Italian M15

Helen Johns Kirtland with Italian soldiers near Piave River, Italy*

General Information: The first steel helmet widely distributed to Italian soldiers was the French Model 1915. Deliveries of these helmets began in the fall of 1915 and were the standard type painted blue with French infantry badges.  Subsequently, the French produced for export to Italy helmets without badges or badge holes. The earliest versions of the Italian export helmets were blue, but later the shift was made to green.[1]

Displayed Example: It took me a while to land a good, green painted Italian M15 that was not modified post-war. I asked an Italian collector friend to keep an eye out for one of these. Since I was only going to have one example of this model in my collection, I was aiming to find one without a black unit stencil on the front to represent the type. This criterion made the search a bit more challenging because unmarked Italian First World War helmets are actually scarcer than marked helmets. Eventually, a friend of this Italian collector offered up this one, and I bought it. The helmet is a size B and is stamped on the interior “59,” which is the head size in centimeters. There is a faint inspection stamp on the interior as well. The chinstrap was broken and has been nicely repaired.

Collector Notes: An Italian M15 in its original World War One configuration is more difficult to acquire on than you might expect. Most of these were reworked in the 1920s, and many ended up being sent to Spain for use by the Spanish Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War. The WWI vintage green painted helmets are highly prized by collectors, particularly in Italy. The blue painted ones, while scarcer, have a little less cachet among collectors. Everybody wants an iconic, typical, green painted one.

* “Photograph shows American photographer Helen Johns Kirtland conversing with soldiers outdoors; one soldier holds newspaper La Tribuna Illustrata.” Forms part of: Helen Johns Kirtland and Lucian Swift Kirtland photographs of World War I in Europe (Library of Congress). Created/Published October 1918. Library of Congress Control Number 2016652127. Reproduction Number. LC-DIG-ppmsca-50596. Accessed 4/16/2022.

[1] Haselgrove. 2006. pp 541

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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