Eaglemoss EM016 Italian AS-42 Sahariana Armored Car - Raggruppamento Sahariano "Mannerini", Tunisia, 1943 (1:43 Scale)
"Neutrals never dominate events. They always sink. Blood alone moves the wheels of history."
- Italian Dictator, Benito Mussolini
The AS-42 was an unusual but highly successful vehicle derived from the AB 41 armored car with some improved features found in the AB 43. Primarily used as a reconnaissance vehicle and designed for operations in North Africa, the AS-42 would eventually see service in a variety of other roles including pursuit of raiding parties and operation behind enemy lines. The vehicle was commonly known as La Sahariana and was equipped with a plethora of armament including 20mm AA guns, 13.2 heavy machine guns, 20mm Solothurn anti-tank guns, and occasionally a 37mm anti-tank gun. Local improvisions occured as well depending upon the situation and was even used by RSI paratroopers after the Italian surrender in late 1943.
Pictured here is a 1:43 scale replica of an Italian AS-42 Sahariana Armored Car.
Length: 4 inches
Width: 2 inches
Release Date: October 2014
Historical Account: "Criss-Crossing the Sahara" - The Auto-Saharan Companies (Compagnie Auto-Avio-Sahariane) were Italian military units specialised in long range patrols of the Sahara Desert. The units operated from the late 1930s to the Italian surrender in 1943.
The Saharan companies were first formed in 1923 with the purpose of patrolling the space among the Italian forts in the Libyan Sahara desert in Italian Libya. In 1938 the five existent companies were reorganized as motorized units with their own aerial support. The companies received new off-road vehicles and a light aircraft section (manned by Regia Aeronautica personnel). In March 1941 five new Compagnie Sahariane were formed.
Two aircraft sections (Sezioni Aeroplani) were formed in order to operate together with the Saharan companies. Each section had four planes for reconnaissance and liaison, the most effective of which was the twin engined Caproni Ca.309 Ghibli.
In concept, the Auto-Saharan Company was similar to the British Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) which was created (as a partial copy) in 1940, except that the Company also had the support of its own air arm to assist in long range reconnaissance and ground attack.
A small battle with the British LRDG happened on January 31st, 1941, near the oasis of Kufra, in southeastern Italian Libya. The British were intercepted by the Compagnia Autosahariana di Cufra in the Gebel Sherif valley. The LRDG had one man killed and three men captured, including Major Clayton, and three trucks destroyed during the battle. The Italians losses were five killed and three wounded, and one truck was abandoned.
The "Auto-avio-Sahariane Compagnie" fought against the LRDG in 1941 and 1942, but their activity was reduced because of lack of gasoline. Under Del Pozzo leadership, these units did an incursion inside Egypt and in November 1942 defeated the British raiders in two small skirmishes. After El Alamein, they lost their Libyan troops, but they were enlarged to 5,000 men (all Italians) in Tunisia as "Raggruppamento Sahariano" under General Mannerini's orders.
The Mannerini Raggruppamento fought hard in the area of Mareth and Sfax (Battle of the Mareth Line), until the final Italian surrender in Africa in May 1943.