27 April 2016

Huo Dan (火彈)

Hand Grenade variant
Ming Chinese Incendiary Grenade
Five huo dan, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Huo Dan (火彈, fire bullet), also known as Huo Yao (火妖, lit. 'Fire monster') is a simple hand grenade/flare grenade used by the Ming army. It is a fist-sized paper ball coated in rosin, Chinese tallowtree wax and beeswax, and filled with rosin, poison smoke-incendiary gunpowder, and poisoned caltrops.

While usually thrown by hand, Huo Dan can also be launched from a hand mortar known as Huo Dan Tong (火彈筒).


Late Ming "Roman candle" variant from Bing Lu (《兵錄》)
Weaponized Roman Candle
Huo Dan in Roman candle form, from 'Bing Lu (《兵錄》)'.
Late Ming military treatise Bing Lu features an improved delivery method for Huo Dan. Essentially, multiple Huo Dan are pre-packed into a weaponised Roman candle made of cotton paper, which is then inserted into a handheld bamboo tube for firing. This allows for drastically increased rate of fire and reload time, as well as easier storage. 

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