Hot answers tagged

165

Star forts or bastion forts are designed to enable enfilade (or flanking) fire: shooting on the line of attackers from the side, significantly increasing firing efficiency of the defender. Flanking fire allows guns placed in the side wall of the bastion (protected from direct fire from attackers) to safely and effectively shoot at an entire line of ...


89

The big disadvantage of a square or circle is that once an attacker had reached the wall, they are more or less immune to danger from the defenders. The only place they can be attacked from is directly above, having stuff dropped on them. This means that being at the base of the wall is a place of relative safety for the attacker. Conversely, for star ...


33

Imagine that you are defending a fort with old-fashioned round bastions in the Middle Ages. Your walls are high, but once the enemy comes close and starts scaling the walls, very few of your defenders can engage them. After the invention of cannons it's even worse. Your walls have to be thicker and much shorter in height, otherwise they would be easily ...


31

These outcroppings are called Bastions and they became common when muskets and cannons became common in European warfare. The problem with a square or circle forts is that when the enemy has reached the wall, they are in your dead zone. You can't fire at them with your musket, unless you lean over the wall, which would make you a very easy target for the ...


16

From Global Security: Russian Military Spending: In 1988 military spending was a single line item in the Soviet state budget, totaling 21 billion rubles, or about US$33 billion. Given the size of the military establishment, however, the actual figure was at least ten times higher. Western experts concluded that the 21 billion ruble figure reflected only ...


15

Like this thread on catapulting diseased dead bodies, the pouring of boiling oil and tar did happen, though not so commonly. Remember that many castles never saw action. Many more castles were built decoratively as a fashion rather than because defence was needed. However, when you look to city walls and city gates, you see more use. A city will have the ...


14

The implication of the question is that Meso-American cultures didn't employ any architectural defenses ("walls"). I don't think that's true at all. Below is a pictoral recreation of Cahokia. That city was probably far too large and spread out to totally wall up, but you can clearly see there was a wall around the central districts. The text with the ...


14

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 ...


13

This seems more like a technical question than a historical one, but anyway, "splash some oil and throw a torch" will not burn down a large door or any large piece of wood for that matter. Starting a fire requires a certain amount of heat, so you need a large mass of flammable tinder to get something started. The larger the door, the more tinder you will ...


12

In the case of Conway (and most other places on borders) - it's more a castle than a town. There is no point in having a well fortified castle, if around it you have an undefended town to give your attackers a base to live in while they attack you. The walled part of the city is really just the first line of castle defence for a siege. Conway s part of ...


11

Southeast New Guinea (Papua) was legally part of Australia during WWII, and there were battles there as the Japanese tried to take out Port Moresby. This includes the advance over the Owen Stanley Mountains and the landing in Milne Bay.


11

No, that was part of the defense strategy. Making the walls a little bit stronger over all wouldn't help as much as building a very strong keep. That's the general idea behind it. You are absolutely right to assume that those heavily fortified castles within cities were there for a reason: usually to keep the citizens at bay. In many fortified cities those ...


10

Boiling oil is a good weapon, because its boiling point (400 degrees Fahrenheit) is much higher than that of water (212 degrees). It was a moderately effective weapon against men. But by its boiling and burning properties, it was a very effective weapon against ladders, rams, catapults, and other war instruments made of wood. Also, if successfully used, it ...


10

Depends on what you call "Australia" and "attacks". One could say that the UK attacked and took over the country from the natives that were there initially.


9

Unlike a city wall, that has people always around it to man and guard it, a free standing border wall tends to get stripped of manpower whenever the attention of the state building it falters. An unmanned wall isn't hard to get around, or over. I've even read that some believe the main task of these border fences is less to hold invaders out, than to keep ...


7

To answer your first question, yes attacks were frequent. This is what prompted many of the earliest 'settlements' to build a surrounding and protective wall in the first place, to stop constant raids from stronger 'warrior' nomadic tribes killing, enslaving people and stealing food. To answer your second question, the farmers and dry grain/food supplies ...


7

I believe many did. Hopewell (mound builders) : This Hopewell mound in Newark Ohio looks an awe-full lot like a circular wall with a gate in the upper left hand corner. regarding the Inca, these look like defensive walls to me.


6

I like to visit old castles and am lucky enough to live where there are quite a few. If the old gate is still there you can see it was often covered in sheet metal. Some castles has skins stretched over the gates and would wet them to stop them catching fire. The doors were often set back inside the doorway so it wasn't easy to shoot at them. Fire arrows ...


5

Aside from attacks during the two already mentioned time periods - European colonisation and the Japanese attacks during WW2 - there was another attack on Australian soil, though not on the continent itself: In the early morning of 2004-09-09, a car bomb was detonated at the Australian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. Of course, an embassy's area isn't, ...


5

Yes, the vikings did just that. A longship can have to about 100 crew/warriors on board. (Different type of ships had a smaller or larger crew on board.) A raid often was done with one or two ships. Laying siege was of course impossible. But having the element of surprise might give them the edge. Storming the walls was suicide. Favorable circumstances (fog, ...


5

There are two additional reasons. First, in principle, any fortification can be overcome, with enough time and resources. But a very important question is how long will it take. By prolonging the siege you may hope a) for reinforcement or b) that the enemy will withdraw for whatever reason. Several layers of defense prolong the siege. Second, do not forget ...


5

These were different lines of defense. A city was a relatively large area whose purpose was to maintain the political power of say, the king. As such, it had a large number of civilians, and provided a place of refuge for "some" people from the surrounding countryside. As such, a city was a better defended place than most of the of countryside, but its ...


5

For Europe, I would say, that most of the major cities where not designed to make urban combat more of a mess than it already is. Most of the original European cities were not planned at all but simply envolved as needed This lead to very unsanitary, fire prone, death traps. Fortified cities, as allready meantioned, did have a military plan in mind for ...


4

It's a simple (or not) optimization problem. Is the cost of the wall to protect the surrounding farms + cost of defending that wall (marginal cost compared to just the wall around the city) more or less than the cost of losing and rebuilding the farms (land improvements, buildings, stocks that can't be moved to the city and possibly farmers)? Judging by ...


4

When at the peak of its power, ancient Sparta had no walls around its capital city. The standard cliche one reads and hears is that the "walls" of Sparta were the fighting men of its army.


4

A Japanese submarine bombarded the suburbs of Sydney, including Rose Bay, with a small cannon. As part of the initial attacks on Northern Australia, there were air raids at several points including a devastating attack on a seaplane base at Broome in North-Western Australia. Eventually the Japanese had to re-deploy the carrier forces that led these attacks ...


4

This is covered in the book The Military Affairs of Ancient Rome & Roman Art of War in Caesar's Time by Lt. Col. S.G. Brady. Not sure how good this book is, so perhaps others can weigh in here. Apparently the book is out of copyright; you can find a full copy online here: http://www.digitalattic.org/home/war/romanarmy/index.php Here's the relevant ...


4

Really the only strategic similarity you've pointed out is the value of an island fortress. Looking into it deeper, I'm not sure there's much more to it than that. The core of the Mongol army was their horse archers. The combination of being faster than anyone they faced and being able to attack at range was devastating to the typical non-nomadic foot army ...


3

I believe, no. The USSR disintegrated due to different reasons. The US maybe played role in it but not through the means of SDI but most likely through propaganda and influence on the top party officials.


3

Despite the Franco-Belgian accord of 1920, the Belgians were skittish about becoming too dependent on, or becoming a protectorate of France. Basically, they wanted a "balanced" relationship with both France and Germany, barely "tilting" toward France. By 1936, Belgium "thought better" of the above accord, backed off on its provisions, declared its on ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible