0

The two pertinent words are easy enough to understand:

  • suit: thing that covers people or maybe animals, like clothes
  • armour: surface which by design is hard to penetrate and so protects what's inside.

But the thing that has me feeling uncertain is that google images or whatever of "suit of armor" shows some ridiculous ancient clattery thing which I cannot picture in use on a modern-day battlefield. Can you describe what these men are wearing as a suit of armor?

Call of Duty

6
  • 3
    "Suit of armour" always does refer to the traditional "clattery thing" of centuries past. Modern armour is more likely to be referred to as "body armour."
    – Showsni
    Jun 14 '19 at 11:56
  • @Showsni so the men on my picture are wearing body armour then. You wouldn't describe that as a suit of armour?
    – OmarL
    Jun 14 '19 at 11:59
  • 1
    I don't believe soldiers in World War 2 generally wore armour at all, beyond a helmet and perhaps a flak jacket. Certainly not a suit of armour. If the pictured soldiers are wearing flak jackets I would call that body armour, but I don't think that was the norm.
    – Showsni
    Jun 14 '19 at 12:06
  • 1
    I think what the men in the picture are wearing is known as "battledress" and it does not include armor beyond the helmet. Jun 14 '19 at 12:51
  • 1
    @Wilson this is moe a question for a military history forum, but most WWII soldiers did not wear anything that protected from bullets or even shrapnel. There were several reasons for that, but largely because anything providing effective protection would have been so heavy as to preclude effective action. This is why trenches and dugouts were so popular in WW1 and 2. Kevlar had not yet been developed. Flack jackets had, but significantly reduced mobility, & endurance and would not stop bullets, only shrapnel. It is also why tanks could be decisive. Jun 14 '19 at 13:04
1

There are many kinds of armor. As a general term, it refers to anything worn to protect the body against violent injury. Up until the middle ages, armor came in pieces that protected the most vulnerable parts of the body -- the chest, head and waist, and sometimes the arms and lower legs. As an example, this ancient Greek hoplite armor:

enter image description here

This can be referred to as a "suit" of armor, as the various pieces are fairly standard. However, most of the time the phrase refers to something that looks like this:

enter image description here

After the invention of gunpowder, this kind of "full plate armor" became ineffective and fell out of use. For a while, certain soldiers (such as the French Musketeer or the Spanish Tercio) still wore a metal helmet and a cuirass, with perhaps some arm protection, because they could expect to engage in hand-to-hand combat.

enter image description here

Again, this outfit could be called a "suit" of armor ... but because it's little more than clothing, and professional armies like these wore outfits that all looked the same, today we would call a uniform.

Long story short: The men in your picture are wearing uniforms. Aside from the metal helmet, they are not wearing armor as such. The distinctive shape of this helmet identifies them as American General Infantry (GI) soldiers, most likely from World War II.

The modern soldier naturally also wears a helmet, but in addition they wear a kind of armor, consisting of ceramic plates inserted into a Kevlar vest. There are many variations on the design:

enter image description here

This would not be called a "suit" of armor, but rather part of the soldiers uniform, or part of the uniform's accessories. In general, each military service has a specific name/abbreviation for the whole ensemble (the uniform and all its accessories).

Side note: In a military context, "armor" usually refers to "armored vehicles" like tanks. Armor that is worn is referred to as "body armor". Specialized military and police units can wear "full body armor" that (more or less) protects their entire body, but this is considered too heavy/bulky for normal combat operations.

2

All it means is that the armour isn't just one bit, it's the full package. A suit of armour is head to toe. Usually, it's refers to medieval type. Here is an example. I'm not sure why you were having an issue with googling it! Here is a wiki link you may also find useful.

1

I think the reason you cannot picture a "suit of armor" being used on a modern battlefield is that suits of armor are not used on modern battlefields.

Certainly there can be armored items - a tank is an armored vehicle, for instance and there can be armored vests and so on - but suits of armor haven't been used in real battles in centuries.

2
  • 1
    Also, the use of armour considerably pre-dates American spelling. Jun 14 '19 at 12:29
  • 1
    @Michael Harvey it predates English in any form, as the image of the hoplite above suggests. The spelling without the U is how a US writer would describe a person from the 12th century, or the 3rd century BCE wearing protective gear of whatever kind. And the U is an innovation in English spelling, compared to combat armor of an early type, say the year of Hastings.. Jun 14 '19 at 20:40

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .