by: Stefan Halter [ ]
Introduction Italeri continues to release Italian World War II subjects with the most recent addition being the "heavy“ tank P 40. This is certainly the first kit of this vehicle in plastic and to my knowledge the second in any medium (the other being the rather pricey Criel kit).
Under the Italian weight classification system of WWII, tanks heavier than 16.5 tons were considered “pesante” (heavy). The P 40 with its 26 tons is therefore more comparable to the standard medium tanks of the day, such as the M4 Sherman, the T34 or the Panzer IV.
Italian armored doctrine called out for heavy tanks as early as 1938. However, an official order was not placed until 1940 and its design was delayed for several reasons, not least of which was the study of the Russian T34. Finally in 1943 production of the 579 vehicles ordered by the Italian Army (Regio Esercito) began, but only one was finished before the signing of the armistice on September 3rd 1943. Production continued in 1943 and 1944 for the German army and the 101 examples produced were used as fortifications without engines (40 examples) or on anti-partisan duty with the SS. The only tank vs. tank engagement known took place when Shermans of the 1st Derbyshire Yeomanry destroyed two P 40 on May 3rd 1945.
The P 40 was of riveted construction, armed with a 75mm L34 main gun and one co-axial 8mm Breda MG. Late production P 40 also featured an 8mm Breda MG on the turret roof. The armor was sloped – the influence of the T34 can be seen there – and of a thickness between 14mm and 50mm on the hull and 40mm – 50mm on the turret. The turret front was protected by another 50mm of the gun mantlet. The vehicle was powered by a 330 hp diesel engine giving it a performance similar to the Sherman.
Review Upon opening the box you will find four sprues in sand colored plastic, one PE fret, a turned aluminum barrel, clear lenses and a small decal sheet. A 16-page b/w instruction sheet (plus a small correction sheet) with relatively clear photos (not the usual line drawings) guides you through the 21 construction steps and painting. The kit is not labeled a “Premium kit” but instead as being part of the “Photographic Reference Manual Kit Collection” (PRM). This means that the reference material is already provided in the kit in the form of a 40 page booklet with a short description of the vehicle, original period photos and walk around photos of the preserved examples in Rome and Lecce.
Standard of molding is typically Italeri with some very fine details but also considerable mold lines, some sinkmarks and pin marks mostly in places easy to remove or not viewable once the kit is completed.
the sprues, markings & pe
Sprue A Sprue A has the main components of the hull. The lower hull is constructed out of five main parts (sides, bottom, back and front upper armor) and care has to be taken to get correct alignment here. The details are not as crisp as today’s molding techniques would allow, with the pick and shovel on this sprue being two examples of quite crude molding. The fact that the tie downs can be replaced with PE parts improves this considerably but the tools themselves remain on the thick side. Slide molding would have befitted some of the rivets but Italeri have not made any use of this technique. Some rivets seem undersized while others seem oversized. Sprue A also includes the rather large side skirts. These are molded very thick considering they should represent sheet metal and also the imprints are a bit too proud compared to photo of the original.
Sprue B Sprue B contains the suspension parts and is provided twice, one for each side. The suspension is made up of two bogies per side with 4 wheels each. The tracks are supplied in link and length and have the correct details. The real tracks have a quite noticeable hole in the end of each link where the track pin is and these holes are not provided in the kit. Also, there is no track sag, but it is not apparent if there was any sag as the upper run is hidden behind the large side skirts. Unfortunately there are two pin marks on each single link and one on each link in the lengths. Some of these are proud of the surface and some are recessed. They should be relatively easy to clean up but some may wish to get the replacement tracks by Friul Models (kit. No. ATL-100). Unlike the recent L6/40 kit the drive sprockets can be mounted movable to ease construction of the track. The most remarkable aspect of Sprue B is a row of rivets on the sprue side. The more than 50 rivets on each sprue should be ample to replace some of the hard to replicate pointed rivets on the kit. This is a feature that we have seen only a few times before from a few manufacturers and I hope it is a trend for the future.
Sprue C Sprue C holds the turret parts and some of the parts for the upper hull. Most details here are quite good with a very fine antenna provided that will be quite hard to get off the sprue without any damage. On the other hand there is a Breda 8mm MG provided for the turret roof but it seems quite thick for the scale. The sprue also holds a two part 75mm gun barrel that most modelers will replace with the aluminum barrel provided.
PE Fret The PE fret holds mostly brackets but also the number plate and muffler covers for the two mufflers. The fret is commendably thin and is marked “etched by Hauler”. The instructions have very clear diagrams showing how to bend the PE.
Markings Markings are provided for four vehicles. The first one is of a factory fresh vehicle in overall Italian Olive Green. No markings were carried on this vehicle. The other vehicles have elaborate camouflage patterns in Italian Olive Green, Italian Sand and Italian Dark Brown. The first of these served with the German Panzer-Kompanie, 24. Waffen-Gebirgs-Division(Karstjäger) in the Friuli region in April 1945. It carries three Balkenkreuz (black with white outline) and either turret number 111 or 121. “121” was captured by the British across the border in Austria and a picture of it is provided in the reference manual. The second vehicle is of a Polizei-Panzer-Kompanie in Novara in April 1945. It carries three black Balkenkreuz and a single black with white outline “26” on the front. The third vehicle has no markings and is of a German Training unit in Lonigo in 1944.
References and AM products References on this little produced vehicle are scarce but luckily the reference manual provided is quite complete. For those wanting more information on the P40 and other Italian Tanks I can recommend Squadron/Signal publication’s “Italian Armored Vehicles of World War Two” by Nicola Pignato (No. 6089).
Aside from the Friul Models tracks mentioned above (kit no. ATL-100) I know of no update sets for this kit. Before it shut down PMMS mentioned a “Carro Armato P40 Super Detail Set” (No. 26201) by Italeri but I couldn’t find any other Information about it or what it includes.
Conclusion From my previous experience with the Italeri L6/40 it is hard to judge the kit without having built it. From what’s in the box I would recommend it and give it 85%. It certainly makes for a different model and it’s great to have another Italian tank of WWII in plastic!