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Scotch Harry

WW2 Service Respirator filter colours/differences.

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Have a couple of WW2 Service Respirators and 1 has a red oxide type coloured filter and the other a khaki type colour. Any ideas please what the differences were? Thanks

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The khaki colour is early war 1939-mid 1940, the red oxide one up to '43.As far as I know the contents were unchanged, just reenforcing of the air inlets on the red one to prevent deformation.

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I have a training publication that has pencil annotations of the colour on the diagrams of the filters

 

Type A - Grey training purposes

Type D - Black

Type E - Light brown (I think that is an interpretation of red oxide)

Type F - no colour given

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WARNING: Part of the filter in these is ASBESTOS. Never try one out.

 

ALL respirator filters made before (hand gesture) 1950-ish contain asbestos. (The post-WW2 filters are spun glass because the USA lacked a source of esparto grass to make the filter paper out of, so developed a substitute.)

 

The Civilian and Civilian Duty (round canister fixed to the mask) respirators contain white (Chrysotile) asbestos.

 

The Service (flattened canister with hose connection) respirator contains blue (Crocidolite) asbestos.

 

The green add-on "Contex" filter for the civilian respirators also contains blue (Crocidolite) asbestos.

 

Now where did I put that article?.... Ah...

 

From: Wireless-Set-No19@yahoogroups.com

[mailto:Wireless-Set-No19@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Chris Suslowicz

Sent: 18 September 2009 10:22 PM

To: Wireless-Set-No19@yahoogroups.com

Subject: [The WS No.19 Group] Concerning respirators (gas masks)

 

 

 

 

 

The only types likely to concern signals collectors are:

 

1) The General Service Respirator (Mask, hose, and separate filter canister)

2) The Civilian Duty Respirator (one piece mask with exhaust valve over the

filter)

 

either of these masks can be found fitted with a microphone for telephone

switchboard or wireless operation. Hence the interest.

 

BOTH OF THESE MASKS USE FILTERS WHICH CONTAIN ASBESTOS FIBRE AND SHOULD NOT

BE WORN.

 

The civilian duty respirator uses the same filter canister as the other

civilian respirators, and these apparently contain chrysotile ("white")

asbestos. This is slightly less hazardous than other types, but you still

don't want to inhale any fibres.

 

The General Service respirator is another matter entirely. The following

warning is poached from ePay:

 

-----------------

 

Blue asbestos in British gas masks

 

Brian has wisely advised that some WWll gas mask filters contain asbestos

and should never be worn.

The filters of the British General Service respirator contained crocidolite:

the most dangerous type of asbestos. These filters are easily identified:

they are a flattened oval in shape, are a reddish brown colour and connect

to facepiece by a corrugated hose. These filters are dangerous to handle,

far less wear. In addition, the canvas haversack used with these gas masks

can also be contaminated.

I have tested such filters and haversacks and was able to measure hazardous

fibre concentrations being released.

Robin

 

-----------------

 

The Imperial War Museum have sealed all their filters (possibly using PVA

(Poly Vinyl Alcohol) adhesive, which is a standard woodworking and craft

adhesive that is water soluble when liquid and transparent when dry). This

renders the filter useless but a lot less dangerous and is effectively

invisible once done.

 

From their website:

 

------------------

 

Safety when handling old gas masks

British gas masks of the Second World War pose a problem today, as many

incorporated asbestos (both blue and white) within their filters. Although

relatively safe when new, the asbestos may now be starting to break down,

and might be expelled from the filters, especially if they are damaged or if

the mask is tried on and air is drawn through the filter.

For these reasons it is not recommended that old gas masks are ever put on,

by anyone. Handling may also pose some threat.

The Imperial War Museum has chosen to seal the filters on all its suspect

gas masks, whether on display or used in handling collections. This stops

them functioning but does not change their outward appearance

 

------------------

From the "war relics" website:

 

If you wish to seal the filter, this is easy to do. Simply mix a solution of

white PVA glue and pour a small amount into the filter. This will set and

keep any possible loose fibres in place while not detracting from the

appearance.

------------------

 

Obviously, you should NOT attempt to dismantle the filter canister in order

to remove the contents!

 

----------------------------------------------------------

 

This posting brought to you courtesy of the Elves (and their Safe Tea),

because Elfin Safe Tea is very important these days.

 

Chris.

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As I understand it, Army respirators had a Brown tin up to the start of the war. Then Germany developed a new war gas in 1939 which made every British gas mask obsolete overnight. The Army Brown filter ones were modified with an extra small tin halfway down the flexible pipe and civilian gas masks had an extra filter held on with tape. The Red filter tins were OK for this new gas and most seem to be dated 1940/41.

Not sure what the new War Gas was, but I believe it was referred to by the Army as "Arthur Gas".

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Thank you very much for the excellent info and nope,not going to wear-just for the collection.

 

Of the few I now have,apart from the different coloured filters,a couple have a protrusion to the side(if that makes sense)

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Thank you very much for the excellent info and nope,not going to wear-just for the collection.

 

Of the few I now have,apart from the different coloured filters,a couple have a protrusion to the side(if that makes sense)

 

The "protrusion" on the side of the mask is circular and is there to permit a microphone to be fitted for use by wireless or switchboard operators. Basically the end of the protrusion is sliced off and a metal clamp (like a Jubilee clip) fitted. There are then the options of:

 

1) a plastic bung for when the microphone is not fitted.

2) Microphone, Respirator, No.1 with a 2 pin plug that accepts the socket from a telephone operator's headset and replaces the "Transmitter, Breast" (without the on/off switch facility of the latter), or a cable with No.10 plug on the end for remote control units.

3) Microphone, Respirator, No.2 with a lead and No.10 plug fitted - for use with WS18 series. (In connection with the standard Microphone Hand No.4 or 4A which is still required for Tx/Rx switching.

4) Microphone, Respirator, Power for Telephone, Loudspeaking No.2 & No.3, etc.

 

The Civilian Duty Respirator would have a permanently fitted microphone and single earpiece headset with plaited cord and Plug No.406 or the large (1/2") GPO jack plug according to switchboard type in use.

 

The microphone elements used are gas-tight ones and supplied with a sealing ring to ensure a good seal between the element and the front face of the microphone housing.

 

Chris.

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If you look on the base of the filters you will see Roman numerals, buff, or khaki are the E IV (up to c. 1938 ish) E V (c. 1939) and the dark brick red type are E VI (c. 1940 onwards).

 

There are two military face-pieces with the protrusion for the use of a microphone, the standard issue Mk. V, which is the plain black rubber type with the protrusion usually left unopened and the Special T MIC which is a version of the Mk. IV, still covered in stockinette but with the protrusion and a plastic bung clamped in place.

 

Will try and upload some photos together when I can take them in daylight.

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The couple I have close to hand both have rubber face pieces with the protrusion un cut and intact but come to think of it sure I have a stockinnette one with a cap that comes off as well.

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ALL respirator filters made before (hand gesture) 1950-ish contain asbestos.

 

Actually they don't. The WW1 small box respirator filter contains charcoal, cotton and cellulose. The tech spec makes no mention of asbestos.

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I ought to be dead by now then,:laugh: during air raids we had civi type masks but after the war we played with and wore both civi and military types

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