Evolution of the Canadian Gas mask

An infographic developed to illustrate the Canadian contribution to the development of the gas mask.

Evolution of the Canadian Gas Mask - Infographic description

The Battle of Ypres and the invention of the gas mask mark the beginning of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defence. After the First World War, chemical warfare continued to expand in scope and intensity. As a result, the need to provide effective protection for Canadian soldiers stimulated the improvement and sophistication of the gas mask in Canada.

Dr. Macpherson invented the device weeks after he witnessed the gas attack at Ypres. It contained glycerin and sodium thiosulphate that protected against chlorine. The Hypo helmet became the most important protective device of the First World War: two and a half million masks had been made in June 1915 for all allied troops.

Even equipped with a mouthpiece and soaked with sodium phenate to protect against chlorine, this mask was one of the most hated by soldiers. It gave limited protection, especially soaked in water or after one or two uses, and its conception made soldiers claustrophobic.

The device had larger eye-pieces and a 'small box' filter of active charcoal. As it was worn on the chest, it saved precious time during attacks. It offered five hours of complete protection against chlorine, phosgene, hydrocyanic acid, chloropicrin, and arsine.

The Mark IV was the first mask entirely made in Canada with Goodrich rubber. On the eve of the Second World War, Canada produced enough masks to supply other allied nations with antigas components. The production of the mask was a boost for Canadian industries.

The C4 was entirely designed in Canada. It offers excellent chemical and biological protection. On top of that it is durable, shatterproof, and lightweight.

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