Part 4A – Building an Italian Armored Division
For our example of an Italian Armored Division, I will use the Divisione Corrazzata “Ariete”, or Armored Division “Ariete”. In the Official History volume La Prima Controffensiva Italo-Tedesca in Africa Settentrionla (15 Febbraio – 18 Novembre 1941) we see the organization of the division at the start of Rommel’s counteroffensive in late March 1941.
Let’s look at the OOB.
Midway down the page is the 32nd Tank Regiment (32º reggimento fanteria carrista). This tells us that the regiment had 3 light tank battalions, 1 medium tank battalion and 1 medium tank battalion of just personnel.
Also from the Book Tank Combat in North Africa by Thomas Jentz we get some strength figures for the division;
The data presented here shows that the light tank battalions consisted of a HQ company with 1 L3-35, and 4 L3-35 flame tanks. There were 2 companies of tanks in the battalion, each with 1 command L3-35, 3 platoons with 4 L3-35 tanks, and 1 platoon of 4 L3-35 flame tanks.
The medium tank battalion with 7 M13/40 tank in the HQ company and 3 companies, each with 3 platoons of 4 M13/40 tanks and 1 company command tank for a total of 13 tanks per company.
This gives us a tank regiment organization as follows:
Back to the OOB from the Official History we see at the top of the page the 8th Bersaglieri Regiment which is the motorized infantry regiment of the division. It has three battalions, the III, V, and XII. In the information shown in Tank Combats in North Africa we can see the company structure and equipment for the Regiment.
The structure of the Bersaglieri company consisted of 3 motorized or motorcycle infantry platoons, 1 motorized HMG platoon and 1 AT gun platoon.
This gives us the Bersaglieri regiment organization as follows;
And last, let’s look at the Artillery of the 132nd reggimento artiglieria. From the Official History information, we see there are the I, and II group with 3 batteries of 75/27 cannons. There are also 3 batteries of 20mm Anti-aircraft guns, 7th, 8th, and 146th batteries.
And also from the Combat in North Africa we see that the division had the I group of the 24th Art Regt along with the 72nd company of 47/32 Anti-Tank cannons.
That completes building the Ariete Armored Division for late March 1941. Next blog we will look at the Order of Battle for the 27th Infantry Division Brescia for the same period.