The Penna respirator, sometimes referred to just as Penna mask, was the first domestic design gas mask adopted by the Italian army after the Great War, succeding the english SBR. The mask was named after Lorenzo Penna, the Generale del Genio (military engeneering general) who founded the S.C.M. (Servizio Chimico Militare, chemical military service).
The Penna mask's face piece was made of a two layers rubber, green and textured on the outside and beige on the inside. The head harness had six straps. The "Triplex" eye pieces were made of three layers, two glass ones and a cellulose one that tended to become orange over time. Inside the mask there was a sponge bridge that acted like an oral-nasal cup, separating the face piece in two parts and preventing fogging while wearing the mask. To even further prevent fogging, anti-fogging lenses could be put using eye clips. The intake-outtake piece was connected to the mask at the bottom and tended not to point straight forward but to bend to one side because of the soft rubber; it was a pipe with three holes: one for the hose, one for the connection to the mask and the third was for the exhale valve, an aluminum disc with two complementary thin rubber discs kept still by a lid and sealed with a rubber ring; inside there was an inhale valve to allow longer duration of the filter. The filter itself was attached through a pleated hose to the aforementioned piece and itself was stored in its bag.
Penna gas mask with 40 mm conversion for terrestrial navy units (note the end of the hose)
Penna's 6-point head harness
Penna's inside (it's slightly bent)
1933 Penna respirator with M33 filter
Penna mask from the top
1933 Penna respirator with replaced eye rings and M33 filter. Note the remains of the 6 straps system on the right of the upper strap. Changing the eye rings was not a standard procedure
1933 Penna respirator marking
Penna's intake-outtake piece disassembled
Penna mask's inside. Note the cut pieces that used to be attached to the 6-points head harness
The mask came in satchel made usually of green and rarely of brown cloth: it had two sections, one for the mask and the other for the filter and hose. The filter section had holes to allow air flow. Inside the side pocket, there were a pair of anti-fogging lenses, specifically made for this mask. The main strap had a special buckle to be shortened when the mask was in use; the small string on the side of the satchel helped keeping the aforementioned firmly onto the wearer's chest.
In 1933 the Penna respirators were upgraded with a new 5-points elastic head harness, which would become standard in italian military masks. To switch to the new set-up, the masks were deprived of the old harness by ungluing the 4 lower straps and by cutting the rubber where the two upper straps were held. This process was executed to almost all masks, making Penna respirators with the original setup extremely rare. Some Penna masks are found with the more modern eye pieces, but that wasn't a standard procedure. The main use to the newly upgraded Penna respirators was to train soldiers in the use of gas masks, and they were issued with their old bag and an M33 filter. On rare cases, Penna masks were used for second line duties, like terrestrial navy units, and in even rarer cases they were used by Italian soldiers or native rebels during the Spanish civil war.
Colorized photo of soldiers posing with 1933 Penna masks
Soldiers showing captured italian gas masks during the Spanish civil war. The first gas mask on the right is a Penna with an M33 kit
Italian soldiers wearing Penna respirators. Note the original Penna filters
A soldier wearing an M30 chemical suit and a Penna to protect himself against blister agents
Soldiers training wih M30 chemical suits and a Penna masks to protect themselves against blister agents. Altough their setup is serious, their static pose unveil the nature of this picture
Penna respirator being used by athletes for propaganda reason. The deminished air flow didn't help in jumping that obstacle
Penna respirator being used during training. Note the Fiat-Revelli 1914 machinegun, an outdated design used only for the aforementioned porpouse
Penna respirator being used during training
Penna mask photo taken from "Guerra chimica e difesa antigas" (Chemical warfare and gas defence), by Attilio Izzo, 1931