Research: World War I helmets protect against explosions as well as modern

And in some cases even better.

Photo from PLOS One Magazine

The helmets used by soldiers during World War I protect against artillery explosions as well as modern helmets. And the old-style French helmets cope with this even better than the current ones. This is stated in a study published in the scientific journal PLOS One.

The authors compared the effectiveness of modern helmets with the very first predecessors that appeared in the First World War. It turned out that both old and new helmets are equally well protected from the blast wave.

As noted on Gizmodo, contrary to popular misconception , most of the deaths in World War I were caused not by automatic weapons, but by artillery. Most often, soldiers died either from shrapnel or from irreversible head injuries causing death.

At the same time, at the beginning of the First World War, soldiers did not wear helmets: then the military did not yet know what damage modern weapons could cause. However, it soon became clear that the heads of the soldiers needed to be protected and the warring countries began to arm the soldiers with steel helmets. The first were the French, followed by the British and Germans.

According to research, it was the first French helmet M15 Adrian showed himself in the tests best. He coped especially well with protection against shock waves, both in comparison with other helmets of the First World War, and in comparison with modern counterparts.

Helmet M15 Adrian  Photo Casque de Marcel Hébrard

For testing, the authors used an artificial head with pressure sensors, which were subjected to shock waves of different intensities. To simulate the explosion of an artillery shell of the First World War, the researchers used a pipe with helium, which was passed through a membrane under pressure.

Helmets were tested in explosions of different strengths and distances from one to five meters. Shock waves created directly above the head: usually this is how shells exploded in battle over trenches. At the same time, the study did not take into account improvised explosive devices, from which soldiers more often died in modern conflicts, for example, in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The authors of the study concluded that 100-year-old helmets still show excellent performance as protection against shock waves. In their opinion, the French found a particularly effective design: the M15 Adrian showed the lowest chance of bleeding after a shock wave – this will improve modern helmets.

A likely reason for the effectiveness of the French helmet is the crest on the top of the helmet, which shares the shock wave and reflects the explosion.

co-author of a study in a conversation with Gizmodo

At the same time, scientists do not consider modern helmets worse than 100-year-old predecessors. According to them, they protect against bullets of pistols and rifles much better than old helmets.

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