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Daniel Michaelsson




Location: Dena Lagu
Joined: 29 May 2007

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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 6:02 am    Post subject: Ned Kelly's Armour/ Modern Plate         Reply with quote

I've just found this, thought it might of interest. It was owned by the Australian outlaw Ned Kelly, each member of his gang wore one and they weighed 97lbs. My interest is usually firmly within the Early Middle Ages and the Migration Period but this seems like such a bizarre historical throwback that it's piqued my interest.







If this was effective during the period (and presumably it was or why wear it?)then why weren't similar armour adopted by the armies of the time? Was it purely a matter of cost? Thanks.


Last edited by Daniel Michaelsson on Sun 10 May, 2009 12:49 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 6:13 am    Post subject: Re: Ned Kelly's Armour         Reply with quote

Daniel Michaelsson wrote:
If this was effective during the period (and presumably it was or why wear it?)then why weren't similar armour adopted by the armies of the time? Was it purely a matter of cost? Thanks.

Dispite wearing 97 lbs of heavy plate, Ned Kelly was wounded 28 times during the shootout. He was subsequently nursed back to health and then hanged.

The armour was made from plough mould-boards. It was about a 1/4 inch thick and could stop a Martini Henry round at 10 yards. Unfortunately it didn't cover the arms or legs; its weight hampered movement; the narrow eye slit limited visibility too much; and the breastplate was too wide, preventing comfortable use of a rifle.


Last edited by Dan Howard on Sun 10 May, 2009 6:25 am; edited 1 time in total
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 6:20 am    Post subject: Re: Ned Kelly's Armour         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Daniel Michaelsson wrote:
If this was effective during the period (and presumably it was or why wear it?)then why weren't similar armour adopted by the armies of the time? Was it purely a matter of cost? Thanks.

Dispite wearing 96 lbs of heavy plate, Ned Kelly was wounded 28 times by police bullets.


Yeah, in the unprotected legs.

Daniel Michaelsson wrote:
If this was effective during the period (and presumably it was or why wear it?)then why weren't similar armour adopted by the armies of the time? Was it purely a matter of cost? Thanks.


Well it weighed 96lbs and even then didn't offer full protection. That's a lot of extra weight to haul around. That said, early in the American Civil War officers and even private soldiers, mainly from the union, purchased metal "bullet proof" breast plates. They were quickly abandoned.

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart


Last edited by Ian Hutchison on Sun 10 May, 2009 6:35 am; edited 2 times in total
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Daniel Michaelsson




Location: Dena Lagu
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Posts: 54

PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 6:22 am    Post subject: Re: Ned Kelly's Armour         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Daniel Michaelsson wrote:
If this was effective during the period (and presumably it was or why wear it?)then why weren't similar armour adopted by the armies of the time? Was it purely a matter of cost? Thanks.

Dispite wearing 97 lbs of heavy plate, Ned Kelly was wounded 28 times during the shootout. He was subsequently nursed back to health and then hanged.


True, but I'm guessing that wasn't the armours fault as A) it's barely damaged B) you can see where bullets have deformed the armour without penetration and C) if after 28 bullets he was able to recover I'm guessing they were limb hits for the most part at least.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 6:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The police at the time believed that Ned Kelly would have escaped if he wasn't hampered by the armour.
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Daniel Michaelsson




Location: Dena Lagu
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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 6:28 am    Post subject: Re: Ned Kelly's Armour         Reply with quote

Ian Hutchison wrote:

Well it weighed 96lbs and even then didn't offer full protection. That's a lot of extra weight to haul around. That said, early in the American Civil War officers and even private soldiers, mainly from the union, purchased metal "bullet proof" breast plates. They were quickly abandoned.


Yeah, I can see the weight being an issue but with skilled smiths rather than amateur metalwork I reckon the weight could be significantly reduced i.e tempered steel with less material used. Also, it's very interesting about the Union armour, do you happen to know if any survive or any pictures? Thanks

Dan Howard wrote:
The police at the time believed that Ned Kelly would have escaped if he wasn't hampered by the armour.


Maybe, but he could also have been shot in the heart, lungs, brain et cetera.


Last edited by Daniel Michaelsson on Sun 10 May, 2009 6:32 am; edited 1 time in total
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 6:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Australian Reporting in! Big Grin
That bad boy is made of ploughs so it didn't cost him a cent (nor the rest of the bushrangers in his gang who supposedly also had armour! And being a bush ranger, you haven't got that much to spend Laughing Out Loud )
I'd imagine it was just the time, revolvers abounded, calibers and quality of bullets was better and I think it was just prefered that manovrability was more important than taking every slug (beside, armours only so good upto a particular range, or so one would think).
And effectivness? Well as said above, he didn't go down until they shot him in the knees, and apparently they got a bit freaked when he wouldn't die.
But as Ned said: "Such is Life."

Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 6:35 am    Post subject: Re: Ned Kelly's Armour         Reply with quote

Daniel Michaelsson wrote:
Ian Hutchison wrote:

Well it weighed 96lbs and even then didn't offer full protection. That's a lot of extra weight to haul around. That said, early in the American Civil War officers and even private soldiers, mainly from the union, purchased metal "bullet proof" breast plates. They were quickly abandoned.


Yeah, I can see the weight being an issue but with skilled smiths rather than amateur metalwork I reckon the weight could be significantly reduced i.e tempered steel with less material used. Also, it's very interesting about the Union armour, do you happen to know if any survive or any pictures? Thanks


Yes, I think I do have some pictures, I will have to scan them though.

EDIT: Found one on the internet:





Keep in mind, these were privately purchased so there were/are many varieties.



Also, very similar armor was used during the First World War:





and World War II:



[img][/img]

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart


Last edited by Ian Hutchison on Sun 10 May, 2009 6:43 am; edited 1 time in total
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Daniel Michaelsson




Location: Dena Lagu
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Posts: 54

PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 6:43 am    Post subject: Re: Ned Kelly's Armour         Reply with quote

Ian Hutchison wrote:



That's probably the strangest modern armour I have ever seen Eek! .

The rest of them look very well made. I'm guessing production cost was an issue as well as the weight, I'm sure they weren't made of tractor parts. Thanks for the pictures.
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Gordon Frye




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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 10:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interestingly enough, the Japanese armour was in fact rather effective, at least as far as pistol rounds go. In his book "Shots Fired in Anger", Lieutenant- Colonel John George (who was a Platoon-Leader on Guadalcanal) noted that a Thompson Submachinegun was ineffective against them due to it's .45-caliber bullets, while an M1 Carbine (as he used in Burma later in the war) would punch right through the armour. That the big, slow .45" bullets wouldn't penetrate should come as no surprise to the reader, but it certainly did to the Marines who were shooting them. On the other hand, if a .30 Carbine bullet will punch through it, a .30-06 will have absolutely no troubles encountering such armour.

Oh, I would suspect that the photo of the fellow with his rifle sloped across his shoulders is either late-19th or very early-20th Century, since the rifle in question is an 1873 Springfield "Trapdoor" rifle, or one of it's immediate descendants.

Nifty photo's, BTW, thanks!

Cheers!

Gordon

"After God, we owe our victory to our Horses"
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http://historypundit.blogspot.com/
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
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Posts: 533

PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 12:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gordon Frye wrote:


Oh, I would suspect that the photo of the fellow with his rifle sloped across his shoulders is either late-19th or very early-20th Century, since the rifle in question is an 1873 Springfield "Trapdoor" rifle, or one of it's immediate descendants.

Nifty photo's, BTW, thanks!

Cheers!

Gordon


Yes, I noticed that as well. However, both sources I found containing this image claim the armor is the "Brewster Body Shield" c.1917, a chrome nickel steel helmet and breastplate weighing 40lbs. Pure speculation, maybe the photo was taken during testing and they were firing a .45-70 at it? After all the .45-70 rifles were only retired from army service at the turn of the century and the heavy round might have been useful for testing purposes.

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Daniel Michaelsson




Location: Dena Lagu
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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 12:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote



I've just found this. It is a lot like the WWII (British?) armour Ian posted, but notice the plate greaves - must have been difficult to walk in (and I bet Ned Kelly is kicking himself in his grave for not thinking that one up Big Grin ). It's interesting to notice the cyclic nature of plate from the Lorica Segmentata to mail to plate to unarmoured to plate.

Gordon Frye wrote:
Interestingly enough, the Japanese armour was in fact rather effective, at least as far as pistol rounds go. In his book "Shots Fired in Anger", Lieutenant- Colonel John George (who was a Platoon-Leader on Guadalcanal) noted that a Thompson Submachinegun was ineffective against them due to it's .45-caliber bullets, while an M1 Carbine (as he used in Burma later in the war) would punch right through the armour.


Gordon, is the kind of armour you mean? Or yoroi?
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Yeah, I can see the weight being an issue but with skilled smiths rather than amateur metalwork I reckon the weight could be significantly reduced i.e tempered steel with less material used


Problem here I see - it seems as though thick but softer iron/steel was more effective against bullets. Thinner tempered steel may not have worked as well.

Anf 97 pounds IS a heck of a lot of weight. After all does not a Nroman era mail hauberk weigh far less and over more complete protection?

Not that one would wnat to wear mail against modern bullets, but more of a comparison as to how heavy 97 pounds is.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 5:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You'll notice Ned Kelly's armor looks a lot like the Dendra cuirass worn by Dan Howard in his avatar. You'll notice Ned and Dan are both from Australia. Coincidence? Anything you want to tell us, Dan?

Matthew
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Ian Hutchison




Location: Louisiana / Nordrhein-Westholland
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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 6:32 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
You'll notice Ned Kelly's armor looks a lot like the Dendra cuirass worn by Dan Howard in his avatar. You'll notice Ned and Dan are both from Australia. Coincidence? Anything you want to tell us, Dan?

Matthew


If so, I think Dan is going to get the worst of it for that bronze Sad

'We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.' - Adrian Carton de Wiart
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Danny Grigg





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PostPosted: Sun 10 May, 2009 8:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You can download the following book for free:

Helmets and body armor in modern warfare (1920)
by Bashford Dean

http://www.archive.org/details/helmetsbodyarmor00deanuoft


Some of the pics already posted above come from this book.


Speaking of modern body armour (civil war onwards), are there any good books on the subject with good quality photos that anyone would recommend?

Thanks

Danny.
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S White




Location: Australia
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Jun, 2009 9:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think the most salient point here on Kelly ( And I've been to his home town ) is that the reason he chose the armor made from old plough's is because his favourite book was Ivanhoe! Now that is the truth of the matter right there - he considered himself a modern day Knight. Wink

Whitey.
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Sat 13 Jun, 2009 2:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Michaelsson wrote:


Gordon Frye wrote:
Interestingly enough, the Japanese armour was in fact rather effective, at least as far as pistol rounds go. In his book "Shots Fired in Anger", Lieutenant- Colonel John George (who was a Platoon-Leader on Guadalcanal) noted that a Thompson Submachinegun was ineffective against them due to it's .45-caliber bullets, while an M1 Carbine (as he used in Burma later in the war) would punch right through the armour.


Gordon, is the kind of armour you mean? Or yoroi?


I'm not Gordon, but yes, the armor in the picture is what Gordon is talking about. And the WW2 armors in Ian's photographs too. (Notice the Japanese faces and helmets.)

As for why the armor didn't get so widely adopted for general issue, remember that people already had weapons that could easily pierce such armor since the 16th century--namely, the Spanish musket. Later general-issue smoothbore firearms were generally weaker than the musket in order to make them more convenient to carry and faster to load, but the technology to scale them back up to musket proportions was there and I strongly suspect that it would have been much cheaper to equip a large number of men with such high-powered weapons than to kit out half that number in adequate armor.
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