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Old 07-22-2009, 02:35 PM
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Default Italian Uniforms

Seen here are three contemporary plates, showing the uniforms used by the Italian Army during WW1.

1= Majorgeneral, 2= Major of the General Staff, 3= Private of the Infantry,
4= Alpini, 5= Bersaglieri, corporal

6= Cavalry First lieutenant, 7= Dragoon, 8= Field Artillery, sergeant, 9= Mountain Artillery, 10= Medical Corps, lieutenant
On the plate right above here you can see the old the dark blue M1903, that was abandoned already before the war, and used only for ceremonial purposes. After some experiments, the Italian Army adapted the grey-green (grigio-verde) which would be used by Italian soldiers generations to come. In December 1908 it was accepted for Infantry, Alpini, Bersaglieri and Artillery, and soon also by the Cavalry. The Engineers not adopted the grey-green uniform until September 1915, and some reserve and militia units still wore the old dark blue uniforms, at times mixed with beige fatigues.

The standard headgear was the kepi-style baretto with a soft crown, a leather peak and chinstrap, and a black badge showing the regimental number beneath a crown. A new type of rounded berretto M1915 (called a cupolino or scodellino) was introduced during the war.
The standard uniform for foot personnel was the the M1909 tunic: the most distinctive feature of this tunic was the strange padded shoulder rolls, that were designed to stop equipment straps sliding off.
Helmets and other protective equipment
Not seen in the plates above are the different types of modern helmets and other protective equipment used by the Italians during the war. Experience from fighting in the mountain areas showed that shelling caused showers of stone splinters, resulting in avery large number of head wounds. As a result from this the Italian Army in April 1916 adopted the French Adrian steel helmet.
It was painted dark grey-green (often with the arm-of-service badge with the unit number stencilled on the front in black). Later in 1916 an Italian variant came into use: it was stamped in two instead of four pieces. From the early months of 1917 these helmets were often worn with a grey-green fabric cover. The same troops were also given armoured goggles for protection against splinters. The Italian Army did more than other armies to develop armoured shields and body armour, especially for assault troops. In June 1915 special “wire-cutting companies” were formed, because of the unacceptably high losses suffered by conventional infantry. These companies soon became known as death companies (“compagnie della morte”). Apart from different portable steel shields, they also adopted special body armour. Click on the thumbnails below!
The Italians were not really prepared when war came in 1915, and started off with a serious shortage of rifles, machine guns and artillery, and soon they were searching the countrys old arsenals for any available guns. The revised wartime battalion had three rifle companies, each having two MG:s (most of them the m1914 6.5mm Fiat-Ravelli), and also an integral MG company with eight guns. The standard battalion also had a platoon of four mortars and in addition to this one platoon of pioneers. The principal rifle used by the Italian Army was the bolt-action 6.5mm Mannlicher­Carcano m1891 with a six-round magazine. (Many Territorial units still used the ancient 10.4mm Vetterli M1871 single shot guns.) The Mannlicher-Carcano m1891 Cavalleria had a special short barrel and a folding bayonet. (This weapon much later became infamous: it was one of these that Lee Harvey Oswald used when he shot and killed president Kennedy in Dallas in 1963.)

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