This page will go through everything that is known about the gas mask trials.
Overview and explanation
As it says in the undertitle, this page is supposed to gather all the known and actually confirmed information about the Norwegian gas mask trials in one page. There is alot that is unknown about these trials, as there's only a few documents and photos regarding them still in existence today. There is quite alot of details we will never know about the trials, but here we will look at all we know today. It's also important to keep in mind that there originally was alot more documents regarding this subject, but this article works with the documents available. Some of the documents reference other documents that has never been found.
The beginning - May 23rd 1928
The first document regarding the trials are dated May 23rd 1928. In this document from the Royal ministry of defence to a "Commanding General" they start by mentioning that on the 11th of may the same year the "Generalfelttøimester" had requested for the budget of 1928/29, that 25 000 Norwegian kroners, were to be spent on "Nytt krigsteknisk matriell" which means "New war technical material.
Before we move on, it is important to know who "Generalfelttøimester" was. This was a role in the Norwegian military, and was the leader of the "Royal Norwegian artillery brigade".
The Norwegian parlament had by this point decided that the 25 000 kroners were to be spent og new gas masks for the military. The Royal ministry of defence then refers to a document they wrote earlier on the 3rd of april. In this reference, it is said that they wish to produce masks in Norway at some point and that this will require planning and the necessary industry.
The final part of the document mentions that at this point from some previous testing, they were already leaning strongly towards what they call "German Degea gas mask". It says that this mask was most likely to become the "startingpoint" for the Norwegian gas mask. The documents mentions two different versions of the mask. One with a hose, with the canister in the carrier, while the other version was supposed to just be the mask with a simple canister.
The version with a hose was meant for the "Field artillery" while the rest of the military was supposed to use the other version. They also mention that they need to decide wether they will use a rubber mold to create the mask or use rubberized fabric.
It is also mentioned what is to be the goal of the purchase of these 285 masks:
- Getting Norwegina industry to produce filters for the masks. Also helping this industry aquire the correct equipment and machines in order to produce filters.
- Prepare the necessary labratory equipment for regular control tests.
- Testing in coherence with preparing the Norwegian production.
When it comes to the cost, as mentioned previously the Norwegian parlament had set aside 25 000 Norwegian kroners to new masks and everything else they need for the testing. Then the document mentions that they still had 2500 Norwegian kroners left over from a previous purchase of gas masks (Possibly from 07/07-1927 or 05-1927). This previous purchase had received 10 000 Norwegian kroners. This meant that the new purchase of masks and other equipement and services would have a total budget of 27 500 Norwegian kroners. This budget would be around 955 000 Norwegian kroners today, or around 107 000 USD.
The money would be spent like this:
- 285 "Degea masks" for testing and trials, 11 000 NOK.
- 1000 filters to be produced in Norway and equipment for this production, 5000 NOK.
- Essential laboratory equipment, 3500 NOK.
- The rest of the money were to be spent on future testing in Norwegian factories and for any other unforseen need, 8000 NOK.
This document might have had more pages originally, but this is all the information found in the document as it currently is.
The confirmation - June 1928
In june 1928, the Royal ministry of defence confirmed the purchase of the gas masks and confirmed who would be getting an amount of masks. The following list shows who was supposed to receive masks and how many they were to receive.
"Type A, mask and simple canister":
- 9 NCO schools, 20 per school: 180 Total.
- The Norwegian military academy and the Infantry shooting school , 20 each: 40 Total.
- "Aviation" and "Battlefield medecine", 10 each: 20 Total.
- Reserve (Gas course): 10 Total.
"Type B, mask with hose and canister":
- The fieldartillerys NCO school, 20 Total.
- Reserve (Gas course), 10 Total.
- The infantrys shooting school, 5 Total.
The difficult part about these documents from june 1928 is the fact that one of them is not properly dated. it is only dated "June 1928", while the other is dater 25th june 1928.
One fact to note is that both documents mention a previous document from june 5th 1928. Therefore we can be certain that the the document missing its date, is from some point after the 5th, and most likely before 25th. The document from june 25th mentions an "Expedition" from june 20th, which could be our misdated document.
The misdated documents also mentions that a previous decision to send an amount of masks to the "recruit units" are to be reconsidered, due to the fact that this would have cause "complications" and "practical difficulties". It also mentions one last reason to not give masks to these "recruit units", and that was the fact that they were already quite overdue on this acquisition of gas masks for testing. This is all these two documents cover.
The conclusion - July 16th 1929
This documents gives a conclusion on the gas mask tests. Two captains had been looking into what company would be the best, Captain Hansen and Captain Mjøllner. The document goes into detail on how the norwegian mask could be produced in the most efficent way and with minimal cost. It also covers which company would be most suitable to work with according to Hansen and Mjøllners "investigation". As mentioned before, the Degea model tested in Norway came in two types, Type A (no hose) and the Type B (with hose). Hansen and Mjøllner came to the conclusion that the Type A would be more suitable to a Norwegian production because it would be cheaper and easier to produce.
The document then goes over how each part of the production needs to get started and how much it would cost to aquire the correct machines, equipment, materials and specific training for the workers.
The document covers each aspect of the production:
- Creation of facepieces.
- Vulcanization of the facepieces.
- Correct materials for headstraps.
- Eyepiece "clamps" and "clamping ring" and the mounting of these.
The following machines, equipment and materials was needed accoding to the document:
- A "Dubleringsmaskin" (a "dr.Koch" assumed it the price to be around 3000 NOK).
- Tools for creating the facepiece (around 200 NOK).
- Table for Vulcanization of the facepieces (4 workstations, around 4000 NOK).
- Materials for the headstraps (purchased within Norway).
- Eyepiece "clamps" and "clamping rings" were considered to be bought from companies in Norway (Raufoss and Ånonsen) but were also considered to be bought from Germany.
- Eyepiece glass were to be purchased from outside Norway until they could be produced in Norway due to the fact that this production was quite advanced and difficult.
- Machines and tools to mount the eyepieces and "clamps" (These machines would cost a total of 3750 NOK), and this would be done at Askim rubber factory.
- Travel expenses and specific training of worker from Askim rubber factory (1000 NOK).
The document then goes over some feedback from the "Generalfelttøimester". He agrees with the points made by Captain Hansen and Captain Mjøllner and finishes by recommending that the Degea mask by Auergesellschaft (Auer) as the new main gas mask for the Norwegian military. The document concludes by going over the total cost and this looks a little different from the previous stated cost.
The final predicted cost were to be on a total of 30 000 NOK where 10 000 were to be used within 1929 and the final 20 000 to be spent within 1930.
- 1st License from Auergesellschaft, 10 000 NOK.
- Machines and tools where 1500 of the total amount were to be taken from the 1928/29 budget (possibly, the document just says "1500 from the last budget"), and 6500 NOK from the 1929/1930 budget.
- "To the production of gas masks", 11 000 NOK.
- For any unforseen costs, 2500 NOK.
The final conclusion in the document says that the Royal ministry of defence has decided that the "Degea" mask from Auergesellschaft (Auer) is to be the new mask that will be produced in Norway and used by the Norwegian military. The department also accepted a contract with Auergesellschaft (Auer), and they also point out that this case needs to be prioritized.
Final note - Important notice
As mentioned before there is still alot of missing pieces in the huge puzzle that is the Norwegian gas mask trials and early production. This article has just gone over what is currently known and facts that is taken from official documents from the time. It is important to always go from an actual source when one is stating something about the gas mask trials, production or anything in general, so that misinformation is not spread.