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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Thank you for the swift reply!
    I mentioned pikes as an example of a weapon that became the "standard" weapon for a large group, not as something comparable to a falx. A pike is something to be used in tight formation, whereas to use a falx you must be some distance away from any friendlies, to avoid lopping off anyone's limb.
    Thanks for the greatsword comparison, it will help me find a place for it in my campaign world.
    Oh, and typical was rather imprecise, sorry . I meant the general longsword or battle axe, something a soldier uses when they really want to make the opponent have a bad day.
    EDIT:
    Another question: could the Falx supplant the sword as an iconic weapon in society?
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Do armies have official procedures what to do when having a breather moment during combat and also just 4 rounds left in the magazine?
    Do you switch to a new one, or do you wait until the current is empty?

    There's good reasons for both, and this seems like something that armies would want soldiers to do by the book and not by guts.
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  3. - Top - End - #273
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Fortinbras View Post
    My understanding is that Martel's force was either fully composed of, or had a very large corps of, full-time soldiers. That is to say, soldiers who where directly loyal to him and, when not fighting, spent their time training and not practicing any other trades. In other words not a group of people who possessed weapons and knew how to use them and could be called into service when needed, but a large force of soldiers who where always in service. From what I've read, no other medieval European kingdom could field a large force of infantrymen who owed allegiance to the king and spent all their time training to fight in a group. This is what made the Frankish army different from the other armies of medieval Europe, its what allowed them to beat the Moors when other European lords could not. My question, is what else did the Franks do differently from other European kingdoms that allowed them to develop military capabilities that other kingdoms could not?

    As for the housecarls, according to Wikipedia, there is a theory that Cnute's housecarls, in addition to hanging with him, protecting him, and fighting along side him, also functioned like a (fairly large for the era) 3,000+ man standing royal army that garrisoned fortifications throughout his territory and where always serving as soldiers. I'm wondering what you folks thing of the validity of this theory.
    I do not know specifics, and I think that Yora has answered this question pretty well (and certainly seems more informed than I). However, in my research I've seen references to full-time, professional soldiers, but when I get more information they're not what I would necessarily consider full-time. Instead, they seem to have been soldiers that were required to train a certain number of months out of the year, and at other times they were "on call" for immediate service. In the sense that they trained regularly and were "on call", I suppose they could be considered full-time, but that's different from the modern definition for a full-time soldier. Again, this is just some information I've gleaned when studying other forces, and I can't say that it applies to the armies you mentioned. But, their definition of full-time may have been different from ours.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Do armies have official procedures what to do when having a breather moment during combat and also just 4 rounds left in the magazine?
    Do you switch to a new one, or do you wait until the current is empty?

    There's good reasons for both, and this seems like something that armies would want soldiers to do by the book and not by guts.
    As far as I know, the latest doctrine is that you reload any time you've got less than a full mag and aren't actively firing. 4 rounds might get treated like an empty, but generally if you've got time, you move mags from your rear most carriers to your empty forward mag carriers, then reload your rearmost pouches with any preloaded or partially loaded mags you may be carrying.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Fortinbras View Post
    Two more questions on professional medieval armies:

    1. I've read that the army that Charles Martel brought to Tours (732 AD) was a professional, full-time army. How was he able to pull this off when, as far as I know, almost everybody else in Europe (baring the Byzantines) would have to rely on feudal levies and mercenaries for the next couple hundred years?

    How was such an army recruited, organized, and equipped?

    How much resemblance could it be said to bear to a modern state-army?

    Did Martel also have to draw on part-time levies to supplement his professionals.
    We are severely limited in what we know about the early medieval period on account of the scarcity of surviving primary sources. There is no way to really know what the exact composition of his forces were, but certainly he was wealthy enough to support a decent sized household of semi-permanent troops and saw enough warfare to have forged them into an effective fighting force.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fortinbras View Post
    2. Does anybody buy the theory that Cnute the Great (985-1035 AD) led an army of 3,000 or so full-time professional housecarls that received a monthly salary? If so, any ideas how this army was recruited, organized, trained, and equipped?
    Who contests the theory exactly? I thought that it was pretty well accepted that Cnut elevated his housecarls to a semi-permanent military caste.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Do armies have official procedures what to do when having a breather moment during combat and also just 4 rounds left in the magazine?
    Do you switch to a new one, or do you wait until the current is empty?

    There's good reasons for both, and this seems like something that armies would want soldiers to do by the book and not by guts.
    US army procedure is to reload or change to a full magazine whenever you get the oportunity.
    Warning!! This poster makes frequent use of Sarcasm, Jokes, and Exaggeration. He intends no offense.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post
    Do armies have official procedures what to do when having a breather moment during combat and also just 4 rounds left in the magazine?
    Do you switch to a new one, or do you wait until the current is empty?
    You change magazines when you get the chance. Those four rounds may not be enough once things get ugly again. You don't want to pull the trigger on an empty rifle when the enemy are on top of you.

    Quote Originally Posted by Yora View Post

    There's good reasons for both, and this seems like something that armies would want soldiers to do by the book and not by guts.
    There really isn't a good reason to keep the nearly empty magazine. A lull is a good time to change, in the middle of a shootout is a bad time. If you keep the nearly empty mag and then have to cover a buddy's rush, and wind up empty when he's halfway to cover, the enemy stop being suppressed while you grope in you pouch for a new clip, and your pal gets lit up. Or your enemy gets to grenade range or a better shooting position or gets away while you try to reload.

    You always want to have a full mag when you really need it. Change them whenever you get a chance. Even if you've fired five rounds out of thirty, change it. When you get a long break, top off the partially full ones.

    You want to reload when you have a break, not when you have a guy in your sights who is trying to kill you, and you pull the trigger and hear the least comforting lack of noise in the world
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    I was just wondering about the possibility that you end up with a lot of almost empty magazines during a lengthy firefight. But since it's probably rather rare to have such long fights compared to shorter ones, and it just takes one hit to potentially kill you, I see the logic behind going for maximum efficiency early, when there's a good chance you never get to the point where having lots of almost empty magazines would become a problem.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Better to have a full magazine in the rifle and six partially full ones in your pouches than three rounds in the rifle and a nicely organized magazine pouch with two completely empty and four completely full.

    At any given second, the only thing that matters at all in the whole world is the magazine in your rifle.

    You don't get points for neatness. Just being the not dead guy at the end.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew View Post
    Who contests the theory exactly? I thought that it was pretty well accepted that Cnut elevated his housecarls to a semi-permanent military caste.
    Here's a link to the article, http://books.google.fr/books?id=iSB2...page&q&f=false

    The gist of it is that Matthew J. Strickland argues that Cnute retained full-time sailors, not soldiers and that, in Cnute's case, "housecarl" refers to members of his household similar to other noble houses, not a special military organization with its own laws and codes.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Fortinbras View Post
    Here's a link to the article, http://books.google.fr/books?id=iSB2...page&q&f=false

    The gist of it is that Matthew J. Strickland argues that Cnute retained full-time sailors, not soldiers and that, in Cnute's case, "housecarl" refers to members of his household similar to other noble houses, not a special military organization with its own laws and codes.
    Ah right. No, that is a collection of papers edited by Strickland, not a book by him. The guy arguing the case is N. Hooper and the paper was first published in 1992. Did anybody take up his argument, or is it a fringe point of view (I have no idea, I only have a passing interest in Cnut)?
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    That's sort of what I was asking, I suspect I know even less about Cnut than you do.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Okay, I'm gonna pop in real quick for a couple questions.

    I'm specifically interested in Hundred Years War and Wars of the Roses weapons tech, but I'm having a hard time finding good sources (most of my sources for both conflicts focus on the political and economic ramifications, or on weaving a cohesive historical narrative). I need to know things like, how extensive was the artillery at Crecy? What were the French gendarmes that helped destroy John Talbot equipped with? Were cannonballs stone, metal, or both?

    Do you guys have decent sources for those?

  14. - Top - End - #284
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalmarvho View Post
    Okay, I'm gonna pop in real quick for a couple questions.

    I'm specifically interested in Hundred Years War and Wars of the Roses weapons tech, but I'm having a hard time finding good sources (most of my sources for both conflicts focus on the political and economic ramifications, or on weaving a cohesive historical narrative). I need to know things like, how extensive was the artillery at Crecy? What were the French gendarmes that helped destroy John Talbot equipped with? Were cannonballs stone, metal, or both?

    Do you guys have decent sources for those?
    I read something recently about artillery at Crecy, but I can't remember where . . .

    In general cannons of that time tended to fire stone, but they experimented a lot and if they were of particularly small caliber they might fire iron or even lead.

    I'll do some searching and see what I can find.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    A point that just got me thinking in another thread...

    Could a modern firearm, say a handgun, fire wooden projectiles? Could you make wood-tipped rifle bullets? Or would they just shatter on impact or even in the weapon?

    The subject in question was vampires that can only be wounded by wooden weapons.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalmarvho View Post
    Okay, I'm gonna pop in real quick for a couple questions.

    I'm specifically interested in Hundred Years War and Wars of the Roses weapons tech, but I'm having a hard time finding good sources (most of my sources for both conflicts focus on the political and economic ramifications, or on weaving a cohesive historical narrative). I need to know things like, how extensive was the artillery at Crecy? What were the French gendarmes that helped destroy John Talbot equipped with? Were cannonballs stone, metal, or both?

    Do you guys have decent sources for those?
    Osprey is always a prety good source for detals like that.

    This is recent, covers a lot of ground but does get into some 100 Years War stuff

    http://www.amazon.com/European-Medie.../dp/B008IU9HWG

    These aren't as recent but also useful

    http://www.amazon.com/French-Armies-...+100+years+wAR

    http://www.amazon.com/Cr%C3%A9cy-134...ref=pd_vtp_b_3

    http://www.amazon.com/Poitiers-1356-...ref=pd_vtp_b_4

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    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2012-11-16 at 10:42 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    A point that just got me thinking in another thread...

    Could a modern firearm, say a handgun, fire wooden projectiles? Could you make wood-tipped rifle bullets? Or would they just shatter on impact or even in the weapon?

    The subject in question was vampires that can only be wounded by wooden weapons.
    Yes, a modern firearm can use wooden bullets, although they're typically for training purposes as the rounds tend to disintegrate before getting too far (I understand the Finnish army uses them as an alternate for blank rounds).

    The British Army apparently had a .303 round with a wooden nose cone known as the RG50, but aside from a single link with a cross section, I can't find any more information about it: link about half way down.

    With regard to vampire hunting, there was a TV series called Ultraviolet, where the vampire hunters used carbon tipped rounds to achieve the same staking effect.
    In oWoD, wood tipped bullets were classed as insufficient to achieve the staking effect (the stake had to be at least half a foot in length).

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    A point that just got me thinking in another thread...

    Could a modern firearm, say a handgun, fire wooden projectiles? Could you make wood-tipped rifle bullets? Or would they just shatter on impact or even in the weapon?

    The subject in question was vampires that can only be wounded by wooden weapons.
    Most of the projectile burns up during flight leaving nothing harmful. Don't forget that firearms work with explosions and that explosions are just very quick combustions.

    As said, it was used often for training purposes, especially at night. During D-Day a couple of Germans were issued rounds with wooden bullets for training purposes, but the Allied soldiers who found them erroneously assumed they were meant to make gruesome wounds.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    You could also use less powder and reduce the power of the bullets to leave it intact, but those might not penetrate significantly, if at all.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    I see. Better stick with the classic crossbow, then.
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    I've read and hugely enjoyed the scholarship of many of the posters on this board so I'd like to pose a few questions semi-related to some of the prior discussion of the Siege of Malta in 1565

    How does a boarding action with Renaissance war galleys (like the sort used by the Order of St John and the Ottoman Turks) actually work? Lots of books (like the Osprey one) describe the chase and the gunnery but are content only to say that a ship is boarded. I have a rough idea of how it happened but I'm uncertain on some of the details.

    1. Does ramming (accounting for speed and size) occur with enough force to lock the galleys together? Or does more need to be done, i.e. using grappling hooks? Or does the force of the collision slow the galleys down to the point where they can easily board and be boarded?
    2. Are there other methods, i.e. drawing alongside and using grappling hooks to bind the galleys together? At Lepanto many of the Christian galleys cut their rams off (for better gunnery) - so how did they end up boarding and being boarded by the Turks? Did the Turks ram them or did collisions, deaths amongst the galley slaves and lack of space reduce their speed to the extent that they could board and be boarded?
    3. If you can use grappling hooks, how would you board? Especially considering that the sides of the galley are where the oar banks are and these (especially if occupied by slaves) would be difficult for a boarding party to navigate.
    4. Were planks used as boarding ramps? I've seen one Renaissance painting that suggests so - but then it also depicts the boarding party in pseudo-Roman armour*. If not, were there special boarding ramps - like the "claw" (or "raven's beak" or whatever it's called) in the Classical world?
    5. How did galleys board galleons, considering the height disparity? The Malta 1565 campaign began when Romegas captured the Chief Black Eunuch's galleon (which is clearly depicted in contemporary illustrations, as can be seen in Spiteri's book) but how did he do it?
    6. If the ram works and the boarding party attack across it, how do they get past the forecastle and guns (if those are present on the ship)? Don Juan's Reale (for example) has an enclosed gunnery area which would force boarders to either climb over the guns and through the narrow gun apertures (slow) or to climb into the forecastle and jump down onto the ramp (dangerous). I know the Reale had its ram cut off for Lepanto but I've seen many similar designs in use throughout the 16th century** and presumably they faced similar problems.
    7. Were there any specific tactics for boarding parties seeking to capture another vessel (aside from clearing the enemy deck through use of "duck shot" from the bow-chaser or through fire from arquebusiers and swivel guns)? Or was it simply business as usual?
    8. Boarding was opbviously a dangerous choice in combats between war galleys, as the boarding party would begin at a numerical disadvantage (especially if they could only board at one point, i.e. over the ram), so did the boarders wait until their gunnery had reduced the enemy? Or did they trust to their fighting skill being enough to counter-act weight of numbers? Or did boarding provide some sort of shock advantage (especially with the shock factor of the ramming)?
    9. Capture was clearly pretty common (Valette and Dragut were both galley slaves for a while) but how did it occur? Were boarded galleys offered the choice to surrender pre-boarding? Or were the crews defeated in battle (with the wounded and cowardly taken as slaves/prisoners)? Or did crews surrender at the point in the battle where they realised defeat was inevitable?

    *The Boarding Party painting: http://i.imgur.com/5Soux.jpg
    **16thC Knight Hospitaller war galley: http://i.imgur.com/VhXuE.jpg

    Thanks a bunch for any answers guys.

    X

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalmarvho View Post
    Okay, I'm gonna pop in real quick for a couple questions.

    I'm specifically interested in Hundred Years War and Wars of the Roses weapons tech, but I'm having a hard time finding good sources (most of my sources for both conflicts focus on the political and economic ramifications, or on weaving a cohesive historical narrative). I need to know things like, how extensive was the artillery at Crecy? What were the French gendarmes that helped destroy John Talbot equipped with? Were cannonballs stone, metal, or both?

    Do you guys have decent sources for those?
    For early cannon and gunpowder weapons, you may want to look for this book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Weapons-Warfar...ds=Bert+S+Hall

    In it, Hall claims that the artillery at Crecy were probably ribauldequin - like.

    Also, another kind of projectile that I forgot about, were basically big arrows. You can see them in early images of cannons.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    A point that just got me thinking in another thread...

    Could a modern firearm, say a handgun, fire wooden projectiles? Could you make wood-tipped rifle bullets? Or would they just shatter on impact or even in the weapon?

    The subject in question was vampires that can only be wounded by wooden weapons.
    Wooden bullets seem to be used primarily as blanks in automatic weapons. The idea being that the wooden bullet survives long enough to develop sufficient pressure for the action to work. I think the bullet is expected to be shredded by the muzzle-blast, or at the very least fracture in such a way that it doesn't travel very far.

    As I just noted, historically, sometimes large arrows were used in the early days of gunpowder weapons.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by xeo View Post
    I've read and hugely enjoyed the scholarship of many of the posters on this board so I'd like to pose a few questions semi-related to some of the prior discussion of the Siege of Malta in 1565

    How does a boarding action with Renaissance war galleys (like the sort used by the Order of St John and the Ottoman Turks) actually work? Lots of books (like the Osprey one) describe the chase and the gunnery but are content only to say that a ship is boarded. I have a rough idea of how it happened but I'm uncertain on some of the details.
    I'll try to answer these with what I know off the top of my head quickly. I can double check some of my sources later when I get the chance.

    [*]Does ramming (accounting for speed and size) occur with enough force to lock the galleys together? Or does more need to be done, i.e. using grappling hooks? Or does the force of the collision slow the galleys down to the point where they can easily board and be boarded?
    The design of renaissance galleys (and medieval ones for the most part), had the ram above the water line, it curved upward somewhat, the idea being that the ram didn't so much "pierce" the other ship, but travel up over it, then the weight of the bow would help "pin" the ships together. Grappling hooks may have been used as well, probably to make it more difficult to the opposing galley to pull off, but the ram was to do the main work.

    Something else must have been used when dealing with a high-sided sailing ship though. Although in the 16th century the galley typically would have had an advantage in stand-off artillery.

    [*]Are there other methods, i.e. drawing alongside and using grappling hooks to bind the galleys together? At Lepanto many of the Christian galleys cut their rams off (for better gunnery) - so how did they end up boarding and being boarded by the Turks? Did the Turks ram them or did collisions, deaths amongst the galley slaves and lack of space reduce their speed to the extent that they could board and be boarded?
    The tactic in use was to hold the fire of the main guns until the last moment, just before contact. The Spanish weren't ordered to cut off their rams, but the "tips" of the rams. This allowed the main gun to depress a bit more and could rake the enemy just before boarding. How much that may have affected the ability of the ram to "pin" the ships together I cannot say, but it obviously wasn't a major issue.

    Killing the oarsmen is of course a way to disable a galley, but, especially if they were slaves, it might be preferable to capture them and either free them, or use them as galley slaves.

    In a running fight, it is conceivable that a galley could fire its main gun, and reload it before boarding. Unfortunately, I don't know if that was done and how often, but there seems to be some indication that it could be done. Perhaps Djerba might provide some examples.

    [*]If you can use grappling hooks, how would you board? Especially considering that the sides of the galley are where the oar banks are and these (especially if occupied by slaves) would be difficult for a boarding party to navigate.
    Not sure. There benches didn't run all the way to the sides of the vessel, there was a platform between the hull and the "apostis" - the part where the oars pivoted. It was low enough that a ram would pin the vessel at this point. This platform allowed soldiers to be stationed there, so any boarding action would have to fight it's way through those soldiers. I would imagine that the oars and oarsmen must have caused a problem, but they would be able to walk on the benches, and even the defender would probably want to move the oarsmen out of the way (assuming they were slaves) as quickly as possible to allow their own soldiers to counterattack the boarding party.

    [*]Were planks used as boarding ramps? I've seen one Renaissance painting that suggests so - but then it also depicts the boarding party in pseudo-Roman armour*. If not, were there special boarding ramps - like the "claw" (or "raven's beak" or whatever it's called) in the Classical world?
    I believe planks were used, once the ships were locked together to give more points of attack, but I would have to check my sources. I'm not aware of there being anything special about them.

    [*]How did galleys board galleons, considering the height disparity? The Malta 1565 campaign began when Romegas captured the Chief Black Eunuch's galleon (which is clearly depicted in contemporary illustrations, as can be seen in Spiteri's book) but how did he do it?
    I would like to see a better answer to this question too. My assumption is that they threw hooks and climbed ropes, given sufficient covering fire from soldiers and light cannon on the galley. I think I've read that the Ottomans attempted to grapple some of the high-sided Galleasses at the battle of Lepanto.

    [*]If the ram works and the boarding party attack across it, how do they get past the forecastle and guns (if those are present on the ship)? Don Juan's Reale (for example) has an enclosed gunnery area which would force boarders to either climb over the guns and through the narrow gun apertures (slow) or to climb into the forecastle and jump down onto the ramp (dangerous). I know the Reale had its ram cut off for Lepanto but I've seen many similar designs in use throughout the 16th century** and presumably they faced similar problems.
    The forecastles aren't too tall, and the guns could be maneuvered around to enter the "gun deck". Most of the guns on the galley were solidly mounted, and the sailors had to maneuver around them to load them. Typically only the heaviest gun recoiled when fired, which might provide more space. Having fired the battery at the last moment, may have disrupted the integrity of the forecastle.

    I imagine that they are basically locked in close combat seconds after the collision. The spaces are very narrow, and easily clogged with men, so they would have to hack their way through. Reinforcements being fed in as each side thought necessary.

    [*]Were there any specific tactics for boarding parties seeking to capture another vessel (aside from clearing the enemy deck through use of "duck shot" from the bow-chaser or through fire from arquebusiers and swivel guns)? Or was it simply business as usual?
    Not sure. Arquebusiers and swivel guns would be used to harass the rear sections of the ships away from the line of hand-to-hand fighting. Interestingly, they didn't seem to be a free for all, with people fighting everywhere as often shown in pirate movies. Instead, the line of fighting seems to have been well defined, at least in a classic fight. You will encounter remarks about advancing as far as the mast, or being thrown back to the forecastle, etc.

    [*]Boarding was opbviously a dangerous choice in combats between war galleys, as the boarding party would begin at a numerical disadvantage (especially if they could only board at one point, i.e. over the ram), so did the boarders wait until their gunnery had reduced the enemy? Or did they trust to their fighting skill being enough to counter-act weight of numbers? Or did boarding provide some sort of shock advantage (especially with the shock factor of the ramming)?
    Boarding was used for a couple of reasons:
    1. It was the best way to capture an enemy vessel.

    2. At this time, it seems to have been the most decisive way of winning a battle. Gunnery was primarily used for defensive action. A good set of artillery could prevent an enemy from boarding (and this is what Galleons and Carracks did at the time), but rarely sink them. Galleys, could use their guns offensively, mainly because their centerline guns were very big and powerful, giving them better range and the potential for a single killing shot. But, if the shot was wasted, the enemy might be able to close to board without fear of return fire.

    The Armada campaign is generally seen as the shift in this, where shipboard artillery on sailing vessels became heavy enough to be used offensively, and decisively. But I'm more cautious. If you look at the data, it was possible for a galleon to sink another, but it seemed to take a prodigious effort (many of the Spanish ships sunk outright were outnumbered and attacked for hours by English ships). So it was a shifting trend. Gunnery was more cautious, less risky, but also less decisive than a boarding fight.

    [*]Capture was clearly pretty common (Valette and Dragut were both galley slaves for a while) but how did it occur? Were boarded galleys offered the choice to surrender pre-boarding? Or were the crews defeated in battle (with the wounded and cowardly taken as slaves/prisoners)? Or did crews surrender at the point in the battle where they realised defeat was inevitable?
    I think crews did surrender during a fight. If surrounded, in a bad position, etc., a galley might be offered terms of surrender. But for the most part, I imagine that surrender was rarely offered before a fight -- at least when dealing with war galleys. Civilian ships were probably run down, and then threatened.

    The Osprey book on the Renaissance War Galley is one source. If you can find a copy of Guilmartin's Gunpowder and Galleys, that's the best source I know of for 16th century mediterranean galley info. Try to track it down in a library, it's out of print and very expensive unfortunately.

  25. - Top - End - #295
    Bugbear in the Playground
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Some more info on galleys:

    The centerline gun might be able to fire effectively at 500 yards (this is what the artillery manuals at the time state), but that probably required a very calm sea. On the other hand, a galley travelling at "rush speed" could close that distance in about two minutes, which is considerably less than the time needed to reload the main cannon. So trying to whittle away an enemy galley that intends to close for a boarding action is basically impossible.

    Stand off fights were possible if the enemy didn't want to close. Or, if it was a major fleet action -- in that case the maximum speed of the galleys is reduced to an estimated two knots or so, as maintaining the formation was tricky. Also, with a fleet in formation (line abreast was standard galley fighting formation), the galleys can cover each other while reloading.

    One clever tactic was to beach the galleys stern first on a friendly shore, with the guns pointing to sea. The ciurma (rowing gang), can be disembarked to protect them and keep them fresh, while friendly soldiers can be moved on board as reinforcements. This tactic was particularly successful, as any attacking force would have to keep their ciurma's active to just to maintain formation, potentially exhausting them.

    As for galleys attacking galleons, the common interpretation, I think, is that the galleys would maneuver around the galleon to a perceived weak point, move in, fire the main battery, then move out of range to reload. Speculation that the Mary Rose was sunk by galley cannon fire, is supported by an image of the fight, showing French (Genoese?) galleys performing precisely the same maneuver.

  26. - Top - End - #296
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    The subject in question was vampires that can only be wounded by wooden weapons.
    The purpose of staking a vampire isn't to put a piece of wood in his body. The reason for the stake is to nail the body to the ground so it can't walk around and feed on the living: any sturdy material of sufficient length will work. You can't just put a stake into a vampire. You have to put it through the vampire and into something big and immovable (like the ground) to hold him in place long enough for you to cut off his head.

  27. - Top - End - #297
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    The principle reason for boarding was if you had an advantage in heavy infantry (either quality or quantity or both), if you could board and you had more or better infantry you could end the battle very quickly.

    So for example during the 16th Century the Spanish had very good infantry which they used on their ships. So did the Venetians, who also had a major additional advantage in that (up to the later part of the 16th Century) they were the only major force in the Med who did not use convict or slave labor to row their galleys - instead they used paid sailors, and these men could and did fight when two ships locked together, which effectively doubled in some cases the number of fighting men they had in a given engagement.

    Third reason is this is the way to capture a ship, and captured vessels meant personal enrichment for the crew and captain, and also could be strategic assets for the power which employed them. Any given base in the Med usually had numbers of galleys measured in the dozens at most, so capturing even 3 or 4 good ones from your enemy could tip the balance of power in your favor.

    Finally naval gunnery in the 15th and 16th Century Mediterranean (and North and Baltic Seas) was not anywhere near what it would become in the open oceans and remote seas of the 17th and 18th Century. Galleys in particular had guns usually mounted on the prow or stern, which meant they had less guns to bear (this was one of the issues meant to be addressed by the Venetian Galleas.)

    The high sides of merchant vessels were indeed a very serious problem, both in the Med and on the North end of Europe. In the North and Baltic sea the Cogg beat out the Viking style longships in most open water engagements almost entirely on the strength of their inherent defensive advantage due to height. (the latter remained in use in the rivers for centuries however)

    In the Med it was clearly a problem as well. In this book about the siege of Constantinople, the author describes (based on eyewitness accounts) a dramatic engagement in which a very small force of merchant ships from Venice (or Genoa, I can't remember off the top of my head) ran the blockade by virtually the entire Ottoman navy in the personal command of the fleet Pasha. Twice they almost succeeded in swarming the ship when it was temporarily becalmed but then the wind picked up again and they were beaten back. Essentially they simply couldn't board the ships due to their much higher freeboard, which confered advantages in both attack and defense.

    It highlighted the relative merits of the two types of vessels; in the med the merchant ships: the Galleon, the Carrack, and even the more primitive Cogg were still used, but they were subject to becalmings in the unpredictable winds; Galleys could always move but were low in the water (and relatively fragile), subject to the limited endurance of their crews and vulnerable to bad weather.

    The Venetian Galleas was a bit of the best of both worlds and could also be used to carry cargo.

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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    The Turks of course had their own elite infantry (the Janissaries) which they used much in the same way the Spanish used theirs; they had a further advantage with their recurve bows which due to their characteristics of plunging shots, were particularly useful in naval warfare when exchanging missile fire from a distance.

    Some historians have speculated that the real setback for the Ottomans at Lepanto was the loss of so many of their trained archers, which may have contributed to their gradual decline in power from that point onward.

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  29. - Top - End - #299
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Thanks a lot for the very useful answers Fusilier and Galloglaich.

  30. - Top - End - #300
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    Default Re: Got a Real World Weapons or Armour Question? Mk XI

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Some historians have speculated that the real setback for the Ottomans at Lepanto was the loss of so many of their trained archers, which may have contributed to their gradual decline in power from that point onward.

    G
    Indeed. It's actually quite hard to understand why Lepanto was such a major defeat for the Turks from a modern perspective: they rebuilt their fleet in short order, and the alliance against them fell apart pretty quickly. But galley ships themselves were cheap -- it was the experienced personnel that were very difficult to replace.

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