AS-42 Scout-car “Sahariana”
To counter the British LRDG’S (Long Range Desert Group) deadly raids behind the axis troops in North Africa, in 1941 the Italian army’s general staff deemed it necessary to set-up a sturdt, fast, well armed vehicle apt to operate in the vast Sahara desert.
To satisfy this requirement, Viberti coach builder, by fitting a rustic, open body on the excellent AB-41 chassis, realised in 1942 a peculiar, dedicated vehicle which would become the most modern and efficient scout-car deployed in North Africa for desert operations: the A.S. 42 “Sahariana”.
It was an unroofed, rear engined, spacious car displaying 4 large diameter wheels; 1 spare wheel was enveloped in the roundish, sloped hull front. The integral side-walls, between front and back wheels, were completely masked by petrol cans arranged in two rows of 5 on each side; 2 water cans were also placed on each front fender and 2 steel plates, utilised as a solid base for the wheels when they got stuck in muddy or sandy terrains, were hanging on the rear fenders sides.
Apart from the emplacement of the driver’s seat (in between the front wheels housing), the remaining space on board was dedicated to the crew (up to 6 soldiers) and/or the armament. When in action, both the reclining windscreen and the lamps were usually masked to avoid sun reflection.
The heavy armament could alternatively consist in:
a semiautomatic gun 47 mm/32 cal. Ansaldo (the same fitted in the M13/40 tank);
a anti-tank 20 mm Solothurn S-18;
a 20 mm/65 cal. Mod. 41 Breda 4.
The light armament consisted of 3 38 mm Breda M.G.S.
A variant named “Metropolitana” or “Sahariana II”, completed at the end of the African campaign, was deployed in Italy and in other European theatres of war; some were in service with the mobile units of the Italian police after the war. It differed very slightly from the basic model: the most visible modifications consisted in the replacement of the upper row of cans by 1 long container on each side-wall and in the utilisation of a new type of reinforced tyres.
Despite of the small number of units produced (about 300) the A.S.42 was a successful vehicle, very much appreciated by the crews.
Max speed: 80 km/h