War Master WMTK002 M13/40 Medium Tank - Australian 6th Division, Libya, 1941 (1:72 Scale)
"After [El] Alamein, we never had a defeat."
- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill
The Fiat-Ansaldo M13/40 was an Italian medium tank ("M" for Medio (medium) according to the Italian tank weight standards at the time: 13 tonnes was the scheduled weight and 1940 the initial year of production), designed to replace the Fiat L3, the Fiat L6/40 and the Fiat M11/39 in the Italian Army at the start of World War II. The design was influenced by the British Vickers 6-Ton and was based on the modified chassis of the earlier Fiat M11/39. Indeed, M11/39 production was cut short in order to get the M13/40 into production.
The M13 was constructed of riveted steel plates as follows: 30 mm front (as M11), 42 mm on turret front (30 mm for M11), 25 mm on the sides (M11 had only 15 mm), only 6 mm bottom (that made it very vulnerable to mines) and 15 mm on top. The crew were housed in a forward fighting compartment, with the engine at the rear and transmission at the front. The fighting compartment accommodated the crew of 4: driver and machine-gunner/radio operator in the hull, and gunner and commander in the turret.
The Vickers-derived running gear had two bogie trucks with eight pairs of small wheels on each side, using leaf-spring suspension. The tracks were conventional skeleton steel plate links, and were relatively narrow. Together, this system was thought to allow good mobility in the mountainous areas in which future combat was expected. In the desert where most M13s were actually employed, mobility was less satisfactory. The tank was powered by a 125 hp (93 kW) diesel engine. This was an innovation that many countries had yet to introduce. Diesel engines were the future for tanks, with lower cost, greater range and reduced danger of fire compared to gasoline-powered engines.
The tank's main armament was a 47 mm gun. It could pierce about 45 mm of armor at 500 meters. This was sufficient to penetrate the British light and cruiser tanks it would face in combat, though not the heavier infantry tanks. One hundred four rounds of armor-piercing and high explosive ammunition were carried. The M13 was also armed with three or four machine-guns: one coaxially with the main gun and two in the forward, frontal ball mount. A fourth machinegun was sometimes carried in a flexible mount on the turret roof for anti-aircraft use. Two periscopes were available for the gunner and commander, and a radio was also theoretically available as standard equipment.
Pictured here is 1:72 scale replica of an Italian-built M13/40 medium tank that was captured by the Royal Australian Army, in Libya, during 1942.
Length: 2-3/4 inches
Width: 1-1/4 inches
Release Date: July 2011
Historical Account: "Aussies" - The Second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF) was the name given to the volunteer personnel of the Australian Army in World War II. Under the Defence Act (1903), neither the part-time Militia nor the full-time Permanent Military Force (PMF) could serve outside Australia or its territories unless they volunteered to do so. The Second AIF fought against Nazi Germany, the Kingdom of Italy, Vichy France and the Empire of Japan.
On the outset of World War Two, there was controversy over whether Australia should concentrate on forming an expeditionary force for overseas service to fight Germany in Europe or a home defence force to fight Japan. Prime Minister Robert Menzies decided to do both, although the experience of the Great War indicated that Australia did not have the resources to do either.
The 6th Division, under Major General Iven Mackay fought in the Western Desert Campaign at Bardia, Tobruk and Benghazi It experienced many casualties in the Greek Campaign, where 3,000 Australian soldiers were taken prisoner.
After refitting in Syria, the 6th Division was recalled to Australia take part in the Pacific War in February 1942.