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The armour thread

Discussion in 'World History' started by Phrossack, Oct 10, 2013.

  1. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    But are these really faithful copies of original armour, or rather just poor and imperfect imitations?

    Are they designed to only look good during parades, or would they also perform well in actual battles?
     
  2. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    Spoiler quote war :
    3/4 plate wasn't introduced during the TYW; it had been around for a while before.
    Wheellock pistols had complex mechanisms and required skilled craftsmen to make. Matchlock muskets, not so much. Muskets were also an absolute necessity for a 17th-century European army, as were cannons, so they weren't going to do without those.

    Pikemen were on the way out during the TYW. Armoring them was not as essential to success as was giving the musketeers muskets.

    That's quite a claim. Source?

    I really don't think you can cut through a pike with a sword. They were thick and tough, and many pikes had langets to protect the haft. Swords are not wood axes; they really aren't designed to chop wood, especially not when that wood is not secured against something. Whack a pike someone's holding with a sword, and you'll probably just move it a little and leave a notch in it. And if you're close enough to swing your sword, you're within reach of a whole lot of pikes. Using cavalry to launch frontal attacks against prepared pike squares is a textbook example of how not to use cavalry.

    And now for something completely different: Tlingit armor.



    The Tlingit are a group from the coast of southern Alaska and western Canada. In the 18th century, they were known as fierce warriors and slavers. Before regular trade with Europeans, the Tlingit often used copper in their weapons such as spears, daggers, and arrows, but picked up iron when the Europeans and Americans arrived to do business. They immediately fell in love with muskets once they were introduced to them, became skilled in using and appraising them, and grabbed as many as they could. But that did not mean that the Tlingit abandoned armor, at least not for several decades.

    Tlingit warriors often wore considerable amounts of armor until the early to mid-19th century. Originally it consisted of thick layers of heavy animal hide from moose, bear, or sea lion, and often reinforced with wooden slats. Armor occasionally included splinted wood protection for the upper legs as well. According to Tommy Joseph, a famous Tlingit wood carver and probably the world's leading expert on Tlingit armor, some examples could have layered hide as much as a half-inch (1.27 cm) thick, not counting the wood reinforcement. Joseph has traveled the world studying different examples of Tlingit armor in museums, and has made many reproduction suits and dozens of helmets.









    Spoiler :


    Joseph in armor:


    Some of Joseph's armor:


    Interestingly, several examples of Tlingit armor make heavy use of Chinese coins. Apparently, the most popular coins were minted between 1643 and 1735, as these were the largest and heaviest. While some have claimed that these coins are evidence of Chinese exploration in the Northwest, they were most likely brought by Russian traders who extensively operated in the region. The Tlingit also used the coins as decoration and perhaps as good luck charms, as they were often used in China. No doubt the metal coins gave good, durable protection in armor, and they were apparently easier to lash to armor than carefully cut wooden slats were, too.









    The fearsome appearance and strength of Tlingit armor could make quite an impression on the enemy. Aleksandr Baranov, first governor of Russian Alaska, wrote that in one battle he fought against the Tlingit, they

    "came up so stealthily in the darkness that we saw them only when they began to stab at our tents. ... We shot at them without any result because they had on thick armor made of three and four layers of hard wood and sinews, and on top of that had heavy mantles made of moose hides. On their heads they had thick helmets with the figures of monsters on them, and neither our buckshot nor our bullets could pierce their armor. In the dark, they seemed to us worse than devils. The majority of them kept perfect order, advancing toward us and listening to the commands given by one voice and only a part of them ran back and forth doing damage to us and to the Natives in our party."

    Of course, it was dark, so it would have been hard to tell if the Russians were actually hitting their targets in the first place. As far as I know, nobody has ever tested reproduction Tlingit armor against musket fire. It's also interesting that Baranov describes the armor as consisting of hide mantles on top of wood instead of vice versa, as they are usually shown.

    Tlingit helmets could certainly appear strange and fearsome to foreigners. They bore designs such as human faces complete with hair, or brightly painted and beautifully crafted animal totems like orcas, bears, martens, ravens, and other Northwestern creatures. These totems were generally the crests of the wearer's paternal grandfather, passed down through the generations. In this way, they displayed the wearer's lineage and helped with battlefield identification, which could have been difficult in combat, especially if the entire face was covered. Helmets were often made of spruce burls, which are exceptionally hard and resilient. However, Tlingit carvers were known to make helmets out of non-native cedar reinforced with hide covers. Additional protection could be provided by a sort of neckguard, often made of yew, that was connected to the back of the helmet and held in place by a mouthpiece held in the teeth. These neckguards functioned much like the bevors of European Gothic plate armor. The helmets reached down to the brow, while the neckguards extended up to just below the eyes and sometimes incorporated semicircular eyeholes. The wearer could see through a gap between the two halves, almost giving him the appearance of some kind of painted wooden robot of death.

    Joseph carving a helmet














    Neckguard without helmet


    Altogether, Tlingit armor likely provided excellent protection from pre-gunpowder weapons, and possibly from some firearms as well. Its combination of tough wood, thick layers of tough hides, and rock-solid helmets with nearly complete facial protection. A full suit would have likely given the wearer complete safety from getting cut or clubbed over the head or getting shot with arrows or stabbed with spears or daggers in the vital organs. Additionally, it, like most premodern armor, was also a beautiful work of art and craftsmanship combined into weapon-defying might. They just don't make 'em like they used to. Except for Tommy Joseph. He does make them like they used to.
     
  3. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    Response to the spoiler in your last post:

    Spoiler :
    Phrossack:

    Source is: John R. Elting, "Swords around a Throne: Napoleon's Grand Armee", page 230.

    Edit:

    Another effect of armor is that it greatly improves morale. And I believe Flying Pig can tell you a lot about the importance of morale.

    OK I checked the data on prices. In 1627 an average musket was about 65 grams of silver and an average pistol was also about 65 grams of silver. But a holster for a musket was 12 grams of silver, while a holster for a pistol was just 5 grams. I assume that other additional stuff for a musket was also more expensive than similar additional stuff for a pistol. Including gunpowder (a musket required more of it than a pistol) and ammunition.

    Anyway - that was not so much. For example, a saddle was between 20 and 73 grams of silver (depending on kind and quality).

    An average sword was 24 grams while an average sabre was 19. Not mentioning a horse, which was the single most expensive element of stuff for a cavalryman. A very good horse could be even more expensive than all other weapons, armor and equipment together.

    As you can see, buying a pistol was not a great expense.

    Source? You can cut the end piece of a pike without coming within reach of it, in my opinion.

    Well I have not tested it (I did not try to cut pikes into pieces with a sword personally), but I have read in books and primary sources that during battles this happened - that is, non-pikemen were cutting pikes of pikemen. Not just cavalry but also sword-armed infantry was doing this.

    Not really, because it all depends what kinds of weapons this cavalry is using and how they conduct their attack.

    I guess when you think "frontal attack" you imagine some crazy dash at full speed. But that's not the only type of frontal attack possible. Cavalry did attack pikemen, sometimes even frontally, and I won't repeat all my posts about such successful attacks in history because we have already discussed that.

    Of course I agree with you that it was still better to "soften" infantry blocks with cannons and other firepower first, before sending in cavalry.

    The Swedish army was commonly using pikemen at least until the end of the GNW - for more than 100 years after the TYW started.

    So I cannot agree that pikemen were on the way out during the TYW. And I listed the Swedish army just as an example. Other armies also had pikemen in the 18th century, but Sweden was famous for efficiently using them in battle and still having large numbers of them.

    Until the invention of socket bayonets musketeers were quite defenceless against cavalry, unless protected by their own cavalry or by pikemen or obstacles. Those pikemen, when without armor, were more vulnerable to both enemy cavalry and infantry (including pikemen) than with it.

    Yes I know, it was introduced during the 16th century or earlier.

    But I think that during the TYW there was a period of its special popularity.
     
  4. cybrxkhan

    cybrxkhan Asian Xwedodah

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    I'm really digging that Tlingit armor, reminds me of central Asian lamellar.
     
  5. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    It kinda does, especially with the shape of the wooden breastplate. And Central Asian armor in general is awesomesauce. Especially Turkish plated mail...:drool:
     
  6. Kyriakos

    Kyriakos Creator

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    Pretty interesting helmets for the Tlingit.

    Very Gorgonesque as well. Fear-inducing, panic-inducing etc.
     
  7. Domen

    Domen Misico dux Vandalorum

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    In case if you want more details about this - at the beginning they were testing cuirasses by 3 musket shots from 30 paces. A significant number of tested cuirasses were able to withstand that, but many also had to be discarded. Thus later the criteria of the test were lowered to 1 shot instead of three.

    What it proves is that armor was not always withstanding a musket shot but there was a chance that it could do it and save your life.
     
  8. Joecoolyo

    Joecoolyo 99% Lightspeed

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    Sorry for not updating this sooner guys, I've been busy, but now time to resurrect the thread!

    The Retro-Innovation of Modern Armor

    The slow dissemination of gun and gunpowder technology forever changed the development of armor. No longer would protection from stabs, slashes, and other melee weapons be the priority. Rather, they would need to stop lead balls1 flying at them at immeasurable2 speeds. Historians assume that dodging practices were first evolved to deal with this new weapon. Simply moving out of the way has been shown to be effective at least part of the time. Lead balls were notoriously finicky at actually going where one pointed them. However, dodge-ball could only work for so long, and soon historians discovered that anti-dodging devices were used, like firing more guns3 at once. Old-Armor declined in usage with the increasing use of the gun,4 and looked like this once magnificent art-form was lost to the ages.

    However, although the records are patchy, historians have a hunch a brilliant man was born somewhere in the greater Europian region.5 This man is thought to have come with the theory of modern armor, which Dr. Pen of Tration University once summed up as "make armor thicker." Mythology says Europian generals and soldiers alike applauded this man for three days straight after his announcement. Whether or not one could live for three days only applauding is still out for debate.6

    With that, modern armor was born. Even though at this point in history - accurately pinpointed to between the dates of 1456 and 2037 - guns had been refined through rifling and pinpoint bullets, the new thicker armor was almost immune to it.

    Spoiler A Slab of Modern Armor :


    The trouble was, though, that this new thicker armor was very unwieldy. With current knowledge of humans, the armor we have samples of would have been impossible to carry by oneself alone.7 Historians, working with archaeologists, have come to the conclusion that the earliest forms of modern armor involved a single armored individual, referred to in sources as a "tank,"8 carried into battle with the help of three or four "privates."9 He would then be placed on the front-line, and allowed to fire until he ran out of ammo. He would then be removed and relieved. Problems soon arose with these early forms of modern armor, as they were prone to get stuck in mud or trenches.10 It was assumed, due to the thickness of the modern armor, the soldier was just left to die a horrid death, a bullet to put out him out of his misery would have been deflected right off.

    Spoiler A possible image of modern armor :


    These problems arose at the same time counters were being developed in the "armor race."11 How does one kill a solider wearing such thick modern armor? Developing bigger guns was the answer. Fragments have been found of rifles astoundingly huge in size, so big as to fit the person in the armor inside! To carry these into battle would have been an amazing sight. Hundreds of privates hauling it on their backs,12 a large metal man in modern armor just behind them (himself being carried by privates). It is a mystery how the soldiers in modern armor would have picked up or fired such large rifles, the bullets if fit snugly to the barrel would have been almost half their size alone. It could only be assumed that human ingenuity or super-people were used to fire the monstrosities.

    Spoiler Modern armor gun specimen :


    The armor race was only to spiral out of control from there. Although records get fuzzy, there are instances of "tanks" being used for centuries after the invention of the modern armored soldier. It can only be assumed that the armor got thicker and thicker, to the point where soldiers would be lost in a maze of metal, firing guns the size of contemporary houses, attempting to penetrate other soldiers in thick armor. No artifacts have been found to make sense of this claim, but considering the early re-development of armor, it is a safe assumption to make.

    - Excerpt from Firearms, Disease, and Metal: A Look into the Short and Brutish Lives of Ancient Humans by April Fools

    ___________________________
    1 Or other "fun" substances
    2 It can be measured
    3 "I solve practical problems" - unknown
    4 Old-Armor hindered ones ability to run away as fast as possible at the sight of guns
    5 Earth used to be divided into very small communities consisting of only tens of millions of individuals
    6 Historical records of applause, occurring in moving picture clubs and enclosed athletic domes, at longest last a day
    7 Super-people notwithstanding
    8 An archaic word used to express ones gratitude
    9 Soldier-slaves, well known for their uprisings centuries later
    10 Soldiers digging their own graves on the battlefield, called "trenches" in old literature, is a well documented practice
    11 Not be confused with arms races, a dangerous activity where ancient people would race upside-down
    12 Or rolling it into battle on re-purposed logs, as some historians would argue
     
  9. GreekAnalyzer

    GreekAnalyzer Back from the Dead

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    :clap:
    That's all I have to say.
     
  10. Joecoolyo

    Joecoolyo 99% Lightspeed

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    Thank you. Hundreds of seconds of research went into making that post.
     
  11. r16

    r16 not deity

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    and it actually kinda relates too . The M-16 as proposed was a .223 or something and Ike approved it during a lunch in the White House , but the US Army justified the new NATO standart of 7.62x51 with the supposed requirements of extreme personnel armour one would have needed on the irradiated battlefields of the future . 7.62 remained , despite its clear unsuitability for close combat , because of its potential for armour piercing . Resulted in the early version that only Sudan bought and a delay of couple of years of delays for the "Toy Gun" .
     
  12. Cutlass

    Cutlass The Man Who Wasn't There.

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    For lack of a better location, I'll put this here.


     
  13. Agent327

    Agent327 Observer

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    Helmland lol
     
  14. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    Time to brush the dust off this thread a bit.

    In the near future, I'm planning on showing some examples of the world of Japanese armor. For now, here's a video (narrated in the original Old French) demonstrating the workout routine of Jehan le Meingre, aka Boucicaut. Even in a full suit of plate armor, he managed to climb right up the faces of tall stone walls without any help, climb up the bottom of a ladder with just his hands, do acrobatics, and dance.


    Link to video.

    The suit (helmet not included) weighs 26.18 kg (57.6 lbs), which seems like a lot, but it isn't an unusual weight for firefighters in full gear to carry, and many modern US soldiers wish they only had to carry that much. It's also well-distributed across the body rather than being imbalanced like a backpack.
     
  15. MilesGregarius

    MilesGregarius Half-baked Renegade

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    As I understand it, there was a period, during the transition from chain to plate (13th-14th C?), where armor did become incredibly cumbersome. Once the armorer's skills and, particularly, the metallurgy improved, armor as in the video was feasible.
     
  16. Duderlybob

    Duderlybob Chieftain

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    So, brief question (with potentially lengthy answer) for the armour thread! Does anyone know details of the nitty-gritty details of mail that would've been used during the First Crusade? I'm particularly interested in the details of what the Holy Roman Empire and Byzantium were using at the time.
     
  17. Buster's Uncle

    Buster's Uncle AC2 Co-Owner

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    I know more than a bit about how to make it, but my historical research into same is decades back in memory and wasn't all that terribly detailed as you seem to be looking for, that being back when you were mostly at the mercy of what local libraries stocked...
     
  18. Duderlybob

    Duderlybob Chieftain

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    Yeah, my own research into the subject has drawn a pretty large blank, so I'm mostly operating on what I know of Roman Mail/Lorica Hamata stuff was like, but given how much weapons technology changed between Republic Era Rome and the beginning of the Medieval Era, I feel like I'd probably be pretty far off on the details. I'll take an educated guess, as my knowledge into it a big question mark. I know that details on things that far back, in an age where standardization wasn't really a thing, is kind of a crap shoot at best. So, off of your understanding, could you postulate about the following?

    1. What gauges of rings would've been used in high grade chainmail, the kind that would've been worn by noble knights?
    2. Did they use round rivets or wedge rivets during that period?
    3. Opinions on what constitutes double-mail? 6-in-1 or 8-in-1 patterns? Thicker rings? Just doubling up on the old 4-in-1 pattern to get a 8-in-2?
     
  19. Phrossack

    Phrossack Armored Fish and Armored Men

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    I'm a bit fuzzy on that period, but I believe you're right--around that time, knights often wore a heavy coat of plates over their full-body mail, which was in turn worn over their padded armor. Not to mention head protection; if they had a great helm, they would wear an arming cap, a padded coif, a mail coif, a steel skullcap or early bascinet (very different from a later bascinet) over that, and a big, heavy great helm over all of that!



    Mail has never been my strong suit (no pun intended; honest!).

    I really don't know anything about gauges, unfortunately. But I believe they used wedge rivets that were "drifted" rather than put through a hole punched in the link. In other words, they simply pushed the rivet through the flat part of the link, and the material that was pushed aside helped hold the rivet in place:



    The top picture is the rivet being pushed through the metal of the link. The second looks like after it's been flattened--or maybe the first is wedge-riveted and the second is dome-riveted. I honestly don't know. You can see the pushed-aside metal wraps around the rivet and helps keep it in place. Historically, this seems to have been the dominant method of riveting, and most modern repro mail uses punched holes, which leads to weaker links.

    As for "double mail," from what I've read, it's a very unclear term. I've seen it suggested to be either your suggestions or even two layers of mail.

    But I know much, much less about mail than the fellows at myArmoury.com. Here you can find a pretty thorough introduction to mail of all kinds, and it mentions "double mail" a lot. All that we know about it was that it was supposed to be more protective than regular mail. Any more information has been frustratingly elusive.

    And here's a useful thread about riveted mail. The OP is Dan Howard, who's published a book on Bronze Age armor and generally seems to know his stuff. That's where I got the picture of drifting. There are lots of other good threads there, too.

    Erik D. Schmid, from what I've gathered at myArmoury, is the best historically-accurate mail-maker alive, and he has a wealth of articles on the subject. And there's even this forum and online society dedicated to the study and making of mail. There really is a group for everything!

    Hopefully, they'll have everything you need.
     
  20. Buster's Uncle

    Buster's Uncle AC2 Co-Owner

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    The only part I can give a useful answer to -and still only speculation at that- is that I did the greater part of a full hauberk in 10 gauge, and tend to think thicker than 8 would just be way too heavy and inflexible. I ran out of the 10 and finished the sleeves with 12, which is mostly what I've worked with since, it being what the hardware stores usually stock in electric fence wire, and strikes me as about as light as you can go without it looking too flimsy up close, let alone pulling off actual armor-grade. -So best guess is 10.

    (I've also done a fair amount with 16 gauge and really tiny links, but that's too weak in practice for other than costume pieces, preferably smaller ones - an entire mail shirt in my size [back when I made it, anyway] wants to pop links apart at the armpits when I've either been lifting weights or just gaining it.)

    I never found out much about the riveting, which was beyond my spend-no-money improvisational range of home tools, though the source I saw in high school had a diagram of a hinged doojigger that looked designed to hammer the rings flat from the spiral cutting them off a wire coil leaves, and shape the ends into flat tabs with the rivet hole pre-punched. One imagines an apprentice spent a lot of time sitting at a table doing repetitious hammering... That source seemed to indicate the technique was universal, which I rather doubt.

    Double-mail, or at least six-in-one, I only learned existed after the internet was a thing, and did enough to get it down -though I'd hate to have my life depend on remembering in a hurry- and never did anything with, that being after my mail-knitting heyday...
     

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