Military Review

A brief history of body armor in Russia and the world: 2 part

Cheremzin's shell
Russia recovered after defeat from Japan. The army needed to be updated. One of the topics that began to develop were shells. According to a number of sources, Russia from the French, in the course of the Russian-Japanese war, ordered a party of bullet-proof cuirass - 100 thousand pieces, but the cuirass turned out to be unsuitable. The idea of ​​the bullet-proof shields did not work either. However, work to protect the soldiers were not stopped.

A brief history of body armor in Russia and the world: 2 part

Russian breastplate 1915 year

"The catalog of armors invented by Lieutenant Colonel A. A. Chemerzin" is the name of a brochure published by typography and sewn into one of the files kept in the Central State Military Historical Archive. It contains the following information: "The weight of the shells: the lightest 11 / 2 pounds (pound - 409,5 g), the heaviest 8 pounds. Under clothing is invisible. The armor against rifle bullets, not punched by a 3-linear military rifle, have a weight 8 pounds. The shells close: the heart, lungs, abdomen, both sides, spinal column and back against the lungs and the heart. The penetrability of each shell is checked by shooting in the presence of the buyer. "

One of the Russian breastplates and bulletproof shields

The "Catalog" contains several tests of shells conducted in 1905 — 1907. One of them stated: "In the presence of His Imperial Majesty Sovereign Emperor 11 1905 June in the city of Oranienbaum made shooting a machine gun fired from a company 8 machine guns on the shell of an alloy invented by Lt. Col. Chemerzinym, the distance steps in 300 36 shell hit bullets.. "The shell was not pierced, and there were no cracks. When tested, the entire variable composition of the rifle school was present."
The shells were also tested in the reserve of the Moscow Metropolitan Police, on the order of which they were made. Shooting at them was conducted at a distance of 15 steps. The shells, as noted in the act, "turned out to be impenetrable, and the bullets did not give the fragments. The first batch turned out to be quite satisfactory."

Newspaper "Rus" (N69,1907):
“Yesterday I saw a miracle. A young man of thirty, in military uniform, stood motionless in a room. A half-step browning was aimed at him - a terrible browning. The aim was straight at the chest against the heart. The young man waited, smiling. A shot rang out. The bullet bounced off ...
“Well, see,” said the soldier. “I almost did not feel anything."

"New Time" (February 27 1908):
"The impenetrable armor and the new cuirass, this remarkable invention of our century, surpassed the knight’s armature of old times with durability. The scaly system remained as in the ancient shell, but the metal alloy is different. of his discovery. A. A. Chemerzin - lieutenant colonel of engineering troops. After graduating from the mathematics department and engineering school, he taught mathematics, studied chemistry, and a number of experiments suggested him to fill the pores The alloy was produced at high temperature and hydraulic pressure. Noble metals, platinum, silver, iridium, vanadium, and many others, were added to an ordinary recipe. Mauser’s bullet alloy plate did not pierce the distance in three steps, shells and cuirasses appeared, impenetrable to revolver and rifle bullets, which deformed but did not give splinters. The danger of contusions and rebound lesions has been eliminated.
The price of the shells of A. A. Chemerzin is rather expensive, but life costs more. Wearing a five-pound shell that covered my chest and back, I did not find it heavy. Under the coat he was completely invisible. 7000 armor, helmets and shields A. A. Chemerzin were sent to the army in the Far East, unfortunately, too late ... "
The cost of the best shells, impenetrable by any revolvers and shrapnel bombs, ranged from 1500 to 1900 rubles. Analogous shells made to exact measurements from a figure (for which a plaster cast was needed) cost from 5000 to 8000 rubles. The price of booking a motor (car) from the fragments of bombs and bullets from any revolvers was 15000, and the 20000 carriage rubles. ”
Yuri Minkin

As we can see, in Russia they went a little different way than in the United States. And at that time it was a logical decision - silk bulletproof vests were kept mainly by pistol bullets, and a certain caliber, mass production was extremely difficult to arrange.

Cuirass began to actively use the police in different countries. Private individuals cuirass made for individual plaster casts. But the high point of such a bullet-proof vest came with the beginning of the First World War.

Bulletproof vest on the First World
It is worth noting that World War I completely redefined the very concept of war, its rules. Trench, positional war. Barbed wire. Machine guns. Powerful long-range artillery. Aviation. Tanks. The commanders had to urgently change the strategy and tactics of hostilities.

One option for heavy anti-bullet armor

It immediately became clear that soldiers needed protection from new guns. Shrapnel and fragments mowed down the warriors of the warring armies, and there was no normal protection, including helmets. In varying degrees, armor began to develop all countries. But more than all the Germans succeeded in equipping their soldiers.

German soldiers in shells

Grabenpanzer М16 (aka Sappenpanzer) appeared in the army in the 1916 year. The armor of the German army was designed to protect against small arms weapons and shrapnel. In the production was used recently appeared nickel-silicon (armored) steel.

The armor consisted of a bib, with 3 layering protective sections for the abdomen and groin. 2 shoulder plates fixed 3 with rivets on each side Separate plates were connected to the 2 webbing straps that were attached to the inside of the armor, starting from the chest.

The soldiers after the battle, the shells are folded in a trench

Rectangular horsehair felt pads were placed between the sections and were supposed to reduce the noise level when moving. The thickness of the armor was approx. 3,25 mm, in some cases increasing to 25 mm. Differences were often associated with the fact that at least seven separate enterprises were engaged in production.

Shell pattern

The armor has been released in various models, but mostly 2 types can be found when searching for photos and original items. The first armor - the original type, 1916-th year of release.

German chest shell

The test results of the German breast shell

It is minimalist, it has almost no projections. On the second most common model there is an 2 extra hook for accessories on. The weight, depending on the manufacturer, ranged from 8 to 10 kg, supplied in 2 or 3 in various sizes.

In all cases, the armor was not very comfortable and could be used primarily in a stationary position. The main consumers of this armor were snipers, sentries, fighters of advanced units.

In some cases, the cuirass was put on the back - the chest was covered with a trench.

The prevalence of this subject can be judged by the large number of photographs of the allies who were wearing a breastplate for memorable photographs.

American soldiers in captured German shells

Canadian soldier in captured German armor

There is also a version about the use of captured armored men on the front. In total, more than 500000 of such armor was released.

British in captured bibs

Protection of the countries of the Triple Alliance
Unfortunately, I did not manage to find pictures of Cheremizin's breastplates on the fronts of the First World War or any mention of them. Apparently, the defense in the Russian army at that time was used either little or not used at all.

Italian offensive

On the illustration in protective vests - the Germans, the French, the British

Allies had armor in smaller quantities. The most common are the shells of the Italians. Their cuirass had pronounced shoulder pads, and covered their breasts only to the waist.

Fighter of the Italian assault battalion

The Americans who entered the war later than the rest, in 1917, delivered Brewster Body Shield, very similar to the armor of Ned Kelly (Australian raider). The armor was surprisingly good, kept the bullet from a Lewis machine gun, weighed 18 kg in the heavy version + 5 kg lining, and was used mostly by snipers until the end of the war. The States had several types of armor, but Brewster’s armor turned out to be the most memorable.

Brewster Armor, 1917 Year

However, closer to the end of the war, the Americans had even less creative, but more suitable options for ordinary infantrymen.

A less creative version of American armor

France used the old, cavalry cuirass at the very beginning of the First World War. As practice has shown, they were not suitable for modern combat.

French cuirass of the First World

One of the types of French shells

French heavy armor

In the later stages of the war, new French armors and breastplates appeared. But - in fairly limited quantities, and references to them are rare.

The British were the most equipped with body armor from all allies. In this case, bullet-proof vests in large quantities were not supplied to the army - they were bought for their money. Often concerned relatives paid for the vest, who were nervous about reports from the front. And, it is worth noting, body armor often saved the life of fighters.

British soldiers in body armor

The main owners of the vests were the officers - they could afford to buy this rather expensive item. Advertising was often designed specifically for them. In total, there were more than 18 firms in the United Kingdom that produced bullet-proof suits of various kinds.

Advertising officer vest of those years. Protection against pistol bullets guaranteed

Label with body armor

There were three main types of protective vests. Hard armor (often consisting of metal plates sandwiched between the fabric and worn like a vest); Intermediate armor (various forms of small area metal plates attached to the fabric); soft armor (of silk / cotton / linen layers). All three types of armor had their own problems. Hard armor was heavy and thus uncomfortable and not practical to carry on the attack. Intermediate chain mail armor did not disperse, to a sufficient extent, a bullet or a splinter. Fabric vests, although they were sometimes effective, were virtually useless in wet weather.

One of the types of body armor produced at the time

One of the most successful was DAYFIELD DAY SHIELD 'BODY ARMOR. It was made of thick khaki-colored fabric, and special metal plates were placed in four compartments. This vest did not stop the rifle bullet, but it was not bad against fragments, shrapnel and pistol shots. In addition, the British had an important advantage - the vest was comfortable.

One of the most successful body armor of the time - DAYFIELD DAY SHIELD 'BODY ARMOR. In sections - armored plates.

Body armor "with history"Unfortunately, his plates are too thin to stop a rifle shot - but still he could slightly soften a bullet blow, or he could stop a splinter. It belonged to an ordinary Tankess, who was wounded in 1916 in France and later demobilized in March of 1917 of the year.

Meanwhile, World War I was coming to an end. In Russia, there was a revolution, Germany was losing, and the idea that metal armor was not the most suitable option, increasingly began to pursue the inventors of the “life jacket”.

Subscribe to our Telegram channel, regularly additional information about the special operation in Ukraine, a large amount of information, videos, something that does not fall on the site:

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. Sasha 19871987
    Sasha 19871987 24 September 2012 09: 21
    wow, thanks to the author for a good article, the abundance of rare photos struck ....
  2. Mikhado
    Mikhado 24 September 2012 09: 23
    The article is good, plus. This is how you clearly understand the meaning of the term "positional deadlock". You can sit in the trenches and in the shell - there is a sense, if the administration did not regret the dough, about the British - it is very typical.
    About Russia - cho all of these wonderful shells of precious metals smack of drink and rollback, then there were no less lovers than the current ones. The question is - if, at their high cost, they were so wonderfully effective - why wouldn’t the officers have carried them for their money? And then after all, in the first year, the staffing levels were increased so that students were urgently converted to blaarody. And even though ONE specimen should have survived to this day.
    Discussions about the price of human life are very touching - in reality, at the front there was not enough of the most necessary things - rifles, ammunition, reference equipment, helmets - and they bought from the French ... Slipped, damn it, an agrarian country in the battle of industrial monsters.
  3. Mopnex
    Mopnex 24 September 2012 09: 31
    Brewster's armor smiled — a straight-walking tank. How and why snipers used it - HZ.
    1. Pimply
      24 September 2012 14: 38
      There was a sniper in the trench - a sort of turret.
      1. Karish
        Karish 24 September 2012 21: 02
        Quote: Pimply
        There was a sniper in the trench - a sort of turret.

        Bubble! Respect! The article is just class. Keep it up, look forward to continuing !!!!!!
        1. Pimply
          24 September 2012 22: 03
          The next period is the Second World War.
  4. Trailer
    Trailer 24 September 2012 09: 45
    The article is very cool. American armor is the distant ancestor of Bender from Futurama. Particularly pleased with the French bulletproof vests. Why, tell them a mace?

    Well, as for Russia, at that time there also had its own famous armor, the owner of which had done so many things! (above "Lenin on the Armored Car")
    1. Pimply
      24 September 2012 22: 05

      Melee in the trenches, a rifle uncomfortable thing
  5. Suvorov000
    Suvorov000 24 September 2012 10: 34
    Very interesting article, many thanks to the author
  6. romb
    romb 24 September 2012 10: 43
    Thank you for the article!
    Very informative!
  7. the gray wolf
    the gray wolf 24 September 2012 12: 08
    in the second world bronik for some reason were absent request
    1. Zhaman-Urus
      Zhaman-Urus 24 September 2012 13: 44
      In the Soviet Army, there were separate sapper assault brigades, and they called them "armor", I do not have information about the Germans.
    2. Pimply
      24 September 2012 13: 45
      Not absent. The continuation of the article follows. Almost everyone had except for the Germans
      1. smprofi
        smprofi 24 September 2012 14: 44
        then let's not get ahead of ourselves
  8. igordok
    igordok 24 September 2012 12: 12
    Article plus. The so-called "horns" on German helmets are the attachment point for armored masks, and they seem to have appeared in WWI.
    1. dom.lazar
      dom.lazar 24 September 2012 13: 44
      they are only for M17 and M18 as a mask attachment point - by the way, she didn’t save much from a bullet because of a dynamic blow, she simply broke her neck
      and in M37 and subsequent modifications there were no longer horns but ventilation holes
      By the way, what else were German helmets often dangerous for? When a shock wave exploded when it spread from the legs, the clasps of the helmet’s attachment to the comforter were broken and the neck vertebrae were broken
      that is, the comforter remained on the head and the helmet itself flew off
      during the exhumation of a German cemetery in Kiev, such victims were found - a head in a comforter without a helmet
      1. igordok
        igordok 24 September 2012 16: 51
        Quote: dom.lazar
        that is, the comforter remained on the head and the helmet itself flew off

        What then got the little shavers with their helmets (helmets) in the form of plates.
        1. dom.lazar
          dom.lazar 25 September 2012 02: 35
          no - it was peculiar only for M36
          apparently because of the shape of the helmet itself
    2. Pimply
      24 September 2012 14: 03
      That's right, it looked something like this

      In fact, that war provided many fun options.


      _Dean_combined.jpg? 1293737248 [/ img]


      1. Kars
        Kars 24 September 2012 18: 04
        The tankman’s mask most likely. The lead spray was just the scourge of the tankers.
        1. Pimply
          24 September 2012 18: 07
          Experimental, as far as I remember, and yes - you're right
          1. Kars
            Kars 24 September 2012 18: 26
            I don’t know about the experimental one - I know that there were many home-made masks of the calculator type, etc.
            1. Pimply
              24 September 2012 18: 39
              Where found - they write that it is experimental.

              And here is the British version

  9. smprofi
    smprofi 24 September 2012 14: 19
    sensible material.
    add a little bit.

    Creations of Italian military thought during the First World War

    most likely Austria-Hungary

    not really about body armor. why German helmets are "horned":

    The German army used helmets with special mounted armor. The pins of additional protection mountings on a standard German helmet evoked only malicious judgments from the enemy about the “horniness” of the Kaiser army, when, as the product itself, although it protected against direct bullet hit, the soldier’s neck vertebrae could not withstand the energy of a bullet strike, making it deadly to anyway.
    1. Pimply
      24 September 2012 14: 32
      On helmets there will have to write a separate article 8) Such a variety
  10. zadorin1974
    zadorin1974 24 September 2012 20: 55
    interesting article - I would like to continue - by the way, hitting the frontal part of the sphere of meters with 400 with SVD breaks the cervical vertebrae
  11. bask
    bask 25 September 2012 07: 33
    My congratulations, the article is super. I learned a lot. The Russian imperial army had something like that? In the Soviet troops in Stalingrad, I know there were kirassy. I look forward to continuing.
    1. Pimply
      25 September 2012 11: 54
      From what we managed to dig up - only experimentally.
  12. borisst64
    borisst64 25 September 2012 17: 21
    "Mauser's bullet did not penetrate a half-millimeter alloy plate three steps of distance."

    I would like to quote Stanislavsky. I don’t know such a material 0,5 mm thick to hold a Mauser’s bullet (we understand that this is about a gun, not a rifle)

    From Wiki:
    Due to the high capacity and sighting range at the beginning of production, the gun was positioned as a “carbine-gun” for hunters.
  13. Darck
    Darck 26 September 2012 09: 08
    I liked the article, the photos were especially pleased, the mustache at that time was a trend. wassat
  14. plump
    plump 28 September 2012 01: 27
    Finally namana! I read it with my mouth open! :)
  15. Ojr.
    Ojr. 17 October 2012 13: 38
    Pleased with the article! Lslyuenno Brewster Body Shield - so I can imagine a chain of "battleships" punching with morgensterns on Lewis machine guns :) And the "eyebrows" on the helmet - are they steel curtains for the eyes?
  16. georg737577
    georg737577 27 October 2012 13: 50
    Thank you very much for the interesting and informative review!
  17. gold
    gold 4 November 2012 19: 02
    article big +
  18. iwanniegrozny
    iwanniegrozny 15 November 2012 13: 38
    In the photo under the phrase "At the later stages of the war, the French got new armor and bibs. But - in rather limited quantities, and mentions of them are rare."
  19. smershspy
    smershspy 7 May 2013 13: 29
    Thank! Very interesting article! I hope that the author will publish new more interesting articles! I will wait! Well done!
    Thanks to everyone who supplemented this article!
  20. nosferatus2
    nosferatus2 21 May 2016 18: 08
    Thanks for the great article!