Wounding Statistics

Weapon Casualty Distribution, 20th Century Warfare

Reference: Emergency War Surgery, Third United States Revision, 2004 (12.5~ MB Zipped PDF)

Notes: During the Bougainville campaign of World War II, a medical team was sent prospectively to gather data on the injured, including the cause of injury. This campaign involved primarily infantry soldiers and was conducted on the South Pacific island of Bougainville during 1944. During Vietnam, the Wound Data and Munitions Effectiveness Team (WDMET) collected data on US Army and US Marine casualties.

US Casualties
Bougainville Campaign (WW II) and Vietnam

Weapon

Bougainville %

Vietnam %

Bullet

33.3

30

Mortar

38.8

19

Artillery

10.9

3

Grenade

12.5

11

Land mine/booby trap

1.9

17

RPG (rocket propelled grenade)

12

Miscellaneous

2.6

Anatomical Distribution of Penetrating Wounds (%)

Conflict

Head
and
Neck

Thorax

Abdomen

Limbs

Other

World War I

17

4

2

70

7

World War II

4

8

4

75

9

Korean War

17

7

7

67

2

Vietnam War

14

7

5

74

Northern Ireland

20

15

15

50

Falkland Islands

16

15

10

59

Gulf War (UK) **

6

12

11

71

(32)*

Gulf War (US)

11

8

7

56

18+

Afghanistan (US)

16

12

11

61

Chechnya (Russia)

24

9

4

63

Somalia

20

8

5

65

2

Average

15

9.5

7.4

64.6

3.5

Notes:

* Buttock and back wounds and multiple fragment injuries, not included
+ Multiple wounds
** 80% caused by fragments; range of hits 1-45, mean of 9

AFV Crew/Passenger Casualty Specific Notes

Reference: Emergency War Surgery, Third United States Revision, 2004 (12.5~ MB Zipped PDF)

Compared to infantry, injuries to those inside or around armored vehicles are characterized by:

BURNS: Two large studies, one from British WWII tank crewmen and one from Israeli casualties in Lebanon, showed that about 33% of living wounded casualties have burns. The severity of burns range from a mild 1st degree burn to full thickness burns requiring skin coverage. Most burns are superficial burns to exposed skin, most often of the face, neck, forearms, and hands. These are often combined with multiple fragment wounds.

BLAST: One study from WWII showed 31% of armored crewmen casualties had ear injuries due to blast overpressure, including ruptured tympanic membranes.

TOXIC FUMES: The anti-spall liners of most modern AFVs are coated with Teflon, which when it burns produces phosgene like combustion byproducts.

BLUNT TRAUMA: Soviet data from Afghanistan from the early 1980s indicated that if AFV crewmen received bone fractures from translational blast injuries, they would be distributed as follows:

Fracture Site

%

Legs

63.6

Arms

20.1

Spinal Column

13.5

Pelvis

2.8

Parachute Injuries

Reference: Emergency War Surgery, Third United States Revision, 2004 (12.5~ MB Zipped PDF)

The peacetime rate of injury in a drop is generally 0.8%. Combat drop injury rates are higher, depending on a combination of weather, time of day, terrain hazards, drop altitude and enemy resistance at the drop zone. Historically, combat drop injury rates can be as high as 30%, with 8% to 10% of total jumpers being rendered either combat ineffective or significantly limited in their usefulness.

Injuries broke down as:

Injury Site/Type

%

Sprain/Strains

37.7

Contusions

30.1

Ankle

20.0

Lacerations

14.7

Back

11.1

Closed Fractures

11.1

Knee

10.7

Head/Neck

8.7

Leg

8.3

Open Fractures

2.0

Concussions

2.0

Rule of Nines and Distribution of Body Surface Area

Reference: Emergency War Surgery, First United States Revision, 1975

Anatomical Part

% of Body Surface Area

Head

9

Front Torso

18

Back Torso

18

Left Arm

9

Right Arm

9

Groin

1

Left Leg

18

Right Leg

18