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Weapons and Tactics

Weapons and Tactics


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  • Amphibious Operations
  • Atom Bomb
  • Anti-Aircraft Weapons
  • Anti-Tank Weapons
  • Area Bombing
  • Barrage Balloons
  • Balloon Bombs
  • Bazooka
  • Big Wing Strategy
  • Blitzkreig
  • Bofors Gun
  • Bouncing Bomb
  • Churchill Tank
  • Cromwell Tank
  • Crusader Tank
  • Degtyarev PPD
  • Lee Enfield Rifle
  • Field Artillery
  • Firestorms
  • Flamethrowers
  • Fritz X Bomb
  • Grand Slam Bomb
  • Guided Bombs
  • Heavy Artillery
  • Incendiary Bombs
  • KV Tank
  • Long-Lance Torpedo
  • MP38 Gun
  • Machine-Guns
  • Magic Secret Code Operation
  • Maginot Line
  • Metallised Strips
  • Navajo Code
  • Nebelwerfer
  • Oboe System
  • Operation Market-Garden
  • Operation Torch
  • Panther Tank
  • Panzer Tanks
  • Pathfinders
  • Pershing M26 Tank
  • Phosphorous Bombs
  • Sherman Tank
  • Sten Gun
  • Strategic Bombing
  • Sub-Machine Gun
  • T-34 Tank
  • Tallboy Bomb
  • Technology
  • Tiger Tank
  • Tommygun
  • V1 Flying Bomb
  • V2 Rocket
  • Valentine Tank
  • Vickers 303

AMERICAN CIVIL WAR WEAPONS, STRATEGY, AND TACTICS

The American Civil War facilitated the evolution of trench warfare tactics, techniques and combat procedures, while bring an end to Napoleonic battlefield tactics. The American Civil War was a military conflict between the United States of America’s Union Army versus the Confederate States of America’s Confederate Army from 1861 to 1865. This conflict resulted in the evolution of trench warfare tactics, techniques and combat procedures. The American Civil War origins, the presidents, the weapons, the military commanders, the violent battles, the war’s conclusion, the African American participation and the assessment of this conflict highlights the struggle for American unification and liberation from the shame of slavery.

THE ORIGINS

By early 1861, just before the outbreak of the Civil War in the United States, serious economic and ideological differences – among them states’ rights and slavery – divided the people of the young nation. These differences also divided the country geographically. Nineteen states, including the industrialized northern states, prohibited slavery, while 15 southern states, whose economies depended on agriculture, permitted the ownership of slaves. Eleven of the southern states withdrew from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America.

South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union on Dec. 12, 1860. It was also the site of the first battle of the American Civil War. On April 12, 1861, Confederate artillery shelled Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Thus, the American Civil War began when the Confederacy demanded the surrender of Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The Union commander refused, and the Confederate forces fired on the fort. After two days, Fort Sumter surrendered and both sides rushed to mobilize for war. The first year of the war consisted primarily of skirmishes, except for the First Battle of Bull Run.

THE PRESIDENTS

Soon after Abraham Lincoln’s election as president of the United States, seven Southern states seceded from the Union because they feared that Lincoln would abolish slavery. Four more states had followed by the time Lincoln delivered his first inaugural address on March 4, 1861. The recording of his 1861 inaugural address have been recited by many actors because of its intellectual, philosophical and prophetic depth.

During the Civil War, Jefferson Davis served as the president of the Confederate States of America. As secretary of war under United States President Franklin Pierce and a two-term senator from Mississippi, Davis was a pro-slavery advocate who initially opposed secession. However, when his state withdrew from the Union, he resigned from the U.S. Senate to support the South.

THE WEAPONS

During the Civil War both armies employed new weapons that changed the tactics, techniques and procedures of warfare. First, the invention of the mini bullet for rifles with internal screws permitted bullets to travel farther with superior accuracy. Thousands of soldiers died on both sides because of this technological evolution. This weapon system caused military commanders to develop a more defensive trench warfare tactic, which forecast the trench warfare combat operations during the First World War.

Second, the Confederate Army used a giant flatcar-mounted mortar weapon against American Union forces. Railroads greatly increased the ability of both sides to transport troops, supplies, and weapons. And third, the ironclad ships Monitor and Virginia fire cannonades at one another at point-blank range during the historic battle of Hampton Roads in the American Civil War. The Union Monitor was smaller and lighter than its Confederate counterpart and had a revolving gun turret with two heavy guns. Although the two armored ships fought each other for several hours, the Virginia withdrew because of low tides, and the battle was considered a draw. This naval battle marked the end of wooden warships and the proliferation and evolution of iron and steel warships worldwide.

THE GENERALS

The Civil War was decorated with the some of the best commanders in warfare history. Frist, Thomas Jonathan Jackson commonly known as Stonewall Jackson was among the most famous generals of the Civil War. Thomas Jonathan Jackson served under Confederate General Robert E. Lee. During the First Battle of Bull Run, or Manassas, Jackson’s brigade faced overwhelming odds. General Barnard E. Bee, seeing Jackson’s line holding firm, said, “There is Jackson standing like a stone wall.” After that he was called Stonewall by his troops. Second, Ulysses S. Grant was one of the Union Army’s most successful generals. President Abraham Lincoln selected Grant to lead the Union forces on March 9, 1864, following a string of unsuccessful commanders. Grant had a straightforward and relentless approach to warfare.

Third, Robert E. Lee was a brilliant general who commanded the Confederate army during the American Civil War (1861-1865). When war seemed imminent in 1861, President Lincoln offered command of the Union troops to Lee, but Lee declined, opting instead to assume command of Confederate forces in Virginia. In 1865, he became commander in chief of all Confederate troops, shortly before surrendering to Union general Ulysses S. Grant, which effectively ended the war. And fourth, he was a brilliant strategist, organizer, and trainer of troops, General George McClellan was praised as a “young Napoleon,” but his timidity on the battlefield caused President Abraham Lincoln to replace him as leader of the Union forces.

THE BATTLES

The Civil War involved some of the deadliest battles in warfare history. First, after the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, President Lincoln visited Union commanders on the battlefield. The battle marked the bloodiest one-day battle of the American Civil War-casualties from both sides mounted to about 23,000. In the end, however, the Union army emerged victorious. Second, after Union General Joseph Hooker relieved General Ambrose Burnside as commander of the army, he planned to keep the attention of the Southern army at Fredericksburg, while sending a force to attack the Confederate flank. But Hooker hesitated at Chancellorsville, and the Confederates turned and attacked with such force that after three days of fighting he was forced to withdraw.

Third, on July 1, 1863, one of the bloodiest battles of the United States Civil War began at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Confederate troops led by General Robert E. Lee initially drove back General George Meade’s Union forces, who then took a strong defensive position. After two days of fighting in which Lee was unable to break the Union line, he sent Major General George Pickett and his forces on an infamous charge at the center of Union defenses. More than three-quarters of Pickett’s force suffered casualties, and the charge was repelled, effectively ending the battle. On the night of July 4, the Confederate Army began its retreat to Virginia.

THE CONCLUSION

The Civil War concluded with General Sherman’s march through Georgia and General Lee’s surrender. In 1864, American Union troops led by General William T. Sherman captured Atlanta. From there, Sherman split his forces and marched them in a parallel route southeast to the Atlantic Ocean and then through South Carolina. Along the way, Sherman’s troops destroyed everything in their path, including civilian property that could be of use to the Confederates. The town of Columbia, S.C., shown here, was one of many towns devastated in the march.

Early in April 1865, Confederate forces in Virginia led by General Robert E. Lee confronted those of Union general Ulysses S. Grant. Lee, realizing that his troops were outnumbered by more than two to one and that further fighting would result in useless loss of life, asked for a meeting to discuss terms of surrender. On April 9, both generals met at a private home in the small town of Appomattox Court House. Grant offered generous terms, which Lee graciously accepted. With that, the American Civil War ended.

AFRICAN AMERICAN TROOPS

Virtually all African American soldiers fought on the side of the Union during the American Civil War. They served in segregated all-African American units and fought in nearly 500 engagements. A few African American soldiers and sailors were awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery, which is the United States military’s highest honor.

Victory during the Civil War was primarily the result of numbers: The North had more men, money and manufacturing capacity than the South. Second, Gens. Grant and Sherman were willing to employ “total war,” Grant aiming to destroy the Confederate Army and Sherman seeki


SWAT team weapons vary from unit to unit. Entry Teams are typically armed with:

    assault rifle carbines
    AR-15 variants like the M4a1, CQBR, Colt Commando
    Sig Sauger 551 / 552
    HK G36K / G36C

SWAT weapons are often fitted with tactical accessories such as flash lights, laser pointers, foregrips and various optics.

Tactical gear carried by SWAT teams includes flashbang stun grenades, battering rams, haligan tools, ballistic shields, tactical radios and flexi-cuffs. Clothing includes body armor, protective helmets and eye wear, assault webbing for holding magazines, knee pads, gloves and rappeling harnesses.


Planning and logistics

Being the largest disciplined army, they had also given serious thought to planning.

They planned their invasions and supported them with logistics. Their invasions were not as disorganized horde overrunning a country or a nation. But they planned and orchestrated activities that often took months of preparations.

They used highly speedy and novel ways of communication systems and messenger services. They used smoke signals to call for support or regrouping of different units to discuss serious matters. They were also flexible in recruiting other nationalities in their armies to strengthen their position. In the later parts of the empire Uyghur Turks, Kaitans, Kurds, Koreans, and Chinese made larger chunks of their armies.

Another thing that made them successful in a short time was using the new techniques and war strategies of the nations they conquered and recruited in their ranks. That’s why they successfully conquered an area they invaded.


Legacy Of The Vietcong

The Vietcong has certainly made its mark in History despite some of the negative portrayals in Hollywood.

If the Vietcong was not a tenacious Force, then it would not have achieved the US withdrawal from Vietnam.

However, some of its Military tactics especially in conventional battles appeared to rely more on simply throwing large numbers of infantry into a battle in order to overwhelm the enemy force.

As such, many of the Vietcong’s battles were won not because of superior Military strategy but by ‘swarming’ the enemy with the result that Vietcong casualties were quite high as was the case in the 1968 Tet Offensive.

Nevertheless, the Vietcong achieved the American withdrawal from Vietnam, and can therefore be regarded as the victor in the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War itself was part of a broader global Cold War conflict and left a stain on the collective American memory that was only removed after American Victory in the First Gulf War.


Weapons and Tactics - History


In many people's minds, the Great War is THE outstanding example of military incompetence, but the truth is that the war spurred an enormous amount of weapons development and tactical innovation.

Although the war is associated with the machine gun, the majority of the casualties were inflicted by artillery. Artillery became vital in neutralizing machine guns and enemy artillery. Aerial observation became vital for artillery targeting, and this led to observation by balloons and fixed wing aircraft. This, in turn, led to the air war. The lethality of artillery and machine guns led to a dispersal of infantry and the transformation of infantry from riflemen to a combined arms team with a variety of weapons - automatic rifles, grenade launchers, trench mortars, flame throwers, sub-machine guns, and armored vehicles. Modern warfare was born between 1914 and 1918.



The first team, of the 1st platoon, company B, 115th machine gun bn, 30th Division.

American gunners, working at top speed. They did their work well in the St Mihiel salinet to encourage the German withdrawal. This photo graphically shows the speed with which the American artillerymen worked. A shell case flying through the air and a new shell sliding into the breech in the same fraction of a second.


Eight Inch Howitzer, Mark 7, Nov. 437 Gun received at Ord. Repair shops showing effect of premature explosion. Mehun, Cher, France.


155mm G.E.F. gun in travelling position. 146th Field Artillery.

An American battery of 155mm howitzers firing upon the columns of the retreating Germans from a position in the ruins of the captured town of Varennes.



Men of the coast artillery corps opening tail of a 155mm gun near Flirey.


Polishing the breech of a 155mm gun. Coast artillery corps.

This piece of artillery was the first gun to be turned over to the US by the French. It is numbered "U.S.A." No. 1, (French number 171). It was purchased by the US in Dec 1917, and was the first gun of its type fired at the Germans by the Americans, in the battle of Seicheprey on May 26, 1918. Near Flirey.

Enlisted men looking through the sight of a 155mm gun. Near Flirey.


Determining the position of 155mm gun for ranging. Near Flirey.

One of the grande porte filloux 155's and tractor hurled 40 feet then turned over and muzzle of gun buried by a direct hit.

Battery E 56th Coast Artillery Corps, 1st Division with 155's.


Captured 17 cm medium German "Minnenwerfer", Model 1914.




Breech and sight of German 77mm gun, 1916 model. with long barrel.


Cpt AM Fisher holding the new German gas shell which is marked with a blue cross and a red band which identifies it as being a high explosive shell containing Diaghenylcyanarsine, commonly known as sneezing and vomitting gas.

Light for howitzer gun sighting device.



British howitzer hidden by camoflage in action against the Germans. The gun crew standing with hands covering ears.



Members of the 145th FA cleaning the rust and dirt from the shells. A dirty shell is not accurate. In the background may be seen the boys cleaning the gun in which these shells are to be used. Esnes, France.


Pvt Ambrose B McWaide of Ordnance Dept standing beside German 15 inch shell, which is 4 1/2 ft high and weighs 1400 pounds. Dannevoux.


German gun used in shelling Verdun left behind at Dannevoux when Germans retreated. Howitzer type and built on steel platform has chain heist for shells. Shells used in this gun 4 1/2 ft high and weigh 1400 pounds.

With a deafening roar this fourteen inch railway gun, manned by American coast artillerymen, sends its projectiles twenty miles away upon a German railway and troop movement center, such, at least, is the report of the airplane observer working in liaison with the gunners. While a set of these photographs was being snapped, the observer reported four clean hits on the distant target.

Railroad artillery ordnance detachment, and one of big 14 inch railway guns. Just before it was taken into shop to be disassembled and shipped back to US. Engine at left emphasises size of gun. Bassens, Gironde, France.


Aberdeen Proving Grounds. American 75mm gun in action.

Aberdeen Proving Grounds. American 75mm motorized gun going up hill.



Soldier emerging from listening post camoflauged as carcass of horse.

The door to the same tree, showing the ladder for climbing up. This tree was so small that when climbing up, the hands had to be held directly above the head. The tree was constructed by the Engineers of the 1st Belgian Division out of boards and odd materials, and is an example of what can be done within the Division at the front. It was erected during the winter of 1915-16, and was successful.


Artificial observation tree taken from rear.


Observing post (tower) made of sections of light railway track, overlooking Laneuville sur Meuse and Stenay.

Maneuvering squad taking places at balloon.



Maneuvering squad of 10th Balloon Company arriving at camouflaged balloon hanger, preparatory to sending up balloon for observation.



Operating maneuvering spider by means of which a burning balloon may be moved out of position, this prevents its falling on observers who might have jumped in parachutes.

Operating maneuvering spider by means of which a burning balloon may be moved out of position, this prevents its falling on observers who might have jumped in parachutes.

Wearing German breast plates and helmets, with guns captured by the 80th Division. Mauser rifle, machine guns on left and big tank gun weighing 41 pounds on right.



Result of body armor test. Heavy weight. Exhibit of body armor showing effect of pistol, rifle and machine gun fire. Ord. Dept. Fort de la Peigney, Langres, France.


New style helmet with visor that protects the eyes - being submitted to the US Government, 26th Division, Boucq, France.


Experimental visored helmet for advanced positions.

Goggles - splinter protector. From Eng. Div., Ord. Dept.

Armored tank helmet, model 15. From Eng. Div., Ord. Dept.

2nd Lt Val. A. Browning testing a Browning Automatic Rifle after being repaired by the 304th Mobile Ordnance Repair Shop, 79th Division.



Snipers in camoflaged suits with camoflaged rifles.

Riflegrenades. Top to bottom: rifle showing grenade discharger together with grenade and cartridge side, end and sectional views of rifle grenade discharger.

Americans inserting grenade into rifle.


Attaching tromblons to the rifles.


Cpt EC Popp of the Chemical Warfare Service, 1st Army Corps, showing the position of a rifle grenade when it is ready to fire.


The phosphorous grenade is also used as a hand grenade. It is hit on the shoe and then thrown.

At left inserting a phosphorous grenade in rifle. At right shows how grenades are used by striking on the heel before throwing.



Liquid fire equipment captured from the Germans and brought back from No Man's Land by members of the US 18th Infantry after a raid on March 6, 1918, Menil-la-Tour.


Firing position of 37mm cannon squad.

Stokes mortar in action in manoeuvers, loading. 318th HQ Co 80th Div.


Advancing with Stokes mortar in Maneuvers. 318th HQ Co 80th Div.


The loading and firing of phosphorus and Thermite shells by a trench mortar battery, manned by members of Co C, 1st Gas Regt, 80th Div.

French C.R. Bombarder. D.R. grenade in position.


American soldiers on watch in the trench on the American front ready to give the signal in case of a gas attack.

Generator and switchboard which were run by engine captured from the Germans. Stone quarry near Cunel


German engine used by the Germans for running a dynamo and members of Co D, 14th Machine Gun Bn. Stone quarry near Cunel.


German soldiers constructing a building in Vaux, just inside the German lines.

Cement tank about 8 ft high and square, erected by Germans for heating water.

New wire entanglement cutting machine demonstrated before national legislators. A miniature tank wire entanglement cutting machine in demonstration before senators and represntatives on Congress made its way through the obstacles with little trouble. John E Logan is the inventor.



Bicycle with spare Hotchkiss gun barrel and ammunition box.


Caterpillar tractors employed at Fortress Monroe. Tractor fording a stream.


Aberdeen Proving Grounds. 8 inch howitzer being hauled by Caterpillar tractor.


Caterpillar tractor manufactured by Holt Mfg Co, Peoria IL and Stockton CA. Hauling supplies across roadless country, Big Bend District, TX, 1917. QMC.


Caterpillar tractors manufactured by Holt Mfg Co. 16 ton Caterpillar trailer especially designed for QMC.


Narrow guage railroad, cut through solid rock. Note peculiar method of camoflage.

120 hp Holt tractors, 8 inch Howitzers in charge of 108th Supply Train (formerly dets. 7th Ill. Inf.) and Battery E, 58th Coast Artillery Corps, 33rd Div.

Types of equipment used by Motor Transport Corps. Left side view of Burton Winch with caterpillar adapter.


Delousing machine and laundry.



Aberdeen Proving Ground. 8 inch narrow guage armament train, complete with engines.



Close up of wheel that was much used on German trucks in order to conserve rubber. Rim is made of steel and pads between steel rim and wheel are of rubber.


Dam which was used by Germans for flooding town of St Hilaire. this dam was mined but in the rush of American troops, Germans were unable to complete inundation of town.

President inspects Handley Page bombing plane. The Handley-Page bombing plane as it landed on the polo field, Potomac Park, Washington, DC.

Construction of a 4500 ton reinforced concrete ship at Redwood, CA. This concrete vessel will be launched March 14, 1918.


6 Sand

In any movie about a medieval siege, there will be a scene where defenders are shown heating water or oil to pour down on besiegers as they attempt to scale the walls. But if water or oil was too valuable to waste due to food shortages, other hot things could be dropped from the walls. At the siege of Caen in 1346, Sir Edward Springhouse was knocked off a ladder, and the defenders threw burning hay down on him, roasting him in his armor.

Other people under siege have had to get even more creative. When Alexander the Great was attacking the city of Tyre, his men faced something even worse than scalding oil. The defenders of the city took the fine sand of the local area and heated it until it glowed red-hot. [5] This was poured down on the attackers. The fine sand would find its way into any piece of armor and lodge there. Men were driven wild with pain and would strip off their armor, leaving themselves to be picked off by archers on the walls. The sand could also be carried by the wind to the enemy ships and ignite their sails.


History of S.W.A.T.

The special weapons and tactics concept originated in the late 1960s as a result of several sniping incidents against civilians and police officers around the country. Many of these incidents occurred in Los Angeles during and after the Watts Riot. Upon critical examination of how each incident was managed by police, the leadership of the LAPD realized that an effective response to these dangerous situations was virtually non-existent. Officer John Nelson presented the special weapons and tactics concept to a young inspector by the name of Darryl F. Gates. Inspector Gates concurred and approved the concept of a small group of highly disciplined officers utilizing special weapons and tactics to cope with these unusual and difficult attacks.

The first Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) Unit consisted of 15 four-man teams. Members of each team, who volunteered from the ranks of patrol and other police assignments, had specialized experience and prior military service. Each unit was activated for monthly training or when the need for special weapons personnel actually arose. These units, known as "station defense teams," provided security for police facilities during civil unrest.

In 1971, the SWAT personnel were assigned on a full-time basis to Metropolitan Division to respond to continuing action by subversive groups, the rising crime rate and the continuing difficulty of mustering a team response in a timely manner. Metropolitan Division, which had a long-established reputation as the tactical unit of the Department, was organized into "A", "B" and "C" Platoons. The Special Weapons And Tactics Unit was given the designation of "D" Platoon, and at the same time formally adopted the acronym SWAT.


Weapons and Tactics - History

The weapons and battle tactics used by both sides during the Revolutionary War were consistent with those used by European armies for the previous 15 or so years. Both sides used similar weapons and fought using similar tactics.

The primary weapon used by both sides was the musket. The most popular type of musket was the British made Brown Bess. The Brown Bess had a smooth bore and was loaded through the muzzle. Another popular musket was the Charleville made by the French. It was similar to the Brown Bess.

The smooth-bore muskets of the Revolutionary War were not very accurate and could not reliably hit a target beyond 100 yards. It took the average soldier around 15 to 20 seconds to load the musket allowing him to fire 3 to 4 shots a minute.


At the end of the musket most soldiers had a bayonet attached. A bayonet was a sharp pointed metal blade around 17 inches long. The bayonet turned the musket into a spear that could be used to charge and gore an enemy. British soldiers were especially skilled fighters with the bayonet.

Both sides used a variety of artillery (large guns) during the war. Cannons could be made somewhat mobile when they were mounted on large wheels. They fired solid shells, exploding shells, and grapeshot. Cannons were effective in destroying fortifications or sinking ships. Sometimes cannons were fired strait at a line of approaching enemy troops tearing right through them and stopping their charge.

Rifles were also used during the Revolutionary War. Rifles were more accurate than muskets, but took a lot longer time to load. Cavalry (soldiers on horseback) used pistols and sabers to fight with as they were easier to use while riding a horse. Soldiers often carried knives or small hatchets, but these were rarely used in major battles.

Both sides used similar tactics in fighting a battle. The soldiers would form rows of long lines. They would approach the enemy to get within a range of 50 yards. Then each row would fire a volley at the enemy in unison. The first row would fire and then start to reload. Then, while the first row was reloading, the second row would fire and so on. Fighting in lines like this is called "linear tactics."

The idea of lining up like this to shoot at the enemy may seem silly at first, but it made some sense. Muskets were horribly inaccurate, so instead they would shoot together and send a wall of musket balls flying at the enemy. By firing in rows, each row had to time to reload while the others were firing. This kept up a constant barrage on the enemy.

In many cases, after each side fired a number of volleys, one side would charge the other side with their bayonets and the battle would turn into hand-to-hand combat.

Did the Americans hide behind trees?

A lot of modern movies show the American soldiers using different tactics than described above. They would hide behind trees and walls, picking off British soldiers who stood out in the open. However, this only happened in a few battles early on in the war. Most battles were fought with both sides lining up in long lines using the "linear tactics" described above.


Offensive weapons

Viking sword, spearheads and battle-axe, found in the London area © Laws of the late Viking period show that all free men were expected to own weapons, and magnates were expected to provide them for their men. The main offensive weapons were the spear, sword and battle-axe, although bows and arrows and other missiles were also used. Weapons were carried not just for battle, but also as symbols of their owners' status and wealth. They were therefore often finely decorated with inlays, twisted wire and other adornments in silver, copper and bronze.

Weapons were not just for battle, but also symbols of their owners' status and wealth.

The spear was the commonest weapon with an iron blade on a wooden shaft, often of ash and 2 to 3m in length. It was used for both thrusting and throwing. The blades varied in shape from broad leaf shapes to long spikes. Skilled spearsmen are said to have been able to throw two spears at once using both hands, or even to catch a spear in flight and hurl it back with deadly effect.

Swords were very costly to make, and a sign of high status. The blades were usually double-edged and up to 90cm, or a little over, in length, but early single-edged sabres are also known. They were worn in leather-bound wooden scabbards. Early blades were pattern-welded, a technique in which strips of wrought iron and mild steel were twisted and forged together, with the addition of a hardened edge. Later blades of homogeneous steel, imported probably from the Rhineland, bore inlaid makers' marks and inscriptions, such as INGELRII or ULFBERHT. Viking craftsmen often added their own elaborately decorated hilts, and many swords were given names, such as Leg-biter and Gold-hilt.

Long-handled battle-axes might be used instead of swords, particularly in open combat. The famed, double-handed broad axe is a late development, typical of the late 10th and 11th centuries. But as the owner could not hold a shield at the same time, he would take cover behind the front line of warriors, rushing out at the right moment to hew down the enemy.


10 Weapons That Made D-Day Possible

On June 6, 1944, American, British, and Canadian forces stormed the heavily defended beaches of Normandy, France, signaling the doom of the Third Reich. This amphibious landing would not have happened, at least not successfully, without the following piece of allied equipment and weapons. Here we list 10 of those items we think are most important to the success of the operation.

Digging Deeper

10. Bangalore Torpedo.

This simple item is a metal pipe filled with explosives that can be attached in multiple sections to clear barbed wire obstacles and minefields. Invented by the British Army in 1912, these saw extensive use on D-Day, especially by the US Army. Without them, soldiers would be shot to pieces as they tried to fumble their way through barbed wire or blown to bits as they went through mine fields. (Or shot to pieces as they slowly made their way through mine fields.) Cracked fact: These are still in use today by the US Army and US Marine Corps and were used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

9. Main Battle Rifles.

The American forces used the M-1 Garand, the only semi-automatic rifle used at Normandy, providing 8 shots and rapid reload capability. The British forces used the Lee-Enfield (SMLE) which was a bolt action rifle like the German Mauser K-98, but the SMLE carried 10 rounds to the Mauser’s 5. These great rifles gave the allied infantrymen a distinct edge over their Nazi counterparts.

8. The Wristwatch.

Widespread issuing of wristwatches was critical to the timing of various bombardments and events to keep things synchronized and avoid killing friendly troops. Timing explosives, reporting on time and accurately logging events were all dependent on accurate time keeping.

7. Sherman Tank.

Although the M-4 Sherman was inferior to the best German tanks in main gun power and in armor protection, it was well defended against ground troops with 3 machine guns and was quite mobile. It was also one of the most reliable tanks of the war. Used in its normal configuration, as an amphibious “duplex drive” model, a “flail” anti-mine version, a “rhino” earthen wall penetrating model, and a bulldozer version, this was the main allied tank of the landings and the subsequent campaign. The British Army equipped theirs with a 76mm gun, much better at penetrating German tanks than the American 75mm gun. (In the Pacific a flamethrower version was highly effective.) The Sherman was also produced with a 60 tube rocket launching system and with a 105mm howitzer in place of the normal main gun. During the landings at Normandy, the tanks bound for Omaha beach were lost to rough water, but everywhere they landed the tanks made an enormous difference in the battle.

6. Naval Gunfire.

Since troops hitting a beach are without artillery for some time, supporting fire from naval guns is imperative. The Normandy landings had 5 battleships, 20 cruisers, and 65 destroyers providing pre-landing bombardment and fire support as troops landed. In some cases, destroyers got as close to the beach as possible to take out individual machine gun nests.

5. Mulberry Artificial Harbor.

This ingenious British design was met with skepticism at first, but the huge concrete floating sections were towed to Normandy, sunk in place and by 3 days after D-Day troops and supplies were flowing inland over the 10 miles of causeways built on top of the sunken concrete. Along with ships sunk as breakwaters, this provided the allies a harbor about equivalent to Dover. Only designed to last abut 3 months, the British section lasted the duration of the war. Over all, 2 ½ million troops, 500,000 vehicles, and 4 million tons of cargo were offloaded from ships to the beach over the Mulberries.

4. 2 ½ Ton Truck.

These 6X6 all wheel drive beasts were fundamental in running supplies from the beach to the troops, as well as running cargo from ships to the beach via causeways. Over half million of them were made during World War II. Many military theoreticians consider this the most important allied piece of equipment of the war. Rated for 2 ½ tons off road and 5 tons of cargo on roads, these trucks routinely carried double those amounts. There was even an amphibious version, the DUKW (“Duck”) that was used at Normandy. The DUKW could go 50mph on a road or over 6 mph in the water, and was seaworthy enough to cross the English Channel!

3. Fighter Bombers.

Thunderbolts, Lightnings and Typhoons armed with rockets and bombs, and equipped with heavy machine guns (.50 caliber) and 20mm cannons isolated the battlefield by denying German forces the ability to maneuver, redeploy, and reinforce. Any German vehicle that moved was liable to be blasted by the fighter bombers, and troops on the ground could call for specific targets to be attacked in close support of ground operations.

2. Fighter Aircraft.

Here we are talking air superiority. With fighters like the Spitfire, Mustang, and Thunderbolt the allies were able to almost totally deny any German air attacks on the landing force and the ships involved. The numbers and quality of the allied fighters swept the sky of German fighters and allowed allied bombers and ground attack aircraft (fighter bombers and attack planes such as P-47’s, P-38’s, A-20’s, and Typhoons) free range over the battlefield to interdict German reinforcements that attempted to attack the landings. The allied night fighters also ensured the safety of the cargo airplanes that were dropping airborne troops and towing gliders. Without the fighters those aircraft would have been sitting ducks.

1. Landing Craft.

The US developed a variety of landing craft before and at the beginning of World War II. The old days where soldiers or Marines would row to shore in row boats and jump out at the beach would not do when landing tanks, trucks, and pallets of ammunition and supplies. Ranging from the small “Higgins Boats” (LCVP) to the large LCT (Tank Landing Craft) these bow ramp equipped small craft would take men and equipment directly from the large ships to the beach, making multiple trips back and forth. They also ferried wounded men back to the large ships for medical treatment. The German lack of such craft made an invasion of Great Britain out of the question in 1940 or 1941 when such an invasion may have been successful. Some of these landing craft were made to allow tanks to use their main guns as they approached the beach, providing covering firepower for the landing force. Others were specially equipped with rocket launchers to provide more shore bombardment. Over 4100 landing craft were involved in the invasion.

Question for students (and subscribers): What other gear do you think should be added to the list? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.

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