Unique weapon of the Ming Dynasty — Yi Wo Feng (一窩蜂)

Yi Wo Feng (一窩蜂, lit. 'Nest of bees')
Ming Chinese Multiple Rocket Pod
Drawing of a Yi Wo Feng, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
The famous Nest of Bees is a thirty-two shot multiple rocket launcher. Although often lauded as the "first handheld multiple rocket launcher", the Nest of Bees is in fact a wagon-mounted weapon. Unlike most other Chinese multiple rocket launchers that use smaller rockets, Nest of Bees carries thirty-two full sized Shen Ji Jian (神機箭) rockets, and has a maximum range of three hundred paces.

This weapon get its name not just from the swarm of rockets it can unleash, but also from its hexagonal wooden rocket pod. When multiple pods are stored together, they look like a beehive.


Da Yi Wo Feng (大一窩蜂, lit. 'Big nest of bees')
Ming Chinese Naval Rocket Launcher
Drawing of Da Yi Wo Feng, from 'Bing Lu (《兵錄》)'.
Da Yi Wo Feng is the fifty shot version of the Nest of Bees, although it shoots smaller rockets. Its main use is in naval combat, where it is one of the few weapons capable of engaging enemy ships from headwind position. Unlike the original Nest of Bees, Da Yi Wo Feng is a handheld weapon.



Other weapons bearing the same name
Besides the famous rocket pod, there are several unrelated weapons in the Ming arsenal that have the same name. To avoid confusion, I will also cover them in this blog post.

Qian Dan Yi Wo Feng (鉛彈一窩蜂, lit. 'Lead pellet nest of bees')
Top: A Qian Dan Yi Wo Feng stored in a bag. Bottom: Qian Dan Yi Wo Feng ready to fire. From 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Qian Dan Yi Wo Feng is a type of portable anti-personnel cannon typically loaded with hundreds of small lead balls instead of one large cannonball. It is usually staked to the ground before firing, but can be mounted on a small wheeled carriage as well. Qian Dan Yi Wo Feng is light enough to be carried around with just one man.
This weapon is probably a further development of Hu Dun Pao (虎蹲砲).


Xiao Yi Wo Feng (小一窩蜂, lit. 'Small nest of bees')
Ming Chinese Fire Lance
Drawing of a Xiao Yi Wo Feng, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Xiao Yi Wo Feng is a type of fire lance that can project a stream of flame to up to four zhang. Its primary use is to fend off enemy charge or force the enemy to give ground.

2 comments:

  1. Very interesting, I was under the impression that the Nest of Bees was a hand launched weapon.It is true though that there were hand launched rocket containers such as those depicted in this illustration?
    http://www.grandhistorian.com/chinesesiegewarfare/images/rocketlaunchers.jpg

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  2. Definitely. Ming Dynasty developed many types of handheld multiple rocket launcher, just that Nest of Bees is not one of them. Nest of Bees is still light enough to be carried by one man though.

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