Questions on historical weapons, their use and significance.

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44
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11answers
12k views

Did the Soviets excel in one area of weaponry during World War II?

The Germans had some of the best machine guns and tanks during World War II. Likewise, the Americans had a big advantage with the M1 Garand (which Patton famously called "The greatest battle implement ...
42
votes
11answers
11k 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 ...
37
votes
4answers
21k 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 ...
36
votes
5answers
6k views

Why did the Roman military start to favour swords over the spear phalanx?

Up until the rise of the Roman Republic, the Greek phalanx was considered the dominant form of military tactics. Evolution had simply favoured longer and longer spears: by the time of Alexander, ...
22
votes
5answers
3k views

U.S. weapon restrictions during 19th century

Prior to the 20th century, I'm curious as to how the 2nd amendment was understood: A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and ...
22
votes
1answer
658 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 ...
21
votes
3answers
5k views

What were the EMP effects, if any, of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) is generated from any atomic bomb, as far as I know. An EMP could destroy the electronics of many devices, including lighting, electric motors, radios, phones, etc. So why ...
21
votes
6answers
3k 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, ...
19
votes
3answers
11k 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 sword,...
18
votes
8answers
20k 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 ...
18
votes
5answers
1k 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 ...
18
votes
4answers
6k 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 ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

What was the tactical benefit of using flamethrowers as weapons?

I often hear stories of flamethrower troops storming the beaches of Iwo Jima and burning bunkers full of troops. But isn't it more risky to carry a tank of flammable liquid with limited fuel and ...
18
votes
1answer
3k 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. ...
17
votes
7answers
15k 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
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
5answers
640 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 ...
15
votes
7answers
10k 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?
15
votes
4answers
24k 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.
15
votes
2answers
8k 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.
15
votes
4answers
2k 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 10%),...
14
votes
4answers
3k 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 ...
14
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
13
votes
5answers
551 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
3answers
624 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 same-...
12
votes
4answers
1k 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 pattern?...
12
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
2k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
438 views

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

Oda clan used guns to great efficency against the Takeda clan but which warlord (or faction) used them for the first time? I seem to recall that some of the sohei order had access to firearms and ...
12
votes
0answers
235 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 ...
11
votes
5answers
2k 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
1k 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
5answers
4k 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
772 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 ...
10
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
2answers
737 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 ...
9
votes
3answers
850 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
3answers
400 views

Why were swords used in battle?

I hope this isn't too general, but I am talking about any warfare before the invention of firearms. In a one vs one duel between sword and pole arm, it seems like the pole arm has significant ...
9
votes
2answers
1k 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
742 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
269 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
310 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
214 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
376 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
2k 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
566 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
609 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 ...
7
votes
7answers
1k 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
2answers
240 views

Did the Thracian Rhomphaia ever clash with a Roman Gladius?

From what I understand, the Odrysian kingdom became a client state of Rome after the Third Macedonian War (171–168 BC). Did the Thracians (Odrysian or otherwise) ever clash with the Romans in a ...