Italian uniforms

Fucilieri
Painting Italian Uniforms

The Italian Army had a diverse selection of troop types and uniforms within its organisation. In the first part of this series on their uniforms we’ll look at the Fucilieri, Bersagilieri and the Alpini.

The Fucilieri

The Fucilieri had a number of different items of uniform available to them. The items worn depended on the theatre of operation, the season and weather of their campaign.

Standard Grey-Green woollen uniform
The woollen uniform was worn as normal service dress and was standard issue. It was worn during the invasion of France, in Albania, Greece and Yugoslavia, and on the Russian front. Later arriving troops in Tunisia and some troops in Sicily were also dressed in Grey-Green.

The wrap-around puttees used instead of gaiters or socks were also Grey-Green.

A light Grey Green shirt was worn under the tunic with a black tie. In hot weather the Tunic was often removed to expose the shirt.

All leather items were black (boots, belt, helmet strap and ammunition pouches), though their rifle slings were brown leather.

Canvas or linen items like the bread bag and water bottle strap were light khaki to yellow green.

Officers retained a uniform of the same colour, though often of a higher-grade material and better cut.

Helmets were grey-green, but as paint had different properties to fabric they tended to be a different shade. The undress cap (the Bustina) was made of the same material as the uniform.

Fucilieri Officer
Fucilieri Officer

Vallejo Paint

Uniform, Puttees and Bustina: VP888 Olive Grey (Highlight VP888 + VP884 Stone Grey)
Shirt: VP886 Green-Grey (Highlight VP886 + VP951 White)
Leather: VP950 Black (Highlight VP995 German Grey)
Rifle Sling: VP940 Saddle Brown (Highlight VP940 + VP851 Bright Orange)
Canvas: VP988 Khaki (Highlight VP884)
Helmet: VP830 Field Grey (Highlight VP830 + VP884 Stone Grey)

Fatigue Uniform
Italian troops were also issued with a lightweight cotton fatigue uniform for wearing on the march or for labouring duties.

It was of a medium grey colour and seemed to be a common sight on the Russian front in the summer months.

The fatigue uniform was often the only uniform issued to second line troops such as the coastal divisions that formed the bulk the Italian defence of Sicily. The coastal troops often wore the French style Adrian helmet.

Vallejo Paint

Fatigue Uniform: VP870 Medium Sea Grey (Highlight VP870 + VP884 Stone Grey)

Fatigue Uniform
Fucilieri in fatigue uniforms on the march

Left: Italian troops of the CSIR on the march during the summer of 1941. The troops are in medium grey fatigues while the NCO on the right is in the grey green woollen uniform.

Tropical Uniform
In the desert the Fucilieri were issued with a light cotton tropical uniform. It was a yellowy tan colour in hue and is often described as Light Khaki. Trousers and Tunics were the same colour, though most troops retained their original Green-Grey puttees. Leather items were brown leather rather than black, though some troops retained their black items.

Helmets were painted the same sand colour as the tanks and vehicles, but some soldiers continued to wear green helmets.

Vallejo Paint

Uniform and Bustina: VP977 Desert Yellow (Highlight VP977 + VP976 Buff)
Puttees: VP888 Olive Grey (Highlight VP888 + VP884 Stone Grey)
Leather and Rifle Sling: VP940 Saddle Brown (Highlight VP940 + VP851 Bright Orange)
Canvas: VP988 Khaki (Highlight VP884) or VP881 Yellow Green (Highlight VP881 + VP976 Buff)
Helmet: VP914 Green Ochre (Highlight VP914 + VP976 Buff)

Fucilieri in tropical uniform
Officer in Sahariana Jacket Sahariana Jacket
A popular form of clothing in the desert was the Sahariana or bush jacket. It could be any shade from light khaki to olive khaki. It proved very popular among officers.

It was prone to fading and was often bleached almost white by the sun and continuous washing.

Vallejo Paint

Sahariana Jacket: VP988 Khaki (Highlight VP884 Stone Grey) or VP884 Stone Grey (Highlight VP884 + VP951 White)
Bersaglieri

In Europe the Bersaglieri wore the same Grey-Green as the Fucilieri with addition of the Cockerel feathers to the standard green steel helmet.

Topical Uniform
Like the Fucilieri in the desert the Bersaglieri wore the light khaki tropical uniform. They were also commonly seen wearing the Tropical Helmet adorned with their traditional Cockerel feathers.

Shorts were also issued; these were in the same colour as the rest of the tropical uniform.

Bersaglieri in tropical uniform
Bersaglieri Officer Bersaglieri officers were also fond of the Sahariana jacket and went into battle wearing their proudly faded Sahariana.

Sandals were worn buy some troops and were brown leather. Troops in shorts also wore socks rather than puttees, these were usually khaki.

Captured Uniforms
Often both British shirts and shorts were worn from captured stocks. These were in the lighter British Khaki Drill, and make a good contrast on your desert uniforms.

Left: Officer in his light Grey-Green cotton shirt.

Vallejo Paint

Uniform and Bustina: VP977 Desert Yellow (Highlight VP977 + VP976 Buff)
Puttees: VP888 Olive Grey (Highlight VP888 + VP884 Stone Grey)
Leather and Rifle Sling: VP940 Saddle Brown (Highlight VP940 + VP851 Bright Orange)
Canvas: VP988 Khaki (Highlight VP884) or VP881 Yellow Green (Highlight VP881 + VP976 Buff)
Helmet or Tropical Helmet: VP914 Green Ochre (Highlight VP914 + VP976 Buff)
Cockerel Feathers: VP 950 Black (Highlight VP890 Reflective Green)
Sahariana Jacket: VP988 Khaki (Highlight VP884 Stone Grey) or VP884 Stone Grey (Highlight VP884 + VP951 White)
Socks: VP988 Khaki (Highlight VP884 Stone Grey)
Captured Uniforms: VP988 Khaki (Highlight VP884 Stone Grey)

Bersaglieri Officer in shorts and sandels
Alpini in green uniform

Alpini

The Alpini did the bulk of their fighting in Europe, so served mostly in Grey-Green. Their uniform is much the same as the Fucilieri with the addition of unique headwear and boots.

In combat the Alpini wore the standard M1933 helmet like the Fucilieri, but often with the round coloured boss and black crows feather from their alpine felt hat.

The Alpini were extremely proud of their hat, during my research almost every Alpini photograph had them wearing their unique felt hat, almost as if they could not be photographed without it.

(See my conversion article for more about adapting Fucilieri miniatures to Alpini). 

Right: Alpini in the summer wearing their hats in light Grey-Green shirts, the feather can’t be seen here as in on the left side of the hat. They are pushing a 75/13 mountain gun.

The round boss on the left hand side of the helmet or hat was coloured according to the Alpini battalion in the regiment the Alpini belonged to: white for 1st, red for 2nd, green for 3rd and blue for 4th Battalion.

Other ranks and NCOs had a black crow’s feather, while officers had a brown eagle’s feather.

Alpini wore puttees like the Fucilieri, but sometimes wore woollen alpine socks instead. These socks were light Grey-Green (VP886 Green-Grey highlighted with VP886 + VP951 White).

Miniatures Painted by Wayne 

Alpini pushing mountain gun