You'll remember that at the start of the year I grumbled a little that no manufacturer brought out late War French infantry wearing the M2 gas mask except Old Glory. Sadly, even the resourceful folk over at Gripping Beat and Forgotten & Glorious Company of Art haven't got around to making head swaps wearing the M2 gas mask.
N'import, mes braves! The French M2 gas mask is pretty easy to replicate in miniature (at least at a very basic level - which is, yes, my level!). It consisted of a single piece of material covering the whole of the face completely. The material had the same function as the filter cartridge on other masks, effectively neutralising the effects of gas. The M2 was used by French troops from April 1916 until August 1918, making it perfect for the forces I've been building up for Verdun. It seems that the M2 was effective for longer periods of time, even up to five hours, probably owing to the full-facial covering being slightly more comfortable and effective than some other masks during 1916.
Making the M2 mask on a model is simplicity itself. First, file down, or cut away the facial features on the model. It goes without saying that some care is needed here as you want to try to avoid damaging the remainder of the model. It helps if the face is left rough and not sanded down too fine, as the putty mask can adhere better. Cutting, filing and sanding away to the edge of the helmet strap (if possible and if worn) seemed to me to be a good compromise. What seems like a fun procedure on one figure rapidly becomes a bit of a chore when you're doing 22 of them. Your fingers will not be thanking you once you've done a couple of sections!
Next, mix the modelling putty of your choice and apply a flattened blob to the face of the model. I used "grey-stuff" and "brown-stuff" putties on the figures here - but "green stuff" should be fine as well. Manipulate the putty into place and sculpt to taste - that's the mask done.
The eyepieces are formed using a very small blob of putty. I found this easiest to cut from a blob on a flat surface, so you can be sure of taking a similar amount each time. Roll the tiny amount of putty into a ball, and add to the mask surface, then flatten and press the glass eyepieces with the blunt end of a modelling drill bit. Keeping the modelling tool you're using wet helps the putty not sticking to the blade.
And yes, you do that 44 times - one for each eyepiece. It gets a bit boring by the end. However, after 44 eyepieces….you're done! That's it! You've now got a couple more hardened or veteran infantry sections with M2 gas masks. I also added a casualty figure in a gas mask for an additional, slightly grim, touch.
Leading on from my last post on the veteran infantry, I've also added a couple of photos of head conversions, trying to show the process for removing a figure's Adrian helmet before removing the figure's head. That way you get ahead swap, and also a spare helmet to fix to the back of the field packs of your other troops. Simple, but I think it looks quite nice.
Of course, all this could have been avoided by some enterprising manufacturer bringing out a more "campaign look" set of French figures wearing M2 gas masks. But where's the fun in that?