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"Ottoman Army War Elephants?" Topic

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dBerczerk24 Sep 2016 11:39 a.m. PST

"The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" (1988) was on television the other day. For a fantasy-adventure film, it gave an interesting portrayal of a European walled city besieged by an extremely colorful Ottoman Turkish army, complete with a unit of armored war elephants sporting howdahs armed with light guns.

I don't recall ever seeing references to the Ottomans employing elephants in their field armies. Was this pure fantasy on the part of the film producers, or did Turkish armies ever take elephants with them on their European campaigns?

Ottoathome24 Sep 2016 2:02 p.m. PST

There is no record of that taking place, and from the standpoint of biology even the recoil from a light gun would break an elephants back.


THAT was Baron Munchausen, one f the patron saints of war gamers (and congenital liars) and it's a game and a hobby so what the heck why not.

I have them for my Imagi-nation Ikean army based on the Ottomans. Four war Elephants with baby cannons on their backs. They look cool.

YogiBearMinis24 Sep 2016 4:07 p.m. PST

The Mughals supposedly used guns on elephants during the 16th century.

Druzhina24 Sep 2016 10:11 p.m. PST

did Turkish armies ever take elephants with them on their European campaigns?

There is Execution of Prisoners by Elephant, Belgrade, from the Suleymanname

Ottoman Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers

Puster Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Sep 2016 3:26 a.m. PST

No warfare usage that I am aware of. Camels were depicted during the siege of Vienna (though also not in action) – its hard to imagine that the printers back then would have missed a sensation like an elephant if any of these would have shown up before western eyes.

dBerczerk25 Sep 2016 8:11 a.m. PST

Thank you for all the replies!

"Execution of Prisoners by Elephant." What a great subject for a tabletop vignette! I may try that with my 54mm Russo-Turkish War collection, using the elephant from Armies in Plastic.


evilgong25 Sep 2016 2:52 p.m. PST

The Qajar Persians also liked to perform execution by elephant.

When no elephants were available Aga Mohammed Khan used horses fitted with special spiky horse-shoes. Presumably he kept a supply of these on hand for the purpose – he was a bit like that.

A Zand army had a command elephant with musician riders to direct manoeuvres.

Late 18th – Early 19th C Persians like to maintain a group of elephants but I could find no evidence of their use (other than the above) other than in royal parades, albeit they were next to military assets in the parade.

(There was occasional copying of military ideas between Persia and the Ottomans.)


David F Brown

Druzhina26 Sep 2016 10:18 p.m. PST

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.