Definitions

Flak_jacket

Flak jacket

A flak jacket or flak vest is a form of protective clothing designed to provide protection from shrapnel and other indirect low velocity projectiles. Today it frequently refers to bulletproof vests, particularly Type III and above which have added steel, titanium, ceramic or polyethylene plates which can withstand high-powered rounds such as those from rifles.

RAF Flak Jacket

The first usage of the term refers to the armour originally developed by the Wilkinson Sword company during World War II to help protect Royal Air Force (RAF) air personnel from the flying debris and shrapnel thrown by German anti-aircraft guns' high-explosive shells (flak itself is an abbrevation for the German word for "anti-aircraft gun" (Fliegerabwehrkanone)). The jacket consisted of manganese plates sewn into a waistcoat made of ballistic nylon (a material engineered by the DuPont company); therefore, flak jackets functioned as an evolved form of plate armour.

Unfortunately, flak jackets proved to be too bulky for wear within the confines of the RAF's standard bomber aircraft, the Avro Lancaster. The Royal Air Force subsequently offered the jackets to the United States Army Air Forces, which adopted them as a Defense Standard. Ultimately, however, the jackets proved to be less effective than hoped, and are now generally considered to be inferior to body armor.

Other

During World War II, flak jackets and steel helmets were worn by US Navy personnel on aircraft carriers during battle, since the ships and especially their flight decks offered little protection for their crew. Known as "flash gear", this was supposed to protect against shrapnel and heat.

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