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Regio Esercito Uniforms

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The Italian Army likely had more authorized variations in uniform dress than any other during the war. All variations had their different insignia. The following list only highlights the major uniform differences.

Bersaglieri (motorized infantry): Red fez with a blue cord and tassel instead of a bustina. Leather leggings instead of puttees. Dress uniform included a low crowned, black waxed leather hat with plume.

Alpini (mountain troops): Tyrolean hat with feather. Often wore high socks instead of puttees (but puttees were often worn). Mountain boots.

Paracadutisti (airborne): M41 g-v uniform (collarless tunic, long pants), g-v beret with fregio, tall parachutist jump boots.

Corazzato (armored): Black leather coat.

Black Shirt (Camicia Nera): Black shirt instead of the g-v, black fez with black cord and tassel. Black puttees.

In The Field

The M40 overcoat was made from the same g-v wool as the uniform. There was a dismounted and mounted version, distinguished mainly by the size of the collar and cut of the coat skirts. The dismounted version had a smaller, angular collar and straight skirts. The mounted had a large, rounded collar and the skirts flared from the waist. Both were single-breasted with two large slit hip pockets, closed by a straight flap. No button was provided to secure the flap. There were two small slit breast pockets without flaps, closed by a small button. These pockets were unusual, as the pocket opening was vertical, not horizontal, The attached shoulder straps were of the same material and fixed with one small button. The large straight cuffs could be rolled down over the hands for protection. A small button on the back of the sleeve secured the cuffs when not being used in this manner. No mostrini was worn on the collar, only large size aluminum stars.

The M1929 Tenda Telo (tent cloth) served both as a poncho and could be assembled with other telos into a tent. The telo was a square cloth made from cotton duck material, printed with a camouflage pattern on one side. The telo has an array of buttons and button holes for connecting multiple telos, and the necessary poles and ropes. No other rain gear was provided to the soldier.

In all, the Italian service uniform was both distinctive and striking. The very functional bustina and the open-collar belted tunic made for a very modern appearance. This was counterbalanced by the old style pants and puttees. This combination gave the Italian soldier a unique appearance from other armies during the war.

For clarity purposes, the following photos are shown as attachments rather than embedded in the article. Please click the photos for viewing.

Acqui Uniform
Summer Uniform
Winter Uniform
Esercito Uniform

The following uniform selections courtesy of Italian Regalia (1922-1945)

Recommended Reading

Coccia, Sergio Le uniformi metropolitane del Regio Esercito dalla riforma Baistrocchi all’inizio della Seconda Guerra Mondiale
Marizatti, Paulo Uniformi e distintivi Italiani 1933-1945
Mussolini’s Soldiers
Viotti, Andrea Uniformi e distintivi dell’Esercito Italiano nella seconda Guerra mondiale 1940-1945

Article by: Jeff Leser

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