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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Jan, 2006 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

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Horsfal et al supports some of Williams' figures. Horsfal's test concluded that the maximum energy a person could deliver with an underhand stab is 63 J and overarm is 115J. I doubt one could deliver an uppercut with much more energy than an underarm stab.


Where was this test published? I'd like to see how the got such a figure. It sounds about right, but I think it depends on who is doing the stabbing. For example, if you tested normal modern folks with longbows, you'd probably conclude the maxium energy that could be delivered by an arrows was around 70 J. Few people draw even 80 lb bows these days.

The overarm figure is roughly in line with the 130 J number I've seen for one-handed stone mace, though.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 10 Jan, 2006 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Horsfall et al. "An Assessment of Human Performance in Stabbing" Forensic Science International 102 (1999) 79-89. He tested a range of subjects. Some would have been stronger than others. Some are also likely to have had some martial arts training.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 5:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My copy of The Great Warbow came yesterday. Combining the numbers on longbow performance with the mail tests performed by Dr. Williams can probably give us a good idea of the historical reality of arrows against mail. According to Williams, an arrow with at least 120 J will pierce both mail and padding. A 150 lb longbow can manage this at extremely close range, provided the arrow weighs at least two ounces. A 3.8 ounce arrow would have 146 J up close, which is probably enough energy to give a serious wound through mail. However, past 50 or so yards the kinetic energy decreases to point where mail piercing seems unlikely. At maximum range, no arrow from a 150 lb longbow even reaches 100 J. It would probably take a 180 lb longbow shooting a heavy arrow to serious injury a man in mail at this range.

As side note, the performance of longbows shooting heavy arrows is somewhat better than I expected. However, composite bows still hit harder. A 150 lb longbow shoots a 1662 grain arrow about 171 fps (146 J), while a 136 lb Turkish composite shoots a 1548 grain arrow 180.4 fps (152 J).
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Michael P Smith





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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 9:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Quote:
there was no padding behind the mail which was hanging from a cross tree.


That makes all the difference in the world.

Quote:
I'm amazed that a 50lbs bow couldn't penetrate at 5 meters.


I'm not amazed at all. I'm more surprised at how the arrow penetrated the gambeson. Makes want to see some good quality New World cotton armour tested (Bernal Diaz considered the thickest stuff proof against arrows).

50 lbs is a really light draw weight, though. 60 J at the absolute most. That's assuming an extremely efficient bow and heavy arrows were used (40-50 J is more likely). A 100+ lb longbow could easily do 100 J or more, and a heavy composite bow could surpass 140 J.


In fact, in tests by the Royal Arms Establishment (I think) documented in "The Great Warbow," a 150 lb bow shooting a 1/4 lb arrow can deliver nearly 150 J at short range, with only about 30% loss of energy at near maximum range. These numbers are from memeory (I'm travelling), but they are close I think.

Still, I think Alan Williams analysis shows that mail would be decent (if imperfect) armour against such a weapon, and plate would fail only under the rarest of circumstances.

However, informal tests conducted by Bob Reed indicated that even in cases where actual damage to armour is unlikely, the blunt force trauma associated with heavy arrowstrikes could be incapacitating or at least remendously distracting. 100 J is a LOT, and having strike after strike on you would be tough, even if the armour prevented actual penetration.

Edit: Duh. I see that someone posted the actual figures from "The Great Warbow." Oh well, at least my numbers were close.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Wed 11 Jan, 2006 2:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Also remeber that battles like Agincurt featured a huge amount of archers; several thousands of arrows coming at you is never plesant, no matter what.
And still, most of the knights where killed in the melee that followed, or executed.

There is also a huge difference between a lethal hit and a casualty, especially in medieval warfare, where Quarter was more readily asked or given.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jan, 2006 9:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, I've just found some rather shocking data on the performance of the atlatl. According to tests published in Antiquity 71(274): 890-897, the kinetic energy of thrown darts is truly extreme. The average KE in a thrown 273 g dart is 247 J (42.5 m/s) and goes up to as high as 559 J (64 m/s). The heaviest dart tested, 545 g, averaged 353 J (36 m/s) and peaked at 771 J (53.2 m/s). That last number exceeds the KE from a .357 mangum round.

Honestly I have trouble believing such figures, but they were published in a peer-reviewed journal and are cited by atlatl enthusiasts. They also accord with Spanish accounts of the ability of Amerindian darts to pierce armour. Bernal Diaz claimed Aztec darts could pierce any armour, and de la Vega recorded that Amerindian darts could completely pass through a man wearing a coat of mail. I no longer doubt these accounts. Using Williams's armour tests, a heavy dart with a steel tip could pierce even high quality plate armour. Obviously stone tips would do worse, but the best armour still might not be proof against an exceptional throw.

That a man can put 771 J into a dart throw but only stab with 115 J seems odd, but who knows. Clearly more tests, on all types of weapons, are needed.
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Peter Johnsson
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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jan, 2006 10:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IŽd very much like to know what types of darts and atlatl was used in the test.

I would also like to hear what a plumbata could do, if made and thrown expertly....

Benjamin, could you supply some more detail info on the tests? Much appreciated!

Peter

Benjamin H. Abbott wrote:
Well, I've just found some rather shocking data on the performance of the atlatl. According to tests published in Antiquity 71(274): 890-897, the kinetic energy of thrown darts is truly extreme. The average KE in a thrown 273 g dart is 247 J (42.5 m/s) and goes up to as high as 559 J (64 m/s). The heaviest dart tested, 545 g, averaged 353 J (36 m/s) and peaked at 771 J (53.2 m/s). That last number exceeds the KE from a .357 mangum round.

Honestly I have trouble believing such figures, but they were published in a peer-reviewed journal and are cited by atlatl enthusiasts. They also accord with Spanish accounts of the ability of Amerindian darts to pierce armour. Bernal Diaz claimed Aztec darts could pierce any armour, and de la Vega recorded that Amerindian darts could completely pass through a man wearing a coat of mail. I no longer doubt these accounts. Using Williams's armour tests, a heavy dart with a steel tip could pierce even high quality plate armour. Obviously stone tips would do worse, but the best armour still might not be proof against an exceptional throw.

That a man can put 771 J into a dart throw but only stab with 115 J seems odd, but who knows. Clearly more tests, on all types of weapons, are needed.
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Tue 24 Jan, 2006 1:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd have to look at the article again to get the details on dart construction. I only wrote down the weights. I do remember that most of the darts were not spined quite right for the atlatl used in the test. I don't believe authors described the atlatl itself - they cited an earlier study which concluded atlatl length only really affected performance at the two extremes. Wallace Karl Hutchings, one of the authors, threw the darts for the test.

By the way, according to various internet sources, such as http://www.telusplanet.net/public/prescotj/da...ising.html, olympic level javelin throwers can throw a 800 g javelin at about 30 m/s. That's around 360 joules - almost indentical to the average of the heaviest atlatl dart in the Hutchings test.

It'd also be more than enough to pierce mail, which is what Vegetius claims a properly thrown javelin could do.
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Jared Smith




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PostPosted: Wed 25 Jan, 2006 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think you have the right of it. An important factor in containing explosive blasts (highway blasting, rocket engine testing, military explosive storage sites, etc.) is sheer mass. The first line of defense if using "blast mats" is generally a heavy wire weave mat (blast mat.) the woven cable or wire mat does not necessarily have to completely stop projectiles, but the process of penetrating these woven mats dissipates a very high percentage of the kinetic energy from explosive fragments. After that, cloth, earth, wood, or other forms of barriers generally are sufficient to spread out remaining energy that would otherwise be concentrated on a point.

When I see these tests where penetration or slicing of mail is successful it frequently appears that only a small point or fine edge is successful at getting through. Imagine if this fine point or edge has only succeeded in reaching leather or padded gambeson (armour as a system of layers.) Yes the victim may still recieve a "prick", but this is really pretty miraculous compared to what the result would have been without the mail or woven wire protection would have been.

Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence!
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2006 2:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Found another test, by norwegian living history group Kongshirden 1308
http://www.kongshirden1308.no/galleri/2003_1308dag_03/thumbs.htm

The bow is a 105 pund longbow, the mail Fourth Armoury, and the cloth about 20 layers of canvas.

Another gallery, featuring test shooting with the same bow against a breastplate, without padding...
http://www.kongshirden1308.no/galleri/2004_bornholm_2/thumbs.htm

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Wolfgang Armbruster





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PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2006 3:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling Polden wrote:
Found another test, by norwegian living history group Kongshirden 1308
http://www.kongshirden1308.no/galleri/2003_1308dag_03/thumbs.htm

The bow is a 105 pund longbow, the mail Fourth Armoury, and the cloth about 20 layers of canvas.

Another gallery, featuring test shooting with the same bow against a breastplate, without padding...
http://www.kongshirden1308.no/galleri/2004_bornholm_2/thumbs.htm


Interesting. Do you know if the breastplate was made from mild-steel or was it hardened steel?
The bow looks awesome, btw.
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2006 3:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No clue. I can ask them, though...
I would guess not. (if it was a real good breastplate, I wouldn't give it away for someone to shoot at... Wink )

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Benjamin H. Abbott




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Feb, 2006 10:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting test. As I understand it, though, Fourth Armoury maill is not quite up to historical standards. The mail tested by Alan Williams would not have been penetrated by a 105 lb bow.
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Keith Downer





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PostPosted: Tue 11 Apr, 2006 8:06 am    Post subject: Effectiveness of chainmaille?         Reply with quote

I have a some interesting insight. To begin with to speak about weapon strength only in terms of Kinetic Energy is laughable. Those who don't have much insight into the matter would easily rationalize that energy is somehow fundamentally linked to power of penetration. (Don't get me started on Poncelet) It is linked but not in any fundamental way. If you're talking about a completely inelastic collision than yes there IS a loss of Kinetic energy associated with a strike and that energy is transfered into mechanical work, sounds, and a small about of heat. In any other kind of collision (not to mention oblique, which most are) there is a significant difference between the total kinetic energy possessed by say an arrow and it's penetration.

One also cannot model mail as a single plate with an oblique impact and a damping (i.e. the aketon). The difference between mail and plate is that mail is a non-rigid medium allow pressure waves to be spread through the material much easier than in a rigid steel sheet this further dissapates the energy that is transfered to the mail as work.

One I am getting at is that one cannot reasonably conclude anything from a few tests with bodkin arrows. Well, anything beyond the conclusions reached in the tests. When trying to extrapolate damage done by weapons unlike arrows from the arrow tests through total kinetic energy is impossible or just guessing blindly. Perfect example is that most weapons in rotation would retain most of their total kinetic energy (even in a perfectly inelastic collision) you can see this by that fact that blows don't stop dead in their tracts upon hitting the armor. There would also be momentum transfered to the object (rotational or linear) which further robs the system of the amount of mechanical work done.

Long story short has anyone actually done a reasonable full speed test with a sword, axe, halberd, etc. on a mail target? I am very curious to see what the peak overpressure would be below the gambeson. If it is large enough the mail probably wouldn't break but a broken or cracked bone could result. This is just a guess though.
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David Pim




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 1:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So I see that a lot of people are confused about "energy" when it comes to armour and weapon penetration. There are only two important factors: A, pressure of the weapon at point of contact with armour, and B, inertia of the target. Let me illustrate this. Imagine swinging a baseball bat of a given mass at a given velocity at someones chest. Then imagine swinging a sharp axe of exactly the same mass at exactly the same velocity; both would strike the chest with exactly the same energy, but which would you prefer to be hit by? Similarly, shooting with a bow at chain mail hung on a stick is not a good test since the mail will act as a "stopnet". Most archers out there will be familiar with the type of stopnets used at modern archery tournaments, hung loosely behind the straw targets they stop arrows from both recurves and compound bows alike since the net has low inertia. Would anyone out there care to wear the same netting across their chest and allow a compound archer to shoot at them?
As all of you out there know, chainmail was used across all of Europe the Middle East and Asia as protection for several centuries. At the time of the Norman conquest of England it was used by Normans and Saxons alike, and developed as a means of protection against edged weapons; axes, swords and seaxes. it remained in common use all through the early medieval period even when plate armour began to develop, where chainmail was used as a backing for armour plate and a means of protecting weak areas where early armour articulated. It wasn't until armour technology had reached its zenith, during the Rennaisance, when it was totally encasing and joints were perfectly articulated that chainmail disappeared. (For reference see Henry VIII's Greenwich armour). What drove the development of plate armour was the increasing use of the longbow on the battlefield and it is no coincidence that the most common warhead found during the early medieval period is the needle bodkin, although, as a matter of fact broadheads are quite capable of perforating chainmail at close range. Needle bodkins easily open up the rings of chainmail and allow an arrow to penetrate , this is why one needs to be careful when discussing the effectiveness of weapons in terms of "energy', you have to take the geometry of the weapon into consideration. It's also worth remembering that European chainmail of this period wasn't made of steel but "charcoal iron" that had a very low carbon content; the first steel that Europeans encountered was in the Middle East, during the crusades, made from high carbon-containing ores imported from Asia. If all this seems a bit theoretical I recommend reading the series of articles written by longbow archer Mark Stretton on forged arrow heads and his tests using them, in the british archery magazine "The Glade", these articles include proper practical tests of various warhead types against various armours to give a true idea about what was possible.
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D. Austin
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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 2:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I must confess that I can't remember the source of this information but it seems to make sense to me.

Apparently, many casualties from medieval battles were as a result of infection caused by what may have been mere scratches, but were caused by a dirty weapon or exposed to environments conducive to infection. Certainly a cut strong enough to sever a limb would be a serious problem, with or without maille, but a slice from a sword tip or a misplaced thrust from a spear could have much more dire consequences without the protection that maille could provide.
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 3:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Elling,

I keep hearing this online and in reenactment groups but not sure where it comes from. Where are the casualties from Agincourt written out? I am more looking for primary sources but I keep hearing that most of the men were killed as prisoners or in the melee. How do we know this, what is it based on? What sources states that most the french were executed or in the melee? I like to think I am fairly familiar with these accounts and not trying to single you out but cannot figure out what it is based. More curious where this came from than anything.

I think Dan said it well that mail varied as did the weapons and attacks they faced. Some mail would stop almost anything and take a great deal of abuse and impact while others did not.

Some of the thin bodkin heads seem to be able to pass their point inside of links with little need to actually break or pierce the mail links themselves at least initially. If once past the defence the arrow would just need to wedge its way inside. Of course the smaller links would make this much harder. Mail lasted as the primary defence for a great deal of time so they were doing something right.

RPM
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Bram Verbeek





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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 4:55 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There are huge differences in mail, there is butted (yes, it was used sometimes, even though its defensive capabilities are very low) rivetted, and rivetted and punched alternating, this last form (hamata) almost exclusively breaks on the rivetted links, the punched links are very strong (or you would have to do something unholy like throwing a soliferrum or pilum at it, but that is just unfair to the mail... Laughing Out Loud )

During the mail era, people used shields extensively, so many of the ranged attacks would have to deal with a layer of wood as well.

I thought the agincourt casualties were thought to be mainly after the ranged attacks because of the low probability that an arrow pierces the plate. I am a firm believer in the chaos theory, that a lot of casualties were made before contact because of broken terrain and shot horses, thereafter being overrun by their own troops.

Agincourt was in the age of plate however, and this thread deals with mail
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Randall Moffett




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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 6:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bram,

That is exactly what I have noticed, most people think this but do not know why. A great deal of people have for some reason decided either most of the french men at arms died as prisoners or more or less completely by the melee. My question is why this is. What is the source of this? Is it the interpretation of a period account or is it a modern historian or reenactorism?

RPM
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Sean Smith





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PostPosted: Fri 14 Mar, 2008 8:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Aside from the "tests" we are doing, we could also look at the effectiveness of archery in period texts. That would tell us a bit more than extrapolating from compound bows and butted maille. In the 11th-13th century, there are several accounts of men who are protected with maille from arrows. De Joinville had a hauberk de joute (jousting hauberks) laid over him when injured to protect from arrows, and there are also accounts of men who are unable to swing their swords due to the arrows stuck into the hauberk. They were unharmed, but unable to move effectively.

There is also the moral effect of archery, involving moving around the battlefield. If you had a choice between going through terrain with no archery, and terrain with archery, which would you choose? This would allow the side with archery to dictate the area where battle was to be given, without actually inflicting many wounds due to archery.
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