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M5 Assault Gas Mask & Bag


rentsel

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I bought a M7 Assault Gas Mask Bag. I cant tell if its orginal or not. Do you think its orginal? I would like to see your M7 Assault Gas Mask Bags also.

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Johan Willaert

In my opinion it's original and the marking UL means Universal Left which dates back to the early bags when they were thinking of making masks with the filter on either left or right cheek.

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How is the bag closed? Stud or Popper?

 

What is the difference? Can you date them with this, can you show an example?

 

Also what does it mean when a bag is only marked with 'U', is this later in the war? Can you date a bag by the colors of the straps?

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I've had this conversation before, and most of my comments below are lifted from a thread on the US Re-enactors Forum.

 

4-press-stud flapped "Army Assault Gasmask" bags: used at D-Day and in Holland.

(Some come with OD3 ("tan") strapping, most come with OD7 ("green") strapping - no real difference in production dates (the tan ones could be from the 1943 batch I suppose - see production schedule below - but there's no way of telling).

 

3-LTD flapped "Army Combat Service Gasmask" Bags: I've never seen any yet in a WWII combat photo.

 

The following timeline info came from the Chemical Corps historian and is repeated courtesy of the thread on the US Re-enactors forum. NOTE: I'm not sure if these are his original words or if they've been added to by the re-enactor who posted this information:

 

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Chronology of the M7 Combat Carrier

 

The experimental E7 version of the carrier had the four ball and socket type fasteners. The standardized M7 version had the three lift-the-dot (LTD) fasteners.

 

Here is an approximate chronology of the M7 carrier:

 

23 Jun 43: military characteristics for an Assault Gas Mask and waterproof carrier established

 

To satisfy the requirement, the E4R3-E1R6-E1R3 mask was designed; the E1R3 carrier was made of waterproof rubberized fabric and had the four ball and socket type fasteners.

 

July-September 1943: field testing of the experimental assault mask indicated the need for minor improvements

 

15 Oct 43: E4R3-E1R6-E1R3 Assault Mask standardized and limited procurement of 250,000 ordered

 

October 1943-April 1944: additional testing of the mask

 

December 1943: 1,282 masks produced for testing

 

21 Jan 44: E4R3-E1R6-E1R3 mask redesignated E6-3-7 Assault Mask

 

Sometime shortly after January 1944: during the additional testing of the E6-3-7 Assault Mask, a recommendation was made to place three lift-the-dot type fasteners on the carrier, increase the width and length of the carrier by 1/2" and 1-1/2" respectively, and make the carrier with a non-reflecting surface finish.

 

These changes resulted in the E6R1-3-7R1 Assault Mask

 

February 1944: large scale production of the masks started; a total of 398,462 E6-3-7 Assault Masks were produced during 1944

 

Spring 1944: procurement of M7 (E7R1) Combat Carrier started

 

26 May 44: E6R1-3-7R1 Assault Mask recommended for standardization as the M5-11-7 Combat Mask

 

June 1944: mask used during Normandy invasion

 

7 Jun 44: standardization of the M5-11-7 Combat Mask approved after production had already started; E6-3-7 Assault Mask remained as a limited procurement item

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Back to my words now:

 

No matter when the 3 LTD "M7" bag was produced - mid/late 44 - the only bags seen being used in the numerous Normandy and Market Garden photos are the original 4 press-stud "E7" type.

 

Unless I'm sadly mistaken, the next usage of such gasmasks would have been during the Rhine Crossing, and the gasmasks used by the 17th appear to be all the Lightweight type, not Assault/Combat Service ones.

 

This would therefore imply that all of the "M7" type bags with 3 LTD's were made, stuck into cardboard boxes with the accompanying masks and filters and then never opened again during the war in the ETO.

 

There used to be loads of July 44 dated Assault Gasmasks still in the cardboard boxes for sale in Europe 10-15 years ago, straight out of some stores somewhere - made, shipped across, and never issued out.

 

As far as I remember, they were in 4 press-stud flapped bags as well - the one I have certainly is. And that's July '44 production.

 

Oh, and the filter with my unissued mask is an E3 (clearly dated as being produced in July 44), not an M11 (which it should be at that date, according to the Chemcial Corps historian's timeline above).

 

As I said on the other forum - find me a photo that proves different, and I'll be very happy to agree that the 3-LTD Bags were actually used in the ETO during WWII.

 

....and that was about it for that discussion!

 

As for the "U" being late, I think it's the other way round Johan - the 3-LTD bags (i.e. the later ones) are usually stamped "UL", and the early 4-press-stud ones are usually stamped just "U".

 

You also have to bear in mind that some of the last production of the 4-press-stud flapped "Army Assault Gasmask" Bags were restamped as "Army Combat Service Gasmaks" Bags, with the original stamping blocked out in the green colour of the markings. I have one of those and it's stamped "UL".

 

All of my other (6 off) 4-press-stud flapped "Army Assault Gasmask Bags" are just stamped "U", including one with OD3 straps.

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Here's one more "anomaly" for you. I have a mask dated 8 Feb 44 with the filter also dated Feb. 44, (E3 embossed on the outside with 'CROWN' fully spelled out). It came along in a bag (with khaki straps) with the single stenciled line of "Army Assault Gas Mask". The single "U" is above this stencil.

 

The mask itself is unusual due to it having a grey 'cap' instead of the usual 'plug' where the standard M3 style mask form had the hose opening. I believe the "single stencil" lined bags are ultimately correct for a Normandy impression, while the "UL" types have both single and double lined stencils and are post-Normandy. The "L" as I was told, was for Univ. Left as Johann stated. Most riflemen were right-handed shooters.

 

Hope this sheds a bit more on this topic as well.

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Can you post a pic please?

 

What you've said about the bags ties in with my thinking on them - the UL marked bags are mid-44 (post-Feb at least) production. I agree that the U does mean Universal (i.e. fits all) and L means Left (cheek for filter) as has been mentioned.

 

I'll take some pics of mine soon, especially the 1943 production one I have that came out of a Normandy barn in the SME area many years ago.

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I own a special version of the M7 Assault Gas Mask Bag. It is also marked UL and has a very rare Air Valve on it. Because I' ve seen only two of them in my life, it should be an experimental version. I'd rather believe Johan Willaert's theory than yours. But, to make that for sure: I need evidence that proves right about your theory that the UL bags are made in mid '44.

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Well, there is the hidden third option that they started out with UL on the early bags, changed their mind to just being U, and then changed their minds again to go back to the UL....

No matter what, the later bags with the 3-LTD's definitely come with the marking UL (as do the 4-press-stud bags that have been remarked for use as a "Combat Service Gasmask"), same with the green rubber bag that replaced it. That's a fact, whether or not you'd rather believe Johan's theory than mine.

Top row: 5 4-press-stud bags, all marked with just "U", including 2nd one from left with OD3 (tan) straps.
Bottom bag: Restamped Assault Gas Mask Bag - the "Army Combat Service Gas Mask" marking has now been almost rubbed off by me (the green line is the original "Army Assault Gas Mask" marking), stamped "UL"

[DEAD IMAGE LINKS REMOVED]

Another 4 press-stud "U" marked bag, this time with the stamping upside down from normal:

[DEAD IMAGE LINKS REMOVED]

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The only substance for my theory comes from all the bags I've seen or encountered over the years. The bag I have still packed in it's original cardboard shipping box is marked 'UL' and features the one line below. The filter is dated July '44. The mask is marked DRC '44. Judging by the ticks (pimples) on the dial, it corresponds with mid-1944.

 

The 2-line bags have a larger font on the letters. The M6 bags also started out life with a smaller style font and then progressed into larger type as well.

 

Never seen or heard of the special outlet valve. Sounds like a 'hens tooth'. Would love to see some pics of that.

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Pictures of the 'Air Valve':

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Johan Willaert also has one in his collection and I thought somebody else has also one. They are not seen very often.

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Johan Willaert

Here are some images of my bag with air valve.

 

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It's a screw type valve that allows to inflate or deflate the bag. My guess is the idea was to be able to use the bag as some sort of life buoy. In all those years I have only seen about three or four of them.

I will check to see if the NOS bag in the box I have is marked U or UL. I know it's dated Jul 1944 too. Came from that batch that was for sale in about 1994.

I am not at all sure if the UL is early or late.

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I Think the "UL" marking might be 'later', but not too late. I checked on mine in the box (July '44) and it was marked "UL" with the single line stencil. I also looked at the 3 LTD style, and there is no U or UL on it at all. Nor is it in the 1946 manual.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Yes, the straps are khaki.

 

As far as it being an early bag I really don't think there is such a thing as an early/late assault mask bag. Manufacturers used whatever color material they had on hand until inventories were used up. Color D-Day photos show dark O.D. strap M-7 bags were widely used as were khaki strap bags.

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Here is a picture of the CROWN filter QM Jones mentioned.

 

Markings are: C R O W N U S E 3

 

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This filter, which came in a set that originated out of Belgian Army surplus was sold off around 2003. With the set was a "U S, U, army assault gas mask" marked with OD7 straps, and a curious mask, marked "44, DRCO, M1019" in a cartouche. What's curious about this mask is the fact that it has a grey airflow valve and grey eyepieces. The rubber mask itself is black.

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