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M17 Gas Mask

The M17 Field Protective Mask was developed by the Army Chemical Corps, first issued in 1959 as an improvement on the M9 Gas Mask from the previous decade.

3nd Battalion, 7th Regiment Marine wearing M17 gas mask waits before entering a VC tunnel, 22 miles south of DaNang, Vietnam, 1968
3nd Battalion, 7th Regiment Marine wearing M17 gas mask waits before entering a VC tunnel, 22 miles south of DaNang, Vietnam, 1968.

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30 Jul 1944 Operation Bluecoat begins, an attack by British Second Army supporting breakout in Normandy, aimed to secure the Vire junction and high ground of Mont Pinçon [30 Jul-7 Aug].
30 Jul 1945 USS Indianapolis [CA-35] torpedoed by Japanese submarine, sinks in 12 minutes killing 300 immediately, leaving 900 men in shark-infested waters without lifeboats; only 316 rescued 4 days later.
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M17 Gas Mask

Field Protective Mask, M17
Field Protective Mask, M17

The M17 Field Protective Mask had a singular new feature: the elimination of the need for a canister by placing lightweight filter material in pockets in the cheek of the mask. With no canister, the mask was made in one configuration, with no need to accomodate left or right-handed canister placement. The mask was originally made in three sizes and included a voice transmitter to improve speech transmission.

In 1966, a drinking tube that mates with the M1 canteen cap and a resuscitation tube were added resulting in a change in nomenclature to the M17A1. The resuscitation tube was later dropped and a new size (extra small) was added in 1983, standardized as the Mask, Chemical-Biological: Field, M17A2. The M17 mask was obsoleted in 1993, although it is still used for civilians in mass casualty preparations. The M40-series protective masks are the replacement for the M17 series gas masks.

M17 Field Protective Mask Description

The M17 Field Protective Mask is designed to give protection against respiratory war gases, germ-warfare agents, and airborne radioactive fallout particles. The protection is provided by the pads of filter material (M13A2 filter elements) enclosed within "pork chop" cavities molded into the rubber facepiece of the mask. In the M13A2 filter elements, the adsorbent, known as ASC Whetlerite charcoal, is charcoal impregnated with copper oxide and salts of silver and chromium. The filter element also includes a laminated particulate filter layer to remove particles and aerosols greater than 3 µm in diameter.

The blended natural rubber faceblank of the M17A2 Chemical–Biological Field Mask protects the wearer’s face, eyes, and respiratory tract, while the attached M6A2 hood protects the M17A2 mask as well as exposed portions of the head and neck. When used together, the M17A2 facepiece and the M6A2 hood resist liquid chemical and biological agents.

The M17 gas mask can be used in any climatic condition, but the M4 winterization kit is required for temperatures of –20°F or below. The forehead straps, temple straps, and cheek straps come together at a head pad for ease of fitting. The M17A2 mask is manufactured in four sizes to accommodate all personnel: extra small, small, medium, and large. For personnel requiring vision correction, optical inserts are provided. The optical inserts are both prong type and wire frame types. The wire frame type is easier to mount inside the mask. The M17 mask is compatible with shoulder-fired weapons, night-vision devices, and sighting devices. A variety of accessory items is available, including the M1 waterproof bag, the M4 winterization kit, the M6A2 hood, the M15A1 carrier, and optical inserts and outserts.

Reference Technical Manuals for the M17 Gas Mask include:

  • TM 3-4240-279-10, Operator's Manual: Mask, Chemical-Biological: Field ABC-M17, M17A1, and M17A2
  • TM 3-4240-279-20&P, Unit Maintenance Manual for Mask, Chemical-Biological; Field, ABC-M17, M17A1, and M17A2

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