Original Rare Italian WWII M-39/41 Paratrooper Helmet in Battle Damaged Relic Condition

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. An opportunity to obtain one of the rarer Axis helmets from WWII; an Italian Paratrooper M-39/42. This battle-damaged relic condition helmet was purportedly recovered in Libya a few decades ago.

It is an early Model M-1939/41 Helmet, with all four original rivets remaining. A small portion of the liner band and chinstrap is still attached. Overall patina and showing surface pitting inside and out. Some of the original olive green paint is still visible in some areas. No markings are visible due to the weathered nature of the helmet. The crown of the helmet exhibits damage from shrapnel.

This is a rather inexpensive alternative to an otherwise very expensive helmet (if you can even find one!).

Italian Paratroopers in WWII
The first Italian paratroopers were trained shortly before World War II at Castel Benito near Tripoli in Libya, where Italy's first Parachuting School was located. The first paratroopers were two battalions of Libyan Ascari del Cielo. These were joined by the first paratroopers of the Royal Italian Army and the 1st Carabinieri Paratroopers Battalion. The latter battalion was formed on 1 July 1940 and fought in the Western Desert Campaign of World War II. The Royal Italian Air Force also had paratrooper units.

In 1941 the staff at Castel Benito was transferred to Tarquinia near Rome where the main Italian Parachuting School was raised, which immediately began to form the first units for the 185th Paratroopers Division "Folgore".

The Divisions
A second Parachuting School was established in Viterbo and the 184th Paratroopers Division "Nembo" was raised. A third division, the 183rd Paratroopers Division "Ciclone" was in the process of forming but the Armistice of Cassibile and the following German invasion of Italy interrupted its organization.

In 1941 the 5,000-man strong 185th Paratroopers Division "Folgore" was raised for the planned assault on Malta in Operation Hercules. When the Malta invasion was canceled the paratroopers were sent as regular infantry to Libya, despite being poorly equipped for this role. The division was engaged in ground combat operations in the Western Desert Campaign from July 1942 until its destruction in the Second Battle of El Alamein. After the battle the survivors were grouped into the CLXXXV Paratroopers Battalion. During the Second battle of El Alamein the division was attacked by six British divisions (two armored and four infantry). Lacking effective anti-tank weapons, the Italian paratroopers stopped British tanks with their obsolete 47/32 guns and petrol bombs. The Folgore, having run out of water, withdrew from the El Alamein at 2:00 a.m. on 3 November 1942. At 2:35 p.m. on 6 November what was left of the division was surrounded by the British forces. The exhausted paratroopers destroyed their weapons and then surrendered.

The 184th Paratroopers Division "Nembo" was raised in 1942. In summer 1943 the Nembo was sent to Sardinia, where it survived the Armistice of Cassibile almost intact. Shipped to the Italian mainland in May 1944 the division joined the Italian Liberation Corps of the Italian Co-Belligerent Army. The division fought in the Battle of Ancona and was disbanded on 24 September 1944 to form with its personnel the Combat Group "Folgore".

The 183rd Paratroopers Division "Ciclone" was planned to become the third Italian paratroopers division, however the Armistice of Cassibile and disbanded by the invading Germans.

RSI Paracadutisti
A number of paratroopers units were raised by Mussolini's Italian Social Republic:

- National Republican Army - raised the 350-men Paratroopers Battalion "Nembo", which suffered 70% casualties during the Battle of Anzio
- National Republican Air Force - raised the Paratroopers Regiment "Folgore" with three battalions
- National Republican Navy - Xa MAS - Paratrooper Swimmers Battalion, which was formed by volunteers of the Royal Italian Navy San Marco Regiment's Paratrooper Battalion. A flood of volunteers joined the battalion increasing it to over 1,400 men.
- National Republican Guard - raised the 300-men Paratroopers Battalion "Mazzarini", which operated mainly against partisans in the Padan Plain from August 1944 until 1945

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