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Chinese Firearms and Cannons


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#1 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 03:36 AM

I heard that gunpowder was invented during the late Tang dynasty and first used as weapons in the form of 'explosives firing catapult"..

Does anyone know when Cannons were first invented in China and when it was used in battle?

It seems that Ming had a great emphasis on firearms and even imported cannons from Europe.
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#2 tmwang16

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 06:21 PM

I think the Europeans acutally started the first modern firearms and cannons and eventually started to sell them to China.

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 08:47 PM

I heard that gunpowder was invented during the late Tang dynasty and first used as weapons in the form of 'explosives firing catapult"..

Does anyone know when Cannons were first invented in China and when it was used in battle?

It seems that Ming had a great emphasis on firearms and even imported cannons from Europe.

Explosive firing catapult sounds an awfull alot like a treb (sorry do not know the full name) All those who played age of empiers will know what I mean.

#4 Yun

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 10:16 PM

The Chinese made the first firearms, cannons and explosive grenades. The Europeans just improved upon them in the 16th-19th centuries.

The earliest gunpowder weapons we know of in world history were used in the 11th century by the Song dynasty. The first kind of "firearm" was literally a spear that also doubled as a flamethrower, with a tube of gunpowder tied close to the blade that could be ignited when the enemy approached. It was called the "firespear" (火枪 huoqiang), and that's why guns are still called qiang 枪 in China today, the same word as "spear". In 1259 in the Southern Song, the first true gun was also invented - a bamboo tube firing a single pellet that was called the 突火枪 tuhuoqiang ("fire-shooting spear"). The Song also had a very wide variety of explosive bombs and mines that could be thrown, laid in the ground, or launched from trebuchets.

The oldest extant cannon that we have is a bronze cannon from the Yuan dynasty, with an inscription dated 1332. It is 35.3cm long, with a calibre of 10.5cm and a weight of 6.94kg. The inscription also tells us that it was cannon number 300 in its frontier guard unit, showing that such cannons were manufactured and deployed in large numbers. The muzzle of the cannon is flared out in a bowl shape, which is characteristic of cannons from the late Yuan to the early Ming (see the pictures at
http://202.102.202.1...ew_page_450.htm
http://www.yzls.net/...tp/Zs084362.jpg and http://www.yzls.net/...tp/Zs093400.jpg )

Until recently, the oldest extant metal handgun was a Yuan dynasty bronze handgun (火铳 huochong) with an inscription dated 1351. It is 43.5cm long (longer than the cannon!), including a 14.6cm long stock, with a calibre of 3cm. The range of the gun is estimated to be about 180m. Because of its length, it was often operated on a stand by two men, with one man steadying the stand while the other ignited the fuse leading to the gunpowder chamber.

However, in June this year, a collector in Ningxia province revealed a handgun with an inscription dated 1271, during the reign of Khubilai Khan and five years before the Mongol conquest of the Southern Song. It is 34.6cm long, with a calibre of 2.6cm, and shaped like an elongated vase. The report (in Chinese) is here: http://tech.enorth.c...000799394.shtml

During the civil wars and rebellions at the end of the Yuan dynasty, trebuchets and cannons were used together because of the relatively small calibre of cannons, which still made them less effective against city walls. In the Ming dynasty, large iron cannons began to be produced, while wooden and bamboo cannons could also be improvised. The uses of cannons broadened from siege warfare and city defence to also include naval warfare and field deployment. Wheeled carriages for cannons also began to be used for the first time.

During the Ming dynasty, as GZ has mentioned, large humbers of cannon were also imported from Europe, and were known as 佛朗机 folangji ("Frankish Machines") and 红夷炮 hongyipao ("Red-haired Barbarian Cannons"). Most of these were from Portugal and Holland, and had superior range, calibre and durability compared to Chinese cannons. But the Chinese quickly learned how to copy these cannons, and began making their own, although they continued to call them "Frankish Machines" and "Red-haired Barbarian Cannons". These types of cannon were the main artillery of Chinese armies until well into the Qing dynasty.

During the Ming dynasty, rocket launchers were also invented. The earliest rockets were first used in the Southern Song, and were called fire-arrows (huojian 火箭), and that remains the Chinese term for rockets (even the ones that land on the moon). These rockets were, like the fire-spears, arrows with tubes of gunpowder tied to them to allow them to fly on their own power. Throughout the Ming dynasty, launchers with large numbers of these rockets were used in field combat, but by the early Qing, with the introduction of more efficient handguns (arquebuses), the rockets became largely redundant. A picture of a fire-arrow rocket: http://www.yzls.net/...tp/Zs075324.jpg
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#5 Guest_Tyler_*

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Posted 16 July 2004 - 10:19 PM

Once agian thank you for the great info Yun.

#6 Yun

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Posted 02 August 2004 - 12:41 AM

Some of you may have heard of the Jingal (Taiqiang 抬枪), a large-calibre gun mounted on a stand or fired resting on a soldier's shoulder. It was a weapon unique to China, and used widely in Qing dynasty armies up to the late 19th century.

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#7 astralis

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 02:10 PM

lol, i pity the man whose back was used as the gunrest.

#8 Moping4U

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Posted 03 August 2004 - 02:25 PM

lol, i pity the man whose back was used as the gunrest.

yes, and noticed he has one finger in his ear, at least he'll only be half-deaf.

But regarding fire-arms, I think the hand grenades are the most under-rated weapons. I think they were called roughly "heaven shaking thunder". The ones made of either porcelain or clay, and filled with gunpowder and metal scraps, with a fuse. When exploded the broken piecces of clay or porcelain and scraps are scattered everywhere as shrapnel, maiming anything in its repectable radius. Imagine in pitch battles when an army is in formation, when they charge, grenadiers can simply lob grenades into their ranks and force them to break, and let the melee troops slaughtered the disorganized army.

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Posted 15 August 2004 - 02:25 AM

I saw on a web site that China's earliest gunpowder weapon is the firelance(firespear), any infomation about the battles that use the firelance?

Also I heard that when the Jin dynasty fall, large number of gunpower weapon were taken over by the Mongols and use in the invasion of Europe.

#10 Yun

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Posted 15 August 2004 - 08:03 AM

Type98G, here's a good example of the use of fire-lances against the Mongols by the Jin, from an earlier thread on this board:

In 1233, after Wanyan Shouxu (the Jin emperor Aizong) had abandoned Kaifeng and failed to raise a new army for himself in Hebei, he returned to Henan and established his base in Gui'de 归德 (present-day Anyang). Scattered Jin armies began to gather at Gui'de from the surrounding region and Hebei, and the supplies in the city could no longer feed all these soldiers. Thus Wanyan Shouxu left only 450 Han Chinese troops (Zhongxiao Jun 忠孝军) under Commander in Chief Pucha Guannu 蒲察官奴 and 280 men under Commander Ma Yong 马用 to guard the city, and dispersed the rest of the troops to forage in Su 宿 (in Anhui), Xu 徐 (modern Xuzhou in Jiangsu), and Chen 陈 (modern Huaiyang in Henan).

Pucha Guannu then launched a coup with his troops, killing Ma Yong and more than 300 other courtiers, as well as about 3,000 officers, palace guards and civilians who refused to cooperate with him. He made the emperor his puppet and became the real master of the imperial court. At this point the Mongols had arrived outside Gui'de and were preparing to besiege the city. The Mongol general Sajisibuhua 撒吉思卜华 had set up camp north of the city, on the bank of a river. Guannu then led his 450 troops out on boats from the southern gate at night, armed with fire-lances (huoqiang 火枪). They rowed along the river by the eastern side of the city, reaching the Mongol camp early in the morning. Wanyan Shouxu watched the battle from the northern gate of the city, with his imperial boat prepared for him to flee to Xuzhou if the Jin troops were defeated.

The Jin troops assaulted the Mongol camp from two directions, using their fire-lances to throw the Mongols into a panic. More than 3,500 Mongols drowned in the river while trying to flee, and the Mongol stockades were all burned to the ground. Sajisibuhua was also killed in the battle. Guannu had achieved a remarkable victory and was promoted by the emperor (who after all was under his control). But Gui'de was not defensible in the long term, and the other courtiers urged the emperor to move to Caizhou, which had stronger walls and more provisions and troops. Pucha Guannu opposed the move, afraid that his power base would be weakened and arguing that Caizhou's advantages had been overstated.

Three months later, Wanyan Shouxu used a plot to assassinate Guannu, and then quickly began preparations to move to Caizhou. By the time new reports reached him that Caizhou was still too weak in defences, troops and supplies, he was already on the way there. The fate of the Jin dynasty was then sealed for good, despite the earlier victory against great odds at Gui'de.
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#11 Guest_Type98G_*

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Posted 15 August 2004 - 08:40 AM

Thank you for the info Yun :)

#12 DaMo

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Posted 28 August 2004 - 02:32 PM

http://www.uh.edu/engines/epi242.htm

For years we thought the oldest cannons were late medieval bombards. Bombards were big cast-iron pots. The French called them pots de fer -- literally, "pots of iron." They were pear-shaped with a narrow neck and a flared top. The oldest one on record shows up in a French manuscript written in 1327. It fired a projectile shaped like a spear.

Historians have argued over the source of firearms. Before 1327 one finds ambiguous hints of Arabic, Chinese, and European guns. The remains of a Chinese handgun date to 1288 -- only 39 years before that French bombard. Old writings in the West mention ordnance that might have used explosives. But, at best, they too go back only into the late 1200's.

In 1985 a visitor to a Buddhist cave in the Chinese province of Szechuan noticed something that other people had missed. There, carved on opposing walls, are groups of men, armed to the teeth. One is a demon-like fellow, holding what is unmistakably a bombard -- just like the one in the French drawing. Another holds a bomb. Both carvings are unambiguous -- they even show flames exploding outward.

But there's a catch. These figures were carved in 1128 -- two centuries before the French bombard.


http://www.archaeolo...c/kamikaze.html

Relics of the Kamikaze  Volume 56 Number 1, January/February 2003 
by James P. Delgado 

Excavations off Japan's coast are uncovering Kublai Khan's ill-fated invasion fleet.

...

underwater archaeologists led by Kenzo Hayashida of the Kyushu Okinawa Society for Underwater Archaeology (KOSUWA) have excavated the broken remains of a massive Chinese warship, lost during the khan's invasion of 1281.

...

As subjects of the Mongols, China's Sung Dynasty provided most of the fleet--4,400 ships according to Chinese records--and many of the troops for the invasion.

...

Chinese alchemists invented gunpowder around A.D. 300, and by 1100 huge paper bombs much like giant firecrackers were being used in battle. Chinese sources refer to catapult-launched exploding projectiles in 1221, but some historians have argued that the references date to later rewritings of the sources. In his recent book In Little Need of Divine Intervention, which analyzes two Japanese scrolls that depict the Mongol invasion, Bowdoin College historian Thomas Conlan suggests that a scene showing a samurai falling from his horse as a bomb explodes over him was a later addition. Conlan's research masterfully refutes many of the traditional myths and commonly held perceptions of the invasion, downplaying the number of ships and troops involved and arguing that it was not the storms but the Japanese defenders ashore, as well as confusion and a lack of coordination, that thwarted the khan's two invasions. But his suggestion that the exploding bomb is an anachronism has now been demolished by solid archaeological evidence. Moreover, when the Japanese x-rayed two intact bombs, they found that one was filled just with gunpowder while the other was packed with gunpowder and more than a dozen square pieces of iron shrapnel intended to cut down the enemy.


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#13 Liang Jieming

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Posted 10 September 2004 - 04:54 AM

The world's oldest picture of a gun and grenade in use is from a 10th century painted silk banner found at Dunhuang of Mara the Temptress and her demons attacking the meditating Buddha. One demon holds a proto-gun (fire-lance) while other, a bomb.

The earliest handgun I believe is dated to 1288.

A handcannon dated to 1368 is with the Royal Artillery Institution, Woolwich, UK.

:-)

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#14 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 10 September 2004 - 05:10 AM

Hey Liang, do you happen to have a picture of that 10th century silk gun/grenade? :)
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#15 Borjigin Ayurbarwada

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Posted 10 September 2004 - 02:07 PM

The world's oldest picture of a gun and grenade in use is from a 10th century painted silk banner found at Dunhuang of Mara the Temptress and her demons attacking the meditating Buddha.


Yes its a picture of the Tang general who finally drove the Tubo out of Dong Huang and restored it to Tang rule.




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