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Osprey Men-at-Arms 157 : Flak Jackets : 20th Century Military Body Armour

Simon Dunstan charts the development of protective equipment and body armour for soldiers and security forces in the Twentieth Century. Starting in World War I where it was found that after the troops on the Western Front had gone to ground up to 80% of the casualties were being caused by artillery fragments and mortar bomb splinters. This led to the universal use of steel helmets by 1916. World War II saw widespread introduction of plate armour contained in jackets, by the US Army Air Forces for bomber crews to counter flak - and the name, flak jacket, stuck. World War II also saw armoured seats in fighter aircraft. After the war development continued for armour to protect the infantryman and lightweight jackets of layered multi plate armour of composite construction were introduced. The M1952 body armour was used by US and UN forces in Korea and later by the French in Indo China. In Vietnam special armour was developed for the crews of helicopters. Modern armour is often made of ceramic or kevlar and is made of small plates carried in pocketed garments. There is no such thing as a 'bullet proof' vest, just various levels of protection, their purpose is to slow down a projectile so that it merely wounds or bruises instead of penetrating the targeted person. Now days police and military routinely wear such vests into combat. The text is accompanied by colour plates by Ron Volstad

    Contents
  • Introduction
  • The Great War
  • The Second World War
  • The Korean War
  • The Vietnam War
  • Modern Body Armour
  • The Plates

 

Osprey Men-at-Arms


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