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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Forum Resources > Armchair Attacks! > Warships Campaign 2017-2018

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Warships Campaign 2017-2018 Debate the Great Ships of Naval History

View Poll Results: Which of these two warship types had the greatest merit?
17. Norse/Viking Longships late 8th - 13th Centuries 14 51.85%
21. Chinese/Mongol War Junks 12th - 17th Centuries 13 48.15%
Voters: 27. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 02 Sep 17, 10:20
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T1, R2, Prng 21: Norse/Viking Longships vs Chinese/Mongol War Junks

In your opinion, which of these two warship types was most significant, influential and/or effective?
Feel free to apply those criteria as you please, along with any others you think appropriate.
Note: Suggestions for some additional criteria are at the foot of this post.


According to the criteria as you see and apply them, please vote for your preferred candidate in the attached poll.
If your chosen criteria are significantly different from those suggested, telling us what they are and why you used them would be helpful.





17. Norse/Viking Longship, late 8th-13th Centuries


Variations of the Norse/Viking Longboat/Longship were in use for at least five centuries.
Generally, these vessels might be considered a "Nordic" variation of the galley concept.
They usually had a relatively shallow draft, allowing them to navigate rivers very extensively, as well as shallow coastal waterways.
They were also relatively easy to "beach"
The medium-to-larger variants also had passable seagoing qualities, by comparison with many other types of the early medieval period.
The fragmented geography of the Scandinavian region bred a hardy race of people who were very much at home on the water.
Indeed, they both traded with and at times terrorized, much of NW Europe for two or three centuries.
The Vikings travelled far and wide, around and throughout the waterways of Europe as well as across the North Atlantic.
They are known to have operated at least as far North-West as the continent of North America and as far South-East as the Volga and the Caspian sea.

This nicely rendered drawing (painting?) shows a Viking Longship under way using full sail power and its oars shipped.
It has 15 rowing stations on each side, for a total of 30 oarsmen.
That would make it somewhere around medium sized, as there were variants both larger, as well as somewhat smaller, than this.
There were some design variations too, over the half-millennium or so that this basic type of Norse/Viking vessel was in use.
Sail power alone was a good way to move when conditions favoured it (wind strong enough and blowing in somewhere near the right direction).
The crew could take a break from their usual exertions.
More often, oars alone would be used but sometimes it was possible, or necessary, to employ both sources of power.





This photo shows a modern reconstruction of a medium-to-smaller sized Longship/Longboat.
It has 10 oar stations on each side for a maximum rowing strength of 20 men; however in this instance 9 per side are being employed.
These guys look as if they are really getting into the spirit of things, with quite authentic looking period costumes!
Also, I'm thinking this is probably a fjord or if not, a river or piece of coastline with very steep terrain behind it.





In this picture, we have a good clear photo of a well preserved Viking longship in a museum.
It is known as the Oseberg ship, after the locality where it was found, and was excavated in 1904, in Norway.
The hull is "clinker built", which refers to the method of construction using a framework covered by planks or strips of timber that overlapped at the edges.
This was the most common building method for most of the "dark age"/medieval period in Europe; and the technique itself goes back further than that.
The decorations on its prow and stern date it to approximately 800AD.
It has rowing stations for 30 oarsmen (15 per side), making it a fairly average sized example if my reading serves me correctly.








21. Chinese/Mongol War Junks 12th - 17th Centuries


Junks were used in trade and commerce for many centuries and they evolved over that period. The basic type is still in use today.
The better developed versions were the most seaworthy Asian vessels in the age of sail;
the Chinese using them for trade and exploration as far afield as India, North-East Africa and parts of the Middle East.
The main reason for their seaworthiness, apart from very sound hull design, was the combination of sail structure and general arrangement which offered more flexibility in relation to the wind.
In addition, junks were not used only by the Chinese and Mongols.
Other Asian nations adopted them and they became arguably the most important type of sailing vessel - both for commercial and military use - in that part of the World.
A range of variants has seen employment in warfare. Many of them were conversions of commercial junks but some were built as warships.
This slightly fuzzy but still very nice drawing shows a typical medium-sized commercial junk.
However, the range of sizes was considerable so vessels both much smaller and much larger than this existed.





Below, a well constructed and finished model of a Pirate junk.
The variant it depicts is towards the smaller end of the size range.





Here, we see a medium-sized Mongol Chinese (Yuan Dynasty) war junk in the year 1288.
It has become isolated and trapped during the battle of Bach Dang and is under attack from Cham war canoes.
The Chams are hurling naptha bombs at the Chinese, while archers aboard the junk are furiously trying to fight them off.
Prior to the engagement, the Chams placed beds of iron-spiked stakes under the water, to be exposed when the tide was lower; and arranged well-timed ambushes.
The result was a decisive Cham victory.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle...%BA%B1ng_(1288)
However, this is probably not a good example to illustrate the attributes of the War Junk!
That type of warship, in this time bracket and in the majority of other circumstances would be more than a match for war canoes; and most other warship types.







Well then, my friends ... what say you?
Which of these will you favour with your vote?


Suggested additional criteria you might wish to consider, along with any others you deem appropriate.
(Note: Some of these could be considered already covered by Significant, Influential and Effective)

Which warship type ...
  • was the best?
  • was the greatest?
  • was the most widely used?
  • had the greatest longevity in service?
  • was the most versatile?
  • represented the best value for the cost/effort invested ("bang for the buck" in today's language)?
  • was the easiest to operate?
Any other criteria you have applied (please tell us what they were).
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Last edited by panther3485; 03 Sep 17 at 06:24..
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  #2  
Old 04 Sep 17, 01:26
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There was a reason why they called it a Junk, think!
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  #3  
Old 04 Sep 17, 02:35
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I like the Long Ship. They operated in much more violent waters than Junks did.

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Old 04 Sep 17, 10:11
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Difficult one and trying to keep my Western bias in check to be as objective as possible.

Junks visited Eastern Africa, India and, historical evidence is showing the Western coast of North America...But, internal politics, never allowed them to establish naval trade routes.

In term of influence. the Vikings' Long Boats allowed them conquest and trade all over Europe, including navigating internal river routes (the Seine, the Volga, etc.) The Long Boat allowed them to establish colonies in Iceland, Greenland and, temporarily, in Newfoundland.

My vote goes to the Norse boat.
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Old 05 Sep 17, 09:54
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Cool

As a fighting ship the Viking longship was IMO outclassed by the Chinese war junk. Even though the Norse vessel was highly maneuverable it lacked the heavy weaponry that the junk could bring to bear.
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Old 05 Sep 17, 11:15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jose50 View Post
As a fighting ship the Viking longship was IMO outclassed by the Chinese war junk. Even though the Norse vessel was highly maneuverable it lacked the heavy weaponry that the junk could bring to bear.
Because it wasn't meant to be a fighting ship but a raider that could get inland up rivers.

The Junks were around a long time - until the RN arrived with armed paddle steamers
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Old 09 Sep 17, 12:36
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I like the sail structure of the war junk better than the longship.
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Old 15 Sep 17, 23:47
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The Longboats/Longships allowed the Norse/Vikings to explore, trade and fight over a very wide area.
However, relatively very little fighting was done from the vessels themselves, as such.
The War Junk was closer to being a "true" warship in its own right, IMO.
It also covered an area that was by no means small; and probably lasted about as long if not longer.
So it's getting my vote here.
I see, however, that the polling is very close.
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