Italian M16

Italian soldiers assembling for the Battle of Vittorio Veneto October 1918

General Information: Initially, the Italians used French Model 1915 Adrian helmets imported from France. Starting in 1916, they produced a domestic version of the Adrian helmets. These were referred to in official documents as the Modello Lippman helmets after their designer.[1] The Lippmann helmet improved on the original French Adrian in several ways. It was made of two main pieces rather than four and the components were welded rather than riveted together. The steel alloy was stronger in the M15s. This combination of features made it more resistant to bullets and shrapnel than its French counterpart. Most typically, they were made with black oil cloth material from one piece of cloth, or alternatively, a band with seven tongues sewn to the band. Rarely, the liners were made from brown oil cloth or leather like the leather liners of the French 15s.

Displayed Example: I acquired this helmet in a trade with a collector friend who specializes in Italian and Austrian militaria from the First World War. I was looking for a generic, unmarked, un-stenciled helmet and he traded one like that in his collection for one that I had with artillery regiment and officer rank markings. The helmet is a size B1, which, like the French helmets, corresponds to a medium. It has a very subtle, very nicely done repair to the chinstrap which broke at one point.

Collector Notes: A good quality, complete Italian M16 helmet in its original First World War configuration is a surprisingly difficult thing to find. Ones without stencils or badges are actually harder to find than ones with these features. It took me a long time to find one with which I was satisfied. The post-war versions of the M16, sometimes called the Modello 1920, on the other hand, are fairly easy to find and are relatively inexpensive. What’s the difference? The M16s were painted dark green whereas the M20s were painted light green. The earlier helmets always had brown chinstraps and the post-war ones had grey/green chinstraps. The M20 sometimes had rivets holding the crest to the shell. Finally, the post-WWI helmets had light brown leather liners with dark green or grey wool or cotton material between the liner and the shell. This feature can be spotted readily in the M20s because the cloth material is usually visible at the point where it is stitched to the leather.[2]

[1] Marzetti 2003. pp217.

[2] Rubiola. 2011.

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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