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Bristol Armour 'brick'

Article about: This is a rather unusual production from Bristol Armour, who seem to have been a subsidiary of British Petroleum, operating out of Bristol, England. They were active during the 1980s and 90s

  1. #1

    Default Bristol Armour 'brick'

    This is a rather unusual production from Bristol Armour, who seem to have been a subsidiary of British Petroleum, operating out of Bristol, England. They were active during the 1980s and 90s but vanished before the turn of the century (so far as I understand - further information welcome!)

    This specific helmet has a similar shape and form to other Bristol products (I have one, illustrated below for comparison and others can be seen here Composite Helmet, Ballistic helmets, Military helmets UNITED KINGDOM, UK HELMETS, BRITISH helmet, Kevlar helmet ) but it seems poorly made overall. The shell is thick and roughly made, note the strange ripple effect in the interior of the shell. The surface is rough overall, and it has a feel similar to a piece of (believe it or not) earthenware rather than a sophisticated ballistic plastic. It feels like a roof tile, in fact, and even has the same sort of dull ringing sound when tapped. Its actually hard to believe it really is plastic and not pottery, honestly.

    The liner is even more amazing - its a very simple bowl made of expanded polystyrene, with a very simple and thin synthetic fabric liner. So far as I can see it wasn't even glued in - nothing to sophisticated as velcro here! It holds in by friction, alone. It's rubbish, really. The other Bristol actually has a very similar liner, but it seems to be made of a more flexible and durable polythene-like material. I haven't had it out, it seems like its actually glued in.

    The chinstrap obviously has its central part missing - compare to the blue example which has a complete chinstrap rig.

    The label may be hard to read in the photos because it is inside a sealed plastic envelope sewn to the liner; apart from the makers name and address it includes GRADE - 17 and SIZE - 3. There is also a long ITEM PART number which I won't bother to repeat here as I got no return from it after extensive websearching.

    The helmet also appears to have had a rim, probably similar to that on the blue one, at some time. Long gone, along with the central chinstrap section.

    Also worth mentioning - the 'brick' weighs a fairly hefty 1420g, and that's without a missing chinstrap section and its rim edge. That's actually more than a medium Mk6, and a *lot* more than the other Bristol I have, which is a distinct lightweight at 896g in complete state..

    No date, though I would assume 1980s. Its a terrible piece of work really and its not surprising Bristol Armour is no more.

    Information wanted, definately.

    The shell with and without liner -




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    The liner and label -


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    For comparison, my other Bristol Armour helmet, with edging attached, and complete chinstrap (the shell is actually blue, even though it appears brown in some photographs)-


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  2. #2

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    Hi Greg,

    Bristol Armour was I believe a subsiduary of BP Chemicals in Avonmouth Road, Avonmouth, Bristol. It was adjoined next door to BP who sold off much of the contents of the BA factory there 20 odd years ago. I know this as it was my company that removed most of the machinery and office equipment after the auction of it's assets.

    Some of the machinery I stripped down and loaded was spinning gear for carbon fibre matrices, autoclaves, mixing machines, carbon hoppers, forklift trucks the lot. Quite a bit of it I delivered to the new owners in Yorkshire who made carbon fibre fishing rods! There was a lot of stuff got junked and thrown in sealed skips that included helmets that looked like those above, as well as body armour plates and other military type equipment. The place was pretty secure, and me and all my guys on site had to sign the official secrets act as some of the access to the site was through the BP factory that was producing similar carbon fibre based products such as parts for the Harrier jump jet, Westland Helicopters and the under wing fuel tanks for Jaguars, Tornados and other foreign aerospace companies.

    Apparently, according to some of the BP staff I spoke to, Bristol Armour had been bought out by BP Chemicals and basically asset stripped. The purchase somehow was related to off setting certain taxes owed by BP and some of the more modern equipment was retained by them and moved next door by myself. BP Chemicals at Avonmouth itself later got taken over by GKN Aerospace.

    Man, was that a great paying job!

    Regards, Ned.
    'I do not think we can hope for any better thing now.
    We shall stick it out to the end, but we are getting weaker of course, and the end cannot be far.
    It seems a pity, but I do not think I can write more. R. SCOTT.
    Last Entry - For God's sake look after our people.'

    In memory of Capt. Robert Falcon Scott, Edward Wilson, Henry Bowers, Lawrence Oates and Edgar Evans. South Pole Expedition, 30th March 1912.

  3. #3
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    Default Bristol Helmets

    Greg,
    I have a Bristol helmet with a similar texture to its interior, and the same cheap and nasty styrofoam lining. However it is a lighter version weighing only 1275 grams and that includes an acrylic face shield. It was part of a batch sold to former Jugoslavia and used by its Militija. Inside the top it is stamped 359 03-12-79 2/FFSJ so presumably it was taken on inventory in 1979. I can't say it feels like it is made from ceramic, nor can I evoke from it more than a thunk-like sound when I hit it, but my impression from the three different Bristol helmets in my possession is that they were available in different weaves of composite, as well as different qualities of finish. The Jugos, like whoever were the market for your example, were not paying top dinar.
    Roger
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  4. #4
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    Default Bristol Armour

    Another Bristol helmet of mine, it came from a Surplus store in Northern Ireland who advertised it as Indian, it does bare a vague resemblance to Indian fibre-glass M1 clones, but the only clue to its possible origin was written on the rear strap Eugene
    DeVille 13 DBLE , unless someone has a better interpretation that would seem to indicate 13e demi-brigade de Légion étrangère.

    It is somewhat better quality than the Jugo version with a cork liner, and somewhat finer texture. Its quite light, a mere 1056 grams.
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  5. #5
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    My deluxe version with a nice cork and satin liner, a very fine textured weave. It is Grade 17 so weighs in at 1556 grams. It was acquired for trials purposes in 1984 by the Canadian Department of National Defence, and was rescued from the tip by a friend of mine about 10 years later, when DND's Land Engineering and Test Establishment was shut down. It has a label quite like yours but in English only.
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  6. #6
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    Default Bristol Armour

    I found Ned's comments on Bristol Armour's fate interesting, as all i had ever been able to find out about them was this excerpt from Jane's Infantry Weapons circa 1998 or so.
    Roger
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  7. #7

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    Excellent information as always Roger, especially that page from Jane's. and so nice to be able to see pictures with it! It really is fascinating that such an obscure outfit like Bristol Armour (even if in some sense a part of the titanic BP) should have produced at least four distinct variants of what is, to be fair, a rather crappy helmet, and that they should have spread so far and wide across the world. I wonder if anyone, other than Yugoslav Milicja, used them in any quantity.

  8. #8
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    Default

    One slight correction to my earlier post, the Jane's excerpt dated from 1990-91, which would better fit Ned's recollection of closing down Bristol Armour down about 20 years ago.
    Clearly many Bristol helmets were trialed but few were chosen.
    Roger

  9. #9

    Default

    Greg ,just to share my example and looking at RV lucy's varients a yugo issue but weighing at around just under 1500g unfortunately missing the shield and nylon liner ,the foam liner seems immovableClick image for larger version. 

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  10. #10

    Default

    Greg just wondering if you looked over my example i posted up

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