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The Early Gas Masks of World War I

March 20 2003 at 5:01 PM
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Dick G  (Login Dick Gaines)
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The Early Gas Masks of World War I

http://www.nofuture.com/lmag/history/wwimasks.htm

Although acts of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) can be traced back many hundreds of years, it is generally accepted by historians that the first instance of chemical warfare took place at Ypres when the Germans attacked the French with a concentrated cloud of chlorine gas on April 22, 1915. This disastrous event prompted the development of the first defense respirators. Early attempts to protect against chemical attacks were made, such as rags moistened with water, photographers Hypo solution or even urine, but these methods were not enough. The first defense gas masks were clumsy uncomfortable "bags" that were worn around the face and/or head. These early masks, such as the British Hypo Helmet and the French M2 were quickly made and offered only a moderate amount of protection. With gas casualties on the rise, it was apparent that newer and better respirators were needed to protect soldiers. Further developments incorporated metal filter canisters which were attached directly to the face piece or connected via a corrugated tube. Although this was a step in the right direction, filters were heavy and cumbersome in the battlefield. Not only were these primitive masks uncomfortable and awkward, but many had clips to hold the nose closed, and a snorkel like mouth piece which was held between the teeth. These problems needed to be addressed, making comfort a key design factor. With some early experimental masks, the filter was slung behind the neck, or even mounted on top of the wearer's head. The materials used to construct gas masks also went through many changes. Masks were made from canvas, rubber and even leather. However, new chemical agents that could penetrate or degrade these materials were being experimented with. In addition, biological agents were also being tested. These new threats kept gas mask evolution on the move throughout W.W.I.

EARLY US ARMY PHOTOGRAPH OF SEVERAL W.W.I ERA GAS MASKS FROM DIFFERENT COUNTRIES
(PHOTO PUBLISHED BY THE CHEMICAL WARFARE SERVICE - 1940s)

OLD PHOTOGRAPH OF US SOLDIERS WEARING KOPS-TISSOT GAS MASKS


    
This message has been edited by Dick Gaines from IP address 24.99.13.138 on Mar 20, 2003 5:04 PM


 
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