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Although the Small Box Respirator was, for its time, one of the most important developments in British respirator history, a critical lack of foresight was given in regards to the SBRs use within the Royal Navy. Indeed, the SBR was intended for infantry operations in land-based warfare. This was a far-cry from the activities of Royal Navy personnel whom would be required to use many optical instruments, chiefly binoculars and telescopes. The SBR was not designed specifically for such use; the Royal Navy found that the baggy SBR facepiece often got caught in binoculars and in some cases, the SBR lenses were too small to properly see through telescopic apparatuses. The SBRs somewhat loose facepiece also caused the eyepieces to move around; making it difficult to see properly when scanning the horizon for hostile ships.
These early experimental masks were given the designations 'Mk I' and 'Mk II'. Specific information pertaining to these masks is noticeably scarce. It is known that the early Mk I and Mk II's were initially plain rubber, the khaki stockinette would not appear until later. The stockinette was to give the respirator design an extra degree of protection.
Due to a plethora of operational issues in regards to naval use, the British Admiralty requested a new respirator design in 1919. One development that was of supposed interest to the Royal Navy was the US Akron-Tissot. The Akron-Tissot used moulded rubber, thus achieved a completely gas-tight seal by itself, leaving the nose-clip assembly obsolete.
A respirator trial began in Tuer Street, Lancashire, England, in the J.E. Baxter and Co factory. Various experiments into respirator design occurred during this phase, including new rubber blends and using vulcanised rubber mixed with unvulcanised rubber.
Eventually, the finalised design would occur. This final design was subject to Royal Navy testing, who found the mask did not interfere with tasks performed by sailors. Thus, the Mk III General Service Respirator was finally adopted.
The supply and issue of the Mk III remains unclear, it is speculated that the Royal Navy was the main user.