Face protection: British WW1 Tank crew mask

Products, Protective items, WWI

My first remark on face protection in airsoft is that you don’t generally need it, especially in woodland/outdoor airsoft where you are usually at some kind of range. The exception I will make to this rule is in CQB (Close-Quarter Battle) sites. Sadly at my first CQB game I forgot my hat/balaclava and came home looking like this:

why you need face pro in CQB

The missus was not pleased and quite frankly, neither was I! So time for some suitable face protection for this CQB malarkey.

There are a few options, gas masks are an obvious choice but can be a pain for air circulation and temperature. However for the British there is another option, not strictly correct for WW2 but it fits in with the aesthetic of the era better than modern mesh and plastic.

Saint-Chamond-WWI-tank-crew-members

These spatter masks were worn by French and British tank crews during the Great War (1914-18). These hardened leather and steel masks had several narrow slits for viewing and chainmail lowers to prevent shrapnel caused by rifle fire from injuring the faces of the crew.

 

The build naturally started with some designing in Qcad, followed by some steel laser cuttings…

The first rendition had 2mm high slots for the eyes and the strap attached via broad hooks on the sides. However this didn’t feel secure enough for use in a skirmish.

_DSF6943

It did however give me chance to practice working the leather to fit this tricky shape…_DSF6945

With the leather in place:

_DSF6947

The second version featured square strap lugs built into the shape and holes to mark the position of the eyelets to hold the chainmail.The vision slots are also narrower at 1.2mm.

_DSF7231

I have lightly oil blued this with WD40 to remove the shine and lessen rust.

_DSF7233

With leather fitted.

_DSF7267

And with the chainmail piece as it came out of the envelope! This piece is slightly small but on the next version it will stretch from side to side.

Before attaching the chain mail to the mask I slightly heated the rings and sprayed with WD40 to take the shine off and help fight rust.

_DSF7281

With practice, I hope to get the leather closer fitting. Like in the first version.

_DSF7282

But overall I’m very happy with it! As with all mesh-type masks some BBs do fragment and pass through, but these will be sold with a pair of clear safety specs for people wishing to use them for airsoft.

_DSF7288 copy

If you are interested in buying a mask like this, do let us know on enquiries.vintageairsoft@gmail.com or contact us through our Facebook page. They will be for sale on our Etsy page if there is enough interest.

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