Mechanical Mules and Infantry Servers for Italian armed forces


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9 September 2008
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Hi friends,
trying to give some order in my archives I found e potential topic for this forum, related to lesser known light multi-purpose vehicles for Italian armed forces.
The first I found was not secret nor only prototype as it served with several Stormi or Aerobrigate (corresponding to the US Wings) of Aeronautica Militare (italian air force) but I never found it treated in any publication and I found only the two very poor photographs I enclose, snapped during a firing exercise in 1959.
The vehicle was used only by the units equipped with FIAT G.91R light fighter-bombers as the aircraft winner of the NATO requirement NBMR-1 was conceived as a complet weapons and logistic system. This vehicle was a small platform truck similar to the US Willys XM443E1, built in 1959 and remained experimental. The FIAT counterpart was used to carry the machine-gun packs of G.91R (two Colt-Browning .50 each and two packs, i. e. four guns, for every aircraft), 127 mm HVAR unguided air-to-ground rockets, and M64A1 522 lbs/237 kg bombs.
A similar concept (also by FIAT) was shown in 1972, together with several other new vehicles for Esercito Italiano (Italian Army).
The vehicle, similar to the two above mentioned, was called Rifornitore Tattico 4x4 (tactical provider) and then someone said that in case of service would be called CL.72 (Autocarro Leggero 1972) and, as far as I know, never entered in regular service (or, at least, never in numbers of any significance). This small vehicle had a 4-cylinder gasoline engine, rated at 40 HP at 4,600 rpm, five-speed forward and one rear gearbox and a speed from 2 to 70 kmh for a weight of 1,375 kg and a range of 685 km. Doing more in-depth reasearch I found that the vehcile was called FIAT 6615 or Tipo 11 (perhaps X-11?); the body was built by NSU-FIAT in Germany and the engine, on the first prototype, was an experimental FIAT 123 oil-cooled three-cylinder (I never heard of), replaced on the subsequent examples by FIAT 116 (1.3 liters) or 103 (1.1 liters).
Another light vehicle publicly displaied in 1972 was the Piaggo 4x2 Mechanical Mule for paratroops, in the same class of the DAF Pony, Willys M274 Mechanical Mule or the Faun/ZU Kraka (the last type, in fact, was also bought by Italian Army for evaluation by the paratroop brigade and production licence was bought by MV Agusta). The Piaggio model was a 4x2 with a motorcycle 10 HP engine similar to the one of the three-wheeled Ape. The vehicle weighed 325 kg and could be airdropped from C-130H Hercules and CH-47C Chinook; its range speed was 2-36 km/h.
The last vehicle of that class was built by CSEM (the tecnical center of the general office for vehicles and fuels of Italian Army) itself and was a small mechanical mule for mountain troops with an engine rated at 10 HP (3,000 rpm), a 200 kg payload, and a max speed of 8 km/h. That project was subject of an order for 35 productions vehicles.
As information about those vhicles are not easy to find, I hope you enjoy it


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I'm again there:
adding on to my last post, I found that ing. Dante Giacosa, at the time chief-engineer at FIAT's Advanced Engineering Office, started in 1959 researching the theme of the mechanical mule (calling it Muletto, little mule). He designed and built the prototype Tipo 1120, with a 23 HP engine (the same of the 500 Giardiniera), with four-wheel drive and a max speed of 80 km/h. A further prototype, built after 1960, was the 1121 with a 1,000 ccm engine rated at 36 HP.
I think the FIAT Tipo 1121 was the prototype of the model described in my previous post.


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