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74 votes
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Why didn't line infantry tactics try to keep up a constant volley of fire?

That's actually exactly what they did. In the early 17th century, Maurice of Orange reformed the Dutch army and drilled them to use volley fire. This involved the first rank (i.e. the first row of the ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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56 votes

How were drawbridges and portcullises used tactically?

Any gate is, by definition, an opening in the stone curtain wall that is the main defense of the castle. A pulled up wooden drawbridge is much less secure than the stone wall: it's flammable, even ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
46 votes
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What tactical situations made the use of traditional horse cavalry effective in World War II?

Whenever 20th century cavalry comes up, it often gets confused with mounted infantry. So let's clear that up. Cavalry is trained to fight from horseback using pistol, sabre, carbine, lance, and the ...
Schwern's user avatar
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37 votes

WW1 tunneling - bypassing the front line?

While I like your thinking there are a few issues with such a plan: Emerging behind enemy lines means there may well have been other enemy troops (just as fresh) in the general area. With WWI ...
motosubatsu's user avatar
36 votes
Accepted

WW1 tunneling - bypassing the front line?

One of the main problems with any mine, military or resource-extraction, is ventilation. It was clearly not possible to dig ventilation shafts in No-Man's-Land, so all the air for the tunnel ...
Tim Lymington's user avatar
36 votes

How difficult was to escape from a naval battle after engaging into one during the Age of Sail?

This is where the wind gauge becomes critical. Having the wind gauge, contrary to popular perception, was of little tactical benefit; but rather enabled one to prevent the enemy from escaping. This is ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
35 votes
Accepted

Why were the losses in the Battle of Norfolk so lopsided?

The ongoing arms race in armored warfare between defensive measures and offensive weapons generally means that a given tank is able to resist the weapons of the previous generation and, in turn, be ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
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30 votes
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Why didn't the Roman maniple make a comeback in the Renaissance?

Although the two formations look similar, the pike square was developed in a very different tactical environment than the phalanx. The phalanx and the maniple were developed in an environment where ...
Mark's user avatar
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27 votes
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What was the tactical benefit of using flamethrowers as weapons?

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 ...
o.m.'s user avatar
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27 votes

What are the grenades and artillery cited in this testimony?

Both weapons are AA guns The answer has nothing to do with what different languages mean by "grenade." The testimony is just a very bad translation. Wikipedia cites a Voice of Russia article ...
SPavel's user avatar
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23 votes

Why were the losses in the Battle of Norfolk so lopsided?

According to AAR reports, the losses the Coalition took in this battle were almost all friendly fire incidents. Same AARs indicate that Coalition forces had decisive advantage in: Effective range - ...
AcePL's user avatar
  • 924
23 votes
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How were siege ladders used to attack medieval castle walls?

Although illustrations in medieval manuscripts often take a creative approach to reality, they can give a good interpretation of how ladders were used during an escalade. There are depictions of ...
Giter's user avatar
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20 votes

Why didn't line infantry tactics try to keep up a constant volley of fire?

That's roughly what they did. Both sides would line up their men, where the defender had the advantage: they could form two or more lines. The first line fired, then reloaded, while the second line ...
Jos's user avatar
  • 21.9k
20 votes

How difficult was to escape from a naval battle after engaging into one during the Age of Sail?

The subject of disengagement and, possibly, the subsequent chase is one that fills chapters and even whole books on Age-of-Sail tactics. Determining the possibility of escape involves a large number ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
  • 19.4k
17 votes
Accepted

Why did ramming reappear then disappear in 1800s shipborn warfare?

The reason for the re-emergence of the ram in the mid-1800s is essentially a technological one. The introduction of the nautical steam engine gave ships a reliable source of power and the ability to ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
  • 19.4k
16 votes

Physics of a heavy cavalry charge?

Your question is underpinned by a key misunderstanding of the course of an ancient or medieval battle: the slaughter occurs in the pursuit (or endgame if you will), not what might be termed the battle ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
15 votes

What was the tactical benefit of using flamethrowers as weapons?

Basic flame weapons are effective against flammable targets or in very close quarters. Normally they are not used in any situation where the defenders would have a clear view of the attackers. Flame ...
Tyler Durden's user avatar
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12 votes
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What equipment and formations did the Muslim armies employ against the Crusades?

Equipment Armour: Unlike the Western European Crusaders, Muslim Soldiers never wore fully body armour. It is without a doubt a fact that Europeans were more heavily armoured than Muslims but that was ...
NSNoob's user avatar
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12 votes
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Was the flexibility of German army a big contributor to their success?

Yes. The Germans developed the concept of "Auftragstaktik", or "mission tactics", whereby officers and even non-coms were given their missions and objectives, but left to their own devices as to how ...
Tom Au's user avatar
  • 104k
11 votes

Why were the losses in the Battle of Norfolk so lopsided?

Although it isn't a complete answer to your question, you can gain some insight into the lopsidedness of this and other similar confrontations by reading this analysis: http://www.meforum.org/441/...
BoredBsee's user avatar
  • 261
11 votes

How could a skilled battle commander like Napoleon Bonaparte lose to Prussians at Waterloo (Belgium) as such?

We have no evidence that Napoleon was ill during June 1815. None. Nada. Zilch. While on St. Helena, Napoleon wrote extensively about his final campaign, blaming Ney and Grouchy extensively and usually ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
11 votes

Was it possible to "aim for the epaulette boys" during the Middle Ages?

Yes and no. Uniforms and rank insignia as we understand them didn't exist back then. It was very easy to see who was high(er) in rank, though. Members of the knightly class wore their coat of arms on ...
Jos's user avatar
  • 21.9k
11 votes

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

Both the Union and Confederacy employed river gunboats during the US Civil War. They were often improvised from flat-bottomed side- or stern-wheeler civilian river boats and armored with layers of ...
Schwern's user avatar
  • 55.2k
9 votes

What tactical situations made the use of traditional horse cavalry effective in World War II?

Sometimes Soviet Army (especially during the first two years of the war agains Germany, 1941-43) successfully used its cavalry units. Success depended on many factors including tactical skills of its ...
Moishe Kohan's user avatar
  • 6,299
9 votes

Did ancient or medieval warriors "substitute" in and out of combat?

From Book 3 of Caesar's Gallic Wars, Chapters 4 through 6: Chapter 4 .... Our men at first, while their strength was fresh, resisted bravely, nor did they cast any weapon ineffectually from their ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

What were German submarine tactics?

From the events you've described, you are talking about U-123's 7th Patrol. For Question #1, it is likely they did go to periscope depth first. Aircraft would be hard to see from a periscope. Wakes ...
Oot'n'Boot's user avatar
7 votes

How tight were shield walls in Saxon England?

according to bayeaux, pretty tight: The shield wall tactics are not entitled only to roman origins, almost any culture that develops heavy shields will develop a close formation to take advantage of ...
CptEric's user avatar
  • 1,489
7 votes
Accepted

Did Song troops spread black beans on the ground as a means to defeat the superior Jin cavalry? If so, in which battle?

Not sure if anyone will read this, but... From Baidu (https://baike.baidu.com/item/连环计/5842#ref_[2]_5340118): 1.毕再遇连环计 “Bi Zaiyu Uses Chain Stratagems” 宋代将领毕再遇就曾经运用连环计,打过漂亮的仗。他分析金人强悍,骑兵尤其勇猛,...
Guest's user avatar
  • 94
7 votes

WW1 tunneling - bypassing the front line?

While the above answers are quite valid, here's something else to think about: It's highly likely that the enemy would pick up on a tunnel dug for such a purpose, and move to defeat it, as counter ...
Davidw's user avatar
  • 247
6 votes
Accepted

Why didn't the Allies attack Germany from the South?

The Germans managed to hold northern Italy, by defending the Gothic Line, until March 1945. After that, the German position began to crumble rapidly, until they surrendered on 29th April, with ...
John Dallman's user avatar
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