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Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:15 pm
by Anthony of the MSS
I suspect I know the answer to this already, but if you don’t ask…

Here at the MSS we’ve been having industrial amounts of pure unadulterated fun, as we have access to a nine acre woodland site in Northants, and have been running around the woods shooting each other, jumping out on each other with daggers, and generally reverting to childhood. Think Paintball with Bows, Arrows, and Swords.

One thing that’s really a game changer is the amount of foliage on the trees at different times of year, and also camouflage. We’ve banned the use of modern camouflage as unsporting, but allowing other methods of concealment. It was quite strange to watch people in brand new Persil white padded jacks rolling around in the mud to make them less of an “arrow magnet” after their first time out there!

What’s really giving me away at the moment is the glint off my helmet. Now, I suspect the easiest and most logical thing our ancestors would have done in a similar situation is to take it off. However, MSS safety regs won’t allow that. I’m therefore toying with a new cheap helmet and painting it up, or possibly a secret and cloth covering. Which then got me thinking…

In that tome of historical fact that is the Sharpe Novels (deploy bulldozer of salt here), he mentions the French cavalry cover their shako’s with linen to avoid the brass giving them away at distance. Has anyone ever heard of something similar in the 15th C? perhaps Helmets underneath hoods as opposed to the other way around?

I suspect the answer is no, and I’ll end up creating a re-enactorism when it’s easier to take the helmet off, but I thought someone may have come across this – or other techniques pioneers / foresters may have used.. would love to hear from you if so.

Many thanks

Anthony

Ps. If you want details on the skirmishes and taking part, see http://www.medieval-siege-society.co.uk/News.aspx

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 4:38 pm
by spydde
My history of the fifteenth century is a little dated, but I gather there is a method involving soot, oil and heat to blacken the helmet, of course this means that matt black helmets were the norm, in fact my research always pointed to shiny not being normal with white armour being for parades only , armour normally coming in wonderful shades of black, blued, or rust, all of which are naturally camo

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:22 pm
by guthrie
I've read of helmet covers being used in hot countries to stop the helmet getting too hot.

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:26 pm
by acecat999
hessian

:lol:




you can even get a ww1 or ww2 hessian helmet cover.
then cut a few potato sacks up for the suit

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 7:39 pm
by Anthony of the MSS
A full body suit of hessian..? I'd be like the Predator!!!

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Mon Oct 15, 2012 8:20 pm
by Tomsk
I am instantly reminded of the capture of Pontoise in 1437,the English wearing blankets and sheets to camouflage themeselves in the snow.Though this isn't much help to you unless you are doing it during the winter!.



Tomsk

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 9:51 am
by Langley
If they are doing it in the winter the blokes who rolled in the mud in their persil white padded jacks are going to be p***d off! There was a time of course when every street had plenty of "the pure" they could have rolled in but you just can't get the dog c**p these days.

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 11:35 am
by Langley
Back to the subject... Blued armour will still reflect sunlight. Velvet is really good at absorbing light and I seem to recall something somewhere about velvet covers but suspect that would be higher status. Not much of a contribution to the debate but if every little helps....

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:00 pm
by Colin Middleton
I was reading Blair's book on armour the other day, in which he proposed that most armour was covered with fabric up to the early part of the 15th C. So, it may be wool or other fabrics as well as velvet.

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:41 pm
by AndyandHelen
Theres a big problem in this whole topic isn't there, that the chroniclers wanted their subject to be seen as brave, honest and true...camouflage on the other hand is regarded as deceptive and dishonest-bit ironic really as in the modern eye its about trying to save lives. So probably more prevalent than we may have been led to believe, I could certainly see the main exponents being the boys going on a chevauchee.

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 6:19 pm
by Alan E
I'm always uncomfortable with the idea that the camisa was worn over the armour in a camisado (raid at night) 'for identification': I thought that was what coat armour and household badges were for! It seem to me more likely it was to prevent the armour gleaming in moonlight etc.

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 1:11 pm
by Colin Middleton
AndyandHelen wrote:Theres a big problem in this whole topic isn't there, that the chroniclers wanted their subject to be seen as brave, honest and true...camouflage on the other hand is regarded as deceptive and dishonest-bit ironic really as in the modern eye its about trying to save lives. So probably more prevalent than we may have been led to believe, I could certainly see the main exponents being the boys going on a chevauchee.
The nobles wanted to be seen as brave, etc. (and were paying for the chronicles). The poor sods scouting ahead of them wanted to be seen alive tomorrow. They may have done all sorts of things to stop themselves shinging. I'd guess tar, pitch, wax, etc. might be a good starting point?

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Thu Oct 18, 2012 6:20 pm
by AndyandHelen
Well 2 of those are flammable, there's nothing much wrong with good old mud though is there? Plus bits of tree, yup all quite feasible, only problem is which chronicler would ever have bothered mentioning a bunch of rapscallion commoners creeping about not gleaming and shinning? After all you're right the chap paying the writer says how he wants his liFe portrayed and any lower orders showing initiative just won't even get a look in. Having said all that in contemporary hunting practice a stealthy approach was seen as a good thing, a quasi camo was sort of worn and then of course we have the stalking horse (Leeds armouries have that huge repro don't they as an example). That stalking horse reminded me of a WW1 sniper trick. So how'sabout false dead horses being used in a siege?

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:30 pm
by Colin Middleton
AndyandHelen wrote:Well 2 of those are flammable, there's nothing much wrong with good old mud though is there?
Yes, mud contains water, which will promote rusting. You may not care about the helmet rusting, but the owner (much armour is loaned) may have different ideas. That's not to say that it wasn't done, just that it is a 'thing wrong with mud'. I specifically chose the 3 I listed as they ALSO protect the armour from rust. Why is their being flamable a problem?

Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 12:56 pm
by Anthony of the MSS
Right, well the first skirmish of the off season is tomorrow.


I've blued an old siege helm I had. I've used shotgun bluing fluid for now, I'm not that impressed with the finish so will do it again authentically over the winter but it will do for now. I've a dark brown hood underneath it, and then a dark livery coat over my jack. I'm toying with maille as well but it does slow you down noticeably. Have gone with single arming sword and buckler, with bow as primary weapon. Dagger lives in the quiver, I've found it's actually quicker to get it from there than the belt when your final arrow misses and you need something quick.

Boots are interesting. I realise high boots are for riding, but they do offer noticeable protection against thorns etc in the undergrowth and snag less than the fabric hose underneath them. Zac of the MSS has some references to 15th c foresters wearing chaps over their hose which I'm looking at to achieve the same effect authentically

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:10 pm
by AndyandHelen
Sounds like you'll have a cracking time. Are you going to be shooting blunt arrows flat? They're going to hurt :devil: if so I guess you are having some rules about minimum distance?
Ok Colin yes mud does contain water and water = rust,
So here is a thought, nets, wrap net around ones helmet...feasible? After all nets were used for all sorts of things, carrying goods, catching fish, game, etc, not out of the realms of possibility?

Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2012 9:31 pm
by Anthony of the MSS
Thanks I'm looking forward to it. Yes we are flat shooting so we also put fencing masks/paintball masks on the runners we are shooting at, or squash googles under helmets. There is a still a minimum distance for loosing to allow the fletchings to slow, and a draw check for higher bows.

Although tomorrow's one is a regional session we've got over 30 people booked in so should be a good whack of us running around the wood. MSS day membership is available if people fancy this one or another one in the future.

I'll try and post some photos from tomorrow up afterwards

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 10:09 am
by chidokan
there is a painted sallet in the armouries, which is quite a dull black as its base,(old rust) and has yellow and red decoration, so back when it was new I would say it was almost garish! Reading the books on battles in general, you get the idea that concealment only occurs when the other guys cant see you because you are behind a hill or a wood. Hence the prickers riding out ahead, and again they seem to bump into each other rather than having a deliberate plan of hiding and spotting, then withdrawing!

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Wed Oct 24, 2012 12:04 pm
by Charles13
[quote="AndyandHelen"]Well 2 of those are flammable,

Not that flammable - have you ever tried setting fire to wax? It doesnt take that well, and pitch has a very high flash point as well. Once applyed over a metal helmet I cant imagen then catching unless you were sitting in a reasonably big bonfire! Plus sneeking through woodland - there isnt any source of ignition.

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Wed Oct 31, 2012 11:20 pm
by Anthony of the MSS
Second woodland skirmish of the season is this Saturday at Thriftwood in Essex. www.medieval-siege-society.co.uk/events.aspx

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2012 12:23 am
by guthrie
Charles13 wrote:- there isnt any source of ignition.
That can be arranged Mwahahahahaha!!!!

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:32 am
by Anthony of the MSS
Some amateur footage from Saturday's Skirmish at Thriftwood (Essex).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TytJs-b ... e=g-user-u

Next dates:
9th Dec (Thriftwood, Essex)
15th Dec (Naseby, Northants)

Re: Helmet camoflage..?

Posted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:54 pm
by hobbitomm
Paint 'em? There's some painted sallets kicking around. Should reflect less.

Posted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:35 pm
by Anthony of the MSS
Couple of folk have gone down that route, but i went with bluing