REID “SMILEY” PALMER | 8 MARCH 2021
When it comes to Living History, the devil is often in the details. WW2 US GI reenactors have spent a lot of time and energy bickering about CC2 impregnated uniforms, but what is CC2 and why were uniforms impregnated in the first place?
After the horrific gas casualties of the First World War, US commanders wanted American troops to be ready for gas warfare and issued gas masks and special equipment to protect soldiers from gas, especially during major amphibious operations.
American troops were issued gas-resistant clothing as early as Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa in November 1942, when the Army issued “Protective (impregnated) capes” to all invasion troops, as well as limited numbers of “Protective clothing (impregnated).” However, soldiers tended not to like their impregnated clothing, leading to them abandoning these uniforms during the rest of the North African campaign.
Working on my First Engineer Combat Battalion D-Day impression, I discovered that all soldiers in the First Infantry Division were issued impregnated wools prior to the invasion.
How to apply a safe reproduction of “CC2”
Though these impregnated uniforms are a minor detail for my typical First Infantry Division impressions, which most people would not notice, I think it’s an interesting and important way of engaging people during my presentations. These uniforms show how the US Army was still considering the last war in their operational plans, give a flavor of the special preparations for D-Day, and are a good example of soldiers not following orders by dumping equipment that they deemed heavy and impractical.
I decided to ”CC2,” or impregnate a set of wools, HBTs, and leggings, and tried to apply the “shoe impregnate” added to Service Shoes the day before the landings. To do this, I talked with a few reenactors about various methods they’d tried or seen. My main priorities were safety and authenticity, so I was a little reluctant to smear deck sealant or other potentially toxic chemicals on something I’d wear. A friend suggested applying Otter Wax Heat-Activated Fabric Dressing, since it was the best of both worlds (made for safe personal wear and looks accurate). Upon reflection, paraffin gulf wax mixed with beeswax should work just as well and be cheaper. I intentionally over-applied it to leave the white residue look seen on original uniforms. During this process, I tried a variety of application methods, which I will describe here.
Step 1: Research Which Uniform Should be Impregnated
On D-Day, soldiers stormed the beaches and landed behind German defenses wearing impregnated wool uniforms, HBT uniforms, and M42 Jump Suits. You must research what your unit wore before determining which uniform to apply this treatment to.
Step 2: Prepare Your Space
I’d recommend doing laying out some cardboard or paper to protect your floor. This process is messy. If you’re applying this treatment to used uniforms, clean them first.
Step 3: Melt the Wax and Apply
If using the Otter Wax Heat-Activated Fabric Dressing, follow the instructions on the can. If using either the Heavy Duty Otter Wax Fabric Wax bar or gulf wax, use a blow dryer to warm up the uniform (this will make application easier)
Step 4: Apply the Wax
I found the Otter Wax bar and gulf wax bar easier to work with than the Otter Wax dressing (especially for the wool uniform, which quickly sucks up the wax). As seen below, I began by over-applying the treatment and removed the excess in unwanted areas with a popsicle stick.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
For my HBTs, the treatment didn’t look quite right, so I used an old iron (that I only use for my reenacting projects) to melt in the excess in areas I didn’t want to have a buildup of wax. This darkened the uniform, aligned the texture more closely with original uniforms, and gave me a little more control over where the CC2 treatment really came through.
Overall, I was very pleased with the results. If I had to do it again, I would have likely just used paraffin gulf wax (often used for canning) as it’s cheaper and very similar in look and texture to the Otter Wax.
While this isn’t the only means of applying a CC2 treatment to a uniform, I was happy with the results and the overall cost of the project.
First Division Museum at Cantigny Park Digital Archives
2 thoughts on “CC2 Gas Impregnation: What, Why, and How”
Hi! Did you rub the gulf wax cube into the fabric, or you heat it before apply in a can, than use a brush?
Which one is the best method for the apply?
I rubbed the gulf wax bar directly into the fabric. The friction of rubbing the bar onto the uniform heats up the wax enough for it to be applied correctly, but it can be easier to use a blow dryer to warm up the uniform first. I’d say rubbing the bar directly onto the uniform is a lot easier and more effective than melting the wax and applying via brush.