Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
#1
Old 03-04-2011, 08:06 AM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Kansas
Posts: 8,159
Could a soldier in WWI or WWII be given effective body armor with the technology of the time?

Something I idly thought about. I know practical bullet proof vests are a relatively recent invention, at least in terms of something that you could issue to entire militaries, and even the ones soldiers use are limited in various ways, but if you had the resources, could you give a single soldier a bullet proof vest that would protect him from most infantry weapons of the war (so figure .30 calibre rifles of various flavors)? Ballistic nylon might not have been available back then (I dunno), but could they make ceramic or possibly concrete plates that would stop a bullet without stopping the soldier by being too heavy?

For purposes of bullet proof, let's say the vest will stop at least a bullet. Repeated shots are a bonus, but let's say stopping one bullet is still far better than what his old gear would have done.

I recall reading that the Archduke Franz Ferdinand wore a silk bulletproof vest (but the bullet slipped past an unarmored portion of him). Would such a vest have done anything against a rifle round if Franz were leading the troops on the battlefield?
#2
Old 03-04-2011, 10:48 AM
Guest
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 4,169
Nylon was unavailable, as was a general staff officer leading troops on to the front.


Trench raiders, of all nations, but particularly the German stormtroops and the Italians, had an extensive range of positively mediaeval helmetry and body armour ( and even pikes ) both given and home-made.

As always with armour, the drawback is decreased mobility and fatigue. In trench warfare, conditions were even more wet and mud-filled than a mediaeval field after 40 days and 40 nights of rain: since soldiers in both world wars were prone to taking off regulation helmets against orders on the easy gamble that the next billet wouldn't blow their heads off, any official mandatory wearing of an iron vest would have been useless.
__________________
The efficiency and success of the Italian aviators in Tripoli are noteworthy, but must not be overvalued. There were no opponents in the air.

v. Bernhardi ---- Germany and the Next War

Last edited by Claverhouse; 03-04-2011 at 10:49 AM.
#3
Old 03-04-2011, 12:00 PM
tdn tdn is offline
Guest
Join Date: Feb 2000
Posts: 35,871
I believe that kevlar was invented during WWII, so there's that.
#4
Old 03-04-2011, 12:05 PM
Isaiah 1:15 Screw the NRA.
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: SoCal
Posts: 49,562
Proof against a battle rifle? Nope. We can't even do that today. Kevlar is great against pistol ammo, but .303, .30-06 and 8mm rounds will plow through it like it wasn't there. Even practical ceramic plates can't stop a straight-on shot from a rifle.

Last edited by silenus; 03-04-2011 at 12:05 PM.
#5
Old 03-04-2011, 02:47 PM
Member
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Houston
Posts: 9,348
During WWII, the RAF & then the US Army Air Force & Navy had flak jackets.

Quote:
The first usage of the term refers to the armour originally developed by the Wilkinson Sword company during World War II to help protect Royal Air Force (RAF) air personnel from the flying debris and shrapnel thrown by German anti-aircraft guns' high-explosive shells (flak itself is an abbreviation for the German word for "anti-aircraft gun" (Fliegerabwehrkanone)). The jacket consisted of manganese plates sewn into a waistcoat made of ballistic nylon (a material engineered by the DuPont company)....
But "ultimately they proved to be less effective than hoped."
#6
Old 03-04-2011, 03:23 PM
Arms of Steel, Leg of Jello
Charter Member
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: Riding my handcycle
Posts: 34,757
Quote:
Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Proof against a battle rifle? Nope. We can't even do that today. Kevlar is great against pistol ammo, but .303, .30-06 and 8mm rounds will plow through it like it wasn't there. Even practical ceramic plates can't stop a straight-on shot from a rifle.
There is this one case of a medic, shot by an Iraqui sniper at less than 100 yds and his vest stopped the bullet.

I'm pretty sure the vest has ceramic plates so not pure Kevlar but still pretty impressive.
#7
Old 03-04-2011, 04:05 PM
Guest
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: NC
Posts: 1,689
Quote:
Originally Posted by runner pat View Post
There is this one case of a medic, shot by an Iraqui sniper at less than 100 yds and his vest stopped the bullet.
AFAICT, that wasn't a straight-on shot at all. Armor is vastly more effective against angled shots.

It's a cool story, though.

I have no doubt we could have made an armor that protected against pistol and SMG fire, but it would not be effective against rifles and machine guns.
#8
Old 03-04-2011, 04:35 PM
Guest
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,028
http://landships.freeservers.com...walkaround.htm

There were these. Not exactly great for running in.

Otara
#9
Old 03-04-2011, 06:14 PM
Guest
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 3,223
The ceramic SAPI-type plates, used within a personal armor system like the Interceptor vest, are specified to stop three (3) 7.62 NATO bullets. The vest, by itself, won't stop large rifle rounds like 7.62 or 5.56 NATO at all. I do not know if the plates are specified to stop armor-piercing bullets with steel cores, or just generic FMJ. Other plates may not be as effective. The always entertaining Box O' Truth penetrated at least one plate with 5.56 when experimenting with 3 stacked plates & vests. The bullet did not make it through all three, however.

My suspicion is that the vests are wildly effective and are responsible for the very low casualty rate from bullets among U.S. forces, especially considering their heavy operational tempo. I am curious whether casualty rates would have been much less in Vietnam if U.S. troops had these types of personal armor available; I suspect, given the hazards of that particular war, they would've been. I have read---no warranties on accuracy---that the vests are so good that current CQB doctrine dictates presenting the front of the chest to receive fire if need be, rather than blading away from the threat. Of course, getting behind cover is best of all, but sometimes that's just not possible.

IIRC, WW1 snipers or observers were sometimes given very large, heavy suits of armor, that were somewhat bullet resistant, as seen in this exhibit at the Illinois National Guard's Museum. I've no idea of its effectiveness. The following digitized book from 1920, Helmets and Body Armor in Modern Warfare, will probably be of interest.
#10
Old 03-04-2011, 06:42 PM
Isaiah 1:15 Screw the NRA.
Charter Member
Join Date: May 2003
Location: SoCal
Posts: 49,562
SAPI-type ceramics are a very recent invention, however. Not something you could cobble up back in the day, no matter how much money you spent. So they don't help the OP much. They do extend my bank of knowledge on the subject, however. I wasn't aware of the change in doctrine, if that is indeed the case.
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:12 AM.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: [email protected]

Send comments about this website to:

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright 2018 STM Reader, LLC.

Copyright © 2017
Best Topics: vomitting porn dig out crawlspace pepper in radiator mexican wedding ring transcendence movie ending liberace bald national lampoon online thuy pronunciation gatling guns sponge lung relaxing female voices quake symbol meaning buying used mattress homologous protein why am i craving hot sauce is sucking your own dick gay strongest over the counter laxatives american songs in chinese kleenex man size tissues where to buy is there penetration in softcore porn 2001 a space odyssey boring awake for 30 hours narrator of how it's made feeling like you have a fever but don't