Info Favorites Register Log in
myArmoury.com Discussion Forums

Forum index Memberlist Usergroups Spotlight Topics Search
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > If there was no gunpowder! Reply to topic
This is a standard topic Go to page 1, 2  Next 
Author Message
Henrik J. Fridh




Location: Gothenburg, Sweden.
Joined: 29 Jun 2012

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 8:18 am    Post subject: If there was no gunpowder!         Reply with quote

Ponder for a moment if you will that there was no gunpowder in the world, but that humanity was otherwise on the same technological level as we are now. For the sake of this hypothetical scenario, ignore things such as "well if there is no gunpowder we wouldn't have this and that and wouldn't be able to do all these things". All the countries that exist now also exist in this scenario.

So on to my questions!

In what manner would we be fighting do you think? Pikes and crossbows/bows? More like the romans? Earlier medieval styles?

With what materials would armour and weapons be made do you think? Surely we could make plate armour much lighter today, no? Would we use other materials than metal? Do you think maille would still be around? How much armour do you think your average soldier would wear? Size of armies?

This topic is mostly for fun but it would be great hearing your suggestions!
View user's profile Send private message
Jean-Carle Hudon




Location: Montreal,Canada
Joined: 16 Nov 2005
Likes: 4 pages

Posts: 445

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 8:54 am    Post subject: compound bows would rule         Reply with quote

As a sometimes hunter and now-and-then archer ( mainly longbow), I would go with compound bows. They are light, powerfull, precise, fast loading... lethal in every respect. Well, the Moose sure think so.
Bon coeur et bon bras
View user's profile Send private message
Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,410

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 9:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Since you've left electricity on the table, I'm going to say we would just use a wondrous array of electrical and magnetic weapons because their advantage would be more acute without competition from cheap chemical systems and need would be more pressing. Since accelerated projectile weapons are more commonly on the table today I'm going to say at a high level the battlefield looks not that different. We just use electricity to accelerate projectiles instead of a chemical reactions. Big Grin
"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
View user's profile Send private message
Glen A Cleeton




Location: Nipmuc USA
Joined: 21 Aug 2003

Posts: 1,795

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 9:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
Since you've left electricity on the table, I'm going to say we would just use a wondrous array of electrical and magnetic weapons because their advantage would be more acute without competition from cheap chemical systems and need would be more pressing. Since accelerated projectile weapons are more commonly on the table today I'm going to say at a high level the battlefield looks not that different. We just use electricity to accelerate projectiles instead of a chemical reactions. Big Grin


Bingo Laughing Out Loud
View user's profile Send private message
Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,410

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 9:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'll also venture that the widespread use of electric/magnetic kinetic systems ends up accelerating the development of some truly interesting direct energy weapons that are imagined or on drawing boards today but not in actual use. Big Grin
"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
View user's profile Send private message
Henrik J. Fridh




Location: Gothenburg, Sweden.
Joined: 29 Jun 2012

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 9:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joe Fults wrote:
Since you've left electricity on the table, I'm going to say we would just use a wondrous array of electrical and magnetic weapons because their advantage would be more acute without competition from cheap chemical systems and need would be more pressing. Since accelerated projectile weapons are more commonly on the table today I'm going to say at a high level the battlefield looks not that different. We just use electricity to accelerate projectiles instead of a chemical reactions. Big Grin


Party pooper!

But also, that sounds very interesting.
View user's profile Send private message
Scott Hanson




Location: La Crosse, WI
Joined: 19 Jul 2006
Likes: 3 pages
Reading list: 6 books

Posts: 154

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 12:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was going to say compressed air weaponry, but I think Joe's got it: electromagnetic mass accelerators.

I like the idea of rolling back the clock and having all of these cool weapons we love become the practical weapons of war again, but sadly it's just not going to happen. There are too many ways to build good projectile weaponry with the level of technology that we possess for us to go back to melee weapons.

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another"

Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association (WHFA)
A HEMA Alliance Affiliate
View user's profile Send private message
Isaac D Rainey




Location: Evansville Indiana
Joined: 29 Sep 2012

Posts: 62

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 12:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On the subject of air compressed weaponry. Here is the Girandoni air rifle, it had the power of any musket of the day and held 25 rounds!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pqFyKh-rUI
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail
Raman A




Location: United States
Joined: 25 Aug 2011

Posts: 143

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 2:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I hate to break it to you but a lack of gunpowder isn't enough to send warfare tumbling back to the time of spears and steel armor.

People have already mentioned rail guns which are the big one. Tanks, helicopters, planes, ships, and artillery would probably just be outfitted with massive railguns.

There's also compressed air weapons for the single soldier, which have already been mentioned as well.

There's also weapons that use gas rather than solid propellant to accelerate projectiles, similar to an engine.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combustion_light_gas_gun

and let's not forget flamethrowers and electric weaponry like stunguns and tasers to truly make steel armor worthless. Maybe flamethrowers are never banned simply due to need and become a much bigger deal for small scale combat in this alternate timeline?

and there's some more science-fiction sounding experimental weapons like these http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Directed-energy_weapon

Without gunpowder more research would be poured into these alternate weapon systems. Warfare would look much different than it does today, but it certainly wouldn't be anything like what you're imagining with swords and mail. It's an interesting thought experiment though.
View user's profile Send private message
Henrik J. Fridh




Location: Gothenburg, Sweden.
Joined: 29 Jun 2012

Posts: 11

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 3:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow that is fascinating. To think how different weapons could function if there was no gunpowder, yet still achieving the same results. Appreciate this alot guys.

But ponder we lived lived in a time with our sophisticated metallurgy where there would still be a need for metal armour, what alloys and such would they be made of to make them light yet durable enough (same issue as in the middle ages/renaissance I guess) and how different in those regards do you think they would be? What in terms of plate armour could be done with our technology do you think?
View user's profile Send private message
Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
Reading list: 5 books

Posts: 2,094

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 5:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Only one question? What is gunpowder?

I think a very important line to think about is where gunpowder first proved useful in war. Sieges. Without cannons I figure they would have pushed trebuchets and springalds along further. As far as hand weapons harder to say. The improvements of gunpowder in the west is going on alongside advances in other technologies. But who knows without the one if all the others would have gone as far.

RPM
View user's profile Send private message
James Arlen Gillaspie
Industry Professional



Location: upstate NY
Joined: 10 Nov 2005

Posts: 520

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 5:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nope. No rail guns, no serious weapons-grade lasers, not at our current level of technology, except perhaps on nuclear - powered naval vessels and fortifications (are we allowing rockets into this scenario? Better not! In fact, you would need to ban ALL explosives to make your scenario work, which would rule out many chemical lasers). The amount of juice they eat up is beyond most people's comprehension, and the elephant standing squarely in the middle of the room is energy storage. I don't know how much I could say without getting a certain someone in big trouble (and maybe myself!), but one prototype railgun I know of required a VERY LARGE warehouse FULL of car batteries that had to be fully charged for every run. The results were pretty astounding, though.
jamesarlen.com
View user's profile Send private message Visit poster's website
Jonathon Hanson




Location: Pittsburgh, PA
Joined: 11 Mar 2010

Posts: 23

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 6:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think a significant point is that up until the 1800s, electricity was very poorly understood. Whereas gunpowder was easily made once it was discovered, the technology required to make batteries for electric weapons would probably be beyond man's capabilities up until recently.

I do think that with improvements in technology new weapons would be developed- mainly fire weapons, repeating crossbows, and the like. Perhaps pneumatic weapons would also be developed, but most likely not up until recent times in our theoretical alternate history.

My position is that the use of metal armor would have persisted for centuries beyond when it fell out of fashion in real history- besides gunpowder and perhaps fire weapons, no technology was really able to defeat it. Crossbow technology would have improved to the point where they might have been utilized in a musket-like role, but I doubt that they would have really been able to defeat improving plate consistently.

Perhaps in today's world pneumatic, electric, and fire weapons would give plate armor more problems, but again I think that none of those technologies would be dominant like gunpowder. The horse would likely vanish, but perhaps modern warfare would be like that of the 1700s, with projectiles significant but not completely dominant and much more close combat than is the case in our own world.
View user's profile Send private message
Michael Wiethop




Location: St. Louis
Joined: 27 May 2012

Posts: 63

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 7:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've done a lot of thinking (read: daydreaming Laughing Out Loud) as well. It makes me think about how armor would have developed in the 16th and 17th centuries. Armor had been steadily improving for centuries, but I think plate was starting to reach its peak with head-to-toe fluted steel. Perhaps they would have developed methods to lower the cost, enabling more soldiers to wear it.

As for weapons, I think the 17th or 18th centuries might have seen the invention of primitive compound bows and crossbows. People already knew how pulleys worked, and machinery was getting more and more complex. With an abundance of heavy armor and a lack of guns to defeat it, perhaps somebody would've been driven to invent more advanced and powerful bows and crossbows.
View user's profile Send private message
Scott Hanson




Location: La Crosse, WI
Joined: 19 Jul 2006
Likes: 3 pages
Reading list: 6 books

Posts: 154

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 9:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think to say that we'd have sophisticated metallurgy but not be able to make pneumatic weapons that can defeat plate armor is unrealistic. Pneumatic weapons can be made quite powerful. They might be more RPG/bazooka-like than rifle-like, but they'd be there.

As for what sort of armor could we make with modern metallurgy, I'd expect us to start experimenting with superalloys and perhaps composites, but we probably couldn't make personal armor that was vastly superior to plate armor. Quite possibly, the padding underneath the armor would become the weakest point, as the need to prevent blunt force trauma could become the biggest concern.

Proverbs 27:17 "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another"

Wisconsin Historical Fencing Association (WHFA)
A HEMA Alliance Affiliate
View user's profile Send private message
Vincent C




Location: Northern VA
Joined: 24 Aug 2009

Posts: 83

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 10:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

An interesting thought about armor, and what goes beneath it.

The padding could be replaced with something like the liquid armor (shear thickening liquid) to absorb a bit more of the impact, it spreads the blunt force over more area so it doesn't have as much shock on impact. I honestly have no idea if this would work so well on a shearing force like a cut, but it would help mitigate blunt force.

If it doesn't work so well against cuts, put some plate over it and use it like a gambeson. You could also use it in a coat of plates esque getup for impact and cut protection.

Would things like large-scale batteries be in use? I could see primitive electric-and-water booby-traps being very popular when you know a company in plate is going to be showing up. Even the Egyptians could make primitive batteries, I see no reason why a refined version wouldn't eventually be developed.

In terms of non-combustion machines, there's always steam. If nothing else it would effect logistics and nautical warfare. Simple contraptions like bicycles could also heavily affect logistics.

Honor, compassion, knowledge.
View user's profile Send private message
Joe Fults




Location: Midwest
Joined: 02 Sep 2003

Posts: 3,410

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 11:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Magic?

The Force?

Cool

"Our life is what our thoughts make it"
-Marcus Aurelius

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
-John F. Kennedy
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,123

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 11:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are plenty of explosives that have nothing to do with gunpowder. Given the development of chemistry over the last three centuries it is difficult to imagine a world that never managed to invent some kind of explosive propellant.
View user's profile Send private message
Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,123

PostPosted: Sat 10 Nov, 2012 11:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Vincent C wrote:
Even the Egyptians could make primitive batteries, I see no reason why a refined version wouldn't eventually be developed..

No they didn't. The so-called "Bagdad battery" is a scroll case.
View user's profile Send private message
William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,423

PostPosted: Sun 11 Nov, 2012 1:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i'm with Dan on this.

an 'explosion is simply a very rapid combustion'
just saying gunpowder does not exist is.. almost impossible, I mean sulfur, saltpetre and charcoal are specified in a 15th century swiss recipe for making incendiery arrows purely for setting targets alight.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uL4vnolCwLI

one example of explosive things that could exist even since agriculture is the fuel air explosion. What happens here is that a cloud of stuff, be it grains, flour, petroleum, or other materials, if it forms a 'fuel air ratio' can be ignited, the result is a massive fireball that has caused silo explosions across the world, and is even used but this only can occur as a preset/ rigged explosive in ancient times. or for ambushes.

another example of the above fireball is what happens when you ignite an aerosol spray, it is used in armies in the form of thermobaric bombs.

also, while this cannot propel a bullet, we still have materials like thermite that can slice through steel easily in the case of anti building weapons.

that being said, without gunpowder, or any decently explosive material, human civilisation would not be exactly as it is now
there is a huge amount of things that are 'explosive' and also the fact that black powder was used to further, and increase the efficiency of mining and other activities such as demolition.

but if black powder was merely delayed we would still have an interesting form of warfare developing up to now, now we have chemical engineering making materials like C4 and such synthetically.
View user's profile Send private message Send e-mail


Display posts from previous:   
Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > If there was no gunpowder!
Page 1 of 2 Reply to topic
Go to page 1, 2  Next All times are GMT - 8 Hours

View previous topic :: View next topic
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum
You cannot attach files in this forum
You can download files in this forum






All contents © Copyright 2003-2018 myArmoury.com — All rights reserved
Discussion forums powered by phpBB © The phpBB Group
Switch to the Basic Low-bandwidth Version of the forum