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The history behind the development of the 6B2 vest

The famous 6B2 was the most common and popular body armor used by the Soviet forces in Afghanistan. It was widely issued across all units of the 40th Army. And it was a good armor for the time, not to mention that there weren't too many options to choose from.

What is interesting, is how it was developed and introduced into mass production. Given the regular soviet bureaucracy, the story of how such an important piece of equipment was developed and introduced so quickly is just fascinating.

The man behind the 6B2 is Ivliev Yuri Germanovich. Born in 1941, graduated from the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys in 1966. From 1967 he worked at the Research Institute of Steel. Products created by him were widely used in combat operations in 1980s and 1990s. Holds patents for more than 40 inventions.

Ivliev Yuri Germanovich

The development of such an iconic piece of equipment was performed by the man personally. It wasn't sanctioned by his bosses, there were no technical documentation. In fact, he was doing it like a hobby, after hours. However, he was using the resources provided by his work place and this could have led him in trouble. On the other hand, such a development would take years and millions of rubles.

On February 10, 1980, a month and a half after the entry of our troops into Afghanistan, this sample was presented by the head of Ivliev's department, B.D. Mukhin at a closed meeting of the Central Committee.

There were human losses in Afghanistan at this point, and the question of creating a protective vest was just raised. The demonstration of the finished sample was a surprise for those present. At the meeting, an important decision was made: to take this sample as a basis and with extremely tight deadlines - in just two and a half months - to develop technical documentation and release an initial batch.

6B2 body armor

As an author of the whole idea, Ivliev was appointed as the leading observer of the project. His task was too coordinate the work between different branches (and there were six of them!) and to solve any technical difficulties that would come up. According to Ivliev, all those who were working on this project were very involved in what they were doing. He quotes the words of the Head Engineer of the Zlatoust garment factory, Nina Mironova:

“Girls, we need to try our best! After all, our children are there!”

Just three days before the production was set to start, Ivliev came up with the idea of how to increase the protective area of the new body armor vest. This would lead to changes in a technical specification, which, of course, would lead to missed deadlines and punishment for all involved.

After some hesitation, he decided to go meet up with Nina Mironova to tell his idea. Despite his expectations, she accepted his ideas and told him to make changes in the documentation. Now, this might not sounds like a big deal to you. But this was absolutely unheard of for the soviet bureaucracy! As a rule, all technical changes had to be approved by the institutions and companies involved, and the final decision would have to be made in Moscow.

The deadline was not missed. The start of the mass production was a big day for all involved in the project. Head technologist, head of production, the director of the factory and Ivliev were all present until late night, to see first complete sets for themselves. Hundreds of body armors started to flow out of the factory and into the regiments of the 40th Army.

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