Today we'll be taking a look at a recent addition to the "field gear" part of the collection. This newest item is an early, Post-War, Italian mess kit.
The official Italian name for this particular mess kit is Gavetta Italiano Modello 1954. In English, it is the Model 1954, Italian Mess Kit, or M54.
This mess kit replaced the earlier, Model 1930 mess kit that was used by the Italian military through WW2. In 1954, Italy "modernized" their forces and designed quite a bit of new gear and uniforms. The mess kit was updated to a three piece kit, replacing the older two piece, WW2 kit.
This M54 kit is constructed of heavy aluminum, with a galvanized steel pot bail and pan handles.
The two smaller pans, are both identical in size, but have the handles attached to opposite sides. When the pans are installed over each end of the main pot, the handles of each pan are folded down and snap over a stud on opposing the pan. This effectively locks the two small pans in place.
The bail on the main pot then folds down and will snap under the small pan, handle mount. This makes a very secure and compact package. It is quite a unique and ingenious design.
These Model 1954 mess kits were produced in the 1950's and 1960's. They were issued and used in the field until Italy replaced them with a close copy of the German style mess kit in 1974. Some of the old Model 1954's continued in service with the Italian cadet school into the 1980's, even after the new, Model 1974 mess kits were issued out.
These Model 1954 kits do not have any attachment points for clips or leather straps. They were meant to be carried inside the rucksack or bread bag.
Here in the United States, these old Italian mess kits are seldom encountered. I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to pick one up and add it to the collection. With theses old items, if you don't grab them when you see them, you may never see one again!
Let's take a closer look at this unique kit. Here is the photo album: