Dead Stock / Unissued Vietnam Era Ground Troops Variable Body Armor Vest. This is one of the rarest pieces of flak protection from Vietnam.
In 1965, following the successful production of small arms protective body armor for aircrews, in Vietnam, Natick Labs began developing bullet-proof armor for infantry soldiers. The result was a nylon felt vest that could be worn by itself for protection against missile fragments, but that also allowed armor plates to be inserted to upgrade protection to small arms fire ( including 30 calibre bullets). The front and back ceramic / fiberglass composite plates also had integral webbing carriers that enabled them to be worn independently of the vest.
The variable body armor was tested by the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam between january and March 1967 and though it was far to heavy for foot mobile operations it was recommended for personal engaged in convoy escort duty and motorized patrols. Approx. 28,000 sets were sent to Vietnam, by the start of 1970. But very few were actually delivered to the troops.
This vest has only been taken out of the original box to photograph. It has never been put on a body. Dated 1969 and is a medium-long. Also has the original issue booklet with it.
This is the first one of these rare vest that we have ever handled.