The gas mask has a long history, but modern use started in World War I. Since that time, the gas mask has been seldom needed in combat but has been part of the training and equipment of virtually everyone in the U.S. military. In recent years, the threat of terrorism and unconventional attacks has renewed interest in gas masks for soldiers as well as for the general population.
M40A1 gas mask, worn by a Marine assigned to 2nd Battalion, 25th Marines, during Nuclear, Biological, Chemical (NBC) training at Camp Fuji, Japan, 16 July 2004.
Gas Masks: Early History in the U.S. Military
Although protective masks were known as early as the 16th Century, poison gas use in warfare was first a major factor in World War I. The U.S. had no gas equipment at that time so designs were borrowed from the French and English armies until the U.S. Training Mask was developed in July 1917. The Training Mask was followed by the Corrected English Mask in October 1917 and the Richardson Floy Kops Mask in early 1918. These designs, and a few other low volume attempts at improvement, served the Army's needs for WW I and also showed that significant further development was required.
An experimental design from WW I, known as the Kops Tissot Monro (KTM), was standardized as the Model 1919 and later renamed the M-1, the first of a long line of standardized gas masks used by the U.S. military.
U.S. Military Gas Masks: WW II and Later
U.S. Army personnel fitting gas mask spectacles before D-Day, 1944.
This section of Olive-Drab.com reviews U.S. military gas masks from World War II through the 2006 deployment of the Joint Service General Purpose Mask (JSGPM). Although the U.S. Army masks were most widely used (by the Army and other services), there were a number of important masks developed for the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force as well.
Here is a list of the most significant of the U.S. military gasmasks (or masks procured by the U.S. Government for civilian use) with links to Olive-Drab.com pages with photos and further information on the individual models and their variants:
Recommended Book about Chemical Warfare and Masks
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