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"Notes on German Chemical Warfare" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on German chemical warfare was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 1, June 18, 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.]


A charred diary taken from the wreckage of an Heinkel III airplane brought down in May, 1941 in the Middle East was found to contain rough notes of a lecture on chemical warfare.

Although for the most part these notes confirmed our previous knowledge of German Chemical Warfare the following entries are worthy of comment:

(I) Mention is made of toxic smoke and lachrymatory generators - "80% Blue Cross or White Cross." This is the first definite reference to German toxic smoke generators, although their existence has been suspected and samples from the private firm of Stoltzenberg have been examined: They are presumably intimate mixture types in which the toxic charging represents 80% of the total weight of the device.

(II) Under the heading "Gas projectors and gas mines" it is stated that the filling used in "Green Cross and exceptionally, Blue Cross; range 3,500 metres." This range is too high for a projector of the Livens type and may possibly refer to the new German 10 cm. Stokesbrandt type mortar. "Green cross" is the German marking for the lung irritant group of war gasses (i.e. chlorine, phosgene, etc.), while "Blue Cross" is used to denote the arsenical toxic smokes.

(III) Describing gas shell for field artillery, the gas content is given as 10%.

This figure is high and may indicate that high capacity designs for gas shells have been introduced.

(IV) Under the heading of ground contamination methods, a Yellow Cross (mustard) spray mine is mentioned. This may be based on the Czechoslovak "Chema" chemical mine, in which an outer cylinder was used to project the mine into the air where it burst at a predetermined height.

(C.W.S. COMMENT: Permeable protective clothing issued to American soldiers gives all the protection practicable against mustard gas vapor and a large measure of protection against liquid lewisite. It gives protection against the vapor of lewisite but only limited protection against liquid lewisite. Against the so-called nitrogen mustard, American clothing provides rather limited protection against both vapor and liquid. At present, tests and development work now going on indicate that a greater measure of protection can be provided by further chemical treatment of the clothing. Tests have not proceeded far enough at this time to justify definite conclusions. Development is underway, the purpose of which is to provide an impermeable protective cape which will not be penetrated by liquid agents of either of the lewisite mustard or the nitrogen mustard types of agents.

A protective ointment is being issued to American troops which gives protection against Lewisite M1 and Mustard. The results of tests of the protection against nitrogen mustard are not yet available.

Detector papers and paints are being issued to troops which will indicate the presence of liquid mustard, lewisite or nitrogen mustard. A detector kit has been standardized, but not yet issued, which will also detect the presence of the three above described agents.

Rockets - Although the British have issued a rocket type weapon to their chemical warfare troops as a part of their armament, American chemical warfare troops are not so equipped. Development work is now underway which promises to provide an improved rocket type chemical projector.

Chemical mortar - Tests are now being conducted on the 4.2-inch chemical mortar, the standard for American chemical warfare troops, to increase the maximum range up to approximately 3200 yards as contrasted to the present maximum of 2400 yards. From results so far obtained this seems practicable.

High-explosive shells - A military requirement has been established for a high explosive shell of the 4.2-inch chemical mortar. It is expected that this development will be completed at an early date and production of several hundred thousand of these shells initiated.

Gas mask - The American gas mask will protect against all known gases in the field.)


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