M40 series Field Protective Masks were used by the US Army, US Marine corps, and selectively by the US Navy. . The masks were developed and introduced as a replacement to the M17 series, in service since 1959.
The M-17 introduced a number of features absent on the M9, such as a voice diaphragm, and with the M17A1, a drinking system.
The M17 Series had a number of shortcomings, however:
- The M17's M13 filters were difficult and time-consuming to change, and couldn't be replaced while wearing the mask.
- The use of internal filters added bulk and weight to the mask
- M17s could be quite uncomfortable. Surfaces in contact with the face weren't textured, and the mask was made from blended natural rubber, making it more rigid than previous masks.
- M17s lacked a peripheral seal.
Experimental versions Edit
In the 1970s the Army experimented with two new masks, the XM29 and XM30 series. These masks, however had several problems with the panoramic eyepiece as well as the fact that the silicone rubber it was made of was vulnerable to blister agents, which degrade silicone. The Navy and Air Force decided to develop the design further and finalized it as the MCU-2/P.
Learning from their mistakes, the Army decided to start over. In 1984, the ILC Dover company came out with the first prototype of the mask - the XM40. It was a very loose design, but it helped pave the way towards the development of the M40.
Later, another XM40 prototype was designed. It was similar to the first, but more rigid. There were complaints about bulk, and so the mask was developed further.
Around the late 1980s the XM40 was finalized as the M40 Field Protective Mask, but it did not enter service until after the Gulf War (in which the M17A2 was mainly used). It was mass-produced and mainstay issued in 1992.
The Mask Edit
It had two large, polygonal, binocular sight plexiglass eyepieces, which came with a seperate pair of ballistic lens "outserts", like its cousin, the M17, but these outserts also came in a neutral grey (tinted) version for protection against UV rays and flashbang grenades. It had a large voice diaphragm (same as on the MCU-2/P Series) which had threads on the inside to fit an M7 or MSA Voice Amplification Unit. The outlet valve had a drinking tube built into it, which wrapped around the outlet valve cover and fit in a pocket on the cover (again, simillar to the MCU Series).
Inside, the mask has a peripheral seal, and the chin cup has a slit to allow sweat to pass down to the exhale valve. The orinasal cup is the same type as on the MCU-2/P. It used a 40mm threaded C2 canister which could be switched out on either side with a secondary side voice diaphragm (used for telephone communication) to accommodate left and right-handed rifle users.
The facepiece is made of olive-coloured silicone rubber, as in the XM40 Series. To provide protection from blister agents, the mask was issued with a special hood made of Butyl Rubber-coated Nylon and had a specially made sheet of Butyl Rubber, sewn into the hood, that covered the facepiece, protecting the silicone facepiece from the harmful effects of blister agents. The Butyl Rubber "second skin" fastened to the facepiece with velcro patches near the bottom of the exhale valve, where a part of the hood curled under that had the patches to fasten on.
The second skin wasn't sewn to the bottom of the hood, in order to pull the bottom of the hood over the outlet valve to maintain positive pressure in the hood. This feature and the fact that the second skin fastened with velcro, made the whole assembly prone to leaks, so an update was needed.
In the mid-1990s, the M40 was updated and re-designated the M40A1. It had a new orinasal cup, made of a smoother olive silicone. The hood and second skin were replaced as well - The second skin was a separate piece of molded butyl rubber, that once put on the mask, was meant to stay there (aside from cleaning or replacing when broken).This new second skin did not cover the parts of the mask where the head harness buckles were attached, and had a up-raised peak of rubber, similar to the British S10 Facepiece, all around the edge of the skin. This was meant to help hold the new M40A1/M42A1 "Quick Doff" Chemical Hood in place and prevent it from slipping off the mask. On the top ond bottom of the skin, on top of the hood peak, there were rubber tabs (one on top, near forehead, one on bottom, near chin), which were intended to further hold the hood in place.
The mask also was issued with a new type of canister - the C2A1. It differed from the older C2 visibly by the color - C2's were metallic black, C2A1's were metallic green. The C2 was still used, but eventually began getting phased out, and was eventually used only for training.
Later in the late 1990's, the M40A1's second skin was updated, they did away with the S10-style hood stop system, and just left a small ridge-like hood stop on the chin. The second skin was slightly thinner, and it covered more of the mask, it also had a neck flap as well.Aside from the second skin, everything else, especially the mask, remained the same, but the change in the second skin design was enough to change the nomenclature, and thus the M40A1 was re-designated the M40A2.
MSA and Scott Aviation and ILC Dover (who helped develop and produce the M40 early on), sold the M40 contract to the adhesive company, 3M. 3M began producing the M40 as the FR-M40, intended for civilian use, and marked (NOT GOVERNMENT PROPERTY). Aside from this marking, the mask is identical to the M40A2.
Replacement by M50 Edit
From 2009 onwards, the M50 Joint Service General Purpose Mask started replacing the M40 Series, as well as the MCU-2
Ballistic Lens Outserts Edit
These were made to protect the actual lenses themselves from damage, and could supposedly resist light shrapnel.There are three kinds;
- Clear, just for protecting the lenses
- Neutral gray, for protecting the eyes from sunlight and "flashbang" grenades
- Laser protection, for protecting the eyes against laser light. These have a green tint, and are the rarest type of outserts.
M40/M42 "Quick Doff" Chemical Hood Edit
Issued with the M40A1 as a replacement for the older First Generation M40/M42 Hood, which had the second skin sewn in which was prone to leaks, the "quick doff" hood is a very simple chemical hood, made of nylon fabric, heavily rubberized with butyl rubber, with a large, circular, elasticated opening for the mask, two underarm straps made of the same material as the hood with metal adjustment buckles in the back and black plastic fastening clips in the front. The neck area has a built in elastic band, as to not need a confusing, time consuming drawstring cord and slider. The hood is very easy to use and could be used with a variety of gas masks, U.S. or not.
Optical Inserts EditA special pair of glasses that have special frames that fit around the inside the lenses, inside the mask. There are two types - a plastic frame type and a metal wire frame type.
MI Waterproofing BagEdit
Standard in most U.S. protective masks from the Vietnam War and onwards, the MI waterproofing bag is a large plastic bag used to keep the mask dry when fording rivers and streams, or whenever the mask may be exposed to water. The bag can degrade the protective qualities of the mask, and can have toxic effects when the bag contacts foodstuffs. The bag comes with a cardboard sleeve of rubber bands meant to close the bag. The bag is stored folded in a ziploc bag in one of the internal or possibly external pockets of the mask's carrier bag.
Preventative Maintainance Service Check (PMSC) Flash Cards Edit
Laminated flash cards on a metal ring that list problems and defects you need to check for on a certain basis for the M40 Series Field Protective Masks.
M40 To M42 Conversion Kit EditThe M42 is the armored crew member's version of the M40 Field Protective Mask. It had a voice diaphragm with a built in microphone, for the tank's radio, and a long breathing tube (green hose fixed to the facepiece on the M42, then a threaded black hose to switch sides for left and right handed tankers on the M42A1 and M42A2). The C2 or C2A1 filter on the end of the hose had a special plastic casing (olive drab green plastic with metal coupling on the M42, then a black plastic case with black plastic coupling on the M42A1 and M42A2), which had a special coupling on the inlet port so that a hose from the tank's supplied air system could be attached to it. Every other aspect of the M42 series masks besides the hose, microphone, and filter casing and coupling are the same was their M40 counterparts. The M40A1 and M40A2 could be issued with a special conversion kit to field modify it into an M42A1 or M42A2 armored crew member's mask because making a seperate mask for a different purpose was costly. The kit came with the hose, casing with coupling and carrying straps, and a special clip on microphone that clips to the main voice diaphragm.
T.A.P. Hood Edit
Like the M9A1 with M3 T.A.P. Hood, and the MCU-2/P with the HGU-65/P T.A.P. Hood, the M40 Series has had it's own T.A.P. Hood, meant for heavy decontamination, chemical stockpile inspection/handling, and other similar tasks. T.A.P. hoods for the M40 are very rare, and understandably expensive when found, not many photos exist of the M40 T.A.P. hood exist as well, information is rare, and as of now, the actual desingnation for the hood is unknown.
Foreign Variants Edit
Main article: Serbian M3
The M3 is a Serbian copy of the M40. It's remarkably similar, however the voice diaphragm, filter, outlet valve and the size of the eyepieces (same shape as the M40) are slightly bigger than the M40. The drinking tube on the M3 is also very similar to the drinking tube used on the Canadian C4, because of the way it attaches under the left eyepiece and curls behind and under the filter inlet.
Another Navy unit that used the M40 was the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit 11 Team, but the mask was used with a special blower (PAPR) that had two C2 or C2A1 filter screwed on the front of it, the blower was worn on the belt or on the back, and the blower had an electric fan that sucked air through the filters and forced air through a long tube into the mask. The blower units are very rare, and are not usually found.