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Ben P.




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 10:07 am    Post subject: Swimming in armor?         Reply with quote

I apologize if this is in the wrong spot Worried

Is it possible to swim in armor? such as plate or mail with all the trimmings, I'm thinking Europe and Byzantium from 500-1690 A.D
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 10:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I took a Scuba Diving test that required me to tread water with 5 lbs in each hand and for a minute. It was very challenging. I barely managed to keep my face above the waterline but managed to pass. The key was making large scissor strokes with the legs. I think with 20 to 30 lbs of armor I would have gone straight to the bottom. Gambson will also weigh 10 lbs when soaked. I don't think a soaked gambson will add weight while in the water, but it will effect getting out of the water.
No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
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Xan Stepp




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 11:28 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I figured that I'd add a bit here, both as a SCUBA diver and as a physicist. I've been in similar tests as the one that Vassilis described, and I have to add that it is very difficult. However part of the problem is distribution. I've taken off my gear and swam with a weight belt, which is hard, but not as hard as with the equivalent weight in hand.

I personally don't think that I'd be able to swim in 20-30 lbs. of armor, and wouldn't be particularly keen to try. But whether or not it is possible is largely dependent on the individual and situation. The fatter you are, the easier it would be, it would be easier in salt water than fresh, and you may get air trapped in the armor and padding which would add buoyancy. If everything works just right, it might be possible to swim in 20-30 lbs. of armor, but I wouldn't want to try.

Deyr f, deyja frndur
deyr sjlfur i sama;
en orstr deyr aldregi
hveim er sr gan getur.
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Max Chouinard




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 11:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This ryu teaches swimming in armor http://www.tsuki-kage.com/kobori_ryu.html. Although it's not swimming as much as stepping in water (and, it seems, with partial armor). Japan being an archipelago, it was a very useful skill I suppose. There are still twelve traditional schools of swimming in japan, but I don't know if many teach swimming in armor. I don't know either if other cultures had anything alike, but from what I know armor and water was never something that naturally mixed well.
Maxime Chouinard

Antrim Bata

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 11:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are a few accounts describing men drowning because of the weight of their armour. Though it is possible that they couldn't swim in the first place. I'd agree that it would be very difficult. It is hard enough to swim when fully dressed.
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Michal Plezia
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 12:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is possible to make an experiment.And it won't be very dangerous I suppose.All I need is to find a swimming pool not deeper than 1,40- 1,50m and take one or two people as the assurance(best would be lifeguards ) standing in the water-ready to help .I used to be a lifeguard myself and maybe I 'll try to do it .but I don't think they let me go to the swimming pool with armour Razz I have a small and very shallow pond, but you'll have to wait till spring Wink
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 12:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
The fatter you are, the easier it would be,


Good, finally found a use for my extra 20 pounds of flab Laughing Out Loud
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Max Maydanik




Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 2:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Japanese armor was partially made from wood - so you might be able to stay afloat.
There is not question about European armor - it was not made for swimming.
You can do a lot of things in armor bending, jumping and running. I have seen people doing cartwheels in armor as well, however staying afloat without any flotation device is out of the question.

- What do you prefer: a reconstruction of historical fencing or a real swordfight?
- Historical reconstruction of course. In the real swordfight, they just look at each other, mumble something and then ..a deathblow.
And in a historical reconstruction you have to think, plan your strategy and count points.
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D. Rosen





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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 2:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here you go.. Big Grin

Swimming in Maille...

http://www.users.bigpond.net.au/fireandsteel/swim.htm
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Bill Sahigan





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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 3:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hmmm.. a shield is mostly wood an't it?

good flotation device?
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 3:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I thought about it some more. Most of the ability to stay afloat comes from the air in your lungs, not the moving of your arms and legs. I am sure we have sneaked up to a friend who was floating and pushed them under water. I find that it takes very little effort to get a free floating person under water. That tells me that most people have a natural buoyancy that is very close to the tipping point were they would sink. Small increases in weight seem to make a big difference to a person trying to float. They have to work harder with their arms and legs at creating lift which tires them out.

I did a quick google search that tells me that the the human lungs average a little more then a gallon of air. Lets say 1.5 gallons because we are big strong guys. On gallon of water is 8.33 lbs. It seems that most men will loose buoyancy with an additional 12.5 lbs of weight.

We should also not underestimate the panic factor. Six foot tall people have managed to drown in 4 feet of water. Drowning people tend to pull others down with them too. They panic and grab onto anyone around them who is still floating. Duel drownings are very common.

No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com
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Kjell Magnusson




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 4:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Max Maydanik wrote:
Japanese armor was partially made from wood


In ancient times perhaps, but not in "samurai" times.

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=15253
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David Lewis Smith




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 4:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

it might also depend on the person, I do not swim well, just treading water is Very hard for me. I have low body fat and if I take a deep breath and just relax I sink, most people can float doing that.
David L Smith
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JE Sarge
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 6:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, when I used to dive, we required 1lb of weight per 10lbs of body weight to achieve neutral buoyance - depending on your equipment, give or take a couple lbs. I used to use about 15lbs of weight and it was very difficult to stay surfaced with out the BCA on.

Additionally, while stationed in Hawaii, swimming/treading water in uniform for extended periods of time was part of the Light Fighter's training. It's pretty difficult with just the uniform, helmet, and LBE/LBV on even in a shallow pool.

With 40-50lbs, I would think this would be impossible for most. It brings to mind all the soldiers that died during the Normandy beach landings in WWII. Probably a pretty good reason why so many collectible swords are river finds.

J.E. Sarge
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"But lack of documentation, especially for such early times, is not to be considered as evidence of non-existance." - Ewart Oakeshott
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Xan Stepp




Location: Ithaca, NY
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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 7:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:

Well, when I used to dive, we required 1lb of weight per 10lbs of body weight to achieve neutral buoyance - depending on your equipment, give or take a couple lbs. I used to use about 15lbs of weight and it was very difficult to stay surfaced with out the BCA on.


While this is true, that calculation is for a diver in full gear, including a wetsuit and in salt water. The situation is drastically different in fresh water or without gear, so SCUBA guidelines cannot be an accurate measure of the ability to sink or float in armor.

Quote:
Probably a pretty good reason why so many collectible swords are river finds.


Possibly. It would make the sword harder to recover, but the main reason that good finds are often river finds is because the conditions in river mud help to preserve the sword.

As for the issue in itself, I decided that I would sit down and do some math to figure out some of the details. However, first I had to do a bit of research and make some educated guesses. First of all according to http://www.annecollins.com/healthy-weight-information.htm, a healthy human has 15% Bone, 15% fat, 45% muscle, and 25% internal and external organs (all by mass). I found several internet sources which listed the densities of bone, fat, and muscle as around 1.9 g/cm^3, 0.9 g/cm^3, and 1.05 g/cm^3. I couldn't find a good average value for the organs, so I estimated it at about 1; less than muscle, more than fat, and about the same as water. So while some organs will be heavier (heart) others will be lighter (hair) and there are some air spaces in the body, so I hope it will even out. I also assumed an average height of 5'9" (175 cm), and a healthy BMI of 70 kg. I also assumed an average lung capacity of 6 L.

I also had to make certain assumptions about what it means to swim. The most exacting condition would be that to "swim" a person's density (with their load) must be higher than the density of the fluid. In this case, they will float no matter what. A slightly more realistic definition would be that a person can "swim" if their density is less than 0.08 g/cm^3 above the fluid in which they are swimming. I picked this number because the density of this ideal person with no air in their lungs is 1.082 g/cm^3. I also know that I frequently empty my lungs while swimming and have no problem getting around. Finally, I just sort of guessed what the "maximum" would be based on this data, since the only way to get accurate measurements would be to drown someone. I'll just guess and say that the threshold is .16 g/cm^3 above the density of the water, or twice the empty lung definition. So basically, if you are carrying more than this load, you are going to drown, no matter how hard you struggle. It's just a guess, but if anyone has a better way to get this figure, let me know.

I then made up an excell spreadsheet to calculate volumes, densities, body fat, etc. and used it to calculate the loads that an ideal person, and then the % body fat needed to keep a person float in under the "swimming" conditions, and for 10, 20, and 30 lb loads. (all with a lungful of air)

Ideal person
No load - density = .99 g/cm^3 (floats)
Swimming 1 ~ .7 kg (fresh)
2.5 kg (salt)
Swimming 2 ~ 6.5 kg (fresh)
8.5 kg (salt)
Swimming 3 ~ 12 kg (fresh)
14 kg (salt)

Carrying 10 lbs. (4.5 kg)
swimming 1 - 42% fat (fresh)
30% fat (salt)
swimming 2 and 3 - NA (the ideal person can "swim" afloat with this load)

Carrying 20 lbs (9 kg)
Swimming 1 - 59% fat (fresh)
49% fat (salt)
Swimming 2 - 28% fat (fresh)
21% fat (salt)
Swimming 3 - NA

Carrying 30 lbs (13.5 kg)
Swimming 1 - 69% fat (fresh)
60% fat (salt)
Swimming 2 - 43% fat (fresh)
35% fat (salt)
Swimming 3 - 20% fat (fresh)
NA (salt)

I think that my calculations are pretty good (if anyone actually bothered to read them all), but how a person swims (floats, treads water, swims on back or front) makes it easier or harder, as well as the distribution of the load. So after some mathematical analysis, I would say that generally people can swim in armor, and that for lighter armors it may not be all that hard. However, while they may be able to swim, how long they can swim is a different issue...

Deyr f, deyja frndur
deyr sjlfur i sama;
en orstr deyr aldregi
hveim er sr gan getur.
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Mon 12 Jan, 2009 11:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Xan Stepp could you rerun those calculations for 15% body fat for both salt and fresh water. 15% bodyfat is about what I have and I can tread water for about 1 minute holding 10 lbs ( 5 in each hand). I do have a 48" chest through that can probably hold a little more air then average. You might have to off-set that with my denser bone and muscle. Thanks for your effort.
No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com


Last edited by Bill Tsafa on Tue 13 Jan, 2009 6:39 am; edited 1 time in total
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Xan Stepp




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Jan, 2009 3:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vassilis,
First of all, the "ideal person" used in the calculation was at 15% body fat. I did rerun the math given a 9 L lung capacity and a 10 lb load. It puts your density at about 1.011 g/cm^3, so enough to sink in fresh water, but enough to float in salt. However, I couldn't off sett for denser muscle or bone, doing so would introduce one too many variables.

I must also point out that this situation does not fall into any of my "swimming" categories. Here you keep your head above water for an extended period of time without using your arms, which is not quite the same as floating on your back just keeping your face above the water or going underwater for periods but bringing your head above the surface momentarily for breaths of air.

However, your data may be useful for defining a "Vassilis condition" in that we know that just the legs can keep you afloat if your density is just 0.011 g/cm^3 above the density of the fluid. With this in mind, reran the math for the "Vasilis condition."

15% Body fat
Max Load - 4.5kg (fresh)
6.5kg (fresh)

10 lbs ~ 15% fat (fresh)
NA (salt)
20 lbs ~ 44% fat (fresh)
33% fat (salt)
30 lbs ~ 58% fat (fresh)
48% fat (salt)

So, it looks like we reach the same conclusion here, that "swimming" according to the "Vassilis condition" is probably manageable in light armor, but much more difficult with a heavy load unless you are morbidly obese. Also, you do have to wonder if someone who has over 50% body fat would even have the endurance to keep treading water.

I hope this helped Vassilis.

Deyr f, deyja frndur
deyr sjlfur i sama;
en orstr deyr aldregi
hveim er sr gan getur.
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Bill Tsafa




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PostPosted: Tue 13 Jan, 2009 6:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Xan Stepp, it is very interesting the way these calculations are working out.
No athlete/youth can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows: he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack... then he will be ready for battle.
Roger of Hoveden, 1174-1201
www.poconoshooting.com
www.poconogym.com
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Chris Arrington





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PostPosted: Tue 13 Jan, 2009 9:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Don't the US Marines require their recruits to be able to stay afloat with all their gear as part of their training? A full load of modern military equipment is pretty equivalent to the weight of armour for an average person.

Maybe I'm not remembering correctly.
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M. Oroszlany




Location: Czech Republic / Slovakia / Hungary
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PostPosted: Tue 13 Jan, 2009 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

the density of kevlar is ~1.44 g/cm^3, that is let's say 1.5 times that of water. The density of steel is about 8g/cm^3 , circa 8 times that of water. That means while in water, the same amount (by mass) of kevlar adds much less dead weight to the swimmer than steel.

Note however, that I still think that for a good swimmer it should be possible to swim in full armor. It is also fairly possible for a not so good swimmer to drown without any armor. I'm not sure to what extent did medieval people know how to swim, but according to some accounts, which might be pure fiction as I can't really recall from where I have this info, some, if not most of the 17-18th century sailors couldn't swim. Would it make sense for ground bound people in the 15th century to know how to swim?

Sources of density valus used in this post:
http://composite.about.com/od/aboutcomposites...050597.htm
http://hypertextbook.com/facts/2004/KarenSutherland.shtml
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