Can javelins pierce plate?

Jan 2017
84
North Carolina
#1
Considering much lighter arrows and bolts had done so? In addition would the hitting force from a javelin still knock a man down or give him painful bruises even if a breatplate causes a thrown spear to completely bounce off?

I mean javelins were much heavier, with the heaviest recorded stuff I seen online mentioning Pilum can go as much as 10 pounds and over in weight and the lightest once are slightly less heavy than a pound. Since arrows can wear a man in plate out and even light stones can potentially KO or even kill a fully armored knight if thrown with technique and force, do javelins have more killing power?

People did continue using javelins even after plates all over the world from Spain to India, even feudal Japan used them as far as the gunpowder ashigaru. Not just Europe but sone of these places such as India adopted the same plate armor that Europe was using for their elites and even whole armies for wealthier rajs.
 
Aug 2016
977
US&A
#2
An atlatl will throw a "dart" that, while smaller and lighter than a javelin, still has more force behind it.

Many conquistadors discarded their metal breast plates as unnecessary because the local's atlatl darts and arrows couldn't even pierce their cotton armor.
 
Likes: macon
Jul 2016
9,323
USA
#3
A plate of what? Paper plate for serving food? Poorly forged low carbon iron? Properly forged, quenched, and tempered steel? Bronze?

No properly reconstructed pila weighed 10 lbs. The standard weight pilum was often under 2 lb, but some models from the Principate era might have added lead weights attached to give it more penetrative power at close range. That wasn't for plate armor, but to better penetrate shields.
 
Likes: macon
Jan 2015
2,902
MD, USA
#4
Considering much lighter arrows and bolts had done so? In addition would the hitting force from a javelin still knock a man down or give him painful bruises even if a breatplate causes a thrown spear to completely bounce off?
It was very rare for arrows to pierce plate armor, and it would only be the thinner parts such as vambraces. Crossbows were probably better, but were no sure thing. I doubt javelins could knock a man down very often.

As always, the short answer is "It depends", because there are simply too many variables.

I mean javelins were much heavier, with the heaviest recorded stuff I seen online mentioning Pilum can go as much as 10 pounds and over in weight...
NO. NO NO NO. THE PILUM DID *NOT* WEIGH THAT MUCH. "ONLINE" IS WRONG. Let me know if you need that clarified. Two pounds or *possibly* as much as 3, that's it, sports fans. Anything more is completely idiotic.

...and the lightest once are slightly less heavy than a pound. Since arrows can wear a man in plate out and even light stones can potentially KO or even kill a fully armored knight if thrown with technique and force, do javelins have more killing power?
"Wear a man out"??? What? Sure, you can get tired standing around all day while arrows bounce off your armor, I'm sure that's exhausting after 8 or 10 hours. "Light stones" will certainly "KO or even kill" if they're moving at the speed of sound, as in "fired from a cannon". It might shock you to know that "light stones" fail to knock out or kill UNarmored people, all the time.

You seem to envision people as delicate wine glasses, shattering at a touch. How you came to this conclusion is beyond me.

People did continue using javelins even after plates all over the world from Spain to India, even feudal Japan used them as far as the gunpowder ashigaru. Not just Europe but sone of these places such as India adopted the same plate armor that Europe was using for their elites and even whole armies for wealthier rajs.
Javelins are cheap and effective, yes. If they were the super-weapons you seem to think, NO ONE WOULD BOTHER WEARING ARMOR, and every pre-gunpowder army would be lugging bundles of javelins. They didn't, so it seems your conclusion is flawed.

Matthew
 
Likes: macon
Jun 2019
29
Southeast Asia
#5
Which plate armor?

There are plate armor being used in Nias Island in Indonesia.

Armor Southeast Asia Indonesia Nias sheet metal armor 1.jpg

It isn't European plate armor, but it is still plate armor.

If the plate is thin and soft, then a javelin will penetrate it, but there is a practical limit to how strong a javelin can be thrown. A crossbow could be made with greater strength than the strength of the javelin thrower.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,417
Florania
#6
Which plate armor?

There are plate armor being used in Nias Island in Indonesia.

View attachment 21271

It isn't European plate armor, but it is still plate armor.

If the plate is thin and soft, then a javelin will penetrate it, but there is a practical limit to how strong a javelin can be thrown. A crossbow could be made with greater strength than the strength of the javelin thrower.
Only superhumans can sport 5mm thick plate armour (the toughest contemporary metal, titanium alloy) around; realistically speaking, how thick could steel plate armour be historically?
 
Jun 2019
29
Southeast Asia
#7
Only superhumans can sport 5mm thick plate armour (the toughest contemporary metal, titanium alloy) around; realistically speaking, how thick could steel plate armour be historically?
From a 15th century Gothic armor, I get the following data (I have the precise measurement, but I need to search for it first).

The cuirass is around 2 mm thick. The ridge of the sallet is around 4 mm thick.

However, armor thickness and quality increased greatly during the 16th century.

From eyeballing a Greenwich cuirass, I think a thickness of 4-5 mm in peascod cuirass is possible.

I once read that the 17th century cuirass like the one used by Polish hussar is 7 mm thick which is the reason why only the cuirass in the 17th century.
 
Likes: macon

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,417
Florania
#8
From a 15th century Gothic armor, I get the following data (I have the precise measurement, but I need to search for it first).

The cuirass is around 2 mm thick. The ridge of the sallet is around 4 mm thick.

However, armor thickness and quality increased greatly during the 16th century.

From eyeballing a Greenwich cuirass, I think a thickness of 4-5 mm in peascod cuirass is possible.

I once read that the 17th century cuirass like the one used by Polish hussar is 7 mm thick which is the reason why only the cuirass in the 17th century.
In other words, 5mm thick is still realistic; 5cm thick is definitely superhuman.
 

Dan Howard

Ad Honorem
Aug 2014
4,472
Australia
#10
The thickest extant cuirasses are around 9mm, but this is only on the front. They were thinner on the back and sides, and these are only for cavalry. The thickest infantry cuirasses are around 5mm
 
Likes: macon

Similar History Discussions