The British Baby Gas mask (also often referred to as Babies protective helmet or 'C3' in official terms), was a device intended to protect children from deployed war gases. As the name implies, it was intended for children who's age ranged between newborn to 2 years.
A large, alien-looking contraption, this respirator could be aptly described as a sack attached to a metal frame.
Rubber bag Edit
The crux of the C3 respirator stems from a rubberised fabric 'bag' which contains the infant. This bag enveloped the child's entire body to protect them from poisonous gases.
It is important for collectors to note that this 'bag' is often found in a dried condition, where the rubber surface has cracked and dried into a semi-hardened state.
Visor assembly Edit
The babies vision was supplied by a large capsule-shaped visor, which was probably made of cellulose. Glass was most likely considered too expensive (these C3 respirators cost £1.4s, roughly 8 times more than a Standard respirator). Additionally, the visor was probably made large so the carer of the baby could see exactly what was going on inside and ensure the safety of the infant.
The overall construction of the visor assembly quite material intensive. The whole visor assembly was attached to metal rods that formed the oval shape for the visor assembly to latch to. These metal rods were attached to the respirators' overall metal frame.
Firstly, 2 sheets of oval-shaped black rubber were created. These serve as the plane by which the visor is secured to the respirator. One of the sheets was placed behind the metal rods and the other was placed in front (to cover the metal rods). These sheets were affixed together by punching holes through them and then using a single piece of thick twine that threaded through each hole (3 on bottom, 2 at sides and 2 at top) and the respirators metal frame. These holes were reinforced by metal grommets.
Once the visor was placed inside, a series of rivets were employed to secure the visor to both rubber sheets. For added security, a layer of stitching is found around the perimeter.
During assembly, once the rubber sheets had been placed (but not secured via twine), the skullcap was fixed into place. The rim of the metal skullcap was sandwiched between the 2 rubber sheets - this allowed the twine to be threaded around the skullcap which added more structural security.
To stop the respirator being too baggy and to prevent injury if the baby was dropped, a metal skullcap was introduced to the respirator design.
Its construction was a metal oval with a metal cross at the top. In relation to the visor assembly, the twine used to secure both rubber sheets together was threaded around the skullcaps rim.
The skullcap was affixed to the rest of the metal frame by 1 large central screw. The edging of the skullcap was attached via adhesive.
Metal Frame Edit
Alongside the metal visor assembly rods and the skullcap, the entire backing and underneath of the mask is constructed of metal. The primary metal frame holds the visor assembly and the filter. The secondary metal frame is made to reinforce the back and provide the base for the tail-plate.
The secondary frame is attached to the primary frame via 2 screws. These screws are found in the back and run down the 'spine' of the respirator. In addition, a fabric tie is located down the bottom. This fabric ties around the secondary frame to secure the secondary frame to the primary frame. The fabric tie itself is stitched to the rubberised fabric of the 'bag' section of the respirator and to the waist-tie of the respirator, to create a secure attachment.
The secondary frame also holds 2 foldable 'legs'. When unclipped, these legs fold outwards. This is done for 2 reasons. Firstly, the legs stop the respirator from rolling around when placed on the floor. Secondly, because the legs raise the respirator upwards, it makes it easier for a carer to place the infant inside.
The bottom of the secondary frame curve inwards to create the basis for the tail-plate.
Once the baby has been placed inside and the waist-strap tightened, they are fully secured by the tail-plate. The tail-plate is placed in-between the baby's legs. Then, using the horizontal strap, is affixed into place. The central strap has holes (reinforced by grommets) which clip into a buckle assembly that is found on the primary frame of the respirator. Once the tail-plate is firmly in place, it creates a seat for the child to sit in, with their legs dangling out of the sides.
The instructions state that the carer should consider placing a folded towel inside the tail-plate, as this area is likely to be soiled by the infant.
The tail-plate is affixed to the secondary frame via 2 screws found at the bottom.
Waist tie Edit
A length of brown fabric surrounds the 'bag' section, this serves as one of two primary methods for securing the child into the respirator (the other being the tail-plate), the fabric waist tie is kept on the bag section by a series of fabric strips that are stitched on, with the waist tie being threaded through them. The ends of the waist tie are made from metal rings to assist in tightening.
Filter assembly Edit
The filter assembly could be described as a hand-operated bellows pump. The carer continuously extends and compresses the bellows to create an air-flow which is forced through a filter which is then passed into the helmet. The same filter assembly is found on the British Invalid Helmet Respirator. All of the filter bellows were made by Avon rubber.
The filter is attached to the respirator by a singular metal clamp that was tightened into place via a square nut and bolt. For added rigidity, two circles of stitching were added.
The filter that the baby respirator used was the same filter that was used on the British Civilian Duty Respirator.
To stop the filter assembly from flapping around and potentially getting damaged, a fabric strip was added which threaded through a small slit cut out from the primary frame.
The instructions recommend 12 sharp strokes of the pump to clear out the air in the Helmet and after this, a rate of between 35 and 45 strokes in a minute was considered sufficient to keep out poison gas.