IntroductionCarro Armato M14/41 I Series with Italian Infantry
is a model set from Italeri
. It is kit number 6543S
. The M. 14/41 is the old kit from the 1970s, although cracking the box reveals parts that have pretty crisp molding. The Italian soldiers are the Master Box set. Decals for four tanks are included. In the 1980s I found the Avalon Hill board game Tobruk, which piqued my interest in Italian weapons, so I am excited to have this kit.
Fascist Italy was a major power at the beginning of the Second World War and yet their military hardware has been discounted by modelers and historians until lately. Fortunately, Italeri has built upon their 1970s models M. 13/40 and Semovente
M. 40 DA 75/18 with new subjects to fill the void of Fascist Italian ground forces.
Italy’s industrial base produced some excellent ships and aircraft, yet did not keep up with wartime demands. Italian tanks were competitive when war broke out but did not progress. Italy lacked a powerful engine for tanks, which constrained them to light to light-middle weight vehicles. Italy’s automotive reputation failed in the tanks. Riveted armor of dubious quality made the M tanks vulnerable to every enemy they faced. Penetration performance of their 4.7cm gun was competitive but poor training and doctrine hobbled the crew’s ability to engage the enemy. In fact, British manuals encouraged troops to disregard the presence of Italian tanks!
The M. 14/41 Carro Armato
(car/chariot/carrier, armed, or "tank") was a development of the M. 13/40. With a SPA 15 145 hp V8 diesel it had 20 more horses under the hatches, and better air and oil filters to let it breath in the desert, plus some other mechanical changes. Aside from that it was clad in the same armor and carried the same 47 mm cannone da 47/32 gun and 8 mm Breda machine guns. It had reinforced fenders compared to the M. 13/40, plus mud removers behind the drive sprockets, and transverse radiator grilles as visual differences.
North Africa is an inhospitable place to fight. For the M14 and earlier M13 which were intended for combat in the mountains, it was brutal. These tanks were in armament and armor equal or superior to their opponents in the early stages of the war, but their crews were sent to the front with as little as a month of training in the tank. Losses were heavy, but the type fought on through the end of the war. Kit features four sets of decals for units in North Africa and Italy. - Italeri
In the Box
Two hundred twenty-nine parts make up this set. (I did not count them.) If you have seen Italeri's "M. 13/40" then you have seen this tank; I have read that this model has always been an M. 14/41 and since the M. 14/41 was a modified 13/40, that makes sense. (If you would like to read the comments by other modelers about this kit, please see Carro Armato M14/41 NEWS
, below.) The figures are the Master Box LTD set Italian Military Men, WWII Era
, set MB35144
Let's inspect these kits.
For a kit pushing 50 years old this model is still respectable. Italeri has always impressed me with how fine their parts are. I see no flash or sink holes, minor mold seam lines, and generally no visible ejector circles - except on the insides of the crew hatches and on the tracks. Molding of detail is crisp. Italeri even molded the small holes through the return rollers of the running gear, and they are not skinned over with flash. Impressive!
Those 229 parts? I counted 39 pieces to build the hull and turret. To create the running gear with the semi-elliptic leaf spring suspension, I counted 92 parts - 46 per side. Twenty more parts include boarding steps, pioneer tools, a tow cable and various fittings. Finally, Italeri still supplies vinyl tracks with a few short length s of spares.
A three-piece tank commander is included.
So how many parts does that leave for the infantry?
Master Box "Italian Military Men, WWII Era"
I count 69 parts to build these five Italian soldiers. One is a tanker. He's not German but he is posed pointing!
Molding is very good with no visible flash, sink holes or ejector circles. There are some mold seam lines. Master Box engineered these figures with separate legs and arms, torso, and heads. These five figures represent three soldiers, an NCO, and a tanker. Plenty of kit is provided: canteens; cartridge pouches; head cover; backpacks with rolls; pouches; weapons.
Master Box makes some finely detailed figures and these certainly are. The four foot soldiers wear the M40 uniform including the tie. None wear the Sahariana
colonial jacket. None are wearing desert uniforms although Italian desert uniforms were basically the M40 made of lighter cloth; Italian troops served in the hot battlefields with the green-gray continental uniform, too.
All wear puttees and boots. Three have separate M33 steel helmets and the NCO wears a "bustina
" field cap. Each soldier is hunpin' a knapsack with a rolled blanket and the M29 tent-quarter. The riflemen have the twin ammo pouch for their M91 6.5mm Mannlicher-Carcano rifle and M38 Cavalry carbine, and a haversack. A separate bolt is molded for the rifle. One bayonet is provided. The other gunner has a Breda M30 light machine-gun and its cleaning kit pouch, plus a M34 pistol. Wood ammo boxes for the LMG are included. The NCO carries the Beretta M38A sub-machine gun, ammo pouch, binoculars, and other pouches.
The fifth figure is the tank commander. He is clad in the early one-piece mechanics overalls instead of the mid-1941 version with zippered thigh pockets. He wears the bustina
and has separate goggles, pistol holster, and the tanker bandolier.
Italeri's vinyl tracks feature detail on the front and back.
Inside the crew hatches is raised detail representing the locking mechanisms and hinges. The exterior of the machine is festooned with fine rivets. Recessed lines show armor plate joints. Beneath the hull is good plate and access panel detail. There is practically nothing in the interior.
The suspension does a nice job of looking like the leaf-spring system. Provided for mounting upon the turret is a 8mm Breda 38 machine-gun, sadly with with soft detail.
Italeri's tank commander is a stiffly posed figure wearing the long leather coat and leather crash helmet.
A strength of 1970s Italeri kits of the time were fine parts with small radii. These still look good in this old kit. Unfortunately, the sprue connector points are hefty.
Instructions and Decals
Four decal options are offered, three for North Africa in 1942:
Republicana, Italy, 1944-45
The decals are sharply printed, in register, and opaque. There is not much carrier film around the images.
Four tanks are illustrated but all look almost identical. You, the modeler, will have to do your own work to find camouflage schemes. Osprey published the book Italian Medium Tanks 1939-45
(reviewed here on Armorama) and it is a good reference.
The instruction sheet is a multi-fold and well illustrated with line art. The assembly illustrations are exploded view and keyed to the part number and color keys. The figures are shown in halftone.
Each set - figures and tank - have their sprues illustrated, too.
ConclusionItaleri's Carro Armato M14/41 I Series with Italian Infantry
is a nice set. The 1970s tank is still a respectable model and the Master Box figures help it out. It is a shame they are dressed in continental kit although Italian troops did wear that kit to the desert, and the desert kit was very similar; M. 14/41 served in Italy throughout the war against, first, the Allies, then briefly against the Germans after Italy capitulated, and finally in the Italian civil war.
Overall the molding is good and the decals are better. The figures help the tank. This is a respectable set and can build up into a decent M. 14/41 with infantry support. Recommended.