Category Archives: NBC

GSR Haversack

It has been quite some time since we looked at the current British Army GSR here. To accompany the respirator a new haversack was introduced in MTP fabric. This new haversack is in a distinctive ‘wedge’ shape and has a removable shoulder strap:imageThe main flap is secured with press studs and Velcro:imageThree different press studs are provided to low a number of different positions for the top flap depending on how full the pack is:imageTwo linked zips allow the size of the pack to be expanded to make ti easier to put in or take out the respirator. The rear of the pack has a pair of MOLLE straps allowing it to be connected to body armour or a belt:imageOne user explained:

Point to note though, this haversack should not be attached to webbing. Although it has the capability to be attached, it’s not how it’s meant to be worn or used. Shoulder slung or belt worn and sat on top or outside the webbing, but never fitted on it.

The underside of the top flap is printed with ‘Field Pack’ and an NSN number:imageTwo small pouches are attached to either side of the pack, these being removable:imageOne side would be used for DKPs, the other for other extras needed for the respirator. The same user we heard from earlier explains how the pack is used:

Once the GSR is in, there is no space to store anything else and nothing else should be stored in there anyway. Everything you need can be carried in the side pockets with gloves kept behind the retaining straps under the lid, apart from the DP, cloth piece and combipens which sit inside on the inner pocket. No more room for clunky or spank mags!
There are only four poppers inside for the former, the remaining two are the ones you can see outside that have the webbing straps on them. The elastic strap isn’t so much for the former as you’d only use that if the poppers fail. It’s more a place to store things like sealed gloves, etc, behind the mask.
The side pouches can be removed and replaced with bigger pouches should you deem it necessary, although these aren’t supplied, merely if you happen to have a larger pouch. This is for when things go bad and we’re looking at spending long periods in 4R and need the decon supplies to hand to see us through. It will, with some fiddling, take a utility pouch on each side.
It’s possibly one of the best designed bits of kit I’ve come across in ages and we find that it works very well, is robust and can take a solid beating.
The addition of the former is sheer genius too. No more squished masks that have compromised seals! Although thinking about it, behind the former with the strap is probably where you could stash your clunky and porn mags now. That’d work quite well and they’d be hidden too. No going into 4R and your copy of Razzle flops to the ground

Mk IV NBC Smock

The Mk 3 NBC suit we looked at last month was very good for its day, but in the mid 1980s the British Army decided to update the design to accompany the new S10 respirator it was introducing. The Mk 3 was only available in olive green fabric, so a small batch of Mk3a suits were produced in DPM (we will look at an example of these at a later date). Whilst this was a definite improvement, the smock still needed to be pulled on over the head and it was felt that having a conventional zipped fastening up the front was a better design. This led to the next major version of the NBC suit, the Mk 4 and tonight we are looking at the smock:imageWhilst the camouflage fabric and front opening are the most obvious changes to the suit, perhaps more importantly was an improved fabric that was more effective at repelling chemical agents. The outer layer of the smock has a silicon treatment that helps waterproof the fabric from rain and allows liquid agents to spread over the surface rather than sinking in, aiding evaporation. A fluorocarbon finish was also applied which acts as an oil repellent, increasing its effectiveness against liquid agents. The suits were also designed to be fire retardant. Despite all this protection, the suit remains breathable preventing the wearer from overheating. When it was introduced this was one of the most effective NBC suits in the world and it remains in use to this day, underlining the general strength of its design.

Returning to the Mk 4 smock then, we can see that it opens up the front, with a metal zip that is covered by a Velcro flap:imageA piece of elastic is sewn around the edge of the hood to ensure a tight face seal with the respirator:imageVelcro tabs allow the sleeves to be adjusted:imageAnd the waist:imageA pair of large angled bellows pockets are sewn over each breast:imageThe stitching of these pockets only penetrates the first layer of fabric so it doesn’t compromise the suit. Another small pocket is fitted to one sleeve to carry pens etc.:imageA label is sewn into the collar giving sizing:imageIn all six different NSN codes are allocated to the DPM smock based on sizing:

160/092                Extra Small                          8415-99-130-6921

170/100                Small                                     8415-99-130-6922

180/100                Medium                               8415-99-130-6923

190/108                Large                                     8415-99-130-6924

200/116                Extra Large                          8415-99-130-6940

Special Fitting                                                    8415-99-130-6925

The underside of the label indicates that it was made by Remploy:imageThis suit was also produced in desert DPM fabric and at some point I will pick up one of those to accompany this example.

Aircrew NBC Suit Coverall Inner

I love rummaging through ‘£1’ boxes and sheets at living history shows. Most of the time it is a load of old junk, but these piles can yield a nice selection of very cheap items of militaria if you are prepared to root through and find the diamonds in the rough. The Yorkshire Wartime Experience at the beginning of July yielded a nice selection of these cheap finds and one of those is the subject of tonight’s post, an aircrew NBC liner coverall:imageI actually picked up two of these garments, the one above I have removed from the packet and a second one I have left sealed up:imageThis coverall is actually quite a clever design. Unlike most NBC gear which is worn over other clothing and is heavy and overheats the wearer, this garment is designed to be worn underneath a flight suit and is impregnated with charcoal to offer protection in NBC environments. It sacrifices durability for lightness and comfort, but as it is under a flight suit in an aircraft this is less of an issue than for a garment worn in combat on the ground. These garments date from 1991, as can be seen by the paper label inside the packaging:imageThe coverall has a centrally mounted zip, protected with a piece of foam so it does not damage the thin material when it is vacuum sealed, a simple round neck is provided without any form of collar:imageThis allows greater comfort when it is worn under another article of clothing. Note the black lining where the fabric is charcoal impregnated. Elastic loops are sewn into the bottom of the legs to pass under the wearer’s feet to prevent the legs from riding up:imageA large label is fixed in the back of the overall indicating it was made by Remploy:imageThese garments are easily available, presumably large quantities were made and never used and have now passed their expiration date so they have been surplussed off. Quite what I am going to do with them, I don’t know, but at £1 each I wasn’t going to leave them there!

NBC Suit Mk III (Part 2)- Trousers

Following on from last night’s post on the NBC Suit Mk III Smock, tonight we look at the matching trousers:imageThese are made from the same green fabric as the smock and have the same charcoal infused fabric inners to protect against radiation. Again they come issued in a compressed and vacuum sealed package, rated for four years in storage:imageThe trousers have distinctive diagonal strips of Velcro with matching tabs on the ends of each leg:imageThese allow the trousers to be wrapped tightly to ensure a good fit under the rubber NBC boots issued with the set. A single pocket is provided on the thigh:imageThe trousers are held up with a pair of integral braces that pass over the shoulders:imageAnd minimal waist adjustment is provided with another Velcro tab:imageInstructions on correct fitting were included in the British Army NBC manual ‘Survive to Fight’:imageAs with the smock, a white label is sewn in indicating that this pair are a ‘small’ and were made in 1981 by Remploy:imageBy all accounts the Mk III NBC suit was held in reserve for many years to be issued in case of war, the older Mk II being used for training throughout the Cold War. It was only in the late 1980s, many years after their introduction, that the Mk III came to be commonly seen- just as a new DPM version began to be released to replace it. The Mk III suit is very common today, with large numbers of mint sealed examples being available to purchase on eBay and similar sites.Respiratorsandnoddysuits

NBC Suit Mk III (Part 1)- Smock

Tonight we have part one of a two part post on the British Mk III NBC suit. This suit was introduced in 1976 and consisted of two parts, a hooded smock and a pair of trousers. Tonight we are going to look at the smock and tomorrow the trousers. Together with the S6 respirator and protective gloves and boots these made up a complete protective suit for working in nuclear and chemical battlefields:SKM_C45817070708050The smock was issued in a vacuum sealed bag that gave it a storage shelf life of four years. A paper label visible under the packaging helped identify the contents:imageA second label was provided to the back of the package, helpfully giving instructions on what to do should the hood’s slide fastener become broken!imageOn opening the packet the smock can be removed and it consists of a mid-green, over-the-head garment made from modoacrylic and nylon:imageUnlike other nations the British NBC suit was designed to have air pockets inside it to make it more comfortable to wear for long periods of time- the suit being expected to give protection for up to 24 hours. The inside of the smock has a black liner made of a charcoal impregnated fabric:imageThis is lining that protects the wearer from radiation. A large central pocket is fitted onto the front of the suit:imageAccording to ARRSE the pocket was useful for storing a packet of fags! A set of pen holders is fastened to one of the sleeves of the smock:imageEach sleeve has a Velcro fastener to allow the sleeves to be tightened to help provide a close seal with the gloves:imageA pad is sewn onto the sleeve to allow detector papers to be attached:imageAround the waist is another set of Velcro straps that allow this to be tightened as well:imageThe smock has a large integrated hood:imageThis has a drawstring that allows a tight seal to be formed with the wearer’s S6 Respirator. The inside of the hood has the smock’s label:imageFrom this we can see that the smock is a ‘Large’. The NBC suit came in five sizes, each with its own NSN number:

X Small:                CH          8415-99-132-3493

Small:                    CH          8415-99-132-3494

Normal:                CH          8415-99-132-3495

Large:                    CH          8415-99-132-3496

Special:                 CH          8415-99-132-3497

Tomorrow we will look at the accompanying trousers, but I leave you tonight with this rather frightening image of troops on exercise in Mk III NBC suits:SKM_C45817070708051

Canadian ’82 Pattern’ NBC Backpack

Tonight we come to the final post on the 82 pattern webbing set, at least until I track down some more components. The Canadian Army issued a special lightweight rucksack for their troop’s NBC equipment that accompanied the 82 pattern set, although technically it was never actually a part of the equipment. This small pack was popular with troops and frequently used in the field as a general purpose haversack to supplement the ‘butt’ pack we looked at a few weeks back. The pack is made of green nylon, with three straps on the front securing the flap:imageThese are secured with black ‘Fastex’ fasteners:imageThe pack here is made in a mid green shade, other examples can be found with much darker colouring. Under the top flap is a drawstring that helps secure the main part of the rucksack and keeps the contents dry:imageOne side of the pack has a small exterior pocket, secured with Velcro:imageThe rucksack has a pair of shoulder straps sewn to the rear, with slide adjusters to allow the wearer to get a comfortable fit:imageEach strap is heavily padded for comfort:imageThis pack has clearly seen heavy use as there are a number of different soldiers’ names and numbers written in pen on the underside of the top flap:imageThe only label inside the bag is a small manufacturer’s label for ‘Just Kit’:imageThis then ends our study of the 82 pattern set for the time being- there are still some components left to find so we will revisit the set as and when I add these to the collection. I hope this series has been of interest to you and that I have managed to raise the profile of this underappreciated set of commonwealth webbing.

Canadian C3 Respirator

A month or so back we looked at the Canadian 64 pattern respirator haversack here; since writing that piece I have been very happy to add a Canadian C3 respirator that would have been carried in the haversack to my collection:imageThis mask is contemporaneous with the British S6 mask, being first manufactured in 1960, but is far less sophisticated. It is clearly closely based on the earlier British lightweight respirator from the Second World War, just updated for the Cold War. Looking at the mask we can clearly see the similarities, with the same side mounted canister, general shape of the mask and the screw fitting for a microphone seen in the post war British lightweight respirator:imageUpdates have been made however, with the head harness being made of more modern man-made materials:imageThe ‘snout’ of the respirator boasts a distinctive piece of silver mesh:imageThis is also visible on the inside of the mask:imageAbove this is a distinctive triangular shape, moulded into the rubber:imageThe facepiece of this mask is marked as being made in 1970 by ‘GTR’, General Tire and Rubber:imageThere were two manufacturers of this mask, the other being ‘Baron’. This respirator is a ‘Normal’ size- other smaller and larger sizes would have been produced in limited numbers for those with odd shaped faces. The canister for this mask uses a 60mm thread and is mounted on the side of the mask:imageA piece of tape around this section has a date of June 1971:imageThe canister itself is made of pressed metal with a large screw thread on the top allowing it to be changed relatively easily by the wearer.imageThese masks were used throughout the 1970s and were only phased out of Canadian service in 1989. Amazingly export sales of the mask continued into the early 1990s, by which time the design was decidedly obsolete.