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Thread: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

  1. #1

    Default English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Hello everyone,

    I have 6.2 w/ RR/RC and am thrilled with the realism and the level the game has been able to achieve. I have found that my English longbows in custom battle do not seem to kill many French dismounted knights when they approach my line. I have read several excellent articles including the included RR/RC manual. It seems that my longbow archers should be able to penetrate armor even at their longest range; roughly 1mm of armor. Have you guys found that the longbow seems less effective than it should be? I simply can not cause many casualties in the French ranks with my longbow. What are your thoughts? Thank you.

  2. #2
    Ichon's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    The arrows have to get past both the shields and the armor of the DK which is difficult if it is on flat ground and a frontal shot. Higher ground and from flank or rear and the longbow and other types of quality archers are still devastating.

    Its a slight compromise, if make frontal shots really effective then flank and rear would devastate killing entire units in a few volleys. This way you actually have to position your units a bit, not just let them fire at will and win which is not how English used them historically(fighting from prepared positions as much as possible etc).

  3. #3

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Longbows were only capable of penetrating plate if they hit straight-on, at very close range. And knights wore padding under their plate. Once metallurgy improved plate was completely impervious to archery unless hit in a weak spot eg the visor.

    Most armor, especially covering vital areas, was more than 1mm. In fact 2mm armor is not 2x harder to penetrate, its closer to 3x. 1.5mm is about 2x harder to penetrate.

  4. #4
    Caesar Clivus's Avatar SS Forum Moderator
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    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Ah the longbow myth lives on!

    BftB2 UPDATED 22nd DECEMBER. Member of the Complete Byzantine Unit Roster team

  5. #5

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    It makes you wonder why the English army doesn't use them anymore.

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    Ichon's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Quote Originally Posted by k/t View Post
    It makes you wonder why the English army doesn't use them anymore.
    Actually many clandestine ops outfits like to use crossbows and blowguns still. Longbow a bit awkward to use and takes too long to train with- same problems now as in medieval times.

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    Caesar Clivus's Avatar SS Forum Moderator
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    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Quote Originally Posted by k/t View Post
    It makes you wonder why the English army doesn't use them anymore.
    There was an article posted here ages ago about how even when firearms developed to the point where they were easier to use, required less training and did more damage than a longbow that there were still some English nobles/politicians etc who still wanted to keep using the longbow. They really didn't want to let it go!

    BftB2 UPDATED 22nd DECEMBER. Member of the Complete Byzantine Unit Roster team

  8. #8

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    They were probably the same kind of people who marched into enemy machine guns because it was the "honourable" thing to do.

  9. #9

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Or pride...people get all funny when it comes to pride. Perhaps they felt the Longbow "defined" what it meant to be English or in the English army.


    I'm getting way off topic, but
    Most armor, especially covering vital areas, was more than 1mm. In fact 2mm armor is not 2x harder to penetrate, its closer to 3x. 1.5mm is about 2x harder to penetrate.
    I wonder if this can easily be desribed by (armor width in millimeters)^(Golden Ratio) = times harder to penetrate.

    (1.5)^(Golden Ratio) = 1.927 (about 2x)
    2^(Golden Ratio) = 3.06956 (about 3x)
    3^(Golden Ratio) = 5.9155 (about 6x)

    It's hard to turn off work mode sometimes....
    Last edited by AClockworkOrange; November 12, 2010 at 07:47 PM. Reason: apology...
    Yeah, but can you put an algebra on it?

    I don't always talk in tautologies, but when I do, I talk in tautologies.

    "Sugar is sugar" is a completely vapid argument. It's like saying "a car is a car", "a house is a house," or even "My ass can't tell the difference, so a chair is a chair."


  10. #10
    Ichon's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    It might be simple way to think of it but it wouldn't increase linearly in that fashion however and as important is probably the curve of the surface area. Any flat planes or notches would weaken the armor. You could have flat 3mm plate vs curved 3mm plate and there would be a large difference.

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    Caesar Clivus's Avatar SS Forum Moderator
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    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Quote Originally Posted by k/t View Post
    They were probably the same kind of people who marched into enemy machine guns because it was the "honourable" thing to do.
    I think you mean they were the kind of people who marched others into enemy machine guns because it was the honourable thing to do

    BftB2 UPDATED 22nd DECEMBER. Member of the Complete Byzantine Unit Roster team

  12. #12

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    ^^

  13. #13
    Gorrrrrn's Avatar Citizen
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    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    curious why knights have both plate armour and shields?
    didn't plate make shields redundant?

  14. #14

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3997HZuWjk

    Kinda hard to imagine people back then made armor of that quality but still...if you are an English archer and you watch this video on youtube 10 minutes before battle, you would be like, "oh screw you guys am' going home"...
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    Tears of Destiny's Avatar Senator
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    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rozanov View Post
    curious why knights have both plate armour and shields?
    didn't plate make shields redundant?
    Well, because a guy in Plate and a shield is harder to kill then a guy in plate.

    Then people started making really NICE plate, and the shield was dropped in favor of massive weapons that required two hands, to penetrate the plate, and really nice guns that could do the same...

  16. #16
    Ichon's Avatar Praeses
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    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rozanov View Post
    curious why knights have both plate armour and shields?
    didn't plate make shields redundant?
    Not instantaneously. Early plate and partial plate was not a huge improvement over mail as it was usually quite heavier than mail for only a little better protection. Eventually as plate become much better shields become cumbersome for most plated fighters and many adopted 2 handed weapons since they needed the extra power leverage gave to fight other knights in armor.

  17. #17

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Quote Originally Posted by Point Blank View Post
    Longbows were only capable of penetrating plate if they hit straight-on, at very close range. And knights wore padding under their plate. Once metallurgy improved plate was completely impervious to archery unless hit in a weak spot eg the visor.

    Most armor, especially covering vital areas, was more than 1mm. In fact 2mm armor is not 2x harder to penetrate, its closer to 3x. 1.5mm is about 2x harder to penetrate.
    Spot on.

  18. #18

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    Yes, longbow shafts could penetrate plate armor. An arrow shot from a longbow of 150 lbs will go through mild steel without problems. There's of cause many variables to take into consideration, everything from plate hardness, thickness and impurities such as slag content, to weight of the arrow, draw weight of the bow, angel of impact, armor design, and shape and quality of the arrowheads. However, the impact of the arrow in and on its own was usually enough to incapacitate the man underneath the armor. You don't have to penetrate armor if you want to hurt someone, denting it and striking it multiple times will wear them out and make them easy prey for your own men-at-arms when they reach your line. The force behind an arrow equals a blow from a carpenters hammer! Imaging being hit 3-4 times like that at the start of a fight. You would be at a great disadvantage!

    Early plate armor only had a Vickers plate hardness of around 100-250. Modern mild steel have a hardness of around 100 VPH, tool steel is around 250 VPH and hardened tool steel is around 500-600 VPH to put this in perspective. In the early 13th century, quality armor, mail or plate was extremely rare. In the end of the 13th century technology made the production of plate armor possible. In the start blacksmiths only slack-quenched steel with low carbon content. That will give you about 200-250 VPH. In the mid-14th century Milanese armor had a hardness of 300-340 VPH. Now they started to slack-quench high carbon steel. By the end of the 15th century the average quality of armor from Innsbruck, Augsburg, Nüremburg and Landshut had reached a hardness of around 400-500 VPH. Now they started to full-quench and reheat high carbon steel. Only the wealthiest of noblemen could afford this quality armor in the beginning. Supply and demand. It was not available to everyone. Anything from 350 VPH and upwards will prevent arrows penetrating the armor but it doesn't help much if only a small fraction of the soldiers wear this protection. On the battlefield, strength comes with numbers.

    The strength of a bow is not just the speed of the arrow and therefor the range, it's predominantly the weight of the arrow. E=(1/2)mv^2. A 150 lbs longbow bow will shoot a 95,9 gram arrow at 53 m/s out to 233 meters and give you an initial kinetic energy of 134 J. A 74,4 gram arrow will shoot out to 258 meters with the speed of 57,8 m/s and give you 124,3 J. A livery arrow, the multipurpose arrow of the time, of 63,7 grams will shoot out to 265 meters at about 61 m/s and give you 118,5 J. And even more extreme, a 53,6 gram arrow will reach 314 meters at 65 m/s and give you 113 J. The arrow will regain 76-82 % of its speed as it hit a target on its way down. The 53,6 grams arrow will regain 58 % and the 95,9 grams arrow will regain 67% of its initial kinetic energy at max distance. The advantage of a heavy bow is the ability to shoot those heavy shafts the same distance a weaker bow will shot a light arrow, in other words, at the same speed. The 53,6 grams arrow will give you 113 J at point blank and 65 J at max distance. The 95,9 grams arrow will give you 134,7 J at point blank and 90 J at max distance. That small amount of extra kinetic energy at max distance is crucial when dealing with early plate armor of low quality and even more so when dealing with average armor at point blank. With a 170 lbs bow or even 200 lbs bow this will increase even more because you can shoot an even heavier arrow. The elite archers of the Mary Rose vessel did use predominantly 150 lbs bows and a few 170 lbs bows.

    Against mail the type 16 arrowhead will burst open links and cut through the padding underneath like a warm knife through butter. It's actually better than a needle bodkin. In the 13th century horses were protected by mail and boiled leather. Archers would literally mow down horses from 200 meters away with bows in the 110-130 lbs range in the beginning of the 13th century. It doesn't matter much if you even wear Gothic plate armor if you get your expensive horse shot from underneath you by a common archer and than have his buddies gang up on you and strike you down with mallets, polaxes and bills. The longbow was a tool used in concert with other weapons, tactics and strategies. You don't have to penetrate plate armor for it to be effective. And its effectiveness is not a myth at all. The issue has to be analyzed with the armor development in mind in combination with the development of even heavier bows and better and more sophisticated arrowheads.
    Last edited by Strategos Autokrator; January 28, 2015 at 05:52 PM. Reason: correcting a n obvious error.
    "Alea iacta est"

  19. #19

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    "Archers would literally mow down horses"

    Literally?

    Just like not everyone had the best plate, not everyone had a 150 pound bow.

    "Against mail the type 16 arrowhead will burst open links and cut through the padding underneath"

    Then how come this didn't happen? Why did everyone continue to wear armour even though it was so useless? Why do historical sources not mention such massacres of armoured men by arrows?

    You talk about the hardness of the armour and completely ignore the hardness of the arrowheads.

    "And its effectiveness is not a myth at all"

    No, it's not. Hercules is a myth. This longbow crap is a misconception.

    Now do a post on how mega folded and hardened katanas could cut tanks, since tanks weren't quench hardened until the 20th century.

  20. #20

    Default Re: English Longbows w/ No Penetration?

    "Just like not everyone had the best plate, not everyone had a 150 pound bow."

    True. Only the elite companies. Most of them had 110-130 lbs bows. A 110 lbs bow will still give you 73 J at 250 yards, enough to penetrate a gambeson, and mail of average quality, by 3 inches.

    "Then how come this didn't happen? Why did everyone continue to wear armour even though it was so useless? Why do historical sources not mention such massacres of armoured men by arrows?"

    Because most men wore a cote of plates covering the vital organs and also sometimes a shield like they did at Poitiers in 1356. The continual firing incapacitated and wounded them severely as I said in my post, and archers usually fired from the flanks during engagements. This also gave them the ability to bypass the shields and hit horsed where they were most woulnerable. Horses didn't have a coat of plates and presented a huge target. Armor was not useless, however, French tactics are a whole different story. And one more thing, men of low birth, men that couldn't afford good protection, was of cause of little to no interest when writing down the outcome of battles. We have many historical sources of men with relatively good armor being massacred by warbows. Falkirk 1298, Boroughbridge 1322, Dupplin Moor 1332, Halidon Hill 1333, Crécy 1346, Nevills's Cross 1346, Poitiers 1356, Najera 1367, Aljubarrota 1385, Homildon Hill 1402, Shrewsbury 1403, Agincourt 1415, Formigny 1450, Towton 1461 and Tewkesbury 1471.

    "You talk about the hardness of the armour and completely ignore the hardness of the arrowheads."

    Actually, as armor improved, the quality of arrowheads did too. In 1356 Edward III ordered 24 000 'best arrows'. 'Steeled' arrowheads does the sources say. That is case-carburized. Henry IV decided in 1405 that all arrowheads be well 'boiled or brazed and hardened at the point'. That is quench the point or soldering a quality point to a iron socket. He did this of cause to counter the increasing quality of armor.

    You don't have to be condescending.
    Last edited by Strategos Autokrator; February 02, 2015 at 04:18 PM.
    "Alea iacta est"

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