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Under Armor (from Old French : panciere ; from Latin : Pantex "belly") is generally understood to cover by people , vehicles , buildings or animals that provide protection against external mechanical forces acting hazards.



Tortoise - a classic example of armor in nature

The purpose of armor is to repel a force acting on the armored object - usually from the outside. Armor should provide protection against destruction by short-term, intense forces. This is mostly aimed at by a material layer of high strength that surrounds the object to be protected or the space to be protected. Protection is achieved in that the armor (protective layer) withstands the destructive force to be expected and deflects it if necessary. The resistance of the armor must be measured according to the size and type of force to be expected. The resistance results from material strength (hardness and structural stability) as well as from the structural structure (e.g. curvature). The structural build-up plays a role especially when forces act over a large area (protection against crushing); The strength of the material plays a role above all in the case of punctiform forces (e.g. projectiles).

A distinction is made, especially in the military sector, between active and passive types of armor. Passive and (re-) active armor can be combined (e.g. battle tanks that are equipped with a layer of reactive armor tiles and are thus better protected from shaped charge projectiles ).

Armouring can also exist as independent objects that are only carried by the object to be protected when required. Well-known examples of such armor are shields of warriors from historical times or protective shields of police officers, helmets , etc.


Armouring always looks for a compromise between protective effect (advantage) on the one hand and hindrance (disadvantage) on the other. In addition to the type of material used for armor, the strength and thickness of the layer in particular play a decisive role due to the load capacity limits of each material. With the same material, thicker armor offers better protection. Thicker armor also means more weight, larger dimensions, misshapeness, hindrance of freedom of movement, restriction of the sensors, etc. Neither with static objects (e.g. bunkers) nor with moving objects (e.g. armored vehicles) can the armor layer be arbitrary be thick. The restrictions on buildings are of course much lower and primarily of a spatial and economic nature. For the reasons mentioned, armor is optimized using various methods. In addition to other factors, the type and strength of the expected destructive force and the type and function of the object to be protected play a role.

Armor optimization through inclination

Inclined arrangement

For armor intended to protect against perforation, the angle of inclination of the armor in relation to the direction of the incoming force, e.g. B. a projectile is crucial. Angled armor always provides better protection with the same material thickness. This is a simple geometric principle, according to which the effective armor thickness (relative to the direction of the projectile trajectory) is greater than the physical thickness of the armor in the case of inclined armor. Another positive effect with inclined armor is the deflection effect, which, however, due to the high and concentrated energy of today's projectiles, only plays a role that cannot be neglected at impact angles from 60 °. Angled armor thus enables the protective effect to be increased against fire from the most likely directions without increasing the material thickness and thus the weight of the shell of the combat area.

The angle of inclination α is the angle between the vertical and the surface of the armor plate. Armoring that is not inclined has the angle α = 0 °. The penetration path is calculated as follows:


wherein the thickness of the armor plate is perpendicular to the surface.

The Leopard 1 has a nose plate that is 70 mm thick and inclined at 60 °. In comparison, the D-version of the Panzerkampfwagen V Panther has a 10 mm thicker front plate, which is only inclined at 55 °.

Armor applied at an angle is more or less evident, especially in military vehicles. However, with modern military objects this can also serve a further purpose, the stealth effect, namely by deflecting the incoming radar beams upwards or to the side (in order to avoid a reflection of the beams back - to the detector).

Selective / differentiated armor

Another effective type of armor optimization is the differentiation of armor depending on the hazard area and hazard direction. The armoring is carried out to a greater extent where the greatest potential danger threatens than in areas that are potentially less endangered. Under certain circumstances, less endangered areas are not armored at all; then it is partial armor. Natural armor is practically always differentiated or partial, a consequence of optimization through evolution .

Man-made armor also uses this optimization principle. For example, battle tanks are particularly heavily armored on the front, but relatively vulnerable on their upper and lower sides, as they mainly fight with the front facing the enemy. Combat helicopters and ground attack aircraft , on the other hand, are mainly armored on their underside in order to be protected against defensive fire from the ground.

Armor in nature

In nature there are many examples of armor designed to protect the vulnerable body from predators. In nature, armor often also fulfills a structural support function at the same time, as in the case of exoskeletons , e.g. B. in crustaceans or insects .

The best known natural armor are certainly the bone armor of turtles or armadillos , as well as armored lizards ( crocodiles ). The turtles have the strongest armor of all animals. The armor of the insects is less obvious . This armor is created by sclerotin and is flexible thanks to its material, chitin .

Armor by humans


In the history of man-made military armor, there has been a constant race between protection (armor) and destructive power (weapon) from its beginnings until today. New developments in armor were always followed by further developments in weapon technology that could overcome the existing armor. A classic example is the development of the English (originally Welsh) longbow , whose arrows were able to pierce iron knight armor for the first time.

With every armor there is also a means of overcoming this armor. The only question is whether these funds are available at the specific time. Since this is often not the case, armor still plays an important role in the military sector.

The lead in new armor developments in the military sector is always short-lived before the development of weapons has caught up. The development of reactive armor to protect against armor-piercing weapons with hollow charges was followed by the early development of projectiles with tandem hollow charges , which can penetrate even combined passive (armor steel) and active (reactive armor); Reactive armor has now been developed that can also be used to counter tandem shaped charges, etc.

Personal armor

Police in body armor in Washington DC (2005)

Artificial armor for human bodies used to be called armor . During the military development over the centuries, they became increasingly effective and complex, for example as plate armor or chain mail .

With the advent and spread of firearms , against which armaments initially offered no appreciable protection, armaments very quickly lost their importance. However, this has changed in the course of the twentieth century with the development of new materials and techniques, for example the so-called Kevlar vest (bullet-resistant vest ).

Today, helmets and protective vests are mainly used.

Vehicle armor

There are different areas of application for vehicle armor in order to counteract the various dangers.

A distinction is made between asymmetrical and symmetrical warfare. The Stanag 4569 is currently being developed from the experience of NATO's involvement in the war .

These include conventional projectile-forming charges (EFP) and anti-tank mines in asymmetric warfare today . Also various unconventional explosive devices and incendiary devices (IED / IED) threats to people, vehicles or the more dangerous improvised 155 mm grenades and the new improvised EFP, all of which detonated on average in the close range of 0.5 and 2 meters below or next to the vehicles become. In addition, projectiles from assault rifles 7.62 mm from 10 meters and heavy machine guns up to 14.5 mm from 50 meters (40mmHHA) an average distance. Sufficient armor thicknesses of up to 60 mm HHA equivalence are used against these threats , e.g. B. in the boxer , which also offers greater protection from the front.

Lighter protected vehicles like the German Dingo 2 and AMPV other hand protect up to 26 mm H igh H ard A (kg 50 TNTa) rmour equivalence against the most common threats, anti-tank mines, any ammunition 7.62 mm and against suicide bombers in full Scope. Car bombs and 12.7 mm heavy machine guns at greater than average distances in small amounts. 155 mm HE fragmentation grenades penetrate up to 60mm at 2 meters, 30mm at 40 meters and up to 15mm HHA at 1,000 meters.

Another asymmetrical threat is RPG from 25 meters, which are fought in the weight classes by active close-range and long-range countermeasures, see e.g. B. AMAP as well as reactive armor. Remote detonated bombs are z. B. tried to suppress electronically.

There are also symmetrical threats such as anti-tank guided weapons (PALR) at 100 meters, artillery, automatic cannons at 200 meters and main battle tanks at an average distance of 500 meters against which armor of up to well over 1000 mm RHA is used. In the near future, lasers will represent an additional protective measure in addition to metals, ceramics, Kevlar, aramid, Dyneema and glass fiber, etc.

Armor on civil vehicles

Armor on military vehicles and aircraft

In order to hazards such as explosive rounds , Quetschkopfgeschosse , shaped charges or tandem shaped charges counteract created different armor systems. The so-called basic armor, i.e. ballistic protection and thus passive, include:

To increase the armor of existing vehicles or light tanks, the following additional armor was developed:

In the Navy:

In the artillery:

Building protection

Tanks are the parts of roller shutters or roller doors that are lowered or the opening closes.

Armouring in metal technology

In metal technology, armoring refers to the application of an additional layer of material to the workpiece . This is usually used to protect wear parts from wear. Typical application is build-up welding on the teeth of an excavator shovel or on armored conveyors (colloquially for chain scraper conveyor).

See also

The word tank also expresses stability and durability in general; so it comes in words like Beagle Boys , safe , armor-piercing or duct tape before.


  • Tom Clancy: Armored Cavalry. The associated American armored units. Heyne, Munich 2000, ISBN 978-3-453-15541-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. Peter Boßdorf: Press Reviews: Laser weapons offer precision and minimize collateral damage. Interview. In: Retrieved January 15, 2017 .
  2. ProPress Verlagsgesellschaft mbH: Congress - Home. In: Retrieved January 15, 2017 .
  3. Matador Model's 1/76 Gruson 5.3cm L / 24 Fahrpanzer (English) - page at Landships ; As of June 5, 2011