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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 10:07 am    Post subject: Arrows vs armour         Reply with quote

Ahh' the old can Longbows penetrate plate thing again? Eek!

No. I fully agree with many others that arrows from various period bows were incapable of penetrating armour at range.

I'd say plate (1-1.5 mm over mail, or the thicker plate on it's own type) would not be in danger of being pentrated by long or composite bows, probably regardless of range.

I also tend to agree with the thought that needle nosed bodkins at range were more flight arrows, and an unhardened bodkin at range was not going to do much of anything to someone in mail. I'm not one of those that believes the "Longbow had a range of 240 yards, and no armor was protection against it" statement you'll see about the longbow in some books and I-net sites.

However we do know knights were from time to time killed or severely wounded through mail by Saracen arrows (i may use the term "Turkish" bow for these - meaning the Composite recurve), and being severely wounded by a crossbow was also not uncommon (Richard the Lion Hearted maybe the most recognizable example here).

As far as the Lonbow vs the Composite bow thing, I've found that a composite bow of similar draw weight could store energy better than a longbow. Even a Composite of somewhat lower draw weight should have similar qualities in stored energy to a longbow (another issue here, but to me that is another nail in the coffin about the alleged superiority of the Middle age "wonder weapon"). Some tests of the great longbow compared to tests of reconstructed turkish bows really point this way as well.

My thought here is mail was clearly capable of being penetrated, but at what range? I know there was a wide variance in quality of mail and plate, and variance in the hardness of arrowheads, two things that play a big role. There is a passage where european knights were advised to wear "Doubled Mail" to protect themsleves, because the Mongols were using hardened arrows (I forget the specifics, but they were concerned apparently because the Mongols were hardening thir arrowheads by quenching them in urine Eek! ).

I've run some numbers for period crossbows as well (I'm looking more at the late 11th to 13th or so century weapons mostly for Crossbows), the Horn/Composite Belt claw drawn ones probably had about in the realm of 118-134 transferable foot pounds to the bolt, the wooden ones about 10% less. This is based on draw weights in the 300-350# range, this is what most crossbow makers and historians estimate the belt claw type to be roughly. The wooden ones would be about 1/2 that. Correspondingly, the Longbows in the 80-140 draw weights stored about 68-120 foot pounds, add about 5% for composites of the same draw weight. There is a fairly good range for Selfbows - mostly because there is a wide range of estimated pulls for Longbows. Several Viking bows found have been estimated in the 100# draweight, there are a few schools of thought that I have found on those on the Mary Rose - anywhere from averaging 100# to 125# or so, but with bows on both ends of this equation.

The projectile weight can vary some, but is not a huge issue in the equation. IIRC, the great warbow estimates projectile speeds in the Middle ages to have ranged mostly in the 180-200 fps range, pretty well regardless of bow type. My guess is the Crossbows in general used slightly greater weighted bolts than the longbows, whcih probably were in the 1000-1100 grain range. Turkish arrows I'm not really sure, but I would think similar to longbow weighted arrows, perhaps a bit lighter as they are generally thought to have a bit more range, though this also may be a flight arrow issue. There is a Arabic writing (around the 11th or so century, but I forget) that advises the arrows be made of Hardwood, not lighter material. Perhaps this indicates their arrows were lighter in the past, I don't know. It may seem as a lighter arrow could penetrate better as KE is based on velocity more than mass - but bows have this "decling efficiency", as the arrow gets lighter the bow is capable of sucessfully transmitting less stored KE to the arrow.

But any thoughts to if and at what range arrows could penetrate mail armour, first to penetrate enough to cause light wounds, secondly to have enough penetration to deliver a serious or mortal wound? And to keep things simple, we will assume arrows hardened to the specifications of found arrowheads (using braodheads as the arrow type).

For plate I'd say the Horn Crossbow and Longbows could not in almost every circumstance, meaning 1-2mm over mail over quilted armour.

As a teaser, those 750-1000# steel bows seem to have been capable of storing 192-256 foot pounds of energy. I wonder who effective these would be at close range vs. Plate? The stored enrgy is based a lot on Leo's remarks about drawlength - He won't make bows with more than a 4-5" powerstroke (a portion of the total draw, adding the brace length gives total draw) due to metal tolerances and the fact he cannot have a bow he sells break on someone, but estimates that middle ages steel bows would have had about a maximum 6-7", based both on metal tolerances and period illustrations.
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Chris Arrington





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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 10:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In regards to heavier and heavier crossbows, I remember an artcile I read that stated that as the draw weights rose the velocities of the bolts reached a diminshing return. I hesitate to try and repeat the physics involved, as I don't remember the reasoning very well. But the key was that these very heavy crossbows were able to throw much heavier bolts at the "maximum" velocity. Which of course increased the impact energy and penetration qualities of the bolt.

I just wish I could remember where I read that.
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 10:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, that is pretty much the same as what I have read. The efficiency decreases as the weight or the bolt or arrow decreases. Seems like the most efficient weight for Longbow or Composites in the 140 pound draw eight or so was around 1500 grains - though it seems most arrows were lighter.

This website (thanks to Benjamin Abbot) illustrates this well:

http://www.atarn.org/islamic/akarpowicz/turkish_bow_tests.htm
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 1:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are only two decent papers on this subject. The results of one is in Williams' The Knight and the Blast Furnace but it is likely that Dr Williams underestimated the power of a warbow. The other was in the RA's Arms and Armour Journal and this one is biased against the armour - but not as much as others I've seen.
http://forums.swordforum.com/showthread.php?t=79261

Both tests suggest that it is highly unlikely for an arrow to punch through plate armour far enough to seriously injure the wearer.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 1:46 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Williams clearly gave an unrealistically weak draw weight. 70 pounds is perhaps just a bit more than half what the likely average was if not half. He also uses a 200pound draw crossbow.... also very underweight... perhaps less than half or even 1/3 of what is should be. Not sure where he got these from but having spoken to him several times I am sure he did not select them purposely low only that that was the info he found on them. I think Williams can easily be discounted for bows and crossbows for his direct conclusions. That said he does give the info on what would be needed to pierce the armour so still useful.

I do not think the RA Journal is biased much in either respects... if anything I think it might be the other way biased as they did not do many of the things that would have given the bow a much easier time penetrating. The major weakness in it is the jump from 1.15mm where fair penetration to lethal penetration was fairly common to 2mm where it was not. Since a great amount of the armour I have handled has had thickness around 1.5mm in places if not the majority or there abouts the jump passes an important area. The RA journal article clearly gives evidence armour could be defeated by a arrow but gives a good viewing of what the situation would require to accomplish this and the major difficulty that exists in doing so. I have been just outside the loop waiting for part two and so far seems off in the distance some.

I think the idea that there are a variety of arrows with multiplicities of use is correct. I think that from a good 50-75 yards on penetration of armour becomes extremely unlikely. I think for further than 220 you are using very light arrows that have near no chance of penetration of plate and even at point blank a flight type arrow would not have the mass needed to pierce plate. A heavy arrow from a heavy bow close I am sure could under the right conditions.

RPM
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 2:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffet wrote:

Quote:
Williams clearly gave an unrealistically weak draw weight. 70 pounds is perhaps just a bit more than half what the likely average was if not half. He also uses a 200pound draw crossbow.... also very underweight... perhaps less than half or even 1/3 of what is should be.


Wow! I was going to ask Dan how Williams was test was biased against the bows but this clearly shows it.

As far as the longbow weights, I'm more inclined to think the 100# weight is accurate, possibly the 120#.

300-350# for a 11th-13th century beltclaw type crossbow is pretty accurate, IMO anything higher than that and you are getting into levers and with heavier ones a windlass or cranequin. With these though the draw length is a huge issue also, as we pretty well have an idea for standard bow draw lengths. IMO these earlier crossbows had a longer draw than the later steel ones, they really needed this to be effective, paticularily if as effecive as period sources suggest. Not a a huge increase in draw, but at least about 3" more than the steel ones if going with a 6-7" powerstroke and 3-4" Brace for the Steel bows, a total draw in the 10" range. Given these were of composite construction, they could probably achieve these longer draws without being much larger than a steel bow as they should be more flexible.

Of course if you are comparing to plate over mail period or later, the 500#+ draws make more sense.

What's really suprising to me is some information from the Glasgow museum that cities as late as the mid 15th century replaced their wood bows with steel - making wood bows commonplace on the battlefield long after I would have them expected to be. I wonder what draw eights these later wood bows were looking at - Belt and Claw or if the wood bows as well became high enough poundage to require cranequin and windlass draw.

BTW - One thing that really made me agree with the theory that needle bodkins were flight arrow was some testing (not either of the ones above, it was flawed but had some interesting aspects) that bodkins in general did not pierce quilt as well as broadheads - it was the "cutting" action of the Broadheads that allowed them to pierce the quilt better. That being said, when an arrow has lost a good portion of it's energy if it pierces mail, a lack of ability to pierce quilt would seriously effect it's ability to cause any injury.
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Steve Hinton





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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 3:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi

Much of this research is a little dated

Take a look at http://www.englishwarbow,com/

You are a little under on draw weights for Mary Rose Bows these have now been recorded at much higher weights

Mark Stretton is doing a massive amount on armour penetration

In recent tests he has put a replica plate cutting head through 2mm 14swg charcoal rolled iron (arrow head penetrated out the other side by 1/2inch the target was static) which is the material medieval armour would have been made from rather than modern high carbon steels.

This was using a bow of 140lbs draw weight the arrow weighed 102g (1571gn) drawn to 31inch

He has also done tests on moving targets at 20mph (the average speed of a desrier) (additional 2 inch penetration)

Mark is currently undergoing tests with the defence academy there is a DVD available

As for Maile even broad headed blades can penetrate to a lethal depth

You also need to take ito account hitting power even if the arrow didn't cut through the percussion and deformation of the armour would be enough to damage bones and organs not an immediate death granted
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Steve Hinton





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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 3:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also forgot

Take a look at warbow by Robert Hardy

And for the original poster have you considered;

If armour wasn't being defeated by bolts and arrows why bother manufacturing heavier and more complex armour?

Chroniclers thought it note worthy and recorded the suprise of English archers when their arrows failed to penetrate the latest Italian plate armour in the mid 15C

Why If maile was so good was it relegated to covering the spots where movement was compromised by plate?

A lot if not the majority of arrow heads were case hardened (as case hardening only alters the molecular structure at the surface of the arrow head most of this is removed by the action of oxidisation (rusting)) by burying the arrow heads in organic matter i.e. crushed bone and cooking. the urine would work in a similar manner producing a slightly higher carbon content 'skin ' over the surface.

Hope this is helpful
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Steve Hinton





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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 3:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Forgot something else Worried

My bow is Italian Yew and behaves and shootscompletelyy different to Oregon and English Yew. The ring density per inch is far greater my bow is 110 lbs draw weight and it will put (with a moderate archer at best pulling it) 1137grn bodkin headed arrows 220 to 230 yrds my new improved arrows will go further

The difference between Asian composite bows and self wooden bows is recovery speed (the ability for the bow to snap back to its pre drawn state) which will impart more speed to an arrow of the same weight shot from a wooden bow of the same draw weight (taking intoconsiderationn the law of diminishing returns)

The main reason for going down the composite route is material availability. (most English Warbows were imported from Spain and Italy)

Another good book to look at is Arrowstorm by Richard Wadge
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Richard Hare




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 6:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary,

I can't help but feel you are trying to re-invent the wheel here.

It appears your research is more important than looking at the actual historical facts.

Longbows with a decent archer behing them will fire an arrow an awful long way...I'm not saying how far, because the facts are out there already and don't need re-hashing.

It appears now that longbow arrows are even having trouble with penetrating mail?

One or two questions, and then I'll go and leave you alone;

In the Hundred years war, why did the percentage of archers increase, from about 20% of total man-power, up to 80% of the total???

It wasn't because their little arrows Might irritate the odd enemy.

Why did the French avoid at all costs engaging the English in a head -to-head confrontation after Agiuncourt??

Why was it that an English army, only a fraction the size of the French, could not only hold its own, but almost monotonously take the day???

Why was it, on the odd occasion when the English archers were surprised and scattered , that the English lost the battle??

Why were archers paid more than foot-soldiers, if they were not much good??

Why train for bloody years, if your skill is to no avail when it comes down to the nitty-gritty??

Please Gary, Go and read some History.

Very best wishes,

Richard.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 7:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Hare wrote:
Please Gary, Go and read some History.


Stop being condescending. I don't care if you disagree, but the condescending attitude and air of superiority need to be left off this site.

Thank you.

Happy

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Steven H




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 9:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard Hare wrote:
Gary,

I can't help but feel you are trying to re-invent the wheel here. <snip>

It appears now that longbow arrows are even having trouble with penetrating mail?

One or two questions, and then I'll go and leave you alone;

In the Hundred years war, why did the percentage of archers increase, from about 20% of total man-power, up to 80% of the total???

Because knights were expensive? Because armies all across the continent were using fewer knights relative to infantry in this era. England was at the leading edge of the curve but the trend spread across Europe, and was not dependent on archers. The Swiss did it by including pikemen. The Hussites did it by including gunners and crossbowmen and polearms.

Richard Hare wrote:

It wasn't because their little arrows Might irritate the odd enemy.

Actually period sources ascribe the value of archery, especially flight arrows, to its ability to disrupt the enemy formation.

Richard Hare wrote:

Why did the French avoid at all costs engaging the English in a head -to-head confrontation after Agiuncourt??

By charging across a field at them? Because the French were being stupidly led. Again.


Richard Hare wrote:

Why was it that an English army, only a fraction the size of the French, could not only hold its own, but almost monotonously take the day???

On rare occasions, when the situation was just right. The English lost the war. They won some battles but lost the war.

Richard Hare wrote:

Why was it, on the odd occasion when the English archers were surprised and scattered , that the English lost the battle??

This happened more often than victories attributed to archers. It wasn't the "odd" occasion, it was the usual occurrence.

Richard Hare wrote:

Why were archers paid more than foot-soldiers, if they were not much good??

Men-at-arms, knights and up were paid more than archers. Two to eight times as much, actually. Peasant billman were paid less, but most non-archer troops were higher paid. One of the reasons to shift to more archers - it was cheaper.

Richard Hare wrote:

Why train for bloody years, if your skill is to no avail when it comes down to the nitty-gritty??

It was useful. For the ability to disrupt the enemy. Which is what period military writes said was their value. Almost all combat casualties at Agincourt were in melee combat.

Richard Hare wrote:

Please Gary, Go and read some History.

He did. The English lost.

With all respect I recommend that you read the extensive information available if you use the search function on this site. You will find that quite a bit has been said on this topic before. And the weight of evidence is that longbows didn't inflict many kills.

-Steven

Kunstbruder - Boston area Historical Combat Study
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Daniel Staberg




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 9:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Hinton wrote:


Mark Stretton is doing a massive amount on armour penetration

In recent tests he has put a replica plate cutting head through 2mm 14swg charcoal rolled iron (arrow head penetrated out the other side by 1/2inch the target was static) which is the material medieval armour would have been made from rather than modern high carbon steels.


If you are refering to the tests published in "Secrets of the English War bow" they were heavily biased against the armour and used substandard material.
Williams "The Knight and the Blast Furnace" contains the most extensive study of armour every conducted and shows in great detail the metallurgy of preserved armour. Not all medieval armour was made of iron, from the 15th century onward Italian and German armourers used the steel and and hardend steel with far higher defensive qualitties than iron armour. These materials provide 100-150% more protection compared with iron armour. To penetrate 2mm of steel plate such as used in the Italian armours woudl require an arrow to have an energy of 192.5 Joules, The highest kenetic energy recorded for a 150 pound longbow extensively tested by Hardy & STrickland was 134 Joules...
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Joshua Connolly




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 9:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard,

Well, I'll personally try to offer an explanation from my own humble resources. Admittedly some of this is more my own theories about the situation, without having too much of a wealth of historical data to back it up. Forgive me for intruding.


Quote:
It appears now that longbow arrows are even having trouble with penetrating mail?


Well, actually this makes sense historically because both the Longbow and maille armor co-existed for hundreds of years before the Hundred Years War without Longbows being demonstrated as being 'superior' to maille armor. Remember, during this period people consistently wore maille armor, despite threats like Longbows and earlier crossbows. While this doesn't mean that maille was invulnerable, it does show that the threat of the Longbow wasn't enough to warrant an immediate change in armor design during these periods.


Quote:
In the Hundred years war, why did the percentage of archers increase, from about 20% of total man-power, up to 80% of the total???


I think this is a more complex issue than you're allowing it. Troop numbers don't necessarily only reflect their effectiveness. They can also represent what you are able to get a hold of. For instance here, the one big problem with the Feudal aristocracy in Medieval Europe was that they were at times hard to organize because they were 'free' subordinates. They could heed your call or not, and in some cases could prove to be somewhat unreliable unless the King was able to provide a really good reason for the war. In this case, the Knightly class probably didn't see much use to continuing a war in France. They had all the land and wealth they needed, so giving them more land and wealth might not be worth it. This would mean the Knights of England would probably follow what was requested of them, but once they were no longer obligated to stay they would head back home.

Non-aristocratic foot soldiers are a different story though. They really, really, really don't have the wealth of the warrior aristocracy, and so they have much more to gain from fighting in France and continuing the war. They could hypothetically become a part of the warrior aristocracy, or at least achieve enough wealth to live happily with their families. Think of today. While I don't have hard numbers, I'm willing to bet there are many more soldiers who come from Middle-Lower class backgrounds than there are that come from 'Upper' class families or those who have extremely good chances at getting a well paying job(Ie; College is assured).

So at some level I'm willing to bet at least part of the increase in numbers is that there were simply more non-aristocratic soldiers available for extended recruitment, particularly those who had martial training already(Which would mean Longbowmen for lower classes). Likewise, the Longbow is definitely an effective weapon, but it might not be that they're some armor killer.

Quote:
It wasn't because their little arrows Might irritate the odd enemy.


I don't think, and feel free to correct me, that anyone here is really saying that a Longbow barrage will only irritate the 'odd' enemy. There are more attributes to a weapon than its ability to outright kill an enemy. Take a tank (Or a knight...) for example, is the only attribute of the tank its ability to blast things apart? No, often the attribute of it being able to rout and cause panic in the enemy is seen as just as important, at least from my humble experience. I believe the Longbow is in the same vein. While a barrage of arrows wouldn't necessarily kill everything in their path, they would do a lot to disrupt charges and break up formations. This is incredibly important in Medieval warfare.

Quote:
Why did the French avoid at all costs engaging the English in a head -to-head confrontation after Agiuncourt??


Well, that's not entirely true. The Hundred Years War was full of ups and downs, and lulls in the fighting. However, after Agincourt there was was a French offensive called the Loire campaign which won them the war. I would imagine that immediately after they didn't fight outright because their resources were drained, and France was muddled in political infighting between the Burgundians and the Armagnacs. Likewise, all armies would be demoralized after such a defeat.


Quote:
Why were archers paid more than foot-soldiers, if they were not much good??



Honestly, I don't think anyone has been saying that. Even Mr. Howard has stated that there were many targets on a medieval battlefield which were not wearing knightly levels of armor, and they'd probably be 'freer' game than the armored targets.

Quote:
Why was it, on the odd occasion when the English archers were surprised and scattered , that the English lost the battle??


Well, I think you've given your answer already. Remember, the English were increasingly relying upon the Longbowmen as a component to their doctrine, and what happens when such a vital component is lost? You lost. For instance, what would have happened if all of a sudden all of Nazi Germany's tanks, and all their crews just spontaneously exploded?

Although, by the end of the war it really wasn't the "odd" occasion. That's actually one of the reasons the English lost, because they lost their longbowmen, a key component to their military doctrine, to French armor.

Quote:
Why train for bloody years, if your skill is to no avail when it comes down to the nitty-gritty??


Well, once again, I don't think anyone has been saying that.


Steven,

You raise two very good points I think. The first is in regards to people forgetting that England lost the Hundred Years War, and especially that during the last stage of the war England was suffering catastrophic defeat after catastrophic defeat. If I remember properly, the total cost of the war put England in extremely bad shape for a long time.


And cost is the second point which I think is very important. Medieval Europeans didn't have the centralized bureaucracy which they had in later years to maintain their armies of pike and musket. This means that, even more importantly than later Europeans, that they had to find cheap ways to maintain their armies. This could be another explanation for the large amounts of archers in English armies, especially as the years draw on and the costs of the war start to pile up.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 11:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Resting English victory on the ability of the longbow to pierce plate armour is a dead end. My guess is that maybe one in 100, 1000 or even more may have done so. Alone it would likey not change the battle but combined with other casualties it caused it hampered the enemy and watered them down. That said I think it played a part in the weapons effectiveness but not how most would assume it would. I think there is a great likelihood that armour of the 15th would have left sufficient gaps to make the penetration issue less important. Knights always have some holes in their defences. Horses even more so. So at a distance I think it is fair to think that a man in plate was fairly safe under his armour.... but with tens if not hundreds of thousands of arrows flying around they do not need to pierce the armour. 1000 times better than being unarmoured but not invulnerable. I think closer up they were shooting and wounding or killing knights and other plate armoured men with more frequency, not per se mostly through plate armour. There are plenty of accounts from the late 14th and 15th that indicate men being wounded or killed by archers. That said even at close range it does not have to be through the plate but since the closer one gets this possibility increased this would be when it would happen. This is what I think happens at Patay and Verneuil. The archers cannot do any close shooting as their stakes had failed or they were caught unaware and they have to leg it. As far off the well equipped heavy cavalry is sitting safe their only option would be to run as shooting close would give them a short space of time before being crushed.

I think there is mail and mail. I cannot see many of the period hauberks I have seen, and I have seen perhaps a dozen to two dozen standing up to needlepoint bodkins. Part is that the point easily can get through with no force behind it. With an arrow it would have even less of a problem. OF course as I said there is mail and mail. Some mail was clearly intended to be proof. Whether it truly was is another question entirely. We have several accounts of men being killed by arrows through mail. We have some that do the other. One should not discount either but try and reason why in some situations it works and others if does not. Rereading some English accounts of Halidon last week I am surprised any one still thinks mail held up well against mail in all situations if they have looked at the primary sources. Dropping like leaves in autumn was one expression of how the knights of Scotland fell to the arrows. Unlike plate with chinks, mail of this time had few... unless it pierced their helmets, which I think is less likely.

Clearly with manpower of archers it does indeed rely around cost in part. The issue remains though is that the English have some of their greatest victories with masses of archers. Clearly they were effective against men at arms.

I think the English loss of the HYW has nothing to do with war directly. It has everything to do with ineffective leadership and an apathetic parliament back at home. While the English in England and Normandy fought over who was responsible to pay for the constant wars Charles VII simply walked in and did what the English should have been doing. There is little doubt to me that the long duration of the war shows the value of the archer against any troops of the day. The massive French attacks at the late 1440s saw the English garrisons in the lowest they had been ever. Most of the towns surrendered without any weapons even brought to bear on them. I think everyone knew Henry VI was not a man like his father and there was no sense in waging a war without real physical royal support.

RPM
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Gary Teuscher





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PostPosted: Fri 30 Jan, 2009 11:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Richard hare wrote:

Quote:
Gary, I can't help but feel you are trying to re-invent the wheel here.


Nah. Not re-inventing, just getting some more specific info on it. Measuring the spoke, checking the air pressure, kicking the tires a few times Wink

Steve Hinton wrote:

Quote:
Much of this research is a little dated


I would not say dated. But I do look to look at many sources on a topic before coming to a conclusion. Actually more of the recent data and articles tend to play down the longbow as any kind of wonder weapon.

Quote:
Take a look at http://www.englishwarbow,com/


I did. There seems to be a handful of inaccuracies on the site, many not even directly related to the longbow. Maybe inaccuracies is not the best term for all of them. Generalities that leave much room for inaccuracy is probably a better term. And I'd be real careful looking at a site specifically designed to promoting the English longbow as my prime source. Many tests have been done, and many bias results one way or another due to a pre existing bias IMO. Dan mentioned two of the more reputable tests, though even these have some bias.

Quote:
You are a little under on draw weights for Mary Rose Bows these have now been recorded at much higher weights


Depends where you look. The site you show lists those on the High end of the equation. There is a longbow enthusiast, I forget his name but I think the site is "Primitive Archery" or something like that. What surprises me is he is a big proponent of the longbow, but he feels the average draw promoted by the other camp is more accurate, about 100# or so. The idea of longbows averaging 140# draws is hardly new.

Quote:
You also need to take ito account hitting power even if the arrow didn't cut through the percussion and deformation of the armour would be enough to damage bones and organs not an immediate death granted


I would think with the mail and padding a bruise, at worst a cracked rib would result. With Plate, it needs to be dented pretty severely. One other thing - In these tests, was an arming doublet used under the plate?

Quote:
A lot if not the majority of arrow heads were case hardened (as case hardening only alters the molecular structure at the surface of the arrow head most of this is removed by the action of oxidisation (rusting


Interesting. I'm curious why broadheads have been found in a hardened form, needle nosed bodkins have not? I'm not trying to be funny here, it does pique my curiosity though.

Quote:
The difference between Asian composite bows and self wooden bows is recovery speed (the ability for the bow to snap back to its pre drawn state) which will impart more speed to an arrow of the same weight shot from a wooden bow of the same draw weight (taking intoconsiderationn the law of diminishing returns)


I'm familiar with the recovery speed issue here. IMO, I would think this reflects more the efficiency of the bow if lighter projectiles are used more than anything else. Another thing is I have been told (can't say I have a good source on this) that recovery speed for almost all bows is extremely close. And as far as composites having quicker recovery time, a composite recurve is shorter than a longbow but would have similar drawlength. This means its limbs have a further distance to move to return to a braced position, which would slow recovery time. On the other hand,a longbow has more massive and longer limbs, which means a bit more of the stored energy is lost by returning the limbs to the recovery position. But on the other hand, the smaller limbs of the composite have further to move. I think it's mostly a wash here, or at least not enough to alter performance much.

What does give the composite more power per pound of draw is that the draw starts at a higher weight. A 100# longbow may start around 25#, a composite around 40#. This means the Composite for equal poundage and draw weight can transmit more energy back to the arrow. There were some turkish bows tested, a 136 pound turkish warbow launched a slightly heavier arrow than a 150 pound longbow with similar drawlength at a higher velocity. I would think as a general rule, a composite bow launches arrows about as effectively as a longbow of about 20 pounds or so higher. It's actually probably more of a percentage, but with the draw weights we are looking at it's about 20 pounds.

All I would say Steve is look at multiple sources of information before coming to conclusions. And be a bit wary of those that are promoting something specifically, those that are not promoting a longbow or crossbow are less subject to bias.

The main reason for going down the composite route is material availability. (most English Warbows were imported from Spain and Italy)

Can't say I agree with this. Longbows are rather useless to horse archers, the biggest reason composites were used by the steppe peoples. A composite is more effective and efficient - and IIRC yew wood was used in a fair amount of these. The more effective crossbows prior to steel bows were of composite construction, not wood. Composites have a few drawbacks - they are more expensive in time and materials, and the glue does not care for moisture. But mideastern foot continued to use the composite, and the Roman foot archers did as well. My guess it was a tradition of making composites, and breaking this tradition and re-tooling for a slighter less efficient but less expensive bow to make never made sense.

Richard Hare wrote:

Quote:
It appears your research is more important than looking at the actual historical facts.


On the contrary, Richard. But when looking at facts, it's not as simple of a matter of looking at a few battles, the numbers of troops on both sides, and who won the "name" battles, then deciding it was because of a particular wonder weapon that this happened. You need to look at troop deployment, numbers of specific troops, and exactly what happened and why. Looking at things like the weather and terrain is important as well.

Steven H covered a lot of things pretty well. I'd just like to add a few things, starting with Agincourt. Bear with me on this one, I'll have to be careful some of the numbers here as I'm doing this mostly from memory.

The French Crossbowmen sortied out against the English longbow line and traded missile fire. Supposedly here is where the longbow showed it's superiority over the crossbow (it was superior in some ways, but not to the extent claimed in this battle IMO). First, the French had IIRC about 500 Italian Crossbowmen. We don't know exactly how many others, but I doubt it was over 1000, so maybe 1500 Crossbowmen. They were far outnumbered by the Longbowmen, and would have lost this engagement had they crossbows, longbows or even bolt action rifles! This of course was compounded by the slower spanning time of the crossbows. The fact the weather had been damp is often attributed to the problems the crossbowmen had, but even with dry weather this would have been a no win situation. The only thing the damp weather issue lends me to believe is perhaps composite crossbows were still prevalent in the French army, as they would have been most adversely effected.

Right here is also a problem with the french generalship. Apparently as far as I can tell, they did not advance en masse against the english line, but had the crossbowmen go first unsupported. what would have made a hell of a lot more sense would have been crossbowmen advancing on the wings, and heavy infantry in the main line. The longbowmen would have had to either shoot at the crossbowmen who were shooting at them, or at the advancing infantry, either allowing the infantry to advance unmolested or allowing the crossbowmen to loose bolts at them without returning fire.

The Infantry then advanced. They had to cover 240 yards or so while being shot at. A brisk walk is about 4 miles an hour, for a large group of armoured men this would be an accomplishment. Add to this the mud soaked fields, advancing under fire, and keeping their visors down for protection. Two and a half miles an hour would have been better than could be expected IMO. Lets say 200 feet per minute, which means a good 6+ minutes while being fired on prior to contact. At a rather leisurely pace of 6 arrows per minute, this would be a good 36 arrows per longbowman, probably a slower pace initially and more rapid as they approached closer. Loosing arrows at a tightly massed formation should ensure a good hit rate, 50% at a minimum I would think. Some of these arrows may find joints in the armour of the best armoured, or hit unarmoured areas on the not as well armoured. Then they have to make their way through pits and stakes before contact, probably exposing vulnerable areas at very close range. And I never said arrows could not pierce mail - my question was at what range. If this was 50 yards for mail over quilt, they are under fire for about a minute before they can close, and any mail openings are easy targets, or if only wearing mail their whole body is a target.

Which is another issue with generalship here - IIRC the English had not deployed there stakes and other protective measures when the French were on the field, they did it while the French were on the Field. While horse charging archers is not a great idea for cavalry, this still may have been their best chance to drive off the English archers. Instead they allowed them to fortify their position. A quick charge of the horse may have taken some casualties, but it would have been a good chance to take out the archers, and best done it would have had the infantry and crossbowmen following closely behind.

whew! enough about Agincourt.

Quote:
In the Hundred years war, why did the percentage of archers increase, from about 20% of total man-power, up to 80% of the total???


Mentioned earlier, but I'll re-iterate. Cost, unless you are going cheaper with levy Billmen.

The English victories in the Hundred years war were often as a result of French generalship being as accommodating as possible, and letting the English set up in a position tough to flank with static defenses in front of them, tailor made to an archery heavy armies strengths.

One thing I'd like to add - I have been able to come across far more information that is specific regarding the effects of arrows in the crusader period. and bearing in mind the relative capacities of the Turkish composite bow and the Longbow, both should have produced similar results. as a matter of fact, the crusading period was a bit earlier, and armour was not as complete of heavy as in the hundred years war, so actually the Turkish bows should have fared better. Add this to the mobility of horse archers that allowed them to loose arrows at point blank range and then avoid contact, and it seems the turkish archers would have fared much better.

What we have in the Crusades are Crusaders who walk around with multiple arrows sticking in their armour, the arrows not driving home deep enough to cause significant injury. According to sources, armoured men that kept formation would not take a lot of damage from the turkish bows.

We do have the Archers being kept at bay many times by Crossbowmen - the archers loosing their arrows while out of good range to inflict casualties, not closing to closer distances due to fear of the crossbow.

At first this seems that the crossbow had more range - but looking at it closer, I think it was something else. The crusader crossbowmen are often illustrated wearing mail. Maybe not all were equipped this way, but a good portion. The horse archers were often unarmoured, though some wore mail. But the only way the turkish archers would have sucess against mailed opponents was to close to very close range - and here they are vulnerable to the crossbow, and their mounts are even more vulnerable. And no one wants to have their horse shot out under than 50 feet from the crusader battle line! So they shot at great distance to no effect, hoping the distance would provide protection for them.

Sometimes they did get close - And Against Richard (Jaffa?), they few cavalry available to the crusaders at this point would sally forth from their protective box of infantry - the infantry providing a screen for the cavalry to protect them from arrows the rest of the time. This is what all bows were effective at - killing or wounding horses.

But my real question here was not IF arrows and bolts could pierce armour, but at what range. I've already stated arrows could pierce mail, but I don't think they would at long range. Piercing plate is another issue altogether, either 1-1.5 mm over mail or 2-2.5mm over a doublet. Those powerful crossbows could have however IMO, once again at what range.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Jan, 2009 1:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gary,

I think discounting the average draw weight given from the Mary Rose bows is dangerous at best. All research points to 140-160 as the largest % that were recovered. Since we have no other bows we know to be military bows for late medieval to early modern this literally is all we have to go off for Western European longbows. The only person who contended with the Mary Rose bow findings on any real grounds has since changed his view after realizing his math was wrong. The 100 pound draw is just unrealistic. I can after 4-5 days a year draw one with little effort at this point. Anyone who practiced even once a month should be able to get to 120 with ease. The gent you are thinking of is Pip Bickerstaff and his reasons for dropping the draw weight to 100 pounds also would discount crossbows being any higher than 100 pounds as well, claiming that the material used in period was incapable of such tensile strength which is completely false. There are really no real arguments I have heard that adequately indicate why people arrived at 120 as an average or 100 for that matter. At least the Mary Rose estimate is based on real finds with real context, full stop. The only real issue is if the bows were more powerful in the 16th over 15th or 14th which would not to me seem to be the case but that is an entire matter in itself.

Tests on arrow heads and hardness are all very, very inadequate as well. Most measure a million of one type with but one or two other ones. Part is the lack of certain types so using them for anything that might cause harm to them limits how much use is possible but Id be careful making general assumptions off very limited sample sections. Same goes with armour. No one has done anything in real numbers to get thickness really into the equation. Until someone takes the time and effort to look at a much greater and more proportional number of both arrowheads and armour the debate will always be lopsided.

Williams testing did include a 16 layered padded garment in his equations on penetration. Since many seem to think that non-padded garments were used by the mid 15th it is hard to say if it should be included. To me I think they were to some extent always padded to some degree.


RPM
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Josh Warren




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Jan, 2009 3:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As I've posted recently here the last time this topic came up a few weeks ago, I think the written primary source evidence comes down heavily on the armour side of the argument. There are more existing historical records that state that armour resisted arrows than there are records that state that men were killed by arrows through steel plate armour. See here:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=15336

The recent tests published and noised about by Stretton and company almost invariably depict the archers shooting at either flat or barely-shaped pieces of steel, and never more than one layer of steel. Plenty of later fifteenth century breastplates feature significant overlap of the breastplate and plackart, pauldrons, wrapper, bevor, etc. On some later harnesses, nearly every inch of the upper body is sheathed in no less than two layers of steel, which could exceed 4mm in thickness in vulnerable spots, as recorded here by men who have personally handled and measured these pieces:

http://forums.armourarchive.org/phpBB2/viewto...=thickness





It was armour such as this that defeated the longbow. Note the deep plackarts, effectively forming an almost double-breastplate, as well as the huge pauldrons and elbow defenses. Between those and the brow reinforce and wrapper on the armet, any weapon that strikes a man so armed will very often be opposed by more than one layer of steel.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Jan, 2009 4:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
I do not think the RA Journal is biased much in either respects..
Firing from a ridiculously short range (10m) is bias against the armour. Using bodkins that are 2 or 3 times harder than any that have so far been analysed is bias against the armour. Using ash shafts rather than aspen is bias against the armour (aspen arrows were far more common than ash during the time in question). Failing to use something to simulate the arming doublet is bias against the armour. Firing at a flat plate is bias against the armour since armour was deliberately shaped to make it very unlikely for an arrow to hit at 90 degrees. According to Williams the best plate they tested was the worst plate that armourers had available to work with - again bias against the armour. Even so this test demonstrated that a heavy warbow firing at the worst quality plate under optimal conditions would do nothing to someone wearing 2mm or thicker plate. I would have liked to have seen a test against a plate of 1.5mm.
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Josh Warren




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Jan, 2009 4:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Steve Hinton wrote:

You also need to take ito account hitting power even if the arrow didn't cut through the percussion and deformation of the armour would be enough to damage bones and organs not an immediate death granted

I've seen this one bruited about by the archers, too. I'm not sure the argument holds much water. After all, jousters, both modern and medieval, are subjected to percussive impacts in their armour that are much greater than any amount of force that an arrow can generate, and they walk away from such collisions uninjured. I don't think that the blunt trauma inflicted by an arrow that doesn't penetrate armour is going to cause any significant harm to the armour's wearer.

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