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Old April 16th, 2018, 07:34 PM   #1

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Curved and Straight Swords and Their Uses


I would like to know more about why swords tended to take the shapes they did.

I've heard that curved swords barely increase the sharpness of a weapon, so why did so many cultures use them?

Why did the Europeans largely stick to straight swords with some exceptions.

What benefits and drawbacks come from curved vs straight swords?
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Old April 16th, 2018, 07:38 PM   #2
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You can't ask about swords without also looking at the evolution of armor alongside it.
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Old April 16th, 2018, 08:55 PM   #3

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Everything from khopeshes to scimitars to sabers are designed primarily for slashing or cutting attacks, The straight and curved weapons developed simultaneously; Mycenaean bronze rapiers were used at the same time as the khopesh, against similar kinds of armour. One might argue that short swords or rapiers used in the Bronze Age were useful for penetrating gaps in bronze plate armour (similar to later medieval knights) or between or under the scales on corselets.
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Old April 16th, 2018, 10:01 PM   #4

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Light cavalry often use curved swords since they fight others horsemen in slashing charges

heavy cavalry are used against foot soldier and need the longer reach of straight swords
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Old April 16th, 2018, 10:11 PM   #5

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The difference between cutting damage of straight and curved swords is negligible. The main benefit of a curved sword is that it is more maneuverable from horseback.
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Old April 16th, 2018, 10:12 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Duke Valentino View Post
You can't ask about swords without also looking at the evolution of armor alongside it.
Armour was never developed with swords in mind. You don't need armour to stop a sword - winter clothing will stop a sword cut. Armour was developed to stop spears and arrows, which were far far more common on the battlefield, and far more of a threat. The only way to effectively attack someone in armour with a sword is to aim for locations that aren't covered in armour.

Last edited by Dan Howard; April 16th, 2018 at 10:18 PM.
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Old April 17th, 2018, 04:16 AM   #7
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Curved swords land all of the weight of the blow at a single point along the edge where straight swords spread that weight of blow along a longer section of the blade.
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Old April 17th, 2018, 05:51 AM   #8
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My understanding is that in a slashing blow the curved blade delivers greater damage for equivalent force. This is why the blade of a guillotine was angled, not straight across. Easy illustration - take a reasonably sharp kitchen knife with an effectively straight blade and a block of firm cheese (Cheddar is my favourite!). Place the knife blade on the top of the block of the cheese with the blade edge parallel with the surface on which the cheese is standing and cut down. Now repeat the exercise, only with the blade at an angle of 20-30 degrees from the horizontal. Equal depth of cut will be achieved with less effort. Of course, if the blade is really, really sharp, you probably won't notice a significant difference - but few domestic knives are that sharp
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Old April 17th, 2018, 06:27 AM   #9
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Swords like the falcata and falx, that are curved inward as opposed to outward like a scimitar, put more force into the head of the blade if I remember correctly, almost like a sword-axe hybrid.
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Old April 17th, 2018, 06:39 AM   #10

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Rolls View Post
My understanding is that in a slashing blow the curved blade delivers greater damage for equivalent force. This is why the blade of a guillotine was angled, not straight across. Easy illustration - take a reasonably sharp kitchen knife with an effectively straight blade and a block of firm cheese (Cheddar is my favourite!). Place the knife blade on the top of the block of the cheese with the blade edge parallel with the surface on which the cheese is standing and cut down. Now repeat the exercise, only with the blade at an angle of 20-30 degrees from the horizontal. Equal depth of cut will be achieved with less effort. Of course, if the blade is really, really sharp, you probably won't notice a significant difference - but few domestic knives are that sharp
Mike
The Physics of the Cut - Raynfall
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