Enrico Finazzer currently lives in Trento Italy. This is Enrico Finazzer’s fourth book, and second with Mushroom Model Publications. You can find Enrico Finazzer on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/people/Enrico-Finazzer/100006056238933 and on LinkedIn at https://it.linkedin.com/in/enrico-finazzer-14045a27 . This is Luigi Carretta’s third book, and first with Mushroom Model Publications.
This tome focuses on series of light trucks designed to operate specifically in the Saharan desert. A key feature was the four oversized tires that enhanced the vehicle’s ability to navigate sand. Enrico Finazzer and Luigi Carretta kick it off with the development of the AS37 (Autocarro Sahariano Model 37) in Part I. This vehicle was based on the TL37 built by Peimontese Company Cars (SPA), a light artillery tractor. A compressor allowed the driver to vary tire pressure depending on terrain. The larger tires presented the AS37 with a taller profile, so one of the first modifications was to remove the driver cab. Removing the wooden rear bed and replacing it with a platform allowed the installation of anti-aircraft guns or anti-tank cannons.
The AS42 by SPA-Viberti was based on the AB41 armored car and again featured no driver’s cab to maintain a low profile, large tires, and machine guns and/or cannons. The AS42 service career initiated in December 1942; just in time to see the end of the Italian campaign in Africa. The AS43 (Model 1943) was a response to the need for a lighter truck than the AS42. SPA-Viberti turned to the AS37, improving it from lessons learned in combat with the AS37. Unfortunately, the AS43 didn’t reach service before the African campaign was over and thus did not see service in conditions it was designed for. Confusing the issue was that several AS37 light trucks were converted to the AS43 standard, inspired by field modifications to the AS37.
Part II addresses the units that operated the AS37, AS42, and AS43 in Northern Africa. The Italian Armistice changed everything and many units joined the German army and were assigned to the Russian front. The AS42 was well suited to the Ukranian snow, but the lack of spare parts and battle losses minimized any surviving vehicles quickly. A few AS43 light trucks were utilized by the German army without being manned by Italians and several AS42 light trucks survived the war to equip the Italian Police.
The Table of Contents includes the following sections:
- Part I: Development of the Light Trucks and Technical Description
- The Origin of the Light Trucks
- The Modified Autocarro Sahariano (Saharan Truck Model 1937 (AS37) [Page 7]
- The Böhler 47 mm Anti-Tank Gun
- The 20 mm Breda Anti-Aircraft and Anti-Tank Gun
- The Light Truck Model 1942: Camionetta AS42 [Page 12]
- Tyres of the Light Trucks
- The Solothurn Anti-Tank Rifle
- The Breda Model 1937 Heavy Machine Gun
- The Light Truck Model 1943: Camionetta AS43 [Page 23]
- The Desert Light Truck Model 1943: Camionetta Desertica 43
- Part II: Units Equipped with Light Trucks AS42, AS43, and Desertica 43
- The Compagnie Sahariane (Saharan Companies) [Page 31]
- The X Reggimento Arditi (Arditi 10th Regiment)
- The Battaglione d’Assalto Motorizzato (Motorised Assault Battalion)
- The Gruppo Arditi Camionettisti Italiani (Italian Arditi Light Truck Group) [Page 43]
- The Polizia dell’Africa Italiana (Italian Africa Police)
- Light Trucks During the Civil War in Italy
- The Viberti Carrozzeria Speciale Armoured Car
- The Camionette in the German Army
- The 2 cm FlaK Model 1938
- Part III: Camouflage and Uniforms
- Vehicles Colours and Camouflage [Page 59]
- Units Uniforms and equipment
One section that caught my attention was the one on some of the up-armored AS43 protetta light trucks that were modified by adding heavy steel armour plates. These apparently served with the Guardia Nazionale Repubblicana that was formed after the Italian Armistice. Other AS43 light trucks were up armored to be known as the Autoblindo AS43, basically using an AS43 chassis mounting a L6 light tank turret.
Italeri released a nice 1/35 Camionetta AS42 in 2006 as kit number 6452. Italeri reased this kit again in 2007 with new parts with kit 6455 representing the ABM 41/42 with the 47/32 AT gun. 2015 saw the AS42 released again as kit 6530, again with new parts. Italian resin kit manufacturer, Historica Prodcution, produces several 1/35 kits that include the AS37 Autocarro Sahariano (HP1007), AS42 Sahariano (HP1005), AS42 Metropolitana (HP1016), AS43 Camionetta (HP1018 and HP1019), and the Autoblinda AS43 (HP1020). Small scale modeler’s have not been forgotten as Italeri delivered a new tool kit on the AS42 Sahariano (7044) in 2007 and the ABM42 with 47/32 AT Gun (7053) in 2008. Ace released the AS37 in 2011 as kit 72283 with an armored car version, the Autoprotetto S37 in 2012 (72284).
Enrico Finazzer and Luigi Carretta have delivered a great history on WWII Light Italian Trucks that not only covers the development and operational history, but provides a good basis for the modeler with nice detail shots. I counted 100 black and white photographs. You also get 18 color plates from R. Calò and 10 black and white drawings from Dariusz Karnas. A map of Italian North Africa is included as well. Mushroom Model Publications’ has provided a page by page preview at: http://mmpbooks.biz/ksiazki/344 .
My thanks to Mushroom Model Publications and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.