Unusual Italian army truck of the Second World War with a touching name SPA

In 1906 two Italians, Matteo Cheyrano and Michele Ansaldi, founded the machine building company SPA in Turin. It was deciphered as Societa Piemontese Automobili Ansaldi-Ceirano (ie Piedmont Automobile Society Ansaldi-Cheyrano).

They started with the production of aircraft engines, and in 1910 engaged in army trucks with chain drive, developed with the participation of FIAT. These machines quickly became popular. They fought in Libya in 1912, in the First World War and even in the Civil War in Russia.

Brutal, heavy, powerful. A stylish tractor, or Italian off-road car of the Second World War. On the side it looks like a creeping bear. Large tractor wheels reinforce the image of the impregnable beast. In the homeland of Michelangelo Buonarroti they know a lot about architectural craft. And they thought of everything to the smallest detail both in the exterior appearance of the car and in its interior space. Holders for weapons, many boxes for equipment – all for the convenience of fighters, but the winch from behind – apparently only for aesthetics. It was created for the Italian royal army, which was under the dictatorship of Mussolini.

At the end of the 30s, in the competition for the best design of a light artillery tractor (up to 6 tons), commissioned by the Italian Defense Ministry, between the automotive concern Fiat represented by the subsidiary company SPA (Societa Piemonese Automibili) and the arms manufacturer Breda (full name Breda Meccanica Bresciana) choose the first. Established in 1906, the SPA company entered Fiat in 1925 and was used as a division of the parent company for the production of commercial and military vehicles until 1947, when the SPA fully integrates under the wing of the Fiat automotive concern.

In 1938, the first car of the SPA TL37 came off the assembly line of the plant. It was designed by the engineer Emilio Martinotti (Emilio Martinotti), which predetermined the main constructive and stylistic principles of many subsequent military vehicles of the brand SPA. On the basis of the TL37 tractor the SPA AS37 and armored cars were also built: SPA S37 (Autoprotetto) and SPA AS43.

And that’s what’s unusual about this truck – it’s an X-shaped transmission. 4 diagonal shafts with wheel reducers. Elegant design solution, blasting the brain for mechanics and repairmen. But that’s not all: the tractor did not have a starter, the engine plant only from the handle.

On the diagram it is clearly visible – to the right and to the left of the checkpoint there are two two-step “distributions”, from which each wheel has a separate propeller shaft. This scheme allows you to create a machine with a gigantic ground clearance, independent suspension and complete blocking of the transmission off-road. Developed such a scheme drive a talented Italian engineer Hugo Pavesi. This distribution scheme did not receive, apparently, due to complexity, mass and high cost. It’s a pity! However, another invention of Pavezi – the scheme and the mechanism of turning the articulated-articulated frame is still used today, on tractors, cross-country vehicles and other special equipment.

The tractor was widely supplied to the Eastern Front, but it did not profit much. Any Italian technique was simply not designed to work in winter conditions. General Frost did his job. The Italian campaign against Russia ended sadly and ingloriously, almost unnoticed.

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