S6 Respirator Spectacles

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:imageThe lenses were provided in the wearer’s prescription and came in a standard green plastic hard case to protect them:imageThe box has a /|\ mark and NSN number moulded into the top:imageI 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:imageThere 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:imageThe opposite side of the spectacles have a pair of metal pegs in this position:imageA 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:imageThe two metal pegs are pushed into a pair of these holes and the spectacles are then held securely in the mask:imageIt 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.

One comment

  1. The case was supplied with other types of spectacles, so the MK 5 designation I assume would refer to the case rather than the spectacles, and probably the reason behind the loose fit.
    Despite the risk of rattle (even when wrapped in a ‘cloth disinfecting’) it was advisable to always store the spectacles in the case as I found to my cost. After breaking a lens whilst the spectacles were fitted to the mask in the haversack (constant respirator donning and doffing was de-rigeur for Cold War exercises) I was informed that replacement was to be at my expense through a civilian optician. Of course the lens was ‘non-standard’ according the optician, and therefore had to be specially cut and ground at a cost of £50 in1985, which at the time was equivalent to reasonable pair of glasses!
    The procedure for the prescription and ordering of corrective lenses for the S10 (S6 was similar except on renewing the prescription you returned the spectacles to be fitted with new lenses) was to be found in Chapter 7 of JSP 886 Volume 6 Part 6 – archived copy here https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/554669/20161002-LEGACY_JSP886-V6P6-Medical-FINAL-O.pdf

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