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What is it?

Article about: I have a question. What is Corlon? No, seriously, what is Corlon? In our context - helmetty stuff - it is a word often applied to the South Korean 'ballistic plastic' helmets used all around

  1. #1

    Default What is it?

    I have a question. What is Corlon?

    No, seriously, what is Corlon? In our context - helmetty stuff - it is a word often applied to the South Korean 'ballistic plastic' helmets used all around the world especially in Second and Third World nations since the 1980s, and usually recognised as what we call the Iraqi M80 (for want of a better designation).
    But what is Corlon?

    I recently got hold of a South Korean helmet which, miraculously, had a makers label attached. You can see it on CompoSite - first entry here credited to previous owner (Richard Jones) Composite Helmet, Ballistic helmets, Military helmets KOREA, SOUTH KOREAN HELMET helmet, Kevlar helmet . Its label actually reads

    W't; 900+/- 50gr pc

    Now this is interesting in itself, being as how it appears there were at least two makers of these helmets, Daewoo (cited in Casques de Combat, for example) and now Samsung, and it also seems there are design differences between the two (the most obvious being either a two or three rivet chinstrap fixing). But websearching for anything using the information on that label brought nothing useful. So I tried simply'Corlon' - and to my absolute amazement I got next to nothing there either. There isn't even a Wikipedia entry for this substance! That was amazing! Almost all the hits I got related either to a floorcovering material that seems to have originated in the 1950s, or to helmet websites that refer to South Korean helmets being made of Corlon, but of course without any clue whatsoever as to what Corlon may be.

    I then began to wonder exactly why in hell we've all got this idea that these helmets are actually made of this Corlon stuff. Whatever it is. I've believed it for years without actually questioning it. But why? There's no reference to it in either CASQUES DE COMBAT or Marzetti, and those books were my primary references in the early 2000s. Several websites, including the comprehensive and usually reliable Joseba and World War Helmets definately refer to these helmets as being made of Corlon. But why, and what is this stuff anyway? Where did this idea come from?

    Purely on a possibly insane intuition I came up with the idea that Corlon might be some kind of glass-fibre webbing encased in a nylon shell, working on the idea that it might be a Corning glass product - you see how possibly loony this theory may be...) 'Cor' + 'lon', yeah? Desperation, really. That made no sense as a websearch either.
    The only really solid info I found - and which does not reference South Korea *at all* - came via globally-renowned Canadian collector Roger Lucy, who at one time presented online a brochure from a Germany company called TECHNOLOG based in Frankfurt, who were publicising a range of military armour made of Corlon, tagged as "Corlon reinforced fibre composite with ballistic core". The brochure is undated but internal evidence (a reference to the start of the project being in 1972, and that being ten years previous to the time of writing) indicates it is the early 1980s. Two helmets are shown, one a PASGT type, the other looking remarkably similar to the well-known South Korean object. But the illustrations are indistinct as the scans are from low quality photocopies.

    Following this clue got nowhere. I did find a present-day German company called Technolog but they are in Hamburg and involved in maritime equipment. Maybe the same outfit, of course, but no reference to any adventures in body armour or a move from Frankfurt on their website.
    I'm actually more than somewhat baffled by this. I don't understand either what this Corlon stuff is, or why we have accepted, blindly it seems, that it is what these South Korean helmets are made of.

    There may be a simple answer to all this, that I have failed to find. Do we have a materials technologist in the house? Or anyone with any real information at all? Or even a good informed guess? I am quite happy to be proved stupid or unobservant providing I actually get a sensible answer.

  2. #2


    the south korean label seems very vague greg ,my own thoughts to this corlon terminology is pehaps it could be just a SK trade name , the m80 helmet construction wise show's attributes visually to the aramid fibre weave but having seen the net result from shot up battlfield relics the nylon cloth certainly rings true to its ballistic qualities ,i have also noticed these shell's exhibit a small amount of flexibility so could the binding material could be a form of pvc polymer resin either way its an interesting and thought provoking question greg and ill stay tuned in to hopefully learn more about it ,thanks james

  3. #3


    Maybe it is something in the 1950's floor coating?maybe someone found a much better use for it,2 decades later,hopefully your find the answer your searching for Greg.

  4. #4

    Default Technolog Brochure

    Here is the Technolog brochure to which Greg referred to above, I would agree with his exegesis of it.

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  5. #5


    this looks like the West German version of the Corlon helmet?

    A picture from Baer's book showing the external and internal views of one of these helmets by a specific maker.

    West German Helmets - Page 3 - Militaria Forums
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  6. #6


    Thanks, battlegear, for providing this (and reminding me that I do not use the Wehrmacht-awards forum as much as I ought to - there's some great stuff on Austrian helmets in there, austrormunga!).

    What's interesting here is that the helmet that Gordon Craig pictures as being in his own collection is pretty much unquestionably a Korean-made one, and moreover is *not the same* as that shown in the scan from the Baer book. And its not necessarily same as the one in the Technolog brochure either, though it is more like that than it is the Baer illustration. I do hope you're all following me here! I mean the Baer scan is neither the Technolog object nor the Gordon Craig-collection one. The Craig helmet has a rivet array very similar to the SK product while the Baer illustration has none at all. I've just got out my Baer and of course I can barely understand a word of his technical German, beyond grasping that 'fibreglass' and 'polycarbonate' are involved. But its an interesting bit of stuff anyway and its rather unfortunate that there seems no further mention of it on the fascinating W-A thread. (So much useful knowledge in there!)

    Struggling with Baer did make me wonder whether Aramid (which was the next substance used by the West Germans for helmets - successfully with the 826) had any relationship to this Corlon stuff, but so far as I can tell there is none. But then I am no materials scientist and can barely understand the Wikipedia article never mind the vast array of technical material a google shows up.

  7. #7


    If you look the diagram on page 4 on this link Corlon is a Polyurethane/vinyl/polyglass laminate!....
    It's a wasted trip baby. Nobody said nothing about locking horns with no Tigers.

    I'm Spartacus, not really i'm Paul!...

  8. #8
    MAP is offline


    Quote by Gunny Hartmann View Post
    If you look the diagram on page 4 on this link Corlon is a Polyurethane/vinyl/polyglass laminate!....
    Love the smell of Polyurethane in the Morning...smells like Victory.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    My greatest fear is that one day I will die and my wife will sell my guns for what I told her I paid for them

    "Don't tell me these are investments if you never intend to sell anything" (Quote: Wife)

  9. #9


    Excellent, Gunny! Well found. I did prowl about the Armstrong site a bit as they were the only people I found even referring to Corlon, but I didn't get this section. Maybe it isn't on their English-language site. Or maybe I should have looked just that one step further. But anyway, that's very interesting and I am glad to see it. Now all we need to know is why on earth anyone chose it to make's your Korean/Hangul?

  10. #10


    I've often wondered why people make helmets out of it because it's ballistic protection qualities are pretty poor!....
    It's a wasted trip baby. Nobody said nothing about locking horns with no Tigers.

    I'm Spartacus, not really i'm Paul!...

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