US 3331083 A
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Description (OCR text may contain errors)
Jufiy 18, 1967 M. K. HOLLY 3,331,083
LEG PROTECTIVE ARMOR SYSTEM 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Filed Feb. 23, 1966 July 18, 1967 M. K. HOLLY 3,331,083
LEG PROTECTIVE ARMOR SYSTEM 2 Sheets-Sheet 2 Filed Feb. 25, 1966 United States Patent Army Filed Feb. 23, 1966, Ser. No. 531,330 14 Ciaims. (Cl. 2-2.5)
This invention relates to an armor system designed and constructed to protect the legs of the wearer from ballistic projectiles and fragments, and, more particularly, to a leg armor system of sufiicient weight and thickness to resist penetration by small arms projectiles.
Recent experiences have shown that low performance aircraft operating at low altitudes in combat areas have become the target of an increasing amount of small arms fire from the ground. The expression small arms as used herein refers to hand-held weapons capable of firing ammunition up to and including .30 caliber ammunition. The increase in ground fire activity against such aircraft is due perhaps to a recognition of the vulnerability of its operating personnel to small caliber weapons. Such craft do not carry protective armor and fragment protective vests heretofore worn by the operating personnel are incapable of stopping small arms projectiles. Helicopters, which characteristically fly at relatively slow speeds and at low altitudes, and frequently land in areas of active combat to deliver or pick up men and material, are, for these reasons, not infrequently exposed to intense ground fire. It is not feasible to provide such light aircraft with armor because the added weight would seriously effect the performance of the aircraft and the presence of armor would otherwise interfere with the operating effectiveness of the aircraft by limiting visibility, etc. With the foregoing in mind, it has been proposed that body armor be provided for the individual members of the aircraft to provide the desired level of protection against small caliber weapons. However, state of the art armor materials capable of defeating small arms projectiles weigh approximately 20 lbs. per square foot. Because of the weight involved, it is essential that body armor and particularly leg armor to which this invention is directed be designed to provide maximum coverage or protection with a minimum of armor material, and that it be designed and constructed so as to be worn with a minimum of discomfort, so as to require a minimum expenditure of energy on the part of the wearer, and at the same time permit substantially normal leg movements. In addition, it is desirable that a leg armor system be provided with means which permit rapid dofling in an emergency. While the leg armor system of this invention is particularly suitable for use by personnel in aircraft, it may also be used to advantage by personnel traveling in unarmored land or water-borne vehicles.
It is therefore an object of this invention to provide an armor system to shield the legs of a human body from small arms projectiles, which system can be carried by the wearer with comfort, will permit substantially normal leg movements, and which can, if necessary, be rapidly removed by the wearer thereof.
Other objects, advantages, features and capabilities of this invention will become apparent to those skilled in the art from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings in which:
FIGURE 1 is a front elevational view of an individual wearing the leg armor assembly of this invention;
FIGURE 2 is a side view of an individual wearing the armor system of FIGURE 1 in a sitting position;
FIGURE 3 is an elevational View from the rear showing the leg armor of FIGURE 1;
FIGURE 4 is a fragmentary view of a modified weight transfer means; and
FIGURE 5 is a detailed view of the strap fastening mechanism employed in the armor system.
The leg armor system of this invention comprises pivotally-connected upper and lower leg armor sections or plates for each leg, means to fasten said sections to the leg, and means which function to transmit or transfer at least a portion of the weight of the armor to the surface beneath the feet of the wearer. This latter is a necessary element because the weight of armor capable of providing protection against small arms fire is such as to quickly fatigue or cause discomfort to the wearer thereof. The weight of the armor sections will depend, of course, on the type of armor material used and the degree of protection desired, i.e., whether it is desired to have or some lesser degree of resistance to penetration by a particular fragment or missile traveling at a certain velocity. Since the armor used in this system is primarily intended to resist penetration by small arms fire, it must necessarily be relatively thick and heavy as compared with fragment protective armor even when using the best of the state-of-the-art materials. Such armor must of necessity have a V ballistic limit of at least 2800 feet per second for .30 caliber ball and A.P. projectiles. Suitable armor materials which may be used include, for example, carbon steels, ceramic faced fiberglass composites and titanium alloys, such as, a ternary alloy of titanium, containing 6% aluminum and 4% vanadium.
As illustrated in FIGURE 1, the upper and lower armor sections on each leg completely shield the front aspect of each leg from vicinity of the ankle to a point high on the front of the thigh above the crotch of the wearer. These sections are curved so as to extend around each leg almost completely covering the sides of the leg, as shown in FIGURE 2.
In more detail, the lower leg armor section 10 extends from the ankle of the wearer to a point above the knee and completely covers the front of the knee when the wearer is standing or seated. This section may be shaped in any manner so as to cover or enclose the front and sides of the lower limb, as for example, a longitudinal half-section of a hollow circular cylinder, but is preferably shaped, as shown in the drawing, in the form of a longitudinal half-section of a hollow truncated cone with the larger radius end at the knee and the smaller radius end at the ankle. This particular shape is preferred because it results in a more compact, tight-fitting design and requires a minimum amount of material to accomplish its purpose with a resultant saving in weight. Each of the lower armor sections is held in place against the lower limb of the wearer by means of separate flexible adjustable straps 11 and 12 which are spaced apart and extend around the back of the leg from one side of the armor section to the opposite side. Each of straps 11 and 12 is fastened at one end thereof to the inboard side of the armor section and the opposite or free ends have attached thereto, as shown in FIGURE 5, links 13 having offset pins 14 integral therewith, each pin is adapted to be inserted and frictionally retained within a socket 116 located on clips 15 permanently attached to the outboard side of the armor section. The free end of the strap is fastened to the outboard side of the armor by inserting the pin 14 downwardly into the socket 16. The pins on the armor section are connected by means of a common cord 17 having at the upper end thereof a tab 18. A sharp pull in an upward direction on the tab 18 accomplishes a substantially simultaneous withdrawal of the pins on that particular armor section freeing the straps and the armor section from the leg.
The upper leg armor section 20, as with the lower armor section 10, may be in the form of a longitudinal half-section of a hollow circular cylinder or other shape to cover the front and sides of the thigh, but is preferably in the form of a longitudinal half-section of a hollow truncated cone with the larger radius end at the upper end of the thigh and the smaller radius end near the knee. This section curves upwardly along its longitudinal axis at its upper end 21 to provide protection as high on the front of the thigh as possible while not interfering with bending movements or comfort in a standing or sitting position. The lower'end 22 of the upper section 20 fits within lower section and is pivotally joined thereto by means of pivot pins 23 and 24. In a standing position, the lowermost end 22 of the upper armored section extends below the top of the lower section 10. The location of the pivot and design of the upper section allows this section to be rotated rearwardly with respect to the lower sections so that the upper section continues to lie fiat against the thigh of the wearer. As illustrated in FIGURE 1, the upper section of the leg armor is held in place against the thigh of the wearer by straps attached to a harness that is worn about the waist. The harness designated generally by 30 consists of a heavy cloth belt 31 or girdle drawn about the waist and fastened in front of the wearer by means of a buckle 32 or by a nylon hook and pile fastener of the type shown in US. Patent No. 2,717,437. Adjustable straps 33 attached to the front of the harness are connected to the top edge 21 of the upper armor sections and serve to carry part of the weight of the armor and to hold the upper armor fiat against the thigh. The connection between the straps and the armor is accomplished by means of a quick-release mechanism 34 similar to that described in connection with the straps used to secure the lower leg armor sections. A second pair of straps 35 are attached to the harness and extend around the body of the wearer and downwardly to engage the sides of the upper armored section. Straps 35 as shown in FIGURE 3 are attached at opposite sides of the harness over the hips of the wearer and are drawn back and downwardly crossing behind the wearer and around the leg to the side of the upper armored section. The free ends of straps 35 are attached to the upper armor sections by the same type of quick-release assembly as employed with straps 33. On each leg the pins holding straps 33 and 35 to the upper armor section are connected by means of a common cord 36 which when drawn will release the pins, freeing the upper armor section from the restraint of the straps.
The harness means described, in addition to functioning to secure the upper armored sections to the legs, also carries a portion of the load of the armor transferring it to the hips of the wearer and relieving the legs of some of the encumbering effects of the armor during walking. This latter function is quite important in walking movements since the weight of the armor would otherwise be completely carried by the moving limb.
An essential element of this invention is the presence of weight transfer means attached to each of the lower armored sections and extending downwardly therefrom which serve to transfer at least a portion of the weight of the armored sections to the surface supporting the wearer. The leg armor for each leg will weigh in excess of twenty pounds even with this design which provides maximum protection with a minimum of material. Such a load, however, cannot be carried in either a standing or a sitting position for any length of time without adversely affecting the wearer thereof. The fatigue and discomfort that would result from such an inordinate weight burden would greatly diminish the effectiveness and mobility of the wearer and would motivate the wearer to shed the armor when it became uncomfortable. This same weight, however, can be carried easily and comfortably if means are provided which will transfer all or a portion of the weight burden from the legs of the wearer to the surface supporting the wearer. Such weight transfer means way between the rear edge and the front of this section,
i.e., substantially centered along the side of the section. The length of the bar extending below the section may be adjusted to fit the individual by selection of the appropriate openings in the armor section which are aligned 1 with openings in the bar and fixed in position by means of bolts 43 passing through the aligned openings. The weight transfer means is adjusted so that both it and the foot of the wearer will contact the ground surface, thereby transferring the weight of the upper and lower armored sections to the ground surface and still permitting normal walking movements. Even in a sitting position the weight of the lower armored section and some of the weight of the upper section would be transferred to the surface beneath the wearers foot. Attached to the lowermost end of each of the weight transfer bars is a wheel 42 which extends below the bar and actually makes contact with the ground surface. The wheel as shown in the drawing has a wide circular band or bearing surface 44 and a solid back wall 45 and is attached to the support bar by a bolt 46 and the lock nut 47. A slot 48 in the back wall of the wheel permits further vertical adjustment of the weight transfer means since can be locked to the bar at any point along the slot. The curved surface of the wheels prevents snagging and also permits the armor to pivot smoothly during leg bending movements.
Another version of the weight transfer means, illustrated in FIGURE 4, consists of a strong, one piece, metal wire frame designated generally by Stlwhich extends around the front of the lower armored section, and has an upward loop 51 in the front center thereof which is held in a fixed position with respect to armor by means of a threaded adjustment screw 52. The wire frame extends downwardly on each side of the armor at about the center line of the side aspect thereof and passes through retainer clips 53 riveted to the armored section and terminates in a curved rocket 54 which makes contact with the ground. The radius of curvature of the outside edge or bearing surface 55 of the rocker 54 is quite large and averages out to more than 12 inches so as to permit a gradual rotation of the lower armored section about its pivot point on the ground surface during knee pivoting and bending movements and also to facilitate walking or other movements over the ground surface since the curved bearing surface will be able to glide or at least pivot to a certain extent over the surface. This particular version of the weight transfer means has an advantage in that a single adjustment will control the spacing of both rockers below the armor on each side thereof.
In FIGURE 5 there is shown an adjustable strap 60, which lies across the foot 61 of the wearer and is attached at either end thereof to each of the downward extensions of the weight transfer means. In walking movements, this Strap serves to lift and carry some of the weight of the armor.
It can be seen, therefore, that the leg armor system of this invention will protect the front and substantially all of the side aspects of the legs from small arms pro jectiles traveling at or near muzzle velocity, 'andthat despite its heavy weight can be worn without causing undue fatigue and without interfering with leg move ments. In addition, it is possible by merely pulling on two tabs to release all straps holding the armor sections to the leg of the wearer.
The foregoing description is illustrative only, and it will be understood that various changes in the details, materials, steps and arrangement of parts, which have the wheel been herein described and illustrated in order to explain the nature of the invention, may be made by those skilled in the art within the principle and scope of the invention as expressed in the appended claims.
1. An armor system to shield the legs of a human body from ballistic projectiles and fragments, comprising for each leg a lower armored section shielding the frontal aspect of the lower leg from the ankle to a point above the knee,
an upper armored section shielding the frontal aspect of the thigh, extending from a point below and within the top of said lower section to the upper portion of the thigh, and pivotally connected to said lower section for flexing of said sections about the knee area whereby the upper section remains substantially flat on the thigh when the knee is flexed, and
weight transfer means attached to said lower section and extending downwardly therefrom to engage the surface upon which the wearer is standing whereby at least a portion of the weight of said upper and lower armored sections is borne by said surface.
2. An armor system according to claim 1 wherein said weight transfer means extends downwardly from each side of each of said lower sections.
3. An armor system according to claim 2 wherein the lowermost end of said weight transfer means terminates in a curved rocker means that extend in a direction substantially parallel with the longitudinal axis of the foot whereby said rocker means remains in contact with the surface when the knees of the wearer are flexed.
4. An armor system according to claim 3 wherein said weight transfer means is of unitary construction and is adjustably attached to the front of said lower section to permit upward or downward adjustment of said means.
5. An armor system according to claim 3 wherein said weight transfer means comprises independent rigid bar members adjustably fixed to and extending downwardly from either side of said lower section.
6. An armor system according to claim 1 wherein said lower and upper armored sections are provided with means to fasten the sections to the leg of the wearer.
7. An armor system according to claim 6 wherein said fastening means comprises flexible straps extending from one side of the armor section around the back of the leg of the wearer to the opposite side of the armor section.
8. An armor system according to claim 7 wherein said straps are releasably fastened on one side of said upper and lower armor sections by means of a quick-release assembly consisting of a pin mounted on the end of each of said straps for insertion in sockets mounted on said side of said armor sections.
9. An armor system according to claim 8 wherein the pins used to releasably fasten straps on each leg armor section are connected to a common release means where by substantially simultaneous withdrawal of all of the pins on said leg may be accomplished with said common release means.
10. An armor system according to claim 1 including a single harness means which encircles and is adjustable so as to tightly fit around the waist of the wearer, said harness means having a pair of straps extending downwardly therefrom to the top of each of said upper sections and releasably fastened thereto to partially support the weight of the armored sections.
11. An armor system according to claim 10 having an additional pair of straps attached to said harness means, said additional straps being capable of extending around at least a portion of the body of the wearer in opposite directions and downwardly to engage the outer sides of said upper armored sections to hold said sections against the thighs of the wearer.
12. An armor system according to claim 1 wherein said lower and upper armored sections are formed substantially in the shape of longitudinal-half sections of hollow, truncated cones.
13. An armor system according to claim 12 wherein the smaller radius end of the upper section extends downwardly and into the larger radius end of the lower section.
14. An armor system according to claim 1 wherein said armored sections have a V ballistic limit of at least 2800 feet per second for .30 caliber ball and A.P. projectiles.
References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 1/1917 Boucher 2-2.5 8/1920 Brewster 22.5