Armour (also spelled armor in American English), is protective plates or clothing meant to shield a human from intentionally inflicted harm. Armour has been in use for all recorded history, beginning with hides, leather, bone, progressing to bronze, steel, ballistic cloth , ceramics, and depleted uranium. Armour has been primarily a way to protect oneself from harm in combat and military engagements.
Armour, historically, was used to refer to any heavily armoured unit (heavy infantry/cavalry vs. light infantry/cavalry.)
In European history, common armour types were the lorica segmentata, the chainmail hauberk, the gambeson and later the full steel plate armour used by late medieval knights. In feudal Japan, laquer ed odoshi armour, a form of lamellar, was popular.
See plate armour.
All different parts of the human body have been fitted with specialized armour pieces, and an extensive nomenclature has grown up around this. The head and face is covered by a helmet (with the face protection sometimes being a visor), hand and fingers by gauntlets, the neck by a gorget, the chest by a breastplate , the lower legs by greaves, and so on. Often different armour pieces will cover overlapping parts of the body, as different materials and developments in armour made for shifting fashions.
Modern personal armour
Today, bullet proof vests made of ballistic cloth (e.g Kevlar) and ceramic or metal plates are common among police forces, security staff and in some branches of the military. For infantry applications, lighter protection is often used to protect soldiers from grenade fragments and indirect effects of bombardment , but usually not small arms fire. This is because the increased protection would be too cumbersome and heavy to use in combat.
- Medieval Armour and its History