Den P 26/40 was an Italian World War II heavy tank. It was armed with a 75 mm gun and an 8 mm Breda machine gun, plus another optional machine gun in an anti-aircraft mount. Design had started in 1940 but very few had been built by the time Italy signed the armistice with the Allies in September 1943 and the few produced afterwards were used by the Germans. The official Italian designation was carro armato (“armoured vehicle”) P 26/40. The designation means: P for pesante (“heavy”), the weight of 26 tonnes, and the year of adoption (1940).
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|Carro Pesante P40 Walk Around|
|Fotograf||Giorgio Briga, Gabriele Luciani|
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The P26/40 tank was a heavy tank developed by Italy during World War II. It was designed to replace the outdated M13/40 and M15/42 tanks, which were inferior to the Allied and Soviet tanks they faced. The P26/40 tank had a 75 mm L/34 gun, which could fire armor-piercing and high-explosive shells, and two 8 mm Breda machine guns for anti-infantry and anti-aircraft defense. The tank had a four-man crew and a diesel engine that gave it a maximum speed of 40 km/h on roads and 25 km/h off-road. The tank had sloped armor plates that increased its protection against enemy fire. The P26/40 tank was inspired by the Soviet T-34 tank, which was captured by the Germans and studied by the Italians.
The P26/40 tank was produced by Fiat-Ansaldo from 1943 to 1944, but only 103 units were completed before Italy surrendered to the Allies in September 1943. Most of the tanks were seized by the Germans, who used them under the designation Panzerkampfwagen P40 737(i). Some of the tanks were also used by the Italian Social Republic, a puppet state of Nazi Germany that continued to fight against the Allies. The P26/40 tank saw limited action in Italy and Yugoslavia, where it proved to be a match for the Allied Sherman and Cromwell tanks. However, it was too few in number and too late to change the course of the war. The P26/40 tank was the last and most advanced tank designed by Italy during World War II.
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