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British MkIII Service Respirator

Article about: This afternoon I received a parcel from Dan McArthur who goes by the name RetroRespirators on this, and various other forums. Inside was a mask that has been at the top of my most wanted lis

  1. #1

    Default British MkIII Service Respirator

    This afternoon I received a parcel from Dan McArthur who goes by the name RetroRespirators on this, and various other forums. Inside was a mask that has been at the top of my most wanted list for years, a MkIII Service Respirator. The MkIII Service Respirator was developed at Porton Down and manufactured in the 1920's as a replacement for the Small Box Respirator (SBR) which was issued and used on mass during the First World War.

    The MkIII was in my opinion a huge leap in British Respirator design, other than the layout of components, it has very little in common with its predecessor. The most notable improvements were made in design of the facepiece which was made out of molded rubber facepiece covered with a stockinette material making it a lot more durable and better fitting to the face than the baggy rubberised fabric of the SBR. The MkIII's eyepieces were made from glass housed in metal retaining rings instead of the cellulose eyepieces on the SBR. The head harness on the MkIII was also a significant improvement, it was attached at six points and fully adjustable. Every British Military respirator made since shares that same characteristic.

    Today, the MkIII is amongst the most rare, and desirable British respirators. Examples are very few and far between in any condition so when the opportunity to own this example came up I couldn't refuse. This mask has been passed through the hands of several collectors over the years, most notably Bart Wilkus who created Le Masque a Gaz (LMG 2007) which is one of the best online information sources for those interested in gas masks. When Bart stopped collecting, it then ended up in the hands of Dan, who held onto it for around 6 years, and now it is back home in the UK in my collection which is that little bit more near completion. I owe Dan a massive thanks for this respirator they are simply that impossible to find that neither of us will probably see another appear on the market.

    Here are the photographs, the flapper exhale valve isn't the original and was simply put in place to show what it would have looked like.

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    Facepiece and hose

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    Close up of facepiece

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    Inside of facepiece, it is in rather poor shape with most of the rubber missing. The tape is the remains of a repair attempted at some point in the past.

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    Close up of the glass eyepieces

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    "Drill"

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    "Only"

    I hope that this has been of interest, these early inter war respirators really are something you don't see all to often!

    Regards,

    Danny


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    NCA
    NCA is offline
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    Fantastic!!Thanks for showing...Great to see some more pics of one.I'm guessing very few have survived.

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    Fantastic mask. It is so rare that even the new 'British Military Respirators and Anti Gas Equipment of the Two World Wars' book hasn't got any contemporary photographs in and only has period images.
    Last edited by Warspite; 05-12-2015 at 05:14 PM.

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    Very nice and rare respirator.

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    Nice rare find Danny and especially going to someone like yourself that really appreciates these historical items,well done mate..........
    With Regards Jake.

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    Thanks for the comments guys! And yes, unfortunately very few of these masks have survived. Right now, I can only think of one other collector that is also fortunate enough to have an example in his collection. I'm sure there are more out there though, there always is!

    I'm familiar with Thomas Mayer-Maguire and Brian Baker's book on the subject, I think it is the first to deal solely with British Anti Gas Equipment and Respirators in detail. It's certainly a fantastic source of information and I recommend it to anyone interested in the subject I've had a book of my own in the works on and off for a couple of years now, covering the development of British Respirators from 1914 until the present day. The only thing stopping completion is the amount of questions and blank spaces that I still need answers for, but they are being filled every so often. I have a few visits to make in the future which will hopefully answer most of them.

    Thanks,

    Danny

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    Great mask!

    Out of curiosity, do you have any information on the kidney-shaped gas mask bag used by the Royal Navy in the 1920s? I have seen one extant example over the years, which I believe was marked MECo 1927...

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    Quote by karkee View Post
    Out of curiosity, do you have any information on the kidney-shaped gas mask bag used by the Royal Navy in the 1920s? I have seen one extant example over the years, which I believe was marked MECo 1927...
    I believe that you're referring to the mask below, it only ever seems to turn up in period photographs featuring Royal Navy personnel so I assume that they used it exclusively. There isn't much I can tell you about it unfortunately. I too have only ever seen contemporary photographs of it mask on only one occasion from an ebay auction in 2012 that I sadly missed out on due to being away. I wish I knew where it ended up.

    What I do have though is a little collection of paperwork relating to the mask in question, including period photographs and a period copy of the original patent which shows the reason behind its rather unusual facepiece design.

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    Thanks,

    Danny

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    Wow, thanks Danny! Those are some incredible diagrams!

    I'd love to get one of those RN gasmask bags to go with my Pattern 1919 webbing. I guess the Royal Navy adopted the Mk V gasmask bag with waist strap some time in the 1930s to replace that earlier style.

  10. #10

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    Quote by karkee View Post
    Wow, thanks Danny! Those are some incredible diagrams!

    I'd love to get one of those RN gasmask bags to go with my Pattern 1919 webbing. I guess the Royal Navy adopted the Mk V gasmask bag with waist strap some time in the 1930s to replace that earlier style.
    No problem, I'll get some photos of some more of the images I have showing this mask. I have quite a few postcards showing the same group with and without masks on at an Anti Gas School! Let me know if you have any luck with one of these masks, or even just the carrier! They are scarce, but its not impossible!

    Thanks,

    Danny

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