One reason I prefer classical western dragons over wyverns is that they aren't totally handicaped on the ground.

However, those forelegs are only supposed to be for better locomotion on ground and lack the power to be directly used in combat. Wings, on the other hand have much more muscle behind them. It just feels wasteful not to use them in combat.

  • Dragons are at around the same size as large horses 170-180 cm at the shoulders. -They have six limbs, general bodyplan is a horse-sized cheetah, with a neck length 3/4 of the torso and a long, chompy crocodile jaw and sleek tail. The flight muscles and the shoulder are right before the foreleg.
  • Dragon wingbones are structured at the molecular level to be similar to nacre, allowing for energy absorption without permanently deforming, also, carbon nanotube magic.
  • The wing design by default is the same as the quetzalcoatlus northropi's.
  • The wing folds the same ways as for birds.

How could dragons use their wings to hit the enemy in ground combat?

  • Hitting hard is important but...
  • Though wings should be able to handle most things it'd be good if it put the least necessary stress on it, or put it on more enduring areas.
  • It shouldn't leave the dragon wide open and most definietly not expose the dragon's tummy (their weakpoint)
  • $\begingroup$ Why would they fight on the ground instead of in the air? $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2019 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ @BilboBaggins They can't take off frequently, it's usually for emergency escape. And flight isn't really stealthy. $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2019 at 1:33
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    $\begingroup$ @BilboBaggins 'Why don't you run everywhere, isn't it faster?' - Barry B Benson (possibly not exact words) $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2019 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ "totally handicaped [sic] on the ground" uh, they're traditionally shown with teeth, dude. You go visit a saltwater crocodile and tell it that it is handicapped because its legs are a bit short for clawing opponents, and let me know how it works out. $\endgroup$ Aug 5, 2019 at 11:15
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime Steve Irwin eat yer heart out. $\endgroup$ Aug 5, 2019 at 11:48

6 Answers 6


Wings are strong and work just fine as a bludgeon

Remember the wing bones in flight have to withstand several times the force of the full weight of the animal. A wing can deliver a powerful blow, that is why a swan can break a humans bones with their wing. To a creature much smaller than the dragon it would be devastating, like being hit by a baseball bat swung by a professional player at the least, likely more like being kicked by a horse.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the swan comparison. Those things are VICIOUS - and can ruin a car with their wing-based beatings. So I'd imagine an upsized version of that to be quite deadly^^ $\endgroup$
    – Syndic
    Aug 5, 2019 at 10:36
  • $\begingroup$ Swans cannot break your bones with their wings. Never happened. They have been known to kill but not by beating someone to death with their wings. $\endgroup$ Aug 5, 2019 at 15:35
  • $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime rare is not the same as never, they can and have. They are not going to break your leg, but I never claimed they would. There is a snopes discussion about it if your interested, msgboard.snopes.com/cgi-bin/… $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 6, 2019 at 1:56
  • $\begingroup$ @John one anecdote from an anonymous person on the internet does not prove your point. Any actual reputable sources for someone having bones broken by a swan? I'm guessing no. Swans won't break your bones. $\endgroup$ Aug 6, 2019 at 9:14
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    $\begingroup$ @StarfishPrime Rhode island invasive swan management plan includes a list of recorded incidents in the state, including breaking human arm bones. Which is not surprising the radius in particular is fairly weak bone to lateral impact. dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/pdf/muteplan.pdf $\endgroup$
    – John
    Aug 6, 2019 at 14:46

A few ways:

Sharp tips

Okay, this one isn't the best, but in most books/movies there are humans (what do you think). Humans are puny. Puny humans have no strong scales. Puny humans have puny skin. Puny skin is weak. Sharp-tipped wings cut puny skin. Puny humans dead.

Sharp wing edges

Puny humans have puny skin and puny bones. Strong wings open quickly. Strong wings can have sharp edges. Quick opening strong wings go chop-chop and puny humans dead. Chop-chop also chop scales on dragons. When strong dragon run fast and push out wings small distance (or close after strong dragon lands fast), poor weak tummy is protected (strong dragon breath fire forward for stronger protection) and close humans dead because sharp wing edges go chop-chop on them.


Human editor says "this is not powerful and the stomach area is exposed here and the wing bones may cra---AAAAAAAAAA". Human editor stupid. I go chop-chop on human editor and puny human dead. Strong dragon goes down from flying and faces forward with wings out. Wings blow air forward because of energy from flying goes into wings. Puny human army pushed forward and strong dragon uses sharp tips and sharp edges to chop-chop human army.

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    $\begingroup$ These are dragons, they have more eloquent speech patterns than Drax. But yeah, wing spurs are apparently a thing in nature. $\endgroup$ Aug 4, 2019 at 11:24

I would imagine dragons would generate a powerful amount of force with their wings in order to fly. That suggests they can make air move fast. They say that news anchors are stupid for standing outside in 80 MPH winds during hurricanes because the danger is not the 80 MPH winds but what the wind is blowing is the danger.

So same for dragons, by kicking up a torrent with their wings they could fling stones and branches at opponents. Gravel in the eyes will ruin a knight's or knight's horses day. Similarly, sharp sticks can poke someone's eye out. And, as another answer posited, dust. If a dragon can fill the air with lots and lots of dust, their opponents can't breathe without getting a lungful -- either way good for the dragon and bad for the other guys.

And, in very exceptional circumstances, if the powder is flammable, they could trigger fuel-air bombs using the same mechanism as grain silo explosions.

They can use it defensively too to thwart missile fire. Shunting the arrows, sling stones, etc off to the left or right, are making them fall short.

  • $\begingroup$ ...indeed - and Newton's third law implies that if a dragon can lift itself with its wings, it is also blowing wind at its enemies on the ground with enough force to lift a dragon. $\endgroup$
    – komodosp
    Aug 7, 2019 at 15:47

if dragons are the same size as horses, they can kick with their back legs and claw with their front legs, or rear up on their hind legs and hit with their front legs like horses or bears do. Even elephants can rear up on their hind legs, so any smaller four-legged animal should be able to to it, freeing their front legs to attack.


So if your dragons have front legs as strong as tiger front legs, or horse front legs, or bear front legs, or even human front legs, they will have some use in fighting.

In fact every body part of your dragons, like every body part of every real animal, will have some use in a fight.

Your dragons seem to have many times the mass of Asian water monitor lizards (Varanus salvator) which are said to use their tails to fight as well as teeth and claws https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_water_monitor2, and even several times the mass of Komodo dragons that:

have been observed knocking down large pigs and deer with their strong tails.


Since your dragons will be more massive than any birds, their wings should be more massive than any birds.

Mute swans can be very aggressive in defence of their nests and are highly protective of their mate and offspring. Most defensive attacks from a mute swan begin with a loud hiss and, if this is not sufficient to drive off the predator, are followed by a physical attack. Swans attack by smashing at their enemy with bony spurs in the wings, accompanied by biting with their large bill, while smaller waterbirds such as ducks are normally grabbed with the swan's bill and dragged or thrown clear of the swan and its offspring. The wings of the swan are very powerful, though not strong enough to break an adult man's leg, as said anecdotally.[29] Large waterfowl, such as Canada geese, (more likely out of competition than in response to potential predation) may be aggressively driven off, and mute swans regularly attack people who enter their territory.[30].


Since your dragons, small though they are, would have many times the mass of swans, their wings should have many times the mass of swan wings, and thus should probably be able to break bones with strong wing swings.

One possible tactic would be to knock down an animal with a blow from a wing and then bite or claw the throat to kill it. Another tactic might be to strike a smashing blow with the wing at the opponent's neck, to break the neck and kill it instantly.

If your dragons were many times larger than you indicate, as large as Smaug the Golden, then one could truthfully boast:

My armor is like tenfold shields, my teeth are swords, my claws spears, the shock of my tail a thunderbolt, my wings a hurricane, and my breath death!"

http://lotrproject.com/quotes/character/smaug 5

In the movie Rodan (1956) the giant "terror dactyls" made hurricane force winds with their wings to blow away buildings.

Since your dragons are so tiny compared to Smaug or Rodan they should't be able to blow away human sized opponents, but if they fight in a sandy desert or a swamp they might use the tactic of blowing dust, sand, or water into their opponents faces to blind them while fighting.

You write:

It shouldn't leave the dragon wide open and most definietly not expose the dragon's tummy (their weakpoint)

And I ask why should a dragon's tummy be their weak point? Why can't a dragon have a rib cage which extends down to their abdomen? Why can't a dragon, like a turtle, have a shell on their abdomen?

And even if your dragons have unarmored bellies, will those weak spots be exposed to much danger when one them rears up on its hind legs and tail and stretches out its front limbs and claws and coils back its neck, ready to strike with its jaws, and gets its wings ready to wack at the opponent?

  • $\begingroup$ pulls out machine gun Well, the guy who asked the question never said WHEN these dragons would exist... $\endgroup$
    – El El
    Aug 5, 2019 at 23:03

Instant dust storm. instant sand storm. Or, in the right place, instant storm of sharp gravel being propelled at the opposition with something like the force of a jet engine (it takes a lot of thrust to get a dragon off the ground).

A smarter or more skillful dragon may also be able to direct wingtip-generated vortices at will. Think micro tornado generator.

Or wings can simply be used in powerful sweeps to knock opponents off their feet (or off their steeds) so they can be tackled more easily.

A fire-breathing dragon will be able to use its wings to fan the flames and direct or enhance a conflagration. Or put one out, if so inclined.

Don't underestimate the use of wings for tactical VTOL. Think flying ninja able to leap over, away from or on to opponents. Or just to rise into the air so all four limbs, tail and bite and be deployed simultaneously on a large enough opponent.

There's probably a whole martial arts manual waiting to be written about how to use dragon wings in close combat.


I like the idea of the dragon kicking up dust with a beat of the wings.

Against most animals around their size or smaller maybe the wings could be used to attack the legs. I don't see the wing being the smartest natural weapon with how thin the skin and how hollow the bones might be. And hitting something's legs with wings could get them to fall on them and probably do some damage or at least pin the dragon.

Maybe the dragon could drape the wing over some one and pull them in to attack with their paws or mouth. Could be risky if the dragon is dealing with a human with sharp weapons but maybe against those humans, knocking their legs out from under them is a better choice.


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