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"Imjin War Weaponry & Equipment Looking for Info" Topic

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Yeosol Inactive Member18 Jan 2018 2:56 p.m. PST

Hi everyone,

I am looking for some reliable info on what kinds of weapons, armour and (siege) equipment the three armies involved in the Imjin War used and what the usual army composition would have been.

I have a general picture about the Koreans and the Japanese, but I want to make sure I'm on point with this and I have not found much about the Ming.

Please feel free to link sources and drop a comment if you have some expertise in this historical period.

Thanks in advance!


- Mostly Teppo and Yari Ashigaru infantry supported by samurai infantry. Not sure whether Nanban style brestplate armor was used on infantry or just for important personnel or not at all at this point in time.

- Little to no cavalry. horses only as a means of transport.

- Little to no siege. When attacking, infantry would assault fortifications with ladders.


- Mixture of Archer and Spearmen levy troops with light/cloth armour. Padded armour with metal studs on elite infantry, Lamellar armour on important personnel.

- Frequent use of light archer cavalry and heavy flail cavlry.

- Hwacha and Cannons mostly used in naval battles and as castle defense, not so much in field battles

- Warrior Monks and Guerilla troops

clibinarium18 Jan 2018 3:38 p.m. PST

I wouldn't say I have any expertise, but I have been looking into this war, especially the Ming.

To follow your approach;
Heavy cavalry, mostly armoured with brigandine, with some scale and lamelar. Mainly from Northern armies.
Light cavalry- usually provided by allied steppe peoples (do not seem to have been present in Korean campaign).
Infantry- mix of amroured and unarmoured, mixed weaponry. Spear/pikemen, plus shield and dao armed infantry. Probably used massed mandarin duck formation. Firearms troops mostly use three-eyed gun, but matchlocks increasingly present. Mainly Southern troops.
Artillery- mostly for sieges, some integrated into infantry like crouching tiger cannon.

I can do you no better service than point you towards the gold mine of info that is Great Ming Military

Yeosol Inactive Member18 Jan 2018 3:46 p.m. PST

Thanks a lot, that link is a gold mine indeed :)

RudyNelson18 Jan 2018 4:34 p.m. PST

For the Koreans, the single blade spear was used but not common. Mostly used by provential and peasants. The regular Sodong who garrisoned all the castles and keeps were armed with tri-point spears since these were easier to push off enemy scaling ladders.

In regards to bows regular troops tended to have crossbows but still had bows. Peasants lower class troops were all bow.

Light cavalry were elite military school or banded troops. They could fight with bow but were known to dismount form in a wedge and lead and attack on a wall.
Totally off on the cavalry. Light cavalry armed with bow and javelin were parhae or other nomads.
The cavalry drills show the heavy cavalry using a variety of weapons. Flail, spear or lance, halibard which is an interesting illustration, mace, sword and their preferred weapon the bow. Formations were mixed though walls of lances is common. Most illustrations such as the one from the Salu River battle shows irregular lines. iimjin war photos show a lot of dismounted warriors.

Yeosol Inactive Member18 Jan 2018 5:10 p.m. PST

Thanks Rudy!

Do you know an online source where I could see those illustrations myself?

Robert Burke18 Jan 2018 8:59 p.m. PST

I've put together a bibliography of every English language book that covers the subject that I can find. I'd be happy to send you a copy. You can contact me at burker1 (at) aol (dot) com.

If you go to the Perry Brothers wesbsite they have several illustrations of their painted Korean figures there.

Sobieski Inactive Member19 Jan 2018 1:14 a.m. PST

"Imjin war photos" ??????

RudyNelson19 Jan 2018 11:54 a.m. PST

The best imjin war artwork can be found in the headquarters of the ROK and US. My brother was assigned there for two years. He showed wonderful large pictures. Some can be found in various pro military discussion of them.

Yeosol Inactive Member19 Jan 2018 12:31 p.m. PST

Rudy, if you ever get the chance of forwarding me some of those pictures I'd be incredibly grateful :)

Samurai Elb20 Jan 2018 1:57 a.m. PST

It is rather late, but here some links from my favorites whicht might be interesting:

Korean fortress link
Korean Bow
YouTube link
Mythbusters (american television) rebuilded Hwacha
YouTube link
Korean fortress2

Best regards


Yeosol Inactive Member20 Jan 2018 4:12 a.m. PST

Beautiful! Thank you, Werner.

Skeptic21 Jan 2018 9:55 a.m. PST

@Robert: email sent!

Skeptic21 Jan 2018 1:24 p.m. PST

@Robert: Thanks again!

john snelling21 Jan 2018 6:36 p.m. PST

Thanks also

Koxinga22 Jan 2018 3:40 a.m. PST

I know for a fact that after initial contact between the Ming and the Japanese forces, squadrons of Southern troops trained in Qi Jiguang's anti-pirate tactics were brought in. Many were used to train the Koreans. For more information, try to get your hands on Dr. Kenneth Swope's research

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP23 Jan 2018 5:57 p.m. PST

Hwacha and Cannons mostly used in naval battles and as castle defense, not so much in field battles

I'm not sure that is due to the nature of the weapon, more due to the nature of the battles. The Koreans mostly fought on the defensive, behind fortress walls. Battles in the open would heavily favour the Japanese.

A good example would be the Battle of Haengju. This was a mountain fortress, north of Seoul, and held by the Koreans. The initial part of the battle took part away from the fortress. The Japanese had to charge up a steep cliff face. At the plateau, Koreans employed a large amount of Hwach'a which blasted the oncoming Japanese. While they did reach the plateau, they were too weakened to successfully assault the fortress. Ultimately, this battle was one of the greatest Korean victories, and led to the Japanese evacuation of Seoul. (Samurai Elb has another link to this battle).


Halfway down is a painting showing the battle with various hwach'a in action.

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