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Book Review of

“Italian Tanks and Combat Vehicles

of World War Two"

 

Review By Patrick Keenan - Editor

 

Basic Item Information

Title

Italian Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two

Author, Editor and/or Illustrator

By Ralph Riccio

Illustrations by Nicola Pignato and Marcello Calzolari

Publisher

Roadrunner

ISBN/Stock Number

ISBN 97-88-6261-141-1

Subject

Italian WWII era Tanks/Combat Vehicles

Media

Hard Cover Book

Number of Pages

335

Number/Type of Photos and/or Illustrations

(266) Black/White Photographs, (7) Color Illustrations and (34) Black/White Vehicle Line Drawings

Text Language

English and Italian (Full Text for Both)

Retail Price

$65 USD (Distributed in US by Aberdeen Bookstore)

Reviewer

Patrick Keenan

Review Date

February 24, 2011

Review Summary

Review Type

Full Read

Basic Positive Features

Highly accurate and comprehensive coverage of a long neglected subject. Impressive number of photographs of rarely photographed vehicles.

Basic Negative Features

Photographic Reproduction of some photographs of 'fair' quality.

Recommendation

“A Must Have” for those interested in WWII era Italian vehicles.

Photos

      

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Detailed Review

Book Content

 

This review is of the new book “Italian Tanks and Combat Vehicles of World War Two” by author Ralph Riccio.  The late Nicola Pignato and Marcello Calzolari are the artists responsible for the drawings and full color plates, respectively.

 

This book provides comprehensive coverage of what looks to be ALL Italian WWII-Era combat vehicles; both tracked and wheeled.  It is very similar in content and layout to the well known references “British and American Tanks of WWII” by Chamberlin & Ellis and “Encyclopedia of German Tanks of WWII” by Chamberlin, Doyle and Jentz.  Although I will review the book in its entirety, I will focus on the large amount of wheeled vehicle content as this review IS for WarWheels.Net.

Please note that Mr. Riccio’s focus in only on machines that were intended for combat and it does not cover other Italian military vehicles, such as motorcycles, softskins, etc. 

 

The book is divided into the following sections:

 

Part 1 - Introductory Notes

  • Nomenclature of Italian Vehicles and Equipment

  • Italian Armored Vehicle Development and Production

  • Organization of Armored Units

  • Training

  • Italian Armored Divisions

  • Polizia dell’Africa Italiana Armored Units

  • Repubblica Sociale Italiana Armored Units

  • German Use of Captured Italian Vehicles

  • Partisan Use of Captured Italian Vehicles

 

Part 2 – Italian Combat Vehicles by Type

  • Tanks (Carri Armati)

  • Self-Propelled Guns (Semoventi)

  • Truck-Mounted Artillery (Autocannoni)

  • Truck-Mounted Anti-Aircraft Systems (Controaerea Autocarrata)

  • Armored Cars (Autoblinde)

  • Armored Personnel Carriers (Autoprotetti)

  • Halftracks (Semicingolati)

  • Special Purpose Vehicles (Veicoli Speciali)

  • Foreign Equipment in Italian Service

 

Part 3 – Paint Schemes, Technical Drawings & Unit Identification Markings

  • Paint Schemes & Markings

  • Evolution of Italian Armor to 1943

  • Unit Identification and Numbering

 

Part 4

  • Appendix 1: Gun Specifications

  • Appendix 2: Component Commonality, Italian Combat Vehicles

  • Appendix 3: Comparative Specifications, Selected Tanks

  • Appendix 4: Production and Inventory Summary

  • Appendix 5: Surviving Vehicles

 

* Some section parts that don’t affect my assessment of content were omitted above (i.e. “Introduction”)

 

As I stated before, I will primarily focus my review on the information presented on wheeled combat vehicles. To that end, below is a list of wheeled fighting vehicles covered in Part 2 of Mr. Riccio’s book (and listed by sub-section):

 

Truck Mounted Artillery

  • Autocannone da 75/27 C.K.

  • Autocannone da 76/30 R.M.

  • Autocannone da 102/35 su Fiat 634N

  • Autocannone da 90/53 su Lancia 3 Ro

  • Autocannone da 90/53 su Breda 52

  • Autocannone Blindato Breda Tipo 102

  • Autocannone da 90/53 su autotelaio SPA “Dovunque” 41

 

Truck Mounted Anti-Aircraft Systems

  • Breda Mod. 35 su autocarro SPA 38R

  • Breda Mod. 35 su autocarro SPA “Dovunque” 35

  • Fiat Mod. 35 su Fiat camioncino 1100 CM/1100 LMR

  • Fiat Mod. 35 su camioncino Lancia Aprilia

 

Armored Cars

  • Lancia 1ZM

  • Autoblindata Terni

  • Fiat 611/611C

  • AB 40

  • AB 41

  • AB 42

  • AB 43

  • T.L. 37 Autoblindo

  • Carrozzeria Speciale su SPA A.S. 43

  • Lince

  • Autoblindata Vespa

 

Armored Personnel Carriers

  • Autoprotetto S. 37

  • Autocarro Blindato Fiat 665 NM

  • Autoprotetto Fiat 666N (R.M)

  • Trasporto truppe blindato su SPA “Dovunque” 35

 

Special Purpose Vehicles

  • Camionetta Desertica SPA-Viberti Mod. 42

  • Camionetta A.S. 37

  • Camionetta SPA-Viberti Mod. 43

 

Foreign Equipment in Italian Service

  • AMD Laffly S15 TOE

  • AMD Panhard 1935 (Panhard 178)

 

With that being said, there were some wheeled vehicles used fairly extensively by the Italians which are purposely not covered in this book.  Mr. Riccio states that he only included foreign vehicles “that are known to have been organized or incorporated into Italian operational units”.  This does not include captured vehicles used on an ad hoc basis or “…hybrid vehicles such as the auto-cannoni using Italian armament mounted on British or Canadian 15 CWT trucks”.  Although this isn’t a “negative” issue, being a “greedy” SOB, I would have loved to have seen them covered in this book.  But, I do respect the decision by Mr. Riccio to not address those classes of vehicle as that decision could have made this project untenable.

 

Accuracy of Information

 

The accuracy of the information provided by the author is excellent.  When compared to my personal references Mr. Riccio’s book is very accurate.  I did not identify any wrong or misleading information contained in this book. 

The primary sources I used to check the accuracy of the book are:

  • "A Photo History of Armoured Cars in Two World Wars" by Forty

  • "Autoblinda 40,41 & Carro Commando M41  (Bellona Military Vehicle Prints - Series 33)" by Pignato

  • "Carro Veloce CV33, Carro Lanciafiame 33, Carro Veloce Passerella 33,... (Bellona Military Vehicle Prints - Series 27)" by Pignato

  • "Encyclopedia of Armoured Cars" by Crow & Icks

 

In addition, I've compared the information Mr. Riccio provides about the Italian Wheeled Fighting Vehicles with photographs in my personal collection as well as with the information we have available here on Warwheels.Net.

 

Photograph and/or Illustration Quality and Selection

 

Mr. Riccio provides 266 photos (all black and white), 7 color illustrations and 34 black/white line drawings in this book. The quality level of the photographs is generally good to very good.  However, there are some photographs that are only 'fair' in terms of reproduction quality. With that being said, the quality of the photos is of secondary importance to me. The mere presence of these photos in the book IS the most important feature.  Basically, there is relatively little photographic reference material available covering Italian vehicles in general (especially when compared to the vehicles of other countries) and even the most blurry/fuzzy photograph (many taken by soldiers during their WWII service) is invaluable and should be very much welcomed.

 

Expounding further on the subject of photographic selection, the quantity and variation of the photographs provided by the authors is exceptional, especially considering the rarity of the vehicles and their past photographic coverage.

The 7 color illustrations by Marcello Calzolari are interesting and attractive and show the special character of some of these vehicles, although there is no drawings of wheeled vehicles.  Also, considering the absence of color photographs available to the authors, the color plates are a welcome addition.  No scale is listed for the vehicles, but they look to be roughly about 1/35 scale.

 

Finally, the 34 black/white line drawings by the late Nicola Pignato are also a nice addition as well.  Most of these highly detailed illustrations provided are side views of different vehicles, and here is where many of the wheeled fighting vehicles are featured.  Again, no scale is listed for the drawings, but they look to be about 1/72 or 1/76 scale.

 

Use as Reference

This book is an exceptional reference for modelers and vehicle enthusiasts as well.  Although the quality/usefulness of the book stands on it's own quite well, the true value of this book lies in the fact that there just isn't a lot of other high quality reference material available in the English language; especially those that cover the entire spectrum of Italian WWII-era AFV's.  Also, take into account the fact that photos of Italian vehicles are also relatively rare, Mr. Riccio definitely has authored a “must have” reference if you are even slightly interested in Italian vehicles.

 

Editing of Information/ Text Flow

 

The text flow (e.g. the writing ability of the author) and editing of the information provided is very good.  I also found the book easy to read, informative and it more than sufficiently described and explained the photos in the book.  Also, the information is provided in a logical and organized way and wasn’t confusing.

 

Quality of Print Medium

The construction of this hard cover book is sturdy, solid and it has a tight binding that facilitates frequent use/reading.  Also the paper quality used in the book is excellent as it is thick and sturdy.  This book should last you a lifetime with normal use and no special care needed.  Just place it on your shelf, looking at/using over time, and it should still be there 25 years later providing veteran service.

 

Conclusion

 

Once again, Mr. Riccio has a authored a great comprehensive reference for us vehicle enthusiasts and modelers.  The impressive amount of information and number of photos provided in this book of long neglected vehicles is an incredible boon to those interested in WWII era Italian vehicles.  This book has the most comprehensive encyclopedic English language coverage of WWII-era Italian vehicles available that I have personally seen.

 

Although, most of the photographs are very useful, there are some photographs that are only 'fair' in terms of reproduction quality. With that being said, the quality of the photos is of secondary importance to me as the mere presence of these photos in one book IS the most important feature of this book. 

 

Recommendation:  “A Must Have” for those interested in WWII era Italian vehicles. 

 

Thanks to Ralph Riccio for the Review Sample.

 
Copyright: Patrick Keenan - February 24, 2011