Military Archive Research
by Dr. Stuart C Blank
Member of the Orders and Medals Research Society (OMRS)
Member of the Royal Air Force Historical Society (RAFHS)
Member of the Naval Historical Collectors and Research Association (NHCRA)
Member of the Nautical Archaeology Society (NAS)
Member of the International Bank Note Society (IBNS)
Member of the International Bond and Share Society (IBSS)




Review of
Modern Body Armour
By Martin J Brayley
ISBN 9781847972484
Published by The Crowood Press (
RRP GBP £19.95

Body armour has been in existence since medieval times. Originally chain-mail and suits of armour were used in Europe and Japanese samurai likewise had their own functional armour. The modern day descendants to these classes of body armour date from around the start of the twentieth century and images of the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan show how vital this equipment has become to the modern soldier. Thus this book covers an essential and very important subject. Some of the labels on the armour featured in the book effectively read “This equipment can help save your life!” and so too can the study / research / development of this vital equipment.

As the book implies the study of body armour receives enhanced interest during times of conflict whilst in times of peace the interest in developing this personal equipment tends to decline. This volume starts with an introductory chapter on the history of body armour and how it developed up to the start of World War 1.

The differences between body armour for “ballistic protection” compared to “stab protection” are amply discussed. Stab protection only vests can offer very limited protection against projectiles and likewise vice versa. These competing requirements have lead to the development of “hybrid” armour so now there are three main types of armour – ballistic, stab and hybrid.

In order to develop design requirements for these three classes of armour the national standard agencies have developed design standards for each type of “ballistic”, “stab” and “hybrid” armour. Some of these standards have also seen international acceptance via bodies such as NATO and it compares the various (inter-) national standards.

The book splits the chronology of body armour into national variations. Each nation has its own history of body armour and these national variations are described. There are two large chapters on the armour developed by the USA and the UK respectively. Smaller visual chapters on the armour developed by Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Serbia and Slovenia are also presented. These images show how these countries have progressed with the development of their own national styles of armour. Interesting comparisons are made between the different variations and this study would enhance the knowledge of any developer of body armour. The book concludes with a discussion of the body armour of the future and how it is likely to evolve.

This excellent study of a critical component of a soldier’s equipment is highly commended. It charts the development and variations so that any interested person can learn a lot on this subject and it also serves as a reference book especially useful for those collectors of this critical equipment. I am confident that this study will become a standard reference work on this topic and by studying it designers can evolve better and newer standards of armour – one day it may help to save a soldier’s life. It is also a book which is very enjoyable to read.

August 2011