An abandoned Italian Fiat Ansaldo CV33 light tank, left behind after a battle with British armoured cars on the Libyan frontier, 26 July 1940.

CV 33 – History

History of the Carro Veloce 33 (CV 33), a (too much) light tank used by the Royal Italian Army before and during the Second World War.

Here's a brief history of the Carro Veloce 33 ("Fast Tank 33", abbreviated in CV 33 and, later, in L3/33), an Italian light tank. It saw service in the Royal Italian Army in 1930s and early 1940s.


Derived from the British Carden-Loyd Mk VI tankette, the first version started mass production in 1933, hence the name. Other versions were developed in the following years, among them CV 35 (1935) and CV 38 (1938). Later, they were renamed in L3/33 (where "L" stands for Leggero —light— and "3" is the approximate weight in metric tons), L3/35 and L3/38.


The tank was powered by a 43 hp petrol engine that allowed a top speed of 42 km/h (26 mph). It was armed with a 6.5 mm (0.26 in) machine gun, later replaced by a twin 8 mm (0.31 in), in casemate. Alternative versions had a flamethrower, a 13.2 mm (0.52 in) machine gun or a 20 mm (0.79 in) anti-tank rifle.

The two-man crew, driver and machine gunner, was protected by a steel armor 6-12 mm (0.23-0.47 in) thick. The dimension were quite small: 1.2 m (3 ft 11 in) tall, 1.4 m (4 ft 7 in) wide and 3.15 m (10 ft 4 in) long.

Service history

The tank soon proved itself obsolete, except for reconnaissance roles. Its armour was thin (the sides could even be pierced by machine gun rounds) and the armament was too light. The petrol engine was prone to catch fire when hit and, moreover, it needed to be started by a crank placed outside. For these reasons, it was nicknamed by its crews scatola di sardine ("sardine can") or bara d'acciaio ("steel coffin").

Despite its flaws, more than 2000 units were built. It fought in all theatres of operations, from the 1935-1936 Second Italo-Ethiopian war to the end of the Second World War. Moreover, it was purchased by several countries in Europe, Asia and South America. After the war, several Carri Veloci were still operaing for law enforcement purposes.

From Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

CV 33 history

CV 35 displayed at the Historical Museum of Cavalry in Pinerolo, Italy.

Image sources: 1, 2

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