1. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Falling 10m/32ft into water wearing full armor

    Discussion in 'Research' started by T.Trian, Sep 17, 2013.

    Okay, I'm hoping my character could survive the fall with minimal injuries (bumps and bruises) because she should be able to return to the action pretty soon after climbing out of the water, but I don't want to make it about being incredibly lucky or otherwise sacrifice realism, so if it's impossible, I'll just change the scene, but here are the particulars / questions:

    Not sure how much the character's weight affects the impact with water, but it's about 145lbs/65kg + around 40lbs/18kg for the plate armor + bits of chainmail sown on her doublet/gambeson only for the crucial parts (armpits, torso, upper arms etc.) + mail skirt (just long enough to cover groin) which would add what? around 22lbs/10kg?

    The fall happens off a castle wall and into a moat (which seem to have been 10-30ft/3-9m deep), so it's not all that deep. I'm not sure how much wearing an armor impacts the speed with which you sink after hitting the water vs. sinking without an armor after the same fall (yeah, I suck at physics), so I'm not sure about the force with which she hits the bottom (esp. in shallower 10ft/3m moats), whether that impact could cause injuries despite the protective gear.

    If she survives the fall without getting horribly mangled/knocked unconscious, from what I've gathered, it's pretty difficult to swim in full armor, so I'd imagine that's out of the question. So any ideas how she could get out of the moat? Since medieval castle walls weren't all that smooth, I envisioned her essentially climbing the rocks used to build the part of the castle that's under water using the "claws," i.e. the sharp tips of her gauntlets to secure a grip on the slimy (algae) stones (just to get her head above the surface and then she'd start moving sideways to reach the shore). I got this idea from when I climbed the tiles of a jump pool with my nails as a kid and while it doesn't compare (surprisingly wasn't wearing armor at the time), nails hardly compare to sharp-tipped steel gauntlets, so opinions or actual knowledge of whether this is plausible?

    Also, she's been fighting in a full-on mêlée with a bunch of participants prior to the dive, so does anyone here have any experience how fast a relatively fit person gets exhausted wearing plate armor of that weight?

    What makes it a bit trickier is that the reason she falls is getting hit in the head, which, even wearing a helmet, is disorienting and would likely affect her ability to choose how she lands in the water (not sure how much if any of an effect it has at 10m/32ft since her acceleration would be 9.8 m/s2).

    I have one question to anyone who knows their armors: do gorgets offer any neck support? Was there any concern for neck support in medieval armors and if not, why? Also, why weren't there tiny slits where the ears were, covered with a plate a few millimiters off the helmet (to protect against someone sticking a dagger through that slit) to help the fighters hear better (since people who've worn such helmets say it restricts their hearing quite a bit)? Is the reason hearing protection? I've been whacked on the head hard with a wooden stick while wearing a kendo helmet as well as a fencing helmet and the knock is so fucking loud it disorients you more than the actual hit, so I'd imagine steel against steel would produce an even louder sound, but this is just a theory and I'd appreciate a yay or a nay.

    Thanks in advance!
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
  2. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    About 30 kg of heavy, presumably made of metal, armour would weigh her down. Common sense would have it that she needs to get rid of those before she can swim to the surface and get out. Say she wakes up under water. Everything around her is quite and still. She looks up and realises she fell in. Her lungs start to ache, she needs to take a breath, but she is aware enough to know that would be the end of her. So she wiggles out and tears off the armour, the helmet etc, leaving just the gauntlets because they can be useful for gripping, and with the last ounce of strength, she swims for her life up to the surface. Takes a deep breath and then the rest follows as per your scene.
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    The speed of the fall and impact due to surface tension of the water would not be affected by weight (Newtonian physics).


    In the water swimming to the surface, this would matter. On the impact, however, anything that amounted to padding could cushion the impact with the water.


    You don't often see "no diving" signs in 10ft of water. She wouldn't hit the bottom with any force.


    I can't offer much on this half of your post.
     
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2013
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  4. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I'm not sure what you mean by "support". It's really more like an iron dickie. It's not going to offer anything for whiplash, and might even make it worse. I don't think medieval armorers even understood the anatomy surrounding whiplash, that it might be a concern, or how to prevent it.

    As far as ear holes go, no one is going to be able to get a dagger in during a fight.
    1. The directions are all wrong. Face to face with an enemy the can't turn their arm to stab the point.
    2. getting a dagger through a tiny slit hard enough to open it up on the first try would be almost impossible
    But it's not really a big concern. Hearing during a pitched battle isn't particularly important, it's like being at a concert for all the noise going on. You need to hear people shouting for help, and the horns and that's about it.

    I'm having difficulty picturing the armor she's wearing. There's plate and chain mail sown onto a gambeson? The chainmail wouldn't be attached to the gambeson. A gambeson isn't armor its self, it's more like a giant pad for armor to go on. Is she wearing pauldrons? Does she have a cuirass? Is she wearing leaf mail, or rivet mail?

    This is important because it seriously affects how much she will be able to move underwater. A cuirass is extremely restrictive and weighs about 30 pounds all by its self. What's more, the buckles that hold it would be well nigh impossible to access as she was sinking.

    It depends on you definition of "reasonably fit". A person who lifts weights every day would have difficulty, because the muscles that you use wearing the armor are very different then the ones you use to lift heavy things. They would probably get winded after a minute, five at the max. Keep in mind, it's not just the armor that's heavy, they also have a weapon of some sort (a one handed sword weighs about 10 pound) that they are swinging around while their body is dealing with the armor.
    For some one who has been fighting for exercise they might be able to go as long as 30 minutes to an hour.

    I used to run with the SCA, and they would be able to tell you a whole lot more. I don't know the contact info of anyone in Colorado, but I found the contact list for Drackenwald here. They're closer to you (I think).

    As far as getting out of the situation?

    It wouldn't be a long stretch to have a rope for her to climb up. It's more likely than swimming to the surface with all the armor weighing her down. A castle with a moat would need and estuary nearby, maybe she walks out to the river or lake and climbs to shore on it's banks? Conceivably it wouldn't be as deep as the moat, so she could get her head above water.

    Oh, here's a good one a castle drawbridge is built like this:
    [​IMG]
    If she could get into the inner chamber, and the drawbridge was lowered for some reason, it would carry her straight up!
     
  5. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    First, thanks to all of you for your assistance, it's greatly appreciated. :)
    Now, on with the show:

    I don't think she could swim at all wearing that gear, but she also can't remove it quickly enough; it takes a whole lot of time (tons of buckles and knots) and would preferabely be done with the help of another person (hence squires). I'm not sure if she could get rid of the heaviest part (likely the chest / back plates), but even that has plenty of buckles, so I'm sceptical. She would definitely get rid of her helmet, though.

    Also, the blow to her head doesn't knock her out, it just causes her to lose her balance on the castle wall and consequently fall off. It's also possible one of her antagonists "assists" with that since she's fighting multiple opponents (5-6) alone at that point (to add to her misery, she's lost her sword and only has her dagger against guys who're better armed). That being said, I think she would retain her grip on the dagger during the fall (people don't really let go of their weapons in real fights except in force majeure situations, so I think it's plausible she still has it when she's underwater) so she could simply cut off some straps of her armor to get rid of some of the plates. Not sure how much reducing the weight from, say, 66lbs/30kg to, I dunno, 33lbs/15kg would help...

    I'm just wondering how credible it would be to climb high enough just to get her head out of the water if the moat is, say, 10ft/3m deep. I'm still unsure because in water, weight acts very differently than on dry land, and, for instance, KaTrian can hoist me up and hold me in her arms like a baby when we're in the pool even though she's 110lbs/50kg and I'm 185lbs/85kg. That's why I'm wondering if she could actually carry the 66lbs/30kg of her armor.


    By support, I meant something that would help absorb the impact or at the very least prevent your neck from breaking if you get a sideways hit to your head from, say, a mace or a club or some such. If the armor makers of those days didn't understand that a neck could snap from something like that, I ought to leave her armor without neck support as well.


    I was picturing a situation where she'd be fighting one opponent face to face while e.g. one grabs her and a third stuffs a dagger through whatever slit is in the helmet or some other similar situation where she ends up stationary with multiple opponents.

    As for hearing, I was wondering that when you're in a tussle with your buddies and there are, again, multiple opponents, it could've been beneficial to be able to hear them, but, then again, the group fights I've witnessed irl have mostly had cussing and random insults as the common mode of communication, so perhaps hearing wasn't that necessary back then (unlike in today's armed forces where communication seems to be pretty important).


    She'd be wearing something akin to this:


    Except the helmet is a bit different (less sophisticated) and there's no decorations or a lance support (whatever it was called) because she doesn't joust. You can see in that video (and they explain it too) that there are bits of chainmail sown onto the piece the guy is wearing to reduce weight while retaining protection in crucial areas.


    I've tried out a real longsword (blunt, so it was heavier than a sharp one would've been) that was used in traditional European fencing competitions (by Guy Windsor) and it was light as a feather; a 12yo girl could've wielded it effectively. Pretty much all longswords I've seen and seen others use (steel, some sharp, some blunt, all meant for actual fencing with armors etc) have varied between 2,5-4lbs/1,1-1,8kg, so I'm not sure how a one hander could weigh 10lbs unless it was... iron? What kind of a sword was it?

    I talked about the weight of swords with Windsor the first time I met him at his fencing school and as I was under the Hollywoodian impression that longswords are very heavy and cumbersome, he just laughed and said that they're supposed to be weapons and that what use is a weapon you can't wield quickly and effectively. I'd imagine women like Samantha Swords wouldn't be able to compete very effectively if the swords weighed 10+lbs.

    As for her level of fitness: she has both, good cardio (rides a horse around 4-6h a few days a week and trains fencing about 1-2 times a week) and good upper body strength esp.for a woman, i.e. she's muscular and has strength to lift as well as explosive strength courtesy of fairly regular armored sparring with pretty hard contact. However, it's not quite compatible to modern day training because while she's on the road, often food is scarce, so that limits her chances of training severely, but it's a sporadic thing; when she stays in a town longer, she gets to train fencing more (and when home, works as a blacksmith, has done that since the age of 14, hence the muscular upper body), eat well etc. while on the road she essentially burns fat and gets light cardio training from the riding/walking.


    Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.


    Yeah, I think swimming is out of the question, but you can still move underwater (esp. in that depth), and since she falls very close to the wall, she'd be about 3-6ft/1-2m from the wall. I'll have to do a bit of research on moats to see how they work.


    Alas, I can't see that image and when I followed the link, I got a 403 error.
     
  6. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    You could write that a large air bubble formed under the armor, countering the weight, and adding one of those, 'how will the hero get out of this one', moments. :)
     
  7. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Hmmm, it's posted from my dropbox, let me use something else

    [​IMG]
    That should do it.
    If she could get into the chamber on the right, while the drawbridge is up (which would be a design flaw in the castle, but who cares) when the drawbridge was lowered she be pulled up.

    Yeah, I'm totally wrong on that. I've used them but never weighed them. What I can tell you is that the weight seem inconsequential at first, but in a fight it gets real heavy, real fast. Your wrists especially will get a hell of a workout. But if she's used to the armor and the training she could probably go for a bit. Most SCA guys only practice on the weekends, so ask one of them how long they could last.

    I've never heard of Guy Windsor before, but he teaches Fiore! I love Fiore.

    So she is wearing full armor, you're right, swimming is absolutely ridiculous. It's worth pointing out that a suit like that would probably cost you about 3,000 dollars today, and would have been even more expensive back then. Where did she get the money?
     
  8. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's a fascinating idea, but I'm afraid I'm not quite able to grasp the details: do you mean there would be air trapped inside the armor? I'm wondering about that because armors tend to be really snug, with padding between the metal and the wearer's skin.




    Hmm... very interesting idea. Do you know if moats were often like that? I mean such that the closer to the wall you get, the shallower the water? Or were they more like trenches from WWI, i.e. the water is the same depth regardless of where in the moat you are?




    Oh, I do believe it's a hell of a work out on the arms, especially the forearms and hands. The reason why I believe she'd last pretty well is her background as a metal smith, taming steel with a big-ass hammer. And yeah, I'm going to send an e-mail to them, ask if they'd be willing to answer a few questions; that's what I usually do when I hit a wall of my own limitations (and when my google-fu fails me).




    He's a great guy (no pun intended) and actually proofread all the battle scenes of our first MS. Though I haven't yet studied under him (intend to, though), I've heard he's also a great teacher, focusing heavily on practical applications of Fiore's teachings (I do believe he also teaches the German style, but the main focus is on Fiore).



    Actually, she made it herself. It took her over a year, but I've spoken with a metal smith who's specialized in doing things the medieval way and he said it'd take about a year to build one from scratch. Of course she has the assistance of her metal smith father and his apprentices as well (they're pretty well set monetarily at that point and can afford to buy the raw materials for an armor), so she doesn't do everything on her own. I always imagined it's not a shining masterpiece, but rather a working, practical, if a bit ugly set of armor.
     
  9. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Well it is fiction, right? So the armor is snug because it is weighted down and the knight stands upright. It you hit the water feet first, air could be trapped under the shoulders as the armor rode up but not off, as the waist area would be smaller than the chest. So she ends up with the armor riding up around her head (couple inches would be enough) and the air that was forced up under the armor is now in two pockets under the shoulders.

    Or something like that. It's just an idea to play with.

    I like Jack's moat draw bridge ideas as well, though I didn't read his long post too closely.
     
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  10. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I know, but I want it to be as realistic as humanely possible. I'm a bit anal that way. :D


    That's an interesting idea. I'll toy with it a bit and I seriously need to ask questions from people who've actually worn such armors and see if that'd be possible. Thanks for the clarification! :)
     
  11. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    I'm concerned about the fall. Just running off an olympic diving platform without hitting the water correctly can hurt. Go in flat and it will knock the air out of you and possibly immobilize you. I witnessed a man break his neck diving off a 36" rock when I was a kid. I'm curious to know if armor dampens the impact on a 10m belly/back buster
     
  12. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    Houdini cold get out of that ;) Maybe that's why she is a hero? Whatever you do, don't get bogged down in details, especially those that nobody can really check. I always think the job of the writer is to convince the reader to suspend disbelief. As long as you can make it seem plausible on page, it will work. It is fiction, after all.
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    The armor might splint long bones and the outer skull, decreasing breaks, but the impact affects anything with room to move, like the brain inside the skull would bang around just as hard regardless of any rigid protection. It's shock absorbers one needs to do the most good.
     
  14. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    May I ask what it was that caused his neck to break? Because I've seen a few blunders off a 32ft/10m platform into a diving pool, and while they apparently hurt like a motherf...., nobody died or got seriously injured, just bruises and a lot of red skin. Add a snug, custom-built armor with padding underneath it, and I'd imagine it would be less of a problem because the steel takes the hit instead of your skin and the padding dampens the blow further. But this is still just guesswork, unfortunately.


    Haha, unfortunately she's not Houdini, so the only realistic way for her to lose some armor seems to be cutting the straps. However, the problem with that is when she returns to the battle, she'll be much more vulnerable and her side is facing some pretty nasty odds (they ended up trapped in the castle courtyard in an ambush with the enemy having greater numbers of ten to one). Her having the armor is kinda important because she's one of the few who do have full plate armor in that tussle, so that's one of the few things that give her people even the smallest chance of survival by retreat even though most of them get killed.

    Good point about the details, and I agree; it's pretty easy to get lost in that jungle. The thing I'm trying to do here, is to gather as many facts as possible. That way I try to eliminate guesswork and rely on knowledge instead (even if some of it is second-hand), so that when I do write the part, I can make it realistic. That's very important to me because that's my way of honoring not only those who have dedicated a lot of time and effort to become good fencers, but also those who serve in the armed forces today and witness similar horrors even though theirs include bullets and shrapnel instead of swords and arrows.
     
  15. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    He was drunk and showing off; I think he was looking down (his torso) and the water forced his head down. My dad jumped in to save him. I think he ended up paralyzed
     
  16. T.Trian
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    Sorry to hear that. All the bad falls I mentioned were feet first (or were intended to be), so that's probably why they came out of the water more embarassed than hurt.

    The character gets a knock in the head that sends her over the edge, so I'd imagine she'd hit the water diagonally, trying to come down feet first, but starting to tip sideways in the end. The reason I think she wouldn't go down head first is that I don't think she has enough time to flip over (esp. since she's not trying to do that) seeing as she falls only for one second.
     
  17. mammamaia
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    i don't see how she could avoid drowning, being weighted down with all that armor she can't get out of... and if she's unconscious when she hits the water, she'd be breathing in water and certainly drown...

    any deus ex machina bit you might use to have her survive would set my eyes rolling and have me looking for another book to read...
     
  18. T.Trian
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    I'd imagine there'd be zero chance of survival if she was uncoscious, but she isn't. A person wearing a full helm can take a hard hit to the head and just shrug it off (annoying as it is and, when fighting multiples, disorienting), esp. from a sword (a mace/morning star/hammer would be worse if it scores a direct hit instead of a glancing blow).

    In any case, as we're still far from writing this part (a book away, actually), so I have time to test getting out of water next summer, jump off a pier wearing the same amount or more weight in a backpack (so it's easy to discard if things start to look hopeless). First I'd try climbing back on the pier (esp.if it's one of the old-fashioned ones) and then walking out of the water to get some idea of how fast/long you can move like that underwater. I so should've come up with this idea a month ago... oh well, at least I have a lot of time to do research, ask people who know armor, and then (after next summer) make the final call on what's realistic and what's... less so.
     
  19. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Heroine gets struck and knocked over wall. She grabs on to wall briefly before falling, ensuring that she enters water feet first. If there is any slope t0 the wall, it can slow her fall. She can enter the water aware of what is happening and maybe be cognizant enough to remove whatever armor she can while submerged
    Maybe?
     
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  20. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Actually, I found a video of a guy attempting to swim in medieval armor (a short part of a radio interview in the beginning, video starts at 0:52):


    It's not conclusive, but three things we can see clearly: it's possible to walk along the bottom in armor (and note that this guy is walking on a relatively slippery surface, even going uphill near the end), it's possible to "swim" horizontally a short distance (enough for her to get to the wall) wearing armor, but you won't be moving up, and it's also possible to jump quite high underwater wearing armor. So if she is already close to the wall, it wouldn't take much to get to it, jump up, latch on with the claws of her gauntlets (and the sharp tips of her sabatons), and peek her head over the surface to draw breath. So far it's starting to look pretty plausible if not 100% certain. Pending further research.

    ETA: Garball, grabbing the ledge for a moment is a definite possibility. The wall won't slope (castle wall), but even coming down feet first and facing the wall is a big help (avoids the disorientation of having to get upright in the water and turning to face the right direction). Thanks for the ideas!
     
  21. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    What a great source to answer your question.

    Gave me some ideas. She could lose the leg armor, have a better chance, and would still have protection to fight later.

    An air bubble could be trapped under that back plate. And air can also be trapped inside tight knit clothing. It leaks out very slowly from some materials if you don't forcefully squeeze it out.
     
  22. T.Trian
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    Ginger, those are definitely options. Even swim trunks (even the tight, olympic ones) retain air for a while when you jump into the pool, so I'd imagine steel + this cushiony clothing (e.g. a gambeson) could very well retain enough air to at least help, even if only a bit. As it stands now, it looks like 1she wouldn't have to stay under longer than 15-30 seconds, which is very survivable even for someone somewhat out of breath.

    ETA: Apparently you can actually swim for real wearing mail:
    http://www.regia.org/misc/pastimes.htm
     
  23. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Sure if you want to ruin the mail.
    She's going to need to spend a long time treating her armor with oil so that it won't rust after this.
     
  24. T.Trian
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    I'd imagine it would rust, but rust can be removed.

    I noticed that helmets seem to have weighed somewhere around 5-10lbs, so ditching that would deduct quite a bit from the overall weight of the armor. I've also found three different written accounts of guys swimming varying distances (all pretty short though) wearing plate armor, but since those I can't verify in any way, I won't take them into account (could just as well be exaggerated results or pure make-believe). Luckily I don't really need her to swim; it's enough that she gets her head above the surface and makes it out of the water.
     
  25. Porcupine
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    I'd like to chip in my two cents.

    Air bubbles: forget about them. They're not going to be decisive in this. Obviously, a set of padded armour would trap some air. It's not going to be enough to make any material difference. Buoyancy is going to be the biggest help you can count on, and everything with volume (metal, leather, cloth, those small pockets of trapped air and particularly the body of the woman) are going to contribute here.

    I would say the heroine stands a very good chance of drowning, as others have said before me, since she is going to go to the bottom like a rock. Swimming, except for a short burst, is out of the question, which is also confirmed by the video. Walking on the bottom, on the other hand, is going to be comparatively easy (also seen clearly in the video). Why? The armour will weight her down, so she will be able to walk around on the bottom with almost the same ease (slowed down by the water, admittedly) as on land. Buoyancy is going to help reduce the "feel" of the weight massively, though, she is going to feel much lighter and will not need much energy to walk, slowly.

    She can probably stay under for a minute if she manages to take a deep breath during her fall (should be possible, even accounting for the fact she's been fighting just prior to the fall). That should be ample time to walk or crawl out if there is a slope that is gentle enough (i.e., not vertical!).

    One thing to keep in mind is underwater vision. The water could be clear in principle, but her fall onto the bottom is going to kick up sediments and reduce visibility by a lot until she begins moving out of the cloud she has created. It's also going to be icy cold down there, and her ears are probably going to hurt from the pressure on them.
     

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