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Posted: Tue Sep 15, 2009 2:14 pm
by Black Pear
Marcus, that was what I was trying to say, that I don't think sniping was an option in open battle. Rain those arrows in at a distance, carpet bombing style, and you're going to do something useful eventually.

Phil, that's a good resource, cheers. What I wanted to ask was, what was the military necessity driving technological advance? I think it must have been a case of "we need better armour because of xxx, go and find out how to make it" rather than "what can we make with these improvements in steel?". I was trying to explore what xxx was. I can't see pure technological advances being the only reason for improvement back then (nowadays we seem to produce things with new technology just because we can and whatever their liklihood of future use - the Sinclair C5 comes to mind!). Apologies if I have misunderstood the thrust behind your post, or if the answer is in the book - no chance to read through it all yet!

Posted: Tue Sep 22, 2009 6:21 pm
by Man from Coventry
Now Blore is over I can return to the discussion.

I think Black Pear is right and that technological improvements were driven by a need to improve armour, it just wasn't as systematic and quick as in later periods such as the second world war. After all the french experimented tactically to find solutions to Archery, why not technologically in terms of armour manufacture - they certainly did so with guns ?

Clearly by the time of Flodden when Tudor "munition" plate was coming into use, plate was highly effective against arrows.

Whilst the info on Henry V and the other items are very interesting in illustrating the effect on unarmoured parts of the body, what interests me particularly in relation to the Wars of the Roses, was how vulnerable were individuals to arrows at different ranges, in different types of armour.

Clearly at some ranges men in plate were well protected against arrows, but at what range were they vulnerable ? I've been saying over the years that at 50 yards or less they would be, but I can't recall where I got this information from and is it realistic or a re-enactorism. ? How effective were jack, brig and mail combinations ?

Posted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 2:10 pm
by Black Pear
I am thinking that even as close as 50 yards penetration of armour would be unusual given the variables - angle of incidence (is that right?!), movement of the target etc. etc. I think there would still be a lot of soft tissue and "soft" armour penetration by direct strikes, though, and deflected, shattered and spent shafts would be making life difficult too. Just a gut feeling, this. I think the heavy duty pounding of arrow after arrow at that distance would be hardgoing, and you still have to fight at the end of it.

50 yards isn't far, not much closer and I would be reaching for my maul....

Posted: Wed Sep 23, 2009 8:07 pm
by Glorfindle
Some thing that has been nagging at me with this, and I am not that sure on this myself, but how different is modern armour compaired to the originals? what i mean is, would an original hand forged brand new 15th cent millanise made at the time be better or worse then say our newer modern reproductions? I'm referring to our modern hand forged suits, not pressed munition types. The reason i ask is, as i understand it, armour production was a dead art say 50 yrs ago, i know that its now had a huge boom, but how different is it? would there armour be more susceptible to arrows or less, because obviously when we do any types of testing, we use modern armour.

Anyway, hope i dont sound too thick now...

Posted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 1:27 pm
by Black Pear
A very good question Glorfindle! Hand-beaten stuff would be superior to munition of course, but as to the modern/period comparison? Mmmm, nice one. I can't answer that at all but would be very interested in an answer!

Is period armour thicker? (not much experience of actual period armour so would really appreciate input!). Modern armour is made to protect against deliberately non-deadly force, so is it lighter than period? I guess this depends on the armourer's work and whether it is a "reproduction" or purely fighting kit.

I know some of the jousting pieces at the Royal Armouries are silly thickness (different application I know, but...), does this translate to footsoldiers?

Posted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:58 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
The armour i have been lucky enough to handle (which was circa 1500 but I'd say it was close enough) was much lighter than anything I've seen re-enacting. I'd also say it was thinner, except in those places where you'd expect to get hit more often.

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 10:11 am
by Man from Coventry
Is period armour thicker? (not much experience of actual period armour so would really appreciate input!). Modern armour is made to protect against deliberately non-deadly force, so is it lighter than period? I guess this depends on the armourer's work and whether it is a "reproduction" or purely fighting kit.

I know some of the jousting pieces at the Royal Armouries are silly thickness (different application I know, but...), does this translate to footsoldiers?
Their is some interesting information on armour thicknesses in Longbow - Appendix 3 - "The Target" taken from 4 No 1380's bascinets, these gave maximum thicknesses of between 2.44mm and 4.57mm, invariably found at the top front of the helmet, thinnest generally back & sides, varied from 1.27mm & 2.54mm.

A breastplate (1470's) varied between 2.79mm in the centre to 2.03mm at the sides.

Cuisses (1390's) varied between 1.77 and 1.27mm.

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:48 am
by mike
MfC, did you get my PM?

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:00 pm
by StaffordCleggy
I have a suspicion that some re-enactment armour is getting rather thicker than the originals.
Take Brigandines for example. The ones in the RA (Leeds) appear to have their plates as thin as 0.90mm whereas some re-enactment brigs are up to 2mm thickness.
I believe this comes from a cost perspective. Modern re-enactors are using brigs as primary armour and therefore wanting it far heavier than the originals, whereas for the period wearer it was (IMHO) far more likely to be worn as a composite piece or even as concealed body protection rather like a secrette.(sp?)

Having said that, i'm not volunteering to wear any 2mm brigandines in any penetration tests carried out!

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:52 pm
by Black Pear
That doesn't sound too thick to me! I think that confirms the importance of the angle that the arrow strikes the plate, doesn't it? I can see bascinets being thick, to protect against head trauma generally, and armour in sword/bill-exposed areas too, but it does make good sense to keep thickness and weight to the EFFECTIVE minimum otherwise, so maybe 1-1.5mm is enough to stop arrows when designed right?

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 3:28 pm
by Alexander
Regarding armour thickness I read a similar thread on the Armour Archive. Someone stated there that the original pieces were a bit thinner because it would still offer enough protection at a reduced weight. The reduced weight would wear the fighter out less. Mind you: the protection would be barely enough. In battle the occasional bend or even penetration isn't that bad, if the armour absorbs most of the energy. In reenactment people are a bit more careful about their armour. They don't want to need to have major repairs after each weekend.

Another thing to keep in mind is the type of metal/steel. Lots of reenactment armour is made from mild steel. Thinner spring steel offers the same protection.

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:24 pm
by Man from Coventry
Cleggy/Black Pear

Tudor Jack plates were approx 1.6mm thick work hardened wrought iron plates.

Arm & leg harness is typically ~1.5mm.

Also worth bearing in mind is how much the plates overlap and whether in some areas you are getting a double thickness, also whether it would be worn in conjunction with other armours, say a plackart over the top.

I would have thought that Brigs would be slightly less effective against arrows, particularly at an angle as the cloth cover will give more for the arrow to "bite" into.

The thicknesses do seem to be greatest on areas likely to be struck head on (i.e the top front of head i.e forehead area) and may also relate to whether partial penetration of the armour can be tolerated at that location, i.e if the arrow head penetrates the plate 3/4" on the torso, arms or legs, it may not be a fatal, as it will only just penetrate the arming doublet, or non critical tissue (unpleasant but not fatal) same degree of penetration on the head could be fatal. Furthermore it is easier to harden by quenching small plates of armour, rather than large ones (due todistortions in the metal during quenching) so thinner hardened plates could be as effective as thicker larger ones. This is all in Appendix 3 of Longbow by Robert Hardy, well worth a read.

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:33 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
Re-enactors also tend to go for one sort of armour only, most period images and accounts point towards layers of different armour being worn, plate harness over brig over maille over padded cloth for instance, a jack over maille, etc. Just as Cleggy says.

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:42 pm
by gregory23b
"Is period armour thicker? (not much experience of actual period armour so would really appreciate input!). "

No, more like lighter, better made, ie beaten not pressed or made from sheet, thicker in the parts exposed to more force, thinner where not. Sallets are a good example where that occurs, I have handled an original "archer's" sallet and it was without doubt thicker in the brow and thinner at the temples, in general thinner than modern reenactment armour. I am taking generally of course.

"Modern armour is made to protect against deliberately non-deadly force, so is it lighter than period? I guess this depends on the armourer's work and whether it is a "reproduction" or purely fighting kit. "

Most reenacto standard armour is heavier than the real thing, unless you are talking about the work that Mark Vickers does for example, check out his gauntlets and greaves, as light as the originals, but then he is making decent reproduction armour, not stuff to play in or generic off the shelf. I would argue that modern reenacto armour is made to match what the average dresser upper will be prepared to pay, they are not generally prepared to pay for single piece raised sallets made form wrought iron etc. It is also to a large degree dependent on the competence of the armourer and their market, there are some diligent armourers who make good attempts at say fluted harness and others who simply put a ridge or two on for effect.

"I know some of the jousting pieces at the Royal Armouries are silly thickness (different application I know, but...), does this translate to footsoldiers?"

No, jousting armour in the late middle ages (15thc and beyond) was a specialist set, either heavier and or with the addition of extra plates and thicknesses, the aim was not to kill or be killed.

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:57 pm
by Fox
gregory23b wrote:they are not generally prepared to pay for single piece raised sallets made form wrought iron etc.
And because the demand for helmets, even allowing for much larger budgets, is unlikley to be met by skilled armourers, so many helmets would be made badly, inconsitently or unsafely.

This probably reflects the genuine article too, but it's easy enough to see why it's unacceptable for re-enactment.

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 5:46 pm
by gregory23b
"This probably reflects the genuine article too,"

Except that there were more people making them than there are today at levels that we do not replicate, ie proto-factories of armour makers, esp on the continent, where different houses would specialise in certain parts of harness even.

I strongly suspect 'badly' made medieval armour, of which there must have been otherwise the injunctions against cloth covered armour and poorly stuffed jacks for example would not be three, would still be of a quality beyond our usual expectations, if only in the shaping, if not in the potential arrow stopping...

The sallet I mentioned earlier was riddled with crossbow bolt holes as it happens and was likely to have been used for target practice, the holes were very well distributed

Posted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:47 pm
by Fox
While that might be true, we know a good deal more about metallurgy, we produce more consistent quality of steel and have techniques like welding that allow armour to be produced in ways that were not possible then.

So our low quality armour is consistent, in a way that period armour was not.

We need to remember that most preserved armour is the better quality stuff and probably not representative.

But, as ever, I think we broadly agree.

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:04 pm
by Man from Coventry
Generally I think that standard re-enactment kit maybe slightly heavier, and the average thickness slightly greater than period armours, though period armours were probably tailored to the threat better, i.e thicker in the areas that matter, thinner in the areas that don't.

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:35 pm
by Black Pear
Some great posts there guys, thanks for the info in them. So, period armour is lighter, although of a varying thickness to offer the best protection, have I got that?

I think the point about multiple layers/types of armour/protection is very valid to this discussion, penetration of 3/4" would be nasty but not dramatic in most circumstances as MfC says, so is this layering the result of piercing (ie arrow) attack alone or does it bring major advances to blunt attack (from say, a pollaxe) too? Actually, thinking about it, the spike on a pollaxe would go through wouldn't it...?

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 1:55 pm
by Hobbitstomper
Our metal is more consistent and can be far better than any of the simple carbon steels in period armour. Unfortunately, most of our armourers can't/won't use the more advanced materials, or even materials as good as the quality end of period materials. Less advanced modern materials like mild steel can be cold formed and abused in a way which you can't with spring steel, or even a simple period 1050-like carbon steel.

Heat treatments are less good than what is possible today but many armourers do not heat treat their products (it doesn't work on mild steel anyway). Many of the tricks associated with heat treating an armour without it deforming have disappeared. We can have superb temperature controlled facilities but don't know how to use them to mass produce armour.

Shaping and forming is much easier and cheaper using modern tools but the overall fit of period armours (in spite of the limitations of materials and tools) should be generally better.

A quality period Itallian or German harness is better than almost anything on a re-enactment field. A top quality modern harness could be far better if the armourer has the skill to use what is available to him. Most re-enactors don't want to pay for this because it is only a hobby.

Posted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 5:29 pm
by gregory23b
"But, as ever, I think we broadly agree."

of course.

I am also including the look of repro armours as much as their efficacy, as Hobbit rightly says we have the metals but not the necessarily the skills or inclination to make the stuff look right.

Posted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 2:04 pm
by Colin Middleton
On armour weights, I've compaired the weight of my harness (Aplaisance) with the known weights of historic examples and it comes out a little heavier. When you take into account my size and the differing styles, they're broadly comparable. This would tally with my discussions with the guys who made it.

So, assuming that we ONLY look at the top quality armours, I think that our steels are more consistant, but of more even thickness than the historic ones (i.e. if you start with a billet of steel/iron and beet it into a breastplate, you'll have leave it thicker on the centre to reduce the amount of work that you have to do, while if you start with a sheet of steel, you'll not move as much to the centre, to reduce the amount of work that you have to do). I also understand that period armours were subjected to heat treatments to increase their hardness that we don't normally bother with (at least not on the same scales), which probably makes modern armours softer, but of comparable weight.

As for layers, I suspect that an arming doublet would be stab-resistant and normally you'd wear that and possibly a mail shirt under your plate (and normally both under your brigandine) to give you several layers of protection. However I doubt that the doublet would be very thick, or it would hamper your movement too much.

On the other hand, our weapons won't bite into the steel like a sharp one would.