The equipment of Legio XV Apollinaris is, as far as possible, based on actual archaeological findings. An exception is made for the arms and shields, which are covered in padded material, as commonly demanded by LRP regulations. Where the archaeological evidence are scarce, some equipment has been constructed according to our own practical experiences. Also, being a voluntary student organisation with no stately founding whatsoever, economy has somewhat limited the correctness achievable.
The equipment of the legion can be divided into three categories. These are personal equipment, standard legion issue equipment and special troops' equipment.
Personal equipment is provided on a private basis by the members themselves. Although Legio XV provides some specifications, a certain degree of individuality, which we also believe to be historically correct, is tolerated. The personal equipment is:
- Undershirt. This is a sleeveless linen or cotton undertunic. People tend to find the coarse woollen soldiers' tunic unpleasant to the skin, especially in warm weather. Each member is supposed to have two of these.
- Long-sleeved tunic. Nights in the Nordic countries may be quite cold, even in summer. Each soldier is therefore required to have a long-sleeved woollen tunic. As the sleeves will be visible beneath the tunica proper, the woollen tunic must be made of neutral grey or brown material.
- Breeches. The breeches for the legionaries and for the special troops differ somewhat. The legionaries use the classical Roman feminalia, famous from the Trajan column. These are calf-long, tight trousers in grey, brown or reddish material. The special troops, supposed to be mercenaries from Gaelic and Germanic areas, wear full-length breeches, striped or plaid for the Gaelic, often leather for the Germanic.
- Armilla are simple leather wrist protectors. Although the historical evidence for these are scarce, they are very useful when wielding arms, especially when firing arrows. Besides, they look good...
- A leather belt-pouch large enough to contain personal effects like money, toothbrush, a small cup and a spoon is a necessity to the legionaries. Pockets, being a modern invention, are not found on any other of our clothing.
Legio XV standard issue
The standard issue equipment is the heart of the legion. We have tried to utilise the benefits of mass production without sacrificing the archaeological correctness. All this equipment is made in plenum, concentrating on one kind of production at a time. The largest benefit of this method of production is the possibility of purchasing raw materials in large quantities.
Helmets, scuta and loricae
The heart of the trooper's uniform is the tunic. Made from coarse red wool, as the original Roman ones, they provide both a sense of uniformity and protection against Mother Nature. Tunics have half-sleeves and when unbelted reach the knees.
Gladii. We soon discovered that the long slashing swords used by the early URL experimental groups were inadequate when fighting in tight formations. We therefore decided to make gladii after the Mainz-pattern. These short stabbing-swords are both picturesque and (as our experiences show) very effective in tight formations. Our gladii are of course made from fibreglass and a type of plastic foam, for the legion's opponents also happen to be our friends.
Vaginae. This is the term for the Roman scabbards. This was suspended on the right side from a baldrick hanging over the left shoulder. Although most people today prefer left-side hanging, the combined effect of the armour and the legionaries' big scuta would prevent drawing from the left side. Only the centurion wear the sword at the "blind" left side, a sign that his job is to lead the troops, not fight himself. As the gladii are fake, so are the vaginae. They are made from cardboard covered in cheap leather leftovers. Although this might sound flimsy, they usually outlast the padded gladii.
Hasta. This is the Roman word for a long spear. Although the Romans at that time used javelins (pilae), LRP regulations usually forbid the use of these, and so we have reverted to a more phalanx-type formation. The idea being that our opponents, usually equipped with longswords, will be beyond their melee-range when we use our hasta. Only the legionaries are equipped with hasta, the special troops using bows.
Scuta. The legionaries' scuta are large rectangular shields, the shape being immortalised in the comic book "Asterix". The curved scuta has a central handle, making them possible to carry over long distances. A more conventional handle, like the later medieval ones, would make this carrying very painful. As the shields often come in contact with our opponents, they too have front and edges covered with padding. The outer layer on the scuta is made from cotton canvas, painted to resemble worn leather, with the Legio XV insignia painted on. The shield insignia is painted on the shields by using overhead projectors, a technique gained from the Science Students' Society (RF). The shields for the special troops are smaller, lighter and oval in shape. In battle, these will usually be suspended from a baldrick. We cannot appraise our shields enough, they have saved more battles for us than anything else! Sometimes even the sight of the large number of uniform shields have totally broken the enemy's morale, thus securing our victory!
Armour. The armour of the legionaries is the infamous Lorica Segmentata. Our armour is based on the Corbridge "A"-type segmentata, found near Hadrian's Wall in England. Some theorists argue that this armour was conceived by the Romans after the major loss of equipment following the disastrous battle of the Teutotenburg forest in 9 AD. Whatever the truth, the armour is ideally suited for rapid and efficient mass-production, requiring very little hammering and personal fitting. The material is 1 mm iron plates. This may sound thin, but was the actual thickness used by the Romans. The hinges and loops are cast brass, based on Roman originals. Unfortunately, economy has so far prevented us from adding more brass details to the lorica. Only the legionaries wear this armour, its construction making it too noisy for the special troops' tasks. Its construction also render it unfit for most women. The special troops wear various forms of leather armour, woven, scales or hardened, some also wearing the traditional short Roman chainmail with dagged edges.
Helmets. Our helmets are made from old Swedish military helmets. These are spun, like the original Roman helmets were. After treating the helmets in heat to soften them, they are cut to shape and the paint is removed. Cheek-pieces and neck guard are made from sheet-iron. The brow-guard and ear-pieces are forged. Although this is not totally correct, these helmets are the closest we come to the real thing, burdened as we are by economy. There are two kinds of helmets. The regular troops wear a helmet based on the Gaelic "jockey cap" style of helmet, with ear-pieces and large neck guards. The special troops wear the "coolus" type of helmet without ear-pieces and with a smaller neck guard.
Carrying bag and Marius Cross: General Marius was the first to force his soldiers to carry all their equipment themselves. This was made possible by the use of the Marius Cross, with a bag and all other equipment attached to the crosspiece. This is worn over the right shoulder, the lorica distributing the weight. Our bags are old Swedish army packsacks. We were unfortunately not able to afford original pattern leather bags. In addition, cloaks, blankets, cooking utensils and kerosene lamps are attached to the crosspiece. This conveniently enable the legionaries to carry spear and cross in the right hand, and shield in the left, thereby carrying all their equipment. In case of an ambush, the cross can be thrown down in a hurry, something not possible with a traditional backpack.
Caligae: The traditional Roman soldier's footwear was the ankle high iron-studded caligae. Our caligae are made from sturdy leather, based on an original pattern. We have seen other re-enactors wearing ill-fitted caligae, and we are happy to report that the pattern we have used fit very well! Each triple-layered sole is studded with almost 100 iron hobnails in classical patterns, thus allowing us to actually tread our enemy under our iron-clad heel! The special troops wear calcei, a different type of footwear (see equipment for special troops).
Equipment for special troops
The special troops in the Roman armies were either mercenaries from the local districts (Celtic light cavalry, Saracene archers, German light troops) or highly paid professionals. Our special troops are light reconnaissance troops, called Veles. In addition to being the eyes and ears of the legion, they also play the roles as archers and skirmishers in battle. Their special equipment is:
- Bow. Originally, we planned to use Saracen-type re-curved bows, but the weak bows necessary for use in LRP made wooden bows to flimsy for our use. We needed a bow which was both durable and not very strong. Leg. Carolius, our ingenious armoury master, came up with the idea of using fibreglass sail supports, steadied with wood, and covered in leather. These have proved very useful, and were much admired (and feared) by our opposition at "Nyteg".
- Arrows: The LRP type of arrow has a large foam head. In our type of arrow the head is steadied by a metal plate, backed by hard foam. The large foam head itself is covered in duct tape, with slits, letting the air escape the foam slowly on impact. This makes a hit distinct, but utterly safe. Each of the veles is equipped with 12 arrows.
- Quiver: The large arrowheads demand large, quite ungainly quivers. These are made from leather, in some cases stiffened with steel wire. In battle, they are suspended from the right hip. Thus, the velitt may kneel and hide behind her or his shield while drawing and stringing the next arrow comfortably.
- Calcei: This is a reconstruction of a Roman iron-age type ankle high shoe. The special troops, being required to run in terrain, often at night, would flay their toes on twigs and rocks if wearing the caligae. For reasons of durability, our calcei are made with rubber soles.