226 votes
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Why didn't Germany blockade the Strait of Gibraltar during WW2?

...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 ...
Schwern's user avatar
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133 votes
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Why bother to attack in trench warfare?

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 ...
Schwern's user avatar
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124 votes
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Why were ships-of-the line not supposed to open fire on frigates during fleet actions?

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 ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
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85 votes
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Were kamikaze pilots an effective strategy for Japan?

No. The general argument goes something like this: Japan was running out of trained pilots Japan couldn't spare the fuel to properly train more pilots But they had plenty of planes. Thus untrained ...
Schwern's user avatar
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66 votes

How did pilots know when to release bombs on airplanes during World War2?

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 "...
John Dallman's user avatar
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63 votes
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Why didn't the British Grand Fleet force an engagement with the German Imperial Navy in WW1?

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 ...
DevSolar's user avatar
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60 votes

How would a Spartan have held his shield?

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 ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
57 votes
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Why were Royal Navy ships forbidden to attack the ARA Veinticinco de Mayo in Argentinian waters?

The exclusion zone mentioned in the article is described in the Wikipedia article as follows: The Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ) was an area declared by the United Kingdom on 30 April 1982 covering a ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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55 votes
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Have any kings ever been serving admirals?

It turns out William IV wasn't called the "Sailor King" for nothing. He was a younger son of George III and thus didn't expect ever to become king. His naval career began at the age of ...
C Monsour's user avatar
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53 votes

Was Switzerland really impossible to invade during WW2?

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 ...
MAGolding's user avatar
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50 votes

How would a Spartan have held his shield?

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 ...
walrus's user avatar
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46 votes

Has there been any "invasive plants warfare" in the past?

Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and ...
b.Lorenz's user avatar
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45 votes

How did warriors age historically?

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 ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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45 votes
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Was Switzerland really impossible to invade during WW2?

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,...
Hobbamok's user avatar
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44 votes

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

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 ...
KorvinStarmast's user avatar
44 votes
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Where was gunpowder invented/ discovered?

This confusion is A Thing. I actually looked into it a few weeks back. Its quite likely that ancient Indians were the first people to harvest and make use of saltpeter. We certainly haven't found ...
T.E.D.'s user avatar
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40 votes

Why didn't Germany blockade the Strait of Gibraltar during WW2?

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 ...
DevSolar's user avatar
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35 votes
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Who said: "Armies prepare to fight their last war, rather than their next war"?

I think this adage is very old and has been rephrased countless times (though with slight modifications), but the modern English adaption might be from the 20th century: King Wuling, "A talent ...
gktscrk's user avatar
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33 votes
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How Did the Mongol Empire Get So Big?

There are a number of tactical and strategic reasons that the Mongols were successful. Core of strong leaders: Not only were the upper levels of military leadership strong, but the mid-level and ...
Astor Florida's user avatar
32 votes

Have any kings ever been serving admirals?

Leotychidas II of Sparta During the Greco-Persian Wars, King Leotychidas II of Sparta (reigned 491 to 476 BC) was appointed admiral in overall command of the Greek fleet in 479 BC, while he was king. ...
Lars Bosteen's user avatar
32 votes

How much louder was a Napoleonic era cannon than a musket?

From inspecting the French and Russian Orders of Battle for Borodino, I get a rough total of 113,000 musket-armed French with 700 guns against 106,000 musket-armed Russians with 614 guns. In total, ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
32 votes
Accepted

Why were slings phased out of medieval armies in favor of bows?

Phased out? Says who? Slings were used in European armies until the 16th century...the Castilian king had 30,000 infantry slingers in 1386...The sling was last used in Europe for military purposes at ...
SPavel's user avatar
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31 votes

What caused this cratering pattern at Hiroshima?

This photo is again used in recent CNN.com article "The bombing of Hiroshima" posted in Apr 26 2020: CNN But this is not the one of Hiroshima after the A-Bomb. This photo was taken from ...
TaroNakano's user avatar
31 votes

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

The main reason for avoiding the sling is that it is a difficult weapon to use. Requires training to do right EVERY time. So your slinger could expect a short career indeed which would abruptly end ...
Bookeater's user avatar
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31 votes
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Did Henry V’s archers at Agincourt fight with no pants / breeches on because of dysentery?

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 ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
  • 77.5k
30 votes

Were British infantry trained to shoot attacking aircraft with rifles?

To answer the second part of your question, this WW2 British Army training film includes details of how ground fire from infantry should be directed at enemy aircraft. As you can see at about 20 ...
DrMcCleod's user avatar
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29 votes

How did pilots know when to release bombs on airplanes during World War2?

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 -- ...
tj1000's user avatar
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29 votes
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Who was the last European king to actively engage in combat?

Perhaps Charles XII in 1713. The king himself killed at least one Ottoman soldier with his sword in hand-to-hand combat when he and Roos came under attack by 3 Ottomans. During parts of the ...
Tomas By's user avatar
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28 votes
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In Antiquity, were Persian arrows considered superior to their Greek counterparts?

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’...
LаngLаngС's user avatar

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