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Jaroslav Jakubov




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Nov, 2013 9:36 pm    Post subject: Pike vs Spear         Reply with quote

Is there any study available regarding how much more powerful Pike thrust was vs Spear thrust? It is obvious that pike due to being held in both arms will deal more damage than spear held underarm in one hand, but i'm interested in finding out how much more it actually was.
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Tom King




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Nov, 2013 10:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Considering F=MA, a 20ft ash hafted pike would weight twice(ish) as much as a 10ft spear, so if accelerated at the same rate it would have twice the force. Pike heads were also very spikelike in comparison to earlier spear heads, so they would be better at penetration to begin with.

short answer physics wise would be twice as many newtons of force per thrust if accelerated at the same rate.

this would (could) translate into higher effectiveness against armor, but I've yet to see a truly scientific study of period correct case hardened iron armor being tested scientifically against period correct arms reproductions.
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William P




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Nov, 2013 10:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

on that topic of spear vs pike... at what point does a spear become a pike... there are 2 handed spears after all
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Harri Kyllönen




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PostPosted: Sat 16 Nov, 2013 11:51 pm    Post subject: Re: Pike vs Spear         Reply with quote

You can use a spear 2 handed. And apparently the power of the thrust wasn't that relevant when used in mass formations.
Hoplites used spears overhand to stab over shields and the Swiss used pikes at head level to stab at unarmored faces.
Against cavalry it was sufficient to brace the pike/spear so that the horse would impale itself with its momentum.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Nov, 2013 3:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Various sources indicate the power the pike thrust. In the fifteenth century, Jean de Waurin specifically wrote that Flemish pikes could pierce through any armor. Some fifteenth century depictions show pikes penetrating both mail and plate. Di Grassi noted the widespread option that the pike hit harder than shorter piercing staff weights and attributed this to geometry. However, in the middle of the sixteenth century, Fourquevoux wrote that plate harness protected against all manner of weapons except for arquebuses and artillery. He explicitly mentioned pikes. Most of his discussion on armor came in relation to men-at-arms and thus may well have envision quality harness. Though as a generalization he mentioned crossbows as one of the weapons harness offers protection against, he also wrote that lower-quality harness might fail against a close-range barrage of bolts and/or arrows. Writing in the late sixteenth century, Sir John Smythe assumed pikes could not reliably pierce steel and instructed pikers (and halberdiers) to thrust for the face. Around the same time, Humphrey Barwick apparently thought pikers had a significant chance of penetrating equine plate armor, but that probably comes mostly from the horse's own force. More recently, a tested late-sixteenth-century or earlier-seventeenth-century halberd managed shallow penetration of sixteenth-century munitions-grade breastplate.

The following numbers from Alan Williams's The Knight and the Blast Furnace show how much kinetic energy it takes for an arrowhead to penetrate plate at four different grades of quality:

1mm = 28/41/61/83 J
2mm = 88/131/193/263 J
3mm = 150/225/330/450 J

Fairly thick padding adds 50 J, though I'm somewhat skeptical folks wearing cheap iron armor would necessarily have this level of padding. We have no good numbers of how much kinetic energy a pike thrust deliver. Knives can deliver up to at least 64 J with an underarm thrust and 115 J with an overarm thrust; I'm guessing pikes would manage much more in strong arms, but we don't really know. A 2mm iron breastplate with thinner padding would only require about 100 J to defeat; this strikes me as thoroughly likely. A higher-quality 2mm breastplate with robust padding, on the other hand, would require 250-300+ J to defeat; I suspect few if any historical (or present) warriors could deliver so much with a two-handed thrust.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Harri Kyllönen




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Nov, 2013 1:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are some videos on the subject where people test spears or pikes against different types of armor.

This guy here is testing a spear against mail with and without padding. The padding makes all the difference even though it's just a layer of leather and clothing. Mail alone is pierced relatively easily. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGu4bpb4eTI

Here are powerful two handed sword thrusts against mail with thick leather (?) underneath. Again little effect.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl-ec6Ub7FM

I don't think any pike or spear could pierce plate with gambeson or other padding underneath. I suspect even mail + gambeson combo would be a tough nut to crack for pikes.
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Spasimir Ivanov




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Nov, 2013 2:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess to calculate how powerful the different blows will be, physics will do the job best. So using F=ma is most appropriate in my opinion. However, there are a couple of other things to consider. First, the speed of the lighter weapon - in this case the spear, will be greater. Second, the longer pike will flex more on impact, thus taking away some of the force. Using a weapon two hand will give you greater accuracy with it. To make a fair comparison you'll have to make the tips of the weapons the same too.
Regarding against armor - the pike was of such great military importance not because of a power to penetrate mail or plate, but because of its power to brake enemy formations. Once you do that you can throw in your met-at-arms or whatever to finish off the opponent, but you are already on your way to victory.

“I do not love the bright sword for it's sharpness, nor the arrow for it's swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend”
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Nov, 2013 3:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Harri Kyllönen wrote:
This guy here is testing a spear against mail with and without padding. The padding makes all the difference even though it's just a layer of leather and clothing. Mail alone is pierced relatively easily. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGu4bpb4eTI

Here are powerful two handed sword thrusts against mail with thick leather (?) underneath. Again little effect.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl-ec6Ub7FM.

Those tests don't tell us much. He would need properly riveted mail rather than the commercial Indian mail.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=19189

He would also need a larger test piece because small patches of mail produce different results compared to larger pieces. No idea why.

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Harri Kyllönen




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Nov, 2013 3:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Those tests don't tell us much. He would need properly riveted mail rather than the commercial Indian mail.


So if an apparently inferior mail + padding gives results this good (hardly any penetration and minor damage to the target) then we can say with some confidence that "proper munitions grade mail" would fare even better?

Quote:
He would also need a much larger test piece because small patches produce different results to a complete hauberk.


Not a perfect test but better than nothing and IMHO useful in estimating how armor could have worked. I wouldn't dismiss everything that isn't 100% authentic.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Nov, 2013 6:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The pollaxe in this famous test devasted mail. Pike points varied, but most were narrow like the tested pollaxe's point. No manual I know of assigns mail to frontline pikemen.
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Nov, 2013 9:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
The pollaxe in this famous test devasted mail. Pike points varied, but most were narrow like the tested pollaxe's point. No manual I know of assigns mail to frontline pikemen.


A narrow blade needs only burst one link of maille to permit a deep wound, but a wide blade spear or pike head will have trouble breaking more than one link and be stopped from penetrating by it's width: It might still cause a dangerous wound due to the give in the human body and do damage deeper than the mere inch or so of point getting past the small hole in the maille.

A good spear thrust, like a good punch, comes from the whole body and not just from arm strength.

I agree with Dan in the sense that these tests don't show us what period maille and period weapons could be expected to produce as results, but if very low quality maille proves to be difficult to pierce it does give up an idea of the least we should expect quality maille to stop. Wink

At the other end of the performance spectrum, if the cheap maille is easy to pierce, when the design of the experiment is flawed or sloppy, it certainly doesn't prove that period maille would also be easy to pierce.

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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Nov, 2013 12:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Having actually worn maille in a live-fighting match, I can tell you that a well placed strike from either can be devastating. If your opponent is bent on putting you down, it's gonna hurt...reenactment or not. Even a cheapie Windlass Viking spear can penetrate the best riveted maille, I've seen it done. Eek! .............McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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Mark Moore




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Nov, 2013 12:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Addendum: ----Not on a live human, mind you. Laughing Out Loud ............McM
''Life is like a box of chocolates...'' --- F. Gump
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P. Schontzler




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Nov, 2013 10:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Mark Moore wrote:
Even a cheapie Windlass Viking spear can penetrate the best riveted maille, I've seen it done. Eek! .............McM


The behavior of modern reenactment reproductions only tell us how modern reenactment reproductions stand up to each other, and sadly tell us nothing about historical arms and armor.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Nov, 2013 12:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Historical military manuals, however, do at least indirectly shed light on the performance of historical weapons and armor. As I mentioned above, I don't know of any sixteenth-century text that recommends mail torso defenses for pikemen. Fourquevaux assigned plate torso defenses to pikemen - including extraordinary pikemen - and halberdiers. Gunners, crossbowmen, and archers got mail shirts and sleeves. This indicates that Fourquevaux considered mail insufficient for troops likely to fight up close with heavy staff weapons. Sir John Smythe assigned similar armors to the different battlefield roles. While some pikemen certainly wore mail, sixteenth-century manuals suggest it was an uncertain and inferior defense. (Humphrey Barwick mocked Smythe for recommending brigandines, jacks of mail, and eyelet-holed doublets for mounted archers/crossbowers, writing that these armors - if they would defend against anything at all - were best suited to defend against arrows. Smythe specifically rejected even sleeves of mail for the pikemen in the foremost ranks, writing that they needed pauldrons, vambraces, and gauntlets.)
Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Ahmad Tabari





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PostPosted: Wed 20 Nov, 2013 11:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
While some pikemen certainly wore mail, sixteenth-century manuals suggest it was an uncertain and inferior defense. (Humphrey Barwick mocked Smythe for recommending brigandines, jacks of mail, and eyelet-holed doublets for mounted archers/crossbowers, writing that these armors - if they would defend against anything at all - were best suited to defend against arrows. Smythe specifically rejected even sleeves of mail for the pikemen in the foremost ranks, writing that they needed pauldrons, vambraces, and gauntlets.)

This raises several questions. Was the heavy mail of the early and high Middle ages still being manufactured? Or did generations of mail being supplanted by plate in Europe render its construction lighter so it would only serve as a complement to plate? If mail was able to stop powerful thrusts from the mounted lance I find it very bizarre that it would not be able to stop a pike thrust.

In my opinion Barwick's disdain for mail has more to do with its vulnerability to gunpowder weaponry than anything else. Unless plate armour in this period was exclusively made of steel, mail would provide better protection pound for pound against non-gunpowder weaponry.
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Bjorn Hagstrom




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Nov, 2013 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Guess the Spear is the winner here.



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Philip Dyer





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PostPosted: Wed 20 Nov, 2013 1:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Harri Kyllönen wrote:
This guy here is testing a spear against mail with and without padding. The padding makes all the difference even though it's just a layer of leather and clothing. Mail alone is pierced relatively easily. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGu4bpb4eTI

Here are powerful two handed sword thrusts against mail with thick leather (?) underneath. Again little effect.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kl-ec6Ub7FM.

Those tests don't tell us much. He would need properly riveted mail rather than the commercial Indian mail.
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=19189

He would also need a larger test piece because small patches of mail produce different results compared to larger pieces. No idea why.

Maybe because there more mail to move and support rings which are squezzing around the point and head, thus slowly the point down more?
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 20 Nov, 2013 2:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ahmad Tabari wrote:
If mail was able to stop powerful thrusts from the mounted lance I find it very bizarre that it would not be able to stop a pike thrust.


I'm not convinced any wearable mail could reliably stop the couched lance, at least not the heavy lance of fifteen and sixteenth centuries. Matthew Strickland argues that lances penetrated mail in eleventh and twelfth centuries.

Quote:
In my opinion Barwick's disdain for mail has more to do with its vulnerability to gunpowder weaponry than anything else. Unless plate armour in this period was exclusively made of steel, mail would provide better protection pound for pound against non-gunpowder weaponry.


What's the evidence for this? 2mm of the best historical steel requires 263 J - plus 50 J from padding - to pierce with an arrowhead. Are there coats of mail that offer even that level of protection? Many breastplates were thicker still. Barwick certainly had firearms in mind, but the specific example he gave to prove the inferiority of the brigandine - which he considered the best of the armors listed - was the couched lance. Barwick wrote that coats of plate were equivalent to brigandines, and gave an account of a man armed in a coat of plates pierced front to back.

Read my historically inspired fantasy fiction in here. I walk along a winding path set by Ludovico Ariosto, William Morris, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Ursula Le Guin.

Out of doubt, out of dark to the day's rising
I came singing in the sun, sword unsheathing.
To hope's end I rode and to heart's breaking:
Now for wrath, now for ruin and a red nightfall!
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Ahmad Tabari





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PostPosted: Wed 20 Nov, 2013 9:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
I'm not convinced any wearable mail could reliably stop the couched lance, at least not the heavy lance of fifteen and sixteenth centuries. Matthew Strickland argues that lances penetrated mail in eleventh and twelfth centuries.


I will not comment on couched lances since I do not know of any reliable study that tests it against historical mail. However William's tests clearly shows that it is extremely difficult to pierce mail through a spear thrust. Usamah ibn Munqidh's memoirs furthermore show that mail provided excellent protection against lance thrusts from charging horsemen. Perhaps not couched but powerful nonetheless.

Quote:
What's the evidence for this? 2mm of the best historical steel requires 263 J - plus 50 J from padding - to pierce with an arrowhead. Are there coats of mail that offer even that level of protection?

No I doubt there are such mail coats. And that is why I said "unless plate armour in this period was exclusively made of steel, mail would provide better protection pound for pound against non-gunpowder weaponry". While I agree that plate armour made of steel provides the highest level of protection, the same thing cannot be said for wrought iron plate. Williams; experiment clearly shows that 15th century mail (which I am certain was significantly lighter than early Medieval mail) provided better protection than 1.9 mm of wrought iron plate. The latter requiring only 75-80 joules to be pierced.
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