Military Review

Brief history of the appearance of body armor. Part one


Since ancient times, people have tried to protect themselves from arrows, swords, darts. Armor came and went many times, various variants of cuirass, armor, mail and armor replaced one another. Gunshot weapon severely undermined the position of armor. Carrying a piece of iron has become almost meaningless. However, the inventors were in no hurry to give up.

Cromwell's army used a multi-layered cuirass — the bullet pierced the first layer, and often did not go further. The Japanese invented body armor from multi-layered silk. There are records from 1847 of the year from the American company Cork Examiner, in which, apparently, were the development of the vest. However, the body armor itself was still far away.

One of the prototypes of the modern vest invented ... Koreans. Myeonje Baegab (면제 배갑, 绵 制 背 甲), the first soft body armor. After the invasion of the French forces in 1866, residents of the Chosun kingdom found that Western rifles were superior to everything they had at the moment. The ruler of the state ordered an urgent undertaking.

Brief history of the appearance of body armor. Part one

By 1871, by the beginning of the US military intervention, the Koreans had their first body armor. It consisted of a multi-layered tissue (the layers were from 13 to 30), was extremely uncomfortable, it was hot to fight. But, perhaps, the biggest problem was the lack of fire resistance - a shot from a cannon made several Korean soldiers burn into flames at once. One of the copies of Myeonje Baegab was captured by the Americans and taken to the Smithsonian Institution, where it is still on display at the local museum. However, the Americans were the first to use body armor.

This ad appeared in Harper's Weekly 15 March 1862 of the year.

Soldier's Bulletproof Vest has been repeatedly and thoroughly tested. It protects against pistol bullets from 10 steps, and from rifle bullets from 40 genera (note: this is not very good, since it is approximately 200 meters). Many officers claim to wear these vests. It is simple, easy, and is a true measure of saving lives - it will save thousands. The armor will also double the capabilities of the soldiers, and every person in the army has the right to protect him. The 1, 2 and 3 numbers reflect the size of the wearer, and 2 No. fits almost everything. Price for a private vest - $ 5. For officers - $ 7. They will be sent to any address wholesale or retail. Seller Elliot, No. 231 Broadway, New York. Wanted Sales Agents

The price was relatively acceptable - most soldiers could afford such a purchase, and although it was not officially adopted, they bought a vest. However, The Soldier's Bullet Proof Vest did not receive a really wide distribution. The officers noted that he was not so saved from bullets, but was useful as an identifier: the soldiers marked the vests with their names, and it became much easier to identify the body. In addition, unofficially the body armor has become a "coward's vest". The US Army Colonel wrote to his wife like this: “I was going to wear this vest, but I was ashamed. We have it is considered a symbol of cowardice. " Such a reason greatly reduced the number of acquiring know-how, and the topic with body armor subsided before the next wars.


People did not leave attempts to protect against firearms. One of the most interesting types of body armor was the armor of Ned Kelly, an Australian gangster. In 1880, the British Crown offered for the leader of a gang of 8000 pounds - the equivalent of 2 million dollars today. Ned and his brethren were wearing self-made armor. She weighed 44 kg. Bullets literally bounced off of her. One small minus - arms and legs were not protected. He then led the gang Kelly.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of 1880, in Arizona, Dr. George Emery Goodfellow, one of the pioneers of modern forensic medicine, discovered that a bullet that had fallen into a folded silk shawl had been stuck in a tissue and body during the autopsy. did not enter. He described this case, and, subsequently, a man who can rightfully be considered the inventor of modern body armor - Casimir Zeglen took advantage of the doctor’s notes.

George Emery GoodFelow

Casimir had a profession that was strange for the inventor of a bulletproof vest. He was neither a trader, nor an ordinary inventor, nor a military man. Zeglen was a catholic priest. The inventor of the vest was born in Poland. In 1890, Casimir, at the age of 21, and left for America. He got to Chicago, where he headed the parish, in which there were about 4000 parishioners - mostly Poles. In 1893, the mayor of Chicago, Carter Harrison, was shot by the classic “disappointed” killer - Patrick Eugene Prendergast (he hoped to get a good post after another mayor’s victory and was extremely upset by the refusal. Casimir had wondered before - how can you save a man from a bullet? After the mayor's assassination, he resumed his youthful attempts to create fabric armor.

Casimir Zeglen

For several years, the priest experimented with various materials: metal shavings, horsehair, moss, and much more was rejected, until finally he came across notes from an Arizona doctor. They revealed to him the magnificent properties of silk. The material was found. It remains to find a way to weave the right vest. He visited factories in Germany and Austria, famous for their progressive technologies and, finally, the necessary method was found.

Zeglena Vest

Zeglen's multi-layered silk could stretch and quench the energy of the bullet. In the newspapers of that time, it is noted that Zeglen bullet-proof vests and covers are successfully opposed to ordinary lead bullets, and from steel, as well as dum-dum bullets, from afar. . To dispel all doubts, Zeglen gave a public demonstration. In 1901, his Polish friend Borzikovsky shot his pistol at close range with a pistol at his servant. Then Zeglen himself showed his invention to the public. He was shot at a distance of eight steps, and not a single bullet reached him.

Photo taken on testing of a bulletproof Zeglen vest in 1901

The products were quite expensive - 800 dollars, they were used mainly by noble people: for example, the royal persons of Europe became customers of Casimir Zeglen.

Jan Chepanik is a famous Polish inventor. It was he who helped the priest to open a factory for the production of body armor.

However, the vest did not save the Archduke Franz Ferdinand at the time of the assassination attempt in Sarajevo. Nationalist Nicola Princip shot a crowned person in the neck. But shoot him in the chest, история could turn completely different. However, all this was a little later.

In the meantime, the 20 century has just begun. About protection from bullets thought in Russia.

1 David McCormick, “Knights in Binding Armor,” America's Civil War 53 (2010): 56-59.
2 ibid.
3 “Discipline in the Civil War Armies,” Civil War Home, accessed February 15, 2012, (
4 Lorien Foote, The Gentlemen and the Roughs (New York: NYU Press, 2010), 100.
5 “Stories of Cowardice,” Gettysburg Civil War Institute, 15, 2012,
6 Joseph R. Ward Jr., An Enlisted Soldier of the Civil War, ed. D. Duane Cummins and Daryl Hohweiler (West Lafayette: Belle Publications, 1981), 195.
7 Ibid, 204.
8 Ned Kelly, Australia's Iron Icon
9 A Primer on Modern Body Armor

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  1. Odessa
    Odessa 14 September 2012 10: 46
    Bubble, thanks, interesting! good
    If you wish, please post your publication on the forum about armored cars, ok?
    1. Pimply
      14 September 2012 13: 35
      Listen, drop it, otherwise I still don’t always understand
      1. Odessa
        Odessa 14 September 2012 15: 26
        Delivered, already on the forum, thanks!
        1. Pimply
          14 September 2012 15: 43
          Yes, always happy. I have further World War I and Russian armor there. Ohhhh. There is so much tsimesa
          1. Odessa
            Odessa 14 September 2012 15: 54

            Enthusiasm cannot be described! fellow laughing
            I have further World War I and Russian bronics

            Then when is this?
            1. Pimply
              14 September 2012 16: 14
              I'll post it today, I think - tomorrow will be
            2. Pimply
              15 September 2012 03: 52
              Too much material - apparently, I'll post it at the beginning of the week. There I’m tired of putting everything in order
              1. Odessa
                Odessa 15 September 2012 03: 57
                Too much material - apparently, I'll post it at the beginning of the week. There I’m tired of putting everything in order

                Am I in a hurry? smile
  2. Insurgent
    Insurgent 14 September 2012 10: 55
    Something is in doubt, for example, the sholk was not broken but the kinetic blow from the bullet will crush all the bones
    1. Pimply
      14 September 2012 13: 36
      Bullets were slower than now. In addition, there was a special technology of weaving silk in the armor plates. One of the layers, as I understand it, was with steel thread
    2. borisst64
      borisst64 24 September 2012 14: 50
      Quote: Insurgent
      kinetic blow from a bullet will crush all bones

      Well, if not everything, then at the point of application, either internal hemorrhage, or the rib will break. In any case, the subject clearly did not have a smile.
  3. itr
    itr 14 September 2012 11: 20
    This is what you need to be a witch to take up arms! I'm sorry about the photo
    1. Odessa
      Odessa 14 September 2012 11: 34
      This is what you need to be a witch to take up arms! I'm sorry about the photo

      What about photography?
      By the way, Pupyrchaty, why didn’t I take a photo from the IDF or from the police, and put these here?
      1. Pimply
        14 September 2012 13: 33
        And why not 8) I wanted a beautiful and colorful - this one came up
    2. Pimply
      14 September 2012 14: 05
      Funny but i don't think so
  4. viruskvartirus
    viruskvartirus 14 September 2012 11: 23
    It is interestingly written, easy to read, illustrations are awesome ... and the topic is interesting ... the author write ischo).
  5. Green
    Green 14 September 2012 11: 26
    Interesting article.

    And about the bronics ...
    Nobody wore them in our army. Lying in a heap in a corner of the tent nafig nobody needed. There was no sense from them, in which case, only excess weight and stiffness.
    1. Aaron Zawi
      Aaron Zawi 14 September 2012 14: 35
      Your officer must be judged for this. It was hard for you, so he had to do the march in the bionics twice a day during exercises, until you feel free in them. Bulletproof vests reduce losses in those killed to 50% and in the wounded to 25%. These are huge indicators.
      1. Green
        Green 14 September 2012 14: 50
        Quote: Aron Zaavi
        Your officer must be judged for this. It was hard for you, so he had to do the march in the bionics twice a day during exercises, until you feel free in them. Bulletproof vests reduce losses in those killed to 50% and in the wounded to 25%. These are huge indicators.

        I don’t know Aron, I don’t know ... By the way, the helmets were also lying there. laughing They pulled them on only if a check arrived.
        In general ... and served. But nothing, like they didn’t kill anyone. wink
    2. JIaIIoTb
      JIaIIoTb 7 May 2013 13: 51
      He served in Latvia in the early 90s, guarded the BF Air Force base. They were armed with BZH-17 armor plates (not the ones that are now, but the first series with titanium plates). It was uneasy at that moment in the Baltic states; sometimes the forest brothers who were not finished in the war were shooting. Therefore, the uniform of clothes included also this body armor. It’s hard .... here the fighters and pricked up plates to bury at one of the fasting fungi, outwardly not noticeable for that easily. Educational work a la breast breaking didn’t work, and it happened that there were directors who didn’t take off the plates .... it hurts however)). The fighters were absolutely sure of the lack of bulletproof bulletproof vest.
      The command was pretty worried about the problem, especially after the sentry was wounded. At the shooting range, 15 meters from the line of fire, a log was dug to which a bronik plate was placed on bent nails (a plate was dug out from under a guard fungus, which led to embarrassment of both sergeants and privates firmly convinced that the command did not know where that was buried)) )
      The shooting, as I wrote, was carried out from 15 meters from AKMS with two types of ammunition, ordinary with a steel core and tracer.
      The bottom line:
      Tracer ammunition during ricochets did not leave even scratches when hit under 90 degrees. they simply stuck to the plate without harming it.
      Conventional ammunition left quite deep scratches when ricocheting, when hit under 90 degrees. a dent was formed with a crack, but the plate was not broken.
      Unfortunately I can’t attach the photo in view of their absence, in those days the soap dish was an incredible luxury)))
      As a result of this shooting, the goal of work was achieved, the fighters stopped removing plates.
  6. Odessa
    Odessa 14 September 2012 13: 40
    The topic of armored personnel on the military review site forum



  7. laurbalaur
    laurbalaur 14 September 2012 14: 40
    Interesting article! + We look forward to continuing!
  8. Karish
    Karish 14 September 2012 17: 53
    Class, article, what you need. Respect good
  9. Darck
    Darck 15 September 2012 14: 58
    The author is well done, he put everything on the shelves and is easy to read.
  10. plump
    plump 16 September 2012 09: 39
    Then the leather armor of D. Greece can also be considered body armor. And Kafkaz burka. I once read that round bullets stuck in her fur.
    1. Pimply
      16 September 2012 14: 23
      We are talking about the modern development of protection. With the advent of firearms, protection almost disappeared. And it was revived normally in the 19 century, more precisely, in its second half.
  11. georg737577
    georg737577 27 October 2012 13: 57
    Nice to read such reviews. Competently, succinctly, succinctly ... Thank you!
  12. smershspy
    smershspy 7 May 2013 13: 30
    Quote: georg737577
    Nice to read such reviews. Competently, succinctly, succinctly ... Thank you!

    I completely agree! Thank!