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glandes single or multiple projectiles? (Read 16057 times)
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glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Aug 12th, 2003 at 10:03pm
 
By now most of you have seen photos of glandes, the leaden sling bullets of the Romans. Even though they are of lead, they seem to be fairly light weight for a sling. I figured that they used them as a multiple projectile load against massed infantry. If launched high enough that would increase firepower quite a bit and increase the chances of a single pellet falling through an opening in armor to softer areas of the body. The biconical section of the projectile would wobble intitially on launching but should eventually level out into a point forward landing.
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BillB
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #1 - Aug 13th, 2003 at 1:38pm
 
Not to be argumentive, but is this just based on your reading, or have you observed them initially wobbling then straightening out?

I find it hard to believe they straighten out significantly unless they're given a spin somehow. Yet, it's quite obvious that they were used and were possibly "standard issue ammo" so they must have had some effectiveness.

Bill B.
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #2 - Aug 13th, 2003 at 5:32pm
 
It's true that I have no proof of it. I've seen impact studies of shuttle cock type projectiles(shotgun slugs) that have little or no spin and will fly point forward due to tail drag if it flies far enough. A biconical projectile is basically a shuttle cock type projectile that just happens to have another point on the end of the tail. Most of the projectiles like this tend to wobble a bit as they are moving and then starts to stabilize with one end flying forward due to air drag. A football is similar and I've seen them wobble when thrown with no spin, but if they fall far enough don't they start to still the wobble so that one end comes point down? I can't imagine that the shape of the glandes are an accident. Balls or ovals are much easier to cut into molds and cast than oblong biconicals.
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Chris
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #3 - Aug 13th, 2003 at 8:02pm
 
The shape is supposed to increase range, although my tests (documented in the articles section) didn't back that up.  However, this was the standard ammo Romans and others used, which leads me to think it was an advantage over simple, spherical ammo.  It’s obvious that the smaller tip would provide more impact energy and be more likely to go through armor or flesh. 

The deadliness of the sling has always been in question, at least with the people I speak to.  Could anybody here kill a man?  Maybe with a lucky shot…  I know I couldn’t.  But, these weapons were supposedly wreaking havoc in the ancient battlefield.  The Romans even developed a special tool to remove sling pellets from wounds. 

Firing many smaller shots just seems unlikely to me.  I think the effectiveness of one single lead shot is in question, so smaller, lighter ones really make me wonder. 

Chris
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #4 - Aug 21st, 2003 at 3:46am
 
To take a bit of a broader view of the period, look at the armor and shields of the armies opposing the Romans.  Leather was the primary component, with some chainmaille (very limited), some metal plates, and wood.  All of these things could stop even a fast missile.  I think that the shape was just as Chris said, a way to put more psi on the impact point.  Just like a flail had spikes or ridges, you have a relatively good flight missile with two points to cause some damage.  Add to the fact that it was heavy and could throw well if it got a spin (maybe with a course leather pouch and a certain release techique) and you have a good chance of hitting an exposed bit of flesh or skull, especially from the top.

When the Germanic tribes were at war with Rome, they used a few throwing axes each (double bladed, crudely designed) as the first attack into an advancing Roman line.  These axes normally hit shields or armor, being nothing more than a small pain to the Romans, but they got some hits in before they ever had to touch the enemy with there main battle gear.  The same could be said about the slings used by the Romans, a sapper weapon.

Anyway, that's my 2 cents worth.

Ron
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #5 - Aug 21st, 2003 at 9:56am
 
The axes were only a "small pain" if you didn't get hit with one  Wink

I've wondered about this one as well.  Do we have any idea as to the exact size of these lead missles (Chris, I'm looking at you)?  Were they the same size as the ceramic ones?  Just a thought as it would be interesting to cast some, and set up some targets to test this.  With my slinging, they would have to be big targets, but certain elements to reproduce armor could be used, and the damage observed.

Ahh, another good project for next summer!

Rob
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #6 - Aug 21st, 2003 at 1:58pm
 
My take is that the sling is much like long range machine gun fire. Meant to throw confusion and fear into the enemy and throw the abillity to keep a formation together off. You have a variety of missles coming in at various trajectories, true most bouncing off of armor or shielding but some sinking through gaps in the same. Small heavy projectiles coming in at sufficient velocity will sink into the body. Most bullet studies that I have seen have the bullet tumbling after impact so that the blunt end is traveling forward after swapping (if the bullet doesn't fragment during the first effort to tumble) Being able to toss multiple projectiles with each throw gets more ligther weight projectiles up into the air causing more disorientation. There were hundreds of glandes found at Roman military battle sites volume of fire must have been a consideration.
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #7 - Aug 22nd, 2003 at 12:41am
 
I would say the roman glandes approached sizes of 2.5 to 3 inches on the upper limit.  I actually was in contact with a roman reenactor who was casting his own.  I believe his were around 1.5 inches.  

The following site lists them as 1.5 to 1.75 inches long:
http://www.historicalshop.com/sitecontents/earlyhistory/roman/ACRomanLeadproj.ht...

Mr. Lloydian shows some that are about 1.25 inches long:
http://www.staff.ncl.ac.uk/nikolas.lloyd/weapons/sling.html

As for an idea of the payload of a sling, look at the size of these killer rocks:
http://www.christiananswers.net/q-abr/abr-slingsforkids.html

Casting glandes:
...

Recovered roman glandes:
... ... ...
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #8 - Aug 22nd, 2003 at 9:23am
 
Sweet photos!!   Shocked I especially like the first one.  Those lead ones look as though they could make some serious dents in the armor.

Rob
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #9 - Nov 27th, 2003 at 4:19am
 
Re Glandes.If you thought rocks were wicked - lead glandes are the next step up in the ancient world of mega hurt!I have been meaning to do an article on them but just haven't had the time. Yes- glandes fly point first ; yes - they spin ; yes they have increased range.If you think of the flight of an American football you basically have the idea.You have to have a slightly modified sling release but that is no big deal.Glandes are fairly easy to make and are real easy to lose - and are really really dangerous!(even a 'slow' throw will cause a surprising amount of damage).I have found that almost all projectiles from a sling leave with a induced spin (toss an iregular shaped stone and listen for the humming sound).When I have the time I will sling in the article. Slinging rocks is fun but Glandes are scary!
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #10 - Nov 27th, 2003 at 3:41pm
 
Kiwi,

Culd you tell what improvment (%) of a range the lead projectiles give towards regular stones?

Ben mentioned about the uranium darts. Uranium is almost 2 times more desnse than lead, so that must be real fun with it!

Jurek

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In the shape, structure and position of each stone, there is recorded a small piece of history. So, slinging them, we add a bit of our history to them.
 
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #11 - Nov 27th, 2003 at 10:50pm
 
I will have to agree with Kiwi's assessment on the rotation of a stone on release.  Most of the rocks I throw are out of round in at least two axes, and they tend to whirr and hum with quite a bit of volume.  Some are downright loud.

As for glandes flying point forward, that sounds a bit specious.  In what way was this phenomenon proven?  A football is thrown with much more precision relative to the long axis than a glande coule possibly be.  This is of course just my opinion, but I would have to see some real test results to believe a glande could be thrown on axis like a football.

That said, lead with its high specific gravity makes for a very aerodynamic package no matter the shape.  I would not want to be hit with a glande no matter the orientation in flight.

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So David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone. (1 Samuel 17:50)
 
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #12 - Nov 28th, 2003 at 11:53am
 
This subject is very interesting. Kiwi, you are something right with respect to the point-first flight of the projectils rugby shaped. It is clear for projectils of clay or stone. The technique that I use consists of turning around in a  45º plane and launching in horizontal plane to the height of the hip. In that position the projectil leaves just with the point forwards, whenever we have held the ends of the sling with a little separation among them. Thus, in the turning around, the axis of the projectile is changing of position successively and the firing must be done when oriented forwards. In addition, as when releasing the projectile always leaves turning because it rolls on the pouch, it acquires a giroscopic effect that holds the position of the spin axis in the flight. Nevertheless,  this techniquie of launching is difficult to obtain with glandes due to its small size, that makes very difficult the control of its position in the firing. But it is not impossible, and in fact the Romans used to alter glandes, sharpening one of their ends, to facilitate the point-first flight. With it, they  attained to move the center of gravity towards an end and to stabilize better the projectile. I have some Roman glandes altered this way, if you want to see them I can put the image. Nevertheless, as you say JeffH, what they often wanted was precisely the opposite,  that the glandes flew in a erratic way, since then the destruction with its points was greater. There were many adjustments that the slingers made in glandes to obtain different effects.

Jesús
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He brought a conquering sword..., a shield..., a spear... , a sling from which no erring shot was discharged.&&
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #13 - Nov 28th, 2003 at 5:53pm
 
Quote:
...this techniquie of launching is difficult to obtain with glandes due to its small size, that makes very difficult the control of its position in the firing...


So, if the fly of the lead elongated projectiles is very aleatory, then maybe using the ball-shaped ones would make sense? Of course if someone doesn't want make the terrible disaster in the enemy's body but only get the good ranges Wink

Jurek
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In the shape, structure and position of each stone, there is recorded a small piece of history. So, slinging them, we add a bit of our history to them.
 
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Re: glandes single or multiple projectiles?
Reply #14 - Dec 2nd, 2003 at 2:06pm
 
For your purposes (the Guiness) Wink we will have to think about the best way. It dont´t think to try the end forwards flight is a good idea because this technique decrease something  the launching energy . It is better to shoot with all the power and that the projectile flies as it wants. Although you think that spherical projectiles would be the best ones because they would have a more regular flight, in practice it has been demonstrated through the history that are the elongated ones, rugby shaped, which attain more range.This shape was adopted yet with clay projectiles, when nothing about ballistic theory  was still known. Today we know that for the same weight of the projectile, the air dragging is proportional to the surface shown to the advance, and for that reason an elongated projectile, even flying not completely straight,  shows a smaller surface to the air than a spherical one and get more range. And although the axis of the projectile can oscillate something in the flight,  usually takes a more or less inclined position due to the gyroscopic effect that it acquires in the launching. The difficulty is to control that position, but never mind the position, it tends to stay unless we use a technique for launching it in a erratic way. So I think the typical glande is the best option to beat that record you are close. According my calculations, if I´m not wrong, with a glande the same weight your 320 meters stone projectil , you could increase the range in 35 %.
Animo, valiente
Jesús
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