24 November 2015

Huo Dan Tong (火彈筒)

Ming Dynasty Flare Handgonne
Drawing of a Huo Dan Tong (highlighted), from 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
Huo Dan Tong (火彈筒, lit. 'Fire bullet tube') is a simple flare gun designed by Zhao Shi Zhen (趙士楨). It was often used in conjunction with Jiu Tou Niao (九頭鳥) in night fighting, illuminating targets for the jingal gun to shoot at.

Ming Chinese Jingal
A soldier is using a Huo Dan Tong to provide illumination for the Jingal gun team. From 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.


  1. I see wheel of some kind in drawing, is this wheellock firearm?

    1. That's also what I thought of first, but on closer inspection, it is actually still a matchlock.

  2. I have several questions.
    1) When was this handgun invented? It looks somewhat similar to the European handgonne of 1450-1500 that's why I'm asking.
    2) Is there a possibility that this weapon is an improved version of an already existing weapon?
    3) What ammunition did they shoot? Fire/flame, burned projectiles?
    4) Any information about the caliber/bore diameter? Can it be used as a real weapon (not as a flare)?

    1. 1) This particular one was invented around 1598~1610s.
      2) Doesn't seem like it. Zhao Shi Zhen didn't mention upgrading it from existing weapon.
      3) A flare called Huo Dan. I have a blogpost about the ammunition elsewhere in this blog.
      4) No. Yes.


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