Italian Tanks of World War 1
Italy's war effort was primarily focused against the Austrian Empire, on the relatively narrow front running from the region around Venice to the Alps in the North. Except for the plains of the Veneto region, most of the Italian front was too mountainous for mechanized warfare. Italian and Austrian troops faced each other across mountain valleys and on high cliffs.
Nevertheless Italy's Fiat automobile company began work on developing an indigenously produced Italian tank, the Fiat 2000. This heavy tank, weighing over 40 tons, sported a top mounted main battle gun as well as smaller guns and machine guns on the sides, front and rear.
Italian Heavy Tank, 1917 - The Fiat 2000
Two Fiat 2000 tanks were produced before the end of the war, and a total of only 6 were ever built. It was manned by a crew of ten, and featured innovations such as skirt armor to protect the tanks' tracks, full range of fire from its multiple turrets, and very thick armor.By all accounts the tank was impressively built and performed well. However the Italian Army, often mired in out dated tactics and poorly led, failed to appreciate the merits of this tank. For the most part the war between Italy and the Austro Hungarian Empire was decided by infantry and artillery battles. Tanks played no real role in the fighting on this front.
Front View of the Italian Fiat 2000 Tank
The Italians did make use of armored cars, notably the Lancia IZ/IZM, which was built on a truck chassis and mounted two machine guns on a double turret. Later models had only one turret mounted machine gun. Just over a hundred of these vehicles saw service against the Austrians. After the war, they were used by Italy in its African possessions and a few of these vehicles were still in service during World War 2.