Questions tagged [weapons]

Questions on historical weapons, their use and significance.

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2 votes
1 answer
459 views

What was the largest battle axe used in battle?

What was the largest battle axe used in battle? By largest, I mean probably just heaviest. I managed to find a post on quora about the heaviest weapon that didn't have a great answer.
1 vote
1 answer
214 views

Has anyone come across WW1 large brass casing engraved with French cities?

I recently found two large brass casing, German made from 1901 and 1914. They both have US military Divs ie. 2nd, 26th and 28th Div, along with cities in France and Germany that the Divisions were ...
21 votes
5 answers
4k 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 ...
25 votes
13 answers
87k 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 ...
4 votes
3 answers
689 views

What were the cost of comparable aircraft?

When comparing military equipment, little attention is paid to cost, at least in the popular resources (obviously, military establishments pay close attention to how much they are paying!) E.g., there ...
25 votes
6 answers
3k 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 ...
7 votes
10 answers
17k 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 ...
20 votes
4 answers
6k views

When would one carry a sword on a shoulder with grip upwards?

Usually, swords are depicted as being kept in scabbard on the back or by the hip - like this or this. It got me curious when I saw videos of swords carried on a shoulder and held by the blade - with ...
31 votes
4 answers
52k 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,...
4 votes
1 answer
997 views

Were man catchers actually used in medieval times?

I know that man catchers were invented sometime during the medieval times, but were they actually used during the medieval times?
2 votes
1 answer
268 views

Was it ever common to carry backup flintlock pistols into battle? [closed]

I've been replaying Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag recently and I noticed part of the game's progression involves carrying more and more pistols on your character. At the game's highest tier, having ...
3 votes
0 answers
105 views

What was the difference between bows/crossbows in the Carolingian Empire and the Abbasid Caliphate in the year 813?

Context: Two characters are teasing each other about what they view to be the "superior" form of ranged combat. One's from the Carolingian Empire (Lombardy region specifically), and the ...
28 votes
2 answers
6k views

Did Age of Sail fighting vessels have any anti-spall technology?

In the paper The injuries of four centuries of naval warfare, the author describes how flying wood splinters caused by cannon balls striking a ship's hull were a major cause of injury to ship's crews. ...
0 votes
3 answers
597 views

Which kingdoms were using WWI weapons at the time of the second world war?

Which kingdoms, little dictatorships and all sorts of fiefdom had World War 1 armor (and nothing more modern) at the time of the second war? I bet there was a lot because after the First World War all ...
3 votes
1 answer
275 views

What did whistling bombs actually sound like?

Apparently some WWII-era bombs had whistles built into their design, so that they would whistle as they fell. Often, for example in Looney Tunes cartoons, this is depicted as a whistle that gradually ...
7 votes
2 answers
621 views

Was throwing hammers as weapons common during European medieval combat?

I'm doing some research into the weapons of Dungeons and Dragons, and one of them is a 'light' hammer that you can throw. The description says it weighs 2lbs, if that helps narrow it down. I don't ...
55 votes
7 answers
17k 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, ...
0 votes
2 answers
318 views

Was there any sort of medieval defensive contraption which dropped rocks on attackers?

I was wondering if there's any evidence of such a contraption in the Middle Ages? I'm imagining this as a cousin to the catapult; instead of catapulting rocks on attackers, they simply drop rocks on ...
3 votes
1 answer
2k views

Why were air rifles not used more in combat?

I understand that, for example, Lewis and Clark carried an air rifle that could fire 30 shots without reloading and could kill a deer. Is a deer so different than a human that such a rifle would be ...
6 votes
1 answer
2k views

Where and when were air guns used in a major battle?

In the 18th century some European armies had air guns at their disposal. I remember that during some major battle sharpshooters from Tirol used air guns to deadly effect on the troops of the opposing ...
1 vote
1 answer
281 views

Did anyone use pikes wielded by multiple people?

GURPS is a tabletop roleplaying game, like Dungeons and Dragons. In the Low Tech expansion, pages 9-10, it includes rules for two-man pikes; pikes so long they take two people to use effectively. I ...
4 votes
3 answers
1k views

How did the Chinese crossbows that shot bullets work?

It's commonly accepted that East Asian people invented the crossbow. However, it seems they had crossbows that shoot bullets as well. As an example, Jing Fang uses this description when explaining his ...
-4 votes
1 answer
107 views

What are some items still existing today that were involved in the most killings?

I was reading recently about how there are sacrificial altars in Mayan culture which over the course of their lifetime of usage probably had several thousands of people sacrificed on them individually....
44 votes
6 answers
6k views

Were there 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 ...
26 votes
6 answers
13k views

How did archers judge distance before range finders?

Before electronics, was there a method for judging distance in archery? What methods were used historically? How were combat archers trained to judge distances?
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

How did the use of tanks differ in the Pacific war from the European war?

By "Pacific" war, I am specifically excluding the use of tanks by the Russians (or Japanese) in Manchuria, in 1945, or earlier "border clashes" along the Mongolian border in the late 1930s. My ...
10 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why was the first production PzKpfw V (Panther) called the Ausf.D, and the second production version called the Ausf.A?

Background The first Panther (PzKpfw V) production variant, produced from January 1943 through September 1943 was called the Ausf.D. (see below) The second Panther production variant, produced ...
14 votes
2 answers
2k views

Why did the Metall und Lackierwarenfabrik company get asked to bid on the creation of the MG42?

The MG42. A very iconic machine gun built during World War 2. Known for its high rate of fire, three man operating squad and its ability to suppress advancing troops, was built by Metall und ...
11 votes
2 answers
1k views

What was the actual cause of the disaster for the Royal Navy’s battlecruisers in the Battle of Jutland?

During the Battle of Jutland (31 May 1916), the battlecruisers Invincible, Queen Mary, and Indefatigable exploded with only a few survivors; Lion was almost lost in a similar manner. This provoked the ...
14 votes
1 answer
1k views

Was the 1977 sale of a submarine to Indonesia controversial in Germany at the time?

In April 2021, the Indonesian submarine KRI Nanggala sunk with all hands. The submarine was sold by Germany in 1977 (contract signed, manufacture finished in 1981). Just two years before order, ...
11 votes
3 answers
3k views

Were railway guns ever critical in any battle during WWI and WWII?

Note: this is a question about railway - mounted artillery, NOT about armored trains (which were more akin to tanks-on-rails and had much smaller guns) The idea behind railway gun is quite sound: a ...
0 votes
1 answer
158 views

Does anyone know anything on the history or any other information on this dagger? [closed]

(click to enlarge) Looking for information on this dagger: its history, value or anything anyone can provide.
5 votes
0 answers
204 views

Has a reenactment of the firing of a carcass projectile ever been filmed?

From a Scientific American blog, on a "carcass" round: an explosive mortar shell (developed by the French) wrapped with incendiary material, this round was fully engulfed in flame after ...
2 votes
1 answer
577 views

Did French troops use chemical weapons during the Siege of Laghouat in 1852?

During the Siege of Laghouat in Algeria, the French army massacred around 3627 civilians. Many sources suggest that the colonial army also used chemical weapons in that confrontation. However in these ...
7 votes
3 answers
28k views

Why has the khopesh never been used since ancient Egypt?

The ancient Egyptians used a weapon called the khopesh. It was a curved blade that was excellent for getting around shields and puncturing body parts like kidneys. Why did no other army in the ...
6 votes
1 answer
457 views

Is the use of flamethrower style naval weapons depicted in this game accurate?

In the popular strategy game Age of Empires 2, one key naval unit is the so-called Fire Ship. Fire ships in the game use a siphon to launch a continuous stream of fire projectiles on the enemy. ...
5 votes
2 answers
684 views

Who said that Saddam Hussein had WMDs?

To be more specific: Who said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction in 2003? By "weapons of mass destruction", I mean atomic, biological, or chemical weapons. I'm looking for official ...
1 vote
1 answer
540 views

Is there art or written evidence of crescent shaped arrows being used for bird-hunting in Medieval Europe?

I have heard it said that crescent arrows were used for hunting birds in medieval Europe. I could not find any art or literary evidence for it, though. The art I found for bird hunting generally ...
32 votes
14 answers
13k views

Were slings used for throwing hand grenades? If not, why?

It seems using a sling is far more effective than throwing things with your bare hands. As far as I know, slingers were widespread in the Ancient era, as well as in the Middle ages: However, in XIX-...
3 votes
1 answer
162 views

During the American Civil war did gunboats range far into enemy territory?

In other words during the American civil war did the “front line” or enemy held territory act as a barrier to the passage of gunboats up and down rivers? Or was it possible for any to move deep into ...
7 votes
1 answer
679 views

Can anyone identify this possibly Czechoslovak uniform?

I have this photo of my Great Grandfather Antonin Hošek and his wife Elisabeth Hofrichter with my Grandma as a baby Alzběta Hošková. I am trying to find out more about my family's past and I'd love to ...
16 votes
7 answers
14k views

How tight were shield walls in Saxon England?

After watching the BBC show The Last Kingdom, depicting conflicts between Saxons and Danes in the 800s AD, I was surprised by the multi-layered shield walls depicted. For example: or even: I had ...
17 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why didn't the steppe bow spread further?

So, this question was triggered by my reading Stephen Turnbull's book on the Gempei War, when he says that he thinks that the yumi, or Japanese longbow, had an effective range of 10 meters against ...
2 votes
1 answer
505 views

Why did Sidewinder missiles score so well before Vietnam?

In the Wikipedia article about the Second Taiwan Strait crisis that the USA had provided Taiwan air forces with Sidewinder missiles. During clashes with PLA's air force, Sabre equipped with the ...
6 votes
3 answers
7k views

How heavy were the heaviest war hammers actually used?

On the German Wikipedia page about warhammers it says their weight reached from 3 to 14 Kg! Having done some really heavy sports in my past, I was truly surprised by this last number! I searched ...
7 votes
7 answers
1k views

What weapon systems have come and gone very quickly?

Looking at Battle of Tsushima, 1905, something that struck me was And finally, by 27 May 1905, Admiral Tōgō and his men had two battleship fleet actions under their belts, which amounted to over ...
16 votes
1 answer
2k views

Did Aboriginal Australians know slings?

Did Aboriginal Australians know slings? Search on scholar.google did not find anything and Google only showed this photo of 1940, so they could get this idea from Europeans. If they knew slings that ...
12 votes
4 answers
6k views

Did any Native Americans make tomahawks from metal?

I'm curious about the evolution of the tomahawk among (North American) Native American peoples like the Algonquin. I assume early versions of the tomahawk had the head made from stone (please correct ...
5 votes
0 answers
290 views

How did samurai keep their blade effective when away from any sharpening tools?

I was wondering, regardless of the type of blade, how did samurais keep their blade effective when they are away from any sharpening tools / professionals. Coming from daily using a Japanese chef ...
5 votes
6 answers
811 views

Was the tide of war ever turned by a wonder weapon?

There seems to be a repeating topos in history, where powers on the loosing side of a war try to turn its tide by inventing new, secret and/or super weapons. The misguided hope seems to be that these ...

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