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132 Armoured Division Ariete: Wikis


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132^ Divisione (later Brigata) Corazzata "Ariete"
132 Armoured Division "Ariete"
CoA mil ITA b cor Ariete.jpg
Italian 132^Armored Division/Brigade "Ariete" Shoulder Insignia
Active February 1, 1939 – December 8, 1942
April 1, 1943 – October 1, 1986 (132^Armored Division)
October 1, 1986 – present (132^Armored Brigade)
Country Italy Kingdom of Italy (1939 - 1946)
 Italy (1946 - present)
Branch Italian Army
Type Armoured
Size Division, later Brigade
Garrison/HQ Pordenone, Pietro Mittica Barraks
Nickname Ariete (Ram)
Motto "ferrea mole, ferreo cuore"
Colors blue and red
Mascot Ram Head
Engagements World War II
IBIS in Somalia
Constant Forge in Bosnia (SFOR)
Joint Guardian and Consistent Effort in Kosovo (KFOR)
ISAF in Afghanistan
Antica Babilonia in Iraq
Brig.Gen. Carmelo De Cicco
Pietro Giannattasio
Gian Marco Chiarini
Roberto Ranucci
Paolo Ruggiero
Coat of Arms 4th Tank Regiment
Coat of Arms 32nd Tank Regiment
Coat of Arms 132nd Tank Regiment
Coat of Arms 11th Bersaglieri Regiment
Coat of Arms 132nd Artillery Regiment
Coat of Arms 10th Combat Engineer Regiment
Coat of Arms “Ariete” Logistic Battalion

The Ariete Armoured Division was an armoured division of the Italian Army during World War II. It was formed in 1939 as the second armoured division in the Italian Army after the 131 Armoured Division Centauro. The division fought in North Africa until being destroyed during the Second Battle of El Alamein.


World War II



The 132 Armoured Division Ariete was formed in Milan in February 1939, it was initially made up of the 8th Bersaglieri motorised infantry regiment, the 32nd tank regiment, equipped with L3/35 light tanks and a few M11/39 medium tanks, the 132nd artillery regiment, and additional divisional support units. The division was moved to the French border at the outbreak of World War II, but was kept in reserve during the short campaign on that front.


Later, some battalions of the 32nd Tank Regiment were sent to Libya on a stop gap basis. The I and II M11/39 medium tank battalions were sent as part of the Maletti Group. The III and V M13/40 medium tank battalions become part of the Special Armored Brigade (Brigata Corazzata Speciale, or BCS). Both the Maletti Group and the BCS were part of the ill-fated 10th Army.

Operation Compass

From December 1940 to February 1941, during Operation Compass, the British Western Desert Force overran the 10th Army and occupied the whole of Cyrenaica. The tanks of the Maletti Group were lost in Egypt, while the tanks of the BCS were sacrificed during the break out attempt at Beda Fomm.
After this setback it was decided to employ the whole Ariete Division in North Africa. On 24 January 1941, the first echelons of the division disembarked at Tripoli. From February 1941 to November 1942, the Ariete Division fought alongside the German Africa Corps (Deutsches Afrikakorps, or DAK) in the North Africa campaign. Ariete was attached to the Italian Mobile Corps (Corpo d'Armata di Manovra Italia). This unit was later to become Italian XX Motorised Corps.

Siege of Tobruk

In particular, reinforced in 1941 with the 132nd Tank Regiment, which would replace the 32nd Tank Regiment, (disbanded in mid-1942), it took part in the first German – Italian counteroffensive to retake Cyrenaica, and the siege of Tobruk which resulted from this. With this regiment, its battalions equipped with M13/40 and/or M14/41 medium tanks the division fought in the desert of Libya and Egypt during 1941.

During Operation Crusader, the division very successfully defended Bir el Gobi against the British 22nd Armoured Brigade, inflicting heavy losses on the inexperienced British forces. Later the division supported the attack on the 2nd New Zealand Division outside Tobruk. During this battle, the Ariete and supporting Italian infantry units were responsible for capturing a considerable number of New Zealand and British troops during the Italo-German counterattacks on November and December 1941. Recalling the loss of the 21st New Zealand Infantry Battalion, Lieutenant-Colonel Howard Kippenberger, who later rose to command the 2nd New Zealand Division, wrote that, "About 5.30 p.m. damned Italian Motorized Division (Ariete) turned up. They passed with five tanks leading, twenty following, and a huge column of transport and guns, and rolled straight over our infantry on Point 175."[1] When the battle led to the retreat of the Axis forces, Ariete was involved in attacks on the pursuing Commonwealth forces in the Gazala line, before retreating through the Djebel towards el Agheila. By this time the division had lost almost all its tanks.

Reinforced again with replacement tanks and M40 75/18mm semoventi assault guns in the V and VI battalions of the 132nd Artillery Regiment, it took part in the second counteroffensive of January 1942, the Gazala battles of May 1942, and the invasion of Egypt that followed.

El Alamein

During the initial phase of the First Battle of El Alamein the Ariete, which had just six or eight tanks and 1,000 men, having just arrived in the positions assigned to it at dawn on the 3rd July 1942 and due to the disorganization caused by enemy air attacks, had been compelled to withdraw after losing 531 men, several artillery batteries and a number of tanks. Reports of the division having been decimated with the loss of 100 tanks were greatly exaggerated.[2]

During the last of these battles it sacrificed its obsolete tanks in the attempt to counter the Allied offensive and cover the withdrawal of the army. On 4 November at about 15:30, the few surviving tanks, surrounded by an overwhelmingly superior enemy, broadcast their last message, quoting:

Enemy tanks broke through South of Ariete Division. Ariete thus surrounded, located 5 kilometers north east of Bir-el-Abd. Ariete tanks keep on fighting!

Then they were destroyed to the last tank.

135 Ariete II Armoured Cavalry Division

On 21 November 1942, the division was disbanded, and its name kept by a task force gathering up its remnants, which kept fighting throughout the retreat and subsequent battle of Tunisia. It was forced to surrender along with the rest of the Axis army in North Africa.
On 1 April 1943, as a tribute it was reconstituted as 135 Ariete II Armoured Cavalry Division, made up of cavalry regiments. The division was located in north eastern Italy, with the following order of battle;

  • "Montebello lancers" Armoured Reconnaissance Group
  • "Vittorio Emanuele II’s Lancers" Armoured Cavalry Regiment
  • "Lucca light horse" Motorised Cavalry Regiment
  • 135th Artillery Regiment
  • 235th semoventi artillery Regiment
  • antitank battalion, equipped with 75/34mm semoventi
  • minor divisional support units

It comprised the following armoured fighting vehicles:

for a total of 247 tank and semoventi plus 50 armoured car.

The division was moved to central Italy following the fall of Mussolini's government and took part to the defence of Rome from 8 to 10 September 1943, counter attacking German Panzergrenadiers and Paratroopers. Because the Headquarters decided to avoid unnecessary sacrifices and losses, the division was ordered to surrender and was then disbanded.

Post World War II

In 1948, it was once again reconstituted at Forte Pietralata in Rome as a brigade, and displayed in Pordenone on 25 July 1949. On 1 October 1952, the brigade was expanded back to division level, formed with the same regiments as the African campaign:

  • 8th Bersaglieri Regiment
  • 132nd Tank Regiment
  • 132nd Artillery Regiment

its establishment was completed by

  • 19th Reconnaissance Cavalry Squadron
  • Pioneers Engineers Battalion
  • Signals Battalion

Cold War

In 1963, Ariete adapted its organization to NATO standards, with the reconstitution of 32nd Armored Regiment later transforming its regiments into brigades (two armoured brigades, one mechanized brigade, one artillery brigade). In September 1968, Brigade HQs were disbanded.

In 1975, following the reorganization of Italian Army, Ariete was reorganized, incorporating the 32nd "Mameli" and 132nd "Manin" Armored Brigades and the 8th "Garibaldi" Mechanized Brigade. It kept this structure until 10 October 1986, when it was downsized to a brigade, its name being taken over by former 132nd "Manin" Armoured Brigade.

In peacetime, during years 1966 – 1976 – 1980 – 1994 – 1998, Ariete units assisted civilians hit by natural disasters (Vajont, Friuli, Irpinia, Piedmont, Campania), earning several awards. During the same period, some of its units took part in peacekeeping support operations in Lebanon and Somalia, and to domestic support and border control operations. On further modification to its task organization, Ariete acquired its current configuration. 132nd Ariete Armoured Brigade is an active member of Italian Army Reaction Forces; it belongs to 1st Operational Command from Vittorio Veneto, and it is attached to 3rd (UK) Division as a part of ACE Rapid Reaction Corps.

Recently, the Brigade's HQ, HQ & Tactical Support Battalion and Combat Service Support Battalion finished a tour of duty in Sarajevo (Bosnia and Herzegovina – 1998), under the provision of the SFOR mandate for Operation Constant Forge, and three times in Kosovo (1999 – 2000, 2001, 2002) in Operation Joint Guardian, then Operation Consistent Effort, attached to NATO's Kosovo Force.

In 2001, the first enlisted women joined the ranks of some brigade units.

In 2002, elements from 10th Combat Engineer Regiment, and in 2004 the 132nd Artillery Regt, took part to Operation Isaf in Afghanistan. A significant part of the brigade was twice deployed to Iraq in early 2004 and late 2005 to early 2006. The latest overseas commitment started in early October 2007 and is due to last until Spring 2008.

Present day

The Ariete Brigade is one of the major formations of the Italian Army. Its headquarters is located in Pordenone, and the present commander is Brigadier General Carmelo DI CICCO.

Today, the brigade is composed of:

  • CoA mil ITA b cor Ariete.jpg "Ariete" Brigade Headquarters (Pordenone)
  • "Ariete" Headquarters & Tactical Support unit - battalion level (Pordenone)
  • CoA mil ITA rgt carri 004.png 4th Tank Regiment (Bellinzago Novarese)
  • CoA mil ITA rgt carri 032.png 32nd Tank Regiment (Tauriano)
  • CoA mil ITA rgt carri 132.png 132nd Tank Regiment (Cordenons)
  • CoA mil ITA rgt bersaglieri 11.png 11th Bersaglieri Regiment (Orcenigo Superiore)
  • CoA mil ITA rgt artiglieria 132.png 132nd Artillery Regiment (Maniago)
  • CoA mil ITA rgt genio 10.png 10th Combat Engineer Regiment (Cremona)
  • CoA mil ITA btg logistico ariete.png "Ariete" Logistic Battalion (Maniago)

All regiments are battalion sized.


A proposal was made on the Italian Army Magazine to reform the tank regiments, to be equipped with 30x Ariete main battle tanks, 14x Dardo Infantry Fighting Vehicles, 8x Dardo Anti-tank vehicles, 34x Lince Light Multirole vehicles, 6x M106A1 120mm Mortar carriers and 4x M577 Command vehicles. The Bersaglieri regiments were similarly proposed to be fielding 14x Ariete main battle tanks, 28x Dardo Infantry Fighting Vehicles, 8x Dardo Anti-tank vehicles, 41x Lince Light Multirole vehicles, 8x M106A1 120mm Mortar carriers and 4x M577 Command vehicles.[3] However, at the moment, no step have been yet undertaken to implement the aforementioned reform, but the handing over of a number of ARIETE tanks to re-equip GARIBALDI Brigade's 131st tank regiment. The artillery regiment has recently started to be equipped with 18x PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers (delivery ongoing).


  1. ^ Kippenberger (1949), p. 101
  2. ^ Aldea, David. "First Battle of El Alamein". Commando Supremo: Italy at War website. Archived from the original on 2009-04-29. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  3. ^ Rivista Militare n.06/07 -


  • Ian W. Walker, Iron Hulls, Iron Hearts; Mussolini's Elite Armoured Divisions in North Africa, 2006 ISBN 1-86126-646-4

External links


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