Italian M42 Paratrooper

RSI-APAR paratroops in training. Summer 1944*

General Information: The Italian Model 1942 helmet replaced the limited-production Model 1941 and was the main helmet used by Italian paratroopers during the Second World War.

Displayed Example: I acquired this helmet in a trade with a Canadian collector friend. He in turn, found this in a flea market in Ottawa. It is named to Second Lieutenant (“Sottotenente” abbreviated as “S. Ten.”) Antonio Canella. S. Ten. Antonio Canella is listed as a member of the Artiti Regiment of the Folgore Paratroopers of the RSI (“Repubblica Sociale Italiana”).[1] The abbreviation “med.” that appears with the name on the liner indicates that the original owner was a medical officer, likely a doctor. Since buying this helmet, I have often wondered about the fate of S. Ten. Canella.

Collector Notes: There is no area of World War II helmet collecting that is trickier than the Italian M42. For starters, most of these helmets were refurbished and reused post-war. The post-war M42s utilized wartime shells and sometimes surplus components left over from the war. It is very difficult to acquire a genuine unmodified WWII vintage M42 even in Italy. Compounding the challenge of distinguishing between wartime and post-war M42s is the fact that these are extensively faked. The fakery usually involves taking post-war M42s and making alterations to paint, chinstraps, liners, rivets, etc. to make them appear as they would have during World War II. A final problem is that there is very little documentation on this helmet type. What little is known is mainly in the heads of collectors, particularly Italian collectors, who have learned from years of studying these things. At some point, I will attempt to provide some guidance on how to tell the good from the bad. It is a deep dive. My general advice is the same as with all expensive hobby purchases: buy from reputable sellers, do not buy from people who do not accept returns, and validate the originality of the piece from knowledgeable collectors.

* Private collection

[1] Arena. pp 218

Published by maplecreekmilitaria

I am a collector of military headgear from 1915-1945

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