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Kingdom of Yugoslavia Gas Mask M-1 Nebojša

Kingdom of Yugoslavia Gas Mask M-1 Nebojša

The gas mask M-1- Nebojša was the first gas mask completely made in Yugoslavia which was intended for both military and civilian use. It was produced in the factory Bata in Borovo, under the license of FM-1a, a Czechoslovakian mask designed and produced by Fatra.


In the later part of the 1930s, Yugoslavia began preparing for an imminent global conflict. Taught by experiences from the First World War, the military leadership of the Royal Yugoslav Army decided to develop the gas mask industry, to protect the civilians and army personnel from the effects of poisonous gasses.  In the 1920s Yugoslavia equipped its troops with gas-masks imported from France, some of which may have been surplus First World War equipment. A lot of Yugoslav soldiers were equipped with old-fashioned M-33 masks. Considering that, a new high-capacity factory capable of producing up-to-date military equipment was necessary to ensure the replacement of outdated gasmasks.



The decision of constructing a gas mask factory was made in late 1938, and the Yugoslav military leadership decided that the best solution is the adaptation of an existing factory, a shoe factory Bata in the village Borovo, near the town of Vukovar in present-day Croatia.  The factory Bata was established by Czechoslovakian industrialist Tomaš Bata in 1931, and it had one of the most modern production systems in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. A military sector was opened in the factory, and the gasmask production began on the 4th of August 1939. The mask was named ‘’Nebojša M-1’’ (Serbo-Croatian: Nebojša – Fearless) and the factory employed 900 workers, which had the capacity of producing around 1000 units per day.



The mask has 4 different parts; rubber face of the mask, metal valve house, triplex glass eyepieces and the elastic strap system. The face of the mask was made of molded gray rubber. The eyepieces were colored black, made from aluminum, and circle-shaped, the glass is damage resistant. The valve house is elipse shaped and made of gray painted aluminum legure - silumin. The intake is located on the top and is a bit angled downwards to reduce the down-pulling effect by the filter.


The exhale valve is under the intake, the fixed, steel lid protects the tulip-styled valve. There is a Tissot-tube system that leads to the eyepieces and has the purpose of preventing fog. The 6 points elasticated harness is connected to the face of the mask with the help of metal buckles. The harness itself is made of elasticated fabric and connects to one pressure reducer rubber slabs on the back and can be adjusted on the buckles connecting to the face blank. It has a non-elasticated carrying strap too. Nebojša gas masks were produced in three different sizes; large, medium and small. The gas masks were packed both in cloth bags and metal containers with a carrying strap. Every gas mask kit contained a gas mask, a bag, an instruction manual, and technical accessories.



Initially, the first filters for the Nebojša M-1 gas mask were imported from Czechoslovakia, but soon the factory started producing its own filters. By 1940, Gas masks in the Bata factory were produced completely from Yugoslav materials, and with Yugoslav technology. The mask filter was made of a piece of sheet metal and it was controlled by experts on special devices, the most important were the control of water impermeability, testing of the protective power of the filter, and the so-called nephelometric value and filter control during respiration.


 Each mask and filter underwent eleven inspections at the factory itself, and the last, twelfth inspection was conducted on behalf of the Ministry of Trade and Industry which confirmed the correctness of each mask and filter with a stamp. The engineers in the Bata factory had to test the masks on themselves, in a chamber filled with poisonous gasses; Arsenic, Phosgene, and Benzyl bromide. Therefore, every mask had to be quality made, and no errors and defects were tolerated. The process of mask production was brought to perfection, and no engineers lost their lives during the production.



The price of the Nebojša M-1 kit in 1940 was 169 Yugoslavian dinars, which was a lot cheaper than the other available masks. The mask was in operative use by the Royal Yugoslav Army, during the April war in 1941. and the captured masks were used by Hungarian Axis forces. The mask remained in use until the end of The Second World War. The mask was quickly replaced by the M2 mask, and eventually by the M 52 made during the communist era.