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Author Topic: Manchurian Repeating Crossbow / Chu-Ko-Nu  (Read 1343 times)
Factory Hand
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« on: December 15, 2015, 10:01:21 pm »

I believe I saw a posting of unusual weapons somewhere here, and there was photo of one of these Chinese or Manchurian repeating crossbows. Here is one I built a few years back.

I made it out of scrap from my workshop. The design dates back at least to 250 BC, and was used up until the Boxer Rebellion, so American, Russian, and British troops may have encountered these during that conflict. Basically, you have a gravity-fed box magazine on top, with 10 to 12 small bolts. They have very little power and are not too accurate, but they were designed to use with poisoned bolts, probably from a snake. I consider these force multipliers rather than a primary weapon. You can shoot about 1 bolt a second from this one. If you imagine a town being defended by 500 archers, you could have potentially 6000 bolts in the air or striking their targets. I think it is safe to consider these a simple peasant weapon. They use very little metal, and are inexpensive to build and maintain. Bow strings historically were rawhide, though I used modern B50 for my string. Mostly red oak, with bamboo for the bow, antler for the trigger (inside the weapon), and two brass threaded rods and four brass washers being the only metal used in construction.

These are super fun, and were in use during the Victorian period, so probably Westerners came across these in their travels. Best part is they are really easy to build. I used plans dating to the 19th century, with very few modifications. The last photo shows me holding the little beast so you can get an idea of the size. Much bigger ones are depicted in at least one painting.



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Maets
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« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2015, 03:20:28 am »

Nice.  How about a video of it in action.
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Factory Hand
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« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2015, 12:28:50 pm »

Thank you. I would have to arrange to do that. Not anytime soon though, since it gets dark so soon with winter approaching. But I will try, maybe on my club's indoor range tonight.
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Factory Hand
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2015, 04:00:41 am »

Maets, I managed to get a video shot tonight. I will post that tomorrow.
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Factory Hand
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« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2015, 11:02:41 am »

Well, let us see if I figured out how to post a video. The actor is me, alas.

https://youtu.be/j7LmYuLpLFc

It worked! Sorry you have to go to the link, but it is the best I can do for now. I am shooting 8 bolts / rounds from my little beast. About 1 a second or so, which is historically how fast these things shoot. I didn't bother setting up a target, and am just shooting into the backstop of the pistol range.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2015, 11:05:29 am by Factory Hand » Logged
Michael Farley
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mgfarley
« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2015, 11:51:19 am »

If you remove the 's' from "https://" at start of the link, it should appear as follows:



By the way, love the finished crossbow. I've seen them in books before but never in real life.
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Factory Hand
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« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2015, 12:45:10 pm »

Great tip, Michael, thanks! And thank you for your words about the weapon. There is something really satisfying about bringing to life ancient and obsolete technologies and objects.
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Maets
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« Reply #7 on: December 18, 2015, 02:59:34 am »

Fantastic.  Thanks for the video.  Very impressive.
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Factory Hand
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« Reply #8 on: December 18, 2015, 08:00:00 pm »

Glad you liked it. This little weapon cost me about 20 bucks, if you include the four washers, two threaded rods, a piece of bamboo for the bow, and the scrap oak laying around. Maybe 4 hours to build. The only liberties from the plans I used was the magazine lid, which originally slid in and out in two slots, and I made the magazine out of four individual pieces of wood rather than a single piece of wood, as per the originals. I also went with two pieces of bamboo instead of three, as show in the original weapon.

If you like crossbows, here is a late Roman period crossbow (based on one grave bas-relief in Gaul and a lot of assumptions and educated guesswork) I built a while back. It is now living in Scotland. While not Steampunk, I still like showing it off.

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Miranda.T
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« Reply #9 on: December 18, 2015, 09:33:54 pm »

Those are excellent re-creations! Neat mechanism in the Chinese one. Presumably, given the rapid rate of fire, the draw-weight must be quite low; what's the range for it?

Yours,
Miranda.
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Factory Hand
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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2015, 01:22:30 am »

Thank you, Miranda. You are correct, the draw weight is quite low. One ancient writer said these weapons were suitable for women and scholars, ie. elderly folks  Smiley. I have never bothered to weigh the draw weight, but I am guessing about 10 pounds. As I think I stated, I have seen a painting of a huge one of these mounted on the rail of a ship during ship-to-ship combat, so they did build very powerful ones. That is a project I have to get around to one day. As for range, how far can you throw? Seriously, I was shooting this recently at a distance of about 20 yards to very bad effect. At a very close range, you do get groupings of about 1". At far distances, the accuracy is nearly not there. But....if you were some war band and hundreds or thousands of guys were raining poisoned bolts on you, it would not be so much fun. 
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