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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Introducing the Italian Black Shirts

The Italian Black Shirts or Camicie Nere were the paramilitary branch of of Benito Mussolini's Fascist Party. Their official name was the Voluntary Militia for National Security. They were analogous to the Brown Shirts in Germany -which were actually modeled after the Black Shirts themselves-, providing the necessary muscle to keep Mussolini's political adversaries at bay as well as labor unions representing the interests of factory workers and peasants. They were established shortly after WWI with many former soldiers joining their ranks and Mussolini as their Commander in Chief. Their uniforms were inspired by those of the Arditi, the daring Italian shock troops of WWI. By the time Mussolini came to power in 1922 there were over 200,000 of them. When war broke out, many of them were formed into actual fighting units. Some saw action as early as the Spanish Civil War. Some also fought in the Ethiopian campaign. During WWII they saw heavy fighting in North Africa, where 3 entire divisions were destroyed. They remained an organized group until the armistice of 1943, when the pro-German government in Northern Italy reestablished the remaining members as the Republican National Guard. 

Atlantic Italian Black Shirts - Part I
This is also a hard set to find and unfortunately I only found some of the figures. However I think I got the most representative ones. At center we have Mussolini himself. To the right a standard bearer and to the left a man carrying a bundle of wooden sticks and an ax. This is called a Fasces and it comes from ancient times. The first to use it were apparently the Etruscans and later on the Romans. The ax symbolized the life and death power of the magistrates and the bundle, the strength which can be achieved through unity.  

Atlantic Italian Black Shirts - Part II
A couple more poses. The two bycicle riders are the same pose. On the back of one of the bikes I sat the figure who is supposed to be driving a motorcycle with a side car. He happpens to be saluting while driving. The motorcycle as well as one more guy who is riding in the side car are missing from my set. BTW, I find this to be one of the better sculpted Atlatic sets. No awkward poses like those you see in some of the other sets like the British Infantry...


  1. The Atlantic political sets are so unusual and I agree with your analysis of the sculpting. I have a couple of the 1/72 sets, the Russian Revolutionaries and the Maoist Chinese, I believe. I wonder if the sculptor was more invested in the subject matter on these! Some of the Atlantic "standard" battle sets are a bit generic, almost - not so these!

    1. Well, you do have some of the most priced Atlantic sets then! I do think that these other sets were done by a different hand. The sculpting is much better than, lets say, the British Infantry set. I hope I find the revolutionary sets complete and at a decent price someday...