Explosive Testing of Boots - Making them safer

Discussion in 'Military Clothing & Boots' started by This_Tribe_Rob, Aug 15, 2011.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. This_Tribe_Rob

    This_Tribe_Rob Sponsor

    Ben from This Tribe has taken a keen interest on how to improve equipment safety and last week this led him to Imperial Blast, a team in Imperial College London who blow up boots and lower legs for a living. The research they've done has shown significant differences in the protection offered by existing mil boots (they've most recently been testing Meindls) and they believe that a lot more can be done to help protect the GS foot from (under vehicle) explosive blasts.

    If anyone has been involved in related studies or would like to comment then we'd like to hear from you.

    Ben's blog post (from the new This Tribe blog)

  2. Call me naive but what protection does a pair of boots give you when your knees are being forced through your skull?

    Regarding boot design a key thing for me is a grippy sole and a heel. Vibram seem to be cornering the market at the moment. A good structure to the outer sole and a grippy rubber compound, especially on wet rock for example.

    Good luck with your research.
  3. Not much.

    But for the many poor ******* with compound fractures of the heel and ankle - maybe quite a lot....
  4. This_Tribe_Rob

    This_Tribe_Rob Sponsor

    You may as well ask a motorcyclist what protection his boots might offer when he slams head on into a car at 120. The answer of course is sweet FA. However if he survives the impact / misses the car, then he hopes that his gucci leathers, gloves and boots are not just fashion accessories, but hold him together until he gets to hospital, minimise the damage and don't actually cause damage. The same holds with military protective clothing. An improvement could be as simple as removing metal eyelets that turn into shrapnel.
  5. Grumblegrunt

    Grumblegrunt LE Book Reviewer

    great idea and well done - but surely nothing will deal with percussive shock shattering the limbs like the vid clip though will it? unless they can make a stabilised rigid armour.

    I wonder if you could make something opposite to the cornflour type stuff they are making body armour out of. Didnt someone do a thing where they slung bottled water under the vehicle to see if will disperse the shock like when that crazy explosives geezer we have (sidney allford) blew up his concrete swimming pool. bit like reactive armour going bang to stop hesh rounds.

    how about chivers jelly - thats rigid till you smack it with a cricket bat?

    daft I know but you get the idea :)
  6. Best of luck with your research.

    The current development of motorcycle boots, and this is in relation to top of the range motocross and road racing lower limb armour is the exo-skeleton type arrangement.These system tends not to be limited to just the foot and especially when it involves extreme sport such as the Dakar/desert racers ( for example ) the system continues up the leg incorporating the knee in a full brace and protector and then futher up onto the lower to mid thigh.Various areas have been identified over the years as critical injury points and these have been concentrated on, rather than trying to completely armour the lower limb.

    Effectively you have a full shock absorbing brace that greatly assists the correct articulation of the lower limb in a smash, ranging from mid thigh to the sole of the foot.

    They are lightweight, very strong,articulate well and surprisingly comfy .....however, they were never designed or expected to be used for extended walking off the bike.I can testify to their effectivness, having had a couple of big tumbles off road and survived intact ( mostly )

    Forcefield ( TM )

    This is another take on the armour problem that had been addressed by a British company that makes the forcefield armour, it is a multi-layer setup of very well ventilated, body forming, lightweight layers of a reactive type foam rubber....it stiffens on impact and spreads the force over a far greater area.As stated, this armour is soft and pliable rather than rigid and hard. I have used this armour when travelling in the Australian Outback in summer and North Africa and it is the only armour that can be worn comfortably in high temperatures that I have used.( also the only armour that can be re-used after a smash that i know of )

    This is Just food for thought, as motorcycling is obviously a mile apart from what the military are faced with, being designed for blunt/sharp high impacts rather than ballistic threat.
  7. There was something about this in Soldier Magazine this month.
  8. I remember people used to question the sanity of a small ceramic plate on the body armour we were issued in NI. But for the guy who was hit smack on the plate by the round from an M16 it made all the difference.

    Keep up the research, I hope you get good results and that they are rapidly introduced.
  9. Why add stuff to the boot when you can add to the vehicle?
  10. This_Tribe_Ben

    This_Tribe_Ben Sponsor

    I've already run this idea past the team at Imperial College. It's outside the area of their study, but unless anyone can highlight any dangers associated with this approach I would certainly recommend using any (ideally non-flamable) material that can provide some reduction in the shock effect to the foot. This could be as simple as cutting up spare cardboard and adding a layer (if there is enough cardboard and space in the vehicle footwell). Or spare gym matting etc.

    We're also very interested in design improvements that could mitigate the effects of blast for dismounted infantry too.

    Thanks for all comments so far - keep 'em coming!
  11. Before anyone considers doing this somewhere dangerous, I would definitely recommend NOT doing this.

    Trying to mitigate the effects of shock is a dangerous business, and if you get it wrong, it is entirely possible to amplify the effect seen by the human body.
  12. This_Tribe_Ben

    This_Tribe_Ben Sponsor

    Fair enough. I'm certainly not claiming that any DIY solution is better than nothing! There is work being done which suggests that sacrificial and/or absorbent materials can help in many circumstances. For example see slide 9 of this presentation on Protecting Soldiers. While an optimal solution certainly requires careful material selection and design, I think ooooh matron's point is worth considering, and while the boffins are working on it there are probably some safe steps that people on the ground can take to mitigate the risk in the meantime. Of course all suggestions that aren't backed up with full testing carry an element of risk and some could be dangerous - the question is do they offer enough advantages to make the risk worthwhile?

    Do you think that there is a specific danger associated with adding absorbent matting to vehicle footwells, or a more general risk of equipment "enhancements" that could have unintended consequences?
  13. The best thing the average user can do to mitigate the risk is:
    1) Maintain good vehicle admin to minimise the risk of impact by secondary debris (e.g. unsecured ammo etc)
    2) Unless there is an operational reason not to, make use of the restraint systems provided (stories of people being blown clear of the blast are factually incorrect)

    Both really.

    Specifically with reference to 'absorbant' materials, the physics is often misunderstood. A system which is too soft can 'bottom out' quickly under load, thus increasing the dynamic loading of the body.
    As a simple example, imagine you are sat in an Intercity train, which acclerates from rest to 125mph - whilst you notice the acceleration, it won't do you any harm. Now imagine you are stood at one end of a carriage on a pair of (hypothetical) rollerskates - as they can only transmit a limited ammount of force, you do not acclerate at the same rate as the train, and eventually the rear end of the carriage catches up with you, and hits you at high speed. Ouch!

    When considering perfectly elastic materials, there is also the phenomenon of accoustic impedance mismatch, in which is is possible to couple the shock more ideally to whatever is sat on top of it.

    Suffice to say there is plenty of reserach going on in this area - both at Imperial, and elsewhere - and if anything genuinely useful can be done, it will be.
  14. Grumblegrunt

    Grumblegrunt LE Book Reviewer

    brain dump mode so I apologise in advance.

    when they air dropped food to malta in ww2 I seem to remember the hardest part was not breaking the eggs! something similar in the approach might work like standing on a few sheets of bubble wrap or the way they use sacrificial elements to absorb shock like cardboard boxes during big vehicle stunt or the tubs of water the americans put in front of motorway barriers and hard points like bridges. sacrificial foam like oasis or very cheap styrofoam might work for testing purposes a sprung floor would be heavier. current angled hull designs are supposed to deflect the blast to save the vehicle as much as protect the occupants but until they stick bodies inside to test the shock resistance they wont get what they want. helmets are a hard shell with soft absorbing liner then the skull, cycle helmets are often a light shell then foam then sponge all designed to break and distort taking the anger away from the impact. they did something similar when they designed the blackhawk as its main brief was occupant survival. a good comparison is the figures regards SUV safety which came out a while ago disproving the perception, instead of being safer they tend to take more of the impact because they are heavier, whereas a lighter vehicle would often be pushed and deflected away with a lot more damage but the distress also took out the force of the impact. so instead of jackal we want kevlar reliant robins!

    I wonder what a shocked angled plate under a vehicle would do? use a non rigid fixing under vehicle so it will move upwards compressing a lightweight sacrificial medium or springs while still deflecting blast (I think the abrams has something like that in its turret crew compartment). I would have thought it has been tested allready but as mil vehicles are made by welders and men in glasses maybe not. electrical goods are packed the way are they are for similar reasons but I'm not advocating the worlds first kevlar and cardboard apc - might work though, civvy vehicles have crumple zones and regenerating bumpers, I wonder how the tech would adapt :)

    a good comparison is the armour vs missile tech they came up with, sloped plate, chobham, reactive armour and lately bar armour. the first two just designed to stop penetration the second to dissipate the shock/projectile before it gets to penetrate.

    if you make the boot stronger you just make sure you either lose less bits of the foot but turn it to mush inside the boot or it ends up shearing off where the protection ends which takes you back to the exoskeleton stuff they are working on. drop an egg wrapped in tape and you get smashed egg held together with tape. wrap it in tape then foam then put in a box and it might stay together. You have to stop the shock getting to the boot and the wearer rather than just work on the boot I reckon. Otherwise the boot has to be part of a whole protective system which wont protect against shock but will cut down on the trauma and bleed out. Unless you try the airbag type of protection they are playing about with in motorbikes, putting the airbags in the clothing rather than the bike turning you into a big zorb ball. They allready have similar tech for avalanche clothing which is meant to both protect and make an air pocket.

    I remember watching new reel footage of allied tanks covered in sandbags to protect against panzerfaust and hesco works in a similar shell + soft filling way to absorb shock. tennis balls too use the same principle and make a good test medium.

    Dismounted you'll allways have trouble keeping the troops safe, even if you stick ground penetrating radar on a remote vehicle you get operator lag just like the xray machines at the airports now. So some form of automatic remote control sensor platform buggy if you cant blow the shit out of everything before you set foot in it like the US are doing now. If we get good at finding pathside ieds then they will just shift to drainpipe shotguns, giant claymores or blast bombs unfortunately.

    just out of interest I know you will have gauges to measure the force inside the boot but do you put anything in there to simulate damage? in the same way mythbusters use gel and pipes to simulate flesh and bone injuries? when I did engineering we had a teacher who used to like to see things break when they failed as he said it gave incentive to do better next time. he would have had us jumping off tables onto bubblewrap and allsorts seeing as we didnt have fancy test rigs he made us improvise - a boiled egg in the heel held in place with newspaper and a tin of beans on top might do it, if not you have breakfast. :)
  15. BuggerAll

    BuggerAll LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    I remember reading an article years ago that Cambodian soldiers preferred trainers with padded soles to jungle boots because the trainers tended to be better at dissipating the effects of standing on the sort of small anti-personnel mines that litter SE Asia. With trainers on you'd loose your foot, with boots the whole lower leg.

    Perhaps we are not far off the point where modern soldiers are wearing full all over armour. Ironman?