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"German Gas Defense Equipment" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on German gas defense equipment was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 15, Dec. 31, 1942.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


This report on German gas defense equipment was obtained from an examination of German material captured in North Africa.

a. "Gastilt"

The German gastilt, like the gas mask, is an item of general issue. It is a rubberized sheet and is designed primarily for protection of the person in surprise attacks of liquid vesicants. Four German gastilts, complete with pouches, were found to be of the type described as "rubberized fabric," and consisted of plain rectangular sheets approximately 6 1/2 feet by 4 feet. Three were black; the fourth was khaki in color. The khaki one bore the marking "Tp," a special German marking for supplies intended for use in the tropics.

Three were contained in gray-green or gray canvas pouches; the fourth (not the one marked "Tp"), in a pouch of black American cloth-like material.

Each gastilt has two corners marked with white -- this indicates the corners which are held when the gastilt is opened for use -- which bore the following markings: "bps 1140 -- 80 op-," "evw 12342 40/X, 80 op-," "80 op 4/40/9, b f t," and "b f t, 7-41/6, 80 op (Tp)" respectively.

In every case the bottom corners were marked with a small square of green paint - presumably detector paint.

The weight of the complete outfit (i.e., a single gastilt in pouch) was about 2 pounds.

Regarding the material of which the tilts were made, it seems from the marking "80 op and "80 op (Tp)," taken in conjunction with the appearance of an item "gasplanen, oppanol" in a captured German ledger of antigas supplies, that these specimens are made of fabric treated with oppanol, a synthetic material consisting mainly or wholly of polymerized isobutylene, which is highly resistant to both mustard gas and lewisite and is made by the I.G. Farben Industrie at Oppau - hence the name "oppanol."

b. German Light Antigas Clothing

The information at present available indicates that this outfit consists of a one-piece suit with short legs and an open back, thigh boots, gloves, and hood.

The material of the suit is described as having an external fabric layer, the inner layer consisting of hardened gelatine. Penetration of vesicants through seams and creases is immediate, but unworn portions resist mustard gas up to 3 hours.

The gloves and hood are described as being made of rubberized fabric. The seams appear to offer little or no resistance to penetration by vesicants. The legs of the boots appear to be of similar material to that of the gloves. This material resists vesicants well, but seams or creases, caused by folding, offer little resistance. The soles of the boots are of thick rubber and give long resistance to penetration by mustard gas (14 hours).

c. German Wax-Paper Gas Capes

This cape of green waxed paper measures about 70 by 46 inches and folds into about 6 by 7 1/2 inches. The paper consists of about 90 to 95 percent Swedish sulphite pulp, the balance of fibers being rag or jute waste. In its waxed state, 31 percent of the paper's total weight consists of white wax and 7 1/2 percent of a water extract which is almost certainly an alginate, and quite possibly sodium alginate. The purpose of the wax is to act as an external waterproofing agent and to counteract the brittle "feel" of the alginate. The alginate is employed as a binder instead of colophony (rosin), and as an inherent waterproofing agent to protect the paper at those points where creasing or cracking has impaired the efficiency of the wax.

The green vegetable dye of a chlorozol type does not react as a gas detector.

It is reported that when subjected to field trials, the paper cape was found to provide a high initial resistance to mustard gas, but resistance was considerably lowered by creasing.


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