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The Polish husaria did carry wings -- as can be seen here or here. Their purpose has been debated with no clear answer. What I want to know is was there an evolution in the wings design or just one type? If the former, does the evolution offers a clue as to what their purpose was? If the latter, what event(s) prompted the adoption?

Because everyone likes action shots: Husaria action "shot"

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Quite frankly I thought you were pranking us - but apparently not. +1 for teaching me something uniquely new today. –  Pieter Geerkens Jan 21 at 5:01
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up vote 11 down vote accepted

The wings varied greatly among each other, a.o. because of the production reasons, as there were no armor factories like recently. Also some hussars wore only one wing at the middle of the back.

enter image description here

Also there are two ways to settle the wings - in the times of Sigismund III Vasa they were sticked mainly to the saddle, while under the rules of his son Wladyslaw IV, to the back of the armor. What's very important, in the late 17th century a lot of of hussars stopped using the back side of the plate armor in order to make it lighter, so the wings couldn't be sticked to it anymore - they could go back to the saddles. At the end of 17th century they were also used at the helmets.

enter image description here

At the same time the most popular kind of armor, that replaced the plate armor, looked like at the photo below. We simply can't expect an armor like that to have any wings at the back anymore.

enter image description here

Still they were used on the back in 18th century. The rulebook for Lithuanian cavalry from 1746 speaks of the wings sticked to the back of the armor.

Another big difference was in length of the wings - they became so tall as at the provided illustration in 18th century, when hussars were used mainly during parades, because of the rapid development of firearms, which finally started to take their modern role on the battlefields.

Unfortunately I don't have time today to provide more facts and sources, but I'll go back to the question when I find it.

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I was hoping you'd chip in.... Thanks! –  Sardathrion Apr 24 '13 at 13:55
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