CV-35 Light Tank – 3D Model – Part 1

The Carro Veloce CV-35 (CV-35, L3/35) was an Italian tank (tankette) that was produced and saw combat prior to and during World War II. It was, and still is, Italy’s most produced tank (upwards of 2,500 built). The CV-35 was a two-man tank – one gunner and one driver. Throughout its combat use the CV-35 was surpassed by nearly all other armour it encountered. Despite early failures, it still saw widespread use until even after World War II. The CV-35 was used by a number of different forces, not just the Italians – e.g. following the Armistice of 1943, numerous CV-35s were seized by the Germans. Decades later, a nearly intact CV-35 was found by US forces in Iraq during “Operation Iraqi Freedom” (presumably one of 16-20 sold to the Kingdom of Iraq prior to WWII). For more information on the tank, you can find Wikipedia’s entry here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L3/35.

The intention behind creating this model was to have it included in a video game, in particular the award-winning Battlefield 2 mod “Forgotten Hope 2.” The other (larger) purpose is to make available the necessary vehicles that would have been used during the Italian East Africa campaign – an often neglected area of World War II (certainly in terms of video game coverage).

The tank was modeled primarily with Autodesk 3ds Max 2013 (NB: screenshots of the wireframe show parts of the 3ds Max interface). The renders here were all done with Maxwell Render.

The first step in creating the model was to gather reference images (a collage of some of those is below). One issue that I encountered right away was the variation amongst CV-35s – differences in vision slits, hinge types, muffler types, differences amongst nominally identical gun models, and so on. The model that I made has what is (in my understanding) the most common of each separate variation. In fact, I have images of one tank that exhibits all of the represented features, so I will consider my model historically accurate on that basis. Generally speaking though, all the CV-35s that I’ve come across are roughly similar to each other (ignoring sub-types, of course).

Reference image collage. This is a sampling of the roughly 140 reference images collected.

Reference image collage. This is a sampling of the roughly 140 reference images collected.

Being a model destined to be used in the Refractor 2 game engine (which is now ten years old), there were certainly polycount limits to observe (both due to the engine but also general requirements set out by the mod developers). In the case of vehicles, the advised limit was 10,000 polys or less. My initial model (front and back renders below) had about 25,000 polys – these were mostly in the parts with curves (e.g. wheels, muffler). The hull itself (everything but the wheels, tracks, and suspension) was just over 9,700 polys. Once the wheels, mufflers, gun barrels, and so forth were optimized, the total poly count went below 6,500. The tracks, as shown here, were done fairly quickly, and as such don’t quite fit the tank properly (the ones below are the non-optimized ones). In the Refractor 2 engine, the tracks are fairly low poly (and are actually static).

The initial model of the CV-35 - front 3/4 view.

The initial model of the CV-35 – front 3/4 view.

The initial model of the CV-35 - back 3/4 view.

The initial model of the CV-35 – back 3/4 view.

Having received input on the initial model, and its optimized form, I added a few details in (with the spare polys that I found myself with). I also altered a few parts (e.g. the gun barrels and turret).

Current model without wheels or suspension.

Current model without wheels or suspension.

Wireframe of the current version of the model.

Wireframe of the current version of the model.

Suspension detail.

Suspension detail.

The next step for this model is to do the UV unwrap and then the texturing. The import into the game is done by someone else on the FH2 development team.

Future work would entail modifications to the model for the anti-tank variant/sub-type (with the 20mm Solothurn S18-1000), one of the flamethrower variants (CV-35 LF with the over-engine fuel tank), and the command tank variant.

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