30 April 2015

Multiple-barrel arquebuses of the Ming Dynasty


Zhen Die Chong (震疊銃, lit. 'Terror gun')

Ming Dynasty Double-Barreled Matchlock Gun
Drawing of a Zhen Die Chong, from 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
Zhen Die Chong is a double-barreled matchlock arquebus with over-and-under barrel configuration. Derived from Lu Mi Chong (嚕密銃), it features the same stock design, internally-mounted pivoted matchlock mechanism, foregrip and built-in sling mounts (for attaching gun sling) as its original counterpart, albeit with two gun barrels and two serpentines on its matchlock mechanism which allow the shooter to fire from both barrels at the same time. 

Specifically designed to counter Wokou charge tactic, the over-and-under barrels of Zhen Die Chong are not parallel to each other, but angled in such a way that the bottom barrel fires slightly downward, which increases the likelihood of hitting an enemy in crouched or prone position.

Qi Sheng Chong (奇勝銃, lit. 'Surprise victory gun')

Ming Dynasty Shotgun
Side (above) and top (below) view of Qi Sheng Chong, from 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
Qi Sheng Chong is a double-barreled matchlock arquebus with side-by-side barrel configuration. It is similar to Zhen Die Chong in most respects, except for different barrel and serpentine configuration. Qi Sheng Chong lacks the foregrip found on Zhen Die Chong, instead it mounts a vertical bar grip just in front of the trigger, as well as a loop under the barrels. These attachments are not useful for shooting, but they allow the gun to be overturned and used as a shield/tonfa if needed be.

Yi Hu Chong (翼虎銃, lit. 'Winged tiger arquebus')

Ming Dynasty Triple-barreled Matchlock Gun
Side (above) and top (below) view of Yi Hu Chong, from 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
Yi Hu Chong is a triple-barreled matchlock carbine with side-by-side barrel configuration. Essentially a a triple-barreled version of Qi Sheng Chong, Yi Hu Chong's third gun barrel necessitates the shortening of the weapon to offset its extra weight, as well as the addition of a second matchlock mechanism.

Like its double-barreled counterpart, Yi Hu Chong can be used as a shield/tonfa.

Ming Chinese using arquebus as shield
Highlighted: An arquebusier overturns his Yi Hu Chong and use it as a shield to fend off a spearman. from 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.

Xuan Ji Yi Hu (旋機翼虎, lit. 'Rotating mechanism winged tiger')

Ming Dynasty Turnover Matchlock Gun
A Xuan Ji Yi Hu and its components, from 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
An improved version of Yi Hu Chong, Xuan Ji Yi Hu is a matchlock "turnover gun" that features three rotatable barrels, which allow for simplification of its matchlock mechanism (as it no longer requires additional matchlock mechanisms, nor specially-designed two-serpentine mechanism) as well as higher rate of fire. 

Like its predecessors, Xuan Ji Yi Hu can be used as a shield/tonfa.

Triple-barreled Matchlock Revolver
A North Italian triple-barreled turnover matchlock pistol ca.1540. This weapon predates Xuan Ji Yi Hu by at least sixty years. (Source: Ethnographic Arms & Armour Forum)
It should be noted that the concept of multi-barreled turnover gun was not unique nor pioneered by the Chinese. Similar weapons had existed in the West for much longer.

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