made of metal
Edited by hankypanky2 - 5/30/14 at 6:04pm
Cool-looking and properly designed: the Merkava. It uses the entire engine block as additional armor by using a front-mid engine mount layout (I mean, really, when was the last time a tank driver actually used his own eyesight peering out of a tank?), with some seats in the rear for infantry escorts (or if their APC gets blown up), and of course an easier way to escape from a damaged tank through that rear door. Think of this as the Mi24 Hind of tanks, where every other tank is only the Apache or the Cobra. The turret is squat to minimize profile but the body height and front slope still allows for positioning at higher ground and for aiming the gun at hostiles moving at lower ground.
The most famous (yet unintended) use of the iron signalling fan (as distinct from one with sharpened blades designed for killing) in a fight, commemorated here:
At their fourth (and only real) engagement at Kawanakajima during the Sengoku Period, Lord Shingen and his generals decided on a two-pronged attack against Lord Kagetora, who was encamped on a hill overlooking the battlefield. A detachment from the Takeda army marched up the hill during the night with the objective of launching a surprise attack on the Uesugi (Nagao) army and driving them downhill, where the long spears of their light(ly armoured pike) infantry will be waiting. Lord Kagetora, knowing Shingen's propensity for surprise charges (such as when he arrived at and relieved a siege with a cavalry charge; also with the Uesugi's defeat to the Hojo prior to Kagetora's reign, who relieved a siege with a surprise night raid), ordered his men to break camp before sleeping, wrapped silk around their horses' hooves, then marched down the path where they were intended to be driven down.
At dawn the Takeda army were in position, but surprised to find an organized Uesugi army in formation (though without any sleep) opposing them. With a full force charge and employing tactics similar to that employed by Roman legions (where front ranks fought for a short time, then moved aside then to the back, cycling the men and managing fatigue) the Uesugi pushed back the the Takeda. A determined counterattack by a Takeda general was ultimately pushed back, and Lord Kagetora with a small detachment of his personal guard broke through the Takeda lines. Kagetora himself burst into Shingen's command tent, who parried his initial sword blow with his tessen (as he was not even wearing his sword at the time), buying enough time for a samurai to charge in with a spear and drive away the attacker. The general whose counter-attack was repelled and seeing that the Uesugi cavalry broke through the lines towards the camp, already bleeding from bullet wounds, committed seppuku - what he failed to see was that he actually delayed the charging Uesugi army long enough for the detached force of samurai on foot and horse charge and attack the tired Uesugi from the rear.
Here's the opening video to Shogun II (AFAIK, with artistic liberties, since Shingen's lands were not under strong enough influence of the Ikko sect), showing Shingen on his command post and using his tessen to command a charge. The table did not make it to the commemorative statue above.
Still, as far as Japanese weapons go, I'm really more a fan of the Naginata - you can stop cavalry nearly as well as a straight-pointed spear since it's a pole-arm, but when facing a more skilled and nimble opponent, you have a lot more cutting movements than with a regular spear. It's like attacking with a sword, but with more reach, then you can use the other end of the pole-arm for parrying, but you need to hit the opponent's wrist/forearm or slap his weapon away at an angle, instead of how the handle was broken in that video I linked. Musashi however prefers the spear as it is much more effective in a massed charge, but if I'm a commander who stays at the rear commanding everything (instead of leading at the front, or charging the rear), I'll have my personal guard use these instead of just a sword. Generals who led from and fought at the front, by the time of the Sengoku, used spears (or guns) instead of bows.
It's for killing, not fighting. There's a difference: it's one thing to walk up to an unsuspecting victim to quickly and stealthily stab an artery (or any other softer areas where you can keep your hand out of the way of the blade when you thrust) then melt into crowd, and quite another thing to storm a castle and have a dramatic boss battle at the end of it.
The idea isn't control but to hide the blade and get it out easy. Putting it in a scabbard or on a belt means it'll be in a spot that is easy to frisk (not having a guard on the blade and thick sleeves can help in hiding this, including from incompetent friskers), and too far from one's hand if the goal is to strike within microseconds without being seen that you are armed. If it can be retracted back and the user is wearing black, with enough skill he could theoretically hit a vital organ instead of an artery, and not have a mess on his person, and slip away easily.
And no I am not arguing that your points aren't valid (if they weren't then such a weapon would have been very popular), only that there are some reasons why someone would actually bother using this.