The Carro Armato P40 (its official designation in the Italian Army was P.26/40, meaning a 26-ton tank developed in 1940) was an Italian heavy tank (although in contemporary armies it would have fallen in the medium tank category).
The P40 project was started by the Italian automotive Fiat-Ansaldo duopoly in 1940, when the need of a heavy tank (whose duty was to be that of a 'mobile center of fire', essentially supporting the medium tanks akin to the duty of the Panzer IV when first conceived) arose. While the first prototypes strongly resembled an enlarged Carro Armato M13/40 with a 75-mm short-barreled howitzer, around 1941 it was decided (owing to the advancement in tank technology and especially the Germans' traumatic encounter with the Soviet T-34 tank) to subsantially modify the design by giving the hull sloped armor and removing the hull-mounted machine guns, and by settling for a long-barreled 75-mm gun (meaning that the support role was being supplanted by tank-vs-tank duty). Unfortunately its development was delayed by the Italian industry's backwardness and by the troubles of the 330-hp diesel engine, never to be completely solved during the tank's ephemeral career; meanwhile, such delay and the lack of effective tanks in the Italian Army led to the use of such interim vehicles as the Semovente M40 da 75/18. When Italy surrendered (8th September 1943) only one P40 had been delivered to the Italian Army, and therefore it never saw use under the Italian flag. A further 100 were produced for the Germans, of which around 40 without engines, to be used as static pillboxes, but actual information about its combat performance is scarce.
As the Italian designers had realized that, by the time the project was finally getting leeway, the P40 was already becoming obsolescent (if compared to newer designs like the German Panther), there were proposals for versions like the P43, which would have been a 30-ton variant with improved armor and a more powerful engine; an upgunned version with a 90 mm gun and thick sloped armor, seemingly influenced by the Panther, was designed as the P43bis, but the project never got further than a 1:10 scale model.
While reasonably up-to-date (sporting modern characteristics like sloped armor and a long-barreled 75-mm gun) and undoubtedly a great progress relative to the tankettes and light tanks available to Italy in 1940, the P40 was still lacking important modern features compared to its foreign nations' competitors like the Panzer IV or the M4 Sherman, i.e. welded or cast armor, modern suspensions and a three-man turret (meaning that the commander still had to double as gunner). Still, it was the only Italian-built tank that could be considered comparable to the other belligerent's medium tanks in the middle stage of the war, and whose production continued under German control (excluding the Semovente SPG/tank destroyer series).
In the manga, the P40 is acknowledged by Miho as the only Anzio tank they need to be 'careful of', i.e. the only tank capable of standing its ground against Ooarai's best. It easily knocked out the M3 Lee by hitting it on the side from a distance, but from afar it proved unable to knock out the Char B1 Bis frontally (although Yukari mentioned the 'intensity' of such shots at such a distance, suggesting that had it been just a little closer the armor wouldn't have been enough), only managing to destroy its tracks and jam its turret. It was then easily taken out by Miho's Panzer IV with a side shot.
Tank basic characteristicsEdit
Anzio has a standard Carro Armato P40.
- Main Gun : Cannone S.F. da 75/34
- Other : co-axial Breda Modello 38 MG
- Hull armor / Turret armor
- Front : 60 mm / 80 mm
- Sides : 40 mm / 50 mm
- Rear : 40 mm / 50 mm
- Speed : Average speed of 40 km/h (25 mp/h) on road and 25 km/h (16 mp/h) off-road