Did any warlord armies use body armour?

Discussions on all aspects of China, from the beginning of the First Sino-Japanese War till the end of the Chinese Civil War. Hosted by YC Chen.
User avatar
Hama
Member
Posts: 278
Joined: 21 Jul 2016 21:48
Location: the coast

Did any warlord armies use body armour?

Post by Hama » 24 Mar 2017 01:08

Anybody heard of this happening? Personal armour in general seems to have been rare among armies in the warlord era, for example Wu Pei Fu's "tin hat brigade" seems to have been considered unusual. But still if anyone knows whether body armour was used by any warlord faction I'd like to hear. For example with all the war materials being imported from Germany did anyone think to purchase some leftover "grabenpanzer" from WW1? Or even improvising something locally?

Stephen_Rynerson
Member
Posts: 266
Joined: 07 Jul 2013 05:08

Re: Did any warlord armies use body armour?

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 24 Mar 2017 07:50

Hama wrote:But still if anyone knows whether body armour was used by any warlord faction I'd like to hear. For example with all the war materials being imported from Germany did anyone think to purchase some leftover "grabenpanzer" from WW1? Or even improvising something locally?
Hama, Anthony B. Chan's Arming the Chinese: The Western Armaments Trade in Warlord China, 1920-1928 references two instances of warlords acquiring body armor -- Zhang Zuolin ordered "bullet-proof breast plates" from an unnamed "American firm" in 1923 and in 1926 Zhang Zongchang entered into a $3 million contract with Calowitz and Company, which was a German import/export firm, for delivery of machinery, ammunition, and military equipment including "bullet-proof jackets." According to Phillip Jowett's The Armies of Warlord China, 1911-1928, both Zhangs also took deliveries of steel helmets (Zhang Zuolin from Norway in 1927 and Zhang Zongchang in 1928 from an unknown source).

User avatar
Hama
Member
Posts: 278
Joined: 21 Jul 2016 21:48
Location: the coast

Re: Did any warlord armies use body armour?

Post by Hama » 24 Mar 2017 10:30

Thanks Stephen, do your sources mention anything specific about those body armours or helmets, e.g. materials, construction, size/weight, etc, or anything about what battles/units they were deployed with?

Stephen_Rynerson
Member
Posts: 266
Joined: 07 Jul 2013 05:08

Re: Did any warlord armies use body armour?

Post by Stephen_Rynerson » 24 Mar 2017 15:50

Hama wrote:Thanks Stephen, do your sources mention anything specific about those body armours or helmets, e.g. materials, construction, size/weight, etc, or anything about what battles/units they were deployed with?
No, sorry, they really don't say anything specific beyond what I summarized above. Jowett unfortunately doesn't have footnotes/endnotes, but his reference to the the helmets going to Zhang Zongchang looks like it came from Chan (it uses similar verbiage) and his reference to the helmets going to Zhang Zuolin simply mentions "press reports." Chan has endnotes, but his references to the body armor just cite two British Foreign Office reports, so I don't know how much more detail they would have. One of the big problems, IMO, with English-language scholarship on the armament trade during the warlord period is that it depends almost entirely on the various western powers' records of shipments arriving in China and rarely looks at Chinese sources. Thus there are pretty good records for what was being delivered into the country, but much less understanding of how those weapons and equipment were deployed after delivery.

User avatar
Hama
Member
Posts: 278
Joined: 21 Jul 2016 21:48
Location: the coast

Re: Did any warlord armies use body armour?

Post by Hama » 24 Mar 2017 22:17

I agree, I've noticed the same thing about the English sources I read on this era, they mostly tend to reference western sources rather than local Chinese records. I wonder if this is due to lack of interest/ability to read on the part of western writers, or due to scarcity of Chinese records on these kind of specifics from the period. Personally I can't read much Chinese, so I've little idea of what kind of Chinese language sources there might be on this subject. I know we've a few native Chinese speakers on this site so would be interesting to hear their input.

I really need to pick up that 'Arming the Chinese ' book, thanks for reminding me of it.

Return to “China at War 1895-1949”