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Improvised Armour

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"The Scrapper's vehicle is a much-desired item for many Salmonids. The shields are made from odds and ends of scrap metal."
Salmonid Field Guide, Splatoon 2

A Crazy-Prepared or Disaster Scavenger character makes body armour or a shield out of materials to hand, quite possibly to back up an Improvised Weapon.
Indicates that the character, at least, doesn't think Armour Is Useless. Related to Pocket Protector, a protection unknown to the audience which is therefore much more likely to save your life.
As stated earlier this trope also covers improvised shields, which usually tend to be metal trash can lids, pot lids, doors (both car and house doors) or anything that is big, tough, circular/square/rectangular and has a handle. Although the circular ones can be very useful for throwing.

Expect to see a lot of this in a Scavenger World or as part of a Scavenged Punk setting. May be donned as part of a Lock-and-Load Montage.

Bucket Helmet is a popular Sub-Trope.


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  • An advert for Strongbow cider had a guy giving a Braveheart-esque Rousing Speech to massed ranks of tradesmen with suitably working class Improvised Weaponry and armour — the shield wall is made up of satellite dishes and dustbin lids, various "soldiers" are armed with spirit levels, paint rollers and garden tools, and most of them are wearing hard hats.

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Fate/stay night: Heaven's Feel, Shirou uses his reinforcement skill on a book he hid on himself to soften an oncoming attack from Rider.
  • In GTO: The Early Years, Itou wears shoulder pads, a pot on her head, and a sword that appears to be made of jagged metal when she goes with Tsukai to back up the Onibaku against the Kamakura Mad Dogs.
  • In Holyland, when Masaki fights Taka the former uses a knuckleduster as an impromptu mini-shield. Yuu also uses books as bracers.
  • A Scavenger World example: in Japan (the manga written by Buronson and illustrated by Kentaro Miura), body armor is cobbled together from available junk. The main character has an old tire as a pauldron.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders:
      • During the fight against DIO, Joseph runs Hamon through Hermit Purple and wraps himself in it beneath his clothes, hoping to sucker DIO into punching him and getting evaporated by it. Unfortunately for Joseph, DIO sees through it and settles for chucking a knife at him.
      • Later DIO unleashes his Flechette Storm onto Jotaro, enough make it by to stab him over his body. Except Jotaro managed to seclude several magazines beneath his clothes before facing DIO.
    • Golden Wind: Mista manages to survive several headshots from Prosciutto after having wrapped ice around his head to soften the blows.
  • In Toradora!, Ryuuji's mother tells him in a nostalgic tone that his Disappeared Dad was a yakuza who used to wear magazines under his jacket in case he got stabbed.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • Deadpool once wore a bunch of frozen meat to beat Bullseye. In his own words. "I am the meat."
  • This is essentially Iron Man's origin, although where he gets the material varies from retelling to retelling. Most famously, he used parts of his own stolen missiles to build his armor "in a cave, with a box of scraps."
  • An issue of The Punisher (one of the Summer Specials back from the late 80's - early 90's) had the title character fighting an evil school principal with a penchant for handing out guns to his students (don't ask). This (like many fights in schools) gets dragged to the library, where the Punisher decided that to survive the situation, he needed protection. A little duct tape and some textbooks later, we have the glorious invention of book armor!.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Back to the Future Part III has Marty manages to slip the door off a stove under his clothes in preparation for his showdown with Buford in an homage to A Fistful of Dollars. It works like a charm, stopping not only the bullet but also causing Buford's punch to backfire. He also whacks him in the face with it before beating him senseless.
  • The Ballad of Buster Scruggs: In the "Near Algodones" chapter, an old bank teller covers himself in improvised armor of cooking pots and pans, then charges at a would-be bank robber. Each time a bullet ricochets off of the bank teller's armor, he gleefully shouts, "Pan shot!"
  • In Batman, Bruce Wayne hides a small silver tea-tray inside his jacket, as body-armor against the Joker's gun.
  • The Bull of the West: When the drifter who murdered the brakeman throws a knife at him, Johnny Wade twists and catches the knife in the saddle he is carrying over his shoulder.
  • The Dark Knight. A group of Batman-themed vigilantes wear hockey pads as protection. The real Batman in his $300,000 body armor is not impressed.
  • In The Devil's Rejects, the Firefly family shoots it out with the police wearing various amounts of improvised armor. The most heavily armored Firefly stays behind to cover the family's retreat. The armor proves very effective, but ultimately he succumbs under the hail of gunfire.
  • Fear Street: Before entering the final confrontation, Deena makes herself a vest out of the in-universe Fear Street books. Literal (almost) Plot Armor.
  • A Fistful of Dollars, where the stranger, with a steel chest-plate salvaged from the old mine hidden beneath his poncho, taunts Ramón to "aim for the heart" as Ramón's shots bounce off, and Ramón exhausts his Winchester rifle.
  • In Friday After Next, Damon has the protagonists wrap him in phone books when going to a party, due to a Noodle Incident where he was stabbed. Notably, Damon has recently got out of prison, so he still has an inmate's mindset.
  • Friday the 13th (2009): When Lawrence goes out looking for Chewie, he picks up a pan to be his shield.
  • In The Gauntlet, Clint Eastwood welds steel plates together to create an armored compartment around the driver's area of a passenger bus.
  • In The Good, The Bad, The Weird, Tae-goo survives a particularly crazy shootout by putting on a huge, metal diver's helmet. In the longer alternate ending we learn he survived the three way shootout by also having an oven door hidden under his jacket in another shout out to A Fistful Of Dollars.
  • In Kung Pow! Enter the Fist, The Chosen One uses a squirrel to protect himself from Master Betty's deadly attack.
  • In The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Mr. Hyde uses a steel door in order to block enemy bullets.
  • In The Little Rascals short "The First Seven Years" two of the rascals have a swordfight and they armor up first. One uses a catcher's mask and the other uses a beekeper's hat-and-veil.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
  • J and K in Men in Black 3 block several spikes being thrown by the villain with a metal door.
  • In Mohawk, Oak constructs a makeshift suit of armor out of remains of a pregnant deer and its unborn fawn before embarking on her Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In National Treasure, Ben uses the Declaration of Independence as a shield when he's being shot at (or rather, the case fitted with bulletproof glass the Declaration was being kept in).
  • In the original Total Recall (1990), Quaid (Arnold) uses a dead innocent bystander as a human shield to stop enemy bullets by holding up the dead body from falling.
  • In World War Z, Brad Pitt's character duct-tapes glossy magazines around his forearms as a precaution against zombie bites.

  • Mentioned in one of Andrew Vachss's Burke books. A prisoner who suspects he's going to get attacked will stuff as much newspaper as he can under his clothes. It won't totally stop a shiv, but even a centimeter or inch less of penetration can make the difference between a trip to the hospital and a trip to the morgue.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In Summer Knight, Fix cobbles together some makeshift armor for Meryl by attaching tableware to a heavy jacket.
    • The 'Za Lord's Guard, being pixies, wear armour crafted out of garbage.
  • Egil's Saga: When Egil and his companions expect an ambush on the forest road between Varmland and Norway, Egil ties a large flat stone to his chest by winding a rope around his upper body. Thus prepared, Egil fights his way through two ambushes and comes out without serious wounds.
  • Emberverse: Dies the Fire features many examples. In later books, most cultures have learned to make proper armor, but occasional savage bands wearing improvised armor still turn up, such as the Bekwa, and their trademark stop-sign (or rather, "Arrêt"-sign) shields.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: In the Collegium Chronicles, during tryouts for the new Kirball teams, one character shows up for his tryout wearing assorted bits of stovepipe.
  • In "Durin's Folk", a chapter from Appendix A of Lord of the Rings, the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield gains his sobriquet after he uses an oak branch as a shield in battle when his own shield gets broken.
  • The Saga of the People of Vatnsdal: Ingolf and six of his men go after a party of thieves and discover them in a hideout where eighteen of them are together. Not wanting to turn back, Ingolf picks up two flat stones from a nearby ravine and fastens one to his chest and the other between his shoulders. With only one companion to help him, he attacks and routs the robbers but also receives a lethal wound.
  • In Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, Tweedledum and Tweedledee get Alice to help them dress in this sort of armor before fighting a not-very-lethal "battle".

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.: In one episode, Brisco and Bowler cram the heads of shovels under their shirts, let themselves get shot, then dramatically swan dive into a river to make the bad guys think they killed them.
  • Arrow: In "Trust but Verify", Oliver uses a garbage can lid as an improvised shield to block a tear gas grenade.
  • When Zack and Cyndi from The Bite need to get to another room at CDC headquarters, they discover they have to fight through a horde of zombies on the way. Zack finds a stack of reports and wraps them around his arms and hers to protect themselves from zombie bites. They make it to the other room where Cyndi discovers a zombie bit right through the report on her arm, infecting her.
  • Several episodes of Brainiac: Science Abuse have mannequins dress up in improvised armour based on the setting, and fired at with a slingshot, longbow and crossbow. For example, if war broke out in a home, a mannequin in the kitchen might use a wok as a chestplate.
  • Unable to acquire an armored vehicle, Michael Westen of Burn Notice once filled the insides of an SUV's doors with phone books and put ballistic glass in the windows. This was deemed plausible by the MythBusters. It worked quite well, but the windows were noted to be an Achilles' Heel, so that ballistic glass was a good investment.
    • In a later episode where Michael's in prison, he and another prisoner fashion temporary armor from the hard covers of several library books. Adequate to stop a plastic shiv.
  • Doctor Who: "Resolution" presents Improvised Armour: Dalek Edition, as a Dalek recon scout buried on Earth for 1200 years, after reconstituting itself, controls a woman to build itself a new set of armour out of stolen remnants of its species' technology and materials found at a mechanic's shop.
  • In The Lost Room, the protagonist uses the Coat as body armor, as Objects are indestructible. He is still hurt (unlike actual body armor, the Coat does nothing to spread the impact of a bullet).
  • In an episode of Spellbinder, the protagonist fashions herself a suit out of mirrors when faced with a reactivated laser-armed APC guided by an AI. This comes after hearing a local children's story involving a "looking glass" being used to defeat a monster.
  • Van Helsing (2016): In "Wakey, Wakey", after initially dismissing a lot of money he finds as useless because they are in an After the End scenario, Axel uses duct tape to cover his arms and vitals with the wads of cash. It works well enough to stop knives.
  • In The Wire, when Omar ends up in prison he duct-tapes several thick books to his body. Sure enough, only minutes later someone attempts to shank Omar for the large bounty put on Omar's head by a vengeful crime boss. Thanks to the books the attempt is foiled and Omar horrifically turns the tables on his attacker as an example to the other inmates of why they shouldn't try to claim that bounty themselves.

  • The Old Master Q spin-off, Old Master Q's Fantasy Zone Battle have Master Q and Big Potato dressing up in homemade armor made from pots and pans, and using cooking ladles and utensils as impromptu weapons, after hearing about the Evil overlord's arrival. Mr. Chin, the most level-headed of the trio, tells them to "get real and stop fooling around", at which point they decide to ditch their armor and rethink another strategy.

    Myth & Religion 

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Jimmy DeMarco duct taped a fruit bowl to his head in an effort to protect himself from DDTs when he met Jake "The Snake" Roberts in the International Wrestling Cartel. It didn't work.

  • Einsteinian Roulette: One player character makes a suit of armour out of locker doors. It doesn't help much.
  • Roll To Dodge: Savral: After slaying a tiger, one of the player characters uses its corpse as makeshift body armor.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pick a Scavenger World, any scavenger world.
    • One post-apocalyptic d20 Modern setting featured illustrations of thugs using American football shoulder pads for armor and a Stop sign for a shield.
    • Done in All Flesh Must Be Eaten, similar to the d20 Modern example above.
    • Post-Apocalyptic Hero gives its front cover character a Stop sign shield and a helmet that started life as sporting equipment.
  • In the Oriental Adventures sourcebook for Dungeons & Dragons, Nezumi are fond of making makeshift armor out of whatever they can cobble together, like tower shields made of Kappa shells.
  • GURPS:
    • GURPS High-Tech has rules for homemade armor. Buckets can be made into a plastic lorica segmentata strong enough to provide noticeable protection from a shotgun blast.
    • GURPS Steampunk 2 notes that the Industrial Revolution made steel plate widely available for mundane applications — and that this plate could be and sometimes was repurposed into useful improvised armor. It refers to A Fistful of Dollars (see Films — Live-Action, above) and the story of Ned Kelly (see Real Life, below) as examples of this idea in action.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has 'Ard Boyz, relatively bright Orks who realize that by slapping together plates of scrap metal into a crude set of armor, they have a better chance of surviving the charge across the battlefield into melee. Of course, all Orks' armor counts as improvised, as do their weapons, vehicles, architecture, medicine...

    Video Games 
  • In Backyard Sports, Marky makes shin guards out of newspaper.
  • In Breath of Fire II, the first helmet you can buy is called a Salad-BWL. Guess it's better than nothing.
  • The exo suits of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare allow the player to rip the doors off of nearby abandoned cars to use as a makeshift riot shield.
  • In City of Heroes there's a group of mutant hobos called "The Lost" with Elite Mooks who use various types of armor such as a STOP sign for chest protection and a TV set (with a broken screen) as a helmet.
  • In Command & Conquer: Generals the GLA has pickup trucks, buses and tanks that can be upgraded by collecting wreckage of destroyed enemy vehicles, which they use as improvised armor.
  • In Disgaea, one of the lower rank armour items is actually a pot lid.
  • Various Dragon Quest games have pot lids as the cheapest shield.
  • In The Escapists the player can craft a variety of armoured versions of their jumpsuit. Possible sources of protection include (from weakest to toughest) a pillow, a book and a sheet of metal.
  • In Evolve, the assault character Lennox built her armor out of a salvaged exoskeleton meant to protect scientists from lava flows. Similarly, Markov's armor is actual an environmental suit used by orbital welders.
  • The Fallout series is full of this trope, due to the post-apocalyptic setting.
    • As early as the original Fallout, the Leather Armor is based on pre-war designs for full-contact sports.
    • Raider armours from Fallout 3 have features like a cow skull being used as a shoulder pad, a gutted Eyebot hull being worn as a helmet, or a pair of sieves tied by shoestrings for use as a bikini top. Meanwhile Super Mutants are using bits of tire as shoulder guards, while their Behemoths are using car doors as bucklers.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, Caesar's Legion has made ersatz Roman armor out of American football pads, baseball catcher's pads, and the occasional (presumably metal) dinner plate, while elite legionaries show their status with bits of armour from tougher foes they've felled. This serves as a visual contrast to the NCR Army's use of pre-war ballistic armour for their troops and the Veteran Ranger's LAPD Riot Squad armour. The Marked Men from the Lonesome Road DLC, meanwhile, have mixed-and-matched components from both the NCR and Legion's kits, bolstered by street signs and whatever other scrap metal they can find in the Divide, to show how mutual suffering has united the former enemies against the outside world.
    • In Fallout 4, the guards in Diamond City (a settlement built in the mostly-intact remains of Fenway Park in Boston) have armor that's constructed from salvaged umpire and catcher padding and masks, worn over salvaged Red Sox uniforms. Considering that by 2287, baseball is mythologized as a gladiatorial Blood Sport, from the guards' perspective the armor may seem to be more reclaimed than improvised, though. The Automatron DLC adds sets of Robot Armor to the game, android casings that one gang of raiders wears as armor. Regular raider armor, meanwhile, is made of chunks of scrap welded together, often including visibly poking metal rods and the grilles from cars. The Metal Amor set is also clearly improvised but of better quality, looking like scrap metal that has been properly reforged and shaped into breastplates, gauntlets, helmets and greaves.
  • The player character in The Forest can wear lizard skin as armor.
  • In The Godfather 2 the so-called armoured cars are clearly cobbled-together, with things like metal bars welded over the windscreens.
  • In Grim Dawn, the very early heavy armor sets are little more than salvaged scrap metal worn over clothing, with the metal taken from the ruins of the post-apocalyptic towns of Cairn following the titular Grim Dawn. As the game progresses the armor gradually shifts to proper equipment and then to more advanced professional military gear.
  • In some Lufia games, some of the equipment available early in the game is a Pot helmet, and a Chopping Board shield.
  • The Pot of Yesterdayers boss from Our Darker Purpose is a living (or possessed) vat of spoiled potato stew. It wears a saucepan for a helmet, a cookie sheet for a breastplate, and shoulderpads made out of steamer baskets.
  • Minions in Overlord will use almost anything as a helmet, even a pumpkin rind or dead rat.
  • The New Conglomerate in PlanetSide 2, being backed by mining and security MegaCorps, often makes use of cast-off or archaic designs for their armor and weaponry. Their MAX Powered Armor in particular is obviously based on a mining exoskeleton with some extra armor panels welded to it, in contrast to the purpose-built Terran Republic MAX and the heavily augmented Vanu Sovereignty MAX. Early concept art had the improvised armor being more prevalent on NC gear, with their engineer appearing to use mining gear for armor.
  • In Plants vs. Zombies, some of the zombies have obtained armour that makes them more powerful, such as traffic cones, metal buckets, American football gear, screen doors, bobsleds...a Humongous Mecha. On the plant side, Pumpkins provide this for other plants.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time: Poncho Zombies. They may or may not be wearing a metal grate under his poncho. He's about as tough as a regular zombie if he isn't, but is as tough as a Buckethead if he is.
  • In an example of Emergent Gameplay, The frying pans in PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds were intended to be joke melee weapons. But because of their huge profile, their models could actually block damage from weapons, including collision damage from ramming vehicles simply because they couldn't register contact with player characters. The developers eventually patched the frying pan to be totally invincible, and now many players grab these melee weapons just to keep them sheathed in order to literally protect their butts.
  • In Punch-Out Wii, King Hippo duct tapes a manhole cover to his stomach when he rematches you in an attempt to keep you from exploiting his vulnerability to body blows.
  • Heavy Troopers from Spec Ops: The Line wear a body armor suit made out of a bomb disposal suit, with cannibalized plates reinforcing weaker spots, and an aviation helmet to top it off. This makes them slow as molasses but more durable than anything else in the game, and they're dangerously aware of it, requesting covering fire all the time and rarely attacking alone, when their weaknesses are at their most dangerous.
  • In Splatoon 2, the Salmonids of the Salmon Run mode have all of their gear and armory made around cookware materials. For example, Chum and Cohocks wield frying pans and Smallfry wield spoons, Stingers sit atop a tower of pots, and Grillers are motorized barbecue grills.
  • In Super Lesbian Animal RPG any party member who is equipped with the Machinist spellbook can cast a spell that conjures scrap metal armor for the team, costing both mana and scrap metal. The armor boosts defense, but falls apart after a few combat turns.

  • Mal in Cthulhu Slippers uses the indestructible Necronomicon as body armor in this strip.
  • The "raider bandits" in the Fantasy Wasteland NP arc of El Goonish Shive have scavenged armor... made out of barrels. And belts.
  • Parodied by Penny Arcade here, demonstrating that wearing multiple helmets and dozens of pieces of metal strapped to your chest makes you look ridiculous.
  • Unsounded: When Cresce launches their counterattack to liberate Grenzlan some of the locals grab a table as a shield and use it to ram into the Aldish soldiers who aren't paying attention to the people they've been systematically raping and brutally executing on an industrial scale. It helps ensure they're overrun a bit quicker.

    Western Animation 
  • The Grand Finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender has Toph bend a metal door around her to protect herself from Firebenders.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: While investigating the hideout of a ninja who stole a scroll describing how to perform a Touch of Death, Batman notices a training dummy that showed signs of great force being exerted on a specific part of its chest. Batman pretends to No-Sell the Touch of Death in the fight with the ninja by hiding the dummy's chest padding under his costume.
  • Blue Eye Samurai. While having tea with Heiji Shindo, Mizu (who was raised by a swordmaker) praises the ironwork on his family-sized tetsubin. The enormous (albeit heavy) lid comes in handy as a shield when they're ambushed by Heiji's archers.
  • Bob's Burgers: In the episode “Dawn of the Peck” a Thanksgiving event goes awry at Wonder Wharf, leading to hundreds of poultry attacking the town. In order to get to the kids and their friends stuck on the Scramble Pan ride Linda, Teddy and Mickey run to save them covered in stuffed animals and prizes.
  • Dragons: Riders of Berk: When faced with Dragon Hunters armed with anti-dragon arrows that can fell a dragon in one shot, Hiccup decides to make temporary Dragon armour by stitching together Screaming Death scales, the hardest dragon scales he can think of.
  • King of the Hill: In "Ceci N'est Pas Une King Of The Hill", Dale acquires a full on suit of medieval armour and begins terrorizing the neighborhood. Bill retaliates with a suit of homemade armour, made up of boxing gloves, a trash can and a colander among other things, and engages Dale in combat.
  • Molly of Denali: In "Porcupine Slippers," Tooey puts all kinds of padding on to search for a porcupine.
  • in episode 3 of Samurai Jack Jack and the dogs create armour for Jack and his the giant six-legged horse-sauropod creature, salvaged from mining equipment.
  • In Storm Hawks, Dove and her grandfather Wren are simple farmers on Terra Gale. When Cycloians come to invade their territory, the pair prepare to fight back and don homemade armour largely made out of kitchenware.
  • The Simpsons: Homer Simpson builds a bear-hunting suit (with one notable gap) out of stuff he finds in his garage.
  • Total Drama: During the last episode of the fourth season Lightning creates a suit of armor consisting of sheet metal from a trash can and a smashed in frying pan for a helmet, while Cameron creates a of armor with a laptop he coded to become said armor.

    Real Life 
  • The infamous Killdozer is a literal bulldozer with more than one foot thick armor slapped around it, made of concrete-metal sandwich. It's immune to small arms and explosives. The driver sealed himself into the cockpit by lowering a multi-ton concrete block around the cockpit and using TV cameras to see. Ultimately, the only thing able to stop it was itself when it got stuck in a basement entrance.
  • Up-armouring is not always a good thing. Unless done well, improvised armor can actually weigh down a vehicle, limiting its mobility and/or overtaxing its engine, while providing little extra protection.
  • U.S. soldiers in Iraq resorted to using "Hillbilly Armor" to reinforce their vehicles for better protection against Improvised Explosive Devices (underside armor was an important first step). Some of their designs were so popular and effective that they became "kits" used throughout the army.
  • When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in World War II, their thinly-armored early tanks proved vulnerable to Soviet anti-tank rifles, especially in the sides. They figured out that if they installed thin steel plate or mesh on brackets spaced away from the main armor, the bullet would start to tumble after passing through the standoff armor, so that it would then fail to perforate the main armor. This solution could be applied in the field and didn't unreasonably increase the weight. Contrary to popular belief, this was not designed in response to HEAT rounds and the type for antitank rifles wasn't effective against HEAT because the spacing wasn't great enough.
  • Speaking of which, World War II was when multiple sides started widely using High Explosive Anti Tank munitions. The principle is that a shaped explosive charge causes a hollow cone-shaped metal liner in the warhead to collapse inside out, forming into a high-velocity jet of molten metal which can penetrate armor seven or more charge diameters thick. This was especially useful for man-portable antitank launchers such as the bazooka and Panzerfaust, which increased the ability of infantry to disable or destroy tanks. This led to improvised attempts to install spaced or slat armor consisting of thin metal sheets, wire mesh, or even just logs tied to the side of the vehicle to detonate shaped charges away from the tank's armor. For example, Russian tank crews took to scavenging bedframes with bedsprings as improvised spaced armour to help protect against the Panzerfaust.
    • The Battle of Marawi saw Philippine government armor crews using improvisations including plain cardboard, which provided some usefulness in protecting against their adversaries' RPG-2's anti-personnel high-explosive warheads.
  • Other forms of improvised tank armor included covering the vehicle with spare track links or road wheels, and adding all kinds of bulky materials onto the outside such as sandbags, wood, and concrete. Most of this stuff was virtually useless as protection against tank shells, and in fact soft steel track could normalize the path of the penetrating projectile so that instead of deflecting upwards off the front slope, it would turn downwards into the main armor and pass through it at an angle where the plate wasn't as thick. U.S. Army Ordnance complained that the tankers were adding a bunch of crap that weighed down the tank and reduced its reliability, while at the same time giving themselves a false sense of security. As a result, Patton and his Third Army made efforts to crack down on these low quality add-ons. Others, however, figured it was doing some good as long as it made the men feel better, unlocking a bit more boldness and decisiveness to get the allmighty first good shot in.
  • Welding more steel plate on top of the main armor was also an option, particularly if the hope was to protect against armor piercing rounds. The source of the plate was important, since actual armor plate of the proper composition and heat treatment was far more effective than scavenged boilerplate. Destroyed vehicles of any side could be stripped for their armor.
  • The T26E4 Super Pershing was created by U.S. Army Ordnance as an up-gunned variant of the M26 Pershing tank, replacing the stock 90 mm gun M3 with a longer, higher-velocity 90 mm gun T15 that gave it firepower comparable to the fearsome German Tiger II heavy tank. Its armor, however, was that of a normal Pershing, and while substantial it wasn't enough to make the crew feel protected against the German long 88 mm. When a single Super Pershing was sent to Europe to be tested in combat, they secured the help of Lt. Belton Cooper for some in-the-field up-armoring. Cooper's boys welded two 1.5 inch slabs of boiler plate steel onto the hull front so that they formed a steeper slope than the plates beneath, hopefully increasing the chance of ricochet. It was especially important to protect the turret, so they cut out an 80 mm plate from a Panther tank's upper glacis to stick over the gun mantlet. This unbalanced the gun so that it wouldn’t elevate, so they added a pair of "wings" to put some extra weight behind the trunnions, which could double as additional armor for the turret cheeks. And finally, to counter all the weight they had added to the front of the turret, they needed to increase the mass of the counterweight on the back of the turret. Altogether they added about seven tons to the Super Pershing, which had already been heavier than the M26 on account of the bigger gun, resulting in some performance penalties. Since it was near the end of the war, the tank would only engage enemy tanks twice, but the extra armor must have been reassuring.
  • During the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, many Russian tanks mounted metal grills on top of their turrets, supposedly to protect the tanks' thin roof armour from top-attack missiles and air-dropped ordnance. The lack of uniformity among these tank grills seems to suggest that they aren't standard issue and instead were improvised by the tank crews. They've became known on the internet as "Cope Cages" or "Emotional Support Armor", as many question their effectiveness.
  • In 1879, Australian outlaw Ned Kelly hit upon the idea of his gang making themselves bulletproof plate armor for fighting the police. It consisted of quarter inch thick iron plow moldboards which were beaten into shape, probably using a crude bush forge with a log as an anvil, before being cut to size and riveted together. Over a period of several months they made suits for Ned Kelly, Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne, and Steve Hart, which they wore during the famous Glenrowan shootout. The armor stopped bullets (Ned's suit got 18 bullet dents), but it was extremely heavy (Ned's suit weighed 44 kg/97 pounds) and did not fully protect the arms and legs. Dan, Joe, and Steve died during the fighting, while Ned was brought down by a shot to his ankle and captured. He was subsequently tried and executed.
  • Possibly in the spirit of Kelly, the desperate expedient in wartime New Zealand, the Semple Tank, consisted of a civilian tracked bulldozer given an armoured shell out of anything that happened to be immediately available. This lash-up desperation vehicle had more than a look of the HeathRobinson about it and was utterly useless for any sort of combat. The Semple tank was scrapped when better purpose-built vehicles were made available.
  • Convicted NZ murderer Graeme Burton packed newspapers and magazines under his prison uniform when he stabbed another inmate, quite possibly inspiring the examples in The Wire and BurnNotice, above.
  • During the North Hollywood shootout, one of the bank robbers wore a full suit of patchwork body armor, including bullet-proof vests wrapped around his legs. The other robber simply wore a Bulletproof Vest with a metal trauma chestplate. Soon, however, the SWAT team arrived, in addition to a number of the regular officers acquiring assault rifles from a nearby gunstore, and both robbers soon learned the hard way that their body armor was only effective against the considerably less powerful handgun ammunition that the beat cops carried. Rifle rounds carry far more energy and sectional density and tend to go through kevlar quite easily, which is why soldiers wear ceramic armor plates inside their vests.
  • Some of the Egyptian protesters against the Mubarak regime were seen sporting helmets made of concrete slabs tied on with rope, and even loaves of bread secured with tape (A good thick, spongey bread could be passable protection from a baton), in one particularly memetic example.
  • Commanche Native American warriors figured out during the 19th century that their traditional shields, made of two thick buffalo hides, could be made bulletproof against the black powder firearms of the day if they stuffed large amounts of paper between the hides. For this reason, whenever they raided white settlements they would grab all of the books or newspapers they could find.
  • Very popular at the entry level of SCA heavy weapons fighting, where people who haven't yet saved up the money to buy steel armor will craft protection out of heavy duty plastic, or even just thick layers of duct tape and newspaper.
  • The oft-homaged example seen in A Fistful of Dollars above was apparently Truth in Television; if The Sheriff or some other local authority figure got wind that trouble might be breaking out, he'd sometimes don an "iron shirt" as a precaution. A stove door like Marty uses in Back to the Future Part III was pretty common, being the most readily available item of approximately the right size and shape.
  • Cottonclads were fairly standard wooden river gunboats with huge bales of cotton strapped to their sides, the cotton absorbing enemy gunfire so they could get close.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Improvised Armor


Teddy Bear Armor

In order to get to the kids, Linda, Teddy, and Mickey use teddy bears as armor to protect themselves from the birds. Meanwhile, Donna Summer's "Dim All the Lights" plays in the background.

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Main / ImprovisedArmour

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