Legionary Equipment
Through the Ages

Late Republic: Lorica Hamata (chainmail) and very large oval shields.

Augustan: Lorica Hamata, Pilum & Gladius.

Early 1st C AD: Classic (straight sided) shield introduced.

Mid 1stC to early 2ndC AD: Lorica Segmentata (mail for Auxilliaries) introduced quickly in the West, probably in response to opponents with heavier weapons. It provides heavier protection of vital areas at the expense of other areas. Both curved and straight sided shields are used.

Mid 2nd C AD: Lorica Segmentata used with Pteruges on shoulder and waist. Oval Shield used.

Late 2ndC to early 3rdC AD: Pteruges removed.

Mid 3rdC to 5thC AD Lorica Segmentata replaced by molded cuirboulli cuirass. Gladius replaced by the Spartha (a longer thrusting sword). Pilum replaced by lighter spiculum, supplemented by the Verutum an (even) lighter javelin
By the 5th C AD this was supplemented by 5 darts (Martiobarbulus).

So by our split time we are already seeing a move to lighter armour, lighter throwing spears and a longer sword. The following new weapons are suggested:

Hand Ballista (heavy crossbow): A steel prod, heavy crossbow using a windlass to rewind. Typically, only issued at a rate of one per 5 to 10 legionaries. Requirements: High quality steel and good metalwork. Advantages: very high velocity (longer range and good armour penetration). Disadvantages: heavy, slow rate of fire & moderate maintenance.

Pilum mechanicus: Basically a hollow steel reinforced wooden tube containing a coil spring. The weapon fires a relatively small steel dart at fairly high velocities. There are two common cocking mechanisms: (1) the tube is placed over a ramrod and the operators entire weight is used to compress the spring. The ramrod can also be iserted into the tube to form a long spear for defense against cavalry. (2) A detachable foot reset in inserted through a slot in the side of the tube and the operators weight is agaoin used to compress the spring. Requirements: High quality steel and good metalwork. Advantages: high velocity (longer range and good armour penetration). Disadvantages: slow rate of fire, high maintenance & prone to jamming.

Pilum chemicus: The above is modified to include an all steel tube. A chemical explosive charge rather than a coil spring. This is the first time that serious firepower is given to all legionaries. Requirements: High quality steel and good metalwork. Advantages: very high velocity (longer range and excellent armour penetration). Disadvantages: medium rate of fire, moderate maintenance & prone to exploding.

This basic design saw numerous modifications including:

  • Wheel lock and flintlock firing mechanisms.
  • Moulding the explosive charge around the base of the dart.
  • A small single handed version for officers (replacing the vine staff).
  • Multi-tubed versions for increased firepower.
  • A recoiless version (don't stand behind it)
  • A magazine fed rapid fire version.

Pilum aoelus: Rather than using a chemical explosive charge compressed air is used. While the gas canisters are fragile they are less dangerous than the chemical explosive variety. Additionally, reloading is simple and rapid. Later enhancements built the compressed gas canister into the dart which reduced weight and made the construction of magazine fed rapid fire versions of the weapon simple. Requirements: High quality steel and good metalwork. Advantages: high velocity (long range and good armour penetration). Disadvantages: canisters prone to exploding.

Pilum electro: First explored by the marines and vehicle troops this railgun is modelled on the above. A wooden tube is used, ringed by electric coils which are driven by different phased alternating current. Steel darts are feed into the breech and accelerated down the bore. Typically, the weapon is fed from a magazine and can achieve very high rates of fire (subject to power supply). This weapon really came into its own in space where the coils became super conducting, sunlight provided plentiful electricity and the (slightly smaller) mass of the capacitors and batteries became somewhat easier to carry. The smooth recoil also made it easier to counteract. Requirements: a good understanding of electro magnetism and a plentiful source of electrical power. Advantages: high rate of fire & very high velocity. Disadvantages: moderate maintenance & very high power demands. Power supplies are too heavy for personal use.

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