In 1940, the deficiencies of the M11/39 became obvious during the fighting in North Africa. It was decided that substantial upgrades to the design and armament were required. General Caracciolo di Feroleto (head of the Italian Inspectorate of Technical Services) supervised the original M13/40 design and by July 1940 fifteen prototypes were ready to be tested.five M13/40 or M14/41 tanks
The main gun was upgraded from a 37mm to the 47/32 gun and moved to an enlarged turret, while twin machine-guns were mounted in the hull position. The chassis of the M11/39 were preserved, including the diesel engine, suspension and road wheels. Instead of a welded construction, the M13/40 was of riveted construction; assembled from armored plates bolted to a steel framework.
The M13/40 proved a much-improved vehicle over the M11/39; the excellent 47mm gun proved lethal against British armor in 1941. However, the armor had a tendency to crack when hit due to the poor quality of Italian armor plate. After the first 150 tanks had been produced, a radio was installed and the long mudguards were cut back for the desert conditions.
The first tanks were sent to North Africa in 1941 with the Ariete Armoured Division, and after the December campaign, experience soon called for improvements to cope with the tropical conditions. Improved air and fuel filters and the installation of a more powerful diesel engine led to the M14/41 tank.
The M13/40 first saw action on December 9, 1940 at Sollum-Halfaya. The M13/40 and M14/41 saw service in North Africa, Greece (with a battalion of the Centauro Armoured Division) and Yugoslavia.
five tank commander figures