Archive for March, 2018

Here’s another re-blog about dragons at war. This one is from February 2013.

No, it’s not like the gold standard! Although, given the reputed size of some dragon hoards, dragons could BE the gold standard. But what I’m referring to here is using the dragon as a battle standard.

Lots of countries and individuals have used the dragon as their personal or military symbol. It’s easy to see why. Western dragons are huge and powerful. Using that as your emblem could certainly give your enemies pause. I’ve previously mentioned that a red dragon was the national symbol of Wales, before it became incorporated into Great Britain.

Eastern dragons, on the other hand, still convey power, but also wisdom and grace. So Bhutan, for instance, uses a white dragon on its flag. The white dragon conveys the beauty and serenity of this Himalayan kingdom.

One of the most fun and interesting dragon symbols I’ve read about is the Dacian draco. In Roman times, Dacia was a region in Eastern Europe between the Black Sea and the Carpathian Mountains. The modern countries of Moldova and Rumania, plus parts of Serbia, Hungary, Solvenia, Poland, Ukraine and Bulgaria, lie within the ancient domain of Dacia.

You’ve probably figured out already that the dragon was Dacia’s battle emblem. What’s fun is that they actually made a dragon that would roar, and they carried it at the front of their armies.

The draco was a metal tube decorated to look like a dragon, although the surviving images look rather more wolf-like than draconic. Behind the head was a fabric covering. The open mouth contained several thin metal strips.

This contraption was mounted on a pole and carried at the head of the Dacian armies by a man on a horse. Once he reached full gallop, the fabric would flow behind him, moving as if alive. Meanwhile, the metal pieces in the dragon’s mouth caught the wind and emitted a piercing shriek, amplified by the tube. Viola — a dragon that roared!

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After telling you about the Black Dragon, a type of U. S. artillery during World War II, I can’t resist re-blogging another type of “dragon” from the same conflict. I hope you’ll enjoy this repeat from March of 2015.

(Dragon’s teeth) … are a type of fortification first used in Europe during World War II. They consist of three- to four-foot tall pyramids or cones, made of concrete, that are massed in a line or field along a battle front.

The idea was to create a barrier that tanks couldn’t easily penetrate. Often there would be several consecutive formations that had to be overcome, while the defender’s line of fire would not be impeded.

Not only were the dragon’s teeth themselves installed, but the ground surface would be prepared with sunken concrete slabs, making it difficult to undermine the teeth. Many formations included additional barriers such as barbed wire and mines to stop infantry, or steel beams to foul tank treads. Sometimes the “teeth” had metal spikes on top, as well.

In practice, dragon’s teeth weren’t as effective as one might expect. Combat engineers found ways to remove them, and it was easy enough for bulldozers or dump trucks to cover these areas with earth, creating a surface that tanks could navigate. At the end of World War II, many of the installations were left in place. Historians and tourists are free to visit these former battle fronts.

Today, a few variations on dragon’s teeth are still employed around the world. Dragon’s teeth are part of the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Similar devices, such as spike strips, are laid down by police to stop fleeing vehicles, and some parking lots use them to prevent people from leaving without payment.

Sometimes even dragons are useful!

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