Armour: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

U.S. Army soldiers wearing ballistic vests, with an armoured M3 Bradley.

Armour or armor (see spelling differences) is protective covering used to prevent damage from being inflicted to an individual or a vehicle through use of direct contact weapons or projectiles, usually during combat, or from damage caused by a potentionally dangerous environment or action (e.g:cycling, sites of construction works) Personal armour is used to protect soldiers, war animals such as war horses (the application for the latter called barding). Vehicle armour is used on things such as warships and armoured fighting vehicles.

Armour has been used throughout recorded history, and manufactured from a variety of materials; starting with rudimentary leather protection, personal armour evolved to mail and full plated suit of armour. For much of military history the manufacture of metal armour in Europe has dominated the technology and employment of armour. Armour production was a cause of the development of many important technologies of the Ancient World, including wood lamination, mining, metal refining, vehicle manufacture (chariot), leather processing, and later decorative metal working. Its production has been influential in the evolving industrial revolution, and influenced commercial development of metallurgy and engineering.

Armour was the single most influential factor in the development of firearms that revolutionized warfare. First modern production technology for armour plating was used by the navies in construction of the Ironclad warships, and reaching its pinnacle of development with the battleship. It was the naval engineers that also constructed the first World War I "tanks" giving rise to armoured fighting vehicles protected by vehicle armour. Air forces also sometimes employ armour. Aerial armour has been used, notably, in protecting the pilots during the Second World War, and in designing heavily armoured aircraft that would be expected to suffer more than usual damage from ground fire.

In modern ground forces' usage, the meaning of armour has expanded to include the role of troops in combat. After the evolution of armoured warfare, heavily armoured military forces are organised using armoured infantry, mounted in armoured fighting vehicles and replacing light infantry in many situations. In modern armoured warfare, armoured units equipped with tanks and infantry fighting vehicles serve the historic role of both the battle cavalry, light cavalry and dragoons, and belong to the armoured branch in a national army's organization (sometimes, the armoured corps).



The word "armour" came into use in the Middle Ages as a borrowing from the French. It is dated from 1297, as a "mail, defensive covering worn in combat" from Old French armeure, itself derived from the Latin armatura "arms and/or equipment" with the root arma "arms or gear".


Over the centuries a wide variety of materials have been used to manufacture personal and vehicle protection, including: hides, leather, bone, linen, laminated wood, bronze, iron plate, rolled steel, and synthetic materials such as Kevlar, Dyneema and ceramics.

The resistance to penetration of armour is related to the thickness of the steel—2 mm armour requires about three times as much energy to defeat as 1 mm armour.


Armour has been used by all combat and many support Arms of Service, including: infantry, cavalry, artillery, warships, armoured trains, aircraft, combat engineers, military medicine troops, and on occasion improvised use by logistics troops.

Personal armour

Types of personal armour include: ballistic vests, combat helmets, Ballistic face masks and bombsuits.

Vehicle armour

Vehicle armour can shield ships, aircraft, and, most commonly, armoured fighting vehicles.

Characteristics of armour

Since the 15th century, most parts of the human body have been fitted with specialised steel pieces, typically worn over linen or woollen underclothes and attached to the body via leather straps and buckles and points. Mail protected those areas that could not be fitted with plate; for example, the back of the knee. Well-known constituent parts of plate armour include the helm, gauntlets, gorget or 'neckguard', breastplate, and greaves worn on the lower legs.

For the elite, full-body plate armour was custom-made for the individual. Most armour was bought off the shelf and some was modified to fit the wearer. The cost of armour varied considerably with time and place as well as the type of armour, coverage it provided and the cost of decoration. In the 8th century a suit of Frankish mail had cost 12 oxen; by 1600 a horseman's armour cost 2 oxen.[1] A typical suit of full plate harness cost around 1 pound sterling in 14th century England[2] and a man-at-arms in the same period made 1 shilling per day and so his armour cost about 20 days pay.[3] Plate armour was limited to those who could afford it: the nobility, landed classes and mercenary professional soldiers, who did most of the fighting in the Medieval period. Soldiers of lower standing generally wore less armour. Full plate armour made the wearer virtually impervious to sword blows as well as providing significant protection against arrows, bludgeons and even early firearms. Sword edges could not penetrate even relatively thin plate (as little as 1 mm). Also, although arrows shot from bows, crossbows and early firearms could occasionally pierce plate especially at close range, later improvements in the steel forging techniques and armour design made even this line of attack increasingly difficult. By its apex, hardened steel plate was almost impregnable on the battlefield. Knights were instead increasingly felled by polearms such as the halberd and blunt weapons such as maces or war hammers that could send concussive force through the plate armour resulting in injuries such as broken bones, organ haemorrhage and/or head trauma. Another tactic was to attempt to strike through the gaps between the armour pieces, using daggers, spears and spear points to attack the man-at-arms' eyes or joints.

Contrary to common misconceptions, a well-made suit of medieval 'battle' armour (as opposed to the primarily ceremonial 'parade' and 'tournament' armour popular with kings and nobility of later years) hindered its wearer no more than the equipment carried by soldiers today. It should be remembered that an armoured knight would be trained to wear armour from his teens, and would likely develop the technique and endurance needed to comfortably run, crawl, climb ladders, as well as mount and dismount his horse without recourse to a crane (a myth probably originating from an English music hall comedy of the 1830s, and popularised in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court). A full suit of medieval plate is thought to have weighed little more than 60 lb (27 kg) on average lighter than the equipment often carried by today's armies which averages at around 90 pounds.[4]


Mycenaean Greek 1400 BC armour.

Significant factors in the development of armour include the economic and technological necessities of armour production. For instance, plate armour first appeared in Medieval Europe when water-powered trip hammers made the formation of plates faster and cheaper. Also, modern militaries usually do not equip their forces with the best armour available, since it would be prohibitively expensive. At times the development of armour has run parallel to the development of increasingly effective weaponry on the battlefield, with armourers seeking to create better protection without sacrificing mobility.

Development of personal armour

Well known armour types in European history include the lorica hamata and the lorica segmentata of the Roman legions, the mail hauberk of the early medieval age, and the full steel plate harness worn by later Medieval and Renaissance knights, and breast and back plates worn by heavy cavalry in several European countries until the first year of World War I (1914–15).


In East Asian history laminated armour such as lamellar, and styles similar to the coat of plates, and brigandine were commonly used. Later cuirasses and plates were also used. In pre-Qin dynasty times, leather armour was made out of rhinoceros. Chinese influence in Japan would result in the Japanese adopting Chinese styles, their samurai armour being a result of this influence[citation needed].

Mail, sometimes called by the neologism "chainmail", made of interlocking iron rings, which may be riveted or welded shut is believed to have been invented by the Celtic people in Eastern Europe about 500 BC.[citation needed] When these Celts moved West they took mail with them. Most cultures who used mail used the Celtic word Byrnne or a variant, suggesting the Celts as the originators.[citation needed]

Gradually, small additional plates or discs of iron were added to the mail to protect vulnerable areas. Hardened leather and splinted construction were used for arm and leg pieces. The coat of plates was developed, an armour made of large plates sewn inside a textile or leather coat.

Early plate in Italy, and elsewhere in the 13th–15th century were made of iron. Iron armour could be carburised or case hardened to give a surface of harder steel.[5] Plate armour became cheaper than mail by the 15th century as it required much less labour and labour had become much more expensive after the Black Death, though it did require larger furnaces to produce larger blooms. Mail continued to be used to protect those joints which could not be adequately protected by plate, such as the armpit, crook of the elbow and groin. Another advantage of plate was that a lance rest could be fitted to the breast plate.[6]

The small skull cap evolved into a bigger true helmet, the bascinet, as it was lengthened downward to protect the back of the neck and the sides of the head. Additionally, several new forms of fully enclosed helmets were introduced in the late 1300s.

Plate armour

Probably the most recognised style of armour in the World became the plate armour associated with the knights of the European Late Middle Ages, but continuing to the early 17th century Age of Enlightenment in all European countries.

By about 1400 the full harness of plate armour had been developed in armouries of Lombardy[7] Heavy cavalry dominated the battlefield for centuries in part because of their armour.

In the early 15th century, advances in weaponry allowed infantry to defeat armoured knights on the battlefield. The quality of the metal used in armour deteriorated as armies became bigger and armour was made thicker, necessitating breeding of larger cavalry horses. If during the 14–15th centuries armour seldom weighed more than 15kgs, than by the late 16th century it weighed 25 kg.[8] The increasing weight and thickness of late 16th century armour therefore gave substantial resistance.

In the early years of low velocity firearms, full suits of armour, or breast plates actually stopped bullets fired from a modest distance. Crossbow bolts, if still used, would seldom penetrate good plate, nor would any bullet unless fired from close range. In effect, rather than making plate armour obsolete, the use of firearms stimulated the development of plate armour into its later stages. For most of that period, it allowed horsemen to fight while being the targets of defending arquebuseers without being easily killed. Full suits of armour were actually worn by generals and princely commanders right up to the second decade of the 18th century. It was the only way they could be mounted and survey the overall battlefield with safety from distant musket fire.

The horse was afforded protection from lances and infantry weapons by steel plate barding. This gave the horse protection and enhanced the visual impression of a mounted knight. Late in the era, elaborate barding was used in parade armour.


Gradually starting in the mid 16th century, one plate element after another was discarded to save weight for foot soldiers.

Back and breast plates continued to be used throughout the entire period of the 18th century and through Napoleonic times, in many European (heavy) cavalry units, until the early 20th century. From their introduction, muskets could pierce plate armour, so cavalry had to be far more mindful of the fire.

Though the age of the knight was over, armour continued to be used in many capacities. Soldiers in the American Civil War bought iron and steel vests from peddlers (both sides had considered but rejected body armour for standard issue). The effectiveness of the vests varied widely- some successfully deflected bullets and saved lives but others were poorly made and resulted in tragedy for the soldiers. In any case the vests were abandoned by many soldiers due to their weight on long marches as well as the stigma they got for being cowards from their fellow troops.[9]

At the start of World War I, thousands of the French Cuirassiers rode out to engage the German Cavalry who likewise used helmets and armour. By that period, the shiny armour plate was covered in dark paint and a canvas wrap covered their elaborate Napoleonic style helmets. Their armour was meant to protect only against sabres and light lances. The cavalry had to beware of high velocity rifles and machine guns like the foot soldiers, who at least had a trench to protect them.

Development of vehicle armour

The first ironclad battleship, La Gloire, was launched by the French Navy in 1859;[10] she prompted the British Royal Navy to start building ironclads. After the first clashes of ironclads took place during the American Civil War, it became clear that the ironclad had replaced the unarmoured line-of-battle ship as the most powerful warship afloat.[11]

Ironclads were designed for several roles, including as high seas battleships, coastal defence ships, and long-range cruisers. The rapid evolution of warship design in the late 19th century transformed the ironclad from a wooden-hulled vessel which carried sails to supplement its steam engines into the steel-built, turreted battleships and cruisers familiar in the 20th century. This change was pushed forward by the development of heavier naval guns (the ironclads of the 1880s carried some of the heaviest guns ever mounted at sea)[citation needed], more sophisticated steam engines, and advances in metallurgy which made steel shipbuilding possible.

The rapid pace of change in the ironclad period meant that many ships were obsolete as soon as they were complete, and that naval tactics were in a state of flux. Many ironclads were built to make use of the ram or the torpedo, which a number of naval designers considered the crucial weapons of naval combat. There is no clear end to the ironclad period, but towards the end of the 1890s the term ironclad dropped out of use. New ships were increasingly constructed to a standard pattern and designated battleships or armoured cruisers.

Armoured trains saw use during the 19th century in the American Civil War (1861–1865), the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), the First and Second Boer Wars (1880-81 and 1899–1902), the First (1914–1918) and Second World Wars (1939–1945) and the First Indochina War (1946–1954). The most intensive use of armoured trains was during the Russian Civil War (1918–1920).

During the Second Boer War on 15 November 1899, Winston Churchill, then a war-correspondent, was travelling onboard an armoured train when it was ambushed by Boer commandos. Churchill and many of the train's garrison were captured, though many others escaped, including wounded placed on the train's engine.

Towards the end of World War I, armies on both sides were experimenting with plate armour as protection against shrapnel and ricocheting projectiles. The first proposal for a tank was by the Austrian Oberleutenant Günther Burstyn who, in 1911, proposed a design for "motor artillery" (Motorengeschütz) with a turret, but his design never progressed beyond a German patent in 1912.[12]

A British Mark I "male" tank near Thiepval on 26 September 1916, fitted with wire mesh to deflect grenades.The ironclad was developed as a result of the vulnerability of wooden warships to explosive or incendiary shells.

Tank or "landship" development, originally conducted by the British Navy under the auspices of the Landships Committee was sponsored by the First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill and proceeded through a number of prototypes culminating in the Mark I tank prototype, named Mother.[13] The first tank to engage in battle was designated D1, a British Mark I, during the Battle of Flers-Courcellette on 15 September 1916.[14]

In contrast to World War II, Germany fielded very few tanks during WWI, with only 15 of the A7V type being produced in Germany during the war.[15] The first tank versus tank action took place on 24 April 1918 at Second Battle of Villers-Bretonneux, when three British Mark IVs met an advance of three German A7Vs, supported by infantry. Tanks were knocked out on both sides, but the German attack failed and they retreated.

Mechanical problems, poor mobility and piecemeal tactical deployment limited the military significance of the tank in World War I and the tank did not fulfil its promise of rendering trench warfare obsolete. Nonetheless, it was clear to military thinkers on both sides that tanks would play a significant role in future conflicts.[13]

The development of effective anti-aircraft artillery before the Second World War meant that the pilots, once the "knights of the air" during the First World War were left far more vulnerable to ground fire. This not only created the requirement for the introduction of the cockpit armour plating that eventually came to be known variously as the "bucket" or the "bathtub", but also the design of such aircraft as the Il-2 which also were heavily armoured to protect the fuel and engine, allowing much greater survivability during ground assaults.


Riot police with body protection against blows

Today, ballistic vests, euphemistically known as a flak jacket, made of ballistic cloth (e.g. kevlar, dyneema, twaron, spectra etc.) and ceramic or metal plates are common among police forces, security staff, corrections officers and some branches of the military.

The US Army has adopted Interceptor body armour, which uses Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts (E-S.A.P.I) in the chest, sides and back of the armour. Each plate is rated to stop a range of ammunition including 3 hits from a 7.62×51 NATO AP round at a range of 10 m (33 ft), though accounts in Iraq and Afghanistan tell of soldiers shot as many as seven times in the chest without penetration.[citation needed]Dragon Skin body armour is another ballistic vest which is currently in testing with mixed results.

Despite advances in the protection offered by ballistic armour against projectiles, as the name implies, modern ballistic body armour is much less impervious to stabbing weapons unless they are augmented with anti-knife/anti-stab armour (usually a form of mail)[citation needed].

Riot police are usually equipped with armour against blows.

Tank armour has progressed from the Second World War armour forms, now incorporating not only harder composites, but also reactive armour designed to defeat shaped charges. As a result of this, the main battle tanks (MBT) designed since the late Cold War era can survive multiple RPG strikes with minimal effect on the crew or the operation of the vehicle. The light tanks that were the last descendants of the light cavalry during the Second World War have almost completely disappeared from the World's military due to increased lethality of the weapons available to the vehicle-mounted infantry.

The armoured personnel carrier (APC) is a relatively recent development, stemming from trials and experiences during the Second World War. The APC allows the safe and rapid movement of infantry in a combat zone, minimising casualties and maximising mobility. APCs are fundamentally different from the previously used armoured half-tracks in that they offer a higher level of protection from artillery burst fragments, and greater mobility in more terrain types. The basic APC design was substantially expanded to an Infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) when properties of an armoured personnel carrier and a light tank were combined in one vehicle.

Naval armour has fundamentally changed from the Second World War doctrine of thicker plating to defend against shells, bombs and torpedos. Passive defence naval armour for use against shells and other projectile weapons has almost completely disappeared on modern warships. It has been replaced by systems designed to detect and evade, or in the case of the cruise missiles, to destroy threats, including extensive use of radar, sonar and electronic warfare.

Although the role of the ground attack aircraft significantly diminished after the Korean War, it re-emerged during the Vietnam War, and in the recognition of this, the US Air Force authorised the design and production of what was later to become the A-10 dedicated anti-armour and ground-attack aircraft of the Cold War.

See also


  1. ^ Williams, p.43
  2. ^ Fight-Book Clues to Quality and Build of Knightly Weaponry
  3. ^ Reid, p.30
  4. ^
  5. ^ Williams, pp.740–1.
  6. ^ Williams, p.55
  7. ^ Williams, p.53
  8. ^ Williams, p.916
  9. ^ Stewart, pp.74-5
  10. ^ Sondhaus, pp.73–4
  11. ^ Sondhaus, p. 86
  12. ^ DiNardo (1986), The First Modern Tank: Gunther Burstyn and His Motorgeschutz
  13. ^ a b Willmott (2003), First World War
  14. ^ Regan (1993), The Guinness Book of More Military Blunders, p.12
  15. ^ Willmott (2003), First World War, p.222


  • Reid, Peter. Medieval Warfare. New York: Carrol & Graf Publishers, 2007. ISBN 0-7867-1859-5.
  • Sondhaus, Lawrence. Naval Warfare 1815–1914. London: Routledge, 2001. ISBN 0-415-21478-5.
  • Williams, Alan. The Knight and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period. History of Warfare, v. 12. Leiden: Brill, 2003. ISBN 9004124985.
  • Stewart, Gail B. "The Civil War: Weapons of War". San Diego: Lucent Publishers, 2000. ISBN 1-56006-626-1.


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

This book consists of a set of short tutorials on making period armour and chain mail. We refer to items that are in or out of period in the context of which re-creation group we belong to. In the case of the armours presented here, the operational time span is that of the Society for Creative Anachronism, or the SCA. The 'uptime' cut-off date is 1600 CE, as the defining documents for the Society mandate a 'pre-16th century' mode of dress, etc. We allow a bit of leeway to include the years up to the death of Elizabeth I, at 1603 CE. The 'downtime' date(s) are a favourite argument topic; a rough estimate is 400 CE to 500 CE


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

is employed in the English Bible to denote military equipment, both offensive and defensive.

  1. The offensive weapons were different at different periods of history. The "rod of iron" (Ps 29) is supposed to mean a mace or crowbar, an instrument of great power when used by a strong arm. The "maul" (Prov 25:18; cognate Hebrew word rendered "battle-axe" in Jer 51:20, and "slaughter weapon" in Ezek 9:2) was a war-hammer or martel. The "sword" is the usual translation of hereb, which properly means "poniard." The real sword, as well as the dirk-sword (which was always double-edged), was also used (1Sam 17:39; 2 Sam 20:8; 1 Kg 20:11). The spear was another offensive weapon (Josh 8:18; 1Sam 17:7). The javelin was used by light troops (Num 25:7, 8; 1Sam 13:22). Saul threw a javelin at David (1Sam 19:9, 10), and so virtually absolved him from his allegiance. The bow was, however, the chief weapon of offence. The arrows were carried in a quiver, the bow being always unbent till the moment of action (Gen 27:3; 48:22; Ps 1834). The sling was a favourite weapon of the Benjamites (1Sam 17:40; 1Chr 12:2. Comp. 1Sam 25:29).
  2. Of the defensive armour a chief place is assigned to the shield or buckler. There were the great shield or target (the tzinnah), for the protection of the whole person (Gen 15:1; Ps 479; 1Sam 17:7; Prov 30:5), and the buckler (Heb. mageen) or small shield (1 Kg 10:17; Ezek 26:8). In Ps 914 "buckler" is properly a roundel appropriated to archers or slingers. The helmet (Ezek 27:10; 1Sam 17:38), a covering for the head; the coat of mail or corselet (1Sam 17:5), or habergeon (Neh. 4;16), harness or breat-plate (Rev 9:9), for the covering of the back and breast and both upper arms (Isa 59:17; Eph 6:14). The cuirass and corselet, composed of leather or quilted cloth, were also for the covering of the body. Greaves, for the covering of the legs, were worn in the time of David (1Sam 17:6). Reference is made by Paul (Eph 6:14-17) to the panoply of a Roman soldier. The shield here is the thureon, a door-like oblong shield above all, i.e., covering the whole person, not the small round shield. There is no armour for the back, but only for the front.
This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Facts about ArmourRDF feed

Simple English

Armour (or armor) is a protective covering or clothing used to try to prevent injury when being attacked. Armour can be worn by a person, or it can be used to protect machines, animals, even buildings. Armour has always been made from the strongest materials available at the time, but weight has always been a problem. Early armour was made from leather, then later metals were used (e.g. mail or plate armour). Some modern armour, like bullet-proof vests, are made from plastics that do not stretch or break, such as Kevlar. These plastics may be woven into a cloth and used in layers, which makes them even stronger.

For vehicles

Armour put on vehicles is usually made of metal and can include one layer over another with open spaces in between (spaced armour) or multiple layers of metal; ceramics (baked clay), and other materials. Another type of armour uses blocks of explosive that explode when another explosion goes off near it. This explosive armour protects by pushing against the other explosion. Vehicle armor is often angled to increase the amount of armour that must be shot through to get inside and to make the shot bounce off rather than piercing the armour.

Tanks have the heaviest armour of all land vehicles. Other military vehicles have armour, but not as much as a tank.

Sometimes armour is put in non-military vehicles, such as limousines used by leaders of a country or by anyone who thinks they might be attacked, eg film stars or presidents of major companies.

For animals

In the past, armour has also been used in wars to protect animals such as dogs, elephants, and horses. Today, police dogs and horses sometimes wear woven plastic bullet-proof vests.

For sports

Many sports involve violent physical contact and may be highly dangerous if the players are unprotected. Such sports include ice hockey, American football and kendo. Sports armour is usually made from hard plastic.

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