Myths of the Samurai Sword v.s. the M1 rifle in WWII?

Discussion in 'Weapons' started by slipthejab, Jul 24, 2005.

  1. Grimjack

    Grimjack Dangerous but not serious

    Oh really? Give sites and references that back you the claims AS YOU PRESENT THEM. As I said, there are cases of war hammers, etc peircing armor- can you present cases of SWORDS? Did you even know the uses of fluting and other aspects that helped strengthen armor?

    BZZZZ!!!! Sorry, your answer is not correct. SOME armors are as you say. But to say that ALL armors are only similar in appearance is a gross generalization that shows you have not fully researched the full capacity of WMA. Try pushing your ideas on or and see what kind of reaction you will get. On both forums there are people who have more experience and research in one week with western armor and swords than you have had your entire life.

    Thank you, drive through. :rolleyes:
  2. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    First off, I think that you and I have been able to hold a polite tone in our disagreements, and hope that It can stay that way -despite other more rash debatants ;)

    Secondly, the spear have been the primary weapon in all times. The kelts, vikings, germanics, romans, you name them all, had their swords as secondary-weapons; back up weapons, (which actually could be interprited as a feather in the hat for your arguments; why making helmets that can withstand a swordblow, when we're not that likely to find ourself toe to toe with a swordman, rather speartip to swordtip, which statistically leads to the speardude winning, but that's another discussion all together.)

    Third, It seems that you find most of your soruces from archaeologists. Now I might be fulle of prejudices vs that proffession, but IMHO; most of theese historians and archaeologists haven't even attended a single Martial Art-lesson, let alone; they disdain such "barbaric" and "primitive" actions. When you write stuff like
    , I asume you have that from some source that simply haven't done his homework. There have been done several tests where chainmail (supported by textile padding beneath) defeats missile-weapons; even spears! (When I say defeat, I mean that the weapons don't pierce; the target would probably break and crack bone and organs from the impact force of a spear, but the spear-tip it self would not pierce -as the norm.) There are even written accounts of crusader-knights returning to base with up to 14 arrows in them, and they could still fight the next day (and that's a historical source).

    I dare to disagree (and you contradict yourself further down:
    I've been told that full plate offers just as good protection as chanimail, but is substantionally easier to wear and lighter than chainmail, and that it was this fact + the fact that metallurgy and skill had improved sufficiantly to actually make full plate armor that led to them.

    I know that what we ought to discuss (apart from the katana vs gun-thingie) -wether a keltic sword could pierce a keltic helmet/pre keltic helmet, and not this renissanse stuff where we (-looking at the big picture) -seem to agree. But If your sources write with the same attitude to the keltic/roman/dark-age-era as they write on medieval/renissanse-stuff, where people actually have proven them wrong, due to testing (and you can not blame it on beening overly carefull re-enacters, as several re-enacters have tested stuff on dolls, carcasses, ecc; putting armor on theese.) I'm still sceptic to your arguments.

    (If you observe the pictures I linked to in the medieval manual, you see that we do not agree in that people aimed for weakspots in full plate armor when fighting with swords)

    I still think that cleaving a helmet is not only impractical and difficult to do, I allso question the soundness of doing it;
    *you risk your sword (no matter how pattern welded it is; with the reenforcement bits riveted on to the helmets, the thickness approaches the thickness of rifle barrels)
    *It makes you have to come with a well prepared attack that takes all your strength, which is easy to detect and counter.
    *you risk not wounding your opponent (the sword could deflect).

    I'm willing to go as far as to say that I hold the option open that the odd sword could pierce 1.2mm of hammered metal, but that it seldom/never happened in actual combat. Unless somebody is actually willing to put a representative sword and helmet on the stake, we'll not have conclusive evidence. But I'd like to repeat myself, and point to the swordcutting of the japaneese "sensei" further up on this thread; that rapes an archaeological artifact with a powerwealded modern katana, and even him; under ultimate circomstances do only manage to make cut that would not have reached the scull if the helmetwearer had worn textile padding beneath.
    Here's some helmets from the period 100 bc to 700 ad, and they look pretty solid to me; especially the metal rims "keels" supporting the conical shape :cool:

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 29, 2005
  3. Vanir

    Vanir lost my sidhe

    Written accounts are anecdotal evidence without empirical support, regardless if potentially exaggerated 5 centuries ago or potentially exaggerated yesterday.

    Dr Alan Williams is a qualified metallurgist, archaeologist and armour historian, Craig Johnson is the Prod. Manager of Arms and Armour Inc. and secretary of the Oakshott Institute. David Edge has a BA and a Diploma of Conservation (curator of arms and armour) and works for the Wallace Collection of historical pieces in London.
    So firstly, to the actual metallurgical hardness of actual historical suits of armour, as opposed to modern alloy reproductions using contemporary forging and tempering techniques, and descriptions of original manufacture based largely from period texts, rather than actual artefact examination (see "skeptic" that fateful scientific maxim). Most mediaeval chain armours, right through the end of the period were ferrous iron, cold wrought from wire lengths and hammer welded, although examples have been discovered of non-ferrous alloys (in the minority although these are more likely to survive in the archaeological record, which points further to their apparent rarity in actual manufacture throughout the Roman age and Mediaeval period). Pointedly the historical texts many contemporary armour societies (as opposed to scientific bodies), reference as source materiel describe techniques that were very rarely used in manufacture, probably in the form of presentations to Royal armouries.
    The soldier on the field hardly wore fine steel chainmail which one would assume to hold the metallurgical hardness capable of resisting early iron arrowheads of hardness circa. 140VPH fired at some 50-80mph or more. Ferrous iron the common suits in fact consisted of (circa. 100VPH at best), would have a distinct difficulty in doing so, it's simple physics.

    From the Polytechnic Institute .edu site (references quoted):
    As can be seen above these comments are derived of recent metallurgical studies of historical artefacts themselves and archaeological finds and contain no pseudoscience, such as is being suggested regarding martial arts involvement vs actual qualified metallurgical and archaeological study.

    Nobody is about to ruin an archaeological artefact, however there is little need when it is perfectly clear a piece of wrought iron-wire of typically circa. 100VPH can be broken by simple twisting effort. And hammer-welded pieces takes little more than a good piercing shock (like, with a good javelin for example), to break its joins. This is an experiment you can try with relative ease.
    The idea a braced, metal tipped spear, were its head made of tin could not penetrate typical maille armours of any period is utterly ridiculous. However let us not confuse typical examples with a modern representation of the design. We say fine steel armour/weapon and we think the modern standard grade 420A (595+VPH) or the special use 440C (640+VPH). This is definitely not the case with mediaeval steel, which by metallurgical examples is far closer to heat-treated iron and very, very poorly made by any contemporary measure. It's only real distinctions are an occasional non-ferrous nature and a carbonisation inconsistency, so high that examples from 75VPH to some 430VPH exist, with an average of around 250VPH in historical pieces. Roughly equivalent to a nice piece of modern tin in terms of hardness. Prior to the 14th century the average "steel" hardness in armours is almost precisely equivalent to gold-platinum alloy (150VPH)! Not exactly carbon-fibre huh.

    However it must be stated that typical average metallurgical hardness in weapons manufacture of the same period averages some 370VPH with extremes ranging from 250-480VPH. This would presumably be derived of an easier consistency in forging simply due to the style and size of the forging. It's about equivalent to AISI 1080 tempered industrial steel.

    Now get a piercing rod or weapon tip roughly equivalent to heat treated industrial grade steel, and a suit of battered chain links roughly equivalent to white gold jewelry...
    Or in the "fine steel" examples, rare that they are of exceptional mediaeval chain, with the approximate hardness of a good tin alloy, or a low grade ferrous, non-tempered steel...
    In terms of missile fire, one is certainly better off with an inconsistent forging of plate than the catching tendancies of generally much lower grade chain links, hence the early successes of English longbows subsided by the general adoption of plate armours by the Battle of Agincourt, where piercings of leg and arm sections of plate were still however, common among the finds.

    Whether or not one metal may defeat another would primarily begin with hardness scales of the examples provided.
    You could not possibly be suggesting that roleplay and leisure activities such as martial arts comprise a greater authority of source materiel than actually metallurgical study of historical examples themselves, when comparing the inherent resistance of metals to each other?
    Surely you must understand there is a point where pragmatism becomes delusional.
  4. Vanir

    Vanir lost my sidhe

    I'm willing to concede on the helmets issue however, as it is purely my own opinion which suggested it. It's just that my opinion is that a typical helm of the roman period in which I entered the thread conversation, would get absolutely cleaved by a decent swing from a typical pattern-welded broadsword of the same period.

    On this I have no genuine authority, just a personal opinion.
  5. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    Well, if the people don't try it out under combat circomstances, it's not that relevant. It's a proven point that metallurgists advised the norwegian army in the thirthies to counter the presence of tanks with consentrated machingunfire from watercooled vickers .303's, as they proved in controlled, sterile tests that it was possible to penentrate armor plating this way. To apply this technique in praxcis was quite another thing; not a single german tank was stopped this way during the Norwegian campagin the spring 1940, that's my point.

    If armor didn't help, the weight makes it utterly ridicilous to wear, and you still haven't adressed the point of textile as supporting the metal armor that I've made several times. There have allso been made testcuttingattempts with patternwelded, sharp swords of exactly the type you mention vs. textile-armor, and the textiles handles sharp swords easily. To add metal on top of that will make swordtips dent pretty fast, and that isn't very smart either from a perserving sword-point of wiew
  6. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    OK first you two have gone realy far from the original topic, mayhaps starting a another thread to further discuss this point, whcih has been debated countless times on several other lists. And out of every discussion I have read I ahve come away with the feeling that if armor didnt protect well enough then why even bother to manufacture it let alone wear an additional 20-60 pounds of non breathing metal while engaging in strenous physical activty lasting possibly several hours.

    Another thing I think you might want to think about is, yes there are examples of armor being cut, rent, torn and peirced, but that doesnt mean that it was cut etc with a sword IIRC axes and spears were much more common than swords and axes seem more likely to rend and batter armor than a sword. Swords make poor anit armor weapons. If they were effective at cutting or peircing the actual armor plates there wouldnt have been techniques and strategies that focused on putting the point into the gaps in the armor.

    Also wrought iron is a metal that is work hardened, in other words as its being drawn into wire, beaten flat what ever it gets harder, sure its still softer but a soft but tough metal will more liekly deform upon impact instead of being cut, or other wise broken through.
  7. Anomandaris

    Anomandaris New Member

    now i have no metallurgical evidence or historical stuff here but I do have common sense.

    I will not say either way if the sword couold get through the armour or if not.

    how often do you think you could effectively get a focused, attack at a static opponent in a real battle, I'm not talking about test cutting or aything but getting a fully focused attack with a weapon against a moving opponent who (we can only expect has had extensive training in combat and not some small experience) is also fighitng back and parrying and blocking with their own weapons as well as threatening you.

    why design techniques that attack certain parts of the armour if you could attack any part and succeed? And why design weapons with the purpose of attacking these parts of the armour?

    Westerners were sensible pragmatists when it came to war, when something was better it became more popular and widespread and then somehting else was better and adopted. This attitude is shown by the rapid and almost continual developments in military technology in Europe.

    furthermore if you look at any of the historical manuals the combatants dont stand there, they use complex and effective counters and movements to defeat an opponent, when would you get the chance to strike a static target with a fully focused attack with a weapon designed specifically to defeat his armour? hmmm around never...not in live combat.

    a possible counter to this is

    'if the armour ws so good then why have the counters and paries, why not just concentrate on attacking?'

    and the answer:

    getting hit still transfers a concussive force, even if it is dampened by padidng ou can still feel it and their is always the potential for the blow to knock you away and leave you open for a more dangerous attack.
  8. TheCount

    TheCount Happiness is a mindset

    I agree... why did they develope weapons to pierce weak points in the armour if it was apparently so weak all over.

    Also... the issue of sword and rifle. A cylinder is a very strong shape for distributing force, thats why they use them for bridges and so on. The edge of a sword is the thinnest part most probably less than half an mm in thickness. What makes you think that something so thin and flimsy (first thing I was told by my instructor, edge on edge = big big chips outta your sword) could cut through a solid rifle barrel, or even the stock for that matter.
  9. Vanir

    Vanir lost my sidhe

    As I've already posted.
    The longbow, even though proven effective in battle by the English in the 1300s (according to archaeological finds displaying precisely this),
    The Wallace Collection in London contains approximately twenty fine specimens of 15th and 16th-century European riveted mail
    nearly one hundred examples of Eastern mail, mainly Indo-Persian 18th and 19th century
    The metallurgy of surviving mail armour, as so far examined, does not seem to bear out contemporary 16th-century texts
    Helmshmied family of armorers in Augsburg who between c.1480 and 1551 averaged 240-441 VPH (20.3-44 Rc) on 17 items of their work sampled
    Lorenz Helmschmied created one of the most consistent and well hardened pieces yet tested in an Armet (c. 1492)

    Already posted.
    Written accounts are anecdotal evidence without empirical support, regardless if potentially exaggerated 5 centuries ago or potentially exaggerated yesterday.

    That was never the assertion. That armour does or was ever intended to provide invulnerability to battlefield weaponry (ie. swords) was, a point which I refuted.
    Armour was as far as I can tell, designed primarily with regards to reduced combat injury (not invulnerability) and later, primarily missile protection. Certain attacks body armour manufactured using the methods of the middle and dark ages could never hope to defend against, these are, thrusting attacks with a good sword and general, heavy piercing attacks.
    Already posted:
    There were cases of longbows powerful enough to pierce through a mailed leg and then into the mount of the knight and inflict a mortal wound on the horse. (Bradbury 1985, 16)
    The hardness of plate armour samples from the period improves steadily
    through the Hundred Years War and into the sixteenth century, which
    Jones suggests contributed to the demise of the longbow.
    One of the most interesting aspects of the development of hardened armor is that as it reached the point where armorers were able to consistently produce the items they begin to reduce and abandon the process.

    The thread topic and its related conversations were only in regards to the capabilities of swords cutting metal. Whilst the idea of a rifle barrel of hardened steel being cut by a low mass tempered sword is utterly ridiculous, mediaeval and in particular, the brittle and yet comparitively soft dark ages armouring proceedures are hardly 440 grade hardened blue steel or even very thick at all. Around 4mm at the thickest points during the height of the middle ages, commonly 1mm at places like the arms and legs, and these are full suits of 16th century field plate.
    Pound for pound a typical sword of the period is thicker, heavier, harder and far better quality in the manufacturing process. A 2x2" section of typical armour is nowhere near the integrity of a 2x2" section of even an average sword. get a same sized section of each, hang them from a rope and swing them at each other with increasing force until one breaks. Which do you think will go first?
    No, the sword tip will pierce the armour with a well braced thrust. Later, after the battle, celts would resharpen and oil theirs. I understand Samurai did the same thing. Swords chip, dent and generally detiorate in battle, whilst amour pieces break, are dented and peirced and generally fall apart during battle. These are matters of historical record.
    More people with swords and no armour than armour and no swords are likely to survive a battle, would you concede that much?
    Test cutting is precisely the limited "laboratory conditions" you were disputing earlier. Now that you've decided they're okay again, these particular tests cannot be used to determine the ability of swords to penetrate other metal. The subject was the ability of swords to penetrate other metal.

    No we haven't. The topic is directly related. I have no intentions nor ever did to discussing the cutting abilities of swords with regards to textiles. Only the penetration abilities of a sword against other metallic objects. If a Samurai sword cannot penetrate a rifle barrel, then what can it penetrate? Any metals? What kinds of metals and under what circumstances can a given sword penetrate?

    The answers had been obvious from the start and have only been repeated over and over, citing a variation of references by me to defeat monotony. The question as to what metallic substance a given metallic mass may penetrate (including a sword), is largely dependant upon kinetic energy or ballistics force, and the relative hardness of each object.

    Such as in the example of low grade mediaeval armours vs high grade mediaeval weaponry. Swords pierce armour. Many later mediaeval swords were designed specifically to pierce armour (the English "longsword" was tapered specifically to pierce plate armour). Even cast iron arroheads pierce armour due to kinetics. Iron Horseman-picks do precisely the same by mass rather than velocity.

    By the time breastplate armour could withstand basic farmhouse arrowheads, high powered fine steel tipped and single purpose armour piercing ballistic, crossbow bolts were widely available and in use. Firearms soon after.
    Armour has never been any kind of invulnerability. Superman has never existed on the battlefield I'm afraid. The finest suits of metal armour were purely ceremonial and not even tempered (due to the etching process having a tendancy to ruin the hardening). The strongest metal armour protection of the mediaeval world was a small window durng the Hundred Years War. Prior to that armour was largely incidental, good for chieftains and heavy cavalry but expensive.

    I think maybe movies like Lord of the Rings give people the impression the mediaeval world was full of fielded, hundreds of thousands of fully armoured shock troops. It was more like a couple of thousand, of which maybe a couple of hundred wore armour, of those maybe a dozen Lords and quasi-royalty were fully armoured. Go earlier and it was either hopeless quality and shields were relied upon anyway (Romans), or ridiculously expensive and so sporadic and mostly in the form of shields (Greek), or the nation had a militant population of a million so could afford it (China).
    Work hardened iron increases brittleness. Work hardened iron is never that hard to begin with. On a Vickers hardness scale it is about 75 VPH. This is an important number since it relates directly to the ballistics effects of penetration. Put simply, two similar-metal objects (such as iron and steel), all things being equal, one harder than the other get whacked against one another, the softer one will get penetrated more easily. Typical pattern-welded swords will have a VPH of around 110 and are thicker by cross-section (tensile strength) and more complicated in manufacture, being varying grades throughout the blade for springiness, strength and sharpness.

    But even glass has a VPH of some 400. It's very hard, it just shatters. The shatter resistance of work-hardened iron is approximately that of cast bronze. In other words a bowl of it cracks right through with a good enough shock. Romans had to learn techniques of work-hardening iron as little as possible to get the shape required.
    Also I've already posted:
    (maille) gives inadequate protection against a thrust with a sharply pointed weapon or from arrows or crossbow bolts, all of which can burst the links apart.

    That would be a question as you pointed out, of likelihoods. But the question here was the capabilities of a sword to penetrate other metals.
    Shifting to the nuances involved in battlefield combat would indeed detract from the thread topic and justify a topic of its own. Perhaps you'd like to begin a topic "how does the swordsman defeat an armoured opponent," as this suggest more human considerations than this thread, which is simply about the metals.
    And one of the weapons designed specifically to penetrate metal armours was the sword, by the way.
    Here's a picture of one such weapon:
    And here's a picture of the type we generally see on the movies, which is not designed to penetrate metal armours:
  10. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    Well, we agree on that it is not impossible to injure or kill a fully plated knight, I've merely stated that it is impossible to pierce/cut a normal breastplate/helmet with a sword, and that I believe (despite your metalurgic evidence) that the same would be the case with Celtic/Carolingian/Frankish broadswords vs. Roman iron age/dark age-iron helmets, because of the textile armor beneath, because the head moves, and does not stand still as it would in your science-lab, and because you would risk breaking your sword; somthing that is pretty critical in a melee...

    Heavy piercing attacks? OK, but you don't deliver that from swords. Form warhammers and maces; yes; that's why the club/mace was a common weapon amongst the anglosaxons and later on the Normans. If your swords cut metal in the dark ages like hot knife through butter, why bother with spears, axes, clubs and that stuff? -Why dropping the shield, depending more and more on body armor?

    Combat is not perfomed under controlled scientific sircomstances! Firstly, you seem to be hung up on certain masterpieces; I strongly doubt that all swords were as perfect as you describe them. I actually believe that axes spears and clubs are much better at defeating armor than swords IN PRACTICE, and that's why swords were secondary weapons, worn as regalia, as symbol of wealth (because they were extremely expensive compared to other weapons). Secondly you disregard totally the shape of armor; you do have noticed that iron helmets and breastpates are not made as 2x2"bars? ;)

    Swordmaking in the dark ages was not industrialized and a little hangover from the mastersmith was enoug to make a critical flaw in even the best sword; now do you think that the warrior, fighting with the sword worn by your grandfather in the great battle of Wasløedrijtå; would risk the family heirloom by banging it at enemy helmets? Science would help him little when returning the sword to the family :eek: Even a patternwelded sword will eventually break and bend if cutting wood; that's prooved byond any doubt!

    No, samurai swords runs a great risk of breaking or bending in a "S"-shape, if trying to pierce metal; any serious Katana-blacksmith will tell you this.

    Who's leaning on what you call historical anecdotes now? :rolleyes:
    No, sorry. I sincierely believe that a warrior with chainmail and a twohandspear will smithe a warrior with no armor and a broadsword (provided they're equally good in their respective weapons).

    OK, OK.
    My point is that if you cleave chainmail (or an iron helmet, like in the japaneese-demo further up);placed on a log, that doesn't prove that it could be done in a combat situation, or that it happened very often. The odd case now and then? Mabye. As a rule? Hardly. (IMHO)

    Now, if you don't cleave chainmail (or an iron helmet, like in the japaneese-demo further up);placed on a log, that proves that it will be totally impossible to do so under worser conditions than theese; conditions that everybody understands are ideal conditions.

    If you say that it is possible for a broadsword patternwelded to pierce dark age helmets/chainmail, I might agree to that it is possible under perfect conditions; but this result will have no value what so ever on the dark age battlefield, due to the conditions I've mentioned some times and you don't seem to be interested in.

    OK, then, if you only want to know what a sword can penentrate and cut in a laboratory, you win. I though that we were discussing realistic situations, not sterile laboratory stuff. It's probably my fault misunderstanding youl, but I must say that it's not strange that I misunderstand when you write stuff like this:
    This is wrong. It was tapered specifically to pierce. Since you don't only disregard "living history-arguments", but allso historical accounts, and only stick to archaeological finds as valid proof in this discussion, it's hard for me to come foreward with any evidence that holds water in your line of reasoning, but I do recomend that you read the part I linked to above on actual combat techniques performed vs people in full plate armor with longsword, dagger, and poleaxe.
    If I may quote: "If I want to throw your horse to the ground,
    I'll have my horse put his chest on the neck of yours;
    I won't let your horse bit go 'till you'll go to the ground with him; This is a good technique for one with the harness, because no weapon can hurt him."
    Chainmail only? Mabye. BUT PEOPLE DIDN'T WEAR ONLY chainmail; THEY HAD PADDING BENEATH!!!
    I don't disagree with what you say here.

    NO, it's not, read again. It's about wether it's likely that a japaneese soldier hacked through a rifle in a jungle somewhere in southeas asia, not wheter or not a katana can cut a rifle in a laboratory crowded with metalurgists....
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2005
  11. Sukerkin

    Sukerkin Valued Member

    An interesting, if somewhat off-topic, debate gentlemen. It's one that has raged for many years and we're gradually coming towards the point where it seems that both sides have some of the truth.

    To put my 'credentials' on the table, I'm both a swordsman (MJER) and a trained professional in the fields of archaeology/museum curatorship ... plus, I now work in an engineering field :D.

    My stance used to be very much like Vanir's in that I thought that weapons, rather than armour, held the advantage in the medieval arms race. However, studies carried out in more recent times have shown that armour was in fact much better at protecting it's wearer than was previously thought.

    What has complicated matters is that a lot of written sources that were considered authoratative at one time have now been revealed to be somewhat akin to tabloid reporting i.e. prone to exageration and downright lies in the quest for a good story.

    A prime example of this, because it's so well known, has been the debunking of the might of the English Longbow. I used to be guilty of singing the praises of this super-weapon that smashed the French.

    The reality is somewhat more sobering. The iron pile arrowheads had very little chance of penetrating plate armour it turns out (at least armour of the quality worn by the French at Agincourt). If it didn't glance off, then the iron pile would simply collapse and fold rather than penetrate. That might give the target the sensation of a smart buffet but wouldn't really incapacitate him (especially given the padding worn under the armour).

    Analysis of the casualties on the French side at Agincourt has shown that actually a great many of them were crushed and suffocated by their own numbers in the narrowing, muddy, battlefield and that the English archers had success with their hand-to-hand engagement of the French knights using mauls and poignards. The famed arrow storm achieved little more than discomfort the charge and spook the horses (tho' I would've thought properly trained and barded horses wouldn't have given a hoot :D).

    The best example I've seen with my own eyes is a shirt of iron mail being shot with a longbow pile arrow from very close range and failing to break a link. Now, for the sake of fairness, I will say that I doubt very much if the archer was able to generate even half of the power a longbowman of yore could've done but it does illustrate the point nicely.

    Anyhow, altho' this really deserves it's own thread to examine it fully, the best conclusion we can get to the debate as to whether armour was worth wearing or not is that it depends on which part of the arms/armour supremacy cycle you were on at the time.

    Plus, in the final analysis, the reason that armour defeating weapons (such as halberds, glaives and hammers) came into being was that light spears and swords simply didn't cut it {:cheesy:} on the battlefield anymore.

    I have to get back to configuring a control system now so I can't elaborate further but I'll be watching this with interest to see what sources come up and how the argument develops :tup:.
  12. Stolenbjorn

    Stolenbjorn Valued Member

    I'm inclined to agree. It seems that mr. Vanir have a point when it comes to metal qualities, and his arguments have enriched my own perspective on good ol' melee fighting.


    I do feel on safe ground when I put forth the thesis that pointy swords like the upper one mr. Vanir presents us is not designed to pierce plate or metal; it's shaped like that to defeat textile armor and to exploit breeches in overlaying layers of plate, etc.

    I've cut metal on several occations myself, but that is beer-cans made of aluminium and extremely thin. I've allso cut ash, and 10 attempts resulted in a bent sword. To stab through plate.... mabye the rondell-daggers (the 3 or 4-edged ones), but I think the impact alone would result in a damaged wrist.

    My sources for this?
    Well apart from personal experience (that mr. Vanir seems to discredit :cry: ) I can lean on the very link I have presented and allso quoted from above. Mr Fiore di Liberi is a historical person, and apart from some bragging in the surviving copies from his manuscript (Fior di Battaglia)- seems to present somebody that was an authority on fighting with and without armor, using poleaxes, 1h.swords, 2h.swords, spears, clubs, daggers and brawling -in the contemplary north italy during the end of the 14th century and the beginning of the 15th.

    Both his combatsystem and other (german) systems for longsword and dagger seems to agree in how to cope with "people in full harness"-as Fiore puts it (full plate armor); grappeling (breaking, spraining, dislocating) and stabs at weakspots on the armor. He even shows a technique where he first cuts upwards (in halfsword) to open the vizer, then to stab into the exposed face!

    Now, I doubt that they would go through all this troubble if it was possible to just stab straight through. If the metalurgic formulas that mr. Vanir presents us are correct, I can only say that there must be a randomizing factor that the scientists have missed, or that the points that many of us makes (combat environment; angle of attack, moving target, target bouncing on impact, padding beneath, fear of damaging own weapon and fear of exposing oneself during the all-out attack.

    Much of what mr. Vanir mentions is indeed correct, if one puts the ever ignored textile-armor into the fray! Textile armor was the norm, the only protection that was offered poor-people (as vanir writes; (metal)armor was EXPENSIVE), and rich people allso used textile-armor a lot. It's interresting to note that of the 100 daggertechniques that Fiore shows no of them shows cutting-attacks! This is because people expexting to encounter daggers on their way wore textile armor (gambersons, jackons, etc) The greek that is mentioned above relied heavy on the "linothorax"; a textile armor consisting of 14 - 30 layers of linen glued/sewed together.

    If many of the combat-reporters of the earlier times didn't care to mention wether armor was of textile or plate; it's no wonder why we today have written acconuts of people cutting through armor with swords.
  13. Cudgel

    Cudgel The name says it all

    One thing that Vanir is not getting is that while a harder narrow cross sectioned and taper object will penetrate a thin sheet of less harder material, there is also the matter of friction and how much force is acutally needed.
    I watched soemthing on the history channel( I know not the best source) which was on weapons used to defeat plate armor. Almost right off the bat the guy hosting the show had one these people on teh show grab a sword, I think an arming sword, and stab a breatplate. The guy was able to penetrate teh breastplate, but it took quite a while, a couple of seconds, because while the sword was pentetrating the armour it was dragging on the edges of the cut.
  14. Kagebushi

    Kagebushi New Member

    if i saw the same one.. he also leaned on it without actually striking... which is going to make it pretty hard to penetrate much of anything... although on everything else i agree with you heh.
  15. slipthejab

    slipthejab Hark, a vagrant! Supporter

    Fascinating stuff... thanks for posting. It's completely off thread... and amazingly relevant at the same time. :D

    I too have grown up with stories of how amazing the English long bow was in the battle of Agincourt against the French... and have of recent heard that much of loss on the side of the French was, as you stated, more down to the muddy bog that they charged into.

    At any rate. Brilliant post. Thanks.
  16. Archibald

    Archibald A little koala

    Hey guys, did you here/see that on a documentary called Battlefield Detectives (or something)? Because I was pretty interesting stuff.

    I like that clip of the concert they showed, where one person fell over and it rippled through the crowd until 50 people were on the floor, hehe.
  17. TheGraydon

    TheGraydon New Member


    Hello Genius,

    I am by far not an expert but I know for a fact a piece of metal can be folded that many times. And that is what differentiates a real katana from a vegas strip sword.
    Whether it can cut a gun barrel? I would love to try. Easiest way to stop an argument is to prove one side of it.


    And PS
    My chef knife is folded more than 30 times.
  18. TheGraydon

    TheGraydon New Member

    Only directed to the idiots

    Does the word or (obviously not) technique of tempering ring a bell? Has the manipulation of steel not been an art belonging to far greater artisans than late night ninjas?

    A gun barrel?... I would love to see it. But I have more faith in the sword than I have a lack of faith in the sword.
  19. Ben Gash CLF

    Ben Gash CLF Valued Member

    You felt so strongly about it you had to necro a decade dead thread?
  20. Archibald

    Archibald A little koala

    I was chuckling at that too, especially since I was the one who made the last post....10 years ago! Good god, I would have been 16 years old!

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