Questions pertaining to characteristics of armed forces' structure, manpower, equipment, or expenditures.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

13
votes
1answer
226 views

Husaria, the winged hussars

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 ...
6
votes
1answer
161 views

What was the summer uniform of the streltsy?

The Russian streltsy (shooters) of 17th century are usually depicted in winter uniform wearing fur caps and dress. What was their summer uniform?
5
votes
3answers
400 views

What is the motivation of having heavy infantry to the right and light infantry to the left flank?

In Napoleonic wars era, a line contains mostly regular troops except for two kind of elite units, the heavy one, e.g. grenadiers, they normally are the bravest, strongest troops with the best stamina, ...
8
votes
1answer
197 views

What are the origins of sizing a squad in modern foot drill?

I recently came across this question "What decides who goes in the front rank in a line infantry formation?" and while trying to form an answer to it I realised I was making the assumption that the ...
5
votes
2answers
351 views

Were soldiers in the World Wars paid?

There have always been professional soldiers however during the world wards there were vast conscription to encourage young men to join up for "King and Country". Presumably there was some sort of ...
10
votes
2answers
334 views

What decides who goes in the front rank in a line infantry formation?

In an infantry formation, the front ranks seems to have much higher chance of being killed because they are exposed to the enemy front. This thread explains how soldiers are arranged in Roman ...
4
votes
3answers
116 views

How much food value is a horse to a cavalryman?

Suppose you have a group of say, 1,000 cavalry, that were besieged on a fortress awaiting relief. As such, they are dismounted and fight like infantry. Suppose they are short on food, but they can ...
11
votes
2answers
367 views

Why were the Huns so successful at siege warfare but the Goths were not?

I am listening to Mike Duncan's podcast titled "The History of Rome" and in it he mentioned that it is kind of a mystery that the Huns were so successful at siege warfare but the Goths were not. Both ...
1
vote
3answers
289 views

Why Americans like to enroll in military services despite huge risks involved? [closed]

Working in US military is one of the riskiest jobs in America because of the regular engagement in battles compared to other military in the world. I live in a third-world country. Even in my ...
7
votes
2answers
591 views

Was the Italian campaign a strategic mistake?

Background In September 1943, the Allied forces invaded Southern Italy in combined amphibious operations in Reggio di Calabria (Operation Baytown), Salerno (Operation Avalanche) and Taranto ...
15
votes
10answers
5k views

What was the ratio of German to Soviet losses on eastern front during different stages of the war?

I've read somewhere that the ratio of Soviet to German casualties on the eastern front was 1.4 for the whole war. But what about data for different stages of the war? (this ratio wasn't constant after ...
11
votes
4answers
910 views

Military intervention in government in India and Pakistan

Although India and Pakistan became independent states simultaneously, they have been travelling in different paths after that. Many believe that democracy is a major reason for the difference in ...
14
votes
6answers
1k views

How did a besieged city/castle defend itself vs. catapulting diseased dead bodies into it?

I was a bit shocked to read that diseased dead bodies/animals where catapulted into besieged castles/towns. Biological warfare in the middle ages. But this "method" of warfare had probably a lot of ...
1
vote
0answers
54 views

A memorial Georgia (U.S.) plaque

This memorial plaque lists the numbers of Georgians who served in various wars and details the casualties. What I find odd is that for WWI, Korea, Vietnam, and Gulf round numbers are given for the ...
6
votes
2answers
224 views

Changing troops in first line during battle

I remember Caesar in De Bello Gallico mentioning Romans changing fighting/resting troops in some siege defense while Celtic attackers didn't do this and lost the battle because of it. This is just one ...
4
votes
1answer
99 views

How did Leonardo plan on moving his tank?

Was there a plan for how to propel the circular wooden tank design of Leonardo da Vinci's? It seems far too heavy to be powered Flintstones-style by the people inside, but it also seems too small for ...
1
vote
1answer
106 views

Was the 18th century Russian peasant braver; or simply more afraid of Cossacks?

Frederick the Great famously noted after the Battle of Zorndorf that "It's easier to kill the Russians than to win over them." For that same battle the Russian commander (William Fermor) is noted as ...
1
vote
1answer
62 views

What was the extent of influence of James Byrnes on President Truman in the decision to use nuclear weapons?

Secretary of State James Byrnes was a very influential man and played a key role in foreign policy and the negotiations during WW2. It is known that after the death of FDR, he was the one who informed ...
6
votes
2answers
182 views

Organisation of mercenaries

In the War of the roses how were mercenary units organised and administrated? Were they paid per lance, archer, knight etc? Would there be a King's representative who would go the mercenary ...
11
votes
5answers
393 views

Have any armies equipped/fed their officers and enlisted men equally?

In the Soviet army during WW2 the officers had bigger food rations. They also had better boots (kirza vs. leather). The air force pilots were fed even better (but that is not very relevant). What ...
10
votes
3answers
645 views

Wiliam Wallace vs. Robert Bruce: Why Did One Win and One Lose?

At the battle of Falkirk in 1298, William Wallace (aka "Brave Heart") abandoned the guerrilla tactics that served him so well at Stirling Bridge, and adopted a strong, but "conventional" defensive ...
7
votes
2answers
262 views

Did the French Revolution help produce French military “elan?”

In earlier wars against the British and Germans (e.g. the Seven Years' War of 1756-1763), French armies did not particularly distinguish themselves, even with a numerical advantage. Yet during the ...
13
votes
8answers
3k views

What's the advantage of the infantry column formation in the Napoleonic Wars?

In movies/books set in the Napoleonic Wars, the British are normally deployed into lines and the French into columns. The columns are usually the advancing ones, charging into the line as the line ...
8
votes
1answer
183 views

Are there any historical sources that support the claim that ancient high-speed archers held multiple arrows in their hand?

Lars Andersen was able to fire off 10 arrows in 4.9 seconds by holding several arrows in his right hand. As a comparison, medieval archers were expected to shoot 12-20 arrows per minute, or 0.98 to ...
10
votes
3answers
786 views

Why were there “hussars” all across Europe?

From what I read, hussars are originally a cavalry forces in Medieval Hungary. But then it became a class of light cavalry that were in service in many European nations, and during the Napoleonic ...
11
votes
5answers
2k views

Why did the scutum fall out of use?

Wikipedia says By the end of the 3rd century the rectangular scutum seems to have disappeared. Why did the rectangular scutum design fall out of use? Why was the shield design not commonly ...
5
votes
2answers
397 views

Why did Frederick the Great do so much worse against the Russians than against his other enemies in the Seven Years' War?

Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, made a name for himself and Prussia in the Seven Years' War, winning key battles against the French and Austrians at long odds. He won the battle of Rossbach ...
9
votes
4answers
444 views

What is this strange uniform?

Colonel John Tiltman wears a very strange uniform in this picture, dated 1919. The original webpage where I saw the picture is http://www.colossus-computer.com/colossus1.html.
7
votes
2answers
316 views

Strange jeep-hold cable used during Operation Horev

The National Library of Israel has just released 100 images about Operation Horev. Two images show a jeep that holds a sort of cable attached to a balloon or something, or maybe it is just a very ...
8
votes
2answers
453 views

Did Germany produce ammunition with depleted uranium?

Albert Speer in a footnote in Inside the Third Reich states, "During 1940 1200 metric tons of uranium ore had been seized in Belgium." Later in the book, Speer states, "In the summer of ...
6
votes
5answers
757 views

How did a nomadic minority group the Manchus come to rule over China?

The population of the Chinese empire was about 120 times larger than the Jurchen tribe, who later renamed themselves to Manchus. Yes, the Manchus were very skilled warriors and the late Ming dynasty ...
2
votes
4answers
291 views

Why was the US unable to win in Korea? [closed]

The US had just defeated 1 Axis power and contributed greatly to the defeat of another. Its soldiers saw wide ranging combat experience over the 3 years in conflict against veteran soldiers of Germany ...
10
votes
1answer
206 views

Was there any new military innovation during the Siege of Malta?

In the Siege of Malta, the Knights Hospitaller defended the island despite being heavily outnumbered by the invading Ottoman troops. Malta was such a small island, the Turks were the masters of the ...
1
vote
3answers
237 views

Did it make sense to bring along infantry to reinforce attacking cavalry before the introduction of firearms?

At the Civil War battle of Brandy Station, the attacking Union cavalry general Alfred Pleasanton brought along some 3,000 infantry to even the odds, because his cavalry was outnumbered 9,500 to 8,000 ...
14
votes
7answers
3k views

Why weren't aircraft carriers utilized during D-day?

Why were aircraft carriers not used during and following D-Day? They could have added a great deal of range to the air support operations.
1
vote
0answers
69 views

Does the cost of creating a naval fleet grow over time? [closed]

Is it harder to build a naval fleet today than two-three centuries ago? Do we spend more or less % of GDP to build the complete fleet from scratch? Do we spend more or less % of GDP per ship, or per ...
9
votes
1answer
180 views

What kind of crew members did ancient artillery teams consist of?

According to what I understand from Pieter's answer to the question "Why didn't the Persians make and use ballistas and other kinds of artillery?", he said that since 2,000 years ago until now, ...
14
votes
1answer
359 views

Why didn't the Persians make and use ballistas and other kinds of artillery?

In 1980 E.P.Thompson published an interesting paper called *Barbarian Invaders and Roman Collaborators *. Among other subjects he consdiers there the leakage from Rome to its enemies of technical ...
6
votes
3answers
293 views

Organized and intentional suicide attacks during military conflicts

First of all I want to make it clear that we're not speaking about terrorist attacks here. This question is strictly dedicated to war operations, in a dictionary meaning. Also this question is about ...
18
votes
2answers
851 views

Military brothels in WW2

Did any of the other belligerents of WW2 besides Japan and Germany provide their troops with authorised military brothels?
2
votes
2answers
692 views

Has the USA ever taken unilateral military action?

In the post-American Revolution era, has the United States ever taken unilateral military action against another country besides during the Civil War?
5
votes
2answers
128 views

Why weren't R-4 helicopters used in the European theatre in 1944-5?

Early helicopters it seems were deployed by the American military in WW2 in the Burma and China theatres, and in the South Pacific. Their principal use would appear to have been small scale rescue ...
5
votes
2answers
240 views

Disappearance and reappearance of helmets in European armies circa 1600 to 1900

What factors lead to the disappearance of military helmets from European armies during the 17th through 19th centuries, and then to their return to use in the early 20th century? To what extent were ...
8
votes
2answers
407 views

Why were troops with bayonets often effective against enemy cavalry even though the bayonet was a “secondary” weapon?

The bayonet was introduced in the late 17th century as a knife (later a short sword) attached to a musket, to enable the musketeer to protect himself when reloading their single-shot weapons. As such, ...
8
votes
2answers
520 views

What uniforms did each of the American Civil War regiment wear during First Bull Run / First Manassas

During the American Civil War battle First Bull Run / First Manassas, regiments of both sides turned up in either the gray militia uniform or the blue 1858 regulation uniform, in addition to any ...
9
votes
1answer
208 views

Are submarine launched ballistic missiles still inaccurate?

In the early 1980s documentary First Strike, one of the arguments made for the development of the MX missile program was that in the event of a massive Soviet attack on the land-based missile and ...
4
votes
2answers
151 views

When has a military force used their own people as human shields?

I am looking for instances/examples (and sources) throughout history of times an army used it's own people as a buffer between itself and an opposing force. While it is fairly common for an army to ...
5
votes
1answer
139 views

What roman legions in Spain revolted against Caesar before the battle at Munda?

I was debating an interesting topic recently about Pompey's legions in Spain and why they hadn't fought alongside him against Caesar at Pharsalus. Now Caesar forcefully convinced most of them to join ...
23
votes
1answer
2k views

Why are military uniforms often flared or poofy above the knee?

I've often wondered why do various uniforms have those "poofs" on the outsides of the legs just above the knee? Was there a particular purpose to this, or a practical reason, or was it just the result ...
14
votes
1answer
219 views

Are photos of WWII US Navy damage reports available online?

I have located a PDF of the USS Marblehead's Bomb Damage Report from 4 Feb 1942. The report lists plates of photographs which are not included in the report I have found. Do copies of this report ...