I have two examples of the General Civilian Respirator in my collection, this mask was issued to everyone in the UK during the Second World War along with other masks such as the Civilian Duty Respirators and the Micky Mouse Respirator, this makes it one of the most common British Second World War masks, examples of this mask can be easily found in very good condition.
The mask on the left is made by Siebe Gorman. It is made out of a single piece of thin textured sheet rubber, which is joined of the bottom using a strip of fabric, glue and stitching. The eyepiece is made of plastic (Cellulose Acetate) with fabric around the edges, this is also fixed to the mask using stitches and in some cases glue as well to make it more effective against gas. The masks size is stamped onto the top strap on the head harness.
The mask on the right is made by Avon. It is also made out of a single piece of thicker, smooth sheet rubber, however it is only attached using glue, this means that it is more comfortable to wear, but its possibly not as strong as the other method. The area around the Celluslose Acetate eyepiece is unusual as it is textured, this makes the glue used to attach the eyepiece less likely to peel off, it has fabric around the outside and this is held in place also with glue and stitches. The masks size is stamped above the eyepiece.
On both masks the filter is attached by stretching the facepiece over the top of it and securing it using a black rubber band on the outside. Both masks also lack an exhale valve, air is exhaled out the side of the facepiece. Later on in the war flapper exhale valves were added to the facepiece which resulted in the mask being more comfortable and efficient during an attack.
An adjustable 3 point harness is fitted to each mask, the harness of the left mask is white, the ends of it are stitched to prevent it fraying, the mask on the right has a black harness and has pieces of metal on the end of the harness to prevent it fraying.
Type: General Civilian Respirator
Made By: Seibe Gorman, Avon
Date: 1930's / 1940's
Used Buy: Civilian
The Small Childs Respirator, more commonly known as the "Mickey Mouse" was issued to children too big for the Babies Anti Gas Cradle and too small for the General Civilian Respirator. The mask if of a higher quality than the General Civilian Respirator, it was originally made out of black rubber, but this was soon changed to an orange/red colour, possibly an attempt to make the mask less frightening for young children and to help them stand out in crowds of people.
The facepiece is made out of a single piece of molded rubber which is glued at the bottom to form an opening for the filter, a flapper valve is fitted to the front of the mask which gives it an even more comical appearance. The valve also makes exhaling a lot easier as younger children probably couldnt exhale air around the outside of the mask. The eyepieces are made out of glass, these are held in place with aluminium rings which are crimped onto the rubber. The six point head harness is made of long springs inside blue fabric tubes, these are riveted to areas on the facepiece which have been re-enforced using a piece of fabric molded into the rubber. The filter cannister is fixed directly to the front of the mask, and unlike the General Civilian Masks the disk valve is fitted to a seperate piece of metal which is fitted to the top of the filter. This mask can be easily found on the collectors market, but there is a lot of competition from collectors of gas masks and homefront militaria.
Type: Small Childs Respirator
Made By: Siebe Gorman, Avon
Date: 1930's / 1940's
Used By: Civilian
During the Second World War, the British Government issued many strange proective devices alongside the General Civilian Respirators etc. These inculded masks for bed ridden patients in hospitals and masks for people with certain medical conditions which dont permit the use of conventional gas masks. The mask pictured above is the Helmet Respirator, also known as the Invalid Anti Gas Hood.
The Helmet Respirator features the same "bellow" type system as the Babies Anti Gas Cradle/Helmet, this would be operated by the wearer, the front of the mask is re-enforced to support the "bellow" and to stop the large circular eyepieces from sagging forwards or into the wearers face. The hood was secured round the wearers chest underneath the arms by means of a fabric cape and draw cords. It was only made in one size, for both adults and children, it was also said to attract a lot of attention to the wearer because it stuck out a lot compared to other masks that were issued. Today this mask is difficult to locate on the collectors market, most examples are found to be in good condition.
Type: Helmet Respirator
Made by: Unknown
Made in: 1940's
Used by: Civilian
During the Second World War, British Service Personel were either issued with the Mk IV, Mk V and Light-Anti Gas Respirators. It was also used by the Police, ARP and some civilians. The mask provides a higher amount of protection due to the filter, thick rubber facepiece, and the six point head straps. On the left hand side of the facepiece is a small cylindrical piece of rubber, this is so a No1 or No2 Respirator Microphones, these were installed by cutting a hole into the top of the cylinder, fitting the microphone into the hole and securing it using wire and tape. This mask eventually led to the Light Anti Gas Respirator, the first prototype masks had the tube and filter removed from the front, and the opening was blocked off and a smaller filter was fitted into the microphone cylinder and secured in the same way as the microphone, these prototypes are very difficult to find, I have only ever seen two one of them was made using the Mk IV facepiece, the other using the Mk V facepiece.
The mask features a thick black rubber molded facepiece, glass eyepieces held together threaded metal disks, wire, and glue. The headstraps are of a very interesting design as they are threaded through a piece of rubber with a number of cuts on it at the rear. On the front of the mask is the metal inhale/exhale assembly, air is inhaled through the bottom of the assembly where it joins to the tube, and air is exhaled through the usually green disk which has a number of holes in it. The hose on my mask has a beige "stockinette" material covering, the rubber underneath is black, the hose is the short, chest carried version, there is another version which has a longer tube so the mask can be carried at the wearers side, this type of mask was normally issued to pilots, sailors and anyone that required more freedom of movement at the front. On the end of the hose is the filter cannister, many types have been seen fitted to these masks, including specific chemicals, industrial hazards etc. The normal issue filter which is shown above has multiple layers of filtering material, air is drawn into the side of the filter via to long thin holes. This mask was also issued to Canadian and Australian soldiers during the war as were copies of other British masks. This mask can be easily found for sale on the collectors market in mint condition with all the accesories, the microphones and specialised filters tend to be more difficult to find as they werent made in large numbers.
Type: Mk V Service Respirator
Made by: Seibe Gorman, Avon, Dunlop, Leyland, Seco and various other manufacturers.
Used by: Military, Civil Defence, Civilian
Status: Common / Uncommon
This strange mask is most likely a prototype Light Anti Gas Respirator, very little is known about this mask as it carrys very little markings and doesnt appear to have been documented in any way. The example above bears some similarites to the Mk1 Light Anti Gas Respirator, Civilian Duty Gas Mask and varients of the Vista Vision Gas Mask. This is the only known example of this type of mask in the gas mask collectors community, along with other possible prototype Light Anti Gas Respirators.
The 60mm filter is similar to types used on some Civilian Duty masks apart from the 60mm thread at the top instead of a disk inhale valve. It might also be worth mentioning that they bottom of the filter is identical to the front of exhale valve on the front on the mask. The 60mm filter mount is attached to the mask with a metal band which permanently held on by a small metal clip. As mentioned before, the front of the exhale valve is identical to the bottom of the filter. Inisde the valve housing is a smal rubber disk valve encased in a plastic tube. It is held onto the mask with an easily removable metal band, similar to ones that are on some Civilian Duty Masks. The green rubber facepiece has only two markings, it has SG inside a circle, possibly meaning Siebe Gorman, it also has an N, most likely the meaning Normal, as in the size of the mask. The eyepeices are the same as the ones of the Mk V, Mk IV Service Respirators, Mk1 Light Anti Gas Respiraators and Civilian Duty Masks. The six point head harness is quite strange as is it is made completely out of rubber, unlike other Second World War British masks, the same type of head harness can be found on some 1970's Siebe Gorman Vista Vision Masks. The harness is fitted to the mask by threading it through metal buckles which can be released by pulling on rubber tabs fitted to them, this makes the mask very easily to remove. When I recieved this mask it came in an unmarked thick cardboard box held together by large staples.
Type: Prototype Lightweight Anti Gas Respirator
Made By: Unknown (Possibly Siebe Gorman)
Made in: Unknown
Used by: Unknown
Status: Very Scarce
Following the Second World it was thought that a replacement was needed for the older General Civilian Respirator. It was intended to be issued in the outbreak of war, which nearly happened but the Cold War stayed small. Its unknown how many of these masks were actually made, but they are quite rare today possibly because only a small amount were made or the stockpiles were destroyed.
These masks were constructed out of a single piece of molded sheet rubber, similar to the Second World War General Civilian Respirators. However there are many differences between them. This mask has two thin plastic eyepieces held to the mask by metal disks. This mask also features an outlet valve within a bulky metal housing on the side of the mask as standard. Inside the mask is an inflated inner face-seal, this is actually part of the main facepeice and isnt glued on, in order to keep inflated a rubber strip is glued around the outside of the facepiece. Air is inhaled into the mask the same way as on the Second World War General Civilian Respirator via a disk valve mounted directly on the filter. This mask has five point head harness, using a similar adjustment method as on the Second World War General Civilian Respirators, however two more straps have been added at the bottom, these hook together and are then attached to the joining part of the other three straps, however the bottom straps seem very fragile and easy to tear. The masks size is imprinted on the rubber part of the front strap, this mask is size 3, possibly meaning large.
Type: C.7 General Civilian Respirator
Made by: Unknown
Made in: 1951
Used by: Civilian
Type: Mk 1 Light Anti Gas Respirator
Made by: Avon
Made in: 1953
Used by: Army
Type: Vista Vision
Made by: Seibe Gorman
Made in: 1977
Filter: Fixed Puretha Filter (Second Type)
Used by: Industrial
Made by: Avon
Made in 1987
Used by: Army
There are several different kinds of masks all based on the very successful British Avon S10 Design. In my collection have have 4 examples of this type of design, two S10's (One size 4, and the other size 2), one AR10 and one SF10.
The mask at the top left is a size 4 S10. The S10 is currently the standard issue respirator for the British Armed Forces, production of these masks began in the 1980s to replace the older Avon SR6 respirator. The mask has many features which appear on almost every modern NBC respirator, these include a fail-safe drinking device, a PSM/SSM on the side which can accept special microphones. The mask also features an inner mask, which helps to reduce the lenses from fogging. The 6 point head harness is made completely out of rubber and is simple to adjust and doesnt slip whilst wearing the mask. The S10 is due to be replaced soon by the Scott GSR (General Service Respirator). The S10 can be easily found on the surplus market and two of them are available from the GasMasksUK Online Store.
The mask at the top right is a size 2 AR10, its similar to the S10, however it doesnt have a drinking tube and it has flat eyepieces. The mask has flat polycarbonate eyepieces, these are a lot stronger than the brittle plastic lenses on the S10, they also provide a greater field of view. My example has a DAVIES communications interface fitted on top of the PSM/SSM, which isnt something added on the production line, meaning that the mask might have either been used by law enforcement or even special forces. The AR10 is quite difficult to aquire as they were made in small numbers and its unknown who actually used them as there is little evidence of them being used during training exercises or on operations.
The mask at the bottom is a size 2 SF10, this mask has very little in common with both masks, is has some things similar to the AR10 such as no drinking device and polycarbonate eyepieces however it has low profile 40mm filter mounts and a removable blanking plug which allows an air escape bottle to be fitted for conditions of oxygen depletion. This also allows a left handed shooter to easily change the filter position or to mount two filters at once which was done by the British SBS in the First Gulf War whilst destroying potential chemical weapons. My example shows signs of use due to who its been used by, unlike most SF10's on the surplus market it is fitted with a communications cable which is compatable with radios known to by used by special forces when conduction hostage rescue operations and exercises. The SF10 is difficult to aquire and when found are usually very expensive due to them being very sought after by collectors of gas masks and special forces equipment. Finding them is made even harder because they are no longer being made and the Ministry Of Defence has and and still are destroying any remaining masks.
Type: S10 (Top Left) AR10 (Top Right) SF10 (Bottom)
Made by: Avon
Date: 1980's / 1990's
Filter: 40mm NATO
Used by: Military, Law Enforcement
Status: S10 (Common) AR10 (Rare) SF10 with comms lead (Rare/Scarce)
The mask is based on the excellent S10 respirator, It shares many similar features but there is a lot more improvements which have led to one of the best modern NBC respirators. It is used in the UK by the armed forces, police and civilian operators, there is also an export version which is currently in use in the Netherlands.
The has angled lenses like the S10, however they are considerably smaller, as is the exhale valve/voice diapragm on the front of the mask. The FM12's drinking tube is also longer than the one on the S10, making it easier to carry out drinking whilst wearing the mask. The fitting on the end of the tube fits 58 Pattern NBC bottles as does the S10.The 40mm filter mounts are of a lower profile compared to the ones on the S10, the example shown about has a removable PSM/SSM which allows the wearer wo change the filter position or use two filters at once. However some masks are fitted with the same PSM/SSM as on the S10. The facepiece is different from the one on the S10, whilst wearing the mask ot can be noticed that the mask have a lower profile, it also doesnt have a "ridge" around the mask either. The head harness of this mask is made out of elastic strips of fabric and mesh, creating a better face seal and making it a lot more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The masks can be found on the collectors markets, but they only turn up a few times a month and when found usually have a high asking price.
Made by: Avon
Made in: 2000
Used by: Army and Police
Status: Uncommon / Rare
The mask is based on the roughly on the SF10 respirator, It shares many similar features but there is a lot more improvements which have led to one of the best modern special purpose NBC respirators. It is used in the UK by the armed forces, police and civilian operators. It has also been seen in use with various police and counter terrorism forces world wide.
The mask has angled lenses unlike the SF10, however they are considerably smaller, as is the exhale valve/voice diapragm on the front of the mask.The 40mm filter mounts are o lower profile as are the ones on the SF10, the PSM/SSM is removavble as is the one on the SF10 which allows the wearer wo change the filter position or use two filters at once. The facepiece is different from the one on the S10, whilst wearing the mask ot can be noticed that the mask have a lower profile, it also doesnt have a "ridge" around the mask either. The head harness of this mask is made out of elastic strips of fabric and mesh, creating a better face seal and making it a lot more comfortable to wear for long periods of time. The masks can be found on the collectors markets, but when found usually have a high asking price when found.
Made by: Avon
Made in: 2000
Filter: 40mm Avon CTF12
Used by: Counter Terrorism Teams