28 December 2021

Zhao Shi Zhen's Ying Yang Che (鷹揚車)

UPDATED MAY 14, 2023

Left: Inner side of Ying Yang Che. Top Right: Outer side of Ying Yang Che. Bottom Right: A Ying Yang Che with folded protective screens for ease of transportation. From 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
Ying Yang Che (鷹揚車, lit. 'Eagle soaring cart') is the largest of the war wheelbarrows designed by Ming firearm specialist Zhao Shi Zhen (趙士楨), and one of his most powerful and versatile weapon systems. Like its smaller cousins, as well as the multipurpose shield, Ying Yang Che is a more advanced version of existing Ming equipment, in this case various wheelbarrows, carts and wagons used by Ming Northern armies to defend against nomadic horsemen.

Components of the Mark 2 Ying Yang Che, which is a slightly smaller version of Mark 1 Ying Yang Che. Shown here are wheelbarrow bed (top), one set of handles (left), wooden rack to mount protective screens (middle left), balancing scale (middle right), single wheel connected to steering wheel (upper right), two water tanks (lower right), and two pole forks (bottom). From 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.

Top: 18-shot volley gun for Mark 1 Ying Yang Che, consists of six 3-shot guns. Bottom: 18-shot volley gun for the smaller Mark 2 Ying Yang Che, consists of two 3-shot guns and six 2-shot guns made from lengthened loading chambers of Variant 3 Che Dian Chong (掣電銃). From 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
Ying Yang Che is a large, 9 chi (2.88 m) by 2.5 chi (0.8 m) wheelbarrow with three sets of shafts/handles mounted on three sides, with its remaining side equipped with six folding protective screens and skirts to cover the wheel, which measured 6.5 chi (2.08 m) in height. The wheelbarrow is also equipped with two sets of 18-shot volley guns called Lian Chong (連銃, lit. 'Linked gun'), also known as Zhan Gan Lian Fa Bing Bei Di Chong Tu Chong (戰酣連發並備敵衝突銃, lit. 'Rapid fire during the heat of battle and guard against enemy assault gun'), for a total of 36 shots, two gun loops on the protective screens, as well as two double-legged stands to keep the wheelbarrow upright. It even comes with a four-sided balancing scale to help keeping the vehicle balanced, two pole forks, as well as two water tanks for gun cooling and firefighting.

While undoubtedly a potent weapon, by itself a shielded wheelbarrow armed with volley gun is not particularly noteworthy. What makes Ying Yang Che a truly one-of-a-kind weapon is the addition of a simple steering wheel (not invented elsewhere until the advent of automobile in the 19th century), which allows the passenger of Ying Yang Che to steer the wheelbarrow without having to change the facing of its protective screens. The steerable wheel not only allows Ying Yang Che to form into a laager of any shape, but also allows the formed laager to remain mobile.

Improved wheelbarrow regiment

Like his older designs, Zhao Shi Zhen also proposed a 3000-strong wheelbarrow regiment for Ying Yang Che, although regrettably he only partially elaborated on the required personnel to operate a platoon-sized unit, but not the structure of the regiment itself. Nevertheless, judging by their similar roles and designs, it seems Zhao Shi Zhen intended Ying Yang Che to be an improved replacement for Hu Tou Che (虎頭車) and Hu Yi Che (虎翼車), and thus his envisioned regiment likely followed the structure of his previous wheelbarrow regiment (Note: Patreon exclusive article), only replacing his older wheelbarrow teams with the new one.

Ying Yang Che team

Three Ying Yang Che teams (highlighted) forming a platoon, from 'Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》)'.
A basic Ying Yang Che team consists of one captain, two vice captains, two steersmen, two volley gunners, two reload assistants, and one fireman. Ying Yang Che team is not armed except with the volley guns mounted on the wheelbarrow itself, as combat role is relegated to the accompanying arquebusier team instead.

Arquebusier team

An arquebusier team (highlighted) in the Japanese reprint of Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》). Note that while the treatise specifies a ten-man team, the illustration only depicts six.
An arquebusier team consists of two shooters and six reload assistants armed with eight Lu Mi Chong (嚕密銃), as well as two firemen. Due to the cramped space caused by having dozens of soldiers hiding behind the wooden protective screens of Ying Yang Che, Zhao Shi Zhen did not employ his usual reloading and kneeled shooting method.

Zhao Shi Zhen never specified the ratio of arquebusier team to wheelbarrow team for his envisioned platoon. While his writing can be interpreted to suggest a 1:1 ratio (one arquebusier team for every wheelbarrow), illustration found in Japanese reprint of his treatise points to a 1:3 ratio (one arquebusier team for every three wheelbarrows) instead.

Other personnel

Extra personnel (highlighted) in the wheelbarrow platoon, from Japanese reprint of Shen Qi Pu (《神器譜》) .
Other than Ying Yang Che team and arquebusier team, Zhao Shi Zhen did not specify other personnel of the new wheelbarrow platoon, although his writings strongly suggest that it also has a command team, consisting of platoon commander, vice commander, a standard bearer, a drummer, as well as a gong player.


  1. was author mentioned why calvary man should be arm with tie jian?

    perhaps is it meant to dealing with armored enemy?

    1. No, but probably for the purpose you stated.

  2. What is Chinese letter for quaterstaff? i can read gun(staff) but i dont know about a letter before that (next to tie jian)

    1. There are many names for staff weapon, can you be more specific?

    2. in seventh image on this page what is a letter before 棍 ? (x棍)

    3. Ohh, it's 悶棍, written as Men Gun in Pinyin.

    4. is 悶棍 different to simple staff?

    5. No, it's simply another way to call the same thing.


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