Hot answers tagged

81

I can think of a list of things which either excelled at the time or were feats not matched in the whole war. The T-34 and IS tank lines. Not just the tanks themselves, but also focusing on two hulls. The Yak-1 series fighter aircraft. The Il-2 ground attack aircraft. The PPSh-41 and PPS submachine guns. Tremendous use of artillery. The production ...


46

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 ...


42

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, ...


36

Democratication came at the hands of improved communications, improved education, the industrial revolution and the agricultural revolution. Not at the hands of cheap weapons. The invention of the printing press democratised knowledge. Books became significantly cheaper to make and were more widely distributed. It was possible for a wider range of thoughts ...


31

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 ...


30

Actually, the Romans used the same phalanx everyone else did for a very long time. Past Hannibal. The essence of winning a phalanx battle is to attack the flank of the phalanx. One may achieve that many ways, hence the many ways phalanxes were formed in particular battles - adapted to the width of the battlefield usually, though if one's enemy overdid that, ...


27

Little Boy detonated at ~580 metres above Hiroshima, and Fat Man at ~500 metres above Nagasaki. While all nuclear explosions generate electromagnetic pulses of some sort, at these low altitudes their strength rapidly diminishes with distance, giving them a rather limited area of effect. The effects of EMP from a surface or low-altitude nuclear burst will ...


25

The situation is complex. While the pike-or-equivalent must be of a sufficient length and density to be effective against cavalry, the longer the weapon the more difficult it is to adjust formation and facing. Cavalry's most effective weapon on the battlefield is its speed. A mass of spearmen facing one direction are easily flanked and broken up, and then ...


24

It did exist but no one is sure what it was. The making of such was split between different orders and each only knew how to make the next step in the chain. It was delivered via tubes and could be "thrown" towards the enemy. Some of those were man-portable, other were ship bound. Sometimes, you could find it in jars. The best guess is that it was a ...


22

Caveat Wars (especially in 20th century!) are won by nations/armies, not weapons. A weapon can be excellent (e.g., Me-262) but it will make no difference because it was introduced too late and/or was used incorrectly tactically. Another example is Tiger - seemingly an excellent tank, but very complex and expensive, so fewer than 2,000 of them were built ...


21

"armour" is a bit general, from the fancy gleaming best tournement suit to the few bits of salvaged chain mail stitched onto an archers leather jacket. Generally the knights and foot soldiers wouldn't march in anything like full armour, medieval battles were fought on agreed sites when the armies were visible to each other - not ambushes or blitzkreig. So ...


20

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. ...


19

According to wikipedia, the earliest evidence of archery equipment unearthed (from a Danish Bog) was dated about 9000-10000 BCE. Before that, it appears that spear-throwers were generally used for the same purpose. Considering that the only ancient societies known to make no widespread use of the bow were those in Australia, however people in the north of ...


19

Perhaps you're thinking of a video game, because I'm sure that what you posit makes no sense whatsoever in hand-to-hand combat. A shield is just movable armor. It's big enough not to require a lot of accuracy in placement, just a shift toward the direction of attack. Its design, at some minimal level, will resist blows from hand weapons passively, i.e. ...


18

Wunderwaffe (literally, wonder weapons) - absolutely, they had many, many designs under way. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wunderwaffe They were working on the A9/A10 (think of a V3 rocket), that would be a multi-stage ICBM that would be able to hit the US, although it wasn't likely to be very accurate. This was planned to be available from 1946. ...


18

As it is, all three are interesting for being completely different methods of achieving a high quality of steel. Equally interesting is that they are each of high quality in different ways. As for Tamahagane, the iron that was available in Japan was actually very poor compared to that found in Europe. It had a characteristically low carbon content, and the ...


18

An important aspect that seems to be neglected in many of the answers here is that while technical aspects cannot be completely dismissed, they are secondary to other concerns. To be specific, the primary weapon of heavy cavalry is its momentum, while heavy infantry (among which musketeers from 18th century onward are counted) relies on its discipline in ...


18

They got their weapons from the Hôtel national des Invalides, which were stormed by a Parisian mob earlier the same day. Much of the armaments previously stored there had been removed just two days earlier, but the revolutionaries still managed to acquire ~28,000-32,000 (sources vary) muskets hidden in the cellars and the church. They also found several ...


18

In the Battle of Savo Island the Japanese cruisers repeatedly hit US and Australian ships with torpedoes. There was only 1 destroyer present versus 7 cruisers, and it is likely that most if not all of the torpedo hits that sunk 3 cruisers and led to another being scuttled were from the cruisers. Certainly the US Navy credited to them. Also: The British ...


18

The official way we determine how the Constitution is "understood" is through US Supreme Court decisions, and there haven't been any on that particular subject. There have been basically 3 definitive decisions on the 2nd amendment, only one of which came before the 20th Century. Note first that prior to the 14th Amendment, the Bill of Rights was generally ...


17

The following article describes in great detail the production and deployment of munitions by the Army Ordnance Dept. (AOD). The Great Arsenal of Democracy ... Lt. Gen. Levin H. Campbell, Jr., Chief of Ordnance from 1942 to 1946, proudly had this to say: From Pearl Harbor to V-J Day the Industry-Ordnance team furnished to the Army and ...


17

Toledo steel was a very good steel, comparable to mainstream contemporary ones. It is based mostly on the content of the material and way of hardening. Now the best European steel for blades is not Spanish, but Swedish V10. With Damascus there is a wide-spread fallacy. What is now called "true damascus" - blades based on the way of smithing of two or more ...


17

From my French point of view, I would like to add a few things to Mark's post. First, the UK and France were rival countries for a long time (the UK is often referred in French as our “greatest enemy”). After the WW2, the moral impact of the war made those countries to choose ways to protect themselves from another war. However, their responses were quite ...


17

Flamethrowers can be useful for the assault on field fortifications: Burning fuel can splash through the firing slits of a bunker and reach inside. Smoke and oxygen depletion can kill troops in bunkers even if there is no direct hit on the individual. Flamethrowers can be fired over obstacles like trench sides. Flamethrowers are less effective as a ...


16

The answer differs between "carried" and "owned", and "in towns" vs "not". I'll only cover the first of the 4 combinations. You did not carry guns in many towns. Tombstone, AZ prohibited carrying firearms, as did Deadwood, as IIRC did Dodge City. The ordinances prohibited it, the signs indicated that you had to check in your firearms at the Sheriff's or ...


16

Interesting question. Firstly, it's impossible to know for certain how the traditional round shield was used, but we can make a number of assumptions based on evidence from literature (the sagas), the archaeology of construction and wounds suffered in battle and by looking at later fight books such as MS I.33, Talhoffer's duelling shields etc. Taking the ...


16

The Katyusha. Hands down. Stalin's Organ. The T-34 and Soviet tanks were produced in tremendous numbers -- and destroyed in tremendous numbers. The same can be said about most Soviet weapon systems. The skill and dedication of their operators was heroic and legendary, but generally their heroism was short-lived as they went up against superior equipment. ...


15

The shield came first. The sword is an invention of the bronze age, but the shield has been used to protect against many types of weapons by stone age (not primitive) peoples. It is still in use today by traditional societies. For example: See pics of an Australian aborigine and a Zulu warrior. The shield is believe to have been invented in the late ...


13

Around 1542 (the date is not certain) a Chinese junk was blown onto the shores of the island of Tanegashima off 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 ...


13

In fact, the U.S. did do a lot of work on AA missile systems, chiefly the Nike program. This included the Nike Ajax, Nike Hercules, and Nike Zeus. The latter was expected to counter ICBM launches. The program was scrapped in 1965 when it was determined that Soviet ICBMs would ultimately overwhelm any defenses, and that the only real defense was the MAD ...



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