Questions on historical weapons, their use and significance.

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38
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10answers
6k views

When were swords last used in European warfare?

Specifically, I'm interested in the last documented occurrence of swords (of any sort) being used as a primary weapon by infantrymen or cavalrymen in Western warfare. That is, when did any European or ...
30
votes
3answers
13k views

Did World War II-era bombs actually whistle?

In WWII-era films and newsreels, aerial bombs are often shown making a whistling sound as they fall; starting high pitched, then decreasing as the bomb approaches the Earth (example here, starting at ...
22
votes
1answer
542 views

Did Archery evolve independently on separate continents?

Is there evidence that early civilizations across the world discovered archery independently from one another (like Native Americans, Europeans and Africans)? Or can the technology be traced back to a ...
19
votes
6answers
6k views

How do Tamahagane, Damascus, and Toledo Steel compare?

Has a comparison been made of the qualities of Samurai (Tamahagane), Damascus and Toledo steel (rather than the swords)? I've seen claims for each being better than the others. If it's on topic, I'm ...
17
votes
5answers
847 views

What was the first battle in history fought by vast-majority-% “distance-shooting” non-mechanized force?

Historically, armies usually had a balance between warriors with projectile weapons (bows/guns) and close combat edged weapons (sword/pike/axe etc...). This was necessary because ranged weapons of ...
17
votes
6answers
7k views

How far could an English war bow shoot?

The range of the medieval weapon is not accurately known, with estimates from 165 to 228 m (180 to 249 yds) So says Wikipedia. I did read, however, in a semi-fictional, semi-historical work of ...
17
votes
1answer
2k views

How was armour rusting in the rain handled throughout history?

Various sources (ex) state as one of the biggest advantages of non-metal armours, that they did not rust in the rain. However, a knight would have a squire to clean and oil his armour every evening. ...
16
votes
1answer
1k views

What percentage of the population in the “Old West” actually carried handguns?

I'm hoping cenus information and historical gun manufacturing records make this an answerable question. What percentage of the population in the Old West actually carried handguns? Was it a minority ...
15
votes
6answers
1k 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, ...
15
votes
2answers
5k views

In the Medieval period, how long would an average swordsmith need to forge an average sword?

Based on this question over in RPG, I'm trying to figure out how long it took to forge a sword in the Medieval/Renaissance smith to make swords. I am recalling a figure of about 9-12 months per ...
15
votes
2answers
5k views

When did steel first appear? [closed]

When in history do we first have record of steel being used as a material? I am also interested in both its initial purpose and when it was first used in weapon making.
14
votes
5answers
529 views

What was “Greek fire”?

What was Greek fire? I read in my history book that it was a flamethrower. But in certain fantasy movies it's been portrayed as something similar to dynamite. What was it dynamite or what? Did it ...
14
votes
2answers
3k views

Is it true that US tracer rounds were red and VC green during Vietnam war?

Quote from American Marine diary about tracers during vietnam: 0200 hours - Heavier fire coming in. Never had seen green tracers used against us. In a way, kind of pretty to look at, red ...
13
votes
5answers
494 views

Are modern handguns a major reason for democratization?

I had a history teacher who argued that a major reason for the fall of the feudal system, was that the knights lost their military superiority because of development in weapon technology (longbow, ...
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?
13
votes
2answers
2k views

How were dagger axes used in battle?

During the Chinese warring states, weapons knowns as dagger axes were used and there is a wide body of evidence that those were common at one time -- so so I believe. Is there any record of fighting ...
12
votes
3answers
388 views

Was there any separation between hunting bow technology and weapon bows?

Was there a clear trend throughout early history (say, before 1300 for Europe) to have (or ot have) separate technologies/materials for bows and arrows for hunting purposes, and same-period ...
12
votes
2answers
846 views

In Viking combat, how much damage was done using the shield?

A while back I was watching some show on cable that was centered on recreating ancient combat (sorry, don't recall which of the many clones it was). One thing they stressed was that Vikings did NOT ...
11
votes
5answers
16k views

Number of bullets used in WW2

I have wondered if there are any estimates on the number of bullets used in World War 2. I have thought about the question but cannot even get a plausible attack strategy.
11
votes
1answer
1k views

Where did the French revolutionists get their weapons?

I have learned in class that the main purpose of raiding the Bastille in 14 July 1789 was to acquire the weapons in the Bastille. There was only a few political prisoners held there. There were, on ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Why did Chinese use high tin bronze for swords?

Also unique for Chinese bronzes is the consistent use of high tin bronze (17–21% tin) which is very hard and breaks if stressed too far, whereas other cultures preferred lower tin bronze (usually ...
11
votes
1answer
277 views

Who was the first military force to use teppo (guns) in mass battles during the Sengoku-jidai?

Oba used guns to great efficency against the Takeda clan but which war lord (or faction) used them for the first time? I seem to recall that some of the shoei order had access to firearms and that is ...
11
votes
1answer
944 views

What was the first successful mass tank battle of WW1?

What was the first big scale (over 50 tanks used) battle with the use of tanks in WW1? Please note that the typical examples don't constitute good answer: Battle of Flers-Courcelette (Somme) was ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Did a capital ship ever hit anything with a torpedo?

It seems WWI and inter-war ship designers went a bit torpedo mad, both in their fear of them and in their use, finally coming to their senses in the harsh realities of WWII. I've seen many examples ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

What is the longest effective range artillery weapon ever built?

What is the longest effective range artillery weapon ever built, regardless of wether it was actually used in combat?
10
votes
4answers
413 views

Mystery of the many-loaded muzzles

I recall, way back in high school, someone came to describe the American Civil War, show local artifacts, that sort of thing. I remember them mentioning that muzzle-loaded weapons had been found with ...
9
votes
5answers
2k views

Why did the Germans fall behind the Americans in the development of the atomic bomb after an initial lead?

I actually know certain facts about this matter, but am seeking guidance in interpreting these facts into "theories." 1) Theory 1, Economic: The Americans spent something like $2 billion (in money of ...
9
votes
3answers
563 views

Why did the United States not seriously develop Anti Aircraft Missiles?

During the Cold War, the United States did not seem to actively develop anti-aircraft missiles (I know that Wikipedia is not an exhaustive source for lists, but just as a rough estimate, they list ...
9
votes
2answers
2k views

Is there any historical evidence of boiling oil being poured on attackers?

A typical modern scenario of the medieval siege was the throwing of oil on the attackers from ramparts. Oil was really expensive so why waste it on attackers? Most commonly the items thrown were ...
9
votes
1answer
228 views

When did dueling with weapons become socially unacceptable in the western world?

Now in the modern days, the phrase "lets settle this like men" would imply a fist fight. Yet as little as 200 years ago, "settling it like men" would either involve swords or pistols; the fist was the ...
9
votes
4answers
267 views

Were there bows employed by tribes living in the desert, and if so, what were they made of?

For tribes that inhabited desert areas (e.g. Arabian Peninsula, Sahara, etc...), there seems to have been a problem: a good bow would likely require materials that would be hard to come by in the ...
8
votes
2answers
190 views

Are there any remaining existant texts that describe the styles and techniques of Medieval European swordsmanship?

We have, in the modern day, no shortage of movies which feature characters from the Medieval period of European history engaged in combat, with swords, cavalry, and arrows. Do we have any historical ...
8
votes
2answers
492 views

Did any armies systemically favor axes/hammers over swords?

In fantasy literature there are plenty of examples of cultures (such as the Dwarves of Lord of the Rings) who favor axes or hammers above swords in combat. Did any historical army follow that ...
8
votes
1answer
481 views

Did Roman military require uniform weapons?

It seems to me that weapons were quite expensive in ancient world. At the same time there could be much of captured and imported weapons available. So did the Roman military prohibit use of captured ...
8
votes
2answers
995 views

What types of weapons did the British army use in the late 1890's?

I am particularly interested in the types of rifles that troops serving in Africa would use, especially during the 1890's. Did they have any kind of repeating rifles, or were they still using single ...
8
votes
2answers
295 views

What was the first recorded use of Aerial Weapons in warfare?

Fighter planes were popularised by their extensive use in WWI. What Aerial weapons were used before that period (if any)? What is earliest recorded use of Aerial Attacking and what was the technology ...
8
votes
1answer
1k views

What kind of siege weapons were used during Punic wars

I would like to know which kind of siege weapons were used during Punic wars on both sides, there is not wery much information around.
8
votes
1answer
366 views

Who started the “katana is the soul of the Samurai” meme?

Samurai used to be defined by their ability to use horses and bows in the early history of Japan. This moved to using the sword, first tachi then katana. Within the Tokugawa period, the katana ...
8
votes
2answers
319 views

Identify WW2 ammo

I found some ammo, which I think is from World War II. The cartridges are stamped WRA 42 and DEN 42. I do not know what the big piece is. It has a stamp: N2117 III Does anyone know what the big ...
8
votes
0answers
122 views

How many firearms were owned by civilian population between 1836 and 1912 in USA?

How many firearms in total were owned by civilian population between 1836 and 1912 in USA (cumulatively, not simultaneously)? The timeframe is what I would consider "Old West" timeframe, but starting ...
7
votes
7answers
693 views

At what point did Soviet armored units have qualitative parity with Wehrmacht armored units?

Was the T-26 a match for the Panzer II,III, and IV in the early stages of Barbarossa? The T-34 has been given a lot of credit as the tipping point where Soviet technology created a weapons platform ...
7
votes
4answers
688 views

How come all the major WW1 rifles were bolt action?

The main disadvantage of bolt action is that one has to remove the right hand from the trigger which leads to slower rate of fire. Neither lever nor pump have this problem. Rate of fire was viewed as ...
7
votes
1answer
237 views

Is there any evidence for dual-wielding in the 12th Century?

To settle an office debate - I was wondering if there was any evidence for any soldier or knight in the 12th Century using two weapons at once - for instance, if a shield was dropped or wasn't ...
6
votes
2answers
747 views

How was Hitler able to rearm?

It seems that Germany must've been under incredible scrutiny especially by the British. How was Hitler able to rearm? Please provide specifics on personnel and weapons classes.
5
votes
6answers
3k views

Which arm was the shield held in?

I'm asking a question elsewhere and I'm sure I've heard some historical text to back this up as well as sound reasoning: you want your strongest arm to stop yourself from getting killed by using a ...
5
votes
2answers
2k views

What effect did tanks have on warfare strategies upon their introduction?

After the introduction of the tank in WW1, what effect did their introduction have on how battles were carried out, and strategies were formulated?
5
votes
2answers
370 views

Which came first, the shield or the sword? [closed]

According to the history stated in Wikipedia: The oldest form of shield was a protection device designed to block attacks by hand weapons, such as swords, axes and maces, or ranged weapon ...
5
votes
2answers
379 views

What was the standard pistol used in Yugoslavia during WWII?

I've looked into the firearms used during WWII, but I can't find what pistol was used by Yugoslavian infantry men at the time. What did they use?
5
votes
1answer
232 views

What was involved in “grounding arms?”

This practice appeared NOT to have been common in the twentieth century, with long-ranged, and "repeating" weapons. But prior to the nineteenth century, it was apparently a form of surrender. What ...
5
votes
1answer
330 views

When did blade fuller appear?

A fuller is the rounded or beveled groove or slot in the flat side of a blade which make the blade lighter -- not as some suggest a blood groove. When did the practice start? I suspect it was a ...