Weapons of War

Airship (Air)

Built by: Fire Nation

Description: Reminiscent of the real world zeppelin's of the 1930's1, this flying machine is a much larger adaptation of the war balloon (see "Balloon" entry below). This behemoth is evidently made of metal, flies under the power of several rear propellers, and has a crew of dozens.

The primary difference between an airship, or zeppelin, and a balloon is that an airship is built around a rigid frame and can control both its altitude and its flight path via a series of mechanical controls and fins. The war balloons seen earlier in the series meet that latter criteria, but not the former.

The war balloons use hot air burners to achieve lift, but the exact method the Fire Nation airships use to gain "lighter than air" status is unknown. Other potential substances used to obtain buoyancy besides hot air are helium and hydrogen, the latter of which was used with infamously disastrous results in the case of the Hindenburg upon its arrival in Lakehurst, NJ in 19312.

Usage: The Fire Nation uses these ships to great effect as both bombers and floating weapons platforms.

Each of these airships has enormous bomb bays under its center section. These can be loaded with explosives and discharged by opening the bay doors when above the desired targets3. The destructive power of this type of carpet bombing was seen first hand against the Earth Kingdom submarines in "The Eclipse."

The airships also have series of metal walkways that extend from the base of the ship underneath the center hull section. Each of these walkways is intended for a Fire Nation soldier to use as a small platform to launch firebending attacks during battle.





1

2

3


Ballista (Land/Water)

Built by: Fire Nation

Description: A huge crossbow type weapon that uses torsional force to propel generally smaller and lighter projectiles, for example darts or arrows, much farther and faster than a catapult or similar device.

Usage: The ballista, which first appears in episode 301 of Avatar, "The Awakening", is an enormous device that is mounted on a rotating platform aboard a Fire Navy ship, similar to the catapults and trebuchet seen in earlier episodes. The weapon is mainly used to deliver a metal projectile to the hull of the enemy's vessel at a point below the water line. Once the hull is punctured, the projectile opens up to prevent itself from exiting the vessel.

Balloon (Air)

Built by: Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation

Description: War balloons have three main components: the fabric envelope, the basket, and the burner. When filled with heated air by the burner, the envelope inflates. The hot air inside the inflated balloon is less dense than the air outside. This provides buoyancy, or lift, and causes the balloon to rise. The burner is a power source that blows heated air into the envelope through an opening at its bottom called a "throat."

The war balloon seen in "The Northern Air Temple" can control both its altitude and its flight path. The altitude is controlled via a lid on top of the envelope. The lid can be opened from the basket by pulling on a rope attached to the lid. When the lid is opened, hot air escapes and the balloon loses altitude. By manipulating the burner and the lid as needed, the altitude of the balloon can be controlled.

The flight path is controlled through a set of three propellers located on the aft end of the ship. A large fin on the back of the balloon helps direct air flow when in motion. Since the war balloon is capable of powered flight, it is more properly classed as an airship or dirigible.

Although the center of the basket is dominated by the burner, it is nevertheless large enough for several people. It is made mostly of wood or wicker, except for its bottom which appears to be made of metal. The burner is a large, boiler like contraption that has a blower on the top to push hot air into the envelope. The back end of the burner is attached to the three propellers and is probably the source of their power.

Usage: Sokka and the Mechanist used a war balloon against Fire Nation troops in "The Northern Air Temple."1 The war balloon carried four, huge slime bombs. This ordnance was marginally effective against the enemy infantry,]2 but failed to stop the Fire Nation tanks. As the situation became desperate, Sokka and the Mechanist, smelling natural gas below them, threw the burner overboard.3 The burner ignited the natural gas at its source and blew up much of the lower part of the mountain on which the Northern Air Temple rests, forcing the Fire Nation to retreat. Unfortunately, the war balloon was captured by the Fire Nation when Sokka and the Mechanist had to abandon ship. It is clear that the Fire Nation will take advantage of this technology in the future.





1

2

3


Boomerang (Range)

Built by: Water Tribe (Southern)

Description: The boomerang is a Water Tribe weapon constructed of an unknown material. It is flat and consists of two wings or arms joined at an acute angle. When thrown the wings create lift, much like a modern airplane.1 The wings are designed, however, so that the lift of each wing is out of balance with the other. This causes the boomerang to fly in a circle as the two forces fruitlessly attempt to reach equilibrium. Sokka's boomerang in particular is designed so that one wing has two holes drilled into it, while the other wing is solid.

Usage: The boomerang can be used either to strike an opponent directly,2 or to disarm an opponent by knocking their weapon away from them.3 A key advantage of the Water Tribe boomerang, unlike those in real life, is the extreme range at which it can be used effectively as a weapon and that it returns to the user even after striking another object.





1

2

3


Catapult (Land)

Built by: Fire Nation

Description: Catapults are torsional devices used to throw projectiles great distances. These devices work by using a beam to efficiently transfer mechanical energy from torsion built up inside a rope or wire into the projectile.1 Catapults are generally more difficult to build and less accurate than trebuchets, leading most military practitioners to favor the latter over the former.

The design of the Fire Nation catapult revolves around two "Half A" frames, a beam, and a rope or wire to provide the torsional store of energy. The construction material appears to be mostly metal. The beam has a bucket at the launch end to hold the projectile. Its back end is linked to the rope or wire storing the torsional energy. The rope or wire is strung between the crests of the two "Half A" frames.

The device is prepared to fire by twisting the wheels attached to the base of either "Half A" frame. The wheels are attached to the rope or wire so that as the wheels are turned the rope or wire twists. The twisting provides the torsion that is the source of the machine's mechanical energy. The bucket end of the beam is then winched to the ground and the bucket loaded with the projectile. When the beam is released the rope or wire untwists, tilting the beam rapidly upwards and releasing the projectile toward its target.

Usage: Similar to its use of trebuchets, the Fire Nation has adapted the catapult for use at sea. These devices are seen mounted on rotating platforms on the decks of some ironclads, specifically Prince Zuko's ship.2

Small catapults are also used by the Fire Nation cavalry. These devices can be attached to the saddle harness on each side of the rhinoceros used as mounts by the Fire Nation.3The arm of the catapult extends backward behind the animal, leaving the bucket or launch pad far enough way from the beast that it won't get burned when the projectile is lit on fire.





1

2

3


Cavalry (Land)

Built by: Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation

Description: Cavalry, or mounted troops, are mobile and flexible military units that are often instrumental in flanking manuevers. They can literally run circles around infantry. Heavy cavalry, such as the late Roman cataphracti, are useful as shock troops to break up infantry formations in close combat. Light cavalry is often used for scouting activities or to harass an enemy in retreat.

Usage: The Earth Kingdom uses war ostriches as cavalry mounts.1 These creatures, who seem to be part horse and part ostrich, are able to carry great weight. They are heavily armored, with a metal mask and metal neck, breast and even small side plates. In addition to their armor, they can safely carry two men. It is not known how fast or over what distances war ostriches can operate.

The Fire Nation uses war rhinoceros as their mounts.2 These sturdy beasts have tough skin that acts as natural armor plating. Their three long, sharp horns are built in weapons for them to use in close combat. In certain situations the rhinoceros can be fitted with a pair of small catapults.3 These devices are attached to the saddle harness on each side of the beast. The arm of the catapult extends backward behind the animal, leaving the bucket or launch pad far enough way from the rhinoceros that it won't get burned when the projectile is lit on fire.





1

2

3


Club (One-Hand Blunt)

Built by: Water Tribe (Southern)

Description: Perhaps the simplest and most ancient of all weapons is the war club. At its most basic the club is just an elongated piece of wood or metal.

The Water Tribe club, however, seems to be a more sophisticated weapon called a composite club. It is divided into three pieces, the handle, the stock and the ball. Each of these pieces appears to be made of different and unknown materials.

Usage: The wielder grips the club on the handle and swings it at the opponent. The intent is to strike the enemy with the ball at the end of the club. The purpose of the ball is to provide a wider surface area than the stock alone could provide over which to deliver the force of the blow.

Drill (Land)

Built by: Fire Nation

Description: The drill is a massive, steam powered, segmented metal pipe whose head section is shaped like a blunt drill bit.1 The bridge is located on a metal frame tower towards the rear of the machine.2 Although tubular, it apparently can move above ground on relatively flat terrain.

The head section can rotate rapidly, causing it to penetrate the surface in front of it as the drill moves forward.3 The different segments of the drill can separate4 to allow the deployment of support struts that prevent the drill from just sliding backward as it tries to drill.

Designed to move through rock, the action of the drill creates a huge amount of both broken stone and heat friction that would eventually melt the drill head. To solve both problems, the drill head ejects water into the bore. The water and stone mixture (called a slurry) is then collected through scoops at the drill head, passed back through the body of the drill along a series of pipes and then ejected at the back end of the machine.

Usage: The drill was designed by the Fire Nation, probably by or with the assistance of The Mechanist, for one purpose: to penetrate the walls of Ba-Sing-Se. Once a breach was made, the main Fire Nation army would then be able to exploit the breach and pour through.

Convinced of its invulnerability, however, the Fire Nation sent the drill into action supported by only a few tanks. While the drill did penetrate the outer wall of Ba-Sing-Se,5 it was in turn destroyed in situ when Aang and his friends blocked up the slurry effluent system.6









1

2

3

4

5

6


Explosives (All)

Built by: Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation

Description: Explosives come in three forms so far in the show, fireworks, blasting jelly and firebombs. Fireworks are devices that use explosives and other materials in order to produce loud, colorful detonations for entertainment purposes. Blasting jelly is a mixture of nitroglycerine and a small amount of a stablizer such as collodion. It's primary use is in mining and construction, though it is just as easily used for demolition and military purposes. Firebombs are incendiary devices whose military function is to damage opponents and their material by subjecting them to violent explosions and intense flame.

Explosives function by allowing unstable chemicals to combine rapidly and produce a strongly exothermic reaction accompanied by rapid expansion. The rapid expansion, usually produced by the liberation of gases from the reaction, create the explosive shock wave that accompanies detonation.

Usage: Fireworks are set off by a firebomb thrown by Chey at the "Fire Days Festival" witnessed in "The Deserter."1

Jet and his freedom fighters captured several barrels of blasting jelly at the beginning of "Jet." The jelly was then used to blow up the dam protecting the Earth Kingdom village occupied by the Fire Nation.

Firebombs have been used on a few occasions. Chey used them a couple times to help Aang and his friends escape pursuit,2 Colonel Mongke's men used dynamite type bombs in "Avatar Day," and the Mechanist provided them as ammunition for the war balloon and gliders in "The Northern Air Temple." In this latter, however, it must be noted that the firebombs were not strong enough to damage the Fire Nation tanks that led the assault,3 though they were useful against the Fire Nation infantry.





1

2

3


Fortifications (Land)

Built by: All Nations

Description: Fortifications are fixed, man made structures designed to facilitate the defense of a location. They may consist of any combination of walls, towers, moats or ditches, trenches, bunkers or stockades. Fortifications have two primary purposes. The first is to give defenders superior position over an invader by making it easier for the defenders to strike their opponents, while making it harder for the invader to do so. The second is to prevent the attacker from coming to close quarters with the defenders.

Fortifications do have significant drawbacks. Since by definition they cannot move, a numerous enough invader can surround the area and lay siege. They are also generally difficult to conceal, especially those protecting cities or other above ground installations. The principal weakness of any wall based fortification system is the gate or any exit, though the Earth Kingdom and Northern Water Tribe have developed an ingenious solution to this problem.

Usage: Although both artillery and explosives exist in Avatar, none of the belligerents have put these inventions together yet to create cannons. In the absence of such weapons, fortifications play a critical role in the military dimension of the story and are used by every nation.

Water Tribes: The Northern Water Tribe City is built into the face of a huge glacier that abuts the arctic ocean. 1 The city is divided into three sections, each protected by a wall of ice. The main city wall has watchtowers on each end atop the glacier and six along the wall itself. It also has no gate. It is opened by waterbending the ice of the wall to make an entry tunnel that is then replaced when authorized travelers have passed through. The interior walls have several watchtowers each and are equipped with portholes through which water flows into moats below. The portholes can act as powerful jets of water when waterbended by defenders.2 While beautiful, ice is not the most suitable material for fortifications and these defenses quickly withered under the Fire Nation assault in "The Siege of the North, Parts I and II."3

Earth Kingdom: The most readily accessible example of Earth Kingdom fortifications is the city of Omashu. The mountainous location and very narrow approach, reminiscent of the ancient Judean fortress of Masada,4 make Omashu difficult to attack even before fortifications are considered. The position of the city on top of a mountain renders its walls a sheer drop to the floor of a canyon or mountain pass below.5 The city's fortifications are impressive, however, with high stone walls 6 and a set of triple, interlocking gates that are opened by earthbending.7 Additionally, the residential section of the city rises well above even its high walls, allowing defenders to shoot downward at any invaders. Mighty as these fortifications are, however, they were not sufficient to prevent the city from falling to the Fire Nation.

Fire Nation: Even though the Fire Nation has focused on mobile warfare to aid their offensive ambitions, they still need fortifications in order to occupy enemy territory. The Fire Nation fortress seen in "The Blue Spirit" is an excellent example.8 Composed of a three tiered wall structure and a huge central keep, this fortress has enough interior room in its courtyards to act as a military base. Fire Nation fortifications also seem to be built mostly of metal in order to preclude earthbender attacks. Other examples of Fire Nation fortifications are the prison rig in "Imprisoned" and the naval bases seen in various episodes.

Air Nomads: The Air Temples' primary defensive power lies in their inaccessibility. The Temples themselves, however, are not heavily fortified.9 Once the Fire Nation solved the access problem their security was compromised.













1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9


Glider Staff (Two Hand Blunt)

Built by: Air

Description: The glider staff is a combination long staff and glider used originally by the monks of the airbender temples.

The staff itself is simply a long, hardwood pole and is one of the most ancient weapons used in martial arts.1 The long staff is referred to as a bo in Japan and as a gun or chang bang in China. The length of the staff usually corresponds to the height of the user or a little longer. The staff increases both the reach and leverage of the wielder against an opponent. Although quite versatile, the bo staff is generally regarded as a defensive weapon.

The glider portion of this weapon appears when the user activates a trigger mechanism somewhere on the staff. When activated the staff releases a colored glider sail on a rigid frame. The sail allows airbenders to maximize the lift from airbending the air around them.

Usage: The glider staff is used for many purposes. These can be divided into three categories: flight, fighting and utility.

Flight: Airbenders can use this staff for sustained, powered flight using their bending abilities.2 Depending on their skill, they can also carry passengers either using the glider method3 or, if the staff does not have glider capabilities, the helicopter method.4

Fighting: The staff can be used to block firebending attacks, direct blasts of air at an opponent,5 or at close quarters to block direct attacks or to deliver thrusting or sweeping blows.

Utility: This weapon can be used as a tool for a variety of purposes. These include using it as a lever or pry bar,6 or for carrying loads such as buckets of water.









1

2

3

4

5

6


Gliders (Air)

Built by: Earth Kingdom, Air Nomads

Description: The gliders seen in Avatar are single person, fixed wing aircraft designed for un-powered flight. The glider's pilot hangs suspended from the wooden frame and controls the vehicle's flight either through hand controlled rudders or by shifting one's weight against the hang bar.

Although gliders are un-powered, skilled pilots can still obtain lift if they are able to find rising air masses. These occur naturally in many instances, for example when the sun warms the ground creating columns of rising air, called thermals.

Usage: Gliders were first used by the monks of the Air Temples before their destruction by the Fire Nation a century ago. After the Northern Air Temple was reinhabited by The Mechanist and his people, they began to use the gliders again. Without airbending to provide lift, the Mechanist devised a way to heat the air surrounding the temple so the glider pilots could use the resulting air currents to fly.

Gliders are the tactical bombers of the Avatar universe. Flying in close and low, glider pilots can bomb ground troops with impunity. The Northern Air Temple, with its lower terrace serving as a natural airfield,1 now relies almost exclusively on its air force for protection. When the Fire Nation attacked the temple with tanks and infantry, the gliders were able to repel the infantry with slime, stink and firebombs.2 The heavily armored tanks, however, proved resistant to the glider's weaponry.3





1

2

3


Jet Ski (Sea)

Built by: Fire Nation

Description: This Avatar equivalent of the modern jet ski is apparently made of metal and features a curved hull ending in bowed prow. The rider sits on a three cushion seat in the middle of the vehicle and steers by holding onto and turning a set of handle bars mounted up front. The rear of the vehicle houses its engine, though whether it is a steam engine or an internal combustion engine is difficult to ascertain.

Usage: These are one man water vehicles designed for use in rivers, lakes or coastal areas. They are very fast and highly maneuverable. Although intended for one rider, a passenger can be easily accommodated. The Fire Nation generally uses these machines for patrolling waterfront population areas rather than heavy combat.

Sailing Ships (Sea)

Built by: Earth Kingdom, Water Tribes, Pirates

Description: This is a broad class of wooden vessels that use the wind for propulsion. All sailing ships have four main elements: hulls, at least one mast, at least one sail that uses the wind to power the ship and rigging to control the sail.

Usage: Sailing vessels aren't much use in naval combat once reliable steam propulsion technology is developed. Still, the skiffs used by the Northern Water Tribe did see limited action in "The Siege of the North, Part I."1

Even without much of a combat role, sailing vessels of all types remain useful as transports or merchant vessels. Earth Kingdom fishermen are known to use schooners, or double masted sailing ships, to ply their trade. 2 The warriors of the Southern Water Tribe used what appear to be sloops or cutters to transport themselves to the Earth Kingdom. Lastly, the pirates first seen in "The Waterbending Scroll" used a Chinese junk, a multi masted ship with battened sails, to travel the world.3





1

2

3


Seige Tower (Land)

Built by: Fire Nation

Description: Siege towers are large wooden or metal structures designed to facilitate a direct attack against walled fortifications. The tower must be as high or higher than the wall the attackers are attempting to overcome so infantry or other troops can be easily deployed. The troops are deployed using a drawbridge or gangplank to connect the tower to the top of the wall.1

Usage: Siege towers are generally difficult to build and are not very mobile. For these reasons, they are generally constructed at the site of a siege. If built within the range of the defender's weaponry, however, they can easily be destroyed during construction. To prevent this, many siege towers are designed with wheels or casters so that they can be built beyond the defender's range and then rolled into place only when needed.

These devices were used by the Fire Nation during the successful siege of Omashu that occurred between the episodes "The King of Omashu" and "The Cave of Two Lovers."2 At least four of these enormous siege towers were constructed by the Fire Nation around the city walls. The drawbridges are so large they look somewhat like the massive tower cranes used in modern real world construction.3





1

2

3


Slinky Tank (Land)

Built by: Earth Kingdom

Description: This ingenious machine, developed by the Mechanist, is a tracked vehicle made of metal and stone. The body of the tank is series of movable, overlapping stone plates. These allow the tank to vary its length and bend in seemingly impossible directions (like a slinky toy1) at the will of the operators. It is propelled by a crew of four earthbenders and has room in its hull for dozens of soldiers.

Usage: The slinky tank is able to perform a variety of functions in high intensity combat situations. It can crush enemy tanks and smaller fortifications with ease2, and it serves as an armored troop transport carrier that can deploy dozens of combat troops directly into battle.

Like their Fire Nation counterparts, however, the Earth Kingdom tanks are not invulnerable. A direct hit from a catapult, ballista or trebuchet can do considerable damage to these machines3. Also, tipping these weapons on their side immobilizes them, rendering them useless in combat.





1

2

3


Spears (Edged)

Built by: All Nations

Description: One of the oldest edged weapons, spears are simple weapons composed of a shaft that ends in a sharpened head. The heads of the most basic spears are made of the same material as the shaft, for example a wooden spear with a whittled head. Compound spears have a shaft made of one material and the head made of another. Spears of the latter type allow for better tailoring for the different applications described below.

Usage: Easy to use and manufacture, spears were popular weapons before the advent of gunpowder. Additionally spears are versatile, and can be used as both melee and throwing weapons. Those used for melee tend to be heavier and longer than those used for throwing.

Submarine (Sea)

Built by: Earth Kingdom

Description: This underwater craft, conceived by Sokka and constructed by the Mechanist, appears to be around a hundred feet long and is propelled by a crew of waterbenders. Reminiscent of Captain Nemo's "Nautilus"1, the skin of this ship is apparently a combination of wood and metal. It unknown how deep the craft is able to dive, but it clearly cannot stay submerged for long as it has no native air supply beyond what is present in its compartments when it goes underneath the water.

Flexible fins manipulated via controls on the bridge allow the ship to be steered. A series of windows on the bridge deck and portholes in the forward section of the conning tower allow the pilot and crew to observe the surroundings outside the craft. A periscope2 allows the captain or pilot to observe activities on the surface when the ship is submerged.

The ship is armed with two forward torpedo tubes. These are loaded by waterbenders with large ice torpedoes filled with blasting jelly that are capable of blasting through large stone barriers. The ship is also able to carry a "slinky tank" in its forward section and disgorge it immediately upon beaching itself at its destination.3

Usage: The submarine was a novel invention created specifically for the "Day of Black Sun" invasion of the Fire Nation. The purpose of the ships was to allow the allied forces to penetrate heavy Fire Nation defenses without detection and then to deploy the land army before the enemy could react.





1

2

3


Swords (Edged)

Built by: All Nations

Description: First manufactured in the early Bronze Age, swords are edged weapons that come in a startling number of varieties. They all consist of two main components, however, the hilt and the blade.

The hilt usually consists of three pieces, the pommel, the grip and the cross guard. The pommel is the counterweight at the bottom of the sword that balances the weight of the weapon across its length. The grip is where the wielder holds the sword, and the cross guard is a perpendicular piece of metal just above the grip that prevents an opponent's sword from sliding down the wielder's blade and cutting his or her hand.

The blade of a sword can be either single or double edged and generally tapers toward a point. The size of the blade generally determines whether the sword requires one or two hands to wield. Swords are often differentiated by the shape and width of their blades. Some of the swords seen in Avatar include:

Broadsword: This sword is a one handed, single edged, wide bladed weapon. In the west, most notably in Europe, this is referred to as a broadsword. In China, it is referred to as a dao.1 Prince Zuko used a pair of these ancient, ornamental blades when disguised in his Blue Spirit persona.2

Straight Sword: Many different types of straight edge swords are seen throughout the show. Some are two handed great swords such as that used by some of the Fire Nation troops in "Jet,"3 others are one handed swords such as that used by The Pirate Captain.4

Scimitar: Many curved blades appear in the show that can be loosely termed "scimitars," from the Zhang Leader's sword5 to the Water Tribe blade seen in "Bato of the Water Tribe."6

Usage: Swords are used at close quarters to stab or slash an opponent. The exact utility of a blade is determined by its length, weight and shape. Long thin blades, such as rapiers, are generally used for thrusting, whereas wider bladed swords are best for slashing.









1

2

3

4

5

6


Tangle Mine (Sea)

Built by: Water Tribe

Description: Invented by Sokka and Katara's father, Hakoda, this spherical device's main body is constructed of brown or dark colored animal skins. Inside it is stuffed with seaweed and stinkfish. The bottom of the device is plugged with a knot of wooden stubs and rope. The top is sealed with a cork that rests in a fabric collar. The base of the collar is penetrated by a wooden pin.

Usage: The mine is buoyant and so floats when deployed in water. The men of the southern Water Tribe use these to mine waters plied by Fire Nation naval vessels. When struck, the mines explode, ejecting seaweed and stinkfish. The smell of the fish is so awful that men prefer to abandon ship rather than endure it. The seaweed tangles the screws and propellers of the ship, immobilizing it.

Tank (Land)

Built by: Fire Nation

Description: These machines are armored, four wheeled, steam powered vehicles that can carry three soldiers into battle. They are capable of moving faster than infantry at least over short distances, though their maximum range is not known since the nature of their power source is not well understood.

The chassis and cab of the vehicle rides low to the ground. It has a fixed turret on its top with openings that face forward and to the sides. These openings allow a firebender to release fire blasts at targets with virtual impunity. If the vehicle gets flipped over for any reason, the crew compartment between the two wheel axles can rotate 180 degrees to allow the tank to continue moving forward unimpeded.

The wheels also have large serrated spikes around their circumference. The spikes help provide traction. Depending on the situation, the tank can be fitted with treads over its wheels to provide a much greater surface area over which to distribute the vehicle's weight. When fitted with treads, the Fire Nation tanks look somewhat like the Ford M1918 tank that was produced for the U.S. Army in World War I.1

Besides its firebender arsenal, the tank also has another powerful weapon: it's grappling hooks. Small grappling hooks can be shot from inside the tank and huge grappling hook can be fired if the tank is retrofitted with a ballista.2

Usage: Fire Nation tanks are versatile vehicles that are useful in many combat situations, for example urban assault and mountain warfare. Relying on its spiked wheels and its small grappling hooks to help negotiate sheer rock faces, these vehicles were used without treads to scale cliffs in "The Northern Air Temple."3

When assaulting the Northern Water Tribe city, Admiral Zhao used these machines fitted with ballistas to reduce the city's secondary wall. The tanks fired spears from the ballista that, once they penetrated the wall, would open into a grappling hook.4 The tanks, properly braced, would then reel back the chain that connected the tank and the hook.5 After the chains pulled taught, the hooks were able to rip down pieces of the wall.6 These breaches were then exploited with infantry. That situation also required the tanks to use treads to prevent them from falling through the ice.









1

2

3

4

5

6


Tank Train (Land)

Built by: Fire Nation

Description: This machine is a three car, tracked vehicle capable of moving at tremendous speed. All three cars are heavily armored and move on tracks like a conventional tank. The cars are connected to each other by rigid couplers.

The front car has a smokestack and a forward scoop (called a "cowcatcher" in 19th century American railroad terminology)1 designed to deflect debris away from the vehicle when traveling at high speed. It also has two, long metal cylinders that look like rockets on either side above the tread wells.2

The last car is a storage hold that Azula and her friends use as a pen for their giant lizard mounts. When triggered, the side of this car opens onto the ground. It serves as an exit ramp when in that position.3

The middle car serves an unspecified function. Like the last car, it does not have windows and does not seem to be powered. Possible functions include carrying fuel or weaponry.

Usage: Though large and heavily armored, this machine is the ideal pursuit vehicle. Capable of high speed over virtually any terrain, the tank train was able to exhaust and eventually overtake Appa in "The Chase."





1

2

3


Tiger's Head Hook (Edged)

Built by: Earth (Jet)

Description: Often classified as a type of sword, this double edged weapon was first developed in China about four thousand years ago and is called a Hu-Tou-Gou.1 The blade of this weapon, as its name implies, is bent into a fish hook shape at its end. Instead of a traditional pommel, this weapon has a smaller blade below the grip that acts both as a counterweight and as a secondary weapon.

Almost as striking as the hooked blade itself, the Tiger's Head Hook also uses a very distinctive cross guard. Most cross guards are perpendicular pieces of metal just above the grip that prevent an opponent's sword from sliding down the wielder's blade and cutting the wielder's hand. The cross guard on this weapon is a crescent shaped piece of sharpened metal that acts both to protect the user's hand and as a stabbing or jabbing weapon.

Usage: The Tiger's Head Hook is often dual wielded, that is, the typical practitioner uses one in each hand, as Jet did.2 It is a difficult weapon to learn because it is bladed in every direction, making it easy for the user to cause self-inflicted wounds. This weapon is extremely versatile, however, and the hooks make elaborate trapping and throwing maneuvers possible.3





1

2

3


Trebuchet (Land/Water)

Built by: Fire Nation

Description: The trebuchet is a gravity driven mechanical artillery weapon of tremendous power. The device is made of metal and consists of a beam mounted on an axle that rests between two "A" frames or similar support towers. The "A" frames and the beam are parallel to one another, while the axle connects the tops of the two "A" frames and passes through the beam. The axle allows the beam to rotate. To drive the mechanism, a counterweight is attached to the rear end of the beam, and the sling which holds the projectile is attached to the front end of the beam.

To prepare a trebuchet to fire, the front end of the beam must be reeled in low to the ground, raising the counterweight on the back end high up into the air. When the beam is released, the counterweight falls, driving the back end of the beam down and the front end up. As the front end of the beam "see-saws" upwards, the sling attached to the front end of the beam will release its payload toward its target.

The distance a trebuchet can fire and the maximum weight of its payload depends on several different factors. These include the length of the beam, the ratio of the length of the beam on the side with the counterweight to the length on the other side of the axle, and the ratio of the mass of the counterweight and the projectile. The longer the beam, the farther the projectile will go. While there is no theoretical limit on the length of beam that can be used, it is effectively limited by the strength of available construction materials. The ratio of the beam lengths is ideally around 4 or 5:1 and the counterweight to projectile mass ratio is ideally around 100:1.

Usage: The Fire Nation mounts their trebuchets on the decks of their ironclad warships.1 They line them in rows on either side of the deck, placing them on rotating platforms that allow them to direct their fire without having to turn the ship. Projectiles consist of smelly, burning balls of pitch or some other substance. Depending on the ship, some trebuchets are traditional "A" frame models2, while others that look more advanced have "Half A" frames. Trebuchets have been used in the show both for siege and anti-aircraft purposes.3





1

2

3


War Fan (Edged)

Built by: Earth (Kyoshi Island)

Description: Called tienshan in Chinese or tessen in Japanese, the war fan is a metal weapon that usually consists of between ten and twenty iron spokes bound together at their base by a pin.1 The spokes are connected along much of their length by iron plates. To reduce weight, some fans use iron only for the outer spokes, while using bamboo or other lightweight wood for the inner.

To open the fan, the user slides the outermost spokes in opposite directions, allowing the spokes to rotate to a certain extent around the pin at the bottom. The maximum breadth of the fan is determined by the number of spokes and the widths of the plates connecting them. Although mostly considered a defensive weapon best used for blocking maneuvers, the edges of the plates are sharpened to provide some offensive capability.

Usage: The fan is effective as a weapon both in its open and closed positions. When closed, the fan can be used as a fighting baton, a one hand blunt weapon, to block,2 crush or club an opponent. It can also be used as a throwing weapon itself in the closed position. When open, the fan can effectively block both melee and range weapon attacks.3 The sharpened edges can also be used offensively for cutting or slicing moves.





1

2

3


Warships (Sea)

Built by: Fire Nation

Description: One of the most important elements of the Fire Nation arsenal, these ocean going vessels are iron or steel hulled ships that use steam power for propulsion. Warships appear in several different sizes,1 but they all share common design characteristics.

The bridge tower is amidships and rises high above the main deck. Two smokestacks appear just aft of the bridge to ventilate the power plant. The after deck is dominated by the engine complex and has very little open space compared to the foredeck. The foredeck comprises half the length of the ship and is almost featureless when the ship is not in combat. The hull design is somewhat akin to the Castle Class corvettes produced by the United Kingdom in World War II.2

Fire Navy ships are heavily armed with either catapults or trebuchets. When not needed these weapons are stored below the foredeck. During combat these devices are raised up to the foredeck through concealed hatchways. They are mounted on rotating platforms that allow the gunners to direct their fire without having to turn the ship.

The bow of these vessels is hinged near the water line. When opened, the bowsprit and bow plating above the water line swing downward on the hinge.3 When unfolded, the bowsprit becomes a bridge for the deployment of troops. This invention is analogous to the Roman corvus used to devastating effect in the First Punic War.

The aft end of Fire Navy ships can also open to deploy a small, catamaran type dinghy.4 This small craft is a multi purpose vessel that can be used for reconnaissance, exploration or as a lifeboat.

Usage: Fire Nation warships are as versatile as they are powerful. They are useful in many combat situations, including:

Amphibious Assault: The hinged bow facilitates the rapid disembarkation of troops from inside the ship. The Fire Navy was able to deploy this variation of the corvus directly into the main wall of the Northern Water Tribe city in "The Siege of the North, Part I."5

Bombardment: The warship's catapults or trebuchets are its main armaments. These weapons are capable of raining fiery destruction against other ships, aerial attackers, or shore targets such as cities or naval bases.

Blockade: A fleet of warships is capable of creating a blockade.6 This tactic is intended to restrict an opponent's access to a certain area. The objectives of a blockade can vary greatly, but common goals include choking off an enemy's supplies or preventing allies or reinforcements from coming to the aid of the those under the blockade.









1

2

3

4

5

6


Whip (Range)

Built by: Earth (Jun the Bounty Hunter)

Description: A long, flexible weapon made of braided, leather strips. Whips are composed of four parts, a handle, a thong, a fall and a cracker.

Handle: The handle usually consists of a wooden core that is overlaid by a tightly woven, high quality braid of leather.

Thong: The thong is the main body of the whip that connects the handle to the fall. It is composed of many plaits or braids of leather and either attaches directly to the handle or via a joint.

Fall: The fall is a single strip of leather that connects the thong to the cracker and is extremely flexible.

Cracker: Also called a "popper," the cracker is the single, very thin piece of string or leather that serves as the end of the whip.

Usage: When shaken by the user a shock wave travels from the handle rapidly towards the cracker at its end. Due to the law of the conservation of energy, the shock wave accelerates rapidly as the diameter of the whip diminishes. Used correctly, the shock wave eventually causes the cracker at the end of the whip to break the sound barrier and produce the whip's tell-tale sound. When used as a weapon, the cracker is often removed since the fall communicates more energy (i.e., does more damage) to the target.
Back to overview