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M28 Gas Mask


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I found a M28 "Grasshopper" gas mask for only $9.95 the one of my local shops. That's the good news. The bad news is it did not have the bag for it, but I couldn't pass even though I had no idea what it was.

Unfortunately, there's even more bad news. Given its inexpensive price I didn't realize its rarity or value, so it was thrown in the back of the Jeep where one of the lenses was cracked on the drive home.

The "grasshopper" was an American protective mask developed during the Vietnam War. Development of the mask began when US soldiers, specifically the 1st Cavalry Division, requested a lighter mask to use. Since mostly CS gas and other riot agents were used during the war, the soldiers saw their current issued M17s as more protection and weight than they needed. Not only was the M17 heavy, it was also susceptible to water damage since the carrier was worn on the leg.

Edgewood Arsenal went on in 1966 to develop two masks for the Army’s consideration, the XM27 and XM28. Both masks only offered protection from RCAs (riot control agents) and thus, were not replacements for the M17 which explains why the mask kept the "X" in its name. The XM27 was essentially an M17 made out of clear silicone rubber which could be folded and placed into a waterproof bag which was considerably smaller than the M17s carrier.

The XM27 weighed about 2.5lbs when placed into its carrier. While much lighter than the M17, it was still heavier than the XM28, which only weighed about 14/15 ounces with its carrier. The 1st army and 1st Cavalry division both rejected the XM27 and welcomed the XM28.

There exists an extremely rare variant of the M28 meant for helicopter pilots which lacks head harnesses and instead has a black cover around the mouth area of the mask that has clips which can be attached to a pilot's helmet, as seen in the picture below. Even though mine wasn't that variant, I did put it on a HGU-39 I have with a SPH-4 dual visor set-up as it's already not historically accurate but it does look cool with the mask attached. Plus, I can lower the tinted visor to hide the crack!

Speaking of which, has anyone ever tried to replace a perspex lens in a M28?



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The Rooster

Thats awesome and thank you for all that info. I never heard about or saw a mask like this. Fantastic! Thank you.

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Great score. The nylon carriers are not nearly as hard to find as the mask.

For anyone wondering why it was known as the grasshopper mask just needs to look at your pictures!

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