The official Italian designation was Carro Armato ("armored tank") L6/40. This designation means: "L" for Leggero (Italian: "light"), followed by the weight in tons (6) and the year of adoption (1940).
Carro Armato L6/40
Type: Light Tank
Place of origin: Italy Italy
Service history: In service 1940–1944, postwar to the early 1950s
Used by: Italy, Nazi Germany, Republic of Italy
Wars: World War II
Number built: 283
Variants: command tank, flame tank, ammunition carrier, Semovente 47/32
Weight: 6.8 tonnes (7.5 short tons; 6.7 long tons)
Length: 3.78 m (12 ft 5 in)
Width: 1.92 m (6 ft 4 in)
Height: 2.03 m (6 ft 8 in)
Crew: Two (commander/gunner and driver)
Armour: 6–40 mm (0.24–1.57 in)
Armament: 20 mm Breda 35 with 296 rounds + 8 mm Breda 38 mg, 1560 rounds
Engine: SPA 180 four-cylinder, 70 hp (52 kW)
Range: 200 km (120 mi)
Speed: 42 km/h (26 mph) Road
A further development of the Fiat L3 light tank, the L6 went through a number of prototypes during the late 1930s. The first was armed with a sponson-mounted 37 mm main gun and a machine-gun armed turret. A later version featured a turret mounted 37 mm gun and yet another version had only twin 8 mm machine guns.
Ultimately, the production configuration, named Carro Armato L6/40, was put into production in 1939, with 283 finally produced.
The L6 Lf flame tank variant was developed in which the main gun was replaced by a flamethrower with 200 litres of fuel. A command-tank variant carried extra radio gear and had an open-topped turret.
The most successful of the L6 variants was the Semovente 47/32, which eliminated the turret and substituted a 47 mm antitank gun in the open-topped hull.
A final version late in the war was an ammunition carrier armed only with a single 8 mm Breda machine gun. It was used alongside the Semovente 90/53, carrying 26 extra 90 mm rounds, as the Semovente 90/53 itself could only carry six rounds.
L6/40 light tanks were used by the Italians in the Balkans Campaign, in the war against the Soviet Union, in the latter stages of the North African campaign, and in the defence of Sicily and Italy.
The L6/40 was the main tank employed by the Italian forces fighting on the Eastern Front. The L6 fought alongside the L6/40-based Semovente 47/32 self-propelled gun.
Although a good light tank for its size and an improvement over the tankettes that were common within the Italian army, it was already obsolete by the time of its introduction. The low silhouette of the vehicle (somewhat taller than the average man) made it useful for reconnaissance, and its armament was effective against any light vehicles it might encounter. However, due to a lack of a suitable medium tank, it was often employed in a combat role, for which it was unsuited.
The L6 was also used by the German Army and the Croat Ustaše militia.
An L6/40 with German markings passes German infantrymen in occupied Albania, September 1943
The L6/40 was used postwar by the Italian militia until it was phased out during the early 1950s.
Three L6/40s survive to this day; one is kept in Legnano near the "Cadorna" barracks, one is in the inventory of the Kubinka Tank Museum, and another is preserved in a museum at Argirokastron in Albania.