The Brewster Body Shield, World War I

Today soldiers of most modern military forces don body armor, typically made of artificial materials such a kevlar and ballistic ceramics which are feather light in weight, but are several times stronger than steel.  With the advancement of gunpowder warfare most European armies stopped using armor by the early 18th century as firearm technology outpaced the protective abilities of armor.  However in the trenches of World War I, the idea of wearing body armor made a comeback as deadly artillery and mortar shrapnel claimed many lives.  Nations on both sides developed their own armor, issuing pieces on a limited basis to the troops.  The most prolific were the Germans, who created a nickle silicon cuirass called the “infantriepanzer”, which was issued to static units such as machine gunners and sentries. In the UK and France there were dozens of companies which produced lightweight armor from high strength textiles such as silk and kapok (a high strength cotton-like material), which were woven together in layers and coated with resin.  Such textile armors, a prelude to later kevlar vests, were often effective in protecting a soldier from shrapnel, but could not stop a bullet.

Then there was the Brewster Body Shield.  Invented by the American Dr. Guy Brewster, the Brewster Body Shield didn’t use all those fancy smanzy lightweight materials such a silicon, silk, kapok, and resins.  No, the Brewster Body Shield was made from solid chrome nickel steel.  The large cuirass piece adequately covered the chest, abdomen, and groin while the head was protected by a large cone obelisk shaped helmet.  A view port was cut out of the helmet so the soldier could see, although a pair of rotating plates could cover the viewport for added protection.  Unfortunately, the soldiers legs and arms were left unprotected. The armor only covered over the front portion of the body, while the back was left exposed.

The Brewster Body Shield was effective, damn effective.  In fact, after US Army testing it was found that the Brewster armor could deflect bullets from a Lewis light machine gun.  Dr. Brewster himself demonstrated the armor to the Army by personally wearing a suit while a squad of soldiers riddled him with bullets. At the end of the demonstration, Dr. Brewster declared the each bullet only hit with, “one tenth the shock which he experienced when struck by a sledge-hammer.”

While Dr. Brewster’s armor was effectively bullet proof, it was also impractical.  At 40 lbs the armor was heavy, but that was the least of its problems.  The armor was inflexible, the soldier wearing it could not bend down or twist at the hips and torso.  The soldier also could not turn his head, and was limited to a narrow view at the forward.  Running with the armor was difficult, diving and other evasive maneuvers were impossible.  It was also very difficult to fire a rifle because of the armor’s slopped design, making it impossible to hold the butt of a rifle against one’s shoulder.  Fortunately, Dr. Brewster’s armor was never adopted by the US Army, and never saw combat.

Another piece Pseudo-functionalism.
The Mosin Nagants are a nice touch.