Thursday, February 10, 2011

17th century English Hanger project

So. The first project we're really making headway on is the re-hilting of a blade forged by a local bladesmith, K. P. Moreau, which resembles English and Colonial hangers from the 17th century.

Essentially, a hanger hangs at the side of a soldier, specifically an infantryman, and can refer to a blade that is either straight or curved (like a saber); either way, hangers are characteristically short, secondary weapons.

The primary weapon of most 17th century English soldiers would have either been a long pike (15' - 22') or else a matchlock musket; these were used in conjunction to brutal effect in tight-knit, maneuverable phalanx formations. But in the tightest of pike-presses, formations broke down and melee combat ensued. This is where the hanger came into play, when close, intimate fighting prevented the use of long pikes and cumbersome, fickle matchlocks.

The English hanger of this period and style would have seen most of its service in the English Civil War (1642-1651), both with Cromwell's parliamentary forces and the Royalist supporters of King Charles I. The picture above shows a hanger at the side of one of Cromwell's rank-and-file soldiers, commonly nicknamed "Roundheads".

This bad boy on our right is a reconstruction by the Scotland-based sword makers Armour Class, which inspires our design.

The visible shell-guard behind the blade is going to be cut out of 14 gauge sheet steel, dished and planished to shape, and then filed to produce the scalloping, which is both for show and to provide structural integrity.

The d-guard is going to be forged out of mild steel by me from stock I have yet to decide the dimensions of, the pommel (end cap on the handle) is going to be turned out of steel as well, and the horizontal ring on the inside of the guard (opposite the shell) is going to be replaced by a vertical thumb-ring, precedented by contemporary finds.

My drawing to the left is a partial sketch-partial schematic of a top view of the hilt. You can see the top of the d-guard on the left and right, which are only shown for reference, along with the cross-section of the oval grip (in the center) and the thumb ring (shaded protrusion on the bottom right, under the scalloped shell).

The two scalloped shells are connected in the center by a piece with a rectangular cutout for the blade. They appear in the flat, as they will be traced onto the 14 gauge sheet for cutting, as a single piece connected in the middle. Both shells will be dished to cup upwards, with the middle section remaining flat for assembly with the d-guard below it. The thumb ring will be arc-welded to the inside side of the d-guard above the handle.

An ambitious project, but we'll start today!

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