KM-35T oxygen mask
Message 2855, Jun 12, 2001
Hi Craig, Ah yes, cogent ruminations, to be sure. Your idea of the "PR" or propaganda value of something like this (proving to the West that Russia or the Soviet Union could match Western technology in this area) is most interesting and it wouldn't surprise me to find that there was possibly somesuch motivation behind its development. The mask would truly be horrifically uncomfortable to wear for long periods (as most full face NBC masks are, of course).
As far as hoods are concerned, most of the Russian NBC masks are ostensibly to be used in combination with a non-permeable ensemble like their OP-1 protective suit, or the lightweight L-1 suit, both of which include a hood (see attached); the concept of issuing a discrete hood to troops to use with another type of suit (such as the old hoodless US activated-charcoal-lined, permeable, two-piece outfit) appears not to have put into practice.
I'll try to shoot a few shots that show more detail and get them off to you, as suggested earlier. No matter what the final consensus appears to be, it is without a doubt a most interesting KM-35 type variant. I think an Austrian NBC specialist I contacted about it referred to it by a specific ID designation, now that I think about this; I'll have to get in touch with him and see what more information he may have on this. He seemed to be modestly familiar with it and identified it as a Russian KM-variant for aviation NBC applications, but I failed to follow this interesting revelation up with a request for more detailed intelligence on the item. More after a bit. I'll send via discrete frequency.
Message 2837, Jun 11, 2001
DocB: Thanks for the complete explanation and descriptions. I would love to get some better pictures of the mask. You can send discrete. I think the hood attachments almost confirm that it is for NBC defense, however, and as unfortunate as it may seem, I've dealt in Soviet and Russian NBC Masks. I've purchased more of those nasty things than I care to talk about. However, hoods were rare items and most masks didn't come with them at all. But then again, the cost of one grunt compared to one pilot is enough that I'm sure the pilots received hoods.
The NBC defense upon return theory is probably most apropos, but can you imagine wearing that beast for the duration of 1 - 1 1/2 hour flight just to have it on when you open the cockpit at homebase? Then you couldn't leave your cockpit until you put on another mask. This logic seems inconceivable, but the Russians are not well known for adherence to logic. I believe that one of my guesses - that this mask was for PR (and believe it or not, the Russians have a word "PeeArskiy" which is the adjectival form of the words public relations, but I digress)and for public consumption only is probably right. I don't think any Russian pilot would wear one of these things in a combat environment. They still have their standard GP-7 gas masks, which they would wear up until they embark and put on as soon as the deplane.
Vsego Doborogo, Craig
Message 2833, Jun 11, 2001
Spacebo Craig, Yes, the erstwhile Russian 'NBC variant' of the KM-35 appears to be quite an interesting anomaly. I briefly discussed this with some individual Respiratory protection contacts at Battelle and Aberdeen, asking their opinion on its possible NBC use specificity, and the word I received initially was "Where did you get that?", followed by uncertainty. Apparently it is not a recognizably standard item by any means, not so much at any rate as a regular production item. Also ran this by Per-Gunner Jonsson of FOA in Sweden, but he has no idea about its ID either (he's the chief of the FOA NBC respiratory protection section). Hence, back to square one.
I acquired this originally with an eye to recognizing its having a definite similarity in functional appearance to US TAERS and AERP (MBU-18/P and MBU-19/P) systems and the UK counterpart (AR-5 system); it simply looked as if it could be for no other purpose, especially in view of the fact that it obviously mates with a proofed hood (which I did not get with it--however the 'Velcroski' is still on the mask facepiece, indicating mating points for the hood in a similar manner as some US NBC system hoods). I paid a whopping price for it, but could never find another example like it or find anyone in our US NBC circle of specialists who could identify it for me. The facepiece has been purposefully molded onto the KM-35 shell and is not a make-shift job, but a factory produced item. The two pictures I attached to my email message to you were taken by the original owner. I have not yet taken a series of suitable shots of it, but will do so at my earliest convenience and forward them to you. I should have done this much earlier but I am easily side-tracked by my many concurrent projects these days.
I cannot imagine that this is a Russian smoke-protective 02 mask, although that possibility did cross my mind. The attachment points for a proofed hood rather reduced that possibility significantly, at least in my opinion, since smoke-masks do not usually use or even need hood accessories.
As per the fact that fast moving air removes toxins and NBC contaminants from the outer surface of an aircraft, I think one of the major concerns for aircraft NBC systems has always been not as much that part of the mission envelope wherein the aircraft is moving rapidly through a contaminated area, but rather that portion of the mission wherein the possibility of the return or landing area being contaminated is extant, requiring protection for aircrew removal from the sealed and protected aircraft system to an outside individual or collective protection system. In the US, our aviation NBC systems are configured as much for this specific scenario, as for actual in-flight protection.
At any rate, this is quite an interesting little find and I certainly will be interested in learning more about it and its intended function, as I will be in anything you are able to find out about it. More on this tomorrow, hopefully.
Message 2828, Jun 11, 2001
DocB: The NBC O-2 mask seems like quite the anomaly to me. They have not mass produced these things, otherwise I would have seen one around somewhere. What makes it so unique is that the Russians don't really believe that their jets are truly susceptible to NBC attacks. In tests, chem & bio agents are stripped from an aircraft due to wind speed. Even a speed as slow as that of a helicopter was enough to strip off any toxicity. The KM-35 is used only in fast movers and they have sealed life support systems. If the pilot were to use the KM-35M outside of the aircraft for NBC protection, then he'd have to have an oxygen source with him. It goes against Russian reasoning to create an NBC variant of the KM-35.
NBC in Russian is RBKh (appropriate cyrillic, of course). Where did you get the information that this was an NBC defense mask and not simply a new variant for high-altitudes? I have not seen a GSh-6 in use in quite some time. The test pilots are now wearing the ZSh-9, it appears, which goes with the KM-34D series II or KM-35 masks.
Thanks for the picture, and with your permission, I'll add it to my web page. I will note that it was originally identified as an NBC variant, but I will also not be skeptical without seeing something in writing from an official Russian source.
My highest regards to all members of the flight gear forum, Craig
Holdek: Attached photos show a very rare and unusual Russian NBC protection aviation mask. It is similar in concept to the USAF TAERS and MBU-19/P NBC aviator's facemasks, and intended to mate to a 'hook & loop' attached proofed-hood (with Velcroski?). I would certainly appreciate your keeping an eye open for one or more of these interesting masks for me. I already have one of them but I am sure that they may be a few more floating around, there in Moscow. The apparatus appears to use a KM-35 style 02 mask shell and hose assembly that is permanently bonded (molded) to the rest of the facepiece. I was told this is ID'd as the "KM-35 variant T" mask (for NBC aviation protection), but this may not be absolutely correct. One of my chief areas of special interest is aviation NBC protection. As Norman Schwartzkopf probably never said, "Tanks a lot." Cheers, DocBoink (AKA: Chris Carey)