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124 votes
Accepted

What damage did anti-tank rifles hope to inflict on tanks in WW2?

Anti-tank rifles were made as a stopgap measure during and after WWI. The infantry needed something to stop a tank smaller than an artillery piece, and from further away than you could throw a grenade....
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109 votes

Did it take 3 minutes to reload a musket when the second amendment to the US constitution was ratified?

No. The rate of fire of competent musketeers was considerably greater than one round every three minutes when the Second Amendment was adopted at the end of the eighteenth century. In his book The ...
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98 votes
Accepted

Did the Soviets excel in one area of weaponry during World War II?

I can think of a list of things which either excelled at the time or were feats not matched in the whole war. The T-34 and IS tank lines. Not just the tanks themselves, but also focusing on two ...
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90 votes
Accepted

How did archers judge distance before range finders?

I'm a horse archer; we use instinctive archery – there are no range finders, just a bow, a string an arrow and an archer. After a few thousand shots at various ranges, your body just knows how to aim ...
  • 31.1k
70 votes

Why couldn't soldiers sight their own weapons without officers' orders?

It was a remnant of the class distinction in British life between aristocratic officers and common soldiers and enlisted men. In British units the men were instructed, forcefully, to simply obey ...
56 votes

Did it take 3 minutes to reload a musket when the second amendment to the US constitution was ratified?

Did it in fact take something like three minutes to reload muskets when the Second Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified? Is a "three minute musket" representative of the best military ...
  • 12.2k
46 votes

What damage did anti-tank rifles hope to inflict on tanks in WW2?

Schwern's answer is very good and exhaustive from the technical standpoint. From my experience as sniper trained on Anti-Materiel Rifles (AMRs (Hecate II), I would like to add a few tactical aspects ...
45 votes
Accepted

Why did the Roman military start to favour swords over the spear phalanx?

Actually, the Romans used the same phalanx everyone else did for a very long time. Past Hannibal. The essence of winning a phalanx battle is to attack the flank of the phalanx. One may achieve that ...
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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 ...
43 votes

How did archers judge distance before range finders?

They mostly didn't care. In combat, the purpose of an archer was not to land aimed shots on specific targets. It was to put large amounts of pointy wood-and-steel in the air, in the general ...
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42 votes
Accepted

Were there U.S. weapon restrictions during 19th century?

The official way we determine how the Constitution is "understood" is through US Supreme Court decisions, and there haven't been any on that particular subject. There have been basically 3 ...
  • 111k
38 votes

What were sandbags used for in medieval duels?

The sandbag is from a quintain, a "jousting dummy" if you will: On Offham green there stands a Quintain, a thing now rarely to be met with, being a machine much used in former times by youth, as ...
34 votes
Accepted

Has a battering ram been used to breach a gate?

There appear to be very few recorded, specific examples of the successful use of battering rams on gates in either ancient or medieval times, at least compared to successful assaults on walls. ...
34 votes
Accepted

Why couldn't soldiers sight their own weapons without officers' orders?

The question asks why British officers would micromanage enlisted troops by doing things like dictating the range to sight their rifles. This type of "micromanaging" is a foundation of the military ...
  • 522
32 votes

What were the EMP effects, if any, of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Little Boy detonated at ~580 metres above Hiroshima, and Fat Man at ~500 metres above Nagasaki. While all nuclear explosions generate electromagnetic pulses of some sort, at these low altitudes their ...
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31 votes

Did the Germans use the V1 and V2 missile system on the Eastern Front in World War 2?

The V1 and V2 were short range missiles. The V-2 had an operational range of 200 miles while the V-1 had an operational range of 160 miles. These missiles weren't available until mid-1944, at which ...
31 votes

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

This is anecdotal, but enough people seemed to like my comment and OP had further questions, so I'm posting it anyway. I did some re-enactment in my time. My weapon of choice was a longsword. (Well, a ...
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30 votes
Accepted

Why did it take so long for the Germans to develop the first tank model in World War I?

While the Germans knew in principle that tanks could be built, they still needed to design a tank, develop a prototype, work out the problems, put it into mass production, develop tactics, and train ...
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30 votes
Accepted

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

The introduction of hammocks in place of cabins for the bulk of the crew both reduced the amount of wood (and thus splinters) and led to the use of rolled up hammocks as protection against splinters. ...
29 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 ...
  • 1,265
29 votes
Accepted

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 ...
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27 votes
Accepted

How come all the major WW1 rifles were bolt action?

Most of the rifles used in WWI were designed, adopted and procured 10-20 years prior during a period of great upheaval in military rifle technology. In the decades leading up to WWI there was a great ...
  • 53.1k
27 votes
Accepted

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 ...
  • 16.1k
26 votes

Why were troops with bayonets often effective against enemy cavalry even though the bayonet was a "secondary" weapon?

An important aspect that seems to be neglected in many of the answers here is that while technical aspects cannot be completely dismissed, they are secondary to other concerns. To be specific, the ...
  • 1,568
26 votes
Accepted

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

@KorvinStarmast has the correct answer for hand grenades. But we did use slings to lob grenades. Just think bigger. A trebuchet is basically a big staff sling used to throw a projectile. That big ...
  • 53.1k
25 votes

Is it true that US tracer rounds were red and VC green during Vietnam war?

During my time as a grunt in the 25th infantry in VN, I saw several night engagements. The Cong/NVA tracers appeared to be green, and the GI tracers appeared to be red. However, when engaging in ...
  • 251
25 votes

Did the Soviets excel in one area of weaponry during World War II?

Caveat Wars (especially in 20th century!) are won by nations/armies, not weapons. A weapon can be excellent (e.g., Me-262) but it will make no difference because it was introduced too late and/or was ...
  • 26.3k
25 votes

Did Aboriginal Australians know slings?

The ranged weaponry niche occupied by bows and slings in most other parts of the world was in Australia occupied by boomerangs and woomera (spear-thrower). These wouldn't have had the long range of a ...
  • 111k
24 votes
Accepted

What kind of knife could this be?

Got it, is a Spanish M1969 Bayonet, check it here: https://www.preferredarms.com/weapons/daggers.php
24 votes
Accepted

Why would a rifleman have his bayonet fixed to the rifle in a non-combat situation?

Doctrine, regulation, and technical necessity. We observe that the Russians were the last to issue M1891 Mosin-Nagant rifles with a socket bayonet, when all other militaries had already switched to ...
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