Rainproof covers for matchlocks outside Japan?

Discussion in 'Pre-Flintlock' started by hyuzu, Apr 27, 2019.

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  1. Apr 27, 2019 #1

    hyuzu

    hyuzu

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    Did any other nations, aside from Japan, develop rainproof covers for matchlock firearms? If so, I'd be interested to know any details about their design and use.

    Examples I have seen from Japan seem to have been made out of leather, lacquered paper, or metal, and according to my reading material were in use from the 17th century onward (although fairly rare today).

    Images of what I'm talking about are below:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Apr 28, 2019 #2

    CapnJack

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    I take that block alongside the barrel to be a sighting device, as
    a sight down the barrel would be blocked by the weather cover.
     
  3. Apr 28, 2019 #3

    hyuzu

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    I believe that "block" is for sighting, yes.
    Just to point out, some of these weather covers appear to have been open rectangles front and back, which allowed some (fairly limited) viewing through it. Some of them were more closed off and had a small opening which lined up with the sight, see this image (the gun on the right): https://i.pinimg.com/originals/d3/3c/1d/d33c1d970805fd6e1500c87f13d11f30.jpg
     
  4. Apr 28, 2019 #4

    Pukka Bundook

    Pukka Bundook

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    I wonder how effective these devises would be, Hyuzu?
    I ask, as most of the slow match remains uncovered, unless other precautions were taken.
    To me, a feather in the touchhole, and keep it all under a cape or whatever, like we do with a flintlock, and only prime when a shot can be taken, would appear as much a fix as this idea.

    All the best,
    Richard.
     
  5. Apr 28, 2019 #5

    hyuzu

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    @Pukka Bundook , I believe a main advantage of these devices was that it kept the lit part of the match under cover, avoiding the risk of it being extinguished in the rain when you were preparing to take a shot. So you can shoulder and fire the gun in the rain, with the lit end still protected from the elements. I don't know how westerners would have protected the burning ends of their match cords in the rain when shooting (you mention keeping it under a cape? Sorry, but I can't quite visualize how one would do this when taking aim and firing?).

    The flash pan (and the powder within) was also protected in Japanese matchlocks by a hinged pan cover, which could be flicked out of the way with your thumb when ready to take a shot (I am not sure if western matchlocks had a similar piece). You can see them opened and closed on the gun in this image (first and second view from the left): https://i.pinimg.com/originals/d3/9a/08/d39a08d69a70a389fd84a2910726202e.jpg

    There were separate boxes/holders made to store match cord when on the move, to keep it out of the elements. But when in action, to the best of my knowledge, the cord was left wound around the stock.
     
  6. Apr 28, 2019 #6

    CapnJack

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    It's an interesting concept, but the more I look at it, the more it looks like a cone
    that would direct the flash from the pan back into my face.
    Being the, "traditionalist, that I am, I carry a Bick.
     
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  7. Apr 28, 2019 #7

    hyuzu

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    I've never had the opportunity to test fire one, so I couldn't say. My sources seem to indicate they were used at more than just an individual/prototype level, so I guess the Japanese figured out some way to use them in action without blinding themselves...
     
  8. Apr 29, 2019 #8

    Pukka Bundook

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    Hyuzu,

    When I mentioned under cover, (cape or whatever), I was meaning to keep things dry, not when firing it.
    Most often when rain stopped play, hostilities were postponed, or the pikes went into action.
    If the Japanese matchlock shooters got a shot off in the rain, it may be just the one, unless the match-cord was covered somehow.
    Yes, European matchlocks have a pan cover, mostly manually operated, but some were automatic.

    All the best,
    R.
     
  9. Apr 29, 2019 #9

    hyuzu

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    Thanks for the answer re: pan covers, Pukka. I think one other advantage of the Japanese devices, other than protection from the rain, would have been protection of the lit match end from strong winds (primarily in the weather covers that had the more closed front ends).

    But anyway, the impression I'm getting so far in this thread is that other nations don't seem to have had an equivalent to these Japanese devices. That's what I was after, anyway.

    It might be of interest to some folks here, that in China there was a sort of opposite device used on their matchlocks: that being a pouch attached to the gun's stock which held the coil of match cord, while leaving the burning end exposed. The front end of the match cord was pulled through a hole at the top and attached to the serpentine. You can see an example of this pouch here: https://www.ashokaarts.com/img/prod...el-with-brass-mounts-wwwashokaarts-3-6655.jpg

    And an illustration of a Chinese soldier with one on his gun here: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipe...ER_OF_CHU-SAN,_Armed_with_a_Matchlock_Gun.jpg
     
  10. Apr 30, 2019 #10

    Pukka Bundook

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    Thanks for the links, Hyuzu, I will have a dekko.

    The bit about wind being a problem has been bandied about for a great many years, but wind Cannot blow a match out! The more the wind blows, the hotter the match burns. This is very much a fact. (After all, how do we get the coal to burn hotter before firing? We blow on it! ) :)

    All the best,
    Richard.
     
  11. Apr 30, 2019 #11

    hyuzu

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    I'll have to take your word for it. Despite my research interests in Asian matchlocks, I've never had the chance to fire a gun with that ignition system in my life (as I think I've made obvious by now). What you're saying makes sense though.
     
  12. Apr 30, 2019 #12

    Pukka Bundook

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    Not sure where you are Hyuzu, but I could send you a bit of slow-match to try if you like. :)

    If so, PM me.
     
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  13. Apr 30, 2019 #13

    hyuzu

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    Thanks Pukka, that's much appreciated. But I'll have to ask you to hold that offer until I move back to a country where I could test it on a gun. I doubt my local pd even knows what a matchlock is, much less how to issue a license for a shootable repro. I could tell you stories about how they tried to wrap their heads around me wanting to import a genuine antique... :p
     
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  14. May 2, 2019 #14

    Canute Rex

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    My impression from old illustrations is that European matchlock shooters made do with large brimmed hats. That's my solution today. Of course, I tend not to go shooting if there is a steady rain.
     
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  15. May 2, 2019 #15

    hyuzu

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    I had heard that before, but didn't know if it was an urban legend or not.

    If only matchlock-era armies had the luxury that we do to chose when they went shooting :p
     
  16. May 3, 2019 #16

    Pukka Bundook

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    Large brimmed hats only work for part of the matchlock's history.
    From early 1500's to early 1700's is a long time. :)

    Hyuzu,
    Indeed, battle was at times postponed until weather cleared.
     
  17. May 3, 2019 #17

    hyuzu

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    Or mid 1800s in Asia... ;)
    Wonder if anyone thought of using a wide rice-paddy hat for cover... :p

    The key bit of that sentence being "at times". ;)
    For the other times when the fighting had to happen, I'd guess any kind of protection from the elements was appreciated by the guys who had to depend on those matches to keep their enemies away, whether it was a hat or a box-like cover...
     
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  18. May 4, 2019 #18

    Pukka Bundook

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    I think the sword would come into play, as most carried them, from the days of the Landsnechts onward, or the pikes that were often used for protection over a fairly long period.
     
  19. May 4, 2019 #19

    hyuzu

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    I've seen illustrations of European matchlockmen carrying swords, so I definitely believe you on that. All I'm saying is, if I had a choice between something that would allow me to stay back from my enemy and keep shooting in the rain, or have to draw in close with a sword, I know which one I'd pick ;)

    Side note to this discussion, I know that umbrellas were a common part of the Chinese infantryman's kit (both for rain and sun protection) right up to the warlord era of the 1920s. As yet I haven't seen any references to them being used to shield matchlocks, but that might be something I'll dig around for if I get time...
     
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  20. May 4, 2019 #20

    Pukka Bundook

    Pukka Bundook

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    Brolly with a sharp point on the end! Dual purpose weapon. :)
    I think it might work, but would have the opposition in fits maybe!
     
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