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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Aug, 2019 4:20 pm    Post subject: Arrows V's Armour - Medieval Myth Busting         Reply with quote

Hi Guys,

For years my friend/editor/camera man, Mike and I have been discussing the question "did arrows shoot through armour?"

Finally, this summer we decided to really do something about it and I got my black book out and put a team together to do just that. The aim was use period accurate reproductions, set up in a sympathetic way to test a longbow against a breastplate.

The contributors are Joe Gibbs shooting a 160lbs bow, Will Sherman providing Mary Rose arrows, Kevin Legg with a variable thickness Churburg 14 breast plate, Chrissi Carnie providing the Jupon and Dr Toby Capwell providing historical knowledge and context and myself hosting the event.

We made a film about the day and three further spin off films providing more detail about certain aspects and all are available on my You Tube channel. The notes from the film are below and I hope you enjoy it.

What happens when a 160lbs ENGLISH LONGBOW shoots FULL WEIGHT MEDIEVAL ARROWS at properly Reproduced MEDIEVAL ARMOUR?

MAIN FILM HERE https://youtu.be/DBxdTkddHaE

The English longbow is laden with myth; of its origins, its power, its achievements. The centuries that have passed since it was used in earnest, means that the knowledge of what the bow was actually capable of doing, has also passed. The captains and commanders that once knew its true power in physical and in military terms, are long dead. The knowledge is lost and it is time to rediscover what it can and cannot do.

The contributors are all world class in their fields of expertise, armour, arrows, shooting and historical context.

Joe Gibbs - Archer and bowyer
Will Sherman - Fletcher http://www.medievalarrows.co.uk
Kevin Legg - Armourer - http://www.plessisarmouries.co.uk
Chrissi Carnie - Fabric armour http://www.thesempster.co.uk
Dr Tobias Capwell - Arms and Armour Curator, The Wallace Collection
Tod Todeschini - Host - http://www.todsworkshop.com
http://www.todcutler.com

Find out more about the battle, the armour and the arrows in these companion films.
The battle https://youtu.be/A0OXRzk5K14
The armour https://youtu.be/934fmJXrYOM
The arrows https://youtu.be/1Jac4EQsBNs

Longbow
160lbs (73Kg) mountain yew English Longbow based on those found on The Mary Rose (sank 1545). Bow was shooting 80g (2.8oz) arrows at 55ms (180fps) at 10m, giving 123J and 52ms (170fps) 109J at 25m

Distance 10m 25m
11yds 27yds

Speed 55ms 52ms
181fps 170fps

Energy 123J 109J
91ftlbs 80ftlbs

Arrows
The first arrow type we used was MR80A764/158. The diameter at the shoulder was 12.7mm (1/2) tapering to a nock of 8.5mm. Total length was 30.5

The second arrow type was MR82A1892/9. The diameter at the shoulder was 12.9mm (1/2) and the nock was 7.5mm. Same total length.

The shafts were black poplar (Populus Nigra) and ash (Fraxinus Excelsior).
Fletchings were swan, bound with silk into a beeswax, kidney fat and copper verdigris compound.

Heads were wrought iron, copied from MoL Type 9 7568

Arrows weighed 80g (2.8oz)

Breastplate
Based on the Churburg 14 piece. The reproduction is made from 0.5% carbon steel and air cooled and is of variable thickness. The front and centre is 2.5mm (3/32) thick and it tapers down to 1.5mm (1/16) at the sides and edges.



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Graham Shearlaw




PostPosted: Thu 29 Aug, 2019 5:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Haveing seen the film yes an no.
The arrow that went low, it passed thru the mail and arming jacket to a disturbing depth.
Theres a lack of detail about the mail an i'm guessing that due to it while being of a good stranded, it's all riveted an flat rings
it's maybe not as accurate, in terms of inner ring size, thickness, metallurgy, rivets an so on, hence its not the star of this test.

But this was a test of the plate armour an the arrow, which it does with an admirable accuracy.
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Hector A.





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PostPosted: Thu 29 Aug, 2019 6:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm surprised nobody talked about the psychological effect of those arrows.
Look at the footage and think about it, the impact is huge, the armor is flexing, the gel is rippling, you have waves of energy going up and down and up and down again, the wood contraption is flexing backwards and its a lot stiffer than a human spine.

The impact alone is enough to calm somebody's blood in a charge (Think Azincourt), uphill, muddy, heavy armor, sweating, hard to breath and BOOM you take 2-3 of these right into you, it has to be like a square placed punch to the body at the very least.

Then you have the noise which they did complain about it (one of the guys when approaching mentioned it and had a pained face thinking about it and he was next to the shooter when he heard it), it has to give you at least mild tinnitus for a good minute or two when you receive those shots, and they are suffering 2-3 of these per person along with ringing noises from everybody around you. Not fun at all.

And finally you have the shards, shards of wood exploding all of the place, left and right.

Its just plain demoralizing, by the time you reach the cunts shooting at you, you're moral and energy is low.

Everything i just described is for the "lucky ones" that actually have this kind of armor.

For everybody else wearing plates with gaps, mail or plain gambesons then you no longer have to worry about the above... you're already dead.
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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Aug, 2019 6:44 pm    Post subject: Best ever         Reply with quote

Tod

That is exceptional. Best I have ever seen or heard on bringing all the elements together and creating solid research and experimentation. Truly made me happy and excited to discuss such things again.

Craig
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Michael Long





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PostPosted: Thu 29 Aug, 2019 7:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Fantastic!

You have even inspired uncommon courtesy and eloquence among the YouTube comments with this fine piece of work.

And thanks for posting all the relevant numbers, which so many tests have not.

What is the Vickers hardness of the armor, if it is known?
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William P




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PostPosted: Thu 29 Aug, 2019 10:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i would be interested in a few things as a follow up...
the one i am REALLY interested in is the physical shock and impact factor, i.e how hard do those arrows hit, and what is the consequence for, say, a knee joint behind a knee cop thats been slammed by an arrow, same for an elbow

and of course, how much force is running into that chest cavity and what implications does that have.

I must admit i am not surprised it didnt do much damage, the breastplate is usually the best piece of armour you have.

it is things like elbow pieces, visors on helmets , the ones that are at the most risk of being compromised and thus are much more up in the air that i would find far more interesting to test.
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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Thu 29 Aug, 2019 11:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hector A wrote
Quote:
I'm surprised nobody talked about the psychological effect of those arrows.


We did mention it, but really we set out to deal with what we saw in a factual way rather than with speculation. As soon as we start moving away from what we know to be fact we are back in the realm of history documentary chasing the spectacular at all costs.

Thanks Craig Johnson - happy to help!

Michael Long wrote
Quote:
You have even inspired uncommon courtesy and eloquence among the YouTube comments with this fine piece of work.

And thanks for posting all the relevant numbers, which so many tests have not.

What is the Vickers hardness of the armor, if it is known?


Internet courtesy training was provided FOC by myArmoury and the fantastic 'polite or leave' policy of the moderators and rather pleasingly, my channel seems to be pretty polite on the whole. The number were important to fact base the story and sorry I don't know the actual hardness of the piece we tested, though Kevin did say it was the same.

William P wrote
Quote:
i would be interested in a few things as a follow up...


In a similar vein to a comment I answered above; we could not give anything meaningful if we presented "so therefore the heart would be shocked to a standstill and his kidneys melted" kinda stuff. We have to stick to what we can see to be fact.

If we could team up with the MOD and people who could really talk about these aspects with knowledge then that would be different story.

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Roger Hooper




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2019 12:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It is indeed a fantastic piece of work. The video is being shared to a number of places on Facebook, so a lot of people are going to see it.
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2019 4:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
In a similar vein to a comment I answered above; we could not give anything meaningful if we presented "so therefore the heart would be shocked to a standstill and his kidneys melted" kinda stuff. We have to stick to what we can see to be fact.

If we could team up with the MOD and people who could really talk about these aspects with knowledge then that would be different story.


Wise approach. Lots of misunderstandings about blunt force trauma to my mind when talking longbows, so if you could do something with scientific rigour and modern armour specialists, it would be very valuable.

Anthony Clipsom
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2019 12:59 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is an amazing contribution! I was struck(!) by the consistent failure of the arrows at the shoulder where the socket of the head abuts the wood. Many years ago I made some light fletched javelins using swallowtail broadheads from Historic Enterprises. I mounted those heads on a shouldered shaft and learned to expect the wood to fail there, eventually. I know the Mary Rose arrow are shouldered, but is there any thought that a straight, un-shouldered taper would make any difference in distributing the shock up the shaft rather than concentrating it on a shoulder?
-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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Michael Beeching




PostPosted: Fri 30 Aug, 2019 3:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

That's fantastic work, Tod!

I will work on watching the companion films later this weekend.

First, a comment:

The jupon was very interesting. It is effectively an anti-spalling medium placed on top of the armor, serving much the same purpose as modern plate carriers and the coating placed on the plates themselves. I would have never tied that function to the garment unless I had seen your film! You made similar mentions to this function in the presentation, but it seemed more of a passing mention rather than a distinct statement. As for modern armor, now we just need the deflection ridge as standard!

Second, a suggestion for experimental archaeology:

Breakage of the arrow may have well been intentional, but is there a point where it is too fragile, or a point where it is too durable? For instance, if the head breaks on the armor too easily, a lot of the arrow's energy gets wasted. It may also be true that if the arrow is too sturdy, it might first be overweight, but it may also somehow follow the "resonance of the arrow"? By the latter, I intend to state that perhaps after a deflection occurs, the energy of the projectile may be more completely deflected, rather than imparting all effective energy to the target while the rest of the projectile is brushed away. Note that the latter statement is complete speculation with no real backing, and may therefore just be total bunk...

...That said, to make the arrows more sturdy, could you get a longer socket on the arrowhead? If the shaft is delayed in breaking, it may be better able to transmit energy to the plate, and therefore be more destructive upon striking the target.
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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Sat 31 Aug, 2019 12:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
...That said, to make the arrows more sturdy, could you get a longer socket on the arrowhead? If the shaft is delayed in breaking, it may be better able to transmit energy to the plate, and therefore be more destructive upon striking the target.


Both the arrows and the heads were replicas of the real things. So, doubtless you could change them but you wouldn't be following the philosophy of the test. It may be that this is indeed what happened to period arrows - those that hit an armoured target were beyond further use - but nobody at the time thought it was important to mention. Though we might also observe that the model for the arrow and of the head are not of a piece. We don't know the heads of the Mary Rose arrow or exactly what kind of shaft went with the Museum of London head. So a mismatch is possible, though personally, I'd expect it is unlikely.

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Leo Todeschini
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PostPosted: Sat 31 Aug, 2019 11:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks so much for the amazingly positive comments and there is much to address here and hopefully we will do just that and make some follow up films.

There has been much discussion about blunt force trauma effects and knocking off your feet.... .44 Magnum to fabric armour at 2:10 https://youtu.be/IwBLL7Z3OvU AK47 to plate armour at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6x59iN4KMz4

Crazy people

Tod

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PostPosted: Sat 31 Aug, 2019 11:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tod, this video addressed every problem I had with similar work in the past. All variables were accounted for, as soon as I began to think, "but what about...?" Extraordinary and authoritative work! Big Grin

As for blunt trauma, you've beat me to posting some kevlar videos -- it's a complete non-issue, at least for the breastplate.
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Alain D.




PostPosted: Mon 02 Sep, 2019 8:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Tod, thank you for providing the community with this outstanding contribution. Ive followed the speculative threads on this site for years around longbow vs. armour, and your video is by far the best and most indisputable evidence Ive ever seen on the subject. I also love this for demonstrating the value of the deflection ridge, which might not be immediately obvious looking at the piece or reading about it, but instantly becomes clear through the replay of the exploding arrows. I now have a much greater appreciation for the design expertise of period armourers and the factors at play.

I would have been interested to see the performance of one of your 1,250lb crossbows against the breastplate. Im assuming it would render similar results, but the comparison would be fascinating.

Thanks again, really appreciate your efforts on this and love the channel.

Alain D.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 03 Sep, 2019 7:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent test, real bow, real archer, real arrows, and real armor. So often with these test you have something skewed to create a desired outcome - super powerful bow against weak armor, weak bow against super elite armor etc.

I loved that the jupon looked like it had a damask pattern too.

Toby did a good job stringing the expertise of your specialists together and providing context. All in all, very impressive experiment and video.

Quick question, did they mention the weight of the arrows? If so I missed it...

Kudos,

Jean

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Anthony Clipsom




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PostPosted: Tue 03 Sep, 2019 8:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Quick question, did they mention the weight of the arrows? If so I missed it...


Original post says 80g. (2.8oz)

Anthony Clipsom
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 03 Sep, 2019 9:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Anthony Clipsom wrote:
Quote:
Quick question, did they mention the weight of the arrows? If so I missed it...


Original post says 80g. (2.8oz)


Ah, thanks, need to find my reading glasses lol

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Ben Joy




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PostPosted: Tue 03 Sep, 2019 12:06 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Utterly fascinating video. Like you said, there's lots of opportunity to let the mind wander and speculate the "what-ifs", but the facts are rather staggering here.

"Do they go through the breastplate? Perhaps occasionally, but generally no."

I think that's the most important takeaway from the whole thing. Volley after volley of short-ranged fire would eventually cause a failure, just like what happens in modern ballistic armor that's shot too much. However, the level of protection is impressive. By the time they could cause a failure, would the nearest archer even have any arrows left? Would the circumstances even allow for effective archery combat? Likely not in either case.

At least we have a far more definitive answer than we've ever had before. I very truly appreciate the scientific method put into this and the quality of all of the reproduced materials involved. About the only thing I'd be curious to see is if there's any chance of measuring the amount of impact the ballistic gel receives through the armor (like some of those "crash test" impact pads stuck to the gel block).

Regardless, I look forward to seeing if/when you do the followup investigations on limb armor.

Also, this takes the whole "chinks in their armor" saying to a new level. I suddenly want a neck deflection guard added to my breastplate . . .

"Men take only their needs into consideration, never their abilities." -Napoleon Bonaparte
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PostPosted: Wed 04 Sep, 2019 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Loved every bit of it, well researched, well executed.

Would pay for a TV show like this! Laughing Out Loud


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