After an October 1942 report revealed that 70% of mortal wounds were caused by low-velocity projectiles, Wilkinson Sword company of the UK designed the original “flak vest”. The canvas vest was lined with overlapping square steel plates to allow maximum flexibility and protection in deadly skies over Europe. Should the situation demanded bailing out, pulling a central bright red ripcord instantly jettisoned the entire ensemble from the wearer. Although the Wilkinson vests immediately began saving lives, production proved very slow and adoption of a US mass-produced flak vest was made in October 1943. By January 1944 enough suits were available to equip all heavy bombardment groups in the ETO, and by May were in general use in the Mediterranean areas.
This museum-quality replica painstakingly copies every detail of the original. Nearly 500 individual plates are sewn into their own internal cloth retention pocket. Weighing in at only 6.5 pounds fully armored, rigid composite plates provide the same scale-like texture and look of the original at only 1/3rd the weight. This is ideal for reenactors, mannequin displays, and film use where the full 25-pound weight is detrimental.
The economy version flak vest has a semi-flexible composite sheet liner that easily molds around the wearers body while providing a similar semi-rigid look and feel of an original (8lbs fully amoured). A full weight steel plated vest can be special ordered upon request.
The “Wilkinson Sword” version features color matched drab brown canvas, soft white corduroy backing, and nickel plated hardware. Complete with the bright red felt ripcord to eject the vest and characteristic "Broad Arrow" stamp. The more heavily reinforced US version features mid war OD green canvas, subdued release tapes, and blackened hardware, complete with spec nomenclature tags and weight stamps. Each component can also be ordered individually.
Standard: Composite plates
Seated position: Armored chest & tapered apron, unarmored back: $325
Standing position: Armored chest & back, rectangular apron: $397
Economy - Flexible composite sheet liner:
Seated position: Armored chest and tapered apron, unarmored back: $199
Standing position: Armored chest & back, rectangular apron: $189
Premium: flak vests with full weight steel plates: special order only. Email for more information.
Email to order
Wilkinson Sword Version:
US Produced Version