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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jul, 2005 7:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Excellent point - people usually neglect to consider the effects of cumulative damage. However, lamellar is unusually easy to repair, as armour goes (AFAIK), so the damage would likely have to accumulate in one battle. Whereas metal fatigue which might affect mail or plate is not so easy to see, and harder to fix.

Lance thrusts are quite a different matter from swords, especially couched lances. George's question concerned only sword thrusts, and those are a good deal less powerful than lances.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jul, 2005 9:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Agreed. And it's also worth pointing out that lamellar is probably inferior to mail in most aspects.


What evidence is there for this? Lamellar armour isn't so far away from brigandines and coats of plates, both of which were considered equal to or better than mail in the west, at least for defending the torso. And from what I can tell, Japanese lamellar armour was just as effective at stopping arrows as European mail.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 25 Jul, 2005 9:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pros: Mail offers better protection than lamellar of a comparable weight. Mail provides better coverage and is more flexible. Mail is easier to repair, clean and maintain. Mail isn't susceptible to water, lice, mud, etc. Mail can probably fit a greater variety of body shapes (less custom-fitting required).

Cons: mail's flexibility means the wearer is more susceptible to blunt trauma. Mail costs more and takes longer to manufacture.
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Tyler Weaver




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 10:50 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
I think the issue with Lamellar, particularly the Japanese type of Lamellar where much of the cords used to tie the armor together are exposed on the outside of it, is the potential cumulative effect of attacks. Maybe one lance thrust pried a couple of lames apart, straining or even fraying the cords. Then a couple of axe strikes strained it further, pretty soon a good strike or thrust may tear a lame or three off or partially off, and then you have a nice hole to thrust into or cut into...


Japanese lamellar is laced together with either a huge amount of fairly thin silk cord or fewer, but very sturdy silk cords, and the cords are rarely exposed to the extent that they could be easily cut. It's also worth noting that Japanese "lamellar" actually functions more like banded armor, as horizontal pieces were lacquered together and then laced to their vertical neighbors, making it effectively impossible to tear off individual pieces. In fact, given how fully-laced Japanese armor is put together, I'm not even sure if it's physically -possible- to cut off a lame, even if you could cut through all that silk.

The same holds true for loose-laced armor of the Sengoku - the actual connecting pieces are behind the lames, and given the amount of mutual support involved in the construction, I very much doubt that there would be any kind of cumulative effect worth noting, especially given the difficulty of cutting through thick, tight silk lacings.

Seeing as how the Japanese used maille-and-plate and lamellar constructions in different parts of the same harness, and how maille-and-plate body and head armor was "poor man's" equipment in Japan, I'd say it really says something about the advantages and disadvantages of Japanese lamellar vs. maille.

Aku. Soku. Zan.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Mail offers better protection than lamellar of a comparable weight.


You may very well be right, but I'd like to see what evidence has led you to this conclusion. Also, do you consider a shirt of mail better protection for the torso than a brigandine? I was always under the impression that it was in between mail and plate in terms of protection...

Quote:
Mail provides better coverage and is more flexible.


No doubt about that, which is why you often see scale, lamellar or brigandine armour protecting the torso, with mail to protect the limbs.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 4:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Brigandine" does not equal "lamellar". I agree that a brigandine is better than both mail and lamellar in many respects. If you want to discuss brigs, that is fine but don't confuse the issue by equating them with lamellar.
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Jeanry Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

[quote="Tyler Weaver"]
Quote:
I think the issue with Lamellar, particularly the Japanese type of Lamellar where much of the cords used to tie the armor together are exposed on the outside of it, is the potential cumulative effect of attacks. Maybe one lance thrust pried a couple of lames apart, straining or even fraying the cords. Then a couple of axe strikes strained it further, pretty soon a good strike or thrust may tear a lame or three off or partially off, and then you have a nice hole to thrust into or cut into...


We may have to agree to disagree, because we definately see things differently. Having seen a lot of test cutting, including the video put out by Cold Steel where they repeatedly cut through 4" thick mooring ropes (among many other things) I dont think cutting through silk cords is particularly difficult for a good military sword.

Also, this is a bit of a segue (and will no doubt prove very contraversial) but I have recently seen authentic Japanese armor close up, including the mail. I got to look at four Do's from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries at a recent travelling exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Though the armor was beautiful, overall I was not impressed with the protection offered, especially compared to European armor that I have seen. The silk cords looked very exposed to me on three of the four Do, and still fairly exposed on the nicer (17th century) one. Interestingly, the lame on one of the do appeared to be brass, and all three had some brass components (or bronze, or some other copper alloy)

But the mail in particular struck me. It was very, very thin wire, not at all like western mail, and it was linked on the four corners, not overlapping in any of the 4 in 1 or 5 in 1 patterns the way western mail is. It looked lke it might serve as marginal protection against draw cuts, nothing more. I can certainly understand why mail was not considered the best armor in Japan! Granted this is a very small sample, but I spoke to some of the experts on hand for the exhibition and they seemed to feel the armor was authentic field armor intended for battle and fairly representative of the armor of two different periods.

Conversely, Lamellar was well known in the West, including when exclusively mail armor was widely in use. Lamellar was being used by the Summerians well back into the Bronze Age, and had remained in use in the middle east and Central Asia more or less continually until well into the Medieval period.

Personally I think Lamellar over mail can be pretty effective, but by itself it's far less useful as armor. All I have to base this on are a few thoroughly unscientific test cutting experiments that I know of. I would love to see something more systematic done. So I admit this is a subjective opinion to a large extent. Happy

JR

"A strong people do not ned a strong leader."

Emiliano Zapata
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 5:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Conversely, Lamellar was well known in the West, including when exclusively mail armor was widely in use. Lamellar was being used by the Summerians well back into the Bronze Age, and had remained in use in the middle east and Central Asia more or less continually until well into the Medieval period.


The Bronze Age armour that many assume to be lamellar is actually scale armour. The earliest lamellar I have been able to confirm dates to the Warring States period in China.
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 6:44 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cutting through freely dangling rope, or rope stretched through mid-air, is one thing. You can move the sword from one side of the rope clear through to the other side. Cutting a cord or rope stretched flat over a metal sheet may not be the same thing at all. Your blade stops at, or just above, the metal surface (assuming that the metal lame itself is not being cut in half). It doesn't travel past the location of the cord.

Think about cutting sinew in a piece of meat. If it is hanging in air, a big swing with a sword goes right through it. If if is flat on a cutting board, with the sinew right against the board surface, a single slice or chop is not guaranteed to cut it in half.

Now if the cord is on a metal lame, and this is attached to a live, moving target, the chances of getting a good cutting blow on a cord is further decreased.
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Jeanry Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 7:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Quote:
Conversely, Lamellar was well known in the West, including when exclusively mail armor was widely in use. Lamellar was being used by the Summerians well back into the Bronze Age, and had remained in use in the middle east and Central Asia more or less continually until well into the Medieval period.


The Bronze Age armour that many assume to be lamellar is actually scale armour. The earliest lamellar I have been able to confirm dates to the Warring States period in China.


Even if I assume that to be true, (which I dont because i remember seeing reliefs of hittite armor with the lames overlapping upward) it doesn't have much bearing on the argument. Certainly you aren't trying to say that Lamellar wasn't well known to the medieval Europeans?

J

"A strong people do not ned a strong leader."

Emiliano Zapata
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Jeanry Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 7:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Felix Wang wrote:
Cutting through freely dangling rope, or rope stretched through mid-air, is one thing. You can move the sword from one side of the rope clear through to the other side. Cutting a cord or rope stretched flat over a metal sheet may not be the same thing at all. Your blade stops at, or just above, the metal surface (assuming that the metal lame itself is not being cut in half). It doesn't travel past the location of the cord.

Think about cutting sinew in a piece of meat. If it is hanging in air, a big swing with a sword goes right through it. If if is flat on a cutting board, with the sinew right against the board surface, a single slice or chop is not guaranteed to cut it in half.

Now if the cord is on a metal lame, and this is attached to a live, moving target, the chances of getting a good cutting blow on a cord is further decreased.


We were talking about cumulative damage weren't we? A few cuts across the same area could quickly wear out just about any fiber.

But frankly, I think those cords would be easy to cut in one stroke. I also think they could fairly easily break

In the same video that cold steel puts out, (which is free by the way) you can see them take a German Grosse Messer and hack right through a phone book which is laying on a hard wooden table. They did the same thing with some chinese swords as well IIRC.

We'll probably just have to agree to disagree though like I said...

J

"A strong people do not ned a strong leader."

Emiliano Zapata
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Jeanry Chandler




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 7:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George Hill wrote:

Um... How can wearing an extra garment protect a person from heat? Maybe in an iron foundry, but outdoors? I was looking at the fellow's post who mentioned wearing felt under or over the armor, and I cringed. I've been to Egypt, and it's blasted hot in that sun. I can't imagine that the Holy Land is all that much cooler. Wearing felt would be more lethal then Saladin's arrows.


The heat depends a lot on the time of year, but as a point of reference on this, consider that right this very minute US troops are doing day long foot patrols in Iraq in 120-130 degree heat wearing 70 - 100 lbs of equipment including full clothing, boots, under clothing, and very heavy body armor and helmet.

JR

"A strong people do not ned a strong leader."

Emiliano Zapata
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 7:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The cord is there to hold the armour together and the lames are there to make cutting the cord difficult: I like the idea suggested that cumulative damage is key to how effective lamellar armour could be; as mentioned before, a well maintained lamellar armour would at the start of a battle be very effective at stopping cuts and most thrusts but the cord would take damage. At some critical amount of damage getting the point of a sword through loose, looser or missing plates would become much easier. Before a whole group of lames fell off there would have to be many cuts at close to the same area of the armour.

One good thing is that between battles this armour would be easy to repair. If a warrior neglected to repair and had to start another battle with already compromised cord bindings the level of protection afforded by this type of armour would degrade at an ever accelerating pace. ( At least this is my theory. )

The only reason I can see a competent warrior would let this happen to his lamellar armour would be due to a long series of battles without any time out to do basic maintenance.

One question though is how many hits to ones' armour should one expect to be stopped by ones' armour in battle: I think the function of armour is to stop what you couldn't avoid, parry or deflect, armour is there to give you a chance to survive your mistakes or your bad luck and not to receive large numbers of hits passively. ( A hit to your armour is a mistake: But a survivable mistake because of the armour. )
If the number of expected hits to ones' armour is but a handful in a typical battle there should not be enough damage done in that one battle to degrade the protective qualities of lamellar armour. ( Whatever that is when new or in good repair. )

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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George Hill




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 8:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I've always been informed that Lamellar was more popular with archers and in archery cultures (Where arrows were your major threat) then with melee fighters, but I don't understand why. It seems very protective to me, and as such, I would think it would be popular all over.... So what exactly is the problem that I'm not seeing?

As to our troops and their armor in the hot places today, I'm not saying it can be done, I'm saying how can it heat you from a heat perspective? The more you cover, the hotter you get, so why did that ancient arab say wearing another garment protected you from the heat....


HEY! I have an idea... Maybe it protects you from the heat of your own metal armor after you've been in the sun all day? I bet it would heat up...

To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes. - --Tacitus on Germania
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Tyler Weaver




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 8:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
We may have to agree to disagree, because we definately see things differently. Having seen a lot of test cutting, including the video put out by Cold Steel where they repeatedly cut through 4" thick mooring ropes (among many other things) I dont think cutting through silk cords is particularly difficult for a good military sword.


Cutting at a large, stationary and structurally easy-to-cut target, like a hemp rope, is one thing. Small, well-supported, extremely tough and tight cords on a target that's trying to kill you is another thing altogether. You may be able, theoretically, to cut through a certain amount of silk cord, but realistically? In battle? It's a non-issue. "Cumulative damage" would never come into effect in any kind of realistic scenario - what are the odds of getting hit, multiple times, on the exact same square-inch of your armor? And even if a cord was cut, the friction involved in the construction would probably keep it in place anyways.

Quote:
Also, this is a bit of a segue (and will no doubt prove very contraversial) but I have recently seen authentic Japanese armor close up, including the mail. I got to look at four Do's from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries at a recent travelling exhibit at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Though the armor was beautiful, overall I was not impressed with the protection offered, especially compared to European armor that I have seen. The silk cords looked very exposed to me on three of the four Do, and still fairly exposed on the nicer (17th century) one. Interestingly, the lame on one of the do appeared to be brass, and all three had some brass components (or bronze, or some other copper alloy)


Not to nitpick, but the correct term for armor is yoroi. "Do" is a term for a breastplate.

I thought the same way as you did initially, before I sat down and thought about the protection offered by Japanese armor - I even went to the trouble of creating a thread on Japanese maille, which can easily be looked up using the search function here. Despite its fine construction, it's generally made out of several turns of well-tempered steel, making it extremely durable, and it's more flexible than "international" style maille. Just because it's fine doesn't mean it's not protective - in fact, blows would land on more rings and the blow would be distributed better than with thicker maille.

Now, a suit of good Japanese armor covered its wearer in either steel plates or maille-and-plate defenses from head to toe. That's roughly equivalent to European suits from the same era, so I'm not sure where you're getting your conclusions from. It seems like most of the armor you looked at was from the mid-Edo period, which was a very decadent period for Japanese armor when a lot of suits never fit for or supposed to be worn in battle were made, and so that also might have been misleading. Comparing a monstrous and deliberately anachronistic mid-Edo harness to a nice Gothic suit is simply unfair.

Quote:
In the same video that cold steel puts out, (which is free by the way) you can see them take a German Grosse Messer and hack right through a phone book which is laying on a hard wooden table. They did the same thing with some chinese swords as well IIRC.


Apples and oranges again. A phone book on a table is a far larger and softer target than silk cords on a steel lame. I will remind you that silk is strong enough to be carried into arrow wounds with the arrowhead with minimal breakage. In fact, looking at the silk hilt-wrap on my iaito, I have to say that it's very sturdy stuff. It would take either a very hard slice or some determined draw-cutting to get through it, and given the realities of battle and the amount of mutual support involved in lamellar lacing, I'd have to say that the odds of getting any serious disruption in the armor are very slim indeed.

Also, with Japanese swords being the way they are, it's telling that I've never heard of this being a problem historically. There is only one design feature on Japanese armor designed specifically to protect some vulnerable lacing, and even that (the "ears" on a helmet's sides just above the neckguard) was superficial to the point that tradition as much as anything else kept them around, and some helmets dispensed with them altogether.

Aku. Soku. Zan.
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Jason Daub




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 9:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

George,

Regarding the heat thing, to quote Colonel Hans von Luck, who served with the DAK as a Major from April 1942-March 1943,"One even got used to the cold nights. We didn't take off our tropical coats, and thick, nonregulation scarves, until well into the morning when the heat had slowly worked through them. This was the thermos principle, which we had learned by observing the Bedouins."

As to the protection that the padding would give from the suns' heat on the armour, you aren't that far off, again to quote von Luck,"The heat during the day gradually became unbearable.Everyone sought out a little patch of shade. Some men really did fry eggs on the overheated armor-plating of the tanks. It was no fairy tale; I have done it myself."

A wee little bit out of the time that we are dealing with, and a hotter desert, but the idea certainly comes through.
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 9:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeanry Chandler wrote:

... But frankly, I think those cords would be easy to cut in one stroke. I also think they could fairly easily break

In the same video that cold steel puts out, (which is free by the way) you can see them take a German Grosse Messer and hack right through a phone book which is laying on a hard wooden table. They did the same thing with some chinese swords as well IIRC.

We'll probably just have to agree to disagree though like I said...

J


The test wouldn't be too hard to make. Take some leather thongs or cords, wrap them tightly and flat against a hard surface (say, around piece of metal pipe), and hang it up. Then take a sword and try to cut the cords off of the pipe. The Cold Steel test you mention involves a phone book (which isn't much like a cord), and a flat wooden undersurface, which the blade could dig into (not the same as a piece of metal), and a fixed, stable target (not much like an armoured man,unless he is unconcious and lying on the ground). Besides, the video isn't going to show a test where Cold Steel products don't work well, is it? Big Grin
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Felix Wang




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 9:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Two thoughts about heat and coverage:

Of course, cloth can be used to cover the metal, and provide some measure of shade . The other thought is the "bellows" effect of loose clothing. It seems that the multiple layers of loose clothing create spaces through which air can circulate when the wearer moves - in effect, a breeze within the clothes. After all, the traditional garb of Middle Easterners does involve loose clothing, often in multiple layers.
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David Lindberg





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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 10:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On Japanese armour.

I have studied Japanese armour a fair bit, I like to think I know what I'm talking about, but I'm certain that many of you know more than I. That said, here are my thoughts concerning lamellar armour as applied to Yoroi.

1. Material. The majority of the lames on most suits were made of rawhide. This would simply not stand up the same amount of abuse as steel.
2. Lacing. The lames could in more extreme cases be punctured for the lacing to the poin of being so structurally weak that they could not stand up to any abuse, much less that of a battle.
3. Damaging. One key difference that makes lamellar clearly inferior to plate is the simple truth that the overlap of plates is going to catch an opponent's blade, or point. (this is also true of maille, but none the less...)
Plate, especially from 1400 (or so) onward (in Europe), was designed to present a glancing surface, this is especially important against thrusts.
4. Maille. In my study, Japanese maille was almost always used to simply connect armour plates, and was never riveted. As anyone who has cut against butted maille can tell you, it does not stand up to abuse. At all. High quality steel or not. (And does anyone else wonder about this high quality steel thing; the Japanese used a variant of the bloomery furnace, so the product would bee a bloom of wrough iron, steel and cast iron. The Japanese would never be so impractical as to throw out the rest of the bloom, so what did they do with the iron?)

One area my research has been sorely lacking is about the thickness of the plates.
Could anyone give some info on:
- The thickness of plates (Japan and the Middle East)
- Material (wrought iron, steel, tempered, etc.)

Hopefully I've done something besides repeat the statements of others
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Tue 26 Jul, 2005 10:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The heat thing: When the air temperature is way higher than body temperature all those layers that keep you warm when it's cold might help keep you cooler than the ambient air temperature.

There might be conditions needed for this to work like air spaces between layers, fabric that breathes and others I have no idea about.

The layers would slow moisture loss to the air and that absorbed by the layers of clothing would cool these also rather than being quickly lost to the atmosphere. I.E. Slow down dehydration.

This should work in high heat and low humidity: With high humidity the cooling effect might not work at all.

In warm but dry places like Iraq traditional clothing seems to be heavy as mentioned but warm and wet countries light or little clothing seemed to work best.

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!


Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Tue 26 Jul, 2005 11:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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