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Robert Hinds




Location: Whitewater, Wisconsin USA
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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 11:21 am    Post subject: Falling in armour         Reply with quote

I've been curious about this for awhile now, so I thought I'd post a topic asking about it.

What would happen if a man wearing full plate armour fell...from a scaling ladder 2-3 stories?

Now I'm not exactly sure how high a medieval wall is, I suppose they are different heights, but what would happen if a fully armoured man wearing say, 15th century gothic armour fell from the top of a castle wall? Would his armour break his fall? Would it make his fall worse by an edge cutting into him? Would there be a dent in the ground if he landed on soft grass? Would he look like a honda hit by a semi if he landed in a rocky area?

Now hopefully no one here has experienced this personally (or know someone!) but are there any period illustratons or storys of this happening? What do YOU think would happen?

Hopefully we can get some good discussion goin' here. Happy

Ps: Go pack! WHOO!

"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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Eric Allen




Location: Texas
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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 11:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What happens when an unarmored man falls that distance? The harness would add mass, but little else.
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Anders Kramer




Location: Denmark
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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 12:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Depending on the period, most walls would be sloped, which would couching the fall significantly. I actually tried this, though not in a full plate but in a placard with arm and leg harness, and it didn't do anything at all. It didn't hurt me either though. Then again it's not like a full plate armor.
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Matthijs Witsenburg




Location: The Hague, Netherlands
Joined: 03 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 1:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have no experience falling off walls, but I have, on occasion fallen from a horse in armour. Armour is designed to spread the force of impact and this feature is quite useful when hitting the ground. As a friend described it: "D*mn, that was loud! Now where is my horse?" I've never endured more than some minor bruising and a broken lace or strap. If edges cut into you the armour is made wrong.

In the case at hand a lot would depend on factors like the type of surface, roughness, slope and objects or people that get in the way. The friction of armour against other surfaces will generally be lower than that of clothing or flesh which helps as long as you're not hitting the surface perpendicularly.
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Christian G. Cameron




Location: Toronto, Canada
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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 5:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ahh!

I thought it might just be me. I, too, have fallen hard--on frozen ground--from a horse in my harness. The two equestrian professionals I was riding with commented that perhaps the purpose of armour was to ease the frequency of falling in training as much as anything else. i have to say that it seems to me (and I'm pretty new to this) that Medieval chivalric professionals must have fallen from horses A LOT. At least if they were practicing Fiore...

So I'm with Matthijs.

On the other hand, I can IMAGINE that a fall just wrong would allow the arm harness to act as a multiplier and really dislocate a shoulder. I hope never to prove this, however. Happy

Christian G. Cameron

Qui plus fait, miex vault

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A. Gallo





Joined: 08 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 7:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd have to assume it would have more of an effect than just adding mass. The interior padding and steel plate shell would have a similar effect to that of a motorcycle helmet with interior foam and an exterior shell which is rigid but "gives" just enough to be softer than bone vs ground impact., I've crashed in a helmet & padded leathers at speeds that most likely would have killed me without (and got back up without injury), not the fun, sliding type of crash but blunt highside impact.

If the distance was great enough that the sheer blunt force would crush your body then it wouldn't make much of a difference, but at something like 2 stories I think it would make a HUGE difference.

I don't think there would be much risk of an edge cutting into him, plate looks pretty jagged and painful from the outside (probably intentionally) but the parts in contact with the wearer are flat or gradual concave on the pieces I own, not really much to turn on you and stab you (that I can think of at the moment anyway).

I think the biggest negative concern would be the act of removing the crushed/deformed armor afterwards to receive medical attention. that could be an issue.
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Robert Hinds




Location: Whitewater, Wisconsin USA
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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 8:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank's for the reply's! I should think the arming garments and plate would give some protection, protecting the head, neck and spine from hitting a rock or something.

When I said "cutting into" I didn't really mean cut as in shed blood, I meant an edge (such as the edge of a breastplate) being shoved into the shoulder joint by the force of the impact and maybe dislocating something...I don't know if thats possible but I know it would hurt. Worried

"Young knight, learn to love God and revere women; thus your honor will grow. Practice knighthood and learn the Art that dignifies you, and brings you honor in wars." -Johannes Liechtenauer

"...And he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one..." Luke 22:36
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Tom Kinder





Joined: 27 Nov 2008

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PostPosted: Sun 23 Jan, 2011 9:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I too have fallen in armor, and quite poorly made SCA armor at that and experienced much the same effect as these gentles have described, however I would like to add that a lot depends on HOW the person falls. if an arm or a neck gets hit the wrong way one could certainly end up dead or at least seriously injured. also falling from that height I would suspect it would be possible for your internal organs to be damaged from the rapid deceleration. from a horse or even a little bit higher and falling flat seems like minimal risk to me but from the top of a castle wall two stories or more high, seems much more risky. you won't find my doing a dirt dive from that height just because I have armor on, no matter how good it is.
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Walter S




Location: Czech Republic
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 1:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fall from wall two stories high would be about 5-6m, so the falling knight would be falling for about 1 second and hit ground at speed of 35-40kph (20-25MPH). I would expect the knight to be stunned, but probably without major injuries - similar to very hard hit in jousting, which I believe occur at somewhat similar speeds.
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Kel Rekuta




Location: Toronto, Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 4:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robert Hinds wrote:
Thank's for the reply's! I should think the arming garments and plate would give some protection, protecting the head, neck and spine from hitting a rock or something.

When I said "cutting into" I didn't really mean cut as in shed blood, I meant an edge (such as the edge of a breastplate) being shoved into the shoulder joint by the force of the impact and maybe dislocating something...I don't know if thats possible but I know it would hurt. Worried


The underlying mail at the joints between plates and the fact that armour needs to fit properly... no - the edges wouldn't cut into the wearer. Still the impact would be really unpleasant, no matter how fortunately a fellow landed. Not something I'd be willing to practice. Eek!
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 10:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Three stories is generally considered to be a fatal drop.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Anders Kramer




Location: Denmark
Joined: 16 Feb 2006

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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 12:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Three stories is generally considered to be a fatal drop.


If it's a flat out fall, but not if it is to s sloped surface.

I fell onto the underlying rampart. i would estimate the wall to be about 3 meters to the rampart, and the tumble to be about 2. Wasn't fund, and I had a concussion (inflicted by three hits from a war-hammer), but i got up and walked away.
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Walter S




Location: Czech Republic
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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 1:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anders Kramer wrote:
Wasn't fund, and I had a concussion (inflicted by three hits from a war-hammer), but i got up and walked away.


I'm glad you weren't "fund" :P
Now what was it supposed to be? Hurt?
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Thom R.




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 2:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guys - too many variables to make an intelligent answer to this question. In the US, the standard from MSHA and NIOSH for fall protection is 6 feet. 6 feet and above you must employ fall protection. Yes people have died from a 6 foot fall. OTOH people have survived quite high falls.

PS people have died from just tripping and slipping as well from zero height. slips trips and falls are a main cause of death in the workplace. In the US mining industry, from 2006-2010, 16 deaths occurred from slips and falls, 13% of the total of 121 fatalities. (www.msha.gov)
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 24 Jan, 2011 3:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thom R. wrote:
OTOH people have survived quite high falls.



Mostly flukes but I've read of people falling from higher than a 10 story building an surviving and maybe even a few even rarer cases with mininal damage.

On what you fall can make a difference: Falling on a pine tree could slow down one's fall as long as one didn't get impailed by the main trunk of the tree.

I think there is at least one case of someone's parachute not opening and their surviving a long long fall ! But at some point one hits " terminal velocity " so that falling 10,000 feet or falling 500 feet won't make a difference at what speed one hits.

Yeah, I think that terminal velocity is something like 160 miles and our ?
http://www.sciencebyjones.com/parachutes.htm

On a personal note: Did one parachute jump when I was at University decades ago and I sort of remember this from the training course we had to take before our fist jump: Jumping is easy to do once one has done the hard part of letting go of the plane. Wink Razz

Oh, my parachute jump was also the first time I took of in a plane so that until I took a commercial flight some years later I had never landed with the plane. Razz Laughing Out Loud

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Larry Bohnham





Joined: 20 May 2010

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PostPosted: Tue 25 Jan, 2011 10:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quick, somebody call the Myth Busters!

Seriously though, it all comes down to absorbing the energy generated by the impact and as we know F=MA, so the added mass of the armor would increase the total force imparted to the poor bloke. At impact, the amount of energy the armor could absorb and thus not impart to the structure of the bod underneath it would be the defining criteria for survivability. The armor itself being steel would have a certain amount of give based on it's Young's modulus of elasticity, so it would yield to a degree. Then the standoff distance between the arming garments and the plates would add the time to compress and close that gap to the equation further extending the time line for energy transfer. As you increase the time line, the peak force of the impact is spread over that time allowing for further energy dissipation. Finally, the arming garments themselves would compress and then the elasticity of the the body's tissues would have to absorb the remaining energy. If that energy was above the failure threshold of the soft tissues then they would experience tearing and or rupture leading to significant internal injuries and or death. There is an accepted standard for the failure threshold of soft tissue, but I can't find it readily, so maybe someone else has that data.

I think the guy would probably be injured, most likely breaking bones or getting a concussion, and depending on many variables, the chance of death would be significant.

As Paul Newman said in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"; "Swim? Hell, the fall'll probably kill ya!"

"No athlete can fight tenaciously who has never received any blows; he must see his blood flow and hear his teeth crack under the fist of his adversary..."
Roger of Hoveden, d.1201

a furore Normannorum libera nos Domine

"Henry, get down off that horse with that sword, you'll put someone's eye out!" Mrs. Bolingbroke's advice to her son, Henry, on the eve of the battle of Agincourt
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