Yes I do restore Italian WWI helmets. Italian helmets are relatively complicated. When Italy when to war they ordered a large number of Adrian helmets from France. They were ordered to be painted a sea foam green color. I have seen several shades ranging from more of a gray color to a extremely dark green. From photos I have seen I think you're correct they also worn regualr French HB helmets too. Most of the Adrians the Italians ordered did not have the holes for the Insignias punched into the front. The Italians stenciled unit insignias onto the front instead of having a badge affixed. Starting sometime in 1916 the Italians started to produce their own Adrians. The difference between the French and Italian produced version is the Italian version is completely spot welded together, nothing including the comb is riveted. I own one of these and they are very different from the French version. If you have a Adrian you'd like restored shoot me a e-mail, email@example.com
Post by cplcampisi on May 12, 2009 14:35:25 GMT -8
Thanks for the response. Yes, if I ever happen to get a shell big enough I will contact you. My understanding is that the sea-foam green color was post-war, but I could be wrong. During the war they seemed to have used darker gray-green, or maybe even gray-olive colors. Of course there's a lot of variation, I've seen one late-war example that looks almost bottle green. Stenciling the regimental emblem on the helmet was not always done. I cannot detect any stencils on the helmets in pictures of Italians in France, for example. Often times a French helmet will still have the original blue on the inside of the helmet, but repainted gray-green on the outside.
The complicated situation is not helped by the fact that many of the Italian helmets remained in service into WW2 (usually in second line units, like AA batteries), and many were left in Spain. It's not uncommon to find an Italian Adrian, that's been modified to take a Spanish liner (I have a shell like this).
Italian Adrians were built a bit more like the M26 French Adrian, with the visor and crown stamped out of one piece, but still had the WW1 style clips. Finally, while the crest was welded, examples (again from Spain) can be found with riveted crests. This is believed to be a repair.
Tony, I do agree with you, Italian helmets are a mine field. I own one pretty nice original that does not seem to have been messed with post-war. The paint is dark semi-gloss green. I am currently reading a great book called White War about the Italian campaign. Its a pretty decent history about the Italian campaign. The impression I get it the Italians always had supply problems. Knowing this it would make sense that Italian helmet would be painted a wide variety of shade. This would have been the result of a supply starved army that would have used whatever paint was available too them. You see the same thing with German and Austrian helmets.
Just to muddy the waters, AH forces captured a huge quantity of Italian helmets during the 12th Battle of the Isonzo (Caporetto); while it was obviously not a good idea to issue the captured helmets to front line units, thousands of Italian Adrians were painted in AH colors (various shades of grey, green and brown) and issued to AA batteries, torpedo boat crews and used for training stosstruppen.
Gef. Otto Stricker (Larry Dunn) II Baon. MG Komp., K.u.K IR 61 "Ritter von Frank"
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