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Old 06-07-2018, 09:23 AM
Thumb Dog Thumb Dog is offline
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WW I Gas Attack

Hi All,

While I was building the dioramas for my recently concluded Great War thread which appeared in this sub-forum, I also built this Pellerin model titled, “Les Gaz Asphyxiants,” or, “The Asphyxiating Gas.” I didn’t include this model in my thread because it didn’t fit the premise of the care and feeding of soldiers away from the battlefield. But this orphaned diorama is worth a look, so I present it here today.

The model purports to show the first widespread use of chlorine gas in World War I. In the early evening of April 22, 1915, the Germans let loose over 150 tons of chlorine gas against French ground forces during the Second Battle of Ypres in Belgium. As seen in the diorama, the French were woefully unprepared for such an attack as all they could do to protect themselves was to cover their mouths with wads of cloth. No effective gas masks were available at the time, and the soldiers needed to improvise as best they could. It was quickly discovered that if the masks were soaked in ammonia they became more effective, so upon hearing the first alarm, the soldiers would quickly urinate into their masks before securing them to their faces.

The sarcastic subtitle of the diorama translates as, “German Initiative in the Process of War!” Sadly, the use of poison gas increased throughout the conflict, with the Germans leading the way in development and use. Nobel Prize winning chemist Fritz Haber was instrumental in the advancement of gas as a deadly weapon, and those interested in the history of modern chemical warfare often begin by researching the varied career of Doktor Haber.

The diorama shows the alarm being sounded by a soldier banging on a large metal basin and another sounding a blast from his trumpet. With bayonets fixed, the Poilus are preparing for the German infantry attack that will surely come after the gas dissipates. But first they must outlast the dastardly gas attack by any means possible.

From its beginning on August 1st, 1914 to the Armistice on November 11th, 1918, the Great War lasted 1564 days. The introduction of massed gas attacks was but one of the terrors let loose on the world during what has become known as the first modern war. Even though sporadic poison gas attacks have been used by decrepit governments and maniacal terrorists over the years, nothing like the vast attacks witnessed on the battlefields of Europe have been seen for nearly a century. Thankfully, the use of chemical weapons by great nations has become too terrible to contemplate.

Score and fold,

Thumb Dog
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WW I Gas Attack-img_0520.jpg   WW I Gas Attack-img_0521.jpg   WW I Gas Attack-img_0525.jpg   WW I Gas Attack-img_0523.jpg   WW I Gas Attack-img_0529.jpg  

WW I Gas Attack-epinal-11.jpg   WW I Gas Attack-epinal-gas-attack-victims.jpg  
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Old 06-07-2018, 09:48 AM
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Vermin_King Vermin_King is offline
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Definitely not as uplifting as the last series, but we need reminding of why we should never stoop to these levels
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A tax is a fine when you do well.
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Old 06-07-2018, 10:55 AM
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AgaPablo AgaPablo is offline
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The scene appears a bit naďve at first, but on second thought it is thoroughly realistic!
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Old 06-07-2018, 11:26 AM
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MichaelS MichaelS is offline
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My Uncle Frank Pierce, who I never met, died in 1931 from the results of a gas attack. His wife never remarried and they were never able to have children. To me this is the hidden tragedy of war. Not just the lives lost in the actual battles but all the widows and fatherless children. Not to mention the children that are never born.

I really don't know if the world will ever change. Just so much never ending waste.....

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Old 06-07-2018, 08:00 PM
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wireandpaper wireandpaper is offline
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This is a big paradox, for us modelers.
Finding inspiration on these terrible events and making, great models of killing technology???
Very nice diorama, unfortunately the handkerchief won't protect the soldats.
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Old 06-08-2018, 02:10 AM
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CharlieC CharlieC is offline
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There were about 1.3 million casualties caused by gas in WW1 - mostly on the Western Front. However there were "only" 90,000 fatalities. Contemporary accounts say that the troops of the time considered gas a more humane weapon compared to everything else they faced.

Chemical and biological weapons were banned in 1925 under the Geneva Protocol which most nations have adhered to since.

Even the Nazis, who had access to nerve gases before WW2, didn't use them - exactly why is still a matter of debate.

It has taken a particularly nasty variety of totalitarian ruler to use chemical weapons since WW2 - such shining examples of humanitarian rule like Saddam Hussein and Bashar al-Assad.

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Old 06-08-2018, 09:08 AM
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Kevin WS Kevin WS is online now
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This is a great little model - not only does it convey the event (as far as can be seen accurately as well), but is also a very interesting example of social commentary from the past............

The figures also quite accurately portray, in a very capable fashion, an air of panic.


There is an interesting chart here on 4 of the major gases used in WW1 - although many more types than 4 were used.


And in terms of modern users don't forget Russia, who has weaponized stocks of nerve agents and other gases to hand, such as Sarin, Lewisite, Mustard, Soman, VX and Novichok (which was also the agent used in the recent Salisbury UK assassination attempt).
The SD40 is 52 now!

Last edited by Kevin WS; 06-08-2018 at 09:27 AM.
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Old 06-08-2018, 10:22 PM
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wireandpaper wireandpaper is offline
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And you always learn something new and interesting in this site!
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Old 06-09-2018, 07:32 AM
colwyne colwyne is offline
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Great effort mate, tells a hard story in a simple way, well done...look at the discussion you provoked
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Old 06-09-2018, 03:42 PM
douglasmarrel douglasmarrel is offline
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My uncle who served in the AEF never recovered mentally from the gas attack he suffered. He passed very young compared to the rest of the family.
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