The L-702 gas mask is a gas mask manufactured from 1938 to 1940 by the Société Belge de l'Azote et des Produits Chimiques du Marly (also known as SBA) in Liege, Belgium. It was made out of the same rubber as its predecessor, the SBA respirator, but the face piece was of a simpler design and there was no way to replace the eyeglasses if they were damaged. It was mass-produced in its two year lifespan, with some estimates saying over a million were produced, and is a relatively common mask today.
The L-702 was made in different sizes ranging from 0 (child) to 5 (extra large), the most common sizes being 2 and 3 while 0 and 5 are rare.
The L-702 uses a metal filter which is attached to a bakelite filter connector, containing contains only a simple rubber disk to act as the inhale valve and utilising a set of holes on the underside as an exhale valve. Depending on the country it was manufactured for, the mask's intake will have a diameter of 25mm, 40mm, or 42mm, making filter interchangeability difficult.
The L-702 was first produced in 1938 in order to replace the SBA respirator, which had also been produced by the Société Belge de l'Azote. With the second world war looming in the near future, civilian demand for gas masks had significantly increased. However the high price for a SBA respirator (an industrial gas mask, not a civil one), led to the creation of the L-702. The new mask and its corresponding filters were of a simpler design and were manufactured from cheaper materials, making them much more cost effective and accessible to the public. The L-702 was made in two types - an active version (with bag and hose) and a passive version (with a metal canister and no hose). The carrying case issued with the active version was identical to the case issued with the SBA respirator.
SBA kept producing the L-702 until they were shut down by the occupying German army in 1940, never to resume production. Nevertheless, after the war several thousands of L-702 gas masks were re-inspected, a paper with the date of inspection was put into the cap of the filter and the filters and canisters were spray painted dark green to be used by the Civil Defence. These were then stored in various locations around Belgium in case they were needed for emergencies. The masks remained unused, and many depots were cleared in the years after the Second World War. One notable depot was the Fortress at Walem, which stored thousands of L-702 masks for years even after being abandoned by the Civil Defense. The masks were still in excellent condition before they were scrapped in 2009 when the fort was cleared out, which is testament to the quality of how they were made.