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43

Looking at this slightly backwards, you could ask what are the factors that have enabled the supply of body armor to the modern infantry soldier? Modern ballistic materials, such as kevlar, are comparatively lightweight and flexible, so armor can be manufactured in a small range of sizes and self-tailored (with straps, velcro, elastic, etc) to fit and so ...


34

Quality of steel was not sufficient enough to be practicable for body armor and helmets Historically speaking, use of armor, shields and helmets declined with the advance of firearms. During the Napoleonic era, they were almost completely abandoned, except in heavy cavalry units that used them to protect themselves from cold weapons (swords, sabres, spears ....


11

Like you wrote in your question, there was a period of time when bullets and shrapnel would pierce right through armor, so there was little point in putting bulky armor on. In addition, armor was expensive, and not easy to put on and use. This required training. By contrast, the introduction of firearms made it so that, rather than extensively train a unit ...


9

Body armor was issued to heavy cavalry. They had their horses to help carry it, and they expected to fight with saber and lance. Cuirassiers are named for their armor.


8

Nobody forgot about armor, and it never disappeared entirely, it was simply no longer worthwhile in their particular context. Armor is expensive to produce but it is also heavy, cumbersome, and inhibits the fighting effectiveness of a soldier while not necessarily offering enough in the way of protection to justify the drawbacks. The weight slows the speed ...


6

It comes down to the existence of cavalry. Modern helmets are based around the assumption that soldiers are going to spread out and take advantage of whatever cover is present on the battlefield, leaving (hopefully) only their heads exposed. You can't do that if you're armed with a single-shot firearm: a cavalry charge will tear your army to pieces. ...


2

One of the images in your question seems to be from the metmuseum's website, which explains what it is. These weren't intended to be used as is. Rather, caps or cervellieres made of padded cloth or rope were worn underneath chainmail coifs. Besides comfort considerations, this allows to absorb some of the shock should you ever receive a blow to the head.


1

A bit of trivia, from Colin Powell's autobiography. When he was leading South Vietnamese infantry in Vietnam they were issued a handful of new "bullet-proof" vests. As I recall he was leading a company and they only had 2 vests. So the vest was assigned to the point-man (the guy out in front of the patrol) to wear. Being in a hot jungle, on foot, they ...


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