The L6/40 was an Italian light tank of 6.8 tons armed with a 20mm Breda model 35 cannon and co-axial 8mm Breda model 38 machine gun in a revolving turret. It was only lightly armored at 6 to 40mm in a riveted construction. The tank was developed in 1939 and some 450 were produced by Fiat from 1941 to 1944. Its action history was not one of glory as one could imagine since it was inferior to virtually all Allied tanks of the time. The chassis served as a base for the Semovente da 47 self propelled 47mm tank destroyer and as an ammunition carrier for the Semovente da 90/53 tank destroyer.
A few notes on Italian tank classification: As in other armies tanks were classified as leggero (light; L) up to 8.8 tons, medio (medium; M) between 8.8 and 16.5 tons and pesante (heavy, P) over 16.5 tons. An American M4 medium tank would therefore have been a heavy tank in the Italian army and an M3 light tank would have been a medium tank. Tank designation started with the tanks weight class followed by the weight in tons and the year of adoption (so the L6/40 was a light tank of 6 tons adopted in 1940). This system was used until 1942.
Italeri would be the prime suspect to release Italian armor but apart from the M13/40 and the Semovente de 75/18 there have been no other such releases until recently. A few years ago they started with Italian armored cars and seem to have been satisfied with sales as they have now released this kit of the L6/40 in a premium edition complete with “photographic reference manual”, photo etch and a poster of the box art.
in the box
Upon opening the box you get 6 sprues in yellow plastic, a small etched fret, decal sheet and two lenses for the headlamps. The parts are molded in typical Italeri fashion without any flash but on some parts with substantial mold seams. A sanding stick will take care of these. There are no pin marks on parts outside the vehicle. There are some inside the hull, most of which are easy to get to and remove as they stand proud of the surface or can be easily filled. Also the track guards have some pin marks on the underside which probably won’t be seen once the track is fitted.
Sprue A holds most of the parts for the lower hull while sprue B (x2) holds the wheels and tracks in link and length. The parts layout begs for the Semovente version of this tank or maybe even the ammunition carrier as the upper hull and turret are separate from the rest of the hull and molded on separate sprues (C/D/E).
The instruction sheet is the standard B&W outline drawings we’ve come to expect from Italeri and are easy to follow.
Reference material is scarce on this vehicle, so it's no wonder this is the first it has been kitted in plastic. I can, however, recommend Squadron/Signal publication’s “Italian Armored Vehicles of World War Two” by Nicola Pignato (No. 6089).
Fortunately for those not wanting to buy a book on Italian armor, the best picture reference is provided with the kit in the from of a fabulous booklet which contains a short history, some historical photos, reprints from the original spare parts catalog for those wanting to go berserk on the detailing. A full color walk around from the preserved example in Kubinka is also included. The text is sarcastically humorous when it comes the museum officials treatment of model company researchers.
I tried to find out more about the dimensions but there are very few reliable references. In any case it looks like an L6/40 and I couldn’t find any major glitches.
The hull tub is made up of 5 major parts (floor, sides, front and back). Make sure to get these aligned correctly as an error here can compromise the whole build. Fit on my example was very good and no filler was needed. Inside the tub is the fighting compartment interior but no engine. The aftermarket will probably take care of this as the engine deck can be left open and the fire wall has some substantial holes in it which allow the engine to be seen (although I don’t quite know why they would need these holes, the noise must have been unbearable!). The upper hull consists of 5 major parts (front, back, sides and roof) and of course the engine deck. Photo etch is provided for the hinges on the hull doors, the registration plate and some other small fittings.
The suspension consists of 4 bogies with 2 wheels each. Fit here is very good as well even though the assemblies are a bit fiddly. I noticed an error in the instructions here, parts A23 and A22 are mixed up (meaning A23 should go where A22 goes and vice versa). Tracks are of the link and length type but detail is a little soft on the links. Also this method doesn’t allow for the track sag (maybe you can heat up the lengths, I haven’t tried this so I don’t know if it works). Track sag can be seen in most pictures, even in the manual provided so I assume this was standard. An aftermarket track set (Friul has one) would probably vastly improve this area and provide the necessary track sag.
The track guards are on the thick side even if they are thinned out on the edges. Photo etch is used for the exhaust cover which is mounted on the track guards.
The turret is basically the same as in the AB 41 kit (no 6442) with some minor changes (The AB41 has additional ventilator domes on the front side and a step on the back below the back hatch). As with the AB 41 I found the rivets to be way undersized. According to the photos of the Kubinka example in the booklet they should be the same as the other rivets on the vehicle. Also they break off very easily with an accidental pass of a finger. On my AB 41 I replaced the rivets and used the ones provided as a guide. Aside from that there are some rivets missing on each side of the front portion of the turret.
The 20mm gun has a simple breach for the inside. The barrel itself consists of 2 parts with the muzzle provided separately. Some slide molding technology would have been good for this part as it is hard to get an even barrel with 2 parts. On the AB 41 I replaced the barrel with some plastic rod of appropriate diameter and drilled the muzzle opening into that. Hopefully there will be an aftermarket item for this one day. The turret also has a basic interior, good enough for what you would see through the hatches.
Markings are included for 5 vehicles with drawings provided in black and white in the instructions and in full color in the booklet (see picture 18). There are 4 Italian versions and one German. Two of the Italian versions are for 31st Armored Infantry Regiment (Reggimento Fanteria Carrista) in the Balkans, one in June 1943 (before the armistice) and one from September 1943 (after the armistice) cooperating with the Germans. A third Italian version is from the “Lancieri di Novara” (Novara Lancers) in North Africa 1942 and the last is from the 67th Bersaglieri Battalion in Russia 1942. The German version is one used by an unknown unit in anti partisan duty in the Balkans. Except for the North African version, they all carry the quite elaborate Italian 3-tone camouflage of Italian sand, olive green and dark brown, the version used in Russia having a 2-tone variation (Italian sand and olive green).
It is great to see more Italian armor and Italeri hopefully have more to come (some already having been announced). For a basically sound kit and a great subject I start at a rating of 100%. It provides a very good kit out of the box and surely can be a (small) showstopper if taken all the way. I recommend replacing the rivets on the turret and the gun barrel. For those parts I give it a 15% subtraction. Overall Rating: 85%.
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