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52

Early hand grenades looked like that: The word "grenade" originated in the Glorious Revolution (1688), where cricket ball-sized iron spheres packed with gunpowder and fitted with slow-burning wicks were first used against the Jacobites in the battles of Killiecrankie and Glen Shiel (Specimen made from glass, French-made in 1740)


39

It is true that bombs in World War II would make a whistling sound as they fell. This could be heard by both the pilot and the target, however due to the Doppler effect, they heard different things. The pilot would hear a high pitched whistle and as the bomb accelerated it lowered in pitch. The target would initially hear a higher pitched whistle than what ...


27

Cavalry sabres (a.k.a. Shashkas) were still widely used in the Russian Civil War (1918-1922) and appear in many books on that period. This weapon is primarily associated with Cossacks even though it was standard equipment in the Russian and later Soviet army. The Russian Wikipedia article claims that Shashkas were still used by the cavalry in the Second ...


25

Yes, I can tell you from personal experience that they certainly did whistle. When I was a boy I lived in Nottingham, and until May 1941 we were lucky in that, although we heard (and sometimes saw) German aircraft, they usually passed over on their way to less fortunate cities like Sheffield, Coventry or Birmingham. But on the night of Thursday 8 May 1941, ...


22

The first example of catapulting plague victims into a besieged city was that of Caffa (Modern day Feodosia) in the Crimea. This was in fact the first account of plague in European history. Caffa had been under siege by the Mongol (aka. Tartar or Golden Horde) army. The siege had been long a protracted. First starting in 1343, it was lifted by the arrival ...


22

Let's do the math: 100,000 mounted archers * 4 horses each * 10 kg/day * 250 days/campaign = 1,000,000,000 kg of forage required each campaign. As noted here annual forage yield of meadow steppe is about 2000 kg/ha; of typical steppe about 900 kg/ha; and even desert steppe yields 200 kg/ha. Thus the area required to support Genghis's cavalry for a campaign ...


21

There are a number of good accounts of the development of warfare in Europe, but the two key things you need to realise are: a) "morale" b) "mass" Much of European warfare has been conditioned by these two abstract concepts. Broadly, morale is the capacity of a unit to continue to engage in what it is doing despite adverse outcomes and mass is the capacity ...


20

Maybe someone more knowledgeable about the economics of a society like the medieval Mongols might expand on this, but to me it seems that such a civilization could generate much more income by conquering and looting new territory than what they could produce internally. This is also true to the nomadic people in the migration period some centuries earlier: ...


17

Here are some rough specs for common planes (as I said in the comment, the endurance depends on various factors). Sopwith Camel (BR) combat endurance (at 1000 m) - 2:30 (hr.:min.) cruise endurance (...) - 5:00 SPAD S.XIII (FR) combat endurance (...) - 1:30-2:00 cruise endurance (...) - 3:00 Albatross D.III (GER) combat endurance (...) - 1:30-2:00 ...


16

Your main question has been pretty well answered, but I'd like to clarify a few points: If the attackers had plague victims to toss over the wall, it means they were also exposed to the plague. Which might adversely affect their ability to maintain the siege. Even an extremely virulent plague like the Black Death only killed something like a third to ...


16

It appears that the real demise of the Mayan Empire was a number of factors, including drought, warfare, and disease. NASA archeologist Tom Sever used satellite images combined with archeological findings to piece together the most likely scenario. Using pollen trapped in layers of lake sediment, scientists learned that around 1,200 years ago, just before ...


16

Hitler opinions on mustard gas seem to be quite the opposite from what you describe, given this quote from Mein Kampf 1: At the beginning of the War, or even during the War, if twelve or fifteen thousand of these Jews who were corrupting the nation had been forced to submit to poison-gas, just as hundreds of thousands of our best German workers from ...


16

Having done some archery, I can attest to the fact that you can get a lot more people on the line, shooting at the same time, if their movements are at least broadly in sequence. The combined benefits of the physical impact of more archers in the same space, and the moral impact of a thousand arrows hitting at the same time rather than a steady stream, seem ...


16

The Mongols were pastoralists. Livestock herders. As such, their culture naturally thrived on steppe (or grassland) territory. A pastoral nation is not tied to any one place, but rather moves around with its herds to find the best grazing. A militarily dominant pastoralist society will naturally attempt to take over all good grassland territory for itself. ...


15

I think there are a couple of points in your question which I think need clarification and context: "Before the Japanese could surrender" : There seems to be an implication here that Japan was about to surrender and didn't quite get the chance. The second bombing occurred three days after the first. The regime in Japan had made it very clear over a long ...


15

I believe that the last use of sword in Western military were cavalry sabres used in cavalry charges alongside revolvers. Those were used in the Crimean war and in the USA Civil War. So we are talking mid-19th century. After the USA Civil War automatic rifles made cavalry obsolete (or nearly so) so I do not think you will find any more examples. ...


15

The grenades in Michael Borgwardt's answer are probably the earliest European examples, but in China they go much further back. Fireworks based on a bamboo, clay or paper shell filled with an explosive mixture (a precursor of gunpowder) came into use as far back as around 600-700 BC (Tang Dynasty). The Chinese kept improving fireworks and also developed ...


15

The premise is a bit off. Because actually, rocket artillery did become somewhat popular before the 20th century. Rockets were used to great effect in India, by the Kingdom of Mysore against forces of the British East India Company. The British in turn learnt from the Indians and developed their own rocket weaponry which went on to feature in the Napoleonic ...


14

Attacking targets in ports is the least productive way of using your ships for at least two reasons: 1) The damage you do can be easily repaired and 2) the chances of your own ships getting "caught" or sunk are the highest. The Japanese found this out at Pearl Harbor. All but one of the ships that they sunk were raised from the sea and recycled. (Only the ...


13

As someone in the comments has said, Jerusalem must be on the top of the list. From Wikipedia During its long history, Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.


13

I decided to make an answer since I pointed out a lot of the issue, I deleted my comments, and I state now I don't have the historical evidence, but have a good view on practical use of arrow and bows. The arrow rarely breaks in the middle, most of the cases if it hits solid material, it breaks very close to or at the head. Both arrow's body and head is ...


12

Generally, individual branches of the armed forces were responsible for countering the codes of their allied opposition. The German naval intelligence agency (Beobachtungsdienst) broke the British naval codes. The unified UK code-breaking effort was helped by a single system being used so widely across the German forces. One of the ironic bits of ...


12

This is a complex matter (some authors like Delbruck thought that the classical numbers are very inflated) but one may point out to logistics - classical states were much better able to extract and stockpile resources (human and material) than high medieval polities with their fragmented political authority and erratic currency. As for the Romans' ...


12

Short answer is, they weren't, not specifically. The siege of Sion (the castle in Bohemia) is thought to have been decided by the gatehouse being burned down, but there the entire gatehouse structure was wooden rather than just the gate itself, and it took several months of bombarding the entire castle with fire arrows. In general, protecting your gate from ...


11

All the sources I've perused can, just as Wikipedia does, only surmise on the how and why gunpowder made its way to Europe. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Medieval Warfare and Military Technology offers a nutshell overview of the possible routes that might have been taken: Just how the secret of gunpowder traveled west-ward to Europe will probably never be ...


11

In most cases, they would forage (or pillage) from neighboring areas. As in invading army, they had no qualms about taking whatever they wanted or needed. In situations where they were sending troops considerable distances or for prolonged periods of time, they had to develop other methods. In some situations they would create relay stations, which would ...


11

In Europe, armies were often of generally the same size and makeup (at least in the instances you mention) and tactics codified, so in open engagements equipment and (that being equal) minor differences in proficiency could well mean the difference between winning and losing a battle. In the Chinese example you mention, sheer force of numbers caused Qin to ...


11

For completeness, all wikipedia has to say: The range of the medieval weapon is not accurately known, with estimates from 165 to 228 m (180 to 249 yds). Modern longbows have a useful range up to 180 m (200 yd). A 667 N (150 lbf) Mary Rose replica longbow was able to shoot a 53.6 g (1.9 oz) arrow 328 m (360 yd) and a 95.9 g (3.3 oz) a distance of 249.9 m ...


10

Around 1542 (the date is not certain) a chinese junk was blown onto the shores of the island of Tanegashima of the southern coast of Kyushu. On board were three Portuguese travellers, the first Westerners to land on Japanese soil. To Lord Tokitada, the daimyo of Tanegashima, the most strking thing about the stranded Westerners were the guns that two of them ...


10

The American Civil war in fact had many innovations. The most well-known was the first naval battle between iron warships. It was also the first war where the Gatling gun (forerunner of the modern machine gun) was used. By the end of the war many soldiers were using proper automatic personal weapons (Spencer and Henry repeating rifles). Getting a bit more ...



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