Korean cannon of the Imjin War era

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,749
United States
#1
I brought the conversation over to this thread to avoid derailing this other thread: http://historum.com/asian-history/99175-japanese-invasion-china-1646-a-5.html

Wait, are these the weight of the projectile or the cannon? In the west, when you say pounders, you are referring to projectiles, whereas in China, it is the weight of cannons, so you have to convert them yourself to compare. According to the Pan Jixing's new book last year, "History of Chinese Gunpowder", one field where East Asia is actually more developed than Europeans in firearm is in gunpowdered arrows 火箭, which could fire over 300m and had greater penetration power than most hand cannons. They are also light to carry, but are often not resusable. The most ideal combination in firearm is actually muskets supported by fire arrows.
I'm talking about projectile weight, my bad. The actual cannon weighed between around 70-600 lbs, depending on type, as far as can be determined from actual surviving examples.

I used the "pounder" terminology as those were the closest European cannon as far as bore. It's hard to compare them as far as shot goes because there isn't as much detailed information on it as there is for the bolts.

What exactly are the these "fire arrows"? Explosive arrows, incendiary arrows, rockets?


If anyone has any questions, ask away!
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,749
United States
#3
The Hwap'osik Ŏnhae (화포식언해/火砲式諺解) originally published in 1635 which gives weights of 56斤 3兩 for the heaven cannon's bolt and 29斤 8兩 for the earth cannon's. This source doesn't give weights for the black and yellow cannon bolts, but the Yungwon P'ilbi of 1813 gives the weights for the bolts used in those guns, although they probably weren't exactly the same in weight to those in the 17th century.

Here's the passage for the heaven cannon:
http://yoksa.aks.ac.kr/jsp/aa/Image...pageno=&imgnum=JE_A_30310_001_000031&imgsize=

And for the earth cannon:
http://yoksa.aks.ac.kr/jsp/aa/Image...pageno=&imgnum=JE_A_30310_001_000032&imgsize=

For the earth and black cannon from 1813. The reader won't let me get to the exact page, but they are the 16th and 17th things on the list to the left called 次大箭 and 皮翎箭:
http://kostma.korea.ac.kr/viewer/vi...813.0000-20140422.TOYO_1584&bookNum=&pageNum=

The Nanjung Ilgi mentions in at least a few places "heaven, earth, black, and yellow" cannon being fired in the battles.
 
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Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,749
United States
#5
It's written in the mixed script, which has the Classical Chinese, but I'll provide the passages here:

天字銃筒中藥線一條火藥三十兩檄木八寸放大將軍箭箭重五十六斤三兩去九百步
For the "heaven" cannon 1 medium fuse, 30兩 of powder, an 8寸 sabot, and fire a "great general arrow". The arrow's weight is 56斤 3兩 and goes 900步.

地字銃筒中藥線一條火藥二十兩土隔三寸用鳥卵丸二百箇或用將軍箭則檄木六寸箭重二十九斤八兩去八百步
For the "earth" cannon 1 medium fuse, 20兩 of powder, a 3寸 earthen wad, using 200 pieces of bird egg shot or use the "general arrow" technique with a sabot of 6寸. The arrow's weight is 29斤 8兩 and goes 800步.

Here are the images for the "black" and "yellow" cannons, which have the relevant information on the arrows:

●●●重一百五十五斤中藥線一條火藥四兩檄木長三寸一分圓徑二寸六分放次大箭箭重七斤去二千餘步用丸則土隔鐵丸一百筒
[This cannon's] (black cannon's) weight is 155斤. Use 1 medium fuse, 4兩 of powder, a 3寸 1分 long sabot with a diameter of 2寸 6分. Fire an "other large arrow". The arrow's weight is 7斤 and goes about 2000步. Using the shot technique use an earthen wad and 100 pieces of iron shot.

●●●重一百三十斤中藥線半條火藥三兩檄木長三寸圓徑二寸用皮翎箭箭重三斤八兩去一千一百步放丸則土隔鐵丸四十筒
[This cannon's] (yellow cannon's) weight is 130斤. Use half a medium fuse and 3兩 of powder with a sabot 3寸 long and 2寸 in diameter. Use a "leather finned arrow". The arrow's weight is 3斤8兩 and goes 1100 步. When firing shot use an earthen wad and 40 pieces of iron shot.

Note that these cannon were significantly heavier than those used during the Imjin War. In the 17th century, the cannon were significantly reinforced on the outside.
 
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Feb 2011
6,453
#6
It's written in the mixed script, which has the Classical Chinese, but I'll provide the passages here:
Yeah, that's only enough for me to make an educated guess on where in the passage it speaks about cannon weight, but not exactly what it says word for word. Thanks for the translation, btw.
 

Haakbus

Ad Honorem
Aug 2013
3,749
United States
#7
Yeah, that's only enough for me to make an educated guess on where in the passage it speaks about cannon weight, but not exactly what it says word for word. Thanks for the translation, btw.
No problem at all. :)

I'm currently working on converting the sources to Unicode (which hasn't been done as far as I know) and translating them into English.

The first three characters I haven't been able to convert into Unicode yet, and have not been able to translate, but they aren't relevant to the arrow weight.
 
Last edited:
Feb 2016
572
ROK
#10
Can you perhaps translate the relevant passage? I don't read Korean.
It's written in the mixed script, which has the Classical Chinese, but I'll provide the passages here:

天字銃筒中藥線一條火藥三十兩檄木八寸放大將軍箭箭重五十六斤三兩去九百步
For the "heaven" cannon 1 medium fuse, 30兩 of powder, an 8寸 sabot, and fire a "great general arrow". The arrow's weight is 56斤 3兩 and goes 900步.

地字銃筒中藥線一條火藥二十兩土隔三寸用鳥卵丸二百箇或用將軍箭則檄木六寸箭重二十九斤八兩去八百步
For the "earth" cannon 1 medium fuse, 20兩 of powder, a 3寸 earthen wad, using 200 pieces of bird egg shot or use the "general arrow" technique with a sabot of 6寸. The arrow's weight is 29斤 8兩 and goes 800步.

Here are the images for the "black" and "yellow" cannons, which have the relevant information on the arrows:

●●●重一百五十五斤中藥線一條火藥四兩檄木長三寸一分圓徑二寸六分放次大箭箭重七斤去二千餘步用丸則土隔鐵丸一百筒
[This cannon's] (black cannon's) weight is 155斤. Use 1 medium fuse, 4兩 of powder, a 3寸 1分 long sabot with a diameter of 2寸 6分. Fire an "other large arrow". The arrow's weight is 7斤 and goes about 2000步. Using the shot technique use an earthen wad and 100 pieces of iron shot.

●●●重一百三十斤中藥線半條火藥三兩檄木長三寸圓徑二寸用皮翎箭箭重三斤八兩去一千一百步放丸則土隔鐵丸四十筒
[This cannon's] (yellow cannon's) weight is 130斤. Use half a medium fuse and 3兩 of powder with a sabot 3寸 long and 2寸 in diameter. Use a "leather finned arrow". The arrow's weight is 3斤8兩 and goes 1100 步. When firing shot use an earthen wad and 40 pieces of iron shot.

Note that these cannon were significantly heavier than those used during the Imjin War. In the 17th century, the cannon were significantly reinforced on the outside.
Thanks Haakbus. The Korean parts are in the classical style, too. Most of the Koreans can't read that either.
 

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