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Then, as now, form follows function

Another little plus ça change post...

So, we have this helmet.  Of a style called the armet, and in this case, an English example of the Milanese-style armet, from one of Henry VII's tournament armors held by the Royal Armouries museum.

Armet of Henry VII in the Royal Armouries Museum in the United Kingdom.

Fast forward, 1917.

Experimental visor helmet for snipers and machine gunners, US Army, WWI.

Cute, ainnit?

And, fast-forward to today.  Oh, sure, new materials, and we've hung a lotta bells and whistles on it...  but same basic premise.  Same basic function.

Spc. Kevin Williams of Company A, 5th Battalion, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, takes his position as a door gunner on a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter in Tikrit, Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. Russell Lee KlikaView 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

24 Comments

I was seriously considering taking my SA05 Bell racing helmet paintballing the other day instead of using the provided facemask...

Ahahaha really though, I've been thinking for quite a while that we really should have full helmets for our infantry by now, it could really reduce the facial injuries and such.
 
Josh,

Nice idea, but the infantry won't buy it:  too limiting to the peripheral vision, and it limits hearing.  Both of which will cost lives in combat..  Heck, the current Army Combat Helmet arguably provides less protection than the PASGT  helmet it replaced, but adopting the ACH eliminated several problems with the PASGT and made our soldiers more effective.

I'm not even going to address the issue of additional heat stress.
 
Blake brought up most of my objections - as well as breathing issues.  And more weight.

Natick keeps working on it, however.  I've seen some protoype helmets that are Starship Trooperish, but the troopers weren't too fond of 'em, even when the sensor feeds worked properly.
 
The the nice thing about the maxillofacial shield (yeah, that's what it's called) is it cuts down on wind noise when you're trying to talk.  Crew chiefs spend a significant amount of time with their heads stuck out the window.

Link

 
Okay, I admit it, the whole thing was an excuse to repost, in a larger size, the Green Monster mask.
 
1.  For some more really great armour, as well as armaments of all types and periods, it is a real treat to vist the Frazier Museum in Louisville, KY.  Three large floors of great items, the top floor having been done by the Royal Armouries at Leeds, with a good dose of Britsih Empire history thrown in as well.  Other floors are great as well.  Some interesting living history demonstrations of sword fighting, etc that kids (of all ages) love.  Best arms museum in the western hemisphere!  Spend the pittance asked for the audio headsets and you will enjoy the visit even more.   Since you are in the area anyway, might as well head south about an hour and check out the 20th Century armor at the Patton Museum at Fort Knox, which I understand now has an entrance that does not require going on post hassles.

2.  Trivia-  During WW1 period, most of the U.S. experimental helmets were the work of Bashford Dean, then curator (and restoration expert) at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  That explains some of the very traditional concepts tried.  Of course, the fact that the human head to be protected had not changed much over the centuries made it a pretty logical move as well.
 
Brainbuckets haven't changed that much fundamentally have they.  I've always thought of them in terms of mini tanks.

You can't see a damn thing.  You can't hear a damn thing, they can't take any more than a light tap, they cost a fortune, are too hot and weigh a tonne and yet they are still useful.
 
Are you sure that isn't Sergeat B in his Godzilla get-up?
 
John (not the armorer) is right- the Frazier Museum is wicked kewl.
My Mom and I took the boys there a couple of years ago.  Awesome.  Incredible collection of pointy-stuff and things to prevent the pointy-end from penetrating your body.
 
In addition to the Frazier's exhibits, which I've heard of but have not had an opportunity to see, I'd like to recommend the Higgins Armory Museum in Worcester, MA.  A really, really nice collection of medieval arms and armor, and the docents who lead the tours are really knowledgeable about the collection.

Echo the recommendation on the Patton Museum at Knox.  Unfortunately, some of their neater exhibits, like the fully-operable Jgpz-38, aren't on normal display due to lack of space, and instead are stored in various older motor pools elsewhere on the post.
 
Hmmm. I was going to make a Star Wars reference myself, with respect to the above WW1 helmet. Then I followed John's link, and -Holy Smokes!- the visor-up shot looks dead on a Rebel Alliance helmet.

I shouldn't be surprised, considering Han "he shot first!" Solo's blaster was a Mauser, and the Stormtrooper blaster rifle was an MG-34...

 
And yes, indeed, the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor does have a new entrance off the Dixie Die-way where you can park your car and then go through a personnel gate to get to the museum.

And ditto on the runners being elsewhere around post.
 
Oh blog meister.

"I am besieged with a thousand or more Mexicans under Santa Anna. I have sustained a continual Bombardment and cannonade for 24 hours and have not lost a man. The enemy has demanded surrender at discretion otherwise the garrison is to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken. I have answered the demand with a canon shot and our flag still waves proudly over the wall. I shall never surrender or retreat. Then I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism, of everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid with all dispatch. The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily and will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible and die like a soldier who never forgets what is due his honor and that of his country - VICTORY OR DEATH.

- William Barrett Travis, Lt. Col Commander

March 2nd is TEXAS INDEPENDENCE DAY
 
Heh.  If you'd brought that up *yesterday* Jim...
 
[Blake Kirk]too limiting to the peripheral vision

That one's easy! Just make sure the entire field of vision is covered by the transparent part instead of the opaque part. In fact, covering the entire field of vision with transparent hardware makes for a very convenient opportunity to add a HUD, which really could make individual infantrymen a whole lot more effective. We put all that fancy networking equipment in the Strykers, why not output it straight onto the soldiers' views? There's probably a thousand other ways it could help too...

[Blake Kirk]and it limits hearing

It really should include earpieces and a mic so that everybody can communicate via radio, so it would be easy to add two little speakers on the outside of the helmet to pipe in the same sound that the user would hear naturally, mixed with the radio, or maybe with the ability to briefly cut out the outside noise to hear comms better.

[Blake Kirk]I'm not even going to address the issue of additional heat stress.

I'm not exactly sure how that would work, because our solution in auto racing is to attach a one to two inch diameter flexible hose to the helmet and mount the other end of the hose on the outside of the car. It mostly depends on moving forward at very high speeds all the time. The only ideas I can think of would be bad for weight and durability, I'd have to work on that one...

[John]breathing issues

I never have trouble breathing in mine. Hell, if you wanted, you could probably use it as an opportunity to build a respirator right into it and be a step ahead on your CBRN precautions.

[John]And more weight

Proper use of materials will of course be vital here. It can't be a block of cast iron...
 
two little speakers

I meant two little mics.  Damnit.  I need an edit function...
 
Josh,

Have you ever heard the old saw "The best is the enemy of good enough?"

What you have here, sir, is a solution in search of a problem.  You are extrapolating from systems designed for a very specific set of circumstances, and trying to shoehorn those systems into a VERY different set of circumstances for which they were never designed.

We've had full-face helments available on the civilian market since well before I fisrt put on a uniform in 1978.  So why do you think we aren't using them?  I KNOW for a fact that the Army will buy civilian crash helmets and issue them to soldiers for use when it's the best solution to a given problem, 'cos I've seen it done.  So what makes you think the guys up at Natick haven't already looked at this?

I was in the the 82nd when we first got issued the Kevlar helmet.  We were the first unit in the Army to get them, and we hated the durned things.  Right up to the point where a kid in one of the rifle companies in 2-325 Infantry in Grenada took a direct hit in the helmet from an AK fired from about 15 meters and got up and walked away.  We got a WHOLE lot fonder of the Fritz helmet real quick after word about that incident spread.

That specific helmet, by the way, with the 7.62mm bullet wedged in the fabric, was still in the Division Museum at Bragg the last time I checked.  Jack Trobaugh, who was the Division Commander then, had to come down to our brigade area in person and talk the poor kid who was wearing it when he got hit into giving it up so that the boffins at Natick could examine it before it went to the museum.  The kid, understandably enough, thought of it as "the lucky helmet that saved my sorry arse," and was very reluctant to let it go.
 
 Well if they ever develop the super dupper compact fusion power plant for powered body armor with air conditioning and heating..........humma.......put a computer in the dang thing and have some game geek remote it from someplace in the US.  "Cool,. Mrs Warner's eigth grade class just took Islamaburkaburka."  "Harriet! Stop pulling the limbs off of the Jihadi!"
 
Have you ever heard the old saw "The best is the enemy of good enough?"

Meh.  "Good enough" is the enemy of ever inventing anything new.

We've had full-face helments available on the civilian market since well before I fisrt put on a uniform in 1978. So why do you think we aren't using them? I KNOW for a fact that the Army will buy civilian crash helmets and issue them to soldiers for use when it's the best solution to a given problem, 'cos I've seen it done. So what makes you think the guys up at Natick haven't already looked at this?

Full face helmets on the civilian market aren't really designed for this.  That's the whole point of what I'm saying.  And I'm pretty sure the guys up at Natick ARE looking into it.  But they're probably getting hamstrung from bean counters on one side who don't want to pay for anything new, and luddites on the other side who don't want to adopt anything new.

We got a WHOLE lot fonder of the Fritz helmet real quick after word about that incident spread.

That's exactly my point!  The first time some Marine avoids getting his face burned off or his nose shot off because he's wearing his full face helmet, they'll probably get very popular very quickly.
 
Perhaps we missed it - but Natick *has* been working the full face helmet, with HUD, and it hasn't worked out so well thus far.

And yes, it *is* legitimate to have a trade-off analysis done on cost versus value-added.

Just because we can doesn't mean we should.

But it also doesn't mean we quit looking.

But helmets designed for fighter pilots of helo crews, and even tankers, aren't necessarily going to be a good idea for Grunts.

And let us not forget the unintended consequences and costs (if aught else, to more fully understand same).  A not-insignificant chunk of the Armorer's disability paycheck comes from the damage to his neck from wearing a kevlar helmet and doing a lot of cross-country driving, which had a significant impact on the structures of my neck.
 
Helmets should still have a separate shell and liner. How's a grunt supposed to wash his feet and skivvy drawrs in his pot, otherwise?
 
Perhaps we missed it - but Natick *has* been working the full face helmet, with HUD, and it hasn't worked out so well thus far.

See?  Like I was saying.  Give it time and money, and we'll get there.

And yes, it *is* legitimate to have a trade-off analysis done on cost versus value-added.

Just because we can doesn't mean we should.

But it also doesn't mean we quit looking.


Certainly true!

But helmets designed for fighter pilots of helo crews, and even tankers, aren't necessarily going to be a good idea for Grunts.

Yep, that's why it has to be specifically redesigned for the application.

A not-insignificant chunk of the Armorer's disability paycheck comes from the damage to his neck from wearing a kevlar helmet and doing a lot of cross-country driving, which had a significant impact on the structures of my neck.

Was there also TBI-induced third-person-self-references?  Ahahaha I kid, I kid...so was the damage due to the added weight of the helmet strapped to your head?  Or does it have to do with banging the rim against stuff?

 
When the Armorer refers to himself as the Armorer it is *always* in the third person, otherwise I don't "Bob Dole" it.

Due to the angular momentum imparted by the whipping of the head when driving cross country, as well as compaction damage caused by the weight when hitting bumps, etc.

Adding lots of stuff to the helmet just makes that worse, the farther from the center of gravity you get. 
 
Unless of course you found some way to add support.

And/or made the entire thing lighter somehow.