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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

5
votes
5answers
2k views

Why were rockets not popular as part of artillery until 20th century?

Why were rockets not extensively used throughout the world like cannon until the 20th century? Maybe one may ask the reason for pointing out 20th century. I guess it's fair enough after thinking about ...
3
votes
2answers
290 views

Ratio of population to military size throughout European history? [closed]

I realise that this is a fairly broad question, but I am trying to get a sense of the ratio between the total population and the size of the military that societies could support at different times ...
1
vote
6answers
464 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 ...
2
votes
2answers
251 views

What was the purpose of tunnel fighting in a 17th century siege?

Since I watched the movie Alatriste, and wondered what was the usage of tunnel fighting in the 17th century, as can be seen in the Hulst siege scene. I am aware that in medieval times, tunnels (or ...
41
votes
10answers
24k views

Why did Hitler not invade Sweden?

I was looking over a map of where the Nazis invaded and they never attacked Sweden. I was wondering why since it seems like a much better strategic move than invading Russia. Why might they have ...
2
votes
0answers
125 views

Which Field Marshal famously used to fire Staff Officers if they could not write orders within two pages?

I recall a military anecdote which described a Field Marshal who considered Officers ineffectual if they were unable to write concisely. I believe the standard applied was that all plans or orders ...
4
votes
0answers
179 views

Who is ISIS/ISIL, Really? [closed]

For the past 6 months or so (probably longer), I've heard a lot about ISIS, and I know that they are involved in military actions in Syria, but I am still confused as to what their true purpose is. If ...
8
votes
3answers
554 views

Why was the government expenditures of the Roman Empire very low compared to modern governments?

I was trying to compare the military spending of the Roman empire in the 1st century with modern military spending and how much of a burden that was to Roman people. The Wikipedia page of the ...
3
votes
2answers
236 views

How was Ivaylo's Bulgarian peasant army able to repel the Mongols?

So this peasant in Bulgaria named Ivaylo says he's tired of all these Mongols and gets together a peasant army. How was this roughshod force able to repel the Mongols when so many others have failed?
5
votes
0answers
76 views

How was the transfer of personnel from British women's military services managed?

In the 1990's,the former women's services - WRNS, WRAC, and WRAF - were disbanded and women absorbed into the regular services. Whilst women still cannot serve in combat roles, they are armed and ...
6
votes
2answers
355 views

What buildings could be found in the inner ward of a castle?

I'm familiar with some different layouts of castles (motte and bailey, concentric,...) and the main parts or areas they have or need (Keep, moat, barbican, ward, cistern, great hall, etc.) While ...
9
votes
2answers
379 views

How Did Modern Weapons Change the Dynamics of City Fighting?

In medieval times, an attacking army that had breached the walls/outer defense of a city, could enter it and overrun the defenders at relatively little cost. A major modern exception was the battle ...
16
votes
3answers
5k views

Did military operation names ever have any meaning?

For example, the American operation name for the assault on Okinawa was known as Operation Iceberg. However, Okinawa is a relatively hot area of Japan, and as far as I know, there were no icebergs or ...
11
votes
1answer
716 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

World War 1 Indian propaganda posters

In World War 1, because war broke out between the triple entente and the central powers (and they happened to have a lot of foreign colonies), the allies made posters to recruit soldiers from all ...
1
vote
1answer
211 views

Was the US's pre-emptive bombardment of Iwo Jima insufficient? [closed]

[Source:] The lessons learned on Iwo Jima served as guidelines for the following Battle of Okinawa and the planned invasion of the Japanese homeland. For example, "because of the casualties taken ...
34
votes
6answers
7k views

Why did Europe not see Roman-era numbers of men participating in battles until the 17th century?

Typical decisive battles in Roman times involve 4+ legions - around 20,000 men + auxiliaries giving a total of about 30,000 men, on the Roman side only. Battles in even the late middle ages and early ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

What rank is S. SGT in the Army Air Force during WW2?

I am looking over my Grandfather's DD214 (Military Discharge Paperwork) from WW2. His grade says "S. SGT" I am trying to figure out his rank conclusively. Nowhere on the DD214 does it display an E-5 ...
3
votes
1answer
894 views

What is that gold plaque Scottish soldiers wore around their necks?

If you see pictures of Scottish officers in traditional dress, sometimes they are wearing a gold plaque hanging from a chain around their neck. It is usually kind of kidney shaped. Does anyone know ...
4
votes
1answer
148 views

Identification of location and type of bi-plane

Could the location be on the west coast or in Hawaii? 1920s time frame?
24
votes
9answers
17k views

How severe were the casualties in ancient/medieval battles?

I've heard that in most battles prior to the introduction of gunpowder weapons, the casualties were usually very low (around 5% even in long battles) prior to the moment when someone's formation was ...
6
votes
4answers
875 views

How to explain the Khalkhin Gol outcome in view of Soviet weakness and Japanese strength at that time?

Conventional wisdom says that the USSR was very weak in 1939/40/41, in large part due to the purges of the 1930s, ideological interference in the armed forces, and lack of equipment, preparation and ...
2
votes
1answer
214 views

What are some other celebrated military failures, besides Gallipoli? [closed]

The Gallipoli campaign in WWI is a hugely important event in Australian and New Zealand history. 2015 is the 100th anniversary of the landings and there are huge commemorations planned to mark the ...
10
votes
2answers
430 views

Which were the last castles to be besieged and fall in the United Kingdom?

Which were the last castles to be besieged and fall in the United Kingdom? I'm separating the two in case a castle was besieged unsuccessfully most recently.
9
votes
1answer
247 views

Did the more experienced hoplites fight in the front or the back of the phalanx?

I have heard two conflicting ideas with regard to phalanx fighting formations, both from respectable history shows. One source indicates that the more mature/experienced men fought at the front ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

How large were the East India Company armed forces?

The British East India Company maintained an armed force large and competent enough to subdue and control Mughal India, but just how large was it? How comparable was it to contemporary national ...
8
votes
1answer
730 views

What was the summer uniform of the streltsy?

The Russian streltsy (shooters) of 17th century are usually depicted in winter uniform wearing fur hats and dress. What was their summer uniform?
4
votes
2answers
839 views

Were sailing ships of the line understaffed with gunnery crews so that there were not enough for 2 broadsides?

Is there any data to support or refute the hypothesis that sailing ships of the line were only complemented with enough gunnery crews to simultaneously fire 1 broadside but not 2? If it matters for ...
5
votes
2answers
192 views

Did the chariot drop in importance between bronze age Greece and the iron age Greece? Why, why not?

In what I've read about classical Greece - about Persian wars, Pelaponesian wars, Battle of Leuctra, Macedonia conquest...etc. - military discussion seems to be mostly about the Phalanx with a bit ...
7
votes
2answers
530 views

Were there any battles in Continental Europe that were decided by “peasants with pitchforks?”

I can think of one such battle in the British Isles; the battle of Bannockburn in 1314 in Scotland. In that battle, a 14,000-man English army despoiled a bunch of "homeless" vagrants on their way to ...
7
votes
3answers
1k views

Why was the 1944 surrender of 20,000 Germans on the Western Front remarkable?

I remember very well those days last September when we first heard the rumor that General Elster would surrender to the 99th Division, no one would believe it. "20,000 German troops and their ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Can you identify the ship in this picture?

Unidentified ship possibly numbered 545, aircraft carrier in background, maybe San Francisco or Washington State?
5
votes
2answers
291 views

Were there many instances when an “overaged” commander was at odds with a much younger second in command?

I can think of two. The first was at Stirling Bridge, in 1297 when the English outnumbered the Scots some 4 to 1, but the 72-year old English commander, John Warrenne, Earl of Surrey was not keen on ...
6
votes
1answer
555 views

What is the origin of the black/devil riders?

From what I understand, the black/devil riders were a group of German soldiers or mercenaries who were famous for using black painted armor. They developed various techniques for fighting on ...
3
votes
2answers
648 views

Why did the musket become the standard infantry combat weapon in European armies around 1700?

Could it have been because of the introduction of the bayonet, particularly in "socket" form? This question goes (well) beyond a related question. Until the introduction of a bayonet, musketeers ...
6
votes
2answers
882 views

How much firepower did the British navy represent in 1940?

A question was recently asked about how Britain would have defended herself against a cross-channel invasion by Hitler. A key element in the British defense would be the Royal Navy. At the beginning ...
4
votes
1answer
172 views

What type of defenses did the Pequot use at their fort?

During the Pequot War (1634-1638), the Pequot built a fort near modern Mystic, Connecticut. This fort was overrun by the English settlers in 1637 who massacred most of the inhabitants. What type of ...
2
votes
1answer
177 views

When was encrypted voice over radio first used?

I have been trying to find when encrypted radio's were first used? Not something like the German Enigma that transmitted encrypted data but when a person could actually talk to another person over an ...
8
votes
1answer
582 views

Did Hannibal start the Second Punic War prematurely?

IN 221 BC, Hamilcar, Hannibal's father, made a peace with Rome that divided Spain north and south between Rome and Carthage. The latter got the larger "piece," the area shaded in green on the map ...
13
votes
8answers
2k views

At the end of WWII, were nazis working on any other super weapon besides V-2?

At the end of WWII, were nazis working on anything else besides V-2? If so, what was it, how close was it to completion, and could it potentially turn the events around for them?
3
votes
1answer
168 views

Did Japan use reconnaissance balloons in WWII?

I have heard that Japan had used reconnaissance balloons in WWII, especially in China as the Chinese lacked air power and effective anti-air weaponry. I know that balloons - airships to be precise - ...
16
votes
6answers
12k views

How did the US/South Vietnam lose the Vietnam war?

South Vietnam was helped by US. Even when the US was gone, they had a 1 million army. So why did they lose? Even without US support, South Vietnam had about the same manpower, higher technology, and ...
18
votes
3answers
843 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 ...
8
votes
1answer
349 views

Ancient China military sizes

When reading about warfare records in ancient China, I see a lot of references to "# of chariots" instead of "#k soldiers" or something like that. Do we know how big these armies actually were? As in, ...
1
vote
1answer
206 views

What did Kennedy know about Soviet missiles during the Cuban missile crisis?

After the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the US declassified reports showed that the USSR only had four operational ICBMs in October 1962, notwithstanding contrary rhetoric during the ...
2
votes
2answers
6k views

Which military commanders burned their own ships?

I understand it happened more than once where a general arrived by sea and shortly after landing ordered the ships to be burned, so that retreat would never be an option. Which military ...
4
votes
1answer
377 views

Is Costa Rica's refusal to maintain a standing army unique?

After a 44-day bloody civil war in 1948, the rebel fighters of Costa Rica banned the country from having a standing army. Other than conquered nations under the dominion of another, is there any ...
24
votes
3answers
2k views

What is the earliest known account of the modern military salute?

The military salute, made with right hand to head of a soldier, seems to be a European tradition, however it is adopted by many armies in the world. What are origins of this gesture? I came across a ...
6
votes
4answers
365 views

Examples of defense without walls

Walls (or physical barriers) appear to be the standard defensive structure for a city in order to keep invaders out. Are there examples of cultures/cities that successfully defended themselves without ...
1
vote
2answers
284 views

Are these uniforms credible for American sailors just after WW2?

In the 1961 French film Lola (set in the Atlantic French harbour Nantes), American soldiers wear the white uniforms seen below: Was this uniform typical for these soldiers in Nantes following WW2? ...