Autocarro Protetto AS37 was an armoured car based on the Fiat/Spa TL37 light artillery tractor. The vehicle was designated as an armoured personnel carrier, armoured ambulance, and it became a popular vehicle for commanding officers and their staff. A Centro Radio vehicle existed which carried two radio sets. Armament consisted of an 8 mm Breda M37 machine gun or a 20 mm Breda cannon. Autocarro Protetto AS37 saw active service in the desert war, and 44 of them were used for escort work in the Balkans.
Autocarro Protetto AS37 did not have firing ports which would have allowed the crew to fight from inside the vehicle. Troops engaging an enemy from the vehicle had to expose themselves to fire over the top edge of the compartment. The vehicle was later fitted with two trench shields on each side as additional crew protection. Like the Camionetta Sahariana, the Autocarro Protetto had huge tires, providing superior traction in sand or any other terrain. It is known that the British 8th Army in North Africa used captured Saharianas for patrol work, and is very likely that a captured Autocarro Protetto would have served its new owner equally well.
Any Autocarro Protetto remaining in Italy or the Balkans after the Italian armistice, 3rd of September 1943, may have been used by the Wehrmacht until 1945. Captured or confiscated Autocarro Protetto would have been re-painted during a lull in the fighting, using the captors camouflage schemes and markings. Unless adequate ammunition supplies for the Breda were captured as well, the vehicle would have to be equipped with a different machine gun eventually.
- Autocarro Protetto AS37
- Type: Wheeled APC
- Length: 4.95 m
- Width: 1.93 m
- Height: 2.15 m
- Weight: 5.6 t
- Armament: 8 mm Breda M37 MG
- Crew: Driver + 7 Men
- Production: Summer 1941–1942. 200 vehicles were built.
Excellent choice of subject, Italian armour is not readily available in this scale. The Autocarro Protetto AS37 is a unique vehicle. It is known that a number of them were confiscated, and used by the Wehrmacht during the Italian campaign. The Wehrmacht designation was "gepanzerter Mannschaftstransportwagen AS37 250 (i)".
Scale model with cast-on detail like rivets, hatches, and armour plating. Tools, fuel cans, and combat stowage scrounged from other kits may be used to add further detail.
Easy to assemble, only 20 parts. The model can be put together in 30 minutes or less.
The entire vehicle is cast in soft metal. The parts are much sturdier than resin parts, and they were very easy to remove from the sprue.
Assembly instructions are easy to follow, there is no danger of confusing the parts. However, the rear license plate should be attached to the left of the rear hatch, not the right as stated in section 7 of the manual. The rear light should be above the license plate.
Hull sides and chassis fit together very well. Gaps can be filled with glue or thick paint.
Good casting quality. Flash and mould lines were very easy to remove with a scalpel.
Cast in soft metal, containing lead. The vehicle is very heavy, considered an advantage by some, and a transportation problem by others.
There are three variants for the rear license plate, but it is not clear when the license plate changes occured historically.
The manual would have you attach the rear license plate incorrectly (section 7). The proper location is to the left of the rear hatch, with the light above the plate.
Decals are not included, and the cover photo does not show how to paint the markings which may have been used on the vehicle.
Crew figures are not included. Gunner and driver figures would have been valuable accessories. If the front vision slot is modelled in the open position, one would expect to see the driver inside. Interestingly, Italian soft vehicles, and armoured cars had right-hand steering, with a few exception, like the Bianchi staff car. Some tanks and assault guns had the driver on the left.
The manual mentions that some Autocarro Protetto AS37 were armed with a 20 mm Breda cannon, and it would have been a nice touch if the weapon had been included.
Without reference to a photo of the vehicle, it will be difficult to tell where the antenna should be mounted. The staff version of the Autocarro Protetto carried one antenna, and the radio vehicle would have had two.
The cover photo shows the Autocarro Protetto AS37 painted in a desert sand colour, but the instructions do not recommend any particular model paints. Modellers and wargamers will have to research the subject of Italian camouflage prior to painting the vehicle, particularly if it is to be used in the Balkans or Italy.
- Armoured Personnel Carrier
- Armoured Ambulance
- Italian Army, North Africa 1941 - May 1943
- Italian Army, Balkans 1942 – Sept. 1943
- Italian Army, Italy July 1943 - Sept. 1943
- British 8th Army, North Africa 1941 - May 1943 (captured use is probable)
- Gepanzerter Mannschaftstransportwagen AS37 250 (i), German Wehrmacht
- Panzerabteilung Adria, Italy Sept. 1943 - May 1945
- 373. (kroat.) Infanterie-Division, Sept. 1943 - May 1945
- Autocarro Protetto AS37 with Cannone-mitragliera da 20 mm L.65 Breda
- Autocarro Protetto AS37 APC with trench shields
- Command vehicle with radio, Italian Army
- Centro Radio with two radios, Italian Army
Autocarro Protetto AS37 was a successful wheeled armoured personnel carrier which later influenced similar designs like the Soviet BTR-40 and the British FV 1611. Anyone wargaming the Italian army is well advised to deploy a few of these vehicles in the APC, and Command/Radio role. The model is easy to build, and it looks good when painted. Further detailing with the usual combat stowage can turn the Autocarro Protetto AS37 into an exquisite model.