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Lyle Zapato

Beating Sprayed-Vesicant-Protection-Bags Into Rain-Covers

Lyle Zapato | 2012-01-03.7880 LMT | Retro | Random Found Thing | Defensive Techniques | Fashion

Back in 2005 I posted a version of this image from a WWII pin-up calendar/poster:

Protection against SPRAY ATTACK
Miss November, 1944

Perhaps you wondered, "What did the Army do with all those Japanese-microplane-spray-attack-protection covers after the war?" Well, it turns out they sold the surplus to civilians as "Amazing All-Over Rain-Covers". Here's a 1948 ad extolling their (apparently 106) uses:

Click to see the full ad at the Digital Comic Museum...

Biggest variety of uses of anything you ever owned! Impress your date by picnicking and canoeing in the rain! Awkwardly shuffle through the rain-drenched masses like cocooned vermin! Never again suffer the embarrassment to your male ego of having your gal use a newspaper to keep her party dress unruined! Any rain-avoidance-based thing is possible with the Amazing All-Over Rain-Cover!

Before being repackaged for consumer rain-covering and/or mating-rituals, these bags came with a gas mask, as shown in the pin-up. Here's a site selling one in its original package, marked "Cover, Protective, Individual. Contract No. NXSS-54058. 1944" and "NOTE: This cover is to protect YOU against sprayed vesicants". YOU. Not your darling. Not your baby. Just YOU.

Anyway, the Rain-Cover ad comes from issue #65 of Thrilling Comics (April, 1948). Here's the thrilling cover:

Click to read nearly the entire issue...

It features an exciting (not thrilling?) adventure of Princess Pantha, a typical post-WWII suburban American circus-performer who, after being stranded in the jungles of Africa, goes insane, dons skimpy animal-skins, declares herself royalty, and starts attacking gentle, herbivorous gorillas with a stiletto. Take that, Nature!

(BTW, the "SPRAY ATTACK" pin-up at the top in the 2005 post is cropped, lightened, and edited to remove the crease lines. Here's the original from the eBay auction where I found it. I haven't been able to find a better version. All the ones online seem to be copies of my edited version.)

UPDATE: The Canadian War Museum has a copy of the SPRAY ATTACK pin-up. It's smaller than the eBay copy, but the colors are better and there's no creases or perspective. According to them, the artist was William G. Day and it was produced for the Training Aids Division of the US Army Air Forces. As the calendar format implies, there were others, only not quite as great. Search the museum site (or Google images) for "Training Aids Division" to see some of them.

UPDATE 2014-05-19: Some time after that last update, the Canadian site added a larger version. I replaced my 2005 version at the top of this post with a cropped, white-balanced version of the CMC's copy, since it looks better and images on the CMC site apparently don't show up in Google image search. UPDATE 2019-06-22: They changed their site and I updated the link. As of updating this, their site is a bit broken; searching or trying to follow any of the category links only results in a "no results found" error. But, you can find the some of the other months of this calendar by incrementing and decrementing the artifact number in the URL.

UPDATE 2016-07-29: I found an eBay listing for another, less cheesecakey, WWII poster promoting the use of these bags. It includes this nicely designed instructional diagram (which I cleaned up as best as I could from the image provided by the seller):

Click to enlarge...

UPDATE 2016-08-01: Another copy of the calendar image was sold on eBay recently (for $120). The seller used my version of CMC's copy as the default image, which first made me suspect shenanigans, but their other two photos clearly show the item was legit. Those photos are now the highest resolution versions of the image available online, but they unfortunately include fold marks, some damage, light glare, and are shot at an angle. Stay tuned for more breaking news of this obscure bit of ephemera that I'm apparently obsessed with.

End of post.