Technology and history collide head-on in this action packed series, where we witness first hand the power of pivotal world-changing weapons. But did the ancient craftsman get it right? Could we make a better weapon today with modern materials, science and techniques? Or did ancient craftsmen's seemingly simple solutions make the most sense, withstanding the test of time?
This is no dry, academic show - these weapons are put through their paces. Our Weapons Master Mike Loades, has literally spent a lifetime studying and wielding these weapons. Mike swings swords, shoots bows, fires guns and hurls all manner of weapons with the best of them. Mike is adept at wrangling lethal force on horseback and driving chariots; he shoots blowpipes in the jungle and he plays with liquid fire - just like the Ancient Greeks did.
Our Master Craftsman, Chad, is an American Renaissance man. Offbeat, alternative-minded, and the ultimate "jack of all trades," Chad inhabits a ramshackle but uber-equipped shop. Chad can make anything, but is he really a match for history's master craftsmen - can he really beat them at their own game? As he sets to work we find out a lot about materials science and the way things work, if not how Chad's mind works!
In the final showdown, in which our modern weapon is pitted against the traditionally built example, we use high speed cameras and time-slice photography to capture the moment of truth - will our new sword cleave a bullet clean in two, can our crossbow shoot farther…or will the traditional weapon reign supreme?
Episode 1: Roman Scorpion
The Roman army doubled the crossbow's size and power, turning it into a terrifying long-range assault weapon. Mike and Chad travel to Europe to see a replica in action at the British hill fort that was destroyed by Roman Scorpions. This machine is all about stored energy when fired, it exploded and lurched like a striking scorpion. With modern materials replacing animal tendons, Chad builds the ultimate flaming crossbow!
Episode 2 Greek Fire
Dating back to the 7th century, this Byzantine flamethrower spewed liquid flame far enough to ignite enemy warships. A mysterious fuel created fire that stuck to its target and was impossible to put out with water. Chad and Mike see a replica in action in the UK and sail on a Roman galley on the Danube.
Chad is in his element playing with fire! Bigger gas tanks, increased pressure, and modern fuel will make his floating flamethrower far more incendiary than the Byzantine original.
Episode 3: Dueling Pistols
Used by 18th century gents to settle arguments, this weapon is all about beating your enemy to the draw reducing the amount of time between thought and action. The original had metal striking flint creating a spark and bang!... the bullet shoots out of the muzzle.
Chad's lightning fast pistol boasts an electronic ignition, making firing immediate with it Chad will win every argument.
Episode 4: Atlatl
This spear throwing device pre-dates the bow, and was used by Native Americans as their main defense against the Spanish conquistadores. It's claimed it could penetrate Spanish armor.
Using the lightest of space age materials, Chad and his modern "Fling Thing" will blow a hole in any armor.
Episode 5: Katana
This centuries old iconic Japanese sword, is the ultimate hand-to-hand fighting weapon. The heart of the Katana is its folded steel composite construction providing strength, sharpness and flexibility. Mike & Chad venture to Japan to meet a master sword smith, Mike also witnesses the age old steel smelting process high in the mountains of central Japan. Back home Chad's design relies on modern steel and hardening techniques: a materials engineering advantage that should give his version the strength and weight and the upper hand over the Katana. In fact he's so confident he's happy to shoot a bullet at his!
Episode 6 : Repeating Crossbow
Chad and Mike go back in time to Beijing in 1899, the time of the Boxer Rebellion, to see the machine gun of the ancient world: the Chinese repeating crossbow. This remarkable weapon shoots and re-loads, ready to shoot again, all with a simple one-handed movement - it was the. But Chad wants to up the ante. Can he improve on this simple but ingenious design?
Episode 7: Rockets
What made this cast iron, 26 pound, Civil war rocket revolutionary was its spin. By diverting some of the rocket's thrust to create spin, the Hale took advantage of the simple idea of gyroscopic force, improving both range and accuracy.
Precision engineering, improved aerodynamics, and more reliable and powerful fuel will give Chad's rocket a far greater bang for its buck.
Episode 8: Chakram
The Chakram is an ancient Indian throwing weapon shaped like a ring, with razor sharp cutting edges. This seemingly simple weapon had amazing aerodynamics. Mike travels deep into India to witness Chakrams wielded by hundreds of warriors on horses and elephants! Chad aims to better the Chakram with state-of-the-art materials and a mechanical launch mechanism, which will un-leash a barrage of spinning disks.
Episode 9: Chariot Bow
The chariot Bow was the decisive weapon of the Egyptians, designed to be used from the crammed, unstable chariot. In the strung position, this bow resembled a triangle; when drawn, it transforms into to a perfect arc. As Chad mounts his chariot, his modern bow will utilize the latest composites and will be iso-elastically stabilized, and laser guided.
Episode 10: Blowpipe
Dating back to the beginning of mankind, the blowpipe is still used for every day survival in the depths of the Amazon. Mike visits a tribe in Peru and learns how to make a traditional blowpipe. But Chad's not into traditional or stealth. He's taking his pipe to the next level. First of all, lung powered out, compressed Nitrogen in.
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