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Flak Armour is a light and relatively simple form of body armour used by the military forces of the Imperium of Man. It is used as standard issue body armour for the countless millions of Imperial Guardsmen and Planetary Defence Force members across the galaxy.
Many layers of ablative and impact absorbent material go into making each suit, enough to deflect or negate most low-level attacks such as small arms, shrapnel, and proximity blasts. Solid hits from high impact weapons can generally negate it, but given that it is relatively lightweight, cheap to produce, and dependable in most combat situations, many veterans keep using Flak Armour even when offered better. A Flak Armour set usually consists of a breastplate, shoulder pauldrons, knee plates, greaves and a helmet.
Flak Armour is manufactured from multiple layers of ablative and shock-absorbent materials that are primarily ceramic in origin and are intended to deflect and absorb the kinetic energy of a weapons strike or blow. The armour provides little protection from a direct weapons strike, though the protection it provides is sufficient to deflect damage from shrapnel, adjacent, though not direct explosions, and ricochets. The ablative properties of its ceramic construction are also excellent at heat dispersal, thus providing a small measure of protection from glancing hits with energy weapons like Lasguns. The materials commonly used in the construction of Flak Armour include Carbon-fibre, Plasfibre and Thermoplas strips, although a number of different materials can be integrated in non-standard suits of the armour intended for more specialised uses. Thermal-absorbent materials, applied to the armour's outer layer, can reduce the thermal signature of the soldiers using it and provide an enhanced capability to remain invisible to enemy forces during night reconnaissance missions. Rarer still, Cameleoline fabric can be incorporated into the outermost layer of some Imperial Guard Regiments' fatigues to enhance their ability to conceal themselves. Although Flak Armour is overall a relatively low grade of armour, it is incredibly cheap and easy to manufacture for the Imperium, and thus making it among the most popular forms of personal protection in the galaxy with a variety of the starfaring races.
Flak Armour is most often used by the Imperial Guard, Imperial Planetary Defence Forces and the armsmen of the Imperial Navy, but is also used by many other intelligent races' military forces, including the Orks and the nearly-extinct Squats. Due to the sheer diversity of military formations that make use of Flak Armour, there is no standardised format for it, either in the Imperial Guard or other services. Many Imperial Guard Regiments customise their armour as a result of their own specific cultural and environmental needs. For instance, the Cadian Shock Troops Regiments of the Imperial Guard use the most common pattern of Flak Armour, including helmets, breastplates and shoulder paldrons as illustrated above, while the Valhallan Ice Warriors prefer to incorporate their Flak Armour in the form of an overcoat that provides protection from the frigid conditions that prevail on their ice-covered homeworld. However, in the end, all the different forms of Flak Armour serve the same purpose and provide the same level of protection, differing only by the environmental demands of the battlefield and the traditions of the unit deployed to fight in them.
- Codex: Astra Militarum (6th Edition), pg. 180
- Codex: Imperial Guard (5th Edition), pg. 71
- Codex: Militarum Tempestus (6th Edition), pg. 71
- Only War: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 195
- Dark Heresy: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 144
- Rogue Trader: Core Rulebook (RPG), pg. 138
- Warhammer 40,000: Wargear (2nd Edition), pg. 66