Back in the 17th century, during the time of the Thirty Years’ War, mounted soldiers often wore a helmet called a burgonet. This wasn’t all that different from the helmets that modern day soldiers wear. It enclosed the head, it had a brim which protruded in front, and came down around the sides to protect the ears and the sides of the head. It also frequently had a visor that could be pivoted upwards.
Here’s a picture of one. Sometimes the coverage of the face visor would be even greater, as in this example, at the expense of visibility. But usually the wearer would have the visor up, with the face exposed, for greater visibility. But when he rode into the middle of battle, as the cuirassiers did, he would put down the visor to protect his face from swords or pistol shots. The “close helmet” of classic form was also frequently worn well into the 1600s. The visor would usually be up, but could be swiftly flipped down when needed.
Surely something like this could be incorporated into modern helmets? It wouldn’t be great protection against gunfire, but it would definitely go a long ways in stopping small bits of shrapnel and other debris from explosions, which as I understand are of more of a pressing concern to the military in the Middle East right now? It would protect the eyes, nose and mouth, and when not under fire, could be pivoted upwards, leaving the helmet open as it would normally be.
Has there been any attempt at full-face protection in military helmets in recent years? What’s the big obstacle to incorporating it, if not universally, at least in some units?