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1944 U.S. M2-10-6 Army Lightweight Optical Mask Restoration


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#1 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 11:51 PM

Greetings, everyone. In this thread I wish to cover the restoration of a very rare WWII Optical mask from start to finish, cover the processes done, and generally make everyone aware that these older masks can be saved in the right hands. The M2-10-6 Lightweight Optical Mask was introduced in 1942 to replace the older MI-I-5 and MIA1-I-5 Optical Masks which had used combersome, awkward head canisters, similar to the Navy Diaphragm Masks. The M2-10-6 used the same grey (later black) plastic diaphragm angletube assembly as post-1942 contract M3A1 Army Diaphragm Masks, had a similar harness rivet configuration and used the same M3 Hose, M6 Carrier, and M10/M10A1 Filters as the M3-10A1-6 Lightweight Service Mask, and was also produced of chloroprene (neoprene) rubber like the M3 Lightweight.

Most surviving examples of these masks were produced in 1944 and postwar, they were upgraded as the M2-10A1-6 by being produced of a natural/artificial rubber blend and used the upgraded metal C11 Diaphragm Angletube, which is distinctive for its wire mesh screening protecting the diaphragm membrane. WWII-era M2 Optical Masks are extremely rare, with currently less than 10 known in existance (as far as I've studied among collectors and museums).

When this specimen was found, it was in horrific, barn-fresh condition, being only the facepiece alone with a horribly bent lens distance adjustment rod, a large cut on the side of the facepiece (which was being held together with a staple!), had a completely fried M7 head harness, and was coated in all manner of dirt and grit.
m2(1).jpg
The mask as it was found.

The owner managed to clean most of the grime off and repair the bent rod before it was sent to me for repairs. For the repair patch, I found some sheet chloroprene that was the exact texture of the facepiece material itself. From this angle you can see the state of the tear (which was likely purposely done to demilitarize the mask) and the head harness.
m2(2).jpg



#2 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 15 April 2019 - 11:57 PM

Before any patchwork, I needed to carefully field-strip every component of the facepiece for a thorough cleaning. Luckily I managed to do so without damaging any hardware and quickly made work of removing discoloration from the speech cone, rust from the angletube assembly, residual dirt on the facepiece, etc.

On the far right, you can see the after and before of removing discoloration from Class 'B' Grey Rubber.

m2(3).jpg

The facepiece and its individual components, cleaned and disassembled.
m2(4).jpg


#3 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 12:12 AM

With everything cleaned, patching the facepiece was a fairly simple ordeal - the surrounding rubber was lightly sanded to score the surface to allow better glue adhesion, the patch was cut to overlap the rubber surrounding the tear, the backside of the patch was scored with sandpaper as well, the surfaces were cleaned with acetone, drysuit cement was applied in a thin coat to both surfaces, and applied from the edge inwards, flatting everything down with a roller, and applying additional glue on the inside of the tear and wherever else needed.

Left: The cleaned Diaphragm Angletube Housing, rust removed after several hours in evapo-rust and treated with renaissance wax to prevent future rusting.
Right: The patched tear.
m2(5).jpg

Re-assembling the hardware was done through the guidelines of TM 3-205 - after re-assembling and screwing the diaphragm assembly back together, the speech cone was re-attached with an initial layer of fabric tape down on the cone port, rubber cement applied to both the tape and the cone, tape applied around the outside of the cone, fixed in place with double-wrapped 21-gauge stainless steel wire, with a final layer of fabric tape over this.
A strip of fabric tape was placed around the entire assembly itself, rubber cement applied to both the tape and the corresponding port on the mask, the diaphragm assembly inserted with a 3/4" strip of tape wrapped around the outside of the diaphragm port, the steel wire clamp replaced, and another layer of tape wrapped over this.

From the inside, you can see the additional cement applied over the tear for reinforcement, since the textured interior would make patching from this side impractical. Also worth mentioning is the use of 'naval jelly' rust dissolver to remove rust from the steel rivets of the mask's harness assembly, followed by a treatment of renaissance wax, the after effects of which are not shown in this post.
m2(6).jpg


Edited by DukeNougat3d, 16 April 2019 - 12:15 AM.


#4 armysoldierant1944

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 12:23 AM

Terrific job!!

#5 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 12:24 AM

There was some debate as to how the hose would be replaced, and the original plan was to buy an M3-10A1-6 Lightweight Service Mask in poor condition to cannibalize the hose off, but all auctions we ran across kept getting bid well past our comfort level for a parts mask, so I proposed to the man commissioning me for the restoration that I would sacrifice the postwar M2-10A1-6 in my personal collection (also my very first restoration) and donate the hose and carrier if he were to buy me a mint-condition replacement.

m2(7).jpg

And so he did -  and much for the better as well, as the hose that was stolen off my first M2-10A1-6 was also made by Seiberling Rubber Co - same as the M2-10-6 I was restoring, and I don't think I could have had a more perfect matchup if we had chose to use a random M3 Lightweight.

 

m2(8).jpg



#6 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 12:29 AM

And with that, the restoration was complete. a 1944-dated U.S. M2-10-6 Army Lightweight Optical Mask as brought back to wearable, displayable condition again, it was promptly sent back to its owner, and I walked away happy that a piece of history was given a second chance and that I had another mask to replace the one I sacrificed. The owner ended up replacing the M7 Harness with a better example after it was back in his hands again.

m2(9).jpg
 

Terrific job!!

Many thanks! Here is the youtube channel of the collector the restored mask went to. I'm not sure when or if he will end up making a video on it, though. https://www.youtube....MasksAreTheBest


Edited by DukeNougat3d, 16 April 2019 - 12:30 AM.


#7 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 12:41 AM

On a related note, the Class 'B' Grey Rubber Hose featured in the second photo of Post #2 was used in its own restoration. During the proccess of restoring the M2-10-6, I had snagged this M4-10A1-6 Lightweight Optical Mask for my personal collection. The facepiece, carrier, and accessories were fine, but the hose was petrified.

m4(1).jpg

 

I made prompt work of utilizing the spare hose I had on hand. Quite the impovement, wouldn't you say?

m4(2).jpg

I also offer mask restoration services for anybody interested.



#8 Simon Lerenfort

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 01:28 AM

Hats off to you Sir for your patience and ingenuity. Superb job all round. 



#9 Bodes

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 04:08 PM

A guy from France had one of these WW2 optical masks for sale on eBay quite a few years ago.....It came complete with the original bag and cardboard box.....Was asking like $400, but couldn't get any interest.....Don't recall if he ever sold it.....This mask and a facepiece from another one are the only two WW2 versions I've ever seen on eBay....They just don't turn up...

Intrestingly enough, the Korean war versions of this mask are constantly being listed as WW2 era on eBay.....I know, it makes them more appealing....Bodes

#10 robinb

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 05:37 PM

I wasn't aware that this model was rare. Here's mine.

MVC-004S.JPG

MVC-005S.JPG



#11 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 06:50 PM

A guy from France had one of these WW2 optical masks for sale on eBay quite a few years ago.....It came complete with the original bag and cardboard box.....Was asking like $400, but couldn't get any interest.....Don't recall if he ever sold it.....This mask and a facepiece from another one are the only two WW2 versions I've ever seen on eBay....They just don't turn up...

Intrestingly enough, the Korean war versions of this mask are constantly being listed as WW2 era on eBay.....I know, it makes them more appealing....Bodes

Interesting, do let me know if he ever tries to resell it again, I know of many people who would gladly pay that amount for one. And I agree, it's strange how the postwar variants are contiuously labelled as 'WWII'. It would be neat to find out on what level these masks were issued, because I've only ever seen one that was named to a soldier and the only record of the M2 Optical being used is by armor crews for a breif period during the 50's, according to a historical report on combat vehicle crewman's masks by Maj. Robert D. Walk. During WWII, it was much more common to see armor crews using standard-issue service masks, particularly M3 and M3A1 Army Diaphragm Masks.

 

I wasn't aware that this model was rare. Here's mine.

attachicon.gifMVC-004S.JPG

attachicon.gifMVC-005S.JPG

 

Very nice example! Tell me, is your carrier stamped 'OPTICAL MASK' or was it originally stamped 'Service Mask' but later crossed out and restamped for an optical mask? There are two variations of the carrier for these masks and I'm curious if the later re-stamped M6 bags were ever issued with the WWII variants. Also interesting is the fact your example's carrier is OG-107, most of the WWII M2-10-6 Opticals I've seen have come with OG-103-dyed M6 Carriers.
 

Hats off to you Sir for your patience and ingenuity. Superb job all round. 

Much obliged, it was definitely worth the effort in the end!


Edited by DukeNougat3d, 16 April 2019 - 06:52 PM.


#12 robinb

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 08:05 PM

My carrier is overstamped optical.

Edited by robinb, 16 April 2019 - 08:18 PM.


#13 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 16 April 2019 - 08:23 PM

My carrier is overstamped optical.

 

That's amazing, never knew the WWII variants were supplied with that carrier, I always thought the re-stamped M6 bags were postwar only. Thank you for posting your example.



#14 Bodes

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 03:57 AM

Robin's mask is missing the threaded lens adjuster.....An easy fix though, but would need to take one from another mask....Bodes

#15 Bodes

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 04:14 AM

I wasn't aware that this model was rare. Here's mine.


I don't know production numbers, but guess these were made in the tens of thousands....They likely have become difficult to find because the majority were shipped overseas and never returned....This and the few remaining in use by the US military were used and subsequently discarded....The tiny numbers remaining just fortunately kept by returning GI's.....Bodes

#16 robinb

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 05:17 AM

It's missing more than that. All of the speaker parts are gone, too.

#17 Bodes

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 07:59 AM

It's missing more than that. All of the speaker parts are gone, too.

 

I know somebody who can restore it!...LOL!....Bodes



#18 DukeNougat3d

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Posted 17 April 2019 - 09:49 AM

 

I know somebody who can restore it!...LOL!....Bodes

I do actually have a spare adjuster rod, but it's from a Navy Diaphragm Gas Mask Repair Kit and would need to be repainted grey. Those diaphragm parts on the other hand would need to be stolen from a donor M3A1, and that's not even considering the threads may have deformed from the plastic warping over time. I've handled and repaired enough U.S. WWII masks to know those plastic diaphragm angletube assemblies are quite fickle things and the fact I was able to unscrew the one on the M2-10-6 I restored is nothing short of a miracle lol.


Edited by DukeNougat3d, 17 April 2019 - 09:50 AM.



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