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MCU-2/P Gas Mask

The MCU-2/P Gas Mask was adopted by the USAF and Navy in 1983, based on the XM30 developmental design. MCU-2/P was used extensively by the two services during the 1990s, including Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

USAF Sr. Airman Tyler K. Thorson, with the 119th Fighter Wing, has his MCU-2A/P Protective Mask checked during unit training at Air National Guard Base, Fargo, ND, 7 February 2004
USAF Sr. Airman Tyler K. Thorson, with the 119th Fighter Wing, has his MCU-2A/P Protective Mask checked during unit training at Air National Guard Base, Fargo, ND, 7 February 2004.

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Mask, Chemical Uniform Number 2 (MCU-2/P) Gas Mask

Member of the 919th Civil Engineering Squadron drinks water through the drinking tube of his MCU-2/P gas mask during a field training exercise, Elgin AFB, FL, 2 May 1991.
Member of the 919th Civil Engineering Squadron drinks water through the drinking tube of his MCU-2/P gas mask during a field training exercise, Elgin AFB, FL, 2 May 1991.

In the 1970s, military development programs for gas masks began to use silicone as the faceblank material. The advantages of silicone were many, including its flexibility and lack of allergic reactions. New designs designated XM-29 and XM-30 were created but test results were unacceptable to the U.S. Army. The U.S. Navy and Air Force, however, liked the basic design of the XM30.

After further development, the XM-30 was adopted in 1983 as the Mask, Chemical Uniform Number 2 (MCU-2/P). The MCU-2/P simplified logistics when it replaced the U.S. Navy Diaphragm (ND) Mark V Gas Mask (for forces afloat) and the M17-series masks (for Air Force and Navy forces ashore).

The MCU-2/P provides improved performance and storage characteristics compared to older mask models. It provides protection against tactical concentrations of chemical and biological agents, toxins, and radiological fallout particles. The MCU-2/P mask also accommodates the use of the standardized tri-service/NATO canisters.

The MCU-2/P mask is constructed of a one-piece urethane lens and a silicone rubber face piece. The one-piece lens offers a large, unobstructed field of view. The single canister can be mounted in either of two positions, to accomodate left- and right-handed wearers. The MCU-2/P provides two voicemitters, one on the front of the mask for speaking directly into a telephone or radio handset and one at the side to allow personnel nearby to hear. The mask has a drinking tube that connects to a canteen with an M1 canteen cap.

MCU-2A/P Gas Mask

The MCU-2/P mask was superseded by the MCU-2A/P mask beginning in 1990. The MCU-2A/P featured an added microphone connector assembly and smaller front voicemitter compared to the MCU-2/P. With the MCU-2A/P Gas Mask, an internal microphone could be placed inside the mask and connected to an external communications system through the connector on the front voicemitter. However, field experience and testing in the late 1990s showd that the microphone connector assembly represented a damage failure point on an unacceptable number of MCU-2A/P masks. Since changes in technology proviced external mask communications capabilities that no longer required a connector assembly, it was decided to discontinue the MCU-2A/P. All further production reverted to MCU-2/P masks.

The second phase of MCU-2/P masks are slightly different, with a blue-tint eyelens that offers UV protection, improved clarity, and reduced lens discoloration due to aging. Other MCU-2/P mask mprovements were made to the outlet valve assembly.

Second phase MCU-2/P masks can be identified by the circular manufacture date indicator stamped on the lower side strap of the mask. The top two numbers in the center of the stamp identify the production year. All second phase MCU-2/P masks will be stamped with '02' or higher dates. The production of the MCU-2/P mask continued through the fielding of the Joint Service General Purpose Mask (JSGPM), in 2006.

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