medieval crossbow replica tests shooting at mild steel replica breastplate

Discussion in 'Shooting, Hunting and Fishing' started by detmold_padbrat, Nov 30, 2010.

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  1. detmold_padbrat
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    detmold_padbrat LE

    I have been buggering around with a mates latest purchase. there are much better on here would know how to do proper ballistic tests I am sure !! thought you might like to see...
    YouTube - 15th century crossbow
  2. Wordsmith
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    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    Interesting. Three questions:

    1) How do you know your armour replicates the armour of the time? Metallurgy was a lot more primitive in those days and they didn't use much in the way of alloying elements. Carbon was about as far as it went.

    2) Does the velocity of your crossbow match that of contemporary crossbows?

    3) How do your results match that described in contemporary literature?

    Wordsmith
  3. tich23
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    tich23 Old-Salt

    Another thought, the breastplate has little to hold it down, so as soon it is hit, it moves/vibrates, which may have an effect on the quarrel, i.e. bouncing off. If breastplate is tied to a post or such and can't move, in other words simulating a 5 feet something/x stone bloke on the backside, would the quarrel impact have greater effect, ergo it may penetrate.
  4. detmold_padbrat
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    detmold_padbrat LE

    some good points.
    1) armour could have been heat treated, and was on the best german armours in particular, but on munition armour it was not (almain rivets) however, I suspect the plate was more wrought iron than mild steel, it would have definitely had a grain difference.
    2) not sure, though I have seen prods on original crossbows a good deal thicker than this one.
    30 not sure, the crossbow was frowned on for too long in England ! too slow a rate of fire as compared to archery.
  5. detmold_padbrat
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    detmold_padbrat LE

    Good point, it became more apparant when seen in slo mo. maybe as you say the engery was dispersed by the plate vibrating and moving. The wooden shafts on the bolts were splintering, they should have been made from ash, not ramin dowel ! (which is cack) the bolts that came with it had mild steel points which bent up and did not penetrate, the forged ones I made from en42 punched the holes, but did not have enough force to go right through. strangely, the super heavy bolt made a smaller hole than the standard en42 one, I would have thought it would have gone through, but it didnt.
  6. Wordsmith
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    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    Re crossbow v longbow...

    It may be worth comparing the long bow results from medieval literature - Froissart's Chronicles (although a century too early) is one source than comes to mind.

    I seem to remember reading an account of a long bow sending an arrow through one thickness of chain mail, the knight's leg, another thickness of chain mail, his saddle and into the knight's horse - which is a lot more penetrative power than in your video.

    I also seem to remember (need to check the references) that the English archers at Agincourt penetrated French armour.

    Interesting thread...

    Wordsmith
  7. brighton hippy
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    brighton hippy LE

    Thing is a proper english war bow takes years to master.
    that said until percussion cap rifles came along nothing else could match it on the battlefield.
    thats why it fell out of favour not enough of uglys and gravelbellys forefarthers spending all sunday shooting arrows
  8. detmold_padbrat
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    detmold_padbrat LE

    the word "armour" is fairly nebulous. Chain mail, leather and padded linen were all used, in the vid the bolt goes through a jack of 30 layers of linen and a one eigth thick veg tanned leather covering with ease. The ref with the knight pinned to saddle, chain mail, leg , saddle (leather and padding) and into horse, very beleivable, though the arrow was probably tipped with a needle bodkin point which was very effective against such materials , but not against plate, as it would bend up being so acutely pointed. needle bods were an early arrow which we have examples of from the 12th cent, well before plate armour, later they were (in places) replaced by the more familiar pattern shorter bodkin, which would not bend in contact with plate.
  9. Gassing_Badgers
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    Gassing_Badgers LE

    John Keegan explored some of this in "The Face of Battle".


    I think he concluded that it was unlikley that the longbow could have penetrated plate armour at all but the very closest ranges, and that in the case of Agincourt, the primary value of the arrow storm was to goad the French mounted men-at-arms to charge into what was effectively a medieval anti-tank obstacle.


    I'm sure there was something on TV about this recently, in which they investigated the ability of arrows and bolts to penetrate plate steel.
  10. detmold_padbrat
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    detmold_padbrat LE

    The Face of Battle by Keegan, absolute classic ! I read it ages ago. thanks for reminding.Obviously a complex subject. Still cant work out why the heavier bolt wasnt as good, after all Id rather hit my thumb with a 2 pound than a 5 pound hammer dropped from the same height. goes to show you can never assume.

    if missile weapons were so effective then there would not have been any other type of medeival soldier. The "shock" element would have been superceded (knights, men at arms and billmen for example) which clearly they werent.
  11. Wordsmith
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    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

  12. guzzijon
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    guzzijon LE

  13. Beerhunter
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    Beerhunter War Hero

    Where did the crossbow come from?

    I have been looking for set of plans to build one for years. Anyone?
  14. FourEM
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    FourEM LE

    Dont Leeds Armouries carry that kind of info ?? Might be worth dropping them a call
  15. There is a flaw with your comparison. Firing two weights of bolt from the same crossbow will not result in both flying as fast as the crossbow will only have so much tension in the limbs to propel the projectile. Two different weight hammers dropped from the same height will have the same acceleration due to gravity and will therefore be travelling as fast.

    Kinetic energy, the energy that allows the bolt to penetrate the armour, is half the mass times the velocity squared, so something travelling twice as fast has four times the energy. The relationship between force applied, by the limbs of the crossbow, and the final speed is inversely proportional with respect to the mass. However, lighter projectiles will have a worse ballistic coefficient and their energy will drop away faster as it flies through the air.
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