When Italy went to war in June 1940, its tanks were inferior to practically anything the British or Germans had. The Carro Armato M13/40, when introduced in October 1940, didn't change this. Although it was clearly a better tank than its predecessor the M11/39, it was poorly armoured, quickly caught fire when hit and usually had no radio. Nevertheless, over 700 M13/40s were shipped to North Africa to fight the British. Despite all its shortcomings the only major differences between the M13/40 and its successor, the M14/41, wre the engine and frontal armour. More than 2000 M14/41s were produced during the war.
During Operation Compass a lot of M13/40s were captured by the allies and because of the lack of armour in fighting shape on the allied side, they were pressed into service with British tank batallions. When the Germans advanced back into Libya in early 1941 many allied M13/40s ended up with the Australians in Tobruk. Some of these tanks had kangaroos painted on them to identify them as Australian.