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Comment: Near Fine; Sterling condition softcover copy, with unfurled tips, tight binding, and clean internals, showing only very slight shelf- and edge-wear, and only very light sunning. Handsomely produced, as per usual, with tons of color plates, and always well researched by Osprey Military History Series authors. Book-plate of previous owner affixed inside front flap, neatly. 40 pp.
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Flak Jackets : Twentieth Century Military Body Armour (Men at Arms Series, 157) Paperback – June 15, 1984

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Product Details

  • Series: Men-at-Arms (Book 157)
  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (June 15, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0850455693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0850455694
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.2 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Packed with specially commissioned artwork, maps and diagrams, the Men-at-Arms series is an unrivalled illustrated reference on the history, organisation, uniforms and equipment of the world's military forces, past and present.

About the Author

Simon Dunstan is a well-established author, film maker and photographer in the field of military history, with several titles already published with Osprey. He specialises in the subject of armoured warfare, a field on which he has been writing for two decades. His books have covered topics such as helicopter and armoured warfare in Vietnam, the Challenger main battle tank, The British Guards and armoured warfare in Korea. Simon lives and works in London.

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By El Cutachero on December 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Though body armor of one sort or another was used in ancient times, after the introduction of firearms, it fell into disuse in Western armies.
It was found during WW I after the troops on the Western Front had gone to ground, that up to 80% of the casualties were caused by artillery fragments and mortar bomb splinters. This led to the universal use of steel helmets by 1916 as the troops in ordinary defense were protected by the trenches themselves. Some specialist troops such as machine gunners wore heavy plate armor which hooked over the shoulders but this was too heavy for use in mobile maneuvers.
The author points out that the word flak is the abbreviation for the German word for anti aircraft gun, a typical long compound noun. Due to the widespread introduction of plate armor contained in jackets, by the US Army Air Forces for bomber crews to counter flak the name stuck. There were also armored seats in fighter aircraft. This type of airman's armor was not constrained by weight considerations.
The next development was the use of armor for ground troops. This began widely during the siege phase of the Korean War with the M1952 vest. Later in Vietnam special armor was developed for the crews of helicopters which included groin pieces.
Modern armor is often made of ceramic or of kevlar and is made of small plates carried in pocketed garments. Though the police SWAT teams often wear such vests, they are not considered to be bullet proof, their purpose is to slow down a projectile so that it merely wounds or bruises instead of penetrating the targeted person. There is no such thing as a "bullet proof" vest, just various levels of protection.
As this work is about twenty years old now, it could well be supplemented with another followon volume.
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Format: Paperback
This work has been out for some time now. It is still the useful introduction that it was in 1984 but of course needs revision.
As the author points out, the term "flak" is the German abbreviation for their typical lengthy compound noun meaning antiaircraft gun. It came to be used in conjunction with body armor in WW II when the USAF issued plate armor to the bomber crews over Germany. And the similarity of the fragments resulting from bursting flak shells to that of bursting ground artillery barrages completed the analogy even though it is technically incorrect.
Although armor of one sort or another has been worn for centuries with the introduction of hand firearms it fell into disuse in the West except for ceremonial use in the sixteenth century though vestiges were worn in China and Japan.
It was found in the Great War which began in 1914 in western Europe that after the troops went to ground in late 1914 the predominant casualties were caused by artillery shell and mortar bomb fragments. By 1916 all the contenders on the western front wore steel helmets to protect the head while the earthworks kept away direct small arms fire except when charging in the open. Rifle caliber wounds were never to be protected against except by heavy plate armor used by machine gunners and other specialists. This material just could not be made for all the front line troops. It was too heavy. Just as in WW II the flyers used heavy plate but the infantry did not.
After the war development continued and the introduction of lightweight layered multi plate armor of composite construction was introduced during the Korean War. The M1952 body armor was introduced to US and UN forces in Korea and later was furnished to the French in Indo China.
The author then goes on to give an overview of developments to the time of publication. As usual the color plates are superb and well annotated.
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Format: Paperback
A good introduction to modern body armour. The first part showing the origins of the steel helmet in the trenches of WWI is particularly interesting. The text is clear and the pictures are good (albeit in B&W only). The plates are as good as Osprey always do. Too bad this subject was never revisited in the other series.
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