The Polivalente Z was the first full-face mask used by the Italian army during the first world war.

Mask overview Edit


Internal part of the polivalente Z

This was the first domestically produced mask adopted by the italian army. The mask was made of multiple layers of lint soaked in blocking substances, which were sewn and riveted between themselves, making them able to fit a soldier's face with an air-tight seal. Those layers, which acted as the filter, were covered by a coating of grey-green waxed canvas. The eye pieces where made of mica and tended to break easily, reason why in later production they had some metal strengthening. The mask was wore using a three point harness made of an elastic material.

Development Edit


Italian soldier wearing the polivalente Z

After the introduction of the Camician-pesci, some problems where solved while others were created: it didn't last very long, it irritated the skin and did not protect the whole face. After the introduction of phosgene, the soldiers where issued with the first versions of the polivalente z, which was just like one of those canvas half-masks but provided with eye pieces. Since 1915, many designs where tried, but the italian General Staff's negligence held back the research. Meanwhile, the french M2 was used because of the better protective ability against phosgene.


Late production Polivalente Z being used

In 1917 a man named Edward Harrison invented the small box respirator, which was adopted by all allied forces. The cost was very high, 1 £ for each mask. When the filter ran out, the mask was shipped back to England, where the filter would be replaced and then the kit would be sold again for the same price as before. Because of that high price, many soldiers where still equipped with the Polivalente Z, improved enough to be able to protect from all gasses used in the war, even if for a short period.

The kit Edit


Polivalente Z with its full kit


polivalente Z with the classic text visible

The mask came in a box made of metal or canvas covered wood that featured the very well known text: "Chi si leva la maschera muore, tenetela sempre con voi", that means "whoever takes off the mask dies, always keep it with you". Usually in the box there was a pamphlet explaining how to use the mask.


Instruction pamphlet of the polivalente Z

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