• As some of you know, the old forum database was deleted by the previous administrator. I am attempting to paste any retrievable discussions back into this forum using the internet archive. It won't look pretty - but at least we can preserve some valuable information. Feel free to add to the discussions as these old posts are restored.

Reports of COL Marco Bizzi


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This is one of a series of reports either written by col. Bizzi or collected by him. Colonello Bizzi was sent to A.S. in March 1942 to collect technical information on the functionality of Italian systems, especially armored vehicles and weapons. I am translating and posting them here. Once all the translations are completed, I will assemble them and post on the Comando Supremo main page.

The original copies of the reports are from La meccanizzazione dell'Esercito fino al 1943 tomo II Documento 53. As always, any errors of translation are mine and all words/comments in [ ] are in additional to clarify understanding and enhance readability.

The report on the E.P. ammunition and Solothurn is in the Anti-Tank Folder
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From the examination of the individual M tanks and from the information received from the commands, units, and tank workshops I was able to observe:

Hull and suspension

Even the tanks from the first production, which came to A.S. col VI - VII - VIII btg. (some were captured by the British and re-used it against us, then recaptured by us) the armor shows a degree of fragility, slight in the forward curved plate of the hull, and maximum in the hull and turret front plate.

While the impacts on the forward curved plate have almost always penetrated sharply, causing it [the plate] to begin radial cracks, in the hull front plates the impacts have always caused the armor to break along radial fracture lines with sharp edges towards the area deal with, with all the characteristics presented by a crystal plate broken with a hammer blow (see photo). Many projectiles hit the driver viewport which appears to be very weak; the projectile, however, only burst when it reached the rear structure for the 47[mm] rounds which, bursting at that time, caused the internal destruction of the tank and sometimes a fire.

Of the over a hundred destroyed tanks I have visited, twenty or so had been struck and destroyed in this way: in Benghazi, near the breakdown park, I saw two of these tanks still containing the calcified bones of the crews, covered partly by the broken ammunition and the collapsed internal parts: I believe they are the same as those seen a year ago by the late Col. AMIONE.

Front plates of up to 60mm are needed to guarantee [protection] from the 40mm English guns at least frontally.

The driver’s viewport should have a prismatic section:

The lateral armor is sometimes penetrated without breaking: sometimes the 40mm projectile enters from one side and exited from the opposite one, without bursting.

The turret, both because the front part is built in various pieces and with curved armor in the remaining part, under the impact from 40mm [rounds] presents the aforementioned phenomenon of fragility, aggravated in the front by the separation of the various [pieces] and in the rear by the displacement of the curved armor.

The British themselves found it useful to repair the forward part of the hull with pieces of welded armor, but did not think they could repair the damaged turrets.

Many turrets and some plates were riveted by blows that reached the turret ring or in the semi-cylindrical [gun] shield of the combination 47-8 [47mm and 8mm weapons].

The space corresponding to the turret ring constitutes a very vulnerable and easily affected area, with decisive effects on the tank. It should be protected outside by a strong protective ring.

It seems to be convenient to protect the installation of the cannon with a greater thickness of cast steel or with a hemispherical shield that moves with the cannon itself, but [covered] outside with a part integral with the turret.

Suspensions have been hit a few times, but hardly ever so as to immobilize the tank. More than a hundred tanks [only] a single track was hit and broken and a single roller was nailed by a 40 projectile, [which was] still stuck in the part and had not exploded (see photo).

The suspension carriage presented only a few cases of breakage of the rocker arm for load-bearing rollers, which twists: production of more robust arms has already started.

The points for lubrication of the suspension are still not well made, which little by little must all be revised.

The rubber rollers resist very well the torment from driving even with high temperatures: the offensive reconnaissance of 16/III [16 March] was carried out in temperatures of + 30 + 35º centigrade and for an uninterrupted and fast progress (20 km / h) of over 100 km .

The tracks proved to be superior to all expectations and truly suitable for all terrains.

The units said they almost never had to change carriage arms, rollers, or track elements; the spare parts are therefore exuberant, especially since there are also suspensions from about a hundred like tanks lying in Cyrenacia.

The units beg that they will no longer send spare tracks, rollers and suspensions.

Motor, transmission, and various equipment

Cooling is insufficient: it must be increased.

The diesel filter clogs quickly due to the density and impurities of the fuel, so that after a few kilometers - sometimes only 5-6 - the diesel fuel does not flow anymore and the filter must be changed.

It is necessary - as the tank crews in the 132º have [already put] in place - that each tank has a second filter which is kept immersed in a can of oil in the combat compartment, and as soon as the engine is running with insufficient power, the mechanic replaces the dirty filter with the one preserved in oil.

This system causes waste of time and in combat the driver who does not want to lose the engine, removes [and replaces] the filter.

It is necessary to remedy and to place the filter inside the combat compartment in order to prevent the need for the personnel to go out[side] when in action.

The injection pump loses its adjustment: it is necessary that each battalion has a device for adjusting the pumps and injectors and has spare injectors in quantity, given the high consumption and the usability of them as soon as the spray no longer gives the desired atomizing, almost gaseous, to diesel fuel.
  • Injection pump and regulator should should be completely enclosed by a rubber boot, against invasion of sand, dust, etc.
  • frequent breakage of the oil pump shaft and the water pump,
  • starter nut cracking,
  • breaking of the aluminum bearing spokes of the drive sprocket.
- Calzoni pump [turret motor] is never used and all the tank crews of the «Ariete» are in agreement to ask it be suppressed, both because it is delicate and it doesn’t ensure the movement of the turret after the first impact of a projectile, and for the space it occupies in the fighting compartment,
  • spare parts that are needed as a higher frequency: elastic bands, bronze bushing of 1 mm, - pistons - gaskets - gearboxes
  • spare parts are needed for the M 14/41 tanks of which the 133º «Littorio» tanks are almost without and are also needed by the 132º «Ariete» for their 14/41 radio equipped command tanks.
Weapons and ammunition

- There has been some case of bending of the trunnion of the 47mm gun,

- the gun should be equipped with a shoulder support so that the gunner can keep his forehead resting and the eye fixed to the eyepiece during the aiming movements of the piece; almost all the cannons of English tanks are equipped with them,

- some breakages of the shaft for traversing the cannon,

- the ammunition supply of the gun must be increased to at least 130 rounds,

- hull machine guns are superfluous; they have never been used or if you feel the need, it is sufficient to have the turret machine gun and one for anti-aircraft defense,

- the machine gun ammunition is exuberant for the war that is waged in A.S. A thousand rounds at most are enough, to be further reduced in favor of the 47mm rounds,

- rubber bar for pedal firing: it is raised in all tanks and therefore there seems no need to insist on putting it,
  • the loader’s seat is equally raised; it's better to lower it,
  • the machine guns do not work if they are not lubricated with the special Breda oil: the units don’t have it and need it urgently.
Radio equipment

It works well. The average transmission ranges were:
- of the RF1 station during the day 5 -6 km. at night 20 km.
- of the RF2 station during the day 20 km. at night 40km.

The connection, however, can, under favorable weather conditions, be implemented at greater distances.

The internal arrangement of the sets in the command tanks makes their use difficult, since the radio operator/machine gunner barely manages to operate the RF2 station.

The tank crews ask that the twin machine-guns in the hull be suppressed and that the RF1 station be positioned in place of the twin mount (i.e. on the right side of the radio operator). In this way it is also possible to obtain a place for additional 47mm ammunition.

Autonomy [Self-sufficiency]

Prismatic [shaped] racks with fuel, oil and water [cans] must be placed on the right and rear sides.

The tank crews of the 132º are placing 4 cans on the right side and 4 on the back, with a weight increase of about 200 kg. but with an increase in autonomy of about 80 km.
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Staff member
PERFORMANCE OF THE L 6 TANK ([based] on 4 tanks employed)

(information taken from Sergeant Major motorist Finco Luigi who operated the L 6 tanks)[*]
  • the front torsion bar, when combat causes its movement, hits the gearbox and can break it
  • another torsion bar broke due to a lack of hardening
  • a transmission shaft of the epicycle (right toothed wheel) has broken
  • brakes heat up and the [brake] shoes remain stuck
  • two cynical pinions of the epicycle transmission broke
  • a crown gear broke
(other minor inconveniences will be indicated in the technical report of Captain S.T.A. Traniello)[**]

Overall, the L 6 tank responded well, have a good recovery, but develop a practical speed similar to that of the M 13/40 tank.

It is therefore believed that the L 6 tank does not have the characteristics needed for reconnaissance or in support of armored cars, and given this low speed it seems that it would be necessary to take advantage of a more powerful armament, i.e. using the semoventi da 47/32 su scafo L 6.

[* These four L6 tanks were the ones attached to the RECAM]
[** I have captain Traniello’s report and will translate it at some future point. ]
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