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Mystery Italian/Spanish M33 Helmet

Article about: Hello! I recently picked up this odd Italian helmet, I believe it to be a Spanish Civil War used helmet but I'm not sure if it's even an M33. The only stamp I could find was T-59 (which I as

  1. #1

    Question Mystery Italian/Spanish M33 Helmet

    Hello! I recently picked up this odd Italian helmet, I believe it to be a Spanish Civil War used helmet but I'm not sure if it's even an M33. The only stamp I could find was T-59 (which I assume to be the size) For comparison, I have it next to a refurbished WW2 Italian M33, It appears to have original pre-war paint on the inside underneath the liner. I'm unsure if it even has a Spanish/Italian liner or chin strap. It doesn't have the usual rivet holes and instead is significantly larger than the M33 and has a different shell shape. While it is similar to the M33 and I do believe it to be of Italian origin, I'm very puzzled by this helmet and if it was used by the Spanish. Any clues, opinions, ideas, and references would be greatly appreciated!
    Mystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 Helmet

  2. #2


    I definately don't claim expertise on Italian helmets, but the shell does look like an M33 (rather than a Bulgar M51) and as we know there were lots of M33 in Spain. The liner certianly isn't Italian, and is actually very similar to the liners used in the Spanish M21, M26 and M42 (which all follow the same general pattern but which may have - can't check at the moment - slightly different leather lobe sizes). No idea re the strap, which looks new.

    My first guess is that is ia a Spanish refurbishment using whatever parts were to hand. as regards size, most M33 seem to me ridiculously small, but there was a large size, and this may be one, and given the possibility there were less of them it would have been worth refurbishing the shell.

    I'm looking forward to someone with real knowledge coming forward on this one.

  3. #3


    M33s were worn by Finnland as well - I speculate it could be a refurbishment using the parts available...(?)

  4. #4


    Seems Italian, if so there should be a cold stamp on the back of the helmet inside of the brim, B 27 for example. There should be also a stamping on the bale connectors facing the shell, to see it you have to look at the back of them.
    The paint is unusual, never saw that kind of texture before.
    The refurbished Spanish helmets colour was brown in the early years.
    Spain was poor then but still used good leather for refurbishing the helmets. This one seems a already used one, how is it attached in?
    The chinstrap sliding buckle was not usually used with the Spanish helmets.
    Sometimes former paint colour helps in dating an helmet, with this helmet there is different kind of greens, I also see gray. Could this helmet be a mix of different components?

    Spanish brown paint example.
    Mystery Italian/Spanish M33 Helmet

    Refurbished Spanish interior of Czech M30 import helmet.
    Mystery Italian/Spanish M33 Helmet

    Spanish refurbished green paint example (later years)
    Mystery Italian/Spanish M33 Helmet

  5. #5


    I second Glenn's assessment. Both colour and liner looks a lot like a Finnish job.

  6. #6


    Thanks for the feedback & info everyone, after doing some digging I do agree with Glenn but I'm not 100% confident if it is Finnish used. There doesn't seem to be a stamp on the bale connectors but there is a stamp on the rear of the shell reading "114" The chinstrap doesn't seem to match any Italian, Spanish, or Finnish helmets I have, but it does appear to be lightly used and a very quality leather chinstrap from whenever it was produced. In Paolo Marzetti's book he does make mention of a Finnish M33 where the shell looks almost identical however he did not provide a photo of the liner. He also provides that some of the Finnish-supplied helmets were delivered without liners so that may be a good clue. However, I did also find a greener M33 Shell the seller stated was Spanish that also looks very similar so there are some butting-head conclusions still at hand. In my opinion, a big deciding factor would be if anyone knows where this chinstrap is from. Not sure if it would give a definite answer but may aid in the conclusion of whether this helmet is from Finland or Spain. Thanks!

    Mystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 HelmetMystery Italian/Spanish M33 Helmet

  7. #7


    I'm interested in the idea that this may be a Finn-reburbished helmet, though not entirely convinced. Is that really a Finnish replacement liner? I haven't seen one like it and really it looks too basic, primitive even, compared to the Finnish liners I am familiar with. Also, it is so much like the Spanish liners, as I indicated in an early post.

    I'm also not entirely convinced about Marzetti's assertion that the M33 were supplied as shells only; I have a number of pictures from Finnish collectors (websites no longer in existence unfortunately, though I did take copies) showing the M33 with with its normal Italian liner or with something like that shown below (taken from Markku Karvoleinein's comprehensive website some years ago).

    Stig Roudasmaa's TERASKYPARA does reference the M33, but only in terms of 30,000 being acquired in 1940, no mention as to whether they were complete or shell only, which I take to mean they were complete as I feel sure the writer would have made a point of saying they were shell-only. Roudasmaa, and others, do make the point that most of what they call 'miscellaneous' helmets, meaning anything gother than Hungarian, German, or Finnish M40, were scrapped in the early 1950s, We can reasonably assume that included the M33s. So, given that they were in Finnish service for not much more than ten years, how much depot work would have been done.

    (Of course this line of thinking entirely depends on whether they were supplied liner-in or liner-out!)

    At the momemt - and I am always happy to change my thinking, all knowledge is good - I'm inclined more towards Spain, as there was a greater tendency to reuse and repair old military kit, by necessity.

    Mystery Italian/Spanish M33 Helmet

  8. #8


    Hi Trwade, thanks for your extra photos. I cannot add anything more about your helmet. But for people interested here are 2 links.
    The first is about other countries who used the M33: M33 helmet - Wikipedia
    This second is about modified Italian M33s:
    ITALIANO 33The

    Thanks for your thread, while researching I've learned things & took a closer look at my post war Italian M33.

  9. #9


    I saw this an also thought Finnish initially, the story I read somewhere what that they were delivered without the liners fitted and the Finns fitted them, you can tell them because the rivets and chinstrap are different. This is the one I used to own.

    Mystery Italian/Spanish M33 Helmet

    Mystery Italian/Spanish M33 Helmet

    In this case I think Greg is correct, the liner tongues and the leather headband look Spanish to me. I checked Umbertto Pappini’s book ‘The Helmets – The Italian CTV and the Spanish Civil War’, which is a great book with a misleading title because it covers all the helmets used during the Spanish Civil War and their re-use after the war. In the book he shows an M33 with a very similar textured paint, original liner and notes it is post war re-issue.

    As aside note 264,344 M33s were supplied by Italy to the Nationalists during the war.


  10. #10


    Thank you for the photos & extra information Greg, Jack & Steve. I just ordered Umberto Pappini’s book you recommended and I also ordered M33 Analis Di Un Elmo by Diego Bosi, I figured I might as well go all in as I find this information priceless. It seems that this helmet does make more sense being Spanish. While I have found one or two Spanish & Finnish shells that look the same not a single liner or chinstrap has matched up for me yet, but I do agree I have seen more odd, mixed-matched Spanish helmets so I suppose that is more likely. I'm unsure if I will find a M33 that looks identical to this one but time will tell. I will continue searching and referencing but the paint does appear to be a Spanish job and after searching some more with your help it does appear to be most likely a Spanish headband. I keep going back and forth between the two countries but I greatly appreciate the knowledge and opinions, I will keep this thread updated with any new information I can find.

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