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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sun 20 Mar, 2011 9:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
That is upon impact not their initial energy. I believe that they are at impacts of 100-120 meters but yesterday misplaced my Great crossbow book.

As far as artillery you have few resources at hand that give specific joules of energy. Of course the great crossbows and Springalds is a good one to start with, though he tends to focus on certain large urban areas in select regions which puts his dating slightly off from what I have seen. For example he claims great crossbows died out around 1450 15th but it is fairly easy to find them until 1500 and after in use.

I'd also look into Bert Hall's Renaissance Warfare and the appendices of Alan Williams Knight and the Blast Furnace. Apart from that cannot think of much. You have to be careful regarding firearms of any size and testing because they rely on faulty information as few to no one uses proper powder and the amounts used is for the most part 100% guess work. Nothing is wrong with doing such testing but making medieval conclusions based on them is almost assuredly not correct. I got to watch some powder made off a 15th century recipe burn and it was visibly different to the modern black powder in how it burns and such.

RPM


Thanks for the literature. I experimented with different powders and the problem was always that I had nothing to compare with. Another problem is that such a charge was not just powder, but an arrangement of different types of powder.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 20 Mar, 2011 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It depends on the period, but late sixteenth-century musket with a good charge might deliver over 2000 J. Artillery shots from a decent-sized piece could get up to a megajoule or more. I'm not sure about the fifteenth century, but because of penetration dynamics, round shot at only 600 J wouldn't even pierce most breastplates. A bolt with that level of kinetic energy would be much more dangerous than a bullet.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 6:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
I haven't seen anything at 240lb. There are occasional mis-conversions of Chinese units of weight, since their standards changed over time.



I wouldn't be surprised to see 240 pounds in a strength bow that wasn't meant to be shot with. The Turks on the other end of the Eurasian archery continuum had strength bows (also meant only to be drawn, not shot with) of this weight or even higher; legend sets the heaviest of these in excess of 300 pounds, although I'm not sure that there's any material evidence for this even higher figure.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 3:10 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Timo Nieminen wrote:
I haven't seen anything at 240lb. There are occasional mis-conversions of Chinese units of weight, since their standards changed over time.


I wouldn't be surprised to see 240 pounds in a strength bow that wasn't meant to be shot with. The Turks on the other end of the Eurasian archery continuum had strength bows (also meant only to be drawn, not shot with) of this weight or even higher; legend sets the heaviest of these in excess of 300 pounds, although I'm not sure that there's any material evidence for this even higher figure.


I've seen the figure of 240lb for Qing/Manchu bows elsewhere. But the written sources related to military examinations (e.g., translated in Stephen Selby's "Chinese Archery) and surviving bows with reliable draw weights that I've seen top out at 180-190lb. So I think it can be said that the 180-190lb strength bow was the common standard. After all, any place that holds military examinations needs some of these, so they should be found all over the place. With higher strength bows not being used in the standard military examinations, they'd be much less common.

Strong bows like this are apparently still used in China, by acrobats as part of their stage show. They dare members of the audience to come up and try to draw it, preferably big hulking members of the audience. The audience volunteer then fails. The shorter and apparently weaker acrobat then draws it with apparent ease. The "secrets" of course are just that technique is important, the acrobat is quite strong, and the acrobat is a good actor, and makes it look easier.

In the Korean military examinations, the high-strength bow was actually shot (with heavy arrows, 240g, to a range of about 100m). I don't know the draw weight of the bow used, but it was more than the standard military bow.

"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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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 3:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Kurt,

You are right. I should have made mention of that as well. The charge is also a major factor but is an unknown as we have no sure idea how full they would have filled the chamber. It is dangerous either way to assume but my guess is they undercharged to not risk a rupture which could lead to death and injury.

RPM
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Fri 25 Mar, 2011 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
Kurt,

You are right. I should have made mention of that as well. The charge is also a major factor but is an unknown as we have no sure idea how full they would have filled the chamber. It is dangerous either way to assume but my guess is they undercharged to not risk a rupture which could lead to death and injury.

RPM


Their testing seems to have been loading the weapon with what would be a considered a maximum charge and firing it from far far away. In case it didn't explode it was considered safe. But that doesn't take all the difference between different powders, ammunitions and the wear and tear into account. Lots of artillery in the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern time seem to have been artists. So I guess there will have been a different ethos and with a more mathematical approach we have a decline of risk and pay. Pretty much the thesis by John F. Guilmartin.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 8:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I linked the source for 240lb draw weights when I initially mentioned them. It's The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China by Mark C. Elliott. The winner of the 1728 contest between the empire's top archers supposedly shot a bull's-eye with such a mighty bow.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 12:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin,

This text talks a lot about drugs being taken to be able to do these astonishing results. That pretty much sounds like doping. What exactly did they use, how did it work and how effective was it? If this was something with amphetramine like features (like khat) outside the East African - South Arabian context, we might have something that can give a totally new perspective on muscle powered weapons.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 2:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

According to my understanding, nobody used such heavy bows in battle. Just because you can manage a 240lb draw weight in a competition doesn't mean it'd be wise to go to war with such a weapon. The Chinese sources (using the term broadly) indicate military draw weights almost identical to those of English archers according to the Mary Rose reconstructions: 150-160lbs for infantry and 80-120lbs for cavalry, with a few exceptional cases pulling 180-190lbs.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 2:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
I linked the source for 240lb draw weights when I initially mentioned them. It's The Manchu Way: The Eight Banners and Ethnic Identity in Late Imperial China by Mark C. Elliott. The winner of the 1728 contest between the empire's top archers supposedly shot a bull's-eye with such a mighty bow.


The bow draw-weights are given in li, 1 li = 10 jin = 10 catties. Ming li was 5.9kg, Qing li was 6.0kg. The standard (early) Qing military bow was 8 li, the standard Qing examination bows were 8, 10, 12 li (50kg, 60kg, 70kg, called "number 3", "number 2", "number 1" respectively, but these aren't the "numbered" bows, which are numbered by their weight in li), the common examination heavy bows were 13, 14, 15, the next up from the standard bows.

An exceptional bow for an exceptional archer, just where one would expect a 240lb bow.

An old Chinese saying: He can pull 2 (weight of 10 li), but he can't write a single character. (That's 120kg, 265lb!)

"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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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 7:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That is scary.

I know of a few people who can pull over 200-220 lbs draw but 265lbs seems really, really insane. I can imagine chemical enhancement being useful for such draws.

The Qing were Manchurian nomads correct so I am assuming they used a type of composite bow?


RPM
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Bartek Strojek




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 9:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I can't really imagine their skeleton and tendons being in healthy shape....

Unless they were doing it like, once a month, with only careful training before.

Or 'just' had ydrūnas Savickas like frame, but I don't know if it's likely. Big Grin
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Mar, 2011 10:08 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
That is scary.

I know of a few people who can pull over 200-220 lbs draw but 265lbs seems really, really insane. I can imagine chemical enhancement being useful for such draws.


It's an old Chinese way of saying somebody is a brainless jock, so I wouldn't take it quantitatively seriously.

Randall Moffett wrote:

The Qing were Manchurian nomads correct so I am assuming they used a type of composite bow?


I don't know how nomadic, but Manchurian certainly. Yes, they used the composite bow, but a giant-sized composite bow. The Manchu bow was typically over 5 feet long, strung. Basically, a longbow sized composite bow. The large string bridge is also Manchu. Enormous things when compared to most other composite bows. The older Chinese bow was pretty much like the Korean or Turkish bow; this was displaced by the Manchu bow, which also made it's way into Mongolian and other use.

It loses speed compared to the smaller composite bows, but it's easier to make and maintain, a much more mass-military friendly bow than the more finicky Korean composite bow. It's optimised for armour penetration at short range, not longer range shooting. Arrows were about 100g, about the same as English war arrows, or a bit more.

Also a very long draw bow. In the photo of a Manchu archer that almost everybody seems to use (including myself),
e.g., at http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/arxiv/26258/ (which is a report on my paper which is at http://arxiv.org/abs/1101.1677 ), note that the archer is 4" or more short of full draw. That, the heavy arrow, and 100-110lb, translates into lots of energy. 'Tis said that the Jurchen (as they were called before they became the Manchu) tribes were using these big powerful bows because when you hunt boars, bears, and tigers, you want good penetration and lots of damage.

"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: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 9:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting paper, though rereading Humphrey Barwick has made me question the supposed inaccuracy and quick learning curve of early guns. Barwick emphasized the need for skill and claimed he - or one of his students - could outshoot any archer in England. On training time, he thought a troop of halberds or pikes would be in better form after six days than a troop of gunners after sixty days. As for the broad question of why guns displaced bows so quickly in Western Europe and Japan but so slowly in China, I find Kenneth Chase's thesis in Firearms: A Global History to 1700 most compelling. Chase argues gunpowder weaponry provided scant advantages in mobile warfare against the nomadic foes China faced, thus the Chinese had less incentive to develop the technology.
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 11:38 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Interesting paper, though rereading Humphrey Barwick has made me question the supposed inaccuracy and quick learning curve of early guns. Barwick emphasized the need for skill and claimed he - or one of his students - could outshoot any archer in England. On training time, he thought a troop of halberds or pikes would be in better form after six days than a troop of gunners after sixty days. As for the broad question of why guns displaced bows so quickly in Western Europe and Japan but so slowly in China, I find Kenneth Chase's thesis in Firearms: A Global History to 1700 most compelling. Chase argues gunpowder weaponry provided scant advantages in mobile warfare against the nomadic foes China faced, thus the Chinese had less incentive to develop the technology.


There's a German saying: "etwas von der Pike auf lernen"(to learn something starting with the pike), so there may be a true to it that you started with the pike and later trained with the gun.
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 1:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Chase argues gunpowder weaponry provided scant advantages in mobile warfare against the nomadic foes China faced, thus the Chinese had less incentive to develop the technology.


But it isn't that the Chinese didn't use and develop guns. They did use them, e.g., the early Ming were the world's leading artillerists, the Qing/Manchu were big-time users of the musket. However, they retained the bow together with firearms.

Chinese efforts to deploy firearms against their mobile neighbours shows that they understood the value of firearms. Their willingness to use other weapons shows that they understood the difficulty of firearms.

I think that Chinese periods with a century or so of peace have a lot to do with the lack of progress in military technology.

Chase is good, as is P. A. Lorge, The Asian Military Revolution.

"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: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 2:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
But it isn't that the Chinese didn't use and develop guns. They did use them, e.g., the early Ming were the world's leading artillerists, the Qing/Manchu were big-time users of the musket. However, they retained the bow together with firearms.


Chinese handheld firearm development lagged behind the Europeans and Ottomans. The latter also retained the bow - primarily for cavalry use - but made much greater use of the musket. Chase argues they did so based on the type of foes they fought. Infantry with handheld firearms have trouble defending against mounted opponents in the steppe while early pistols lacked the range of the bow and larger guns proved awkward on horseback. The unsuitability of heavy artillery against nomads hardly needs mentioning. The Ming emphasis on cannon worked well enough against the Japanese in Korea and may have discouraged the use of handheld firearms as Japanese arquebuses didn't help them against the big guns.

Quote:
Chase is good, as is P. A. Lorge, The Asian Military Revolution.


I'll have to check that one out.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 2:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,

Not back to the Barwick and Smith argument..... like spinning wheels in deep mud on this one.

Honestly I'd avoid Barwick if you are looking for anything other than a good trip into how ones bias can distort reality. His 'evidence' are mostly hear say and the fact he had his hands in the pocket of gun manufacturing also makes his comments highly suspect.

That said Sir John runs the rounds as well granted.

To me the entire debate is fraught with almost no real evidence and lots of 'stories' and personal passion for their argument that boils down simply to opinion.

That said there is some good evidence in it but more anecdotal than anything.

The fact that we have real evidence from military training and logistics manuals from around the period of and then later than Barwick that contradict him on many/most accounts, including the limited accuracy issue, to me leaves little doubt to the limited nature of his comments as little more than personal agenda.


Now I think the example of use of a halbard to gun taking more time makes perfect sense but compared to the real alternative, bows, training is much easier.

Timo,

I was always under the impression that there personal firearms were not as advanced as those of the west during the late medieval into modern period.

I always figured that archery cultures did rather well even with the advent of firearms so it was somewhat unnecessary to shift over.

In the west I still figure it comes to simple logistics and ease of use to other weapons such as the longbow, especially coupled with the fact guns could be further advanced while bows would be much harder to develop further.

RPM
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 5:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I disagree completely about Barwick and Smythe as worthless sources. To the contrary, their works provide a detailed window into sixteenth-century elite military thought. They actually agree on a fair amount as well, such as the importance of armor. Barwick takes Smythe to task for suggesting various lighter armors for missile troops. He considered jacks and brigandines relics of the past and unsuitable for contemporary warfare. Barwick's writing underscores how much penetrative power explains the adoption of the gun in Europe.

On accuracy, various sixteenth-century texts clash with modern scholarly notions of early guns as unable to hit anything save by luck. I recall one historian questioning such a period account on that basis. I suspect skilled gunners with good equipment shot as well as archers at least within a hundred yards or so. As Barwick wrote, the design of guns and crossbows has an inherent accuracy advantage over the hand-drawn bow. So does the much flatter trajectory of the gun.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Sun 27 Mar, 2011 8:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,

I never said worthless but one needs to exercise some major discretion when assuming Barwick can be taken at face value or can trump more reliable (less opinion based over evidence based arguments) period sources. I am not sure I'd consider Barwick a 'military elite' as we have little to no real evidence that he was besides his own opinion he was. At least with Smith we have a fairly lengthy term of service known.

As to Modern tests... these often are misleading as to what was the real historic situation and have little or no bearing if not done with care. These tests are often done with incorrect variables that invalidate the testing in large part if not completely with- Incorrect powder, incorrect quantities of powder, modern techniques of construction and firing.... millions of possible issues. So the tests might show what a c. 2011 arquebus could do with modern powder but unless such factors decide the testing and not simple side stepped as well as the medieval and early modern texts are consulted and analysed critically the tests are of limited or questionable value.

Now as to if a person could become proficient with personal firearms... absolutely. I never said they did not. My point is that everything has limits and the fact is 95% of the evidence in text tends to point one way on this one. Its place in the battlefield is important and it seems to have a very clear and dedicated place there. It looks like most soldiers equipped with arquebuses were not likely to hit anything they aimed at much past 30-50 yards. That said the volley tactic employed negates this being required.

RPM
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