The S6 respirator was introduced in 1966, however it was not until 1968 that serious trials began into developing corrective lenses that could be worn with the mask. Previously spectacles with thin flexible arms had been used, such as the example we looked at here, that did not interfere with the respirator’s seal around the face. For the S6 a different approach was taken and a pair of lenses that ‘plugged’ in to the mask were issued instead:The lenses were provided in the wearer’s prescription and came in a standard green plastic hard case to protect them:The box has a /|\ mark and NSN number moulded into the top:I am unsure if the ‘Mark 5’ refers to the case or the spectacles it contains. The lenses are actually quite a loose fit inside the box and rattle around a bit:There is at least one variation of the box and it can be found made of black rather than green plastic. The spectacles do not have any traditional arms to go over the ears and are sprung in the centre between the two lenses:The opposite side of the spectacles have a pair of metal pegs in this position:A selection of corresponding holes are moulded into the S6 mask above the nose, allowing the exact positioning of the lenses to be adjusted for the best sight picture:The two metal pegs are pushed into a pair of these holes and the spectacles are then held securely in the mask:It has actually taken me quite a while to add these spectacles to my collection, I did purchase a case off of eBay a few years back in the hope it would come with the contents, but sadly when it arrived it was empty. I am therefore very pleased to have added another little component to my Cold War respirator haversack and it is now looking far more complete than it did when I first did a kit layout for it nearly four years ago- perhaps an updated layout is in order.
I always enjoy adding the small bits of kit to fill out my packs and haversacks. Often they end up containing a far better range of equipment than the average soldier ever saw but it is fun tracking the items down and the completest in me likes to know I have all the right bits. My Cold War NBC kit is fairly extensive now, helped by the fact that it is very cheap and not many of us seem to be collecting it! One item I have not had until now though has been a set of repair patches:These patches were issued to troops to allow running repairs to be made to NBC suits in the field. Ideally if an NBC suit got damaged it would be replaced with a new one to ensure the best protection possible for the wearer. The military understood however that this might not always be possible in a combat situation so soldiers were issued with small packet of patches to allow them to stick them over any small rips or tears in their suits as a temporary fix. These repair patches do not seem to have been on general issue, but were distributed before major exercises as recalled by Steve martin in his book ‘Stab in the Dark’ where he recalls their distribution prior to the large Exercise Crusader:
We were given our NBC kit, repair patches, spare canisters etc.
The packets are vacuum sealed clear plastic and contain six repair patches, each about 4” long by 1 ½” wide:A ‘V’ notch is cut into the packet at one end to make it easy to tear it open:Instructions are printed on a piece of white paper and explain how to use the repair patches:I imagine that this is the sort of item you would never want to have to use, as the last thing a soldier would want in an NBC situation is to have a failing in his suit and need to repair it! Having said that, if the worst were to happen these patches would have given men at least a chance of survival until they could get into a replacement NBC suit.
At the time of the First Gulf War there was legitimate concern that Saddam Hussein would use chemical weapons against coalition forces. He had already used them against his own people in the 1980s and was known to have stockpiled them, so troops were issued with NBC kit, masks and suits. Initially the British Army only had NBC kit in woodland green shades, however Remploy was set to work producing desert DPM versions of the suits and seem to have produced them to the exclusion of all other goods. These were rushed into theatre and arrived just in time to equip British troops before they began assaulting Iraq. In terms of design the DDPM NBC suits were identical to the standard British Army issue design, but in a tan camouflage suitable for use in the deserts of Iraq and it is a pair of trousers from one of these sets we are looking at tonight:The trousers have large patch pockets on each leg:These have top flaps secured with two pieces of Velcro:Angled Velcro tabs are fitted to the bottom of each leg, by twisting the trouser leg and securing the Velcro a tight seal can be created around the ankle:Black patches are fitted to each leg to allow a piece of chemical detection paper to be attached:The trousers are heavy, so a set of straps are fitted to the rear that can be passed over the shoulder like a pair of integral braces:These can then be passed through loops on the front and tied to hold up the trousers:A Velcro strap also helps draw in the waist:A label is sewn into the trousers indicating they were made by J Compton & Webb in November 1991:This was after the initial batches produced for the Gulf War, which seem to have been made exclusively by Remploy. This suggests that it was part of a later contract and then stockpiled in case of a future conflict in the desert. These DDPM NBC suits were to be reissued in the invasion of Iraq in the early 2000s and even today are still commonly seen in service. Here we see a soldier responding to the recent poison attack on a former Russian spy in the UK, he is wearing the DDPM NBC suit with the modern GSR mask:
There are a number of different variants of the haversack issued to carry the S6 respirator. The earliest style was a kidney shaped bag we looked at here. The final version was a stiff butyl nylon example, very square in shape that we considered here. In between these two designs though was another variant, more practical than the Mk 1, but softer and less rigid than the last pattern. This design is the one we are looking at tonight:Features to notice are the different type of fabric used, it is far less ‘shiny’ and stiff than the later models. There is also a distinctive brown tape edging to the seams that is missing on the later pattern, which uses green. I am loathe to say that this is categorically an entirely different design to the later example on the blog- I suspect they are just variations on a theme and the softness of the fabric could be as much to this example having had a rough service life, whilst the later example is mint out of the factory. They do look very different though and it does seem that the brown edging is indicative of earlier production. Most of the other features of the haversack are the same though. The lid is secured with a press stud and two squares of Velcro:The underside of the lid has a pair of elastic loops to allow items such as NBC gloves to be fitted here for quick use. The back of the haversack has a channel to allow it to be slid onto a belt and a pair of ‘D’ rings to attach a shoulder strap to:A small side pocket is fitted to allow a DKP1 packet to be carried easily for easy access. The pressed metal disk below is part of the steadying system when the haversack is carried by the shoulder strap:A piece of string is attached to the other side of the haversack and when it is carried at the hip this is passed around the wearer’s body and wrapped around this metal disk to prevent the haversack from bouncing around when running.
Inside are the usual pockets for spare canister, anti-diming kit, auto-injectors and other NBC kit:For more details of the exact contents I refer you back to the earlier post on the final variation of this haversack.
I would be interested to know for sure whether the change in appearance between the early Mk 2 and later Mk 2 haversacks is just a manufacturing difference or whether they are genuinely different patterns of haversack. There is certainly a version of the haversack for those with the canister on the opposite side of the mask, but I am still looking out for that version…
It has been quite some time since we looked at the current British Army GSR here. To accompany the respirator a new haversack was introduced in MTP fabric. This new haversack is in a distinctive ‘wedge’ shape and has a removable shoulder strap:The main flap is secured with press studs and Velcro:Three different press studs are provided to low a number of different positions for the top flap depending on how full the pack is:Two linked zips allow the size of the pack to be expanded to make ti easier to put in or take out the respirator. The rear of the pack has a pair of MOLLE straps allowing it to be connected to body armour or a belt:One user explained:
Point to note though, this haversack should not be attached to webbing. Although it has the capability to be attached, it’s not how it’s meant to be worn or used. Shoulder slung or belt worn and sat on top or outside the webbing, but never fitted on it.
The underside of the top flap is printed with ‘Field Pack’ and an NSN number:Two small pouches are attached to either side of the pack, these being removable:One side would be used for DKPs, the other for other extras needed for the respirator. The same user we heard from earlier explains how the pack is used:
Once the GSR is in, there is no space to store anything else and nothing else should be stored in there anyway. Everything you need can be carried in the side pockets with gloves kept behind the retaining straps under the lid, apart from the DP, cloth piece and combipens which sit inside on the inner pocket. No more room for clunky or spank mags!
There are only four poppers inside for the former, the remaining two are the ones you can see outside that have the webbing straps on them. The elastic strap isn’t so much for the former as you’d only use that if the poppers fail. It’s more a place to store things like sealed gloves, etc, behind the mask.
The side pouches can be removed and replaced with bigger pouches should you deem it necessary, although these aren’t supplied, merely if you happen to have a larger pouch. This is for when things go bad and we’re looking at spending long periods in 4R and need the decon supplies to hand to see us through. It will, with some fiddling, take a utility pouch on each side.
It’s possibly one of the best designed bits of kit I’ve come across in ages and we find that it works very well, is robust and can take a solid beating.
The addition of the former is sheer genius too. No more squished masks that have compromised seals! Although thinking about it, behind the former with the strap is probably where you could stash your clunky and porn mags now. That’d work quite well and they’d be hidden too. No going into 4R and your copy of Razzle flops to the ground
The Mk 3 NBC suit we looked at last month was very good for its day, but in the mid 1980s the British Army decided to update the design to accompany the new S10 respirator it was introducing. The Mk 3 was only available in olive green fabric, so a small batch of Mk3a suits were produced in DPM (we will look at an example of these at a later date). Whilst this was a definite improvement, the smock still needed to be pulled on over the head and it was felt that having a conventional zipped fastening up the front was a better design. This led to the next major version of the NBC suit, the Mk 4 and tonight we are looking at the smock:Whilst the camouflage fabric and front opening are the most obvious changes to the suit, perhaps more importantly was an improved fabric that was more effective at repelling chemical agents. The outer layer of the smock has a silicon treatment that helps waterproof the fabric from rain and allows liquid agents to spread over the surface rather than sinking in, aiding evaporation. A fluorocarbon finish was also applied which acts as an oil repellent, increasing its effectiveness against liquid agents. The suits were also designed to be fire retardant. Despite all this protection, the suit remains breathable preventing the wearer from overheating. When it was introduced this was one of the most effective NBC suits in the world and it remains in use to this day, underlining the general strength of its design.
Returning to the Mk 4 smock then, we can see that it opens up the front, with a metal zip that is covered by a Velcro flap:A piece of elastic is sewn around the edge of the hood to ensure a tight face seal with the respirator:Velcro tabs allow the sleeves to be adjusted:And the waist:A pair of large angled bellows pockets are sewn over each breast:The stitching of these pockets only penetrates the first layer of fabric so it doesn’t compromise the suit. Another small pocket is fitted to one sleeve to carry pens etc.:A label is sewn into the collar giving sizing:In all six different NSN codes are allocated to the DPM smock based on sizing:
160/092 Extra Small 8415-99-130-6921
170/100 Small 8415-99-130-6922
180/100 Medium 8415-99-130-6923
190/108 Large 8415-99-130-6924
200/116 Extra Large 8415-99-130-6940
Special Fitting 8415-99-130-6925
The underside of the label indicates that it was made by Remploy:This suit was also produced in desert DPM fabric and at some point I will pick up one of those to accompany this example.
I love rummaging through ‘£1’ boxes and sheets at living history shows. Most of the time it is a load of old junk, but these piles can yield a nice selection of very cheap items of militaria if you are prepared to root through and find the diamonds in the rough. The Yorkshire Wartime Experience at the beginning of July yielded a nice selection of these cheap finds and one of those is the subject of tonight’s post, an aircrew NBC liner coverall:I actually picked up two of these garments, the one above I have removed from the packet and a second one I have left sealed up:This coverall is actually quite a clever design. Unlike most NBC gear which is worn over other clothing and is heavy and overheats the wearer, this garment is designed to be worn underneath a flight suit and is impregnated with charcoal to offer protection in NBC environments. It sacrifices durability for lightness and comfort, but as it is under a flight suit in an aircraft this is less of an issue than for a garment worn in combat on the ground. These garments date from 1991, as can be seen by the paper label inside the packaging:The coverall has a centrally mounted zip, protected with a piece of foam so it does not damage the thin material when it is vacuum sealed, a simple round neck is provided without any form of collar:This allows greater comfort when it is worn under another article of clothing. Note the black lining where the fabric is charcoal impregnated. Elastic loops are sewn into the bottom of the legs to pass under the wearer’s feet to prevent the legs from riding up:A large label is fixed in the back of the overall indicating it was made by Remploy:These garments are easily available, presumably large quantities were made and never used and have now passed their expiration date so they have been surplussed off. Quite what I am going to do with them, I don’t know, but at £1 each I wasn’t going to leave them there!