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Lancia 1Z

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early 1Z, three guns, photo from 1918

One of Lancia’s early military vehicles was the 1Z Autoblinda. . Its history has been somewhat obscure. What was it, when was it made, and what was unique about it? Its seems the Autoblinda 1Z was based on the Lancia 1Z truck,  c. 1915. It had a Theta engine and chassis and was bodied by Ansaldo in Genova. Its never been quite clear how many were made, but a visit to Wiki (France) gives a lot of information, with the  following translated and edited largely from their site. It says that the 1Z was used into the late 1930s, and there is a picture on the web of one as 1943. For what its worth, the information looks good, and might even be true. So here we go…..

1Z in WWI – Battle of Vittorio Veneto

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History

After the Italian-Turkish war of 1910, during the short period of neutrality before the outbreak of the First World War, in 1914 Regio Esercito commissioned Ansaldo to study an armored vehicle, a major novelty in the the time when the infantrymen were still attacking enemy troops with only one rifle in their hands. The engineer Guido Corni, an expert in mechanics and metallurgy at Ansaldo, presented a project based on the chassis of the Lancia 35 HP (ed. note: the Theta was a 35HP chassis) as the basis for the truck “1Z”.

Prototype

The Ansaldo Lancia 1Z prototype, consisting of two superimposed turrets armed with “Maxim 1906” 6.8 mm machine guns, was presented to the Italian military authorities on April 17, 1915. After conclusive tests on May 7, the Regio Esercito – King’s Army from Italy – placed an order of 20, which differs slightly from the prototype at the bonnet. The originality of this vehicle lay in its two superimposed turrets, which can turn in a single block or separately. The lower turret or dome had two machine guns and the upper one the third.

1Z in WWI – Battle of Vittorio Veneto, note the two gun turret

Production

The first Lancia 1Z armored car was delivered to General Cadorna in August 1915 in Udine, the remaining 19 following in the spring of 1916. Three squadrons of these armored carriages were formally established in July 1916. The judgments issued at the time were positive about motorization and protection, but regretted difficulties to back down (reverse?). The vehicle also seemed heavy and cumbersome. This defect was solved later with Fiat 611 model. A second batch of 17 units was ordered in March 1917, differentiated by replacing the front wheel shielding by simple mudguards and the addition of a front radiator protection. This order brought to 37 the number of copies of the first series delivered in 1917.

At Les Portes de Màlaga c. 1937

The version Lancia 1ZM

After the initial period of real use on the front, Italy already having entered the war in 1915, the vehicle appeared to be too unbalanced because of its height. It is then decided to have only one turret and to place the 3rd machine gun at the bow of the vehicle. This is how the second series of the Lancia armored car was developed, and some gave it the name of 1ZM. In order to improve its firepower, it was also decided to replace Maxim’s 6.8mm machine guns with St Etienne 907F 8mm machine guns. This choice was particularly unfortunate, the French weapons having a tendency to jam, which could only create problems. Moreover, they could not work when the vehicle was moving, and were quickly replaced by Fiat-Revelli M 1914, much more reliable.

(From another Wiki site, we have more information on the second series:
The Lancia 1ZM was the second batch of Ansaldo-Lancia armoured cars built. 110 cars of the improved model were ordered in 1917 and all were delivered before the end of 1918. Sometimes difficult to identify from the original Lancia 1Z (“Model 1916”), the most obvious difference is the removal of the top machine gun turret. This left the 1ZM with just the one larger, twin machine gun turret. Other features that will help are that the first 1ZM’s usually have two spare tyres mounted on the right side of the vehicle (on the 1Z they were under the rear). The cooling vents and front armour of the engine compartment are slightly different and there are fewer vision ports in the armoured crew compartment. The front bumpers were also simplified. However, some of the original 1Z series were modified to initial 1ZM standard by the removal of the extra top turret and up-dating the chassis. This makes it possible to find photos of 1ZM armoured cars with both 1Z and 1ZM features. American troops on the Italian Front during World War I trained with and used some of these vehicles.” )

Returning to the French Wiki:

35 “Lancia 1Z” of the third series, were first ordered in November 1917, but then increased to 100 copies in January 1918. This version had only one turret armed with two 8mm machine guns. The third weapon fired through a rectangular opening at the rear. A total of 113 copies of the “Lancia 1ZM” 3rd series model were produced. During the 1920s, the Lancia 1Z machine guns were all replaced by Fiat mod.14 of 6.5mm. In 1935, the replacement of the original wheels with wheels with low pressure tires began for the colonial models.

from German army files, 1Z in 1943

The version Lancia 1Z colonial

The Fiat-Revelli M 1914 machine guns had water cooling, which was a problem in the hot desert regions. For this reason, all the armored carriages for the Italian colonies of East Africa were equipped with air-cooled 8mm Fiat-Revelli M 1935 machine guns. The copy given to Afghanistan was equipped with air-cooled SIAM 1918 light machine guns.

Technical sheet

  • Length: 5.40 m
  • Width: 1.80 m
  • Height: 2.40 m
  • Engine: Lancia 1Z, 4 cylinders of 4 960 cm³, developing 60 hp
  • Mass: 5.4 tons
  • Crew: 6
  • Maximum speed: 70 km / h on the road
  • Autonomy: 200 km
  • Protection: 6.5 mm
  • Weaponry: three Fiat mod.14 6.5 mm machine guns (15,000 rounds)
  • Note: A special version was made to order for the Austrian army with Schwarzelose machine guns, the exact number unknown.
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So…. if the articles are to be believed, we have the following production numbers for a total of 260 examples:

  • 20 of the first series  1915-1916
  • 17 of the first series 1917
  • 110 of the second series, 1917-1918
  • 113 third series, 1918

Written by Geoff

February 11, 2018 at 5:44 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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