18 March 2022

Huo Long Chuan (火龍船)

Ming Dynasty Trap fireship
Drawing of a Huo Long Chuan, from 'Wu Bei Zhi (《武備志》)'.
Hul Long Chuan (火龍船, lit. 'Fire dragon ship') is an interesting warship used by the Ming navy. It is a small three-decked warship with the hull of an ocean-going vessel but is propelled by oars or paddle-wheels. The hull of Huo Long Chuan is heavily protected by bamboo fencing and raw cowhides, and its main deck is fitted with numerous gun and arrow loops, which allow combatants on the ship to engage their enemy without exposing themselves to return fire. 

The combination of high speed and heavy protection turns Huo Long Chuan into a capable assault warship similar to Meng Chong (蒙衝) of old, as it can quickly dash into enemy fleet formation with gun and flamethrower blazing in every direction, sowing confusion and chaos. However, these are but secondary to Huo Long Chuan's true purpose, which is to serve as a deadly trap for enemy boarders. To this end, the weather deck of Huo Long Chuan is modified into a giant trapdoor that leads to its middle deck, which is disconnected from other decks and filled with all sort of sharp implements. Additionally, two secret compartments with ladders are installed at the bow and stern of the ship so that its crews can move between main and lower deck without having to pass through the trap-filled middle deck.


  1. Damn. One can never claim that the Ming didn't have wild ideas! Are you interested in doing more articles about Ming naval tactics?

    1. They are not in the pipeline right now, but eventually I will cover them.


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