts. Do you have any evidence that these accounts involved carro P40? I understand that everyone was calling a German tank a Tiger at that time. Did the Germans operate any other tanks in this area?

Pista! Jeff
 
No, just Panzers in the Ozak and the single May 1945 report that I have to find.

The L3s could very well be L6/40s. I believe I was going by some official history at the time.

Overall the P 40 history was never really finished (is it ever).

On a similar note, its presence at Kummledorf was mentioned recently in a Warspot article. It doesn't appear to have moved with the hodge-podge of tanks that were sent against the Russians. The article mentions it suffered from mechanical breakdown.
 

jwsleser

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Staff member
From another thread from the old CS (CA P40 used against the Germans)

Pelelui81 Posted 24 December 2010 - 05:44 PM

Does anyone have record of the P40 being used against German troops, maybe in the defense of Rome?? I know only a handful were functional at the time of the Armistice, and antother 100 or so were manufactured and used by German/RSI forces against the allies. But I could not find if any were used, perhaps by the Ariete against the Germans.

Thanks much, Merry Christmas.

marcofermani Posted 27 December 2010 - 03:36 PM

Hi,

I can write to you informations originated from italian military literature that I put at the end.

Studies began in concrete terms only in july 1940 and until the spring of 1942 were developed 3 prototypes:
the first had a 75/18 gun (Calibre 75mm and a barrel long 18 calibres)
the second had a 75/32 gun and the third a 75/34 gun with a frontal armour more slanted like in the russian T34.
In the april 1942 was developed a self propelled gun derived from the P40 with a 149/40 gun: only a project.
Another variant was the P43bis, armed with a 90/42 gun derived from an aircraft successful gun, but it remain a project too.
The Regio Esercito placed an order for 500 pieces on April 22 1942 but they weren't produced: according to FIAT documentation of January 1944 the production started only at the end of May 1943 and according to ANSALDO only a piece was produced until July 31 1943. It seems that some tanks were tested on August. On 8 July 1943 a Regio Esercito circular formed from August 1 the first P40 Tank Batallion in Vercelli but this only existed on paper. The Germans, according with their documentation, captured 5 Tanks completed after 8 september. Neither Ariete nor Centauro II (ex Divisione Corazzata Legionaria "M", the name changed on 25 July) has had P40 tanks.On the contrary, as you know, P40 was used against the allies by German (in particular 10. and 15. Polizei Companies) and RSI forces from september 1944.

Bibliography

L.Ceva-A.Curami "La meccanizzazione dell'esercito italiano dalle origini al 1943"2 volumes Roma USSME 1989
N.Pignato "P40" ed. Albertelli-Storia Militare Parma 2009

P40 was used fy Panzerkompanie of Waffen SS Division 24° Karstjager too.

excuse my writing error:

the 90mm gun of P43bis was a successful antiaircraft gun, the same used by the 90/53 sel propelled gun(but shortened) against the allies in Sicily.

Regards

Marco Fermani
 
Another engagement from Panzers in the Ozak:

" 2) Karstjäger Panzer-Kompanie
In order to integrate and confirm what already said in the text (pages 77-78) on the last fightings of the Panzer-Kompanie of the 24. Waffen-Gebirgs (Karstjäger)-Division der SS, three recently found reports are reproduced in the following:

2.1) From the memories of a partisan commander on the fighting for the liberation of Cividale on 1st May 1945:
Cividale was in the field of fire of our mortars, but it was deemed advisable not to attack it immediately, as German “Tiger” heavy tanks were seen driving out of the Infantry barracks. The following report by Aldo Specogna to the Headquarter of the 3. Divisione “Osoppo Friuli” [a partisan unit], dated 15.5.45, describes the events that happened soon afterwards:
At 11.00 a.m. from the bunker (on Mt. Dei Bovi) fire was opened on the tanks, halted close to the cemetery. The fire is good and hits the target. (The overturned wreck of one of the tanks remained on the edge of the road for several days).
The enemy reaction consisted in three anti-tank rounds fired on our positions. It’s 12.30 p.m. The tanks, still under our fire, set off towards Udine.​
(from: Tarcisio Petracco, Lotta partigiana al confine orientale, Ribis, Udine, 1994, pg. 145-146)
Obviously the tanks were not Tigers, but the P 40 of the Karstjäger Pz.Kp. which were leaving Cividale. An unknown detail revealed by this report is that a tank was lost in the town due to partisan fire."



 
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