US Navy gas mask, Mark II
United States
1919-1920
With the advent of chemical warfare during World War I, the United States military scrambled to develop protective and reliable defenses from poisonous gases. The US Navy’s Mark II Head Canister Gas Mask certainly stood alone for its abnormal design. Completely different than other gas masks of the period, the Mark II’s canister housing the all important air filter was fixed on the top of a heavy steel headband. When not in use, the rubber mask could be tucked inside the “helmet” which made for a smaller, more portable apparatus unlike the Army’s larger version which needed its own carrying case (and likely would have stuck out over the tops of trenches anyway). In an attack, air could be inhaled through canister’s rear section, drawn through the filter, through the front two rubber tubes and into the mask’s intake valves above the lenses. Spent air was directed out through a flapper type exhale valve centered at the mask’s forehead.

Weaponry Wednesday: Each Wednesday we post an object (or group of objects) from the Charleston Museum’s diverse weapons collection. Many Weaponry Wednesday items may be on permanent exhibit in our armory or elsewhere in the museum, but some pieces rarely see exhibition, temporary or permanent, but are well worth sharing.  We hope you enjoy our selection each week – do let us know if there’s something in particular you’d like to see on WEAPONRY WEDNESDAY! Also, we always want to learn more about our collection - if you have some insights on a piece, please feel free to share!  #WeaponryWednes