Geobukseon shaped a turtle is the first ironclad warship in the world. Admiral Yi Sun-Sin(1545~1598) made this ship and drove many Japanese warships away with Geobukseon.



Name : Geobukseon - Turtle ship
Builders : Yi Sun-sin, Lt. Na Dae Yong
Operators : Joseon Dynasty
Built : circa 1590
Class and type : Panokseon type
Length : 30-37 m
Propulsion : 80 oarsmen
Complement : 50 soldiers
Armament : sulfur gas thrower, iron spikes, 26 cannons

The Turtle ship, also known as Geobukseon or Kobukson, was a type of large warship belonging to the Panokseon class in Korea that was used intermittently by the Royal Korean Navy during the Joseon Dynasty from the early 15th century up until the 19th century.

The first references to older, first generation turtle ships, known as Gwiseon , come from 1413 and 1415 records in the Annals of the Joseon Dynasty, which mention a mock battle between a gwiseon and a Japanese warship. However, these early turtle ships soon fell out of use as Korea’s naval preparedness decreased during a long period of relative peace.

Turtle ships participated in numerous victories against Japanese naval forces that supported Toyotomi Hideyoshi's attempts to conquer Korea from 1592-1598, inflicting heavy losses. However, their historical role may have been exaggerated since "the entire Korean fleet probably did not have more than half a dozen turtleboats in action at any one time".



16th century Korean turtle ship in a depiction dating to 1795. The woodblock print is based on a contemporary, late 18th century model



Korean admiral Yi Sun-sin is credited with designing the ship. His turtle ships were equipped with at least five different types of cannon. Their most distinguishable feature was a dragon-shaped head at the bow (front) that could launch cannon fire or flames from the mouth. Each was also equipped with a fully covered deck that was shielded to deflect cannon fire, and with iron spikes to discourage enemy men from attempting to board the ship.


Many different versions of the turtle ships served during the war, but in general they were about 100 to 120 feet long (30 to 37 metres long), and strongly resembled the Panokseon's bottom structure. The turtle ship was technically a hull that was placed on top of a Panokseon, with a large anchor held in the front of the ship, and other minor modifications.



On the bow of the vessel was mounted a dragon head which emitted sulfur smoke to effectively hide its movement from the enemy in short distance combat. The dragon head, which is considered the most distinguishing feature of the vessel, was large enough for a cannon to fit inside. The dragon head served as a form of psychological warfare, with the aim of striking fear into the hearts of Japanese sailors. Early versions of the turtle ship would burn poisonous materials in the dragon's head to release a poisonous smoke.

In the front of the ship was a large anchor. Below the anchor was a wooden crest that was shaped like a face, and these were used to ram into enemy ships.










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