Han Dynasty Crossbow III

HackneyedScribe

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
6,553
The Korean handheld guns that fired arrows (bores of ~1.6 and ~2.9 cm) before the 1440s as having ranges of 400-500 paces which would have been around 600-700 m. I don't think the Koreans fired both the arrows and shot at the same time.
I don't think the Shen Qiang fired both arrow and shot at the same time, it was capable of shooting both, but not at the same time. The 1415 Chinese handgonne was found with shot and sabot inside but no arrow.

I believe there's a surviving 1372 or 1373 (fifth/sixth year of Hongwu Emperor reign, i.e. before Yongle invaded Vietnam) Ming gun already with a sabot in it.
Interesting, can you provide more information and sourcing about it.
 
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Jul 2015
290
Japari Park
I just read about it online, will try to track it down on the specifics.

The 1372 handgonne is the earliest Ming period handgonne found. It was cast by Baoyuan ju (寶源局, more knowned for casting coins) in Nanjing. The length of the entire gun is 44.2 cm, the bore is 2.2 cm. As of yet I can't find the length of barrel, or whether it really has a sabot inside. (In other words, that this with a grain of salt)
 
Last edited:
Jul 2015
290
Japari Park
New update:
While I still cannot find the details about Hongwu handgonne, I got into contact with the owner of Ming military blog. He said he is in the process of correcting/updating the article about Shen Qiang, because other info seems to contradict his article. He said there is an entry of manufacturing of wooden sabot from Hongwu period, found in Ming Huidian.
 

HackneyedScribe

Ad Honorem
Feb 2011
6,553
Some Han plaques have these very long strings hanging from the tips of the crossbow prods:



I think the most likely possibility for the function of these strings is to help string the bow or draw the bow with the waist+feet, something like the following:


The string in the plaque is somewhat longer, which I think is due to the string being wrapped around the waist once (in a figure eight) for additional stability so as to reduce the chance of the string slipping down the waist.

Now here is a Han plaque of a crossbow being drawn with a windlass. I highlighted the string and stand in blue because they're hard to see:


So it's probably drawn in a way similar to this replica of a Medieval siege crossbow.:
 

heavenlykaghan

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
4,487
I don't think the Shen Qiang fired both arrow and shot at the same time, it was capable of shooting both, but not at the same time. The 1415 Chinese handgonne was found with shot and sabot inside but no arrow.



Interesting, can you provide more information and sourcing about it.

Are there any professional studies of the sabot? How complex the sabot design is could shed light to what happened to the Shenjiqiang, which seem to have disappeared from sources after the 15th century (if its too complex it might have been lost). Not only would this answer the question of why early Ming firearms were so effective, it would even explain why crossbows got replaced.