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Sam Arwas




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PostPosted: Tue 02 May, 2017 6:03 am    Post subject: Why weren't all spears winged?         Reply with quote

Overpenetration is one of the biggest problems warriors faced when using spears. Putting wings on the shaft in an extremely simple and effective way to combat this problem. So why would you not have them?
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Tue 02 May, 2017 6:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Winged spears were mainly used in hunting, not combat. The wings kept the speared animal from charging up the shaft. Happy ....McM
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Tue 02 May, 2017 6:43 am    Post subject: Re: Why weren't all spears winged?         Reply with quote

Sam Arwas wrote:
Overpenetration is one of the biggest problems warriors faced when using spears. Putting wings on the shaft in an extremely simple and effective way to combat this problem. So why would you not have them?


Huh, I'd never heard that overpenetration was a problem at all. Considering how long spears have been in use, mostly without wings, my guess is that it was *not* a common problem. Out of curiosity, what makes you say that it was?

Matthew
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Gregg Sobocinski




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PostPosted: Tue 02 May, 2017 7:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You logic is not flawed, but I do think over penetration was not the primary concern most of the time.

Adding wings made manufacture more complex, and added expense by requiring more metal. More importantly, this extra mass slows down the spear's primary attack, which is a quick thrust, as well as adding weight to carry on the march. The wings would also make it harder to stab past a shield, even if they would add a hooking function.

Like you, the thought of wings on spears is appealing to me, but the practicalities of war seem to have drawn more people to a simpler spear head.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 02 May, 2017 10:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Whatever the purpose, it would seem easier to simply have a toggle lashed on the haft just below the socket, or use a separate bar in place of a rivet. That was certainly the solution in later times. Time and use would leave us with the spear head, separated from the various devices--toggles, bars, hooks, rondels--meant to keep boar and bear away from the spearman.

FWIW, here's what I would call a boar spear--with separate toggle--being used in a military context.



 Attachment: 172.24 KB
spear.gif


-Sean

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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Tue 02 May, 2017 10:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's exactly what I did on a spear I made using a Windlass long hewing spearhead. I used leather lacing to tie a deer antler prong between the blade and the socket. It will rotate, but has little movement up or down. Instant boar spear. Wink ....McM
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Tue 02 May, 2017 2:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Why weren't all spears winged?         Reply with quote

Sam Arwas wrote:
Overpenetration is one of the biggest problems warriors faced when using spears. Putting wings on the shaft in an extremely simple and effective way to combat this problem. So why would you not have them?


It's only a very minor problem. The big problems are all the arrows, stones, javelins, musketballs etc flying around the battlefield, the other guys trying to kill you, on a good day the guys you're trying to kill running away too quickly for you to catch up, lack of food, dysentery, the weather, etc.

Typical battle, equal numbers: losing side loses 10% of their men, and breaks and runs. On the winning side, at most 10% used spears to kill opponents - overpenetration was not even close to a concern for the majority of them.

I like wings (or similar bars) on spears, for hooking, pushing, trapping, etc. Note that effective use for these things needs two hands on the spear. I wouldn't put wings etc. on a one-handed spear. They would make it easier for your opponent to block or trap your spear - don't give your opponent this kind of advantage! The difference in leverage between one- and two-handed spears is enormous; my opponent is welcome to try that kind of thing against my two-handed spear, and I will disengage and hit them. One-handed spear, and I am likely to be in trouble.

With a very long two-handed spear, the leverage is less favourable, so no wings becomes better.

Another case where wings are bad is boarding pikes, where you want to avoid snagging on the boarding nets.

So we should see wings most often on relatively short two-handed spears, and very rarely on one-handed spears and very long two-handed spears.

Sometimes the wings/bars on spears are too far from the tip to be meaningful in stopping overpenetration against humans (might still be useful in hunting, where you want to stop a boar or similar running up the haft, Arthur-vs-Mordred in Excalibur style). A human opponent running up the haft isn't the problem with overpenetration against humans, but difficulty in extraction of the spear - wings/bars too far down won't help against this.

I think a big assist against overpenetration in battle is the tendency to fight at extreme range. Then the problem is actually reaching your opponent, not going too far through them.

The other big assist is quick retraction of the spear, hit or miss. First, if you miss, you must retract quickly. You don't want to spend time looking to see if you hit, and then only retract quickly if you see you missed. Second, if you did hit, and penetrated deeply, the thing that will trap your spear is your opponent collapsing/falling/turning. Quick retraction will be useful. (I haven't tried this last IRL, but I note that when "bottle cutting" with spears - thrusting through a filled plastic bottle - the difficulty in extraction is from the sideways force of the bottle's weight.)

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 02 May, 2017 9:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin de Eguiluz's 16th-century military manual mentioned the problem of overpenetration against human opponents, of people (specifically Turks) taking a thrust and running up the shaft to deal a blow to the pike wielder.
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Karl G




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PostPosted: Sat 06 May, 2017 4:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is another medieval discussion that might be sorted by some field experience. I spear boars and you will find spears do not enter things as easily as you think. Youtube the cold steel boar spear and while effective see the difficulty it has in penetrating some hits. Its oversized admittedly but the principal is at some point the cylindrical socket and shaft will hang up on the pigs ribs before it enters too far.

Similarly for humans attacking the vitals, after the spear head has slipped through the ribs the shaft is going to be lucky to slip between not 1 but two layers of ribs,( including the ribs on the exit side of the body) The collar bones, scapulae and spine won't help either. I believe if you make spear shafts of a certain thickness I think you could control over-penetration much of the time. Of course for less than than perfect hits to fleshy areas or stomach the spear may certainly run through more easily.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 06 May, 2017 6:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Whatever the purpose, it would seem easier to simply have a toggle lashed on the haft just below the socket, or use a separate bar in place of a rivet. That was certainly the solution in later times. Time and use would leave us with the spear head, separated from the various devices--toggles, bars, hooks, rondels--meant to keep boar and bear away from the spearman.

FWIW, here's what I would call a boar spear--with separate toggle--being used in a military context.


There has been a lot of speculation about the doohickey on the spears on the "Warrior Vase" dating to the end of the Bronze Age. It could serve the same function as your toggle. If true, then they have been in use for thousands of years.


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Kel Rekuta




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PostPosted: Sat 06 May, 2017 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan, your technical explanations always enlighten me. ;-)
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Sat 06 May, 2017 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Early modern cavalry lances and naval boarding pikes, through to the 20th century, lack wings, toggles or bars. Some infantry spontoons though had bars and England used two lengths up into the mid 19th century. In the Lewis&Clark journals are comments of using the spontoon's bars as a steady rest for their rifles. In the naval context the pikes reduced to square section awls on 8'-10' hafts. Late cavalry lances similarly skinny thrust-centric point with nothing but a guidon (if attached) and the base of the socket often wider than the blade/point. In the case of the naval pikes surely to clear rigging as much as economy.

Cheers

GC
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Sat 06 May, 2017 11:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Whatever the purpose, it would seem easier to simply have a toggle lashed on the haft just below the socket, or use a separate bar in place of a rivet. That was certainly the solution in later times. Time and use would leave us with the spear head, separated from the various devices--toggles, bars, hooks, rondels--meant to keep boar and bear away from the spearman.

FWIW, here's what I would call a boar spear--with separate toggle--being used in a military context.

Sorry to derail the thread by is the man on the horse wearing a doublet over and plate harness? Also, what sort of horse is that? It looks rather short.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 06 May, 2017 4:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kel Rekuta wrote:
Dan, your technical explanations always enlighten me. ;-)

I had to use "doohickey" because "thingamajig" and "whatchamacallit" are trademarked.

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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 12:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Glen A Cleeton wrote:
In the naval context the pikes reduced to square section awls on 8'-10' hafts. [...] In the case of the naval pikes surely to clear rigging as much as economy.


Boarding nets. Don't want to get snagged on your own boarding nets. Slim snag-free heads are the go. (You don't want to snag on rigging either, but the nets are the main problem.)

Boarding pike butts are specially designed, too. Made so that wood sticks out past the end of the metal portion, to protect the deck from the metal part of the butt. Some nice photos at http://www.thepirateslair.com/9-boarding-pike-british-1.html

("Anti-boarding pike" and "anti-boarding net" might be better terminology.)

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Jason O C





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PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 1:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam I get the feeling that you got this idea of over-penetration from a Matt Easton YouTube video. Matt does have a good channel, but in this case I think he took accounts of bayonets over-penetrating targets and extrapolated that backwards to apply to spears. Like others here I don't think that over-penetration was a big problem for men on foot in a shieldwall. The only situation where I think that over-penetration might typically happen is during a cavalry charge with couched lance. However lances would usually break after one usage, so extracting the spearhead wouldn't be possible anyway.

Jason
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Glen A Cleeton




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PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 6:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
Glen A Cleeton wrote:
In the naval context the pikes reduced to square section awls on 8'-10' hafts. [...] In the case of the naval pikes surely to clear rigging as much as economy.


Boarding nets. Don't want to get snagged on your own boarding nets. Slim snag-free heads are the go. (You don't want to snag on rigging either, but the nets are the main problem.)

Boarding pike butts are specially designed, too. Made so that wood sticks out past the end of the metal portion, to protect the deck from the metal part of the butt. Some nice photos at http://www.thepirateslair.com/9-boarding-pike-british-1.html

("Anti-boarding pike" and "anti-boarding net" might be better terminology.)


I prefer books such as Gilkerson's Boarders Away and Rainkin's Small Arms of the Sea Services to quoting from web sites but its all good. As soon as you want to separate boarding nets from the term rigging, you can play admiral Wink

Cheers

GC
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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jason O C wrote:
Sam I get the feeling that you got this idea of over-penetration from a Matt Easton YouTube video. Matt does have a good channel, but in this case I think he took accounts of bayonets over-penetrating targets and extrapolated that backwards to apply to spears. Like others here I don't think that over-penetration was a big problem for men on foot in a shieldwall. The only situation where I think that over-penetration might typically happen is during a cavalry charge with couched lance. However lances would usually break after one usage, so extracting the spearhead wouldn't be possible anyway.

Jason

If lances were expected to break after one usage, why would clear ways to extract a lance point out of a target be developed? If your lance breaks after insertion and that happens so frequently as to be expected, I don't those drills would have developed.
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Jason O C





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PostPosted: Sun 07 May, 2017 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip. The only drills that I'm aware of to extract a lance after impact involve holding the lance out at arms length, not in the couched position which I specified. If you know of a drill to extract a lance held in the couched position, then please let me know.

Jason
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Wed 06 Sep, 2017 10:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Philip Dyer wrote:
Sorry to derail the thread by is the man on the horse wearing a doublet over and plate harness?


Not a doublet -- it's an overgarment known by various names such as jupon, Waffenrock, and the like.
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