The focus of this site is to aid unit members to identify and acquire the items needed to accurately portray an Alpino assigned to the btg. Monte Cervino. No manufacturer currently exists that is producing reproduction Italian field gear. Members will need to acquire original items to complete their impression. While the internet has many honest and knowledge dealers and private sellers, there are some that offer items that are misrepresented. The following pages and links are designed to educate members on these items so they are better informed on what an Alpino was actually issued. If members have any question about an item, the Comando Supremo forum offers a wealth of experience to answer questions.
The Italian soldier was issued a wide variety of personal field equipment during the war. In most cases, the equipment was as serviceable as that equipment issued to soldiers in other armies. Many of the soldier’s personal issue items were developed during the First World War and reflect years of battlefield “testing”. As such, these items were adequate for the demands placed on them during the Second World War. Manufacturing quality and overall availability of these items for issue to the soldier are the main complaints normally identified from the war. A well documented example of the latter is the Corpo di Spedizione Italiano in Russia (C.S.I.R.) purchasing cold weather clothing (fleece lined coats and hats) in Romania while on their way to Russia to better outfit the soldiers for the coming winter operations.
The following pages discuss and illustrate many of these items. While the focus is on the items likely issued to the soldiers of the Monte Cervino, it includes items that the Alpino could have liberated (picked-up) during their service to improve his comfort and survivability in the field. Note that for members of the unit, any items not on the required or authorized lists need to be approved by the leadership before it can be carried at unit events.
The btg. Monte Cervino, as an elite unit, received many specialized items that were not general issue to the rest of the Italian Army. Many of these items better equipped the battalion for winter warfare and their role as a ski battalion. These items are rare today, and this site will try to address them as best it can.
A general rule of thumb. The btg. Monte Cervino was organized during the war. This implies that any equipment issued to these Alpini would be current items and not prewar production. In the following discussions, some items had prewar variations. While these items are acceptable and authorized (given the challenge to find these items), a 100% correct impression would use wartime issued items. Also remember that prewar items generally command a higher price. It is cheaper and correct to purchase wartime items when possible.
Picture here is the required field equipment for unit members. The required equipment is the minimum equipment needed to safely participate in field events. This list provides the Alpino with the ability to carry both rations and water, a minimum amount of ammunition, and head protection. Alpini of the btg. Monte Cervino must have all these items to participate in any field events (public display battles and tacticals).
The tascapane (haversack, ditty bag) is the Alpino’s constant companion. It is designed to carry all the items needed for combat/living in the field for short periods of time. When ordered to drop their zainos (ruchsacks), the tascapane had to contain everything the Alpino would need.
The tascapane can be carried in one of two ways. The normal method used was as a haversack. The two straps are connected together using the snap link and ring to form one continuous strap. This strap was placed over the right shoulder so the tascapane hangs on the Alpino’s left side. The second method was to connect each strap to the corresponding ring or hook on the bottom of the tascapane to form two shoulder straps. This allows the tascapane to be worn on the back as a backpack. The haversack method allows easy access to the contents of the tascapne and is always used in combat. The back pack method would be used if the Alpino would not have his zaino for long periods of time and the Alpino was moving over large distances with little combat.
The tascapane itself has three main features. The first is the main compartment is divided into two sections (front and rear), closed by a large flap. This flap is secured by two straps fastened by two buckles on the front. The second feature is the two ammunition pouches sewn inside the front compartment. These pouches hold one box of 6.5mm Carcano ammunition each (18 rounds per box). The pouches are closed by a flap and one small button. The third feature is the two small loops on the front for securing the gavitta (mess kit) to the tascapane. A leather strap would be threaded through the loops on the tascapane and around and through the two loops on the gavitta. If the bag lacks any of these features (or the two methods of carry discussed above), it is not a tascapane or it is a tascapane that has been modified (damaged).
Given these features, there are two major variations of tascapane. The first is leather or web straps and loops. Prewar tascapane had leather straps closing the large flap and leather loops to hold the gavitta. Wartime tascapane used webbing instead of leather. Note that the shoulder straps are always webbing on all versions. Leather-made tascapanes are harder to find and generally command a higher price. The second variation has additional pockets sewn on the front. These pockets (normally two) were used either for more ammunition or to carry hand grenades. Tascapane with additional pockets always have leather straps and loops as they are early/mid thirties production.
The M33 gas mask bag appears to be a wartime replacement for a tascapane. Unit members are authorized, but discouraged, from using the M33 as a replacement. If the M33 is used, it should be a temporary measure until a tascapane can be obtained. see the page on gas masks for a description of the M33 gas mask bag.
Pictured here are some of the items members are authorized to carry. The complete approved list is found within the unit handbook. Some of these items are for educational/historical display and would seldom be used as part of a public battle or tactical. Other items are quite useful and might be required for participation in unit events that likely involve inclement weather or extend periods living in the field. If members identify other items, we will add them once they are approved by the unit leadership.
The Italian Army used two types of gasmask, M33 and the M35. The M33 has a brown rubber mask with a flexible hose connected to the filter canister. When worn, the Alpino would put on the mask and the canister would remain in the canvas carrier. The M35 was a compact design, having the filter canister screwed on directly to the brown rubber mask with no hose. When worn, the mask and canister were as unit, and the gas mask bag was empty.
Both types of the masks themselves were nearly identical. The best way to determine the type is to examine the mask itself. Each mask is labeled by type (T33 or T35) and size (I, II, III, IV) on the right hand side next to the eye lens. A civilian version of the T35 existed and can only be identified by its label (P 40) in the same location. The filter canister for a military mask should be brown, the civilian should be yellow.
The T35 replaced the T33 for dismounted troops. It was common that the M33 gasmask bag be used as a replacement for the tascapane.