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WW2 Italian APC

FIAT 665NM Protetto

Kingdom of Italy (1942-1945)
Armored Personnel Carrier – 110+ Built

The FIAT 665NM Protetto (English: Protected) was an Italian Second World War Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) developed on the 4×4 FIAT 665NM chassis. A total of 110 were produced before the Armistice on 8th September 1943 and were used by the Italian Regio Esercito (English: Royal Army). Some were then captured by the Germans, who reused the majority of those vehicles.

The Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano (English: National Republican Army) had a few vehicles too, which were mainly used in anti-partisan operations, with great success.

Special thanks to Marko Pantelić and Daniele Notaro, who helped with information on the service of the vehicle in the Balkans and units that operated it.

FIAT 665NM Protetto at the Centro Studi della Motorizzazione in Rome. Source: tumblr.com

Context

The Regio Esercito entered the Second World War without armored personnel carriers, which were desperately needed. In the vast deserts of North Africa, Italian troops were transported on trucks that could not follow the troops into the battlefields because of their vulnerability.

In order to solve the lack of APCs, the Italian troops in the various war theaters, Yugoslavia, North Africa, and East Africa, created a few improvised solutions.

The Italian occupation forces in Yugoslavia were often widely distributed across many smaller garrisons, with the purpose of protecting them against any possible Partisan attacks and to keep the cities out of Partisan hands. This worked in theory, but in practice, it made them easy targets for the Yugoslavian Partisans. They would simply surround and then eliminate these small Italian garrisons, which lacked the means to properly fight back. In order to respond to these major issues, in 1941, the Italians began developing a series of new armored vehicles. However, in order to respond faster to the threat, the Italian occupation force in Yugoslavia started to produce many improvised armored trucks on civilian or military trucks.

Italian units used trench shields or scrap armored plates to armor some Renault ADRs, which had been captured during the French Campaign.

A Renault ADR Blindato of the Regio Esercito used in the Balkans. Source: pinterest.com

In East Africa, the Italians had a total of 5,300 civilian and military trucks, of which 96 were fully or partially armored to fight the British troops and Ethiopian partisans.

In North Africa, where the necessity for specialized vehicles was greater, improvised APCs were few in number, as priority was given to Autocannoni, trucks armed with cannons used for infantry support. Despite this, some FIAT 626 trucks were armored with lightweight steel plates.

The need for APCs forced the Regio Esercito to make a request for an armored personnel carrier on the FIAT-SPA TL37 (TL for Trattore Leggero – Light Tractor) ‘Libia’ chassis in January 1941. About 150 vehicles were built. It was never sent to Africa, but was used in anti-partisan operations in the Balkans.

Ceirano 47 CM Blindato used by the Polizia dell’Africa Italiana in the Italian East African Colonies. Source: pinterest.com

Development

The development of this armored personnel carrier, initially called Autocarro Scudato (English: Shielded Truck) and then Autocarro da Trasporto a 4 Ruote Motrici (English: 4 wheel drive transport truck), began in mid-1942 by the Arsenale Regio Esercito di Torino (English: Royal Army Arsenal of Turin) in collaboration with FIAT Veicoli Industriali (English: FIAT Industrial Vehicle), which provided the trucks and some suggestion to the arsenal, and the Centro Studi della Motorizzazione (English: Centre for Motorisation Studies).

The Arsenale Regio Esercito di Torino, which had around 1,377 workers, mostly produced artillery pieces and armored plates during the Second World War, but also armored some vehicles, especially after the Armistice, in a semi-improvised manner. After the war, the arsenal refurbished dozens of armored vehicles that had survived the war in order to be put back in service with the new Italian armored forces.

Production and Name

The FIAT 665NM Protetto was accepted into service without testing because one of its developers was the Centro Studi della Motorizzazione. They were responsible for testing vehicles and then deciding whether to produce or reject them. The exact day that production began is unclear.

The FIAT 665NM heavy duty truck was probably tested between October and November 1942 and was accepted into service along with the FIAT 665NM Protetto or Scudato armored personnel carrier version in early November 1942. On 24th November 1942, the first request for 300 FIAT 665NM Scudati APCs was made, while the exact number of FIAT 665NM trucks ordered is not certain. Unfortunately, four days later, on 28th November, the Arsenale Regio Esercito di Torino was hit by an Allied bombardment that heavily damaged the building, destroying some ready-to-deliver equipment, and slowing the production of armor plates produced in the arsenal. Despite this, the next day, on 29th November 1942, the General Staff of the Royal Italian Army received a dispatch from the FIAT Mirafiori plant in Turin in which it was asked to whom to deliver the 44 FIAT 665NM Protetti already produced and stored in the plant’s depot.

The FIAT Mirafiori plant was damaged on 20th November and 8th December 1942 by two Allied bombing raids with a total of 4,000 lbs (~2 tons) of bombs. These damaged or destroyed 110,000 m2 of the plant, damaged or destroyed vehicle production tool machineries, and set fire to the office building, where important documents relating to the production programs were lost.

FIAT 626 Furgone Radio (English: Radio Van) on the left and a FIAT 666NM (on the right) at the FIAT Mirafiori Plant that was hit by Allied bombs. Source: Satiz Foto

The exact number of vehicles produced is not clear, but the majority of sources claim that 110 FIAT 665NM were produced, but this seems to be incorrect. The Italian Royal Army ordered 300 vehicles to be produced until 8th September 1943. According to a report compiled by the FIAT Mirafiori Plant Services Office, 110 FIAT 665NM Scudati were produced until 30th April 1943, four months before the Armistice.

During these four months, production did not cease, but rather resumed at full capacity. In March 1943, in fact, there was a drop in production due to strikes. The workers from FIAT Mirafiori plant not only participated, but were the first to strike and set an example for the dozens of other factories in Turin, Genoa, and Milan, resulting in a national strike. Other strikes took place on 27th and 28th July and 19th August 1943, but they only minimally slowed down the production of vehicles and tanks.

During these four months, there was no bombing of the factory, so it is logical to assume that several FIAT 665NM Scudati came off the assembly lines, supplementing the 110 units produced by April.

Therefore, it is plausible to assume that the number of vehicles produced was higher than 110, even if the Armistice and the destruction caused by Allied bombings on 8th November and 1st December 1943 probably destroyed the documents relating to the FIAT 665NM Scudati production. Because of the same problems, it is not clear if the production was restarted for the Germans or the Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano (English: National Republican Army), the new Italian Army formed in the Repubblica Sociale Italiana (English: Italian Social Republic), in October 1943.

The name of the vehicle creates more problems. Some sources mention it as FIAT 665NM ‘Protetto’ (English: Protected), others as FIAT 665NM ‘Blindato’ (English: Armored), and others as FIAT 665NM ‘Scudato’ (English: Shielded).

In Italian, these words are synonyms for an armored vehicle. Consequently, all three designations are correct. In this article, the ‘Protetto’ or ‘Scudato’ terms, which are the most common, will be used. This also avoids confusion with the FIAT 666N Blindato, which was an improvised armored car used by an RSI unit in Piacenza province.

Planned Replacement

The FIAT 665NM Scudato was not without flaws, notably its production. The majority of vehicles produced were standard FIAT 665NM fresh off the assembly line that were requisitioned by the workers and armored. This was a drawn out process which slowed down the production of the FIAT heavy duty trucks and of the armored personnel carrier, and the armor turned out to be too light, vulnerable to even small arms fire.

This led FIAT to develop a new vehicle with the same chassis and engine but with a new redesigned superstructure directly fixed to the chassis, and not on the truck’s bodywork.

The development of a new vehicle, the FIAT 665NM Blindato con Riparo Ruote, began in April 1943 but never materialized. It had a new well-inclined, rectangular-shaped superstructure with 8 mm thick armored plates that would have greatly increased the protection of the vehicle. Unfortunately, after the Armistice was signed, neither the Germans nor RSI were interested in pursuing with it.

FIAT 665NM Blindato con Riparo Ruote. Source: Gli Autoveicoli tattici e logistici del Regio Esercito Italiano fino al 1943

Design

FIAT 666NM and FIAT 665NM

The FIAT 665NM was developed after March 1941 as the 4×4 variant of the FIAT 666NM (NM stands for Nafta Militare – Diesel Military) produced by Fabbrica Italiana Automobili Torino or FIAT (English: Italian Automobiles Factory, Turin).

FIAT 666N propaganda poster. Source: Centro Storico FIAT

The Kingdom of Italy was forced in 1937 to pass a law that outlined the main characteristics required for all civilian or military trucks that were produced. This was done for three main reasons:

Firstly, Italy was a rapidly growing nation with numerous companies producing dozens of different models of trucks, a standardization would have led companies to produce vehicles very similar to each other and with common parts, increasing the production capacity.

Secondly, there was also the problem of embargoes placed on Italy and the policy of autarky, or the aspiration of Italian leaders to be economically independent from foreign countries. Unified truck standards would certainly have helped to avoid wasting resources.
Thirdly, and probably the most important reason, was the unification of civilian and military truck standards, which meant that, in case of war, civilian trucks could be requisitioned for war needs.

FIAT 666N with an Officine Viberti trailer with the Giovanni Ambrozich transport group. Source: pinterest.com

With Regio Decreto (English: Royal Decree) N° 1809 of 14th July 1937, the so-called Autocarri Unificati (English: Unified Trucks) were born. For heavy trucks, the maximum weight was not to exceed 12,000 kg, of which at least 6,000 kg had to be of payload, with a minimum road speed of 45 km/h.

As for light trucks, the ground clearance was to be at least 200 mm, the maximum truck weight was to be 4,000 kg, and the payload 3,000 kg.

FIAT 666N prototype at the FIAT Mirafiori plant. Source: FIAT Archives

The FIAT 666N was a heavy duty truck. The civilian version was developed in 1938 under the Regio Decreto N° 1809 rules. Its prototype was ready at the end of 1938 and was presented to Benito Mussolini on 15th May 1939, on the occasion of the inauguration of the FIAT Mirafiori plant in Turin. This factory building covered 300,000 m2 on an area of over one million m2, with a total of 22,000 workers on several shifts. All 50,000 FIAT workers of Turin were present for Mirafiori’s inauguration. The AB40 prototypes were also presented then. The military version, the FIAT 666NM, was presented to the Centro Studi della Motorizzazione for evaluation on 19th September 1940.

The FIAT Mirafiori plant in Turin, photo taken in early 1940s by a Regia Aeronautica pilot. Source: panorama.com

It differed from the civilian version through the addition of acetylene headlights, a bulb horn, and manually operated turn signals on the sides of the windscreen. The first military order for 1,000 FIAT 666NM trucks was issued on 10th January 1941. Another 1,500 were ordered on 23rd July 1941, 1,000 on 5th March 1942, and 700 on 16th June 1943. In total, about 8,000 FIAT 666s left the assembly lines of the Mirafiori plant, including the post-war direct-injection 666N7 and FIAT 665NM versions.

The Regia Aeronautica (English: Royal Air Force) ordered 796 trucks on 23rd October 1941. This truck was used on the Eastern Front, in North Africa, in Italy, and in the Balkans.

After the Armistice of 8th September 1943, between November 1943 and December 1944, 79 FIAT 666NM and 2 FIAT 665NM were delivered to the Wehrmacht.

FIAT 666NM of the Luftwaffe. This vehicle was equipped with Pirelli Tipo ‘Sigillo Verde’ tires. The license plate, WL (Luftwaffe) – 583495, helps to indicate that it was in service with Luftgau-Kommando V in France. Source: kfzderwehrmacht.de

The FIAT 666 was produced in a wide range of variants, such as standard truck and fuel carrier for civilian service, while for military service, recovery trucks, fuel and water carriers, mobile workshops, petrol engine variants, and many others were produced.

FIAT 665NM 4×4 outside of the FIAT Mirafiori plant. It is interesting to notice that it is in Kaki Sahariano desert camouflage and that it has Pirelli Tipo ‘Libia’ tires for desert soils. Source: Archivio FIAT

Engine and Suspension

Propulsion was provided by FIAT Type 366 6-cylinder in-line diesel engine. It had overhead valves, with a displacement of 9,365 cm³ and FIAT-produced injectors. The maximum output power was 110 hp at 2,000 rpm on the civil FIAT 666N, the FIAT 666NM for the Regia Aeronautica, and on the FIAT 665NM. The maximum output power on the Regio Esercito’s FIAT 666NM was limited to delivering 95 hp at 1,700 rpm. The Ricardo type direct-injection chamber created lots of problems in the cold Russian steppes, which forced the crews to fix the diesel fuel with gasoline in order to allow the engine to start.

FIAT Tipo 366 with oil bath filters (right). Source: Archivio FIAT

The maximum speed on-road was 57 km/h for the FIAT 665NM, 48.3 km/h for the power-limited FIAT 666NM, and 56.8 km/h for the FIAT 666N and FIAT 666NM. The fuel was kept in a 255 liter tank (135 liters for the FIAT 666N) located on the right side of the chassis, which offered a 750 km on-road range (465 km for the FIAT 666N).

A FIAT 6-75-2510 diaphragm pump then pumped the fuel into a 5.5-liter tank located behind the cab’s dashboard. This ensured trouble-free feeding thanks to a gravity injection pump. The lubricant oil tank had a capacity of 12 liters, while the water-cooling tank had a capacity of 50 liters.

Air was drawn through two filters mounted at the back of the engine. Up until engine number 000530, they used cartridge filters, after which it was replaced with oil bath filters.

As on the FIAT 626 medium truck, the engine could be extracted through the cab’s front after the removal of the grille thanks to rollers mounted on the two supports of the engine, rolling on guides fixed to the frame.

FIAT 665NM frame. Between the wheels, on the left, the air tank and the batteries box are visible. On the right is the fuel tank. Source: Archivio FIAT

Brakes and Electric Systems

The single dry plate clutch was connected to the gearbox via a cardan shaft. This could be removed independently of the gearbox and engine simply by removing the rear casing. This meant that maintenance and disassembly were easier.

The transmission, thanks to the reductor, had eight gears and two reverse gears. The drum brakes were hydraulic and had a pedal-operated air brake booster. The compressed air tank with a capacity of 55 liters and was located on the left of the frame. It had a pressure of 5.5 bar. On the NM version, the rear axle was equipped with a differential.

There was a 12-volt electrical circuit used to power the headlights and dashboard, and a 24-volt circuit for starting the engine. The two 12V Magneti Marelli batteries were housed in a box on the left side of the chassis, behind the air tank.

Structure

The cargo bay measured 4.75 meters long by 2.20 meters wide, with a height of 600 mm on the civilian version and 650 mm on the military version. It was homologated to carry up to 6 tonnes of cargo, but could carry, without much difficulty, an L6/40 light tank (weighing 6.84 tonnes).

Two unarmed L6/40 light reconnaissance tanks loaded on a FIAT 666NM and its 15 tonnes payload trailer. Source: Cavalleria Italiana

The cab had the steering wheel and the driver on the right, while the vehicle’s commander was placed on the left. The cab’s doors opened backwards. Due to the slow production rates, some early FIAT 666NMs were equipped with civilian FIAT 666N cabs.

FIAT 665NM (above) and FIAT 666NM-RE with civilian cab (below). The different placements of the tool boxes under the cargo bay and the different tire dimensions are clearly visible. Sources: Archivio FIAT

In spite of its respectable dimensions and its large load capacity, the FIAT 666 heavy duty truck, with a chassis weight of 1 tonne and about 5 tonnes of additional structure weight, for a total weight of 6 tonnes in the FIAT 666NM variant and 7.2 tonnes in the FIAT 665NM version, could travel at more than 56 km/h with a 12 tonne trailer attached. Fully loaded, it could climb 26º slopes. Thanks to its short wheelbase and cab layout, it was comfortable traveling on mountain roads.

The FIAT 666NM had a wheel rim size of 20 x 8” (50.8 x 20.32 cm), while the FIAT 665NM wheels had a rim size of 24 x 9” (61 x 23 cm). This allowed the latter to mount 11.25 x 24” (28.5 cm x 61 cm) tires, the same as the armored cars and camionette of the Regio Esercito, in order to offer smoother cross-country driving. Like the armored cars and Camionette, it could use a wide variety of tires, such as the Tipo ‘Libia’ and Tipo ‘Sigillo Verde’, which, because of their wide profile, afforded flotation on loose sandy soils, Tipo ‘Artiglio’ and Tipo ‘Artiglio a Sezione Maggiorata’ for continental soils and Russian steppes, roughly equivalent to the Non-Directional Tread (NDT) tires used by the US Army, and Tipo ‘Raiflex’ for sandy grounds and produced with Rayon (Raion in Italian) synthetic fibers (RAI-flex for Raion), all developed and produced by the Pirelli company in Milan.

Strangely enough, most of the images of the FIAT 665NM Scudati show that most of the vehicles were equipped with Pirelli Tipo ‘Libia’ tires, a very strange decision if we consider that none of the vehicles were used in Africa, but only in northern Italy and the Balkans.

FIAT 665NM front and rear, photos taken shortly after production. The vehicle is parked outside the FIAT Mirafiori production line. Sources: Archivio FIAT

The FIAT 665NM Protetto Modifications

The vehicles were produced by the FIAT Veicoli Industriali section in the FIAT Mirafiori plant in Turin. They were then armored by the Tank Production section with armored plates produced by the Arsenale Regio Esercito di Torino and also some FIAT owned steel mills and foundries in Turin.

The FIAT 665NM was fully armored to protect the crew and the personnel placed in the rear. The cab was armored with 7.5 mm thick armored plates in the front, placed 3 cm in front of the original cab that was left intact under the armor, and 5 mm thick on the cab’s side. The roof was not armored and some vehicles had the original cab removed. This meant that the crew could also enter through the rear and that the vehicle had no roof.

The original doors were kept under the armor and had two hatches each to permit the two crew members to check the battlefield and to defend themselves from enemy attacks with their personal weapons.

To view the front arch of the vehicle in order to drive and give orders, the driver and the vehicle’s commander had at their disposal two frontal upward-hinged hatches. Two tiltable armored doors were at the front, used to improve airflow to the radiator cooling and for maintenance of the engine.

FIAT 665NM Scudato with opened door. The presence of the original cab with the 5 mm armored plate fixed on is clear. The rear wall of the cab, with its inspection window, is also visible. The vehicle has a two tone camouflage and some bushes to camouflage it from aircraft attacks. Source: beutepanzer.ru

The cargo bay was partially armored. The first vehicles built had the 65 cm high cargo bay sides and the roof unarmored, but the production line was modified to add armor plates on the sides.

The side armor plates were 4.5 mm thick, but the upper part was angled, while the lower part also had the wooden planks of the cargo bay’s sides to reinforce it. There were eight loopholes for each side of the personnel compartment, plus another three on the rear, for a total of 19 loopholes that gave the vehicle great firepower coverage. The fuel tank of the vehicle was also armored to protect it.

FIAT 665NM Scudato. Source: wikipedia.com

To enter into the personnel compartment, there was a removable ladder on the rear, which was not a great solution to quickly enter and exit from an armored personnel carrier on a battlefield. The twenty fully equipped soldiers could sit on two wooden benches placed on the sides of the compartment. Under the benches, there was enough space to store personal stuff, tools, a machine gun, and probably some ammunition crates and fuel cans.

Armament

The serial production vehicle was not equipped with gun supports but had 19 loopholes in the personnel compartment and more openings in the armored cab. On the prototype, a Breda Mod. 37 or Mod. 38 medium machine gun support was added to the cab roof.

The FIAT 665NM Scudato prototype. The Breda machine gun’s support is visible on the cab’s roof. Source: wikipedia.com

In the rear compartment, there was space for 20 soldiers, but this meant that one did not have a loophole to use. This could have meant that the twentieth soldier was an officer who only gave orders, or that the twentieth soldier had the task of operating the Breda Mod. 30 light machine gun that was carried on board. Given the absence of a mount for the gun, the soldier had to fire by resting the Breda’s bipod on the roof of the cabin or on the sides of the personnel compartment.

Italian units were largely equipped with rifles and carbines, so only rarely could MAB 38 submachine guns be employed from this vehicle. There could also be more than one Breda Mod. 30 machine gun.

FIAT 665NM Scudato rear. Source: Archivio FIAT

At least two vehicles of the Compagnia Comando Reggimentale ‘Mazza di Ferro’ (English: Regimental Command Company) of the 2° Reggimento Milizia Difesa Territoriale ‘Istria’ (English: 2nd Territorial Defense Militia Regiment) were equipped with an internal structure behind the cab to mount an improvised open-top octagonal turret produced by the unit to increase the vehicle’s fire and to protect the machine gunner.

In the few photos of those vehicles, it is clearly visible that the armor plates were scrap rusty metal recovered by the unit from an unknown location. The machine guns were probably Breda Modello 38.

The FIAT 665NM Scudati armed with shields and machine guns of the Compagnia ‘Mazza di Ferro’. Source: pinterest.com

The XIV Battaglione Difesa Costiera (English: 14th Coastal Defense Battalion) armed a FIAT 665NM Scudato with a 8 mm machine gun in a cylindrical open-topped turret, while the Reggimento Volontari Friulani ‘Tagliamento’ (English: Friulian Volunteer Regiment) armed the only vehicle it had with an 8 mm machine gun without armor. It was probably a 8 x 59 mm RB caliber FIAT-Revelli Mod. 1914/35 machine gun.

Operational Use

The first FIAT 665NM Scudati were assigned to the 154ª Divisione di Fanteria d’Occupazione ‘Murge’ (English: 154th Occupation Infantry Division) and to the 13ª Divisione di Fanteria ‘Re’ (English: 13th Infantry Division). Unfortunately, nothing is known about the service of the FIATs in these units.

At the beginning of 1943, the 154ª Divisione di Fanteria d’Occupazione ‘Murge’ participated in the Battle of the Neretva, probably with some of these armored trucks.

In general, the FIAT 665NM Scudati were used by the units to escort supply convoys to its isolated garrisons in Mostar, Jablanica, Konjic, Cacko, and Nevesinje in Herzegovina.

FIAT 665NM Scudati on flatcars arriving in the Balkans from the FIAT Mirafiori plant in Turin. The original photo was auctioned online a few years ago. Source: beutepanzers.ru

After the Battle of the Neretva, Murge’s vehicles took part in patrols, raids, and clashes in the anti-partisan struggle in the region of Lika. It was then transferred to Trebinje in May 1943, with the role of coastal defense. It remained there until September 1943, when the Armistice of Cassibile took place. On 8th September, it was located between Signo and Buccari in Slovenia and managed to reach the city of Fiume on 14th September 1943. There, the 154ª Divisione di Fanteria d’Occupazione ‘Murge’ disbanded. The vehicles at its disposal were abandoned for various reasons, partly in Signo and Buccari and partly in Rijeka, where they were captured by the Yugoslav Partisans and the Germans.

In late 1942, the 13ª Divisione di Fanteria ‘Re’ was used to garrison Gospic, Otocac, and Bihac in Croatia. Increasingly, the unit had to repel Partisan attacks that became more violent as the war intensified.

Its garrisons often remained isolated and the armored trucks were used to support the troops breaking through the Partisan roadblocks to reach the units that remained isolated.

In 1943, the Re division fought hard in Dalmatia, first in Korenica and Kapela in January, then in Lapac, Jelovi, and Pavlovacka in February and March. It then continued to supply the isolated garrisons and conduct anti-partisan patrols in the same region until late August 1943, when it was repatriated to Italy, arriving in Ladispoli, near Rome.

Some autieri (English: drivers) of an unknown unit in the Balkans with their new FIAT 665NM Scudati, ready to be used against the Partisans. The original photo was auctioned online a few years ago. The vehicles have Pirelli Tipo ‘Libia’ tires. Source: beutepanzers.ru

With the announcement of the Armistice, the Division Command was disbanded and the division was left without orders. Many soldiers escaped, joining the Allied troops or returning home. The few remaining took part in the defense of Rome until 10th September. Those who survived were captured or joined the Italian Partisans. It is not known what happened to its FIAT 665NM Scudati. It is possible not all of them had arrived in Rome, perhaps even none, being captured in Dalmatia by the Germans while they were waiting to return to Italy.

At least two FIAT 665NM Protetto were taken by the 2° Reggimento Milizia Difesa Territoriale ‘Istria’, which was created shortly after the Armistice with veterans of the 60ª Legione Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale ‘Istria’. The unit was composed of two companies and the Compagnia Comando Reggimentale ‘Mazza di Ferro’, plus six companies for territorial security. It was stationed in Pola on the Istria peninsula, present day Croatia.

The unit had in its ranks 2 L3 light tanks and, as claimed by some sources, 6 armored trucks. These were 2 FIAT 665NM Protetti, a Lancia 3Ro Blindato, and a curious vehicle, a FIAT 626 with the armored cab of a FIAT 665NM Protetto, while the other two armored cars are unknown. Some of these vehicles were armed with twin 13.5 mm Breda Mod. 31 heavy machine guns and at least one with a Cannone Breda da 20/65 Mod. 1935 taken from the Arsenale della Marina (English: Navy Arsenal) in Pola.

The hybrid FIAT 626NM chassis and FIAT 665NM Scudato armored cab was already in service on 12th November 1943 in the Compagnia ‘Mazza di Ferro’. This suggests that it was modified before the Armistice by a unit of the Royal Army.

In the Istria regions, Tito’s Partisans were present in large numbers and very active, attacking isolated Italian or German garrisons and conducting ambushes against weekly convoys loaded with supplies.

The FIAT 626NM with the FIAT 665NM Scudato armored cab of the Compagnia Comando Reggimentale ‘Mazza di Ferro’ with other trucks in the Capodistria main square. Another FIAT 626NM, a pair of SPA 38R and a pair of OM Taurus trucks are also visible. Source: beutepanzer.ru

The Compagnia ‘Mazza di Ferro’ used its armored and armed trucks to escort the supply convoys, which the Partisans soon learned to avoid. The columns of vehicles were sometimes joined by vehicles of other Italian or German units, and even civilian cars or trucks, given the security that the armored vehicles of the regiment offered.

Even the SS- und Polizeiführer Oberabschnitt Alpenland (English: SS and Police Leader in the Upper Alpine Region) in the Operationszone Adriatisches Küstenland or OZAK (English: Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral), Erwin Rösener, often requested that the armored trucks of the regiment escorted him together with his German vehicles for greater safety. Nothing is known about the final fate of these vehicles.

Three FIAT 665NM Scudato were used by the Gruppo Squadroni Corazzato ‘San Giusto’ (English: Armored Squadrons Group), together with two S37 Autoprotetti and at least a Renault ADR Blindato. The Gruppo was created in Spalato by Captain Agostino Tonegutti, the former commander of the 1° Squadrone carri L (English: 1st Tank Squadron L) of the 1ª Divisione Celere ‘Eugenio di Savoia’ (English: 1st Celere Division), stationed in Spalato, in September 1943, after the Armistice. Refusing to abide by the terms of the Armistice with the Allied forces, Toneguzzi began to move towards the northern part of Istria with other soldiers loyal to Mussolini and 10 tanks. In Fiume, the unit supported the local Italian garrison, moving then to Gorizia and finally moving to Mariano del Friuli.

In Mariano, several armored vehicles were recovered and refitted, until reaching such a strength that the Squadron became Gruppo Squadroni Corazzati ‘San Giusto’ with three squadrons in early 1944. It was also known under the German designation Italienische Panzer Schwadron (English: Italian Panzer Squadron).

Two FIAT 665NM Scudati were lost during one of the heaviest fighting the group saw, against the Yugoslavian Partisans in Dobraule di Santa Croce on 31st May 1944. During this fight, 3 Italian soldiers perished and another 3 armored vehicles were lost.

One of the Gruppo Squadroni Corazzati ‘San Giusto’ FIAT 665NM Scudato destroyed and captured by the Yugoslav Partisans in Dobraule di Santa Croce. The Pirelli Tipo ‘Libia’ tires and the strange three-tone camouflage are visible. Source: Italia 43-45. I blindati di circostanza della guerra civile

The last FIAT 665NM Protetto armored personnel carrier of the unit was lost on 6th December 1944, during a Yugoslav Partisan attack.

The Reggimento Volontari Friulani ‘Tagliamento’ had a FIAT 665NM Protetto in its Command Company. This arrived in December 1943, probably requisitioned from the Autocentro di Udine (English: Udine’s Car Center), where it was probably in storage. It was initially used to defend the Tarcento garrison and, after May 1944, used for anti-partisan patrols and to escort convoys in the Vipacco and Isonzo valleys.

This vehicle was attacked by partisans more than once, trying to destroy it without success. During one such attack, on 26th August 1944, Tito’s Partisans used at least one anti-tank rifle at short range against it, probably a Soviet PTRS-41 or PTRD-41. Chambered for the 14.5 x 114 mm cartridge, this anti-tank rifle, obsolete against tanks, was still able to penetrate more than 30 mm of armored plate at 90° at a distance of 500 meters, easily piercing the FIAT 665NM Scudato’s armor from side to side. The vehicle was penetrated in several places, killing all the soldiers inside except for two. It was abandoned on the road and then set on fire by the Slovenian Partisans.

One vehicle was used by the Italienisches Küsten-Festung-Bataillon 14 (English: Italian Coast Fortress Battalion 14) in Rijeka. This was an Italian unit under German Wehrmacht and then SS-Polizei command, which defended the city from Partisan attacks. It received a FIAT 665NM Scudato with an 8 mm medium machine gun in early 1945 (probably February). It was used until the war’s end to escort convoys.

The last known unit that used this vehicle was the XIV Battaglione Difesa Costiera, which received a FIAT 665NM Scudato in January or February 1945. Like the other vehicles used by the Esercito Nazionale Repubblicano, it escorted columns of supplies and patrolled the main roads to deter partisan attacks.

The Germans managed to capture the majority of the FIAT 665NM Scudati after the 8th September 1943 Armistice, renaming them Gepanzerte Mannschaftstransportwagen 665(i) (English: Armored Personnel Carrier 665 – Italian).

The 1. Infanterie-Regiment of the SS-Polizeiregiment “Bozen” received some of these trucks, while other German units requisitioned or received some. Some were given to Luftwaffe units that used the vehicles for escorting fuel trucks and airport perimeter patrols.

A FIAT 665NM Scudato in Northern Italy with an unknown German unit. The license plate numbers are not legible, but “WL – ” is visible, meaning Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe. The tires are the ‘Libia’ ones. Source: beutepanzer.ru

During a Yugoslav Partisan ambush against an Italo-German convoy between Comeno and Rifembergo (today Komen and Branik, Slovenia) on 2nd February 1944, a FIAT 665NM Scudato armored personnel carrier was destroyed and set on fire. Two German police officers, 20 German policemen, and 38 Italian soldiers belonging to the Milizia were killed. The origin of this armored truck is not sure. It could have belonged to the Italian Militia’s Compagnia ‘Mazza di Ferro’ or SS-Polizeiregiment “Bozen”.

The 1. Infanterie-Regiment of the SS-Polizeiregiment “Bozen” had in its ranks at least an AB41 reconnaissance armored car, a Lancia 1ZM First World War-era armored car, one L3/33 or L3/35 light tank, and some FIAT 665NM Scudati.

FIAT 665NM Scudato destroyed in the Yugoslav Partisan attack on 2nd February 1944. The door has fallen off and the original door is visible under the armored plate. The tires were Tipo ‘Libia’. Source: beutepanzer.ru

One of the FIAT 665NM Scudato of the 1. Infanterie-Regiment of the SS-Polizeiregiment “Bozen” was equipped with an armored roof to protect it from hand grenades and to protect the front machine gunner. The gunner had a hole through which he could fire.

The workshop or depot where it was modified is unknown, but it is very likely it was one in Italy, since the photo was taken between February and March at a checkpoint in Castelnovo del Friuli in the northeast of Italy.

The FIAT 665NM Scudato with an armored roof of the SS-Polizeiregiment “Bozen” at a German checkpoint. Two Panzer III Ausf. N and a French Renault truck of the AD series are also visible. Sources: beutepanzer.ru

Other interesting modifications were made on a FIAT 665NM Scudato in German hands. A FlaK 38 automatic anti-aircraft cannon was mounted on the top of the personnel compartment to provide heavy support fire and to discourage even the bravest Partisan units from attacking the supply columns.

There are only three photos of this vehicle that do not show exactly how the cannon was mounted in the personnel compartment, although it can be assumed it was mounted on an internal support. The photos were auctioned online a few years ago and no other information is given about the German unit that used it or the period.

The vehicle was also armed with a medium machine gun, probably of Italian origin, with a shield. In two photos, an Italian cavalryman armed with a MAB 38 is clearly visible. Maybe the Germans kept an Italian driver or the vehicle belonged to a mixed unit in which Italian units were also present. The license plate is not visible in the photos, making it impossible to identify the unit. The FIAT had Pirelli Tipo ‘Libia’ tires.

The FIAT 665NM Scudato armed with the 20 mm FlaK 38. From this angle, the machine gun is not visible, but the Pirelli Tipo ‘Libia’ tires and the Italian cavalryman are clearly visible. Source: beutepanzer.ru

Another vehicle, probably of the SS-Polizeiregiment “Bozen”, was equipped with rods, probably recovered from a destroyed FIAT 666NM, for the water-proof tarpaulin mounted on the non-armored version of the FIAT 665NM. This tarpaulin probably had a double function, protecting the personnel compartment from the rain and from hand grenades.

The FIAT 665NM Protetto with rods for the water-proof tarpaulin. It has the Pirelli Tipo ‘Libia’ tires. The license plate is not visible. Source: beutepanzer.ru

Some FIAT 665NM Scudato were captured and used by the Yugoslavian Partisans, but their service is unknown. None survived the war.

The camouflage scheme was the standard Kaki Sahariano (English: Saharan Khaki) for the Regio Esercito. The FIAT Mirafiori plant in Turin already painted them in that scheme before delivery.

Some FIAT 665NM Protetti captured by the Germans were maintained in the original camouflage scheme, while others were painted in a two tone scheme with some dark green stripes.

The Compagnia Comando Reggimentale ‘Mazza di Ferro’ vehicles were painted in two ways. One received an interesting three-tone camouflage scheme with polygonal dark green and reddish-brown spots, while the second received a normal three-tone camouflage scheme with standard spots in the same colors.

The Gruppo Squadroni Corazzati ‘San Giusto’ vehicles received a curious ‘tree’ camouflage. Some trees were airbrushed on the Saharan Khaki in order to better camouflage them in the Balkans woods.

Conclusion

The FIAT 665NM was one of the largest and most spacious armored personnel carriers of the Second World War. Unfortunately, its light armor and production of fewer than 200 vehicles did not allow for adequate employment.

It was developed as an armored personnel carrier but was used most of the time as a vehicle for patrolling roads and escorting supply convoys, roles for which it was not designed. However, it was able to perform these without too many problems, especially since the adversaries were hardly ever armed with anti-tank weapons. It should have been replaced by the FIAT 665NM Blindato con Riparo Ruote but the Armistice canceled the project leaving the FIAT 665NM Scudato as the only Italian heavy APC.

FIAT 665NM Scudato of the Regio Esercito. On the top is a Breda Modello 1930 machine gun. Yugoslavia 1943. Illustration by David Bocquelet, modified by Godzilla, funded by our Patreon Campaign.

FIAT 665NM Scudato Specifications

Size (L-W-H) 7.345 x 2.67 x 2.73 m
Total weight, battle ready 11 tonnes
Crew 2 (driver and commander) + 20 soldiers
Propulsion FIAT Tipo 366 9,365 cm³, 110 hp with 255 liter tank
Speed 57 km/h
Range ~ 700 km
Armament One machine gun
Armor Cab: 7.5 mm front and 5 mm sides. Crew compartment: 4.5 mm
Total production More than 110

Sources

Italian Armored & Reconnaissance Cars 1911-45 – Filippo Cappellano and Pier Paolo Battistelli
istoreto.it
Gli Autoveicoli tattici e logistici del Regio Esercito Italiano fino al 1943, Tomo I and II – Nicola Pignato and Filippo Cappellano
Ruote in divisa, I veicoli militari italiani 1900-1987 – Brizio Pignacca
Controguerriglia, la 2ª Armata Italiana e l’Occupazione dei Balcani 1941-43 – Pierluigi Romeo and Colloredo Mills
Italia 43-45. I blindati di circostanza della guerra civile – Paolo Crippa
…Come il Diamante, I Carristi Italiani 1943-45 – Sergio Corbatti and Marco Nava

Categories
WW2 Italian APC

Renault ADR Blindato

Kingdom of Italy (1941-1943) and Italian Social Republic (1943-1945)
Armored Truck – Unknown Number Built

The Renault ADR Blindati (plural of Blindato) were Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) used by the Regio Esercito (Eng. Italian Royal Army) in the Balkan theater starting from 1941. They had the task of patrolling and escorting supply convoys.

These were based on vehicles captured by Italian or German troops in France. They were armored and armed in local workshops by the Italian units employed in the Balkans.

In Italy, these vehicles are almost unknown because of the few examples produced and their improvised construction. In the few Italian sources that mention them, they are known as Renault ADR Blindati or Protetti (singular Protetto – eng. Protected).

A column of armored trucks of the Regio Esercito. The first two are Renault ADR Blindati. Source: Armored and Reconnaissance 1911-1945

Context – Situation in the Yugoslav Theater

A column of Italian vehicles in the Balkans. An S37 Autoprotetto opens the column as an escort vehicle. The second and fourth vehicles are Bianchi Miles. Source: pinterest.com

Before the outbreak of the Second World War, the Regio Esercito did not consider armored personnel carriers necessary and completely ignored this type of vehicle. However, during the first campaigns in Africa, Greece, and Yugoslavia, officers quickly realized the need for these vehicles in their ranks.

On January 20th, 1941, after seven months of war, the High Command of the Royal Italian Army requested a wheeled armored personnel carrier. FIAT-SPA developed a vehicle on the chassis of the TL37 (Trattore Leggero – Light Tractor) called the FIAT-SPA Autoprotetto S37.

The prototype was presented in May 1941 for testing and was officially adopted by the Regio Esercito on February 4th, 1942. 200 units were ordered, of which only 160 were delivered before the order was canceled in favor of an APC based on the chassis of half-tracks produced under German license by FIAT and Breda. These were never produced though.

The units that were equipped with the S37 Autoprotetti were the 998ª Autosezione Autocarri (Eng. 998th Truck Section) in Montenegro, the 1034ª Autosezione (Eng. 1034th Section) in Albania, the 370ª Autoreparto Autocarri Protetti S37 (Eng. 370th Vehicle Protected S37 Section) that was sent to Yugoslavia and, finally, the 1650ª Sezione Autoprotetti (Eng. 1650th Vehicle Protected Section) that remained in Bari, in Southern Italy.

An Autoprotetto FIAT-SPA S37 used by an Italian unit in the Balkans. Source: wikipedia.it

Another Italian APC project was the 9-tonnes 4×4 truck FIAT 665NM (Nafta Militare – Diesel, Military) Protetto or Scudato (Eng. Armored or Shielded) developed in 1942 by the Arsenale Regio Esercito di Torino. 300 units were ordered. Production started in the summer of 1942 and lasted until September 8th, 1943, but only 110 vehicles were finished.

A number were delivered to the 13ª Divisione di Fanteria “Re” (Eng. 13th Infantry Division “Re”) and the 154ªDivisione di Fanteria “Murge” (Eng. 154th Infantry Division “Murge”) in the Balkans and other units stationed in Rome.

The FIAT 665NM Scudato, the most powerful APC used by the Regio Esercito during the Second World War. Source: pinterest.com

By way of comparison, Germany produced about 15,000 Sd.Kfz. 251s and the United States produced about 50,000 M3 Half-tracks throughout the war. Italy produced only 270 wheeled armored personnel carriers, which, for an army the size of the Regio Esercito, was too few.

General Mario Roatta, commander of the Regio Esercito of the 2nd Italian Army in Croatia with headquarters in the province of Ljubljana, understood after the Yugoslavian Campaign that he needed to equip his troops with civilian armored trucks. He called these “Mezzi Comuni Blindati” (Eng. Common Armored Vehicles), and would be used for patrolling and escorting supply convoys.

After a meeting with several officers and generals deployed in the various theaters of war, the Chief of General Staff of the Royal Army, Marshal Ugo Cavallero, declared that at least 500 civilian or military trucks, armored in an improvised manner, were necessary for the needs of Italian troops in the Balkans and North Africa.

After the French Campaign, the Royal Italian Army came into possession of a large part of the French equipment. More equipment was handed over by the Germans. Among this equipment, there were simple firearms, such as pistols, rifles, or machine guns, but also large equipment, such as cannons, howitzers and logistical material, such as Renault ADR trucks.
It is not clear how many were captured by the Kingdom of Italy and if some were sold to them by the Wehrmacht.

An Italian column in Yugoslavia. In the foreground are visible an AB41 armored car of the IV Gruppo Squadroni Corazzato “Nizza” and two civilian cars with Italian Royal Army plates. In the background are two trucks with armored shields on the cargo bay sides and what looks like another AB41 opening the column. These vehicles most likely form part of an escorting column for some important officers. Slovenia 1942-43. Source: Italian Armored and Reconnaissance Cars 1911-45

Design

The Renault Truck

The Camion Léger Bâché Renault Type ADR 65cv 3,5 tonnes in 1936. Source: louisrenault.com

The Camion Léger Bâché Renault Type ADR 65cv 3,5 tonnes (Eng. Light truck Renault Type ADR 65 hp 3.5 tonnes) or, more simply, the Renault ADR 1, was the last Renault truck of the AD series to go into production, in 1935. The Renault ADR civilian version had a gasoline 4 cylinders in-line engine with an output of 65 hp at 2,200 rpm and a volume of about 4,000 cm³. This gave the truck a speed of 65 km/h at full load and a consumption of 27 liters per 100 km.

The Renault ADRD was also a civilian version with a 4-cylinder in-line diesel engine with an output of 45 hp at 1,800 rpm and a volume of about 4,300 cm³. Fully loaded, this truck could reach a speed of 47 km/h and a consumption of 19 liters per 100 km.

The two civilian versions had a gearbox with 4 gears and had a load capacity of 3.5 tonnes in the “Long” version. This gave a total weight of the vehicle of 4.5 tonnes, with a fuel tank of 95 liters. The short version had a payload of about 1.5 tonnes and a fuel tank of 75 liters.

The third version was the military one, produced with only the 4-cylinder in-line gasoline engine delivering 62 hp at 2,350 rpm and a 5-speed transmission. In 1940, due to the needs of the war, production had to be speeded up and the characteristic aerodynamic radiator grille was replaced with a standard one.

It was delivered to the Armée de Terre (Eng. French Army) in 400 units, 126 of which went to the Garde Républicaine (Eng. Republican Guard) before and during the war. Almost all were requisitioned by Axis troops after the French Campaign.

Renault ADR “Long” in service with the French Army. Source: pinterest.com

Armor

Given the improvised nature of these armored personnel carriers, their protection was also improvised or taken from scrap yards. The cargo bays were protected with 10 mm thick trench shields dating back to World War I or with plates found almost anywhere in the Balkans of similar thickness. Rectangular or ellipsoidal loopholes were made into the plates and shields. These shields and plates were placed in two rows, one on top of the other, on the cargo bays, held together by welding.

The first row was placed at 90° and consisted of eight trench shields (or plates of the same size) welded to supports fixed directly to the vehicle’s chassis. The second row was composed of eight shields or plates welded and angled at about thirty degrees.

Like many other protected vehicles produced by Italy, both in an improvised and industrial manner, a major problem was the lack of a roof. This created problems with shrapnel or hand grenades falling inside the cargo bay, injuring or killing all occupants. In addition to this serious problem, the lack of a roof exposed the transported soldiers to the weather conditions.

To solve these problems, bomb nets or wooden boards were mounted on the roof to protect from bombs thrown at the vehicles.

A Renault ADR Blindato of the Regio Esercito, without armor on the engine compartment. Source: pinterest.com

Initially, the vehicles produced received armor only on the cargo bay. Later, the vehicles also received cab protection to protect the driver and the vehicle commander. Some armor plates or trench shields were placed to protect the doors and the front of the cab by cutting a large slot for the driver and maintaining the slits on the doors and the side of the vehicle commander.

Together with the cabs, the fuel tanks were also armored to increase protection, but the wheels and the engine compartment, and the radiator were never armored.

Armament

In the beginning, the armament was absent on the Renault ADR Protetti vehicles. The defense was assured by the cargo bay slits, 13 on each side. Seven were in the lower row of trench shields and armor plates, and 6 in the upper row. In addition, there were six on the rear, 4 in the lower row and 2 in the upper one, for a total of 32 slits on three sides of the cargo bay.

For defense in these cases, the bipod of a light machine gun Breda Mod. 1930 was simply placed on the roof of the cabin, but it had many problems of reliability, a clip feed of 20 rounds, a very slow clip reloading system that did not allow an effective suppression fire and, finally, no protection for the gunner save for the gun shield.

In this image are visible the loopholes on the side of the Renault ADR Blindato, the barrels of two Carcano Mod. 91/38 Cavalleria and a Breda Mod. 30, together with the FIAT-Revelli Mod. 14/35 machine gun with a gun shield on top. The fuel tank and the cabin are not armored. Source: pinterest.com

At a later stage, the low volume of fire from the soldiers firing through the loopholes was noted. In most cases, they were equipped with Carcano bolt-action rifles of various models. In order to remedy this, a support was added to the center of the cargo bay for a FIAT-Revelli Mod. 14/35 machine gun with a frontal shield to protect the gunner.

At the same time, the cabin of the truck was armored. As a consequence, three more slits were added for the vehicle commander and driver, one on the right side, one on the left side, and a third one on the front.

The Breda Modello 1930 light machine gun was fed, as mentioned above, by a 20-rounds clip of 6.5 × 52 mm Mannlicher-Carcano rounds that guaranteed a practical firing rate of only 150 rounds per minute. The machine gun entered service in 1930 and 10,000 were produced until 1945. It proved unsuitable for the role of infantry support because of its weight, its mechanical unreliability and too much maintenance required to keep it effective.

The FIAT-Revelli Modello 1914/1935 medium machine gun, on the other hand, was a modification made between 1935 and 1940 to the stock of FIAT-Revelli Model 1914 6.5 × 52 mm water-cooled machine guns used with great success in World War I by the Regio Esercito.

Another photo of the rear of the same vehicle. The ladder to access the armored cargo bay and a gun barrel in a rear loophole are visible. Source: pinterest.com

The 1935 modifications included the removal of the water tank, barrel cover, barrel, and bolt, transforming the machine gun into an air-cooled weapon in the new and more powerful 8 × 59 mm RB Breda caliber.

Thanks to the belt feed of 50 or 100 rounds, the machine gun guaranteed a firing rate of 600 rounds per minute, a muzzle velocity of 750 m/s, and a practical range against targets of 700-1,000 meters.

Operational Use

In Yugoslavia

A Renault ADR during a patrol in a Dalmatian Village. Source: I Blindati di Circostanza della Guerra Civile – Paolo Crippa

After the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia from April 1941 on, the Italian garrison forces had at their disposal two armored units, the 1° Gruppo carri L “San Giusto” (Eng. 1st Light Tank Group) and the 2° Gruppo carri L “San Marco” (Eng. 2nd Light Tank Group). Both were equipped with 61 CV 33/35 tankettes. There was also a company of AB41 armored cars and another one composed of AB41 and L6/40 light tanks.

These were stationed in the city of Zadar. As the Yugoslav resistance movements began to extensively target garrisons, transport and supply convoys, rails systems, etcetera, the Italians began increasing the number of armored vehicles in Yugoslavia. Initially, these were just standard CV series light tanks. From 1942 onwards, several different types of armored trucks began to be a common appearance.

Due to the war and the loss of the occupied territories, many documents were destroyed or lost. Therefore, the numbers of Renault ADR Protetto used in Yugoslavia by the Royal Army and the number of Renault that were armored in the workshops of the Royal Army in Yugoslavia are still unknown.

The number of Renaults used in Yugoslavia should not exceed fifty units. The number of armored vehicles could vary from a minimum of 2-3 units to a probable realistic maximum of 10-15 units.

A group of Milizia Volontaria per la Sicurezza Nazionale of MVSN legionnaires aboard an armored Renault ADR during a partisan clean-up in a Yugoslav village in 1943. Source: pinterest.com

These trucks were used to patrol and protect various vital supply lines, act as convoy escorts, often used to transport documents or very important materials, reducing the number of men on board (but maintaining a more than the adequate defensive capacity to repel partisan attacks), directly supporting Italian units in combat against the Partisans, etcetera. They were mainly active in Italian-occupied territories like Slovenia and Croatia. Some Renault ADR Blindati armored trucks were also operated by the Italians in Yugoslavia. During 1942, these took part in the forced deportation of Yugoslavian civilians around the area of Gorskog Kotara and Slovenije to camps located in Italy. The use of ADR Blindato armored trucks after 1942 in Yugoslavia is unclear.

An Italian armored truck. From this angle, it is unclear whether it is a Bianchi Mediolanum or a Renault ADR. It has an armored cab and a shielded machine gun in Gerovu, Croatia, 1942. This vehicle, together with some FIAT 626s and at least one armored car, are being gathered for the operation of deporting civilians to camps in Italy. Source: beutepanzer.ru

Another important role that the armored trucks played was to transport officers of the Royal Italian Army safely from one garrison to another while on official visits, or to replace other officers.

Yugoslav partisan attacks were unpredictable and it would not have been safe for officers to travel in unprotected staff cars.

A group of Italian Royal Army Officers comes out of a Renault ADR Blindato. Source: pinterest.com

Use of Armored Trucks by Others in Yugoslavia

After the Italian capitulation, the Germans came into possession of most of the weapons and armored vehicles of its former ally, including armored trucks. The contingent of these armored trucks may have included some ADR vehicles, but it is not known precisely. One of the first uses of Italian armored trucks by the Germans was for anti-partisan operations in Slovenia during September 1943. These, together with other captured equipment, were usually distributed to various small garrisons. After 1943, the use of Italian-built armored trucks largely disappeared from this front, or they were operated in quite limited numbers.

The forces of the German puppet state of Croatia also managed to capture a number of Italian fighting vehicles, including some armored trucks. The Yugoslavian Partisans also captured and used some Italian armored trucks.

A Renault ADR Protetto loaded on a railway wagon. Source: pinterest.com

The use of ADR armored trucks by these warring parties is, sadly, unclear. The reasons for this are the general lack of sources, small number of built vehicles, lack of Partisan knowledge of enemy vehicle designations, and the general removal from service after late 1943. Authors Bojan B. D. and Dragan S. (Oklopne jedinice na Jugoslovenskom ratištu 1941-1945) give an indication that, while other types of armored trucks were used by the previously mentioned participants in Yugoslavia, the ADR was used only by the Italians.

Conclusion

Although produced in workshops and in very few examples, the Renault ADR, together with the few other Italian armored trucks, played a key role in escorting convoys and patrols, being able to supply the isolated Italian garrisons in Yugoslavia until September 8th, 1943. While these were built using civilian vehicles and improvised armor protection, due to the Partisans’ lack of proper anti-tank weapons, they offered some level of protection and also increased the offensive capabilities of the Italians that used them. Nevertheless, after the Italian capitulation, the use of such vehicles rapidly declined under the control of the Germans.

Renault ADR Blindato with a FIAT Mod. 14/35. Illustrations by the Glorious Yuvnashva Sharma funded by our Patreon Campaign.
Renault ADR Blindato specifications
Dimensions (L-W-H) 5.52 x 2.2 x ~2 m
Total weight, battle-ready Around 4 tones
Crew Driver, vehicle commander plus passengers
Propulsion Petrol 4-cylinder in line, 62 hp at 2,350 rpm
Speed Around 50 km/h
Range 250 km
Armament FIAT-Revelli Model 14/35 and personal weapons
Armor 10 mm
Number Built Unknown

Source

F. Cappellano and P. P. Battistelli (2018) Italian Armored and Reconnaissance Cars 1911-1945, New Vanguard
B. B. Dimitrijević and Dragan S.(2011) Oklopne jedinice na Jugoslovenskom ratištu 1941-1945, Institut za savremenu istoriju, Beograd.
D. Predoević (2008) Oklopna vozila i oklopne postrojbe u drugom svjetskom ratu u Hrvatskoj, Digital Point Tiskara
I Corazzati di Circostanza Italiani – Nico Sgarlato
I Blindati di Circostanza della Guerra Civile – Paolo Crippa