During the course of World War II the Italian Army deployed four
armoured divisions, three of which had been formed before 1940, by enhancing already
existing amoured brigades :
Prior to 1941, the order of battle of these units was :
The standard armoured division consisted of 5,078 troops and 117 L- type tanks.
Following the 1941 restructuring, subsequent to the adoption of the M-type medium tanks, the armoured division order of battle was :
The new standard armoured division consisted of 8,600 troops, 189 M-type medium tanks, 40 armoured cars, 20 self-propelled guns and 70 pieces of artillery, 1,120 vehicles.
131. Divisione Corazzata "Centauro"
Formed on April 20, 1937 in Siena from the merging of the 1. Armoured Brigade
and various other units. Upon the war ignition, the Centauro division was deployed
in Albania and saw action in the Balcanian front and during the Greece campaign. It was
then returned to Italy, where it remained from June 1941 to August 1942.
Transferred to the North-African front, the Centauro was severely engaged in Libya and Tunisia, where it suffered heavy losses.
The surviving units finally surrendered on May 14, 1943.
132. Divisione Corazzata "Ariete"
Formed on February 1, 1939 in Milan from the tranformation of the 2.
Armoured Brigade. When the war was initiated, the division was located in Verona and
soldiered as reserve unit during the French campaign.
On January 24, 1941 it landed in Tripoli and, on March 31, saw its first action during the German-Italian counterattack. The Ariete division was engaged through the entire North-African campaign and, finally, met its glorious end at the battle of El Alamein, where the division was almost destroyed. The remnant units of the Ariete, Littorio tank divisions and of the Trieste infantry division were later merged into the Ariete Tactical Group which soldiered in Libya and Tunisia through April 1943.
133. Divisione Corazzata "Littorio"
Formed in Parma at the end of 1937 by merging the 1. Divisione Celere into the
existing Littorio infantry division, after skermishs on the western front, it was
transferred to Trieste and later deployed, up to May 15, 1941, in Jugoslavija. At the end
of 1941 the Littorio was moved to North Africa where it soldiered up to its
dissolution at the battle of El Alamein (November 1942).
The remnants units merged, as said, into the Ariete Tactical Group which soldiered in Libya and Tunisia through April 1943.
135. Divisione di Cavalleria Corazzata "Ariete II"
Formed on April 1, 1943 in Ferrara it had a new order of battle, resulting from the war experience :
The armoured division consisted of 9,500 troops, 40 tanks, 50 armoured cars, 157 self-propelled guns and 176 pieces of artillery.
The Ariete II was "involved" in the defense of Rome (September 8-10,
1943) against the Germans.
The division was dismantled after the taking of Rome by the German troops and its vehicles became part of the Wehrmacht.
In addition to the aforementioned armoured divisions, Italy deployed several other armoured units, amongst which :
Divisione Corazzata Legionaria "Centauro"
Formed with the name of 1. Divisione Corazzata Camicie Nere
and otherwise known as 1. Divisione corazzata "M",
it was an independent unit, mainly equipped with German tanks.
The division became part of the Italian Army only after July 25, 1943 (Note : the official date of the Fascist regime fall) and was actually dismantled in September 1943, after the taking of Rome, without having fought (likewise the Ariete II division) for the defense of the city.
History of the
Italian Tank Corps
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