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Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

Article about: When I purchased this helmet I thought it was an Italian M33. However, when I got it home, it suddenly occurred to me that it had no vent holes and the placing of the rivets was similar to t

  1. #11

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    Cheers Steve, You're spot on there, I seem to have stumbled into a contentious subject here. That said, I'm in broad agreement with you concerning the NVN connection which is, at best, circumstantial. Two things strike me though which certainly lead me to thinking its possible. The first, I've already mentioned in this thread, is the similarity in colour and patina to your Finnish example and the second is actually the timeline. I was an infantry officer for three decades and I've come across stores of soviet supplied kit to proxies in Angola/Namibia, the Balkan's, Iraq and Afghanistan and I was always taken aback at the fact that it was often haphazard, old and on occasion anachronistic. They throw nothing away, as we can see from the recycled armour they are using now in Ukraine. Storing helmets captured in say 1945 and supplying them to the NVN in the 60's would be a swift transfer if some of the kit they supplied to others is anything to go by. To give you some example of what I'm talking about here are some photo's of the sort of kit my Task Force was picking up in 2005, some of it was over 100 years old and almost all of it had been supplied to the Afghans by the Soviets.

    Cheers DavidUnusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

  2. #12
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    Hi David, could you post a photo of the one of the helmet's flat rivet seen for inside the shell. Perhaps it's metal & the way it close could give us an hint on its origin.

    We have to explore all the possibilities here, one is that an unscrupulous person believing that this helmet was Polish or from another Warsaw pact country "decorated the helmet" Vietnam style. Don't get me wrong here, Australia & New Zealand were involved in Vietnam for many years. But the chances for an Italian helmet landing there are slim.

    That being said here is my theory. Italy supported Franco by providing military material, that we know. On its side Italy conquered Libya, then Ethiopa & part of today's Somalia.

    Later on during WW2 the Italians were kicked out of those countries, a lot of their material remaining there. Let's jump forward 50 years when the United Nations deployed help in Somalia in1992. I've seen a photo of a Canadian soldier bringing back an WW2 era Italian light machine gun to base from a cache. Australian forces were also deployed in Somalia where 1RAR participated in operation Solace among other tasks. There was far greater chances to find an Italian WW2 helmet in Somalia than in Vietnam. Did Australian manned observation posts (OP) in Somalia? If so, one could have been named Coburg then an Italian helmet found by a member of 1RAR & brought back as a souvenir from OP COBURG? I know this involves a lot of maybes, perhaps, if & did?!..

    Australia in Somalia: https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/wars-...ia-1992-1995#1

    Regards
    Jack

  3. #13

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    Thanks Jack,

    Here you go, as requested.

    Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

  4. #14
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    I think I'm beginning to question the whole Finnish connection to thee helmets, makes much more sense that they are post civil war Spanish refits.

  5. #15
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    Hi David, thanks for the flat rivets photos, we can now tell that the original air vents were replaced some time after that last thick coating of dark olive paint. The air vents ghosting are easily seen. Seeing the interior flat rivets let us know now that they are some kind of split pins. Unfortunately my knowledge is limited so I cannot identify their origin, hopefully another member could help.

    So many secrets are found inside the helmet shells, why would the air vents be removed? Probably to replace the liner for whatever reasons: worn down, broken or tragically stained. In time of need discarded helmets parts are reused.If we can identify those split pins we'll be a step closer to know who used them & when.

    I've also noticed a man made cut on one of your helmet's chinstrap, I have a Spanish Civil War period M26 Con Ala with similar cuts on one of it's liner tongues. The meaning I don't know but can easily imagine from war time helmets.

    Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

    Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

    Regards
    Jack

  6. #16
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    I feel a bit like Elmer Fudd following my own trail, but I’m about to do that most uninternet type thing and contradict my earlier statement rather than entrench myself in a fixed opinion.

    The Reddit thread I posted earlier got me thinking because the person disputing the Finnish connection had some compelling arguments.
    The Spanish connection is clear and undisputed, Trwades (Jack) helmet shown here has blind rivets and a Spanish liner Mystery Italian/Spanish M33 Helmet I re-read Umberto Papini’s ‘The Helmets Italian C.T.V. and Spanish Civil War’ last night and it covers in a few places the refurbishment of M33s after the war including the removal of liners and refitting with blind rivets. It specifically mentions this being a requirement because of the economic conditions and the Z-42 not being widely available.

    With absence of anything like that information of the Finnish side and credible statements about destruction of the non-German style helmets after the war, the much lower numbers in use, it seems more and more unlikely these have a Finnish connection. I was confused by this helmet Finnish Militaria - Militariarg.com based on the liner because I didn’t recognize it but page 54 of the Papini book has this liner fitted in a Czech Vz30 mentioning it as a Spanish refit.

    I’m of the belief that these are post Spanish Civil War refurbishments, most likely came on to the market in the late 80s after Spain joined NATO transitioned to the M1, which if I remember correctly was when the Z-42s started showing up in in numbers.
    Steve
    Last edited by Tinhat; 06-19-2024 at 10:30 PM.

  7. #17

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    G'day Fella's, great investigative thread going on here, I'm wondering if obsessing over the rivets, colour and chinstraps of 80 year old helmets qualifies us all a seriously afflicted militaria 'nerds'?

    Seriously though, I appreciate Steve's evidence based approach to this, and with that approach in mind I've had a look at all of the helmets in both of the threads that Steve has referred to above. With the exception of the helmet with the Finnish chinstrap that Steve has already posted pictures of on this thread, the others are only superficially similar to the one here. They either have different liners, rivets or both and the one that may be similkar has additional holes in the front of the shell. The only similar pairing that stands detailed scrutiny, are this helmet, and the one Steve has posted pictures of. The difference between them being the Finnish chinstrap on Steve's example.

    Steve, leaving aside the Finnish chinstrap for the moment, is there additional provenance for your example being Finnish?

    Cheers David

  8. #18
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    We are definitely nerds obsessing over details but not to the level of those that reside at the top of the forum in the German section. My kids think I'm crazy, I think its the only thing that keeps me normal in today's world.

    Unfortunately I think the chinstrap is a red herring, I've been searching for some sort of evidence to back that up but coming up blank. It could be just a bad reference I had. I will keep looking but I'm not trying to prove its Finnish, as I said I think they are Spanish. Embarrassing really because I listed it as Finnish when I sold it.

    There are another group of these helmets that have holes drilled in the front, these are mentioned in the Papini book for mounting various badges before the clip was added for the national crest, so more similar helmets with question marks that are more than likely Spanish.

    Steve

  9. #19

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    OK Steve,

    What is they say in addiction anonymous meetings, "I'm a helmet nerd and its been over 2 hours since my last post"

    I've just come across this colorized photo and I'm wondering if we have an image of a ventless M33 in Finnish service?

    What do you reckon? The title on the picture is '2 cm Flak 30 (2 cm Flugabwehrkanone 30) positioned in the village of Harlu, 28th of July 1944'. The same site had some other less conclusive pictures, but I think they were M33's

    Cheers David

    Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

  10. #20

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    Just to confuse matters, here's one of a different crew in a different location in 1944, this time the bloke on the left of the breach (the gun commander ?) is, I think, wearing an M33 with vents !! Also attached, two of vented M33's in Finish service.

    Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

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