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  1. - Top - End - #121
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_G View Post
    While others have mentioned the unlikelihood of stone age people figuring it out, a bronze age civilization is quite plausible. To make bronze you need an infrastructure, you need to be able to mine and smelt ores, so an accidental discovery of explosive would very probably lead to further experimentation. And I'm pretty confident the ancient Egyptians or Greeks could figure out a use for gunpowder.
    We might've seen more rocket-swords. History could've used more rocket-swords.

    I kid, but the rocket-swords were legitimately impressive, also coming in incendiary and explosive variations, and were the inspiration for the British Congreve rockets.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mysorean_rockets
    Last edited by AdAstra; 2020-11-15 at 09:53 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    To Mike G’s point, again, the issue wasn’t the theoretical technical capability to harness natural law. If you can smelt and practice Bronze Age medicine, you almost certainly have the theoretical capability for black powder. Then again, you have the theoretical capability for a steam engine, an early electric grid, and a great deal of what we think of as industrial revolution tech.

    The gap between the theoretical and the practical can be enormous, and the gap between the obvious ability to do a thing in hindsight and the ability to even conceive of such a thing being done, let alone harness enough of society to the idea, can often be wider. We have Greeks mapping the solar system in models...it’s not like they lacked the math, or the metal, to accomplish most of what you could have found in the late renaissance and parts of the industrial revolution. But that’s a long way from saying it was in any way likely.

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

    Well, the original question was is there a technological reason that a bronze age civilization couldn't have developed gunpowder.

    I think the short answer is "no."
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  4. - Top - End - #124
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    I definitely agree that is not impossible for a bronze age civilization to invent the gunpowder, but I think there is a need for a caveat: while incendiaries and explosives are not improbable, firearms are.

    To elaborate: firearms need advances in metallurgy, which (if we are talking about anything like historical Bronze Age civilization) wasn't there yet. Bronze metallurgy necessary for firearms is very different from that required for swords, it took significant amount of time to figure it out after gunpowder was already there. Iron is even trickier - cannons continued to be made primarily from bronze for even longer time, because making a large, sufficiently homogeneous inclusion-free casting is really hard.

    Explosive pottery vessels of all sizes can be used, however concussion is likely to be a primary damaging factor. Making a hand grenade with good fragmentation took a long time IRL, higher ductility of a bronze will make it even worse. Mines, petards, fougasses and other "engineering" explosive charges can be in theory made really early. Incendiaries of all kinds (carcass bombs lobbed by the catapults, fire lances, fire arrows, incendiary rockets) can be made about as effective as their IRL counterparts, assuming they are used at least once in a while to be refined based on practical experience.
    Last edited by Saint-Just; 2020-11-16 at 04:14 PM.

  5. - Top - End - #125
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    Continuing the discussion on gunpowder, but on a different tangent: is there any sort of technological prerequisite which would prevent a Bronze Age society from developing black powder?
    Very technically no, but it's one thing to invent it and quite another to do anything useful with it. Firearms have already been discussed as impossible on account of metallurgy, so let's focus on other uses.

    Grenades

    Well, first of all, it will take you quite a bit of time before you get ones that are safe to carrry, convenient to use and so forth. Clay pot with some powder does not a good weapon make, you need at least some string to set it off, and that string has to not go out as you throw it. Also consider that early gunpowder isn't terribly explode-y in the first place and has a lot of inefficiency - some of that can be mitigated by prepareing it the right way (mix with water and dry into flakes, granulation etc), but all of that costs resources.

    Much more damningly, what are you using them against? Yeah, sure, you do get the occassional civilization with large enough standing armies to make it practical, but that will not be the case everywhere. At this point, you're investing a lot of time and money into a weapon that will maybe be useful at some point.

    Incendiaries

    Gunpowder isn't all that great at setting things on fire either. Yeah, there are receipes for incendiary arrows that use gunpowder, but the most effective ones don't use just that - instead, gunpowder is there to provide initial kick that will not get snuffed out by arrow flight, and resin is what does the lasting burn that sets things on fire. Fire pots work much the same way.

    Sure, gunpowder will work, but that's mostly true if you already have a massive amount of it because you need it for cannons and muskets, since incendiary devices are a very niche thing anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    To Mike G’s point, again, the issue wasn’t the theoretical technical capability to harness natural law. If you can smelt and practice Bronze Age medicine, you almost certainly have the theoretical capability for black powder. Then again, you have the theoretical capability for a steam engine, an early electric grid, and a great deal of what we think of as industrial revolution tech. [...] it’s not like they lacked the math, or the metal, to accomplish most of what you could have found in the late renaissance and parts of the industrial revolution. But that’s a long way from saying it was in any way likely.
    This is, for the most part, a myth that came from the worship of classical era, or to be more charitable, from some historian seeing a greek steam engine and getting excited without understanding the engineering side of things.

    Industrial revolution has a single bottleneck requirement - metallurgy good enough to manufacture boilers capable of holding high pressures. If you don't have that, you can make some steam tech, but it won't be able to do much. Electrical grid is even worse, since most of its uses need some advanced manufacturing tech (lightbulbs with glassmaking, vacuum sealing, engines need electromagnets).
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Saint-Just View Post
    I definitely agree that is not impossible for a bronze age civilization to invent the gunpowder, but I think there is a need for a caveat: while incendiaries and explosives are not improbable, firearms are.

    To elaborate: firearms need advances in metallurgy, which (if we are talking about anything like historical Bronze Age civilization) wasn't there yet. Bronze metallurgy necessary for firearms is very different from that required for swords, it took significant amount of time to figure it out after gunpowder was already there. Iron is even trickier - cannons continued to be made primarily from bronze for even longer time, because making a large, sufficiently homogeneous inclusion-free casting is really hard.

    Explosive pottery vessels of all sizes can be used, however concussion is likely to be a primary damaging factor. Making a hand grenade with good fragmentation took a long time IRL, higher ductility of a bronze will make it even worse. Mines, petards, fougasses and other "engineering" explosive charges can be in theory made really early. Incendiaries of all kinds (carcass bombs lobbed by the catapults, fire lances, fire arrows, incendiary rockets) can be made about as effective as their IRL counterparts, assuming they are used at least once in a while to be refined based on practical experience.
    What's the limiting factor on cast bronze cannon? Cast bronze pieces of substantial size go back quite a ways (such as Shang ceremonial pieces), and could in the right contexts be made very durable (such as naval rams, which were cast in one piece and built to absorb a dramatic shock).

    Quote Originally Posted by Martin Greywolf View Post
    This is, for the most part, a myth that came from the worship of classical era, or to be more charitable, from some historian seeing a greek steam engine and getting excited without understanding the engineering side of things.

    Industrial revolution has a single bottleneck requirement - metallurgy good enough to manufacture boilers capable of holding high pressures. If you don't have that, you can make some steam tech, but it won't be able to do much. Electrical grid is even worse, since most of its uses need some advanced manufacturing tech (lightbulbs with glassmaking, vacuum sealing, engines need electromagnets).
    This was the main reason for my question; I knew this and that industrial technologies typically have significant hurdles that appear in small ways not obvious to the modern layperson, and was wondering if one applied to the manufacture of gunpowder.

  7. - Top - End - #127
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    What's the limiting factor on cast bronze cannon? Cast bronze pieces of substantial size go back quite a ways (such as Shang ceremonial pieces), and could in the right contexts be made very durable (such as naval rams, which were cast in one piece and built to absorb a dramatic shock).



    This was the main reason for my question; I knew this and that industrial technologies typically have significant hurdles that appear in small ways not obvious to the modern layperson, and was wondering if one applied to the manufacture of gunpowder.
    Basically, no. Every ingredient in gunpowder is something that could conceivably have been produced in the Bronze Age. The chance of someone actually discovering it would be very low, but the technical capacity was there.

    -Saltpeter/Potassium Nitrate in mineral form was being extracted as early as 300 BC in India. Extraction from things like Bat guano is also not a particularly complicated process.

    -Sulphur can be found near volcanos in pretty much pure form, so that's not a major concern.

    -Charcoal is charcoal.

    Fuses merely require a different formulation of gunpowder that burns slower. They require no additional ingredients other than something to hold the powder. Slow matches only require the nitrate.

    Even if you couldn't manufacture full-sized cannons, you could make rockets out of bronze or bamboo, and use that to make fire arrows or things similar to the Mysorean Rockets. That should be of use, especially in combination with incendiary agents that were available at the time.
    Last edited by AdAstra; 2020-11-17 at 01:35 AM.
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  8. - Top - End - #128
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Forgive me if this is a distraction from the thread, for I offer no real world explanation. But the topic seems to have gone to what various levels of societies are capable of with different technologies- to that end, I'd recommend a few novel series in the subgenre of military history with advanced knowledge in primitive worlds.

    The Belisaurius series, by David Drake and Eric Flint lets the Romans fight a militarized India that goes up through armored Steamships and primitive tanks.

    The Safehold Series by David Weber spends a lot of time on cannon development of bronze and iron, and the limitations of various materials.

    And in more brief form, The Empire of Man series by David Weber and John Ringo talks a bit about the requisite industries required to create mass produced military firearms.

    Enjoy!

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

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    What's the limiting factor on cast bronze cannon? Cast bronze pieces of substantial size go back quite a ways (such as Shang ceremonial pieces), and could in the right contexts be made very durable (such as naval rams, which were cast in one piece and built to absorb a dramatic shock).
    Disclaimer: I am not a metallurgist, not even an amateur one (though would a modern metallurgist know what kinds of metals and techniques were available in the particular point in the past, or is it more a history of technology?)

    I suppose that there is no absolute limiting factor on cast bronze cannons, but a multitude of small ones. One I know about: impurities which made bronze-age bronze softer or brittler than Early Modern bronze. It's not as if it was impossible to produce purer bronze (or purer bronze constituents before making them into bronze) but some technologies wasn't there, and some were known but were highly uneconomical. Rams mostly needed to survive compressive stresses instead of tensile stresses. So maybe people who could make ram could make a cannon or maybe they couldn't, too much uncertainties to speculate. Since Shang ceremonial pieces are, well... ceremonial they also do not prove or disprove the ability to make cannons.

    I have just looked at the history of the naval ram and found a bigger problem: ram seems to be invented well after the Bronze Age collapse, so properly speaking it was not a Bronze Age technology. This points me to a possible confusion: guys in bronze armour do not a Bronze Age make. Bronze was used in niche applications - large single-piece plates (including breastplates, greaves), corrosion-resistant fittings for marine applications (including rams), springs (including some ballistae springs), cannons - well after the end of the Bronze Age.

    So if you ask what a civilization or a world with very little iron can achieve - I have no idea. Given sufficiently favorable other conditions and a lot of time - probably anything up to and beyond IRL technology. But if you are talking about something resembling Bronze Age IRL - I'd say give up on practical firearms or bronze-cased explosives. Grenades, mines, fougasses, petards, fire pots, fire arrows, fire lances, incendiary rockets, kinetic rockets (like hwacha), and that should be about it. And that is being optimistic - Martin Greywolf's criticisms while not insurmountable are grounded in reality.
    Last edited by Saint-Just; 2020-11-17 at 06:12 PM.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by AdAstra View Post
    Fuses merely require a different formulation of gunpowder that burns slower. They require no additional ingredients other than something to hold the powder. Slow matches only require the nitrate.
    That's a big only, since you have to essentially invent gunpowder twice, once for fuses and once for the powder itself. It's trivial today, when everyone that manages to complete basic education has a rudimentary understanding of chemistry, but without that, we're looking at a lot of time spent chasing false leads.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdAstra View Post
    Even if you couldn't manufacture full-sized cannons, you could make rockets out of bronze or bamboo, and use that to make fire arrows or things similar to the Mysorean Rockets. That should be of use, especially in combination with incendiary agents that were available at the time.
    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    What's the limiting factor on cast bronze cannon? Cast bronze pieces of substantial size go back quite a ways (such as Shang ceremonial pieces), and could in the right contexts be made very durable (such as naval rams, which were cast in one piece and built to absorb a dramatic shock).
    These are both sort fo related, and come down to lack of a reason to develop this.

    First use of cannon was siege warfare, and for that to be useful, you need to have a kind of opponent that forces you to engage in it a lot. Renaissance Europe was uniquely saturated with all sorts of fortifications, but it was more of an exception. Rome, Egypt or China didn't have these to the degree of Europe, and that means they were often perfectly happy with starving out the things they needed to siege. Try that in Europe, and you'll get horrifically bogged down, as the Mongols found out when they couldn't quite conquer Hungary in two years after defeating their field army decisively.

    So, while a cannon or a rocket - former against walls, latter as incendiary - are pretty useful in this one situation, it's not a situation you really need to solve just yet.

    Second use of cannon and rockets is in ship battles, and here, they would both be incredibly useful at any time, even somewhat primitive bronze cannon. Trouble is, shipping is a very small portion of a given civilization's armed forces at this time, for a wide variety of reasons. You'd need age of sail ships to change that - mostly because they need vastly less crew and therefore can operate over much longer distances. Maybe if you had an ancient civilization that went that way for some reason? I know only bare basics about the age of sail ship construction, so there may be a reson why that won't work.

    Anyhow, unless you increase proportion of naval forces, then there is no reason to invest massively into naval-specific technologies, as ROmans demonstrated when their naval tech was centered around the idea of "how do we fight the same on sea as we do on land".

    Third use is against massed units, and that also has a problem - there aren't any. Largest pre-medieval armies come up to about 200 000 soldiers (Rome, Cao Cao) if you take the lower estimates. But that's not what really matters, because you rarely had the capability of deploying all of those in single battle. Taking Cannae for a pretty well researched large battle, it was 80k against 60k, and that was noted as massively large. You usually see numbers around 50k in logistically well-developed states, and falling as low as 30k for medieval armies without the dedicated logistics support.

    Now compare that to Napoleon's army to invade Russia, which had almost 700k troops. In one army.

    A good turning point is perhaps the battle of Mohacs (70k vs 40k) or Domazlice in Hussite wars (100k vs 50k), this time not as a large exceptions to the rule, but as standard armies of the given sides. This shows that the army size at which cannon was starting to be useful is, while not necessarily larger than possible, only very rarely achieved in pre-renaissance times. And you don't want to develop weapons for the exception, especially not if they also come with a host of disadvantages - like slowing you down or draining manpower and bronze.

    Finally, bronze alone is not enough, neither is large bronze, you need to make it uniform and strong, and there's definitely a trick to that, which you will need to figure out. Cannon makers were a respected and lucrative profession, after all.

    But, let's say we have a kingdom we're developing for a novel, and they were lucky enough to stumble into gunpowder, and we want to give them the best case scenario. They have bronze age, maybe early iron age tech otherwise, so what can they do with it? Well, rockets as occassional incendiaries and expensive fireworks, much like the Chinese did. If they realize that cannons are possible, there will be some wooden and bronze ones, but will likely be limited to a very small number, with the strong possibility of the necessary formula for making them (metallurgical and chemical) being a greek fire-like secret. Gunpowder will certainly not be deployed on a wide scale until someone figures out a musket, and for that, we need good steel. Steel to save on bulk, good steel because no one is going to put that thing near their face if it explodes 1 times out of 20. If someone is really brainstorming about using this new weapon, then you may start to see some early mortars, as a weapon that is somewhat man-portable - but then and again, maybe not, it really depends oin whether there is a need for it.

    That would mean muskets in early medieval era, maybe as late as high medieval, provided that secret isn't lost or declared so sacred any experimentation is stopped. You can then go all the way up to bolt actions over a few centuries, but they will be horrendously expensive until industrial revolution hits because making machines that precise out of steel is a lot of work - think wheellocks but even worse. You will not be able to get self-loaders until smokeless powder, so no jumping the gun there.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by AdAstra View Post
    Fuses merely require a different formulation of gunpowder that burns slower. They require no additional ingredients other than something to hold the powder. Slow matches only require the nitrate.
    Fuzes can be made by simply taking gunpowder and putting it in a paper cone. Quick match can be made by gluing powder to slow match (or a string). However, why do you need a fuze? A powder train can suffice in many cases. Early guns were set off with a heated wire, rather than slow match (the invention of slow match made guns significantly more portable).

    Corning of gunpowder, i.e. the forming of gunpowder into grains rather than a simply incorporated powder, was a pretty significant development, and opened up many different avenues of development.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by VoxRationis View Post
    What's the limiting factor on cast bronze cannon? Cast bronze pieces of substantial size go back quite a ways (such as Shang ceremonial pieces), and could in the right contexts be made very durable (such as naval rams, which were cast in one piece and built to absorb a dramatic shock).
    There are some pretty serious issues with casting bronze cannons -- the earliest known depictions of cannons show small bronze "vases."

    Getting the alloy correct is part of the problem. Also when the bronze cools the impurities tend to drift (and I think some of the alloyed metals?), on a large cannon the quality of the bronze can vary across the cannon, as different parts cool at different rates. Furthermore the weight of the metal can cause the bronze to be denser at different places. By the 16th century it became common (but not universal) to cast the cannon muzzle up. This meant the breech of the cannon, which underwent the greatest stresses, was also where the metal was most dense. Longer cannons (like culverins) gained a reputation for being safer, probably for this reason.

    Using stone as the projectile has many benefits, chiefly you can use lower pressures to reach the same velocity as an iron cannon ball of the same weight. So stone throwing cannons became very large, pretty quickly. Nevertheless, I think it's telling that many early, large, cannons of the 14th century were made from iron using the "hoop and stave" method, rather than cast bronze. Casting large bronze cannons was a process that developed mainly during the 15th century (I think).

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

    A slight correction to Martin Greywolf: as far as I know, the Romans generally tried to end sieges by storming the city, rather than waiting for starvation. Alesia is the obvious exception. But we know that they made a rampart to get in Masada, breached the walls of Jerusalem, scaled those of Syracuse, and told stories that digging a tunnel beneath those of Veii had been key to success.

    They still did try to starve the defenders, though. But they probably had many reasons to want to end things more quickly: the army was a target (compare Alesia), maladies were a concrete possibility (compare the last Punic war), and the siege could be just a step in a wider campaign, one you wanted done as fast as possible. The fact that fortifications back then weren't too great probably helped set this mindset, since, at least in theory, the quality of the walls doesn't change the quantity of food you can store behind them.

    EDIT: I think I get now what you meant -- that the Romans would have had fewer things to besiege, compared to later Europe, where there was a castle at every corner.
    Last edited by Vinyadan; 2020-11-17 at 08:37 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by KineticDiplomat View Post
    a local leader who frankly hasn’t seen significant technological change in his life, get him to visualize the possibility of employing it militarily (while assuring said leader that his elite status as a warrior or gentleman planter won’t change),
    While the rest of your post is pretty solid, both of these two bits are really not. First, we tend to think of days long past as not having rapid change in technology, but that has more to do with the way we only interact with their technology in a final, finished form. Bronze Age tech might not have advanced with the same breakneck speed as today (because there's no mass communication means that allows ideas to metastasize within days), but over the course of a decade or two there would be significant and notable differences.

    Likewise, technological change alone never had the widespread social ramifications we associate with them. Most "this weapon was banned to keep the peasants in line" stories are myths.

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

    I would cite Harari, Tridimas, and Kaufman as those who would back that general technological progress was slow to stagnant through many parts of human history - even when certain sciences are academically advancing, so to speak - with practical advancements being nearly so limited or small as to be seen as little more than a minor qualitative increase. Enough that our gentleman planter would certainly not have the modern mindset of inventing/alternate exploitation/discovering that we almost take for granted as part of the whole hacker-backer-manager triangle.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by fusilier View Post
    Fuzes can be made by simply taking gunpowder and putting it in a paper cone. Quick match can be made by gluing powder to slow match (or a string). However, why do you need a fuze? A powder train can suffice in many cases. Early guns were set off with a heated wire, rather than slow match (the invention of slow match made guns significantly more portable).

    Corning of gunpowder, i.e. the forming of gunpowder into grains rather than a simply incorporated powder, was a pretty significant development, and opened up many different avenues of development.
    Having a fuse helps a lot for making the resulting weapon actually practical. You're right that it's hardly essential, but it's something you could do, and it would be a great help.

    My main point is really that there is no technological barrier, merely barriers in the form of no reason to actually be playing around with all these things in the first place, and few people actually doing this kind of research.
    Last edited by AdAstra; 2020-11-18 at 06:30 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    I can't help but notice that we're showing our gaming biases pretty heavily in this thread by focusing entirely on the military uses of black powder.
    Black powder would be incredibly useful for mining for example. Being able to produce a loud bang and a cloud of noxious smoke would be quite handy for hunting. And then there's the religious aspect. Humans as far back as the neolithic have gone to extreme length building religious/ceremonial structures. I see no reason to believe they wouldn't go to the same lengths with their ceremonies.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Thiel View Post
    I can't help but notice that we're showing our gaming biases pretty heavily in this thread by focusing entirely on the military uses of black powder.
    Black powder would be incredibly useful for mining for example. Being able to produce a loud bang and a cloud of noxious smoke would be quite handy for hunting. And then there's the religious aspect. Humans as far back as the neolithic have gone to extreme length building religious/ceremonial structures. I see no reason to believe they wouldn't go to the same lengths with their ceremonies.
    I think part of the issue is getting enough black powder to really allow you to use it that way. Fireworks for high-profile events, sure, but I doubt most Bronze Age societies are going to have blackpowder available or cheap enough to use in hunting. As for mining, does anyone know roughly how much gunpowder would be used in a typical blasting charge? That might give us an idea of how viable it would be.

    As a reference, the first recorded use of gunpowder for mining was in 1627 (Hungary), despite its use in firearms as early as the 14th century.

    EDIT: Okay, found another useful reference. The Box Tunnel was constructed in the mid-19th century, being close to 3 km long and taking 3.5 years to construct. A 2400 ft. stretch of that was blasted out with gunpowder, taking one ton of gunpowder per week over two years. So that single tunnel section consumed somewhere around 100 tons of gunpowder.
    Last edited by AdAstra; 2020-11-18 at 12:01 PM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Thiel View Post
    I can't help but notice that we're showing our gaming biases pretty heavily in this thread by focusing entirely on the military uses of black powder.
    Black powder would be incredibly useful for mining for example. Being able to produce a loud bang and a cloud of noxious smoke would be quite handy for hunting. And then there's the religious aspect. Humans as far back as the neolithic have gone to extreme length building religious/ceremonial structures. I see no reason to believe they wouldn't go to the same lengths with their ceremonies.
    Hunting:
    In the age of exploration animals that weren’t exposed to European hunting were known to be easily shot until they learned big loud bangs were dangerous. The same applied to indigenous tribes. Fire does the job of flushing animals out only better and cheaper.

    Mining
    Labor was cheap and powder expensive. Processing facilities and transportation were limited, so greatly increasing how much you can dig doesn’t help until you can move enough of it and turn it into something useful. In pre-modern economies a huge percentage of overall production capacity was needed for food production, which limits the amount of labor you can divert to mining and refining.
    Last edited by Pauly; 2020-11-19 at 06:47 PM.

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

    With all the recent talk about boob-plates, one thing that I haven't seen addressed is this article's claim that if you trip while wearing a molded breastplate you will shatter your sternum, likely fatally.


    https://bikiniarmorbattledamage.tumb...hate-the-shape


    To me, this seems a difficult claim to swallow, and if true I think people would bring it up more. Does anyone have any knowledge on that subject?
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    With all the recent talk about boob-plates, one thing that I haven't seen addressed is this article's claim that if you trip while wearing a molded breastplate you will shatter your sternum, likely fatally.


    https://bikiniarmorbattledamage.tumb...hate-the-shape


    To me, this seems a difficult claim to swallow, and if true I think people would bring it up more. Does anyone have any knowledge on that subject?
    That sounds like a thing that should be avoidable, honestly. The idea is that armor takes an impact that happens on a single point and spreads the force out over a larger area. If armor does exactly the opposite it's bad armor. This is the one area though were being the outer shell being form fitting should actually help. You should be able to make the force spread out well enough with simple padding. Sure, the hard bits on your body are still going to get a little more force transferred into them than the soft bits, because the soft bits bend away, but an impact across the entire breastplate should still not fracture let alone shatter your sternum. Also note that simply tripping and falling does not usually result in an incredibly hard impact. Sure, there's some weight and gravity behind it, but between your legs trying to complete their steps, your knees landing and your hands going out in a reflex the actual force on your torso is usually not that big. This would mean that you could also letally shatter the sternum of someone in this armor by kicking them in the chest, or by landing a solid blow with most main battlefield weapons. You might be able to make armor like that, but I'm thinking you're going to need to put poisoned needles on the inside of it or something.

    I don't particularly like boob plate from a practical armor perspective, I figure there are ways to get more protection from less material. But it doesn't come across to me as something that's worse than fighting naked. Far from it. It's more like having a sword with a bit of a too ornamental blade. It might be a little heavier or less durable than a simpler design, but it's still a sword, not an active danger to the wielder.
    Last edited by Lvl 2 Expert; 2020-11-20 at 08:55 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    With all the recent talk about boob-plates, one thing that I haven't seen addressed is this article's claim that if you trip while wearing a molded breastplate you will shatter your sternum, likely fatally.

    https://bikiniarmorbattledamage.tumb...hate-the-shape

    To me, this seems a difficult claim to swallow, and if true I think people would bring it up more. Does anyone have any knowledge on that subject?
    While the specific claim is dubious (why doesn't the wearer do anything to turn or brace to avoid falling flat on their face?), the basic idea that the molded shape runs exactly counter to multiple design requires for armor is true.

    First, armor is supposed to spread out impact, not focus it.

    Second, the angles may form an "arrow trap" that could send fragments towards the neck and chin, or underarm, of the wearer. (This was already a problem that lead some armor to having that little V-shape piece affixed right below the collar level.)


    Quote Originally Posted by Lvl 2 Expert View Post
    I don't particularly like boob plate from a practical armor perspective, I figure there are ways to get more protection from less material. But it doesn't come across to me as something that's worse than fighting naked. Far from it. It's more like having a sword with a bit of a too ornamental blade. It might be a little heavier or less durable than a simpler design, but it's still a sword, not an active danger to the wielder.
    Yeah, better than no armor, but worse than well-designed, practical armor.

    And here's the thing about "boob armor"... as far as I know, we have zero historical examples across many cultures, and yet we know that in some of those cultures women did engage in combat and sometimes go to war. So the arguments that grasp at some notion of realism for "boob armor" come down to a pair of counterfactuals -- "Women didn't fight" and "but if they had, their armor would have had cups on it".
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2020-11-20 at 10:09 AM.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    It depends on whether the armour is built in such a way that only the breast keeps it in place when you fall forward. In other words, do the belly and the sides and the shoulders give a lot of leeway for the armour to move?

    If things go wrong, I personally wouldn't worry about a broken sternum, and more about the way your sternum can travel backwards and hit what's behind it. Some people die from a headbutt this way. It's something an irked physician observed after Zidane headbutted Materazzi.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post
    With all the recent talk about boob-plates, one thing that I haven't seen addressed is this article's claim that if you trip while wearing a molded breastplate you will shatter your sternum, likely fatally.

    To me, this seems a difficult claim to swallow, and if true I think people would bring it up more. Does anyone have any knowledge on that subject?
    Like in many other situations if people think that idea is bad (and this one is genuinely bad) they will try to find more flaws than there are. If I squint just right then maybe it would incredibly rarely happen if you wear such a breastplate with no padding at all... but wearing plate armour of any shape with no padding is idea comparable in stupidity with the boob-plate.

    Obviously metal boobs are an additional weight and expense for no gain, and there are examples of historical "barrel chested" breastplates made for men, whose design can in principle accommodate even unusually large breasts if tweaked a little, so there is no reason for a boobplate to exist as anything other than ornamental piece, but there is a world of difference between "it is a feature which makes it worse than normal product" and "it makes a product with that feature worse than nothing" (though in some situations even normal armour is worse than nothing, but that has nothing to do with the boobplate).

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    If things go wrong, I personally wouldn't worry about a broken sternum, and more about the way your sternum can travel backwards and hit what's behind it. Some people die from a headbutt this way. It's something an irked physician observed after Zidane headbutted Materazzi.
    I am not a doctor (though I have played one in an RPG), but this is a peculiarity of the brain physiology, AFAIK. I do not see how sternum can sufficiently damage internal organs without being detached and\or broken. Now, cardiac arrest may result from a sudden hit, but even boobplate shouldn't make it worse than being hit by the same blow without armour.
    Last edited by Saint-Just; 2020-11-20 at 12:29 PM.

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

    If the boob plate is really poorly designed, the center divot could very well crunch your torso like a wedge in the event of a serious impact. Even without that, better to just leave the area between the breasts raised up, as that serves as a better "crumple zone", in addition to providing superior ventilation and being easier to make/fit.

    At best, boob plate is unnecessary and weird-looking to many people

    The Mandalorian armor wasn't particularly egregious (only marginally different from the cartoon, which also was hardly excessive), except for one aspect that applies to all mando armor. The torso plate being split into two sections in the middle. It's completely unnecessary for the design and creates a weak point in exactly the place where you don't want or need weak points. It's not just a ridge either, it's either a gap or a very deep furrow. There are armor designs that have a similar gap, but those are armors that are already made of multiple smaller plates, or muscle cuirasses that have a pretty shallow crevice there. There's no reason for the cuirass-like unitary chestplate to be constructed that way except for aesthetics. Given how overpowered Mandalorian Iron is, you can probably afford a little extravagance, but it irks me because it doesn't even look good IMO.
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Thanks for the replies; that's pretty much what I thought.

    IMO both sides have minor points but overstate their claims on the issue of boob-plates; at it has kind of become a geek microcosm of the "anti-porn vs sex-positive" debates of second wave feminism.


    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Second, the angles may form an "arrow trap" that could send fragments towards the neck and chin, or underarm, of the wearer. (This was already a problem that lead some armor to having that little V-shape piece affixed right below the collar level.)
    Wouldn't two bulges on the side be less likely to send an attack into the throat than the standard single bulge in the middle?
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    My knowledge on armor is fairly limited, but my understanding is:

    Historically there have been women who fought or at least lead armies. The most studied being Joan of Arc. Where we have good evidence their armor is armor. i.e. Practical armor was non-gemdered.
    Which means that
    - The armor did not need to be modified for women.
    - Any issues of discomfort were so minor as to not bother with the cost of modification, or no external modifications were needed.

    Some ceremonial/‘cosplay’ Boobplate type armors that were obviously not meant for battle does exist.

    For me boobplate would be like codpieces on 16th Century plate, Roman muscled cuirasses or horned samurai helmets. Something decorative and for psychological effect, not practical value. It would be the equivalent of a female CoD player having “Yougotkilledbyagirl” as a gamertag.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Talakeal View Post




    Wouldn't two bulges on the side be less likely to send an attack into the throat than the standard single bulge in the middle?
    I don't see how.

    On boob plate, any hits to the inner slope of the "breast," so pretty much the center third of the chest, would deflect toward the cleavage, and then upward toward the neck. A standard breastplate would slope away from the centerline in both directions, so a hit on either side of that exact center would be directed off to the side, never toward the sternum. A hit high on the chest might be deflected upwards, but I don't see how boob plate would make that any worse, and the "valley" might actually lead more arrows that way, keeping arrows that might have been deflected high and sideways toward an 'over the shoulder' direction in the middle lane
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    Default Re: Got a Real-World Weapon, Armour or Tactics Question? Mk. XXIX

    Quote Originally Posted by AdAstra View Post
    The Mandalorian armor wasn't particularly egregious (only marginally different from the cartoon, which also was hardly excessive), except for one aspect that applies to all mando armor. The torso plate being split into two sections in the middle. It's completely unnecessary for the design and creates a weak point in exactly the place where you don't want or need weak points. It's not just a ridge either, it's either a gap or a very deep furrow. There are armor designs that have a similar gap, but those are armors that are already made of multiple smaller plates, or muscle cuirasses that have a pretty shallow crevice there. There's no reason for the cuirass-like unitary chestplate to be constructed that way except for aesthetics. Given how overpowered Mandalorian Iron is, you can probably afford a little extravagance, but it irks me because it doesn't even look good IMO.
    Clearly Beskar steel loses its fantastical properties if it is shaped more than about a foot square (unless it is drastically curved, like a helmet.)

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Lapak View Post
    Clearly Beskar steel loses its fantastical properties if it is shaped more than about a foot square (unless it is drastically curved, like a helmet.)
    See, the idea that the metal is difficult to create and shape in large plates would work (after all, steel was like this for much of history). Except we see beskar melted into a liquid state and cast. That too irritates me, for it deprives us of watching some nice hammering.
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