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    Default Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Real World Weapon, Armour and Tactics Thread XXV

    This thread is a resource for getting information about real life weapons, armour and tactics. The concept has always been that the information is for RPG players and DMs so they can use it to make their games better, thus it's here rather than in Friendly Banter.

    A few rules for this thread:

    • This thread is for asking questions about how weapons, armour and tactics really work. As such, it's not going to include game rule statistics. If you have such a question, especially if it stems from an answer or question in this thread, feel free to start a new thread and include a link back to here. If you do ask a rule question here, you'll be asked to move it elsewhere, and then we'll be happy to help out with it.
    • Any weapon or time period is open for questions. Medieval and ancient warfare questions seem to predominate, but since there are many games set in other periods as well, feel free to ask about any weapon. This includes futuristic ones - but be aware that these will be likely assessed according to their real life feasibility. Thus, phasers, for example, will be talked about in real-world science and physics terms rather than the Star Trek canon. If you want to discuss a fictional weapon from a particular source according to the canonical explanation, please start a new thread for it.
    • Please try to cite your claims if possible. If you know of a citation for a particular piece of information, please include it. However, everyone should be aware that sometimes even the experts don't agree, so it's quite possible to have two conflicting answers to the same question. This isn't a problem; the asker of the question can examine the information and decide which side to go with. The purpose of the thread is to provide as much information as possible. Debates are fine, but be sure to keep it a friendly debate (even if the experts can't!).
    • No modern real-world political discussion. As the great Carl von Clausevitz once said, "War is merely the continuation of policy by other means," so politics and war are heavily intertwined. However, politics are a big hot-button issue and one banned on these boards, so avoid political analysis if at all possible (this thread is primarily about military hardware). There's more leeway on this for anything prior to about 1800, but be very careful with all of it, and anything past 1900 is surely not open for analysis (These are arbitrary dates but any dates would be, and these are felt to be reasonable).
    • No graphic descriptions. War is violent, dirty, and horrific, and anyone discussing it should be keenly aware of that. However, on this board graphic descriptions of violence (or sexuality) are not allowed, so please avoid them.


    With that done, have at and enjoy yourselves!
    Last edited by Brother Oni; 2018-01-16 at 02:37 PM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Haighus View Post
    I think crossbows would be more impractical- they are heavier, the bolt is harder to keep in place when aiming down (or upside-down!), and the methods of loading that are most possible (crannequin and maybe windlass) are fiddly, and could be dangerous to the wielder to use underwing. Especially so on powerful crossbows, where attaching the crannequin wrong can result in lethal injuries. Belt hooks are obviously very difficult when flying, and hand drawing has the same draw backs as using a bow.
    They had a similar problem for horseback crossbow use and they found a drop of glue or wax on the bolt held it in place just fine.

    A goat's foot lever spanning method would also work just fine for a decent weight crossbow; they would just have to retreat back out of range to reload before having another go, which is basically what mounted crossbowmen did as well. The flyer could tuck the lever into their belt when not being used and for additional security, it's tied to the belt with a bit of string.

    That said, the lever is a bit out of the time scale proposed by the initial scenario (they were most popular during the 14th-15th Century).

    Goat's foot lever in action.

    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    Seems the consensus ranges from "it's an advantage" to "they'd crush everyone entirely."
    An alternate way to limit their dominance would be non-military; Either have them culturally pacifistic or non-aggressive or have them reproduce very slowly.

    Both could be tied into their biology; many birds have hollow bones and numerous other weight saving measures intrinsic to their biology, none of which are conducive to good endurance or durability in combat.
    Humans are very durable for animals and injuries that just put us out of commission for a while are lethal to other species - a broken leg is a major but recoverable injury; for a horse, it's usually fatal. Tie this into the less durable skeletal structure, then a moderate injury for a human would be life threatening or lethal to them.

    Second is energy expenditure - flying is very energy intensive, which is why all birds have a superior lung structure to humans for the purposes of extracting oxygen; even then large birds prefer to coast on thermals. Combat would be incredibly tiring for these flyers, so their endurance would be very limited.
    This complexity of biology would also lend itself to longer gestation times, so recovery of combat losses would be more difficult.

    Finally there's the heartbeat hypothesis of longevity; flight again is incredibly energy intensive and assuming a standard human's cardiopulmonary system and to get blood around the body faster, their heart beats faster (rather than dynamically increase the stroke volume) so each individual lifespan is shorter. Normally this wouldn't have an effect on their combat abilities, but it would potentially give a certain impatience to their psychology and culture, making them more likely to fall for tricks and less veteran leaders to rein people in.
    Last edited by Brother Oni; 2018-01-16 at 02:56 PM.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    So, a bit of an odd question. I know frogmouth helmets were primarily used in tournaments. However, I swear I saw some in the background of a few paintings of battlefields. Unfortunately, I can't for the life of me seem to find the painting I'm remembering.

    I was wondering if any of you guys who seem to pull out pictures of painting from seemingly nowhere have any examples of them? Also, how do you organize and search through all of them. My own method of sorting them is obviously not up to snuff.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    On the flying people - there are some implicit weaknesses that come with that which haven't been mentioned. A major one is food - flying is hard, energy intensive work. They'd need much more food than an ordinary human, which means they wouldn't be able to maintain the population density of regular people. If they're farming, that uses a bigger population fraction. If they're primarily hunting (which is what I'd expect), then they need to be spread even thinner.

    On top of that, we're talking about flying humans here. By bird standards human vision is hot garbage, by predatory raptor standards it's somehow even worse. A small group of people could hide from them relatively easily in most terrain, making ground ambushes very much a possibility - which are all the more effective given that normal humans would basically always have a numerical advantage due to the differences in food requirements.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Ok so here is my take on the whole flying monkey thing - stipulating in an affluent / sophisticated part of Late Medieval Europe. I'm just going to say 'medieval' from here on in for brevity but that is what I mean, plate armor era.

    The TL : DR of this in my opinion that of course flying troops would be a major asset, but in terms of direct combat the advantage would be limited.

    The gist is this - I think assuming they were aware of the threat and had been for a while, a medieval army would have fairly effective short range air-defense capability. They would also have counter-measures available to protect themselves from longer range attacks (attacks from further up).

    I think with a robust enough Air-Defense system, the flying troops would have a hard time doing damage against hardened military forces, and take heavy casualties. If you buy robust air defenses, an analogy would be WW1 aircraft trying to attack WW2 type AAA defenses. They might do some damage but they would get shredded. You can actually see this to some extent in WW2 where the Royal Navy had such a hard time sinking German ships with their somewhat antiquated or poorly designed aircraft (Fairey Swordfish biplanes, and Battle, Barracuda etc.) and with a combination of heavy AAA and smoke screens and so on, some of them were able to survive a ridiculously long time (see Tirpitz).

    Flying troops would still be a major advantage in terms of scouting, skirmishing, communications and so on - and that is significant. Could be decisive if it were properly organized. Most of all, since there is no way to pursue them in the sky, and presumably they can find / make bases which are high on mountaintops or cliffs that are very hard for ground based forces to access, the side with the flying troops would have the operational initiative.

    This is what I see the medieval army using

    Rapid fire, breach-loading pintle-mounted cannon



    These already existed by the 14th Century. In the last thread I think I posted a couple of videos of them in action. If you watch those you'll notice that with pre-loaded breaches, you can get multiple shots off fairly quickly. longer barrel and higher caliber weapons would be best probably, but you'd want a lot of these on your castles, city walls and towers, ships and war-wagons.

    Volley guns



    Volley guns also go back to the 14th Century. They were fairly easy to make. The best for AAA would be those with multiple rows, you can shoot a row, aim and shoot another row, and then shoot another. Volley guns are slow to reload, but you can shoot them one row at a time. And if you have a lot of them and use them wisely, you can maintain firepower.

    Bigger cannon

    Cannon cold be used to shoot 'shot' and possibly exploding ordinance too.

    Rockets and sky-rockets






    Rockets, which were plentiful in the late medieval period, could be used to lift nets, strong but thin wires, ropes or cables up in the air with hooks on them, and so on. To illuminate night-attacks, and perhaps most of all, fireworks - sky rockets, that go up and blow up in great big sprays of sparks - could be useful against flying troops. Especially if you included say some fish-hooks, lengths of wire etc. in the mix.

    Other types of pyrotechnic weapons would also be helpful I think. Large formations that spray sparks and so on.

    IED's


    Bombs with shrapnel and submunitions could be placed in ambush positions, for example in a canyon the flying troops used as part of a repeated route, to kill and wound them.

    Grenade Launchers


    Grenade launchers, or 'hand mortars' as the ones from this era were typically referred to, could be used to shoot exploding shells or just giant firecrackers up in the air. Presumably a huge boom and flash of sparks could disorient a flyer or even cause them to crash; shrapnel could make it more deadly. If you were with a small group of people and came under flying monkey attack while you didn't have a war wagon or a smoke system handy, one of these things might at least buy you some time. Apparently they were often used to shoot fireworks up in the sky to announce the arrival of a VIP into a town, for example, so this is already "ready to go"


    Smoke
    Many pyrotechnic devices, as well as a wide variety of much cheaper fuel sources, can make thick opaque smoke. This was used by ships in WW1 and WW2 to protect them from aircraft for example. A thick enough pall of smoke over a target can make aiming even more generalized attacks much harder.

    War Wagons




    War wagons as mentioned here many times were all over the place, obviously you would need to include a roof and protect horses, but some of them were already doing that by the 15th Century.

    Crossbows
    Crossbows, especially larger 'wall crossbows' or siege crossbows, seem to have had the ability to shoot individual targets at a fairly long range. They were using them to hunt birds on horseback and one of the main ways to train was to shoot at a wooden 'parrot' on a 40' pole (also sometimes from horseback), so the idea of shooting targets up in the air was already well established.



    This is what I see the flying monkeys using


    Javelins
    I agree with cistenes, darts and javelins, especially heavy javelins like soliferrum, would be devastating in a flying attack. The downside is you would have to get pretty close to hit a target which makes you vulnerable. You also, presumably, couldn't carry a lot of them. Historically human peltasts etc. carried three. So you have to have a stash somewhere.

    Bomblet darts, rocks etc.
    Solid iron darts, tiny ones, as well as things like caltrops etc., could be effective area-attack weapons. Not sure of the proposed ceiling of these flying troops is but if you can fly high enough (thousands of feet) even just like marbles and pebbles can kill - but you do still have to hit your target. Advantage of attacking from up high is you are going to be safe from attack. The only defense would be obscuring the target with smoke or hiding some other way.

    Pyrotechnic bombs, grenades, and petroleum based fire bombs
    This is one of the most devastating ways that flying attackers could get their targets, but it's also quite risky. Towns would have to be fireproofed. This was already underway, but not nearly enough to deal with flaming naptha etc. you don't

    Poison and disease agents
    Dropping poop or contaminated substances into a castle or a town would be quite effective. Done at night it could be particularly nasty. Countermeasure would be alert sentries and the use of flares and pyrotechnics to illuminate the sky when under attack, but most of all covering food and water sources. This type of attack wasn't new though as they used to throw stuff over walls with trebuchets and so on, so presumably there were known procedures to deal with the problem already.



    Oh by the way, bonus - fairly early example of firearms on horseback. Mariano di Jacopo aka 'Taccola', Siena Italy, before 1453. Presumable Liber tertius de ingeneis ac edifitiis non usitatis.Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München, Clm 197

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    One other disadvantage javelins have for a flying unit, compared to a mounted one, is that there's pretty much no chance of getting your missiles back. Unless you're willing to risk coming to ground level (negating all the advantages of flight and making yourself vulnerable), they're gone once you've used them. Mounted javelineers, on the other hand, can often count on retrieving a certain proportion of their missiles.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Brother Oni View Post
    They had a similar problem for horseback crossbow use and they found a drop of glue or wax on the bolt held it in place just fine.
    I was under the impression that practice was mostly done when carrying a crossbow loaded on the march, is that incorrect? Even so, I think dropping hot wax on a crossbow bolt while in the air and possibly being shot at would be tricky to say the least. Still, for the first shot it should help immensely, or if you take a shot and fly out of range to reload. That takes you out of combat for a while though.

    An alternate way to limit their dominance would be non-military; Either have them culturally pacifistic or non-aggressive or have them reproduce very slowly.

    Both could be tied into their biology; many birds have hollow bones and numerous other weight saving measures intrinsic to their biology, none of which are conducive to good endurance or durability in combat.
    Humans are very durable for animals and injuries that just put us out of commission for a while are lethal to other species - a broken leg is a major but recoverable injury; for a horse, it's usually fatal. Tie this into the less durable skeletal structure, then a moderate injury for a human would be life threatening or lethal to them.

    Second is energy expenditure - flying is very energy intensive, which is why all birds have a superior lung structure to humans for the purposes of extracting oxygen; even then large birds prefer to coast on thermals. Combat would be incredibly tiring for these flyers, so their endurance would be very limited.
    This complexity of biology would also lend itself to longer gestation times, so recovery of combat losses would be more difficult.

    Finally there's the heartbeat hypothesis of longevity; flight again is incredibly energy intensive and assuming a standard human's cardiopulmonary system and to get blood around the body faster, their heart beats faster (rather than dynamically increase the stroke volume) so each individual lifespan is shorter. Normally this wouldn't have an effect on their combat abilities, but it would potentially give a certain impatience to their psychology and culture, making them more likely to fall for tricks and less veteran leaders to rein people in.
    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    On the flying people - there are some implicit weaknesses that come with that which haven't been mentioned. A major one is food - flying is hard, energy intensive work. They'd need much more food than an ordinary human, which means they wouldn't be able to maintain the population density of regular people. If they're farming, that uses a bigger population fraction. If they're primarily hunting (which is what I'd expect), then they need to be spread even thinner.

    On top of that, we're talking about flying humans here. By bird standards human vision is hot garbage, by predatory raptor standards it's somehow even worse. A small group of people could hide from them relatively easily in most terrain, making ground ambushes very much a possibility - which are all the more effective given that normal humans would basically always have a numerical advantage due to the differences in food requirements.
    Also good points here, especially food requirements and birth rate/gestation time. Something I'll take into account as I develop the setting. Unfortunately I can't make them pacifist, the setting hinges around aforementioned flying people being a bunch of imperialistic jerks to everyone around (Their relationship to the human nations is akin to the dynamic between ancient Greece and Persia, with the flyers taking the role of the Persians--a much larger and more centralized empire trying to subjugate smaller states that band together for mutual defense, and occasionally meddling politically in those small states where direct attacks don't work). That said, they've had their empire for a while, so it's entirely possible that their warrior elite who won the empire in the first place have morphed into a more administrative class which is happy to let the "lesser" subject races (who don't fly) do most of the unpleasant things like fighting and dying.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    Ok so here is my take on the whole flying monkey thing - stipulating in an affluent / sophisticated part of Late Medieval Europe. I'm just going to say 'medieval' from here on in for brevity but that is what I mean, plate armor era.

    The TL : DR of this in my opinion that of course flying troops would be a major asset, but in terms of direct combat the advantage would be limited.

    The gist is this - I think assuming they were aware of the threat and had been for a while, a medieval army would have fairly effective short range air-defense capability. They would also have counter-measures available to protect themselves from longer range attacks (attacks from further up).

    -Lots of awesome stuff-
    This is the kind of post I was hoping to run across I tend to agree, given that in-setting these people have been antagonists for a long time, they would have adapted means to fight. Still, though, I'm surprised (again) at the degree of sophistication that existed in real life. I mean, grenade launchers... Breech-loading guns, volley guns, combinations of the previous two, and rockets would probably be rather more prevalent here than in the actual medieval era, if I had to guess. Those seem to be the most promising from my perspective. Especially rockets/fireworks to illuminate and disorient rather than directly incapacitate, I hadn't thought of that.

    I am a bit skeptical, though, of how effective explosives would be, if only because there wasn't much of a means of controlling when the shell went off, save for varying the length of the fuse, which wasn't that precise to begin with and subject to different shells coming from different manufacturers having different fuse lengths. Against a fast-moving target, I don't know how well exploding shell would do without some sort of proximity detonation. They'd be devastating if you managed to land a shot close enough, however.

    Speaking of explosives...
    Bigger cannon

    Cannon cold be used to shoot 'shot' and possibly exploding ordinance too.
    Exploding shell, as far as I know, didn't really come into use as cannon ammunition into the early 1800s, and wasn't in widespread use until around the American Civil War. Most early grenades that I'm familiar with from the first part of the 1700s were clay pots rather than metal cased--which works well enough for throwing, but I wouldn't want to try to fire one out of a cannon. Was exploding cannon shot practical with this level of technology?

    And, while we're on the topic: a couple of grenade designs which saw experimental use in the American Civil War, using simple impact fuses. They wouldn't fit into the medieval era, but could possibly be adapted to use a striker other than a percussion cap:

    Ketchum Grenade:




    Haynes Excelsior Grenade:

    Couldn't find a good schematic for this one. Basically the smaller sphere would be filled with black powder, percussion caps placed on all of the intrusions, and then it'd be locked inside the larger sphere. On impact the small inner sphere would strike the large outer sphere, set off one of the caps, and ignite the charge. It had the unfortunate habit of going off when thrown, however...
    Last edited by rs2excelsior; 2018-01-16 at 08:50 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    I think y'all are underestimating how hard it is to hit something smaller than a formation from significantly above. Sure, these flying creatures could fly completely out of arrow range, but then they'd have issues hitting their targets too. Unless they're very nimble, to effectively hit individuals and small groups they'd have to risk getting hit in return. They'd have a big advantage, of course, but they wouldn't be completely immune to shots from the ground. And I assume they'd be unarmored or lightly armored, given how flight works.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Incanur View Post
    I think y'all are underestimating how hard it is to hit something smaller than a formation from significantly above. Sure, these flying creatures could fly completely out of arrow range, but then they'd have issues hitting their targets too. Unless they're very nimble, to effectively hit individuals and small groups they'd have to risk getting hit in return. They'd have a big advantage, of course, but they wouldn't be completely immune to shots from the ground. And I assume they'd be unarmored or lightly armored, given how flight works.
    The whole matter of formations also seems to assume pitched battles, instead of sieges and raiding. The fliers are unlikely to use much in the way of traditional sieges for a few reasons, but raiding? It's what they'd do best, and it scales up. Cities are easier to hit than formations after all.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Best attacks I think they can use, barring impact fused explosives, would be as follows:

    - Small iron darts.

    Used from great heights, at which point they will act like a modern 50 calibre bullet and easily kill an armoured man. Only useful against formations, precise aiming is impossible. Flyer will be invulnerable at this height. Flyer can carry many darts (0.5 oz each).

    - Javelins

    Used as a more precision killer, perhaps from a dive, at lower heights. With added dive velocity, will likely defeat most armours. Flyer is vulnerable to counter-attack. Flyer can carry only a few javelins.

    - Incendiaries

    Used to start fires (duh) in fortifications and conurbations. Can be used from a great height. Flyer will be invulnerable at this height. Flyer cannot carry many such devices, perhaps only one.

    Due to the limitations of what they can carry, to be decisive on the battlefield as a bombing wing, I think they need to be heavily supplied, from behind a friendly army's lines or from fortified position. Essentially fly up, deliver munitions, fly back, re-supply. Even then, it may be time-consuming to fly up to 1000 feet or so and back down again. How many missions can they fly, how rapidly and how many formations can they break doing so?

    As said in the previous thread by many posters, it's the other things that they can do with intelligence gathering, command and control and manouverability that makes them so valuable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    This is the kind of post I was hoping to run across I tend to agree, given that in-setting these people have been antagonists for a long time, they would have adapted means to fight. Still, though, I'm surprised (again) at the degree of sophistication that existed in real life. I mean, grenade launchers... Breech-loading guns, volley guns, combinations of the previous two, and rockets would probably be rather more prevalent here than in the actual medieval era, if I had to guess.

    Thanks!

    I can assure you that breach-loading cannon (usually light to medium caliber) were quite common from the 14th Century onward. Dozens have survived from the 15th Century alone. Same for organ guns. There was one single battle where the city of Ghent deployed probably at least 300 volley guns in 1382. Don't ask me to pronounce the name...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Beverhoutsveld

    I'm not sure how prevalent rockets were on the battlefield but I do know they were mentioned as early as the (late) 13th Century, where they were apparently used by the Moors in a battle in what is now Spain. I also know by the 14th Century towns were routinely putting on big fireworks shows on major Feast days and during Royal coronations and so forth.

    I did specify of course, that I'm referring to the more sophisticated and wealthy parts of Europe from in the Late medieval period, say roughly 1300-1520. I'm not talking about Albania or Finland here (no offense to either country). Or England for that matter. I know they had gear like this but I don't know how much. In Central Europe, Italy, Flanders, the usual places ... it was commonplace. You see these weapons dozens of times in the Swiss Chronicles for example.

    Those seem to be the most promising from my perspective. Especially rockets/fireworks to illuminate and disorient rather than directly incapacitate, I hadn't thought of that.
    Another thing i forgot to mention are 'war kites'. These things show up in many war-books like Bellifortis (1410) which is where this one is from:



    and this one



    In theory you could use war-kites a bit like barrage baloons, maybe embed the kite strings with hooks or coat them with glass or something, or even put hooks or barbs on the kite itself.

    I am a bit skeptical, though, of how effective explosives would be, if only because there wasn't much of a means of controlling when the shell went off, save for varying the length of the fuse, which wasn't that precise to begin with and subject to different shells coming from different manufacturers having different fuse lengths. Against a fast-moving target, I don't know how well exploding shell would do without some sort of proximity detonation. They'd be devastating if you managed to land a shot close enough, however.
    Keep in mind, they had the serpentine - so in theory you can have a slow-match burning, and a long string with somebody waiting. When they see a formation of flyers going by, you pull the string and boom. IED.

    This is a serpentine from a war manual derivative of belifortis from ~ 1420


    Speaking of explosives...

    Exploding shell, as far as I know, didn't really come into use as cannon ammunition into the early 1800s, and wasn't in widespread use until around the American Civil War. Most early grenades that I'm familiar
    Well they did have the hand mortars I mentioned, and those had exploding shells, usually made of glass from what i gather. That is what made the military version of these so dangerous to use - if you had too much force it could blow up, if you had a misfire your grenade was still sputtering there about to blow up. Risky.

    As this article notes, hand-mortars while rare, first appeared in a war-manual in 1472. Their original use seems to have mainly been as a big noisemaker, though the grenades they used also appear in the 1472 manual. They became more commonplace as weapons (as opposed to noisemakers) in the 1580's when fairly reliable wheellocks were available.

    https://www.thevintagenews.com/2016/...e-early-1800s/

    with from the first part of the 1700s were clay pots rather than metal cased--which works well enough for throwing, but I wouldn't want to try to fire one out of a cannon. Was exploding cannon shot practical with this level of technology?
    It apparently existed though I would guess was quite risky. The main reason being the fuse. However, presumably under pressure from flying enemy troops the technology would have developed more rapidly, as the basic elements were all there.

    And, while we're on the topic: a couple of grenade designs which saw experimental use in the American Civil War, using simple impact fuses. They wouldn't fit into the medieval era, but could possibly be adapted to use a striker other than a percussion cap:

    Ketchum Grenade:




    Haynes Excelsior Grenade:

    Couldn't find a good schematic for this one. Basically the smaller sphere would be filled with black powder, percussion caps placed on all of the intrusions, and then it'd be locked inside the larger sphere. On impact the small inner sphere would strike the large outer sphere, set off one of the caps, and ignite the charge. It had the unfortunate habit of going off when thrown, however...
    Wow... see it's always more going on behind the scenes than people realize.

    Actually thinking about it, I believe there is a late 14th Century Chinese military manual which has a series of pressure detonators (using techniques to generate sparks) for mines. It also has grenades and lots of other other crazy stuff.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Huolongjing

    This is one of the two mines



    And if that aint amazing enough, this is a rocket propelled bird



    Not sure if they had this in Europe or not though.

    Still, it's hard to beat the historical reality - the fantasy tropes rarely even come close.

    G
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2018-01-16 at 10:26 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Incanur View Post
    I think y'all are underestimating how hard it is to hit something smaller than a formation from significantly above. Sure, these flying creatures could fly completely out of arrow range, but then they'd have issues hitting their targets too. Unless they're very nimble, to effectively hit individuals and small groups they'd have to risk getting hit in return. They'd have a big advantage, of course, but they wouldn't be completely immune to shots from the ground. And I assume they'd be unarmored or lightly armored, given how flight works.
    I agree - I thought this was implicit in my first post but it was a bit too long already to get into it.

    If they get close, swooping in Stuka style, they can kill probably even armored knights with a heavy javelin. But then they would be at serious risk of being killed by cannon, volley guns etc. or even if you presume no gunpowder, crossbows and bows.

    if they attack from a safe distance, say 1000 meters, it gets a lot harder to hit. Much harder still if the target obscures itself with smoke like a WW2 pocket battleship hiding from the Fleet Air Arm.

    So it's a trade off, I would assume they can't wear armor while flying. That's why I said the main advantage would be scouting and C3I and so on (which I think people would tend to understimate as an advantage, but it would be a big one) plus the ability to do a lot of amazing special ops and wipe out stragglers and so forth.

    It's like light cavalry in the air, really. Properly organized it could be a bit like the Mongol Hordes. But the Mongol Hordes weren't as effective in the 15th Century as they had been in the 13th.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Just to check, are we certain that the bones of birds are less durable than those of other animals? I've heard that the honeycombed bones actually make birds' bones stronger, which makes sense to me. If a peregrine falcon were truly delicate, how could its body survive its hunting stoops? I've also heard falconers describe that some birds could crush human hands in their talons without breaking their own bones. Do we have good sources on either data point?
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    It seems to me that an impact fuse would be easier to develop for a dropped bomb. There is no sudden acceleration when it's released and there is a massive deceleration when it impacts after a fall of dozens or even hundreds of metres. Mediaeval tech could probably develop something with flint & steel sparking 'primers' that would work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Beer View Post
    It seems to me that an impact fuse would be easier to develop for a dropped bomb. There is no sudden acceleration when it's released and there is a massive deceleration when it impacts after a fall of dozens or even hundreds of metres. Mediaeval tech could probably develop something with flint & steel sparking 'primers' that would work.
    A slow match isolated from a charge of some kind of flammable liquid in a breakable container would probably work, so long as you can keep the match lit. A molotov cocktail, basically.
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    The chinese were using explosive iron bombs dating all the way back to the 12th century or so.

    This illustration from wikipedia is of the "flying-cloud thunderclap-erupter" A cannon designed to shoot multiple small "thunderclap bombs" at once.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:M...oto-cannon.jpg

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    Ok finally decided to look back into the thread, been sort of lurking the forums for a few months for various reasons and just not kept up :(. I only got to see part of this discussion in my skim so if i missed too many detail pipe up and let me know.

    First and foremost, arows won't cut it for defenders. Even in an airless environment a 70m/s arrow, (which as i recall is on the fairly fast side), will only got up 250m or about 830ft. Time of flight to max altitude would be just over 7 seconds. Account for slant angle and drag i'd be shocked if you got 400 feet. Assuming an arrow fired up at an angle of 30 degrees from vertical time of fight would be 4 seconds. But in reality effective range might be half that against someone unarmoured.

    This is the view from 400ft up:



    People may be quite small but hitting massed formations or general area's on buildings is quite doable. However being that low mostly rules out dropped things. Even in a vacuum best velocity would be 48m/s which is just over 1kj per kg or mass or 100j's per 100 grams. Thats pretty heavy. Metal darts may be compact and aerodynamic but they won't be light. A bow might well make more sense as the arrows could be lighter and use the fall to maintain energy all the way down.

    For fighting back, if you start bringing in crossbows, or especially gunpowder the difficulty starts to change, a crossbow can potentially get a round much higher with effective energy. And unlike IRL i suspect muzzle loading rifled guns would be very popular. I also suspect more aerodynamic bullet shapes would become popular, necessity is the mother of invention after all. All of these would be quite effective with short flight times and consequently much easier aiming, they'd still get some protection from being flyers and the sheer mobility would be incredible but it may not be so hard to hit them as some think.


    The biggest issues i have TBH is that flying humanoids alongside humans only make sense if the two have been separated for some reason until now, otherwise one would have out competed the other early on. Assuming that we come onto the biological factors. Personally whilst i'm not willing to declare flying humanoids impossible without magic i am inclined to feel that they would be very unlikely to evolve naturally and their energy usage in flight would be phenomenal, a normal human mass flyer using the more efficient bird figures of energy per kg of mass would consume a marathons worth of energy every half hour of sustained flight, takeoff would be even more energetic. Quite aside from the question of how they'd get enough oxygen and store enough calories this would have severe implications for their dietary side which is probably going to be the hardest part. They'd not only have to get the usual vitamins and minerals but their caloric intake which would be enormous. To try and put it into perspective if they where to get the bulk of their caloric intake from modern day soft drinks they'd have to drink 15 litres for every hour of flight. really only something like honey or sugar water would do as thats got 15 and 10 times the energy density by weight respectively, (so honey would be best), but how the hell they'd produce it in the several kg's per day per head amounts required i have no idea.

    Even accounting for all that i'd be shocked if they could fly for more than a couple of hours with any kind of extra load without refueling. Thats a serious constraint all of it's own.
    Last edited by Carl; 2018-01-17 at 05:23 AM.

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    Artillery would be hard to move around the field, while the flyers could fly around the land-bound army and pick the weakest point to attack...

    In order to be agile enough the land-bound army would need something like arquebusses, muskets or handgonnes, and shoot potshot. If they tried to rely on cannons, culverins, rockets, mortars... etc., the flyers would just attack before they were deployed, or wait for the land bound army to be in the move..

    As for the flyers, small darts wouldn't do the trick; they would stop accelerating after achieving terminal velocity, and that wouldn't be enough to pierce any armor; you would need heavy darts for that...

    The groundlings could reduce the effectiveness of heavy metal darts using open formations, that way the flyers would have to come within gun range to hit their targets... the problem is, the flyers could still concentrate 100% of their fire against a small portion of the groundling army, then move against the opposite corner unimpeded... The flyers would still have tactical advantage....

    And the flyers woud have access to a devastating weapon: Put a fragmentation grenade inside a ceramic jar filled with oil, nafta or alcohol, cork them, add a wicker, and throw then from any height.... not even open formations would protect against those...

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    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    I was under the impression that practice was mostly done when carrying a crossbow loaded on the march, is that incorrect? Even so, I think dropping hot wax on a crossbow bolt while in the air and possibly being shot at would be tricky to say the least. Still, for the first shot it should help immensely, or if you take a shot and fly out of range to reload. That takes you out of combat for a while though.
    You could pre-glue your bolts before combat and load them into a specialised quiver which holds them in place in the ideal orientation and spacing. Alternately, they could use a Zhuge Nu (Chu ku nu) magazine fed repeating crossbow, relying on their altitude and/or poison to give it lethality.

    Quote Originally Posted by rs2excelsior View Post
    Against a fast-moving target, I don't know how well exploding shell would do without some sort of proximity detonation. They'd be devastating if you managed to land a shot close enough, however.
    Assuming less durability, then the lethal range of the ground defenders' explosives are increased especially if they're shrapnel based.

    Quote Originally Posted by No brains View Post
    Just to check, are we certain that the bones of birds are less durable than those of other animals? I've heard that the honeycombed bones actually make birds' bones stronger, which makes sense to me. If a peregrine falcon were truly delicate, how could its body survive its hunting stoops? I've also heard falconers describe that some birds could crush human hands in their talons without breaking their own bones. Do we have good sources on either data point?
    Doing some digging on the subject, it's a little more complicated than I originally thought: Bone density and the lightweight skeletons of birds, Dumont, 17 Mar 10.

    Doing a direct comparison between the same functional bone between a bird and a mammal, the bird bone is always lighter, but taken overall, the bird's skeleton is of a similar weight to an equivalent sized mammal. This is because bird skeletons are both larger and the bones have been adapted to be more rigid and denser, thus giving it more strength for the equivalent amount of weight.

    That said, they suffer for that rigidity with brittleness, so their bones are less durable and any damage causing a break is more likely to be catastrophic. This is not including catastrophic failure while in flight - a human suffering a broken leg doesn't have as far to fall as flying human breaking a wing while in flight!

    Falcons have developed to withstand that particular type of impact in that particular body part - I seriously doubt that a falcon could take the equivalent force from an arrow or a punch to their body (not that I'm advocating falcon punching as an empirical test).
    Last edited by Brother Oni; 2018-01-17 at 07:44 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    Artillery would be hard to move around the field, while the flyers could fly around the land-bound army and pick the weakest point to attack...

    In order to be agile enough the land-bound army would need something like arquebusses, muskets or handgonnes, and shoot potshot. If they tried to rely on cannons, culverins, rockets, mortars... etc., the flyers would just attack before they were deployed, or wait for the land bound army to be in the move..
    As I mentioned previously, the traits you are accurately describing, the ability to concentrate where the enemy is weak and attack by surprise, attack with harassing weapons from outside of range and so on - are all also attributable to good light cavalry, particularly cavalry archers. If you look at the real world one of the ways they adapted to this threat was war wagons.

    They were used effectively by Czech mercenaries against the Golden Horde and Ottomans, by the Hungarian Black Army against the Turks (again mostly Czech mercenaries), by the Cossacks against the Mongols and Ottomans, and by the Russians. The Ottomans themselves adopted them.

    Obviously it depends on the terrain, but war-wagons serve many purposes - first and perhaps foremost they give you an easy way to carry around your light swivel guns, volley-guns, rockets, and so on. And extra projectiles for crossbows, as well as gunpowder and so on.





    War wagons provide a pretty quick rallying point for both cavalry and infantry. i would imagine in an era of winged attackers wooden walls made to unfold and extend horizontally instead of vertically could help provide cover and concealment.



    In addition, you could have some means to make large quantities of smoke on your wagon. Smoke would be a good defense. And even maybe a place to anchor 'war-kites' :) no idea how effective that could be but I would love to see it.

    Hand mortars (i.e. medieval grenade launchers) could be and definitely were carried on horseback, pre-loaded and ready to go. Maybe too dicey for the actual grenades (unless in the hands of a very skilled operator) but the giant firecracker mode was in use in the 15th Century and could be pretty effective too I bet at disrupting a flying attack and maybe making them crash. Guns too though that is a little dicey - crossbows would be more common in the late medieval (quite ubiquitous).

    As for the flyers, small darts wouldn't do the trick; they would stop accelerating after achieving terminal velocity, and that wouldn't be enough to pierce any armor; you would need heavy darts for that...
    But good for harassing fire - equivalent to flight arrows. I bet they would bother horses. You could also drop caltrops.

    The groundlings could reduce the effectiveness of heavy metal darts using open formations, that way the flyers would have to come within gun range to hit their targets... the problem is, the flyers could still concentrate 100% of their fire against a small portion of the groundling army, then move against the opposite corner unimpeded... The flyers would still have tactical advantage....
    But the 'groundlings' could rally to a wagonberg, which can be put together in minutes.

    And the flyers woud have access to a devastating weapon: Put a fragmentation grenade inside a ceramic jar filled with oil, nafta or alcohol, cork them, add a wicker, and throw then from any height.... not even open formations would protect against those...
    Even just a basic 'naptha coctail' would be pretty dangerous - I think this would indeed be one of the flyers most dangerous weapons. But this would also make them vulnerable to fireworks.

    This almost sounds like it's ready to be a pretty good novel or video game. Certainly a good RPG setting.

    G
    Last edited by Galloglaich; 2018-01-17 at 11:47 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by No brains View Post
    Just to check, are we certain that the bones of birds are less durable than those of other animals? I've heard that the honeycombed bones actually make birds' bones stronger, which makes sense to me. If a peregrine falcon were truly delicate, how could its body survive its hunting stoops? I've also heard falconers describe that some birds could crush human hands in their talons without breaking their own bones. Do we have good sources on either data point?
    Some points on bones.

    The first thing to consider is that bones are not rigid rods of dead rock when they are still in a living organism. Dead bone is a considerably different material in its properties from living bone. Living bone is a very dynamic type of tissue that is constantly being removed and replaced within the body. This is important because bones (and tendons, which are related) are able to adapt to different stresses and situations reasonably quickly, and become very specialised in their functions. Because of this, bones change their internal structure (which is akin to a honeycomb in most bone) to best support the stresses they experience. In most long bones (the type of bone in fingers and talons for example) the stresses are along the length of the bone from muscle contraction and lifting loads/bodyweight. This means the internal structure of the bone is built for withstanding stresses along the bone, and it takes an enormous amount of force to damage a long bone by applying force along its length. They are not adapted for force from the side, so they are easier to snap or crush from this direction. This is why the talons of a large bird of prey may be able to crush a human finger without suffering injury themselves- they are exerting stresses in the correct way for their bones, but the finge is experiencing stresses it is not used to.

    In terms of the strength of bone, as a general rule of thumb, denser bone is stronger. This is only true for organised bone, so some diseases that cause very dense bone can still result in weakened bone (such as some bony metastases in cancer). However, denser bone is obviously heavier, so living creatures have to make sacrifices. Bone density also varies based on the stresses upon the bone- astronauts lose a lot of bone density due less weight bearing when in orbit, and this is one of the most serious health effects of low gravity environments.
    Last edited by Haighus; 2018-01-17 at 12:36 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    Ok finally decided to look back into the thread, been sort of lurking the forums for a few months for various reasons and just not kept up :(. I only got to see part of this discussion in my skim so if i missed too many detail pipe up and let me know.

    First and foremost, arows won't cut it for defenders. Even in an airless environment a 70m/s arrow, (which as i recall is on the fairly fast side), will only got up 250m or about 830ft. Time of flight to max altitude would be just over 7 seconds. Account for slant angle and drag i'd be shocked if you got 400 feet. Assuming an arrow fired up at an angle of 30 degrees from vertical time of fight would be 4 seconds. But in reality effective range might be half that against someone unarmoured.

    .
    So, if arrows have to obey the laws of physics, so do your flyers.

    Human sized flyers would need to be either very very light, or have very very large wings, or be awkward in flight, flying like turkeys, not falcons.

    So, a slow, ponderous dive bomber with a huge wingspan would be easy meat for foot archers or gunners.

    Now, they still would be very useful for scouting and behind the lines raiding and high altitude bombing of soft targets

    I just think the Stuka Men idea only works if you handwave the crap out of flight physics. If you handwave a 100 kg man who can fly like a hawk and shoot a bow while flapping his wings but insist that a longbow arrow can't rise high enough to hit him without making Newton cry, yeah then the flyers win.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    As I mentioned previously, the traits you are accurately describing, the ability to concentrate where the enemy is weak and attack by surprise, attack with harassing weapons from outside of range and so on - are all also attributable to good light cavalry, particularly cavalry archers. If you look at the real world one of the ways they adapted to this threat was war wagons.

    They were used effectively by Czech mercenaries against the Golden Horde and Ottomans, by the Hungarian Black Army against the Turks (again mostly Czech mercenaries), by the Cossacks against the Mongols and Ottomans, and by the Russians. The Ottomans themselves adopted them.

    Obviously it depends on the terrain, but war-wagons serve many purposes - first and perhaps foremost they give you an easy way to carry around your light swivel guns, volley-guns, rockets, and so on. And extra projectiles for crossbows, as well as gunpowder and so on.





    War wagons provide a pretty quick rallying point for both cavalry and infantry. i would imagine in an era of winged attackers wooden walls made to unfold and extend horizontally instead of vertically could help provide cover and concealment.



    In addition, you could have some means to make large quantities of smoke on your wagon. Smoke would be a good defense. And even maybe a place to anchor 'war-kites' :) no idea how effective that could be but I would love to see it.

    Hand mortars (i.e. medieval grenade launchers) could be and definitely were carried on horseback, pre-loaded and ready to go. Maybe too dicey for the actual grenades (unless in the hands of a very skilled operator) but the giant firecracker mode was in use in the 15th Century and could be pretty effective too I bet at disrupting a flying attack and maybe making them crash. Guns too though that is a little dicey - crossbows would be more common in the late medieval (quite ubiquitous).



    But good for harassing fire - equivalent to flight arrows. I bet they would bother horses. You could also drop caltrops.



    But the 'groundlings' could rally to a wagonberg, which can be put together in minutes.



    Even just a basic 'naptha coctail' would be pretty dangerous - I think this would indeed be one of the flyers most dangerous weapons. But this would also make them vulnerable to fireworks.

    This almost sounds like it's ready to be a pretty good novel or video game. Certainly a good RPG setting.

    G
    About war wagons, light cavalry still is constrained by the terrain. If you expect them to attack you, you can deduce where are they going to come from, and send your own light cavalry scouts so you get an early warning...

    Flyers wouldn't be constrained by terrain, they could appear literally from anywhere. And they probably can outpace your light cavalry scouts (who would be slowed by hills, woods, rivers, swamps...etc.)... so you will have trouble setting your wagonberg on time.

    I also remember reading that the knightly armies opposing the hussites never tried to ambush and surprise attack the war wagon convoys before they had time to form the wagonberg, and they never tried to mount a literal siege against a wagonberg... so the effectivity of war wagons may be largely due to poor tactics from their opponents...

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_G View Post
    So, if arrows have to obey the laws of physics, so do your flyers.

    Human sized flyers would need to be either very very light, or have very very large wings, or be awkward in flight, flying like turkeys, not falcons.

    So, a slow, ponderous dive bomber with a huge wingspan would be easy meat for foot archers or gunners.

    Now, they still would be very useful for scouting and behind the lines raiding and high altitude bombing of soft targets

    I just think the Stuka Men idea only works if you handwave the crap out of flight physics. If you handwave a 100 kg man who can fly like a hawk and shoot a bow while flapping his wings but insist that a longbow arrow can't rise high enough to hit him without making Newton cry, yeah then the flyers win.
    A winged humanoid just couldn't fly at all. Period.

    If we accept that they are humanlike beings who can fly, then we have to assume they are human only on the outside, and that their insides are something completly alien, different not just from mammals, but from any vertebrate...

    So maybe they can fly like a flesh helicopter while shooting arrows or darts. Maybe they drink ethanol and use it as effectively as a Rotax 914 does...
    Last edited by Clistenes; 2018-01-17 at 03:43 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post

    A winged humanoid just couldn't fly at all. Period.

    If we accept that they are humanlike beings who can fly, then we have to assume they are human only on the outside, and that their insides are something completly alien, different not just from mammals, but from any vertebrate...

    So maybe they can fly like a flesh helicopter while shooting arrows or darts. Maybe they drink ethanol and use it as effectively as a Rotax 914 does...
    Which is why this is a question we can really only answer if we nail down the ground rules.

    If the flyers are "every bit as good as leg infantry, but they can fly" then they are going to be pretty much unbeatable.

    If they are big and strong as regular humans, but can only fly low and slow and can't carry much, that's one scenario. If they are smaller and weaker and can't wear armor or use bows, but can fly high and be very maneuverable, that's a different scenario.

    If you want to look at more "realism" then they need to be fairly light, and have big wings compared to their bodies and have limited carrying capacity and limited ability to wear armor. Sure you can make up anything in fantasy, but "How do we fight angry pixies" is a different question from "How do we fight Superman"

    The usefulness of both your flyers and the countermeasures depend on the capabilities you give the flyers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    About war wagons, light cavalry still is constrained by the terrain. If you expect them to attack you, you can deduce where are they going to come from, and send your own light cavalry scouts so you get an early warning...

    Flyers wouldn't be constrained by terrain, they could appear literally from anywhere. And they probably can outpace your light cavalry scouts (who would be slowed by hills, woods, rivers, swamps...etc.)... so you will have trouble setting your wagonberg on time.
    There was a famous standoff between the forces of George of Podebrady and Matthias Corvinus in the 1470's - George's army was heavy in infantry and war-wagons, Matthias' army was heavy in light cavalry (Hungarian Hussars). Jan Dlugosz noted that the issue was that the light cavalry was able to get up into the hills where the war - wagons couldn't reach, but they could not risk coming to grips with the wagons. So I think the analogy is actually pretty close.

    As for how long it takes to set a wagonberg -the wagons could provide cover without creating a fort. They were often used this way - the Czechs would for example send out a small group of 3-4 wagons with a banner of infantry and a few lances - the wagons are there for cover and fire support but there aren't enough of them to form a wagonberg.

    I also remember reading that the knightly armies opposing the hussites never tried to ambush and surprise attack the war wagon convoys before they had time to form the wagonberg, and they never tried to mount a literal siege against a wagonberg... so the effectivity of war wagons may be largely due to poor tactics from their opponents...
    No offense but I think you remember wrong. Or more precisely, most histories of the use of medieval war wagons are cursory and typically only focus on the early years of the Hussite Wars in the 1420's.

    So I hope you will forgive a diversion into their history

    War-wagons are documented as being used in what you might call the 'Late Medieval' manner including with guns, from back into the third quarter of 14th Century and into the 17th - they were involved in almost every kind of military situation you can think of. The Swiss used them, the Germans used them, the Poles used them, the Lithuanians used them in their Genoese financed 'Crusade' against the Golden Horde from 1397-1399. The Teutonic Knights used them in the Hunger War and in the 13 Years War and other conflicts, the Cossacks used them routinely and so on. They faced everything from knights to Ottoman Sipahi to every kind of light cavalry, horse archer etc. you can imagine.

    The specific Czech / Hussite war wagon tactics (basically incrementally improved over earlier uses) were used in the initial phase of the Hussite Wars in the 1420's as you often read about, then also in the later stages including the 'Beautiful Rides' (brutal raids) into neighboring lands for hundreds of miles around Bohemia, and then in the Hussite civil war, then in the 1460's - 1470's in wars against Hungary - and by Czech mercenaries in the Fekete Sereg against the Ottomans all through the 15th Century, and so on.

    In fact, not only were there dozens of cases where there were attempts to ambush columns, the wagons in several cases were actively used in moving columns to flank enemy cavalry. Not always successful but often they were. The last time I know of was by the Muscovites against the Crimean Horde at Molodi in 1572.

    The Cossacks were still using War Wagons effectively against the Poles in the 17th Century.

    This old 1950's communist era historical movie about the (15th Century) Hussite Wars from the Czechs gives you an idea how long it takes for a war wagon column to deploy into a berg (i.e., not long, maybe about forty five seconds to a minute? Maybe twice that to set up the guns and everything. But it's a far cry from the sort of Monty Python comedy of errors you might envision.) Their flexibility in deployment was key to their effective use. Their main opponent was cavalry after all.

    https://youtu.be/WGfBUG44w8g?t=250

    Of course that means you still need some advanced warning, so you would need good scouts - this was a key aspect of the Hussite system (Jan Ziska famously mounted Czech scouts on captured Crusader horses and armed them with crossbows.) Assuming you have scouts out with signaling ability (whistling arrows, noisemakers, flares etc.) and presumably, something like spyglasses or binoculars (both available in the 15th Century) and depending on the terrain, weather and so on, you should be able to be ready for an attack. Not always probably, but I would think often enough.

    In this Polish movie about the Deluge (set in the 17th Century) you can similarly see a substantial Cossack army relying on their Czech style war-wagons to carry their light and medium sized guns, and to form barriers, again very rapidly. You can see the tabor being opened at 1:11. At 1:28 you can see the Cossacks retreating back into their wagonburg after a feinted sortie and preparing their swivel guns at 1:34.

    https://youtu.be/4j4AYK8KGKU?t=58

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    As for the flyers, small darts wouldn't do the trick; they would stop accelerating after achieving terminal velocity, and that wouldn't be enough to pierce any armor; you would need heavy darts for that...
    So the modern weapon I linked to last thread used gravity powered 0.5oz (13g) projectile that would have pierced armour:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazy_Dog_(bomb)

    Shape 5, an improved basic Lazy Dog slug, had the force of a .50 caliber bullet and could penetrate 24 inches (61 cm) of packed sand. Shape 2 could penetrate 12 inches (30 cm) of sand — twice as much as a .45 caliber slug fired point blank.

    Regardless of how they were released into the air, each "Lazy Dog" projectile would develop an enormous amount of kinetic energy as it fell, penetrating nearly any material upon hitting the ground. Some reports[citation needed] say that their speeds often exceeded 500 mph before impact.

    But I wondered how far they'd have to fall to reach say 500mph and I used this online calculator because my physics is weak:

    https://www.angio.net/personal/climb/speed

    Calculator seems to ignore the effect of air resistance but should be good enough for rule of thumb with dense aerodynamic objects.

    This has a 13g projectile reaching 812.68kmh (bit over 500mph) at 2,500 metres fall. It takes 23 seconds to arrive and hits with 331 joules. I assume this would pierce armour but it's a bloody long way up.

    It might be better to use heavier projectile from a lower height. From say 200 metres, we can use a 150g dart to hit for 294 joules in 6 seconds. That seems like it may be more practical. But of course you get x10 as many projectiles with the lighter darts.

    Either way, your human strength flyer can carry quite a few projectiles. It shouldn't be carrying just two or three very heavy darts except for specialist missions, but rather dozens or hundreds to drop on formations. I suspect there's probably a sweet spot there somewhere between the mile-high saturation attacks and precision javelin sniping from near-ground level but I don't think it's easy to determine where it lies.
    Last edited by Mr Beer; 2018-01-17 at 06:02 PM.
    Re: 100 Things to Beware of that Every DM Should Know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    93. No matter what the character sheet say, there are only 3 PC alignments: Lawful Snotty, Neutral Greedy, and Chaotic Backstabbing.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    So I have had a good think about possible biology for plausible (non-magical) bird humans. I am not going to go into much detail of how they evolve, because the proposed model of being like a stereotypical angel, with separate arms and wings, would be extremely implausible to evolve when all other vertebrates operate the same 4 limbs principle. A true flying humanoid is more likely to be like a bat, and not having access to the arms for operating weapons would drastically reduce their combat potential, with dive bombing and blind bombing using simple drops from handheld munitions being the only practical aerial attack methods ( I doubt they would be able to use belts/pouches whilst flying). In a bat-like scenario, they would be limited to the (still very useful) intelligence and communication roles.

    First of all- size and weight.

    The heaviest flying (and arguably largest) known bird ever is this beast, Argentavis magnificens. It is estimated to have weighed about 70kg, a height of 1-2m and have a wingspan of 5-6m. This conveniently puts it at about the size and weight of a skinny human with wings instead of arms. So as a very quick proof-of-concept, flying humans could work on a biological level.

    We can expect a humanoid that is capable of reasonable function on the ground (so walking and using arms as a normal human can) will have a much greater weight burden than a bird, which is focussed on flying. Therefore our flying humans have several options:
    An even greater wingspan than above (this has increasingly diminishing returns)
    Some reduced function over normal humans, the easiest would be very underdeveloped legs which would result in much poorer walking ability
    Reduced size of the human attached to the wings, to bring the weight down.

    The info we have been given about these birdpeople is that they are similar in size to normal humans, and have similar capabilities to humans, but with the addition of flying. I think it is reasonable to expect a degree of reduced function in walking and running endurance, due to lack of use compared to a conditioned human, and that could drop the weight by 10kg or so at most.

    Lets assume a slim human of roughly average height, about 50kg (7st. 12Ib) and 1.6m (5' 3"). This is without wings. The size of wings that would be needed to support this is pretty big. Birds apparently have a wing-loading between 1-20kg/m2, and the theoretical upper limit to maintain avian flight is 25kg/m2. The Argentavis bird above had a wing loading of 8.6kg/m2. At a wing loading of 20kg/m2, the wing area would have to be 2.3m2 just to support the body, not including the wings themselves. However, this seems to be for ungainly birds like waterfowl and waders, which don't need good aerodynamics. Our flying humans probably have to be fairly manoeuvrable, so lets use the wing loading for Argentavis, as it was a bird of prey and may have hunted.

    Working out the weight of the wings themselves has been challenging. However, I found this source, which states that the wings of a bald eagle weigh about 0.9kg for a 2.3m wingspan, and I've discovered that the similarly sized and closely related white-tailed eagle has a wing area of about 0.9m2. This means about 1kg per m2 of wing. From this, we can work out a very rough estimate of how much wing is needed to carry our birdperson with a wing loading of 8.6kg/m2. This gives 5.8m2 for our human weight, and a wing area of about 6.6m2 when including the weight of the wings. Using the size of Argentavis' wingspan compared to wing area, we can work out a wingspan of roughly 7.6m.

    This gives the total size of our bird people as about 55kg, with a wingspan of 7.6m. This is not hugely bigger than Argentavis, so we can assume our bird people are reasonably manouevrable, but would have great difficulty in taking off. This is their most vulnerable time. They also would be far less agile than falcons and eagles and hawks, and would only be able to sustain rapid flight for brief periods (flapping the huge wings). This is likely also an underestimate- I've not taken into account the differences in musculature across the shoulders and chest needed to operate the wings, and this would likely add a good few kilos more, and correspondingly more wing space (apparently, flapping muscles require ~17% of a bird's bodyweight). In addition, the wings themselves may need to be a bit heavier near to the torso to support their own weights, so my wing weight estimates are likely too low. I may come back and redo my calculations to take into account a beefy chest for wing flapping.


    Speed needed to maintain flight.

    Argentavis apparently needs at least a speed of 11m/s (24.6mph, 39.6kph) to sustain flight. I would suspect a similar speed would be needed for our flying human, as we have given it the same wing loading. The cruising speed for large birds is around this speed too, so basically our bird people would likely stay at about 25-30mph the majority of the time. Interestingly, the maximum gliding speed increases with the size of the bird, so the bird folk could glide as fast as 20mph with little effort. With favourable conditions (slope and thermal soaring) they could reach speeds of 40mph, but this would only be sustainable as long as these conditions persist. Slope soaring requires mountains and hills, so mountainous regions would increase their mobility drastically. The upper limit of speed for birds in a dive can vary considerably, and large birds like eagles can reach 200mph, but I doubt our flying humans would be able to tolerate these speeds with their excessively large wingspan, and would struggle to pull out of such a dive without damaging something or doing it very gradually (so high off the ground). In addition, after a dive, they would struggle to regain altitude without a thermal, meaning they would be vulnerable to ground fire after they stuka-dive enemies. Related to this, the maximum altitude of such large birds is often around 5000m, especially if they can hitch lifts on thermals. Bird people would not be able to reach those heights easily, would be able to see very little, have little ability to hit even an army and would take awhile to descend. I think these heights would only be used for long-range scouting and observation. An operating height of about 500m seems much more practical for combat purposes, and if they operated their supply bases from cliff-tops, they would be able to land and take off easily. Flat plains areas would be the regions they expend most energy to operate (gaining altitude) and take the longest to get into position. In fact, it may be impossible for them to take off from flat terrain without a suitable headwind to generate lift. These are the best regions if you want to defend against them or attack. Mountains would be a nightmare to combat them. Attacking on a windless day would also make it more difficult for them.


    Next up- power output and energy consumption.

    So, again using Argentavis as our best available comparison, this beast requires 3.5 times more energy than it could sustainably output. The flying humans would need even more energy to maintain powered flight, and would likely be even more underpowered for flapping due to it's shared biolgy with arms. So from this, it is safe to assume our birdpeople are gliders, that can only sustain flapping for a brief period (such as takeoff) before suffering fatigue. This makes their combat potential very limited in endurance, unless they simply glide over. There is going to be no agile dives and regaining altitude quickly, at most short dives and dropping payload, before leaving the area to rearm and report back observations. Because of this lack of available power, their flight paths are also going to be considerably more predictable, because they can only sustain erratic course corrections briefly. Therefore firearms could be reasonably effective shooting on-mass.

    The power estimated for Argentavis to maintain flight is 600w, but is negligible when gliding or soaring. Our bird people have larger wings and a less efficient aerodynamic weight, although are slightly lighter, so their necessary sustained power could well be considerably higher. I don't have the measurements or algorithms needed to calculate this, but I would not be surprised if it was double. Lets say 1,000w. This is 1,000J per second of active flying, so take-off and combat manouevring is going to be hugely energy intensive- 1 minute of active flying is 60kJ. A normal human requires at least 7,500kJ per day, according to the World Health Organisation, so that is the energy level for basic human metabolism plus some daily activity. Combat flying is likely to add several thousand more kilojoules of energy to that total, maybe even doubling it, if they run a lot of sorties. This is possible to eat, humans can consume 15,000kJ of energy per day, and have to in conditions like cystic fibrosis. This is going to require essentially 50% more rations for actively flying troops per day, and they are going to exhaust themselves pretty quickly in repeated attacks with their low sustainable power threshold. Launching from a clifftop would reduce the energy costs considerably and aid logistics. Simply scouting and remaining at altitude could be far more efficient than walking though, so using the flyers for reconnaisance would be logistically easier.

    When laden with a combat load, taking off on the flat would be impossible without assistance (catapult maybe?) and gaining altitude would require thermals and wind with the poor sustainable power. Combat flying would also be drastically affected until munitions are offloaded. Armour at best would be thin cloth (this could prove fatal with rain), but that may be enough to protect against light arrows at the top of their arcs at higher altitudes.


    Combat

    Active flying largely uses the pectoralis muscle on the anterior chest wall. This muscle also acts on human arms, but is not that involved in throwing or drawing a bow. In gliding flight, it could be used to stabilise the shoulder whilst light weapons are thrown or drawn, but it would be impossible to utilise the back muscles for throwing/drawing a bow without destabilising the flight. It may be possible to accept a temporay drop and then recover into stable flight, but I think in practice gravity will be doing most of the work for projectiles. A dropped soliferrum would still be effective, although a dropped pebble is going to be fairly unimpressive. Medium sized rocks are probably the minimum for useful damage, other than caltrops. The limited munitions due to weight is also an issue, along side balance and storage. Flying with a bag would be disruptive to aerodynamics, so I wouldn't be surprised if such flyers were limited to just an item in each hand, and maybe some small gear on belts. In addition, incendiaries would be pretty much impossible to light on the wing, and fuses could only be lit prior to flying if the supply base is near to the combat. Thankfully, I think these are pretty limited in scope, unless the bird folk develop some kind of working percussion fuse in a suitably lightweight device. If they do, making the fuses unreliable could be a good way to balance this.


    Summary

    The bird folk could fly, and could eat enough to do it, but their combat capabilities would be limited without nearby resupply, they would tire easily in such conditions, would be very vulnerable without suitable terrain to take off, and their poor ability to dodge and enormous wingspan would make them huge targets if they come within range of the ground folks' weaponry. Huge vulnerable targets, seeing as it wouldn't take much damage to a wing to make it either lame or unable to sustain sufficient lift. Any such injury whilst flying would likely result in a greater proportion of casualties than ground troops too, so the risks are greater. Scouting, communication, observation and spying seem like by far the best options for employing flying troops, as well as ambushes in favourable regions. They would rule the mountains, but fear the plains.
    Last edited by Haighus; 2018-01-17 at 07:46 PM.

  28. - Top - End - #28
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    *snip*
    Well, you obviously have done your research, so I have to concede that war wagons were very effective.

    But if we are speaking of this thread's flyers, I still think they could still reach the convoys before they had time to prepare their defenses.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Beer View Post
    *snip*.
    I find it quite surprising that a mere 13 g kinetic bombardment projectile could pack such power. I guess their aerodinamic shape helped quite a lot to reduce air resistance and achive high terminal velocity...

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Clistenes View Post
    Well, you obviously have done your research, so I have to concede that war wagons were very effective.

    But if we are speaking of this thread's flyers, I still think they could still reach the convoys before they had time to prepare their defenses.



    I find it quite surprising that a mere 13 g kinetic bombardment projectile could pack such power. I guess their aerodinamic shape helped quite a lot to reduce air resistance and achive high terminal velocity...
    I find it very surprising too. I wonder if they would be able to make such efficient darts in a medieval tech setting. Flying at 1000m altitude and dropping 50 of those each whilst travelling over a moving convoy could certainly cause some casualties even with the low accuracy. At least a great harassment method.

    As for war wagons and time- flying enemies can be seen from further away than enemies hiding in terrain. It would be hard to ambush unless they are flying very low (and thus vulnerable to retaliation) or in mountainous terrain where they can leap off cliffs. Also, a scout picket with horns or bugles could be used to provide advance warning of incoming flyers if necessary.

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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armor or Tactics Question? Mk. XXV

    Quote Originally Posted by Galloglaich View Post
    This almost sounds like it's ready to be a pretty good novel or video game. Certainly a good RPG setting.

    G
    I certainly hope that's the case

    Quote Originally Posted by Haighus View Post
    So I have had a good think about possible biology for plausible (non-magical) bird humans.

    -snip-

    Summary

    The bird folk could fly, and could eat enough to do it, but their combat capabilities would be limited without nearby resupply, they would tire easily in such conditions, would be very vulnerable without suitable terrain to take off, and their poor ability to dodge and enormous wingspan would make them huge targets if they come within range of the ground folks' weaponry. Huge vulnerable targets, seeing as it wouldn't take much damage to a wing to make it either lame or unable to sustain sufficient lift. Any such injury whilst flying would likely result in a greater proportion of casualties than ground troops too, so the risks are greater. Scouting, communication, observation and spying seem like by far the best options for employing flying troops, as well as ambushes in favourable regions. They would rule the mountains, but fear the plains.
    Wow. I'd come here expecting a bit of discussion on medieval weaponry. I hadn't expected an in-depth analysis of the flight physics of winged humanoids. This is awesome, and also the reason I love this forum

    I'll be honest, I hadn't put much thought into their evolution or biology. Flying humanoids were simply a neat fantasy trope I decided to use (and, most likely, not the most biologically implausible one at that). I'll definitely work in some of this when I work up their place in the setting.

    Along these lines, that indicates they'd probably focus on producing fairly high-calorie foods. Any suggestions? Primarily plants or meat? I think meat has a higher energy density, but also requires more energy to produce (since you have to feed an animal more than 1 calorie of food to produce 1 calorie of edible meat).

    Interesting points about the plains as well. I'd thought about putting the centers of human resistance in a mountainous region; I might change that. Heavy forests, perhaps--negates many of the advantages of the flyers while still causing difficulties for their ground troops. For that matter, heavy forest would make it incredibly difficult for flyers to actually attack their targets, or even see them.
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