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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. #1

    Default Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

    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 those on the Polish Wz50. I then saw a very feint inscription on the inside rim which appeared to read 'OP KOBURG 7RAR' as well as what appeared to be an etched serial or collection number. I did a bit of online sleuthing and saw that 7RAR had undertaken an operation in 1968 in Vietnam called Operation Coburg, I put the obvious difference in spelling down to, well, poor spelling!!

    My assessment therefore was that this was a export Wz50, supplied to the NVA and picked up as a souvenir. When I listed it on Fleabay, I was immediately informed by a raft of more knowledgeable helmet collectors that it was definitely an M33 and that the Italians had made some without vents. In addition to Italian use, I was informed that they'd supplied some of these to the Spaniards and the Finns. To make matters even more complex, one collector told me that he believed that the Spanish also supplied the Finns with some of their surplus Italian made helmets. One Italian collector, was adamant this was a Spanish model because of the 'brown painted finish'. Interestingly, the colour looks olive green to me but I'll let you decide. A fellow Australian collector believes that the Italian liner rules it out as Spanish.

    To complicate matters even more, a couple of the US collectors who contacted me say that the Soviets picked up substantial number of Finnish used, Italian made helmets and supplied those to the NVA which may explain the inscription. As a consequence, I have a number of questions which I'd really appreciate opinions on:

    Is this an Italian made ventless M33?

    Is there anything that can detrmine whether it was used by Italians, Spaniards, Finns?

    Is there any evidence of the Soviets supplying captured equipment to the NVA?

    Obviously, anything else anyone thinks is relevant would be welcomed.Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

  2. #2

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    Hello.

    this is a polish Wz50 helmet.


    This type of helmet was exported to Albania, China, Iraq, Croatia, Egypt, Syria and North Vietnam.


    Greetings

  3. #3

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    Thanks for this Mate, I thought the same as I've explained in my first post, but I do now think this is a ventless M33.

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    Hello, we can eliminate the Polish Wz 50 (left) even if the metallic head band, liner & chinstrap were strongly inspired by the Italian M33 ones. The shell of the Italian M33 as an unmistakable pointed front rim, this example (right) is post World War 2 but is the same shell model as the M33. Anzacblade helmet origin is Italian, it's usage & by whom probably fascinating!

    Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

    Regards
    Jack

  5. #5

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    Cheers Jack, That certainly settles any questions as to its national origin. Italian made M33.

    Not much on these ventless models that I can find.

  6. #6
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    I have 2 Ventless M33s with very similar paint to your M33. I believe your helmet is a Spanish M33. A good portion of Spanish M33s I've seen (both of mine included) have that same brownish overpainted color and a good portion of Spanish M33s I've seen are ventless. I have an Italian-written book on Spanish-used helmets so I'll see if I can find some photographic evidence in the next couple of days.

    Best regards,

    Jack

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    Thanks Jack, Have you heard of the Spanish supplying arms and equipment to the Finns?

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    Finnish use would be my guess based on the type of rivet used to refit the liner.

    The helmet isn’t necessarily vent less, the vents are rivets used to hold the original liner, when the liner is removed for whatever reason its refitted with blind rivets in the same location.

    Unless there are other features like a different liner or chinstrap it’s always a bit difficult say Finnish or Spanish with a level of confidence because the color is similar. In this case the liner and chinstrap are both Italian.

    This is a Finnish used M33 I owned, the chinstrap in this case is Finish, but you can see the similarity in the rivets used.

    Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

    Unusual Ventless Italian M33 - NVA Use?

    Steve
    Last edited by Tinhat; 06-17-2024 at 11:44 PM.

  9. #9

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    Thanks Steve, That's really close to my example. It's starting to look like the information I was given by some other American collector's might be correct. Italian ventless M33 supplied to the Spaniards who passed it onto the Finns. Captured by the Soviets who then passed it onto NVM. When I first read that proposition, I was extremely skeptical. less so now.

    Thanks for the pictures by the way, I'm struck by the similarity in condition and patina.

    Cheers David

  10. #10
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    Hi David,
    With these helmets it’s really hard to get away from recycled information, and I don’t profess to be any form of knowledgeable person on this.

    Hopefully this link will work, it shows the level of debate around it https://www.reddit.com/r/Helmets/com...d_italian_m33/ what’s accepted is that the Italians supplied both the Finns and the Spanish in the 1930s, what happened after that is a bit more contentious.

    With respect to the story you have been told, I might be reading too much into it but, chronologically doesn’t add up for me, If the Soviets captured them it would have been in the Winter War Nov ’39 to Mar ’40, I find it unlikely that during the Spanish Civil War (formally ended in Apr ‘39) that supplying helmets was on anyone’s priority list, then refitted before or after arriving in time for the Soviets to capture them.

    Now I’m questioning my own theory, which is fine, we are here to learn, there does seem to be a lot around, Spain being the most likely to have reused them.

    Steve

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