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215

...but if the Strait is guarded such that they can't get them without braving an enfilading strafe of torpedoes, then it wouldn't do much good even if they knew where they are. From this comment by the OP, and others like it, it seems they don't appreciate the tactical limitations and vulnerabilities of a WWII submarine. I'll address that. While WWII ...


130

Why bother to launch an attack? First thing is to realize that strategic trench warfare in the Great War was not planned. It's something that happened to prevent being strategically outflanked. While trenches were used in individual battles prior, nothing like a deadlock on this scale had been seen nor even seriously considered before. Nor had the lethality ...


104

In age-of-sail fleet actions, the primary use of frigates (and smaller vessels) was to relay messages (usually in the form of flag signals) between the flagships and the rest of the fleet. They usually set themselves some distance from the main 'line' of battle where they could see and be seen by the ships of the line. A secondary purpose was to act as ...


89

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, ...


78

Armies go around castles all the time, but what usually happens is that the castle is placed under siege. This is done at least with the intention of keeping the defenders in, and hopefully taking the castle via attrition, bombardment, sapping or treachery. The need to siege the castle is important; if you ignore the castle and march on, this leaves the ...


74

There are two assumptions that need to be clarified. What is the attacker's strategic intent? What time are you talking about? If the attacker wants to possess the territory defended by the castle, then "going around" isn't an option. "Going around" only makes sense if the attacker wants to control territory beyond the castle. This also assumes that the ...


71

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, ca. 1740)


67

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 ...


67

Electronic computing was not available, but a simple and constrained problem like timing a bomb drop can be handled by a dedicated mechanical or electromechanical device, the bombsight. These are "analogue computers," as compared to modern digital computers. They aren't re-programmable, and can only solve the problem that is built into them, but they can be ...


62

SHORT ANSWER Most battles were short and thus the shield did not have to be held for long in combat. Also, Spartans who survived the training which began in early childhood were extremely tough both physically and mentally. Lastly, most historians of ancient Greek warfare have estimated that the shield used in classical times weighed between 13.5 lbs / 6.12 ...


61

tl;dr Sea control is good. Sea denial is not that much worse. Sinking an enemy ship at the cost of significant damage to your own is less desirable than keeping your enemy holed up in port (where his ships do little to no harm and your own ships stay undamaged). As basically all naval strategy questions, this one puts too much emphasis on "defeating the ...


54

No country is impossible to invade. Andorra could invade the USA. The question you should have asked was "Was Switzerland Impossible to Conquer during World War II?". The answer is no country is impossible to conquer. But there is great variation in the probability that a specific country will actually conquer another specific country if it tries to ...


51

Lars' answer has addressed the fact that the shields (know as a hoplon) often didn't need to be held for long; I'd like to address the actual mechanics. Image showing the shield held close in to the body, with straps and left shoulder taking most of the weight - photo by Grant Mitchell [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia ...


49

I believe this is as much sociological as medical. Terms such as 'shell shock' or 'battle fatigue' were used from at least WWI - it was believed that shelling actually 'shocked' the brain - but there was far less understanding of, or sympathy for, the effect war could have on men (women were not generally involved in actual combat). The term 'NMF' was ...


45

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 ...


45

The Romans were known to retire their soldiers with a pension after 25 years of service. That would probably have put most of them in their early to mid 40's. Given that experienced veterans are generally far better soldiers than new recruits, I think its fair to say they wouldn't have done that if they could typically expect another decade of good ...


44

Verse 3. After crossing a river, you should get far away from it. If the river is a barrier, you can be hemmed in against it. If your enemy is the one hemmed in, they also have a defense on at least one side, preventing you from surrounding them. Verse 4. When an invading force crosses a river in its onward march, do not advance to meet it in mid-...


43

Two reasons why not to put a grenade in a sling, based on the fusing/arming system (An additional reason is that there are rifle launched grenades, if you need more range). Features of a hand grenade There is a double safety feature on a typical hand grenade that prevents it from blowing up before you have sent it to its target. The modern hand ...


40

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 ...


40

No, Hitler had no plan for defeating the US outright. However, the Germans had been fighting against the US for quite some time in the Battle of the Atlantic, since US escorts would take convoys partway across and defend them against U-Boats. So the US neutrality was very strained already. And when the US entered the war, the Germans at once sent U-Boats ...


38

Ok, since I think I finally got your real question (as I see it): I'm simply asking if the defense of Switzerland during WW2 was overrated. Many people claim that the country was impossible to occupy, I just want to know if this is not clearly exaggerated. The emphasis is what I interpret as your "real" question (since there is a lot of confusion here) ...


37

Gibraltar during the war had a quite formidable British naval presence (Force H), an airfield, and significant coastal gun emplacements easily capable of covering the entire strait. The primary batteries were a set of twin 9.2" naval guns guns at the southern end of the peninsula, which had sufficient range to interdict all surface naval traffic through ...


33

(1) "The Battle of France" - so called by the French. The the term "Battle of France is widely used for the WW2 fighting of the French against the German invasion. See e.g. Wikipedia Battle of France And the naming of it accordingly is attested to e.g. Winston Churchill: here ... What General Weygand has called The Battle of France is over. The ...


32

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 protracted. First starting in 1343, it was lifted by the arrival of ...


32

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 ...


32

There are at least two reasons. The first is that a castle is usually located on the most strategic ground in the area, a hill, river, etc. Basically, it is, or controls, the most valuable "real estate' in the region. If an attacking army controls the "rest of the region" without controlling the castle, it probably hasn't achieved much. The second reason ...


30

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 ...


28

A slightly different translation reads as follows: The Persian bows were also large, so that such of their arrows as were taken were useful to the Cretans, and they continued using their enemies’ arrows; and they practiced shooting them upward, sending them a long way. They found a lot of gut in the villages, and lead, which they could put to use for ...


28

With the Allies, two methods were used. The USAAF focused on precision daylight bombing, using the Norden bombsight. This was a mechanical computer that also took control of the aircraft controls -- the bombardier was actually flying the bomber with the bombsight during the final bomb run. Supposedly, the Norden bombsight could factor in altitude, ground ...


28

tl; dr At least some of the archers who fought at the Battle of Agincourt almost were almost certainly suffering from dysentery contracted at Harfleur. However, most of the worst affected had been shipped home to England before Henry left Harfleur for Calais. Is there any evidence in the chronicles of the time that some or most of the English & ...


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