M15 Casque Adrian + Elmetti metallico leggero Modello 1915 e 1916

M15 Adrian Helmet + Light metal Helmet Model 1915 and 1916

When it becomes evident during the first battles of the First World War that many casualties fall due to head injuries caused by direct and indirect impacts of shelling, Italy which is still neutral decides to conduct studies on a suitable helmet to overcome this problem. The Regio Esercito (Royal Army) has at that time, with the exception of ceremonial helmets, no steel helmets. Although several studies are made and proposals from the private industry are issued, Italy declares war without a modern helmet at its disposal.

M15 Casque Adrian
M15 Adrian Helmet
In 1915 the Royal Army contacts in despair France for the supply of the M15 Casque Adrian (M15 Adrian Helmet). An urgent delivery between October and November 1915 consists of French helmets fitted with the French infantry symbol in a bleu horizon color. These are, according to a circular of the Comando Supremo from October 1915, distributed by six to each infantry company, totaling 60 per regiment. Because of these shortages only soldiers charged with dangerous operations are allowed to wear the helmet. Some helmets are repainted in a green-mustard color according to the regulations of 1909 and in some cases the French infantry symbol is removed and replaced by a black or white painted unit stencil. Some examples are also provided to the Red Cross. In these instances, the French infantry symbol is removed and a red cross with the letters C.R.I.; Croce Rossa Italiana (Italian Red Cross) is painted on a black background. Some helmets of the Red Cross are also repainted in white and hazelnut.
The following deliveries of French M15 Adrian Helmet’s are part of an Italian order of 100,000 copies which are delivered during 1915. These helmets are painted in bleu horizon, but are not equipped with a metal badge. In Italy, these helmets are repainted in green and distributed to the front units. France continued throughout the war the supply of the M15 Adrian Helmet. In total the Italians received 1.6 million copies.

Elmetto metallico leggero Modello 1915
Light metal Helmet Model 1915
Arsenals in Milan and Naples received in the meantime the order to copy the French M15 Adrian Helmet except for the metal badge. This resulted in the production of the Elmetto metallico leggero Modello 1915 (Light metal Helmet Model 1915).
Like the French helmet, the Italian helmet consists of four parts; the helmet shell, consisting of a piece of steel of 0.7 mm, the front section, the back section and the comb. The comb is attached to the helmet shell with nails and electric welding (at the front and rear). The comb has the function of protecting the ventilation hole.
The liner is identical to the French original, but consists of light brown leather instead of black leather with underneath a felt in a grey-green, grey-white or original material color. The chinstrap is made of brown leather.
In comparison with the French M15 Adrian Helmet the Light metal Helmet Model 1915 is weaker due to the material used and it is more rude in its production quality.
The size of the helmet is indicated by a number on both the liner and the helmet shell. A maker stamp is also present on the helmet shell.
The helmets are painted in different shades of green, black, ocher-brown and white.
Helmets of the Italian Red Cross are sprayed in a brown-hazelnut color with a red cross on the front and the rear of the helmet.
During the First World War around 1.7 million copies of the Light metal Helmet Model 1915 are manufactured.

Elmetto metallico leggero Modello 1916
Light metal Helmet Model 1916
In 1916 the Elmetto metallico leggero Modello 1916 (Light metal Helmet Model 1916) is introduced. This helmet is also known as the Elmetto metallico leggero Modello 1915 Lippmann to Circular N. 4542 of the 24th of April 1916 of the Comando Supremo. The actual production started in June 1916.
The Light metal Helmet Model 1916 is manufactured from weaker steel than the Light metal Helmet Model 1915 because of the war situation, but this is offset by the improved design.
It appeared that the front and back of the Light metal Helmet Model 1915, which were fastened by nails, could come into the face of the wearer during an impact. The Light metal Helmet Model 1916 is however made out of two parts, the helmet shell and the comb, which by means of an electronic weld at eight points are secured together. The front and back are thus one part and therefore cannot separate during an impact.
The helmet shell is a piece of steel of 0.7 mm and the comb has the function of protecting the ventilation hole.
The liner consists of leather mounted on an underlying band of felt or fabric which by four connection points is attached to the helmet shell. The underlying band has a black or grey-white color. The four connection points are electronically welded on the shell.
The leather consists of six or seven flaps which at the center are strung together. The flaps are 15 to 20 mm positioned from each other and have a length of 80 mm and a width of 70 mm. The underlying band has a length of 40 cm and a width of 16 mm.
Four corrugated aluminum sheets are placed between the liner and the helmet shell to absorb shocks.
The chinstrap is derived from the original French model.
The size of the helmet is indicated by a number on both the liner and the helmet shell.

During some time the Light metal Helmets Model 1915 and 1916 are unofficially painted with stencils from their units. This was standardized and authorized by Circular 12.720 of the 15th of July 1916. Stencils come in black, yellow-ocher and white. During the war most helmets remained without stencil.
Officers had the opportunity to indicate their rank on the left side of the helmet. This was done in black and for senior officers often in yellow.

Leather feather holders were placed on the right side of the helmets by means of 4 rivets (later soldered) for the Bersaglieri from the spring of 1918.
There is no feather holder developed for the Alpini.

Post-First World War developments of the Light metal Helmet Model 1915 and 1916
During 1920 and 1921 the Light metal Helmets Model 1915 and 1916 are systematically repainted in an olive-green color for uniformity. Helmets whose interior had to be replaced received a new type consisting of leather trimmed with fabric. From 1925 the fabric is replaced by leather. In many cases nails were used at the front, rear and sides of the Light metal Helmet Model 1915 to attach the new interior.
Light metal Helmets Model 1916 produced after 1918 have two nails on both sides for the chinstrap mountings, which after 1918 are no longer electrically welded, but nailed.
During the early 20’s a Light metal Helmet Model 1916 is produced whose comb is not fastened by electric welding, but with nails. The comb is of the Light metal Helmet Model 1915 or the Model 1916. The nails used for this helmet version are larger and flatter than those produced during the First World War.
The chin strap is made out of burlap from 1919 and received from 1921 onwards a green color.

A major external change is the addition of brass unit emblems as defined in the Circolari Ministeriali of 1921, 1923 and 1925 to replace the stencils. These are attached by means of clips which through two holes are inserted in the helmet shell. This type is worn by officers and soldiers.
In 1928, a pentagonal helmet emblem made of brass or iron, is introduced for use on the helmets. It is the same type already used on the Bustina. These are attached by means of four clips, inserted in two holes in the helmet shell. A similar pentagonal emblem, originally developed as a shoulder board, is also used. The helmet shell has three holes in that case. This type is worn by soldiers.
Generals depending on their grade have a silver or golden eagle on their helmets.
Through circular N.678 of December 1933, the use of metal badges is abolished. The Light metal Helmets Model 1915 and 1916 are brought to the arsenals where the holes are welded up or filled with nails. The helmets are also repainted in grey-green. Light metal Helmets Model 1915 and 1916, whose liner and chinstrap are in a poor condition, received new ones of the type used in the Elmetto Modello 1933 (Helmet Model 1933).

Variations
From the mid 20's a helmet is developed to circular "Elmi alleggeriti" which follows the “Adrian” design but is made out of boiled leather. The comb is made out of metal and fastened with nails equal to that of the Light metal Helmet Model 1915. At the front a metal emblem is worn. The rank is painted in a metallic color on the side.
The liner consists of leather trimmed with fabric without the four corrugated aluminum sheets, or a lightweight fabric example. The liner is attached with four connection points. These helmets are mainly produced by "Unione Militare".

From 1923 a parade helmet made out of aluminum is produced. These are painted in dark green and are equipped with black or ocher-yellow cotton or silk lightweight liners. This chinstrap is attached with four connection points. The chinstrap consists of tanned leather or black fabric.
These helmets are only privately purchased by soldiers and officers and used only during ceremonial occasions.

During the First World War all four types of the “Adrian” helmet are used simultaneously. During the Second World War, the Light metal Helmets Model 1915 and 1916 are used by second line troops and domestic forces.

Sources:
Il Gagliardetto 1919-1943, Le insegne del P.N.F. dal 1919 al 1943; Alberto Brisone; 1996
cimeetrincee.it/adrian.htm
cascoscoleccion.com/italia/italia.htm
M15 Casque Adrian + elmetti metallico leggero Modello 1915 e 1916
This helmet is a Elmetto metallico leggero Modello 1916 (Light metal Helmet Model 1916) with a First World War liner (stamped B.1.), but the helmet shell and the chinstrap are repainted in the 20’s. The helmet ended its career with the Protezione Anti Aérea (Air Protection), abbreviated P.A.A. This organization is formed by local sections of the Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party) and organized by neighborhood. The P.A.A. fell under the Ministero della Guerra (War Ministry). The creation and job description of the P.A.A. are formulated in a Royal Decree of the 5th of March 1934.
The P.A.A. functioned together with the Difesa Contraerea Territoriale (D.I.C.A.T.) (Territorial Air Defense), which is responsible for the air defense in order to defend the Italian territory and the civil population. The task of the P.A.A. in that is to undertake protective measures for potential targets with the objective to reduce the probability of an attack and reduce damage.
The specific tasks which are performed by the P.A.A. are:
1. alerting the population
2. blacking out the objectives
3. camouflaging the objectives
4. clearing or evacuating large centers and key buildings
5. applying the anti-aircraft building technique
6. providing health and anti-gas protection
7. providing fire protection
8. protecting the national artistic heritage and scientific wealth