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Questions regarding body armor

Discussion in 'Information Requests' started by Kommando, Jul 6, 2008.

  1. Kommando

    Kommando Dishonorably Discharged

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    I have a few questions regarding body armor usage in WW2:

    -Which sides used body armor?
    -To what extent was body armor used?
    -At what time did body armor enter use?

    The reason I'm wondering is because I'm modifying a WW2 game, and I want it to be as historically correct as possible.

    /Kommando
     
  2. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    "The next generation of ballistic vests was introduced during World War II. The US military started researching and issuing what became known as "flak jackets" during World War II. Bomber crews often returned from missions over Nazi- occupied Europe telling how the "flak was so thick you could walk on it." Each of those puffs of smoke in the sky contained thousands of pieces of shrapnel. In early October 1942, an analysis of wounds incurred by US Eighth Air Force combat personnel revealed that approximately 70 percent were due to relatively low velocity missiles.
    In 1942, the Army Air Forces started issuing flak jackets to aircrews. The flak jackets also included steel plates sown into cloth. They hung over the chest and stomach like a catcher's chest protector. They were pretty heavy. There was a helmet that completed the ensemble. The vest had a pull tab to dump it quickly if the plane ditched in the water or the crew had to bail out. The "flak jacket," constructed of ballistic nylon, provided protection primarily from munitions fragments, but was ineffective against most pistol and rifle threats. These vests also were very cumbersome and bulky and were restricted primarily to military use. These first flak jackets were heavy, but they did stop flak.
    US officials had adapted the flak vest from the Royal Air Force. Samples suits were received in the United States in July 1943, and the Army Ordnance Department and various civilian institutions were responsible for producing approximately 23 types of flyer’s armor. The armor workshop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art became the main design research laboratory in the development of flyer’s armor. They were used by flexible position gunners in four-engine bombers like B-17s and B-24s. Some aircrew in medium bombers like the B-26 and B-25 also used them.
    On July 8, 1943, then Colonel Malcolm C. Grow was awarded the Legion of Merit for developing the flak vest. As the Surgeon of the Eighth Air Force, he ordered a survey of Eighth AF wounds and found that 70 percent were caused by missiles of relatively low velocity. He surmised that some type of light armor might offer protection to air crews. He contracted with the Wilkinson Sword Company, a British firm, for a 22-pound armored suit that withstood a .45 caliber round fired at point blank range. He concluded it would also stop flak and successfully tested the handmade suit on a B-17 crew. Soon the ''flak suit" was mass produced by both the British and the Americans. This light body armor and the addition of a steel helmet were Grow's ideas that saved many lives and improved combat crew morale.
    Numerous investigators in the Ordnance Department and in the other technical services had contemplated the development of armor for ground troops in the early stages of World War II. However, very preliminary investigations had shown that most models were too heavy, were incompatible with standard items of equipment, and tended to restrict the mobility of the soldier. A considerable number of the vests and aprons were produced and were scheduled for field testing and observation by a joint medical-ordnance-infantry team just at the cessation of the war in the Pacific.
    In May 1943 the Dow Chemical Company laminated a fibrous glass fabric which immediately proved very promising. The initial product consisted of layers of glass filaments of Fiberglas bonded together with an ethyl cellulose resin under high pressure. Some of the individuals working with Col. (later Brig. Gen.) Georges F. Doriot, then director of the Military Planning Division, Office of the Quartermaster General, decided that the project should be known as the "Doron Project" in his honor. Therefore, the glass fiber laminate manufactured by the Dow Chemical Company became known as and continued to be called doron.
    The production of the M12 vest was slated to continue to a certain degree after August 1945. The M12 vest was made of thick aluminum plates and had ayers of nylon cloth. It weighed 12 pounds and 3 ounces and provided an area protection of 3.45 square feet. The design had been modified to provide greater protection for the anterior portion of the thorax both by increasing the width of the main frontpiece and also by increasing the size of the anterior flap over the heart and great vessels. It was not until the Korean War that it was utilized in the field. With the rebirth of body armor during the Korean War, the M12 vest was used initially by American troops in conjunction with the newer all-nylon-type vest. Following the completion of the initial surveys and standardization of the final end item, all US frontline troops were equipped with the newer all-nylon or doron vests, and the M12 vests were used by Republic of Korea troops"

    Body Armor History


    Body Armor (Flak Jackets) in WW II

    [​IMG]
    Armor, Vest, M12 for Ground Troops
    Bottom view includes T65 Apron.


    [​IMG]
    Body Armor (Flak Jackets) in the U.S. Military During World War II

    Development of body armor, including armored vests for US Army ground troops, was conducted during World War II by both the Army Ordnance Corps and the Army Quartermaster Corps.
    Quartermaster efforts were directed toward development of non-metallic body armor and at the end of World War II had reached the combat test stage with an experimental vest armored with rigid plates of Doron, laminated plastic fibre-glass. The term Doron is derived from the name of Brigadier General Georges Doriot, World War II chief of the Research and Development Branch, Office of The Quartermaster General of the Army.
    [​IMG]

    Body armor developed by the Ordnance Corps during this period included a 12-pound vest of aluminum plates and nylon fabric designated as M-12, which was adopted as a standard Army item by the end of World War II (see top photo on this page).
    At the same time, in the US Army Air Corps, bomber crews often returned from missions over Nazi-occupied Europe reporting extremely dense flak, each burst spraying the aircraft with hot shrapnel. Following the experience of the Royal Air Force, the Air Corps began issuing flak jackets to aircrews in 1942. These early flak jackets were heavy, consisting of steel plates sown into multi-layered nylon that would catch low velocity fragments (photo, left: Flyers Vest, M1, front panel). An apron panel was added to increase the protected areas. The vest and apron design was supplemented by a helmet to complete the protection. The heavy protection vest had a pull tab to dump it quickly if the plane ditched in the water or the crew had to bail out.
    The World War II Air Corps body armor was used by flexible position gunners in four-engine bombers like B-17s and B-24s and by aicrews in medium bombers like the B-26 and B-25.
    [​IMG]
    Airman jettisons front and rear body armor by use of quick release fastener and ripcord.

    U.S. MILITARY BODY ARMOR WW II

    From Wiki. Take with a grain of salt.

    World War II
    In the early stages of World War II, the United States designed body armor for infantrymen, but most models were too heavy and mobility-restricting. These armor vests were often incompatible with existing equipment as well. The military diverted its research efforts to developing "flak jackets" for aircraft crews. These flak jackets were made of nylon fabric and capable of stopping flak and shrapnel, but not designed to stop bullets.
    The British Army issued Medical Research Council body armour, as did the Canadian Army, in north-west Europe, in the latter case primarily to medical personnel of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division. The Japanese army produced a few types of infantry body armor during World War II, but they did not see much use. Near the middle of 1944, development of infantry body armor in the United States restarted. Several vests were produced for the US military, including but not limited to the T34, the T39, the T62E1, and the M12.
    [​IMG]
    Sn-42 Body Armor


    The Red Army used several types of body armour, including the SN-42 ( "Stalynoi Nagrudnik" is Russian for "steel breastplate", and the number denotes the design year). All were tested, but only the SN-42 was put in production. It consisted of two pressed steel plates that protected the front torso and groin. The plates were 2 mm thick and weighed 3.5 kg (7.7 Lbs.). This armor was supplied to SHISBr (assault engineers) and to Tankodesantniki (infantry that rode on tanks) of some tank brigades. The SN armor protected wearers from the German MP-40 9 mm bullet at around 100-125 meters, which made it useful in urban battles (Stalingrad). However, the SN's weight made it impractical for infantry on foot in an open outdoor setting.

    Ballistic vest - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
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  3. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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  4. Kommando

    Kommando Dishonorably Discharged

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    Thanks alot for the information!

    /Kommando
     
  5. airborne medic

    airborne medic Member

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    The British Army also used sometihng known as the MRC Body Armour. I believe this stood for Medical Reserach Council. It was steel plates in a webbing harness that hung over the chest and another fro the abdomen. It was certainly taken worn at Arnhem in 1944 and there are several pictures of men wearing it from there. It was I think mainly issued to the Recce Sqn guys and glider pilots, although a Pole is pictured wearing it I seem to recall.....will try and sort out a photo reference or two.....
     
  6. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    through interviews of many US 8th, 15th AF pilots, the flak vest or armor was removed and used to sit on to keep the obvious from being pranged like a pin cushion during Falk barrages. wearing the thing was awkward and way too heavy plus confining, the pilots were jammed up into the cabin as it was ........
     
  7. GPRegt

    GPRegt Member

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    Issued to paratroopers before MG and 'acquired' by glider pilots, after landing, from paratroopers who couldn't wait to get rid of the 'damn stuff'.

    Steve W.
     
  8. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    When my father was in Vietnam he noticed that alot of the copter pilots and crew would take the vest and sit on them when heading into a hot DZ.
     
  9. airborne medic

    airborne medic Member

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    There is a photo of a member of 1st AB Div wearing the British body armour on page 669 of volume II of the After the Battle Arnhem books.....
     
  10. Owen

    Owen O

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    From Osprey MAA 157 Flak Jackets.
    Plate B2 has a illustration of a Glider Pilot at Arnhem.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. airborne medic

    airborne medic Member

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    The drawing is better than the photo in the ATB book...it siad it was issued in 1941 but I guess wasn't popular as you don't see many photos of British guys wearing it.....
     
  12. GPRegt

    GPRegt Member

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    The picture is not based on fact, for Glider Pilots. There were three references to body armour in the Glider Pilot Regimental Assn's journal, in 1996:

    1. Writer speaks of a GP who had acquired his armour from an anti-tank chap. The set was in four sections: three fore and one aft.
    2. Former member of 3rd Parachute Bn was detailed to wear the armour for the Arnhem op, and to report back on it. He had four pieces: two fore and two aft. Writer weighed 11 stones (70 kilos) stripped. In BD, webbing, armour, weapons and ammo this rose to 19 stones (121 kilos).
    3. Jim Wallwork - Glider 1 Pegasus Bridge - acquired a set from a paratrooper at Arnhem. He refers to the same drawing as above, and says that the Regiment was not issued with armour.

    Steve W.
     
  13. airborne medic

    airborne medic Member

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    Steve,
    Obviously the photo taken in the grounds of the Hartenstein doesn't say which unit the soldier wearing the body armour was from but my thoughts are either a GP or a Pole.....anyone any other comments......?????
     

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