WW I helmets as good as modern counterparts

During the test, a French helmet is beneath the shock tube.
During the test, a French helmet is beneath the shock tube.
Photo: Joost Op 't Eynde, Duke University
It stands to reason that army equipment of today is far more sophisticated than, say, the equipment of World War I. But there is an exception.

     Scientists say that helmets worn by soldiers today aren't better at protecting the brain from shock waves created by nearby blasts than helmets worn during the First World War. And the French World War I helmet performed better than modern counterparts in protecting from overhead blasts, according to researchers at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering
     The researchers created a system to test the performance of World War I helmets from the United Kingdom, United States, France and Germany, along with  a current U.S. combat variant. They put various helmets on a dummy’s head "outfitted with pressure sensors at various locations," according to a news release from Duke. "They then placed the head directly underneath a shock tube, which was pressurized with helium until a membrane wall burst, releasing the gas in a shock wave. The helmets were tested with shock waves of varying strength, each corresponding to a different type of German artillery shell exploding from a distance of one to five meters away."
       All helmets provided a five-to-tenfold reduction in risk for moderate brain bleeding, according to Duke. But, "the risk for someone wearing a circa-1915 French Adrian helmet was less than for any of the other helmets tested, including the modern advanced combat helmet."
     Joost Op ‘t Eynde, a biomedical engineering doctoral student at Duke and co-author of the study, explained that the design of the French helmet, which had a crest on top of its crown, might have contributed to its ability to deflect shock waves. 

     To know more:


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