More On Splinters

A while back I wrote a brief post entitled Why Splinters? In it I examined why injuries from wood splinters figure prominently in literature and history of combat during the Age of Sail and pointed out that there are some doubters.

Anytime you challenge the Myth Busters you do so with trepidation but in this specific instance I felt the frequency splinters were mentioned in contemporaneous literature was dispositive and that the experiment set up by the Myth Busters was flawed on various levels.

Now, thanks to poster Karel I’m adding this video to the collection. I think we can now close the book on this discussion.


Filed under Uncategorized

5 responses to “More On Splinters

  1. patrick walsh

    wow! That closes the case for certain.

  2. g2-61e0c9268a146745704e183687119c7c

    Sorry to disagree, this is not proof. No statement is made as to what the figures are made out of that would suggest the holes correspond to flesh wounds. The silhouettes look like they’ve been cut out of sheets of Styrofoam insulation, which will break while you are carrying it out of the home improvement store. The only significant injury is a ball passing though one figure at 0:13. I might be more impressed if there had been pigs bodies or cast ballistic gel present.
    This myth is still busted. Unless you can point me to some statistics compiled from surgeons on the ships show cause of death: splinters.

  3. Wes Parker

    You don’t need to feel trepidation at challenging Mythbusters—it’s not uncommon for their demonstrations to be flawed, particularly when they scale down real-life situations for the purposes of their demonstrations.

    While the Sick and Hurt Board didn’t start compiling statistics on causes of deaths due to battle wounds until 1840, there exists a wide body of information in individual ship’s logs and contemporary accounts which conclusively shows that splinters from cannon and carronade rounds were at least as deadly as the projectiles themselves. Calling the effect of splinter wounds a myth just shows a willful ignorance of the history of the period.

  4. Karel

    Another video showing splinters from ship’s side hit by a cannon ball. Test firing the replica of Vasa’s 24-pounder bronze cannon at Bofors Test Center, 22 October 2014. Target was a reconstruction of Vasa oak ship’s side.

    More info

    Re discussion: splinter wounds are also mentioned in various articles in the Naval Chronicles.


  5. Thomas Kerr

    there is a WW2 analogue to the splinter debate. During that war, the British (Commonwealth,Empire) AT guns and most tank guns fired solid shot-cannonballs with a pointy end-at opposing tanks. If penetration happened, the struck steel ‘ship’ had the shot and a cloud of red hot steel splinters bouncing around inside. The unfortunate crew could not tell you the difference between ‘shot’ and ‘shell’ so perhaps wood splinters in wooden ships equal steel splinters in steel ‘ships’.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s