The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare?

Many years ago, Trevor Dupuy wrote the book The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare. One of great graphics from that book was:

This graphic either intrigued or excited the reader; or gave him serious heartburn. It was a little ambitious in a lot of people’s mind.

Well, I found something more ambitious here:

It produces this graphic:

There is a “press release” here:

The actual more detailed article is here:

This link leads to the 28-page article by Alexander Kott, chief scientist of the Army Research Laboratory (ARL). It is an interesting idea. It is an idea that I also toyed with at times, but never took the time to actually turn into a meaningful set of formulae.

I will probably have a few more comments on this work in the next couple of weeks.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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  1. I am pretty sure that the first book of Mr. Dupey that I read was A Genius for War: The German Army and General Staff, 1807-1945

    The reason I mention it is that I have been reading Kenneth M. Pollack “Armies of Sand: The Past, Present, and Future of Arab Military Effectiveness” and it reminds me of it in some ways. Somewhat a reverse as he is showing why Arabic armies tend to fail in certain ways versus similarly handicapped armies, not trying to show to succeed.

    A lot of comparative analysis, a lot of of group sociology. Pollack does a fair amount of data comparisons, but doesn’t try to measure overall military effectiveness through combat modeling. But he makes some good points.

  2. This is a goldmine of historical weapons information!

    It seems to support the hypothesis that the gunpowder revolution occurred mainly because firearms had greater kinetic energy and so greater stopping power. Their range was short but within this range the effects were devastating.

    There were other factors such as ease of use, but many non-gunpowder weapons (e.g. sling, javelin) were not very hard to use either but could not match the stopping power of the gunpowder weapons.

    The accuracy of gunpowder weapons was low when shooting at a single figure of a man but the battlefield targets were originally large and slow moving, e.g. Swiss phalanx at Cerignola (1503) and Bicocoa (1522) . The use of stakes to defend gunners and firing by volleys (Nagashima 1575) or caracole also helped the gunpowder weapons to achieve higher rates of fire and so dominate over fast moving attacks like cavalry charges.

    Fascinating topic.

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