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[RL]Will melee weapons ever return to active military use.

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Zxul
Posts: 747

[RL]Will melee weapons ever return to active military use.

Post#1 » Wed May 27, 2020 9:50 pm

Watching the new wh40k trailer does makes me wonder:


Click here to watch on YouTube

Short lecture (without being a real expert on the subject):

While ranged weapons like bows existed since stone age, melee fighting was prevalent until 19th century (and returned during ww1 trench fighting, as well as during ww2). Even when firearms were introduced, plate armor technology could keep phase with them till 17th century- the reason why plate armor, and with it melee weapons eventually, was phased out was economic- plate armor was expensive, for a price of a single full plate suit it was possible to equip a large number of soldiers with firearms.

Then advanced artillery got developed, resulting in most of modern military casualties being from artillery/fragmentation and not from small arms.

Last 30+ years though saw a major development in military body armor- resulting in for example, according to some sources that I read, personal firearms like AKs no longer being considered by Afghanistan militants an effective weapons vs US soldiers body armor, and RPGs starting being used as an anti-personal weapons.

It does makes me wonder how this trend will continue, especially considering different nonpowered and powered versions of exoskeletons currently being tested- assuming full body armor cover and effective protection vs fragmentation, artillery strikes might become a much less effective vs infantry- requiring a much closer hit to be effective. Combined with standard firearms being no longer effective, it will be very entertaining if in say 15 years we will end up with RL version of 40k combat- power armor covered infantry being largely uneffected by artillery, and requiring bolter style personal weapons/antitank weapons to bypass armor- meaning that because of ammunition weight limitations, suppressive fire is no longer an effective tactic, and infantry is able to reliably close range to melee. Resulting in melee range armor piercing weapons which do not require ammunition, like a modified chainsaws, becoming commonplace.

In other words, its going to be entertaining if Games Workshop somehow were able to predict future military developments better than an actual experts on the subject, and we will end up with "For the Emperor, CHARGE!!!" shown in the trailer as a valid military tactic in a few years.
"Can we play with him, master? He seems so unhappy. Let us help him smile. Please? Or at least let us carve one on his face when he stops screaming."

— Azeila, Alluress of Slaanesh

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anarchypark
Posts: 1572

Re: [RL]Will melee weapons ever return to active military use.

Post#2 » Wed May 27, 2020 10:04 pm

if civilization develops too, war will be only in game.
you said economy and there's a nuke.
next war is space war i think.
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Wuhh
Legacy RR80
Posts: 143

Re: [RL]Will melee weapons ever return to active military use.

Post#3 » Thu May 28, 2020 2:32 am

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Giant_Swords

one day this guy will be a main supplier of infantry weapons... with such a future coming to fruition, I hope

Foofmonger
Posts: 323

Re: [RL]Will melee weapons ever return to active military use.

Post#4 » Thu May 28, 2020 3:26 am

Most likely no. We've past the point of technological advancement where armor can keep pace with weapons, period. Just because some new body armor can stop light arms fire from almost 100 year old technology doesn't mean anything. Even as you and the lecture state, the insurgents just "switched up their choice of weapon", and that choice of weapon happened to be a ranged explosive device and not a sword.

Nice fantasy, but it's going to stay a fantasy. Love me some 40k though.

Zxul
Posts: 747

Re: [RL]Will melee weapons ever return to active military use.

Post#5 » Thu May 28, 2020 9:11 am

anarchypark wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 10:04 pm
if civilization develops too, war will be only in game.
you said economy and there's a nuke.
next war is space war i think.
Nukes exist for 75 years by now though, and local wars including nuclear powers hadn't stopped to this day.
Foofmonger wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:26 am
Most likely no. We've past the point of technological advancement where armor can keep pace with weapons, period. Just because some new body armor can stop light arms fire from almost 100 year old technology doesn't mean anything. Even as you and the lecture state, the insurgents just "switched up their choice of weapon", and that choice of weapon happened to be a ranged explosive device and not a sword.

Nice fantasy, but it's going to stay a fantasy. Love me some 40k though.
Thing is, lights arms stayed without major changes since they are a mature technology, and there is a limit of how much you can improve them. If you need to use .50 BMG ammo to be able to reliably penetrate personal armor, it means your ammo now weights x4 compared to currently used rifle ammo, so you are only carrying 50 rounds with you. Not to mention the problem of recoil, specially if you are trying to use burst fire.

And again, if artillery strike needs to hit within say 2 meter of armored combatant to reliably disable him, artillery becomes pretty uneffective vs infantry. As it is, I do remember reading a US commander mentioning how a particularly good Taliban commander managed to protect his men from US artillery strikes by just using a good tactics, to the level that US commander wasn't sure if US artillery strikes caused any casualties at all.

And as for using RPGs as antipersonal weapons, this works in ambush situation, however trying to hit with an RPG a human sized highly maneuverable target charging at you is likely to be much less effective (not to mention, how many RPG charges can you carry with you, considering the weight).

To demonstrate, mobility while using a full plate medieval armor- now imagine that he is also immune to small arms/explosions which ain't pretty much a direct hit:


Click here to watch on YouTube
"Can we play with him, master? He seems so unhappy. Let us help him smile. Please? Or at least let us carve one on his face when he stops screaming."

— Azeila, Alluress of Slaanesh

Foofmonger
Posts: 323

Re: [RL]Will melee weapons ever return to active military use.

Post#6 » Thu May 28, 2020 9:21 am

Zxul wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 9:11 am
anarchypark wrote:
Wed May 27, 2020 10:04 pm
if civilization develops too, war will be only in game.
you said economy and there's a nuke.
next war is space war i think.
Nukes exist for 75 years by now though, and local wars including nuclear powers hadn't stopped to this day.
Foofmonger wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 3:26 am
Most likely no. We've past the point of technological advancement where armor can keep pace with weapons, period. Just because some new body armor can stop light arms fire from almost 100 year old technology doesn't mean anything. Even as you and the lecture state, the insurgents just "switched up their choice of weapon", and that choice of weapon happened to be a ranged explosive device and not a sword.

Nice fantasy, but it's going to stay a fantasy. Love me some 40k though.
Thing is, lights arms stayed without major changes since they are a mature technology, and there is a limit of how much you can improve them. If you need to use .50 BMG ammo to be able to reliably penetrate personal armor, it means your ammo now weights x4 compared to currently used rifle ammo, so you are only carrying 50 rounds with you. Not to mention the problem of recoil, specially if you are trying to use burst fire.

And again, if artillery strike needs to hit within say 2 meter of armored combatant to reliably disable him, artillery becomes pretty uneffective vs infantry. As it is, I do remember reading a US commander mentioning how a particularly good Taliban commander managed to protect his men from US artillery strikes by just using a good tactics, to the level that US commander wasn't sure if US artillery strikes caused any casualties at all.

And as for using RPGs as antipersonal weapons, this works in ambush situation, however trying to hit with an RPG a human sized highly maneuverable target charging at you is likely to be much less effective (not to mention, how many RPG charges can you carry with you, considering the weight).

To demonstrate, mobility while using a full plate medieval armor- now imagine that he is also immune to small arms/explosions which ain't pretty much a direct hit:


Click here to watch on YouTube
I understand where you are trying to go with this, but I still don't see it happening. Technology is advancing, and if light arms or RPGs aren't the answer than it's likely another ranged anti-personnel weapon will be used and/or developed. People will swap to the weapons that are the most effective, and I just don't see armor technology outpacing weapons tech. Would it be super cool? Sure, but I'd put a lot of money down on this not happening unless we have an apocolyptic situation in which we lose access to more advanced tech.

Now, if they invent energy weapons or some ****, maybe everything changes, but the melee weapon technology would have to be so dominant over the armor technology (and the ranged weapon tech would have to be so inefficient) for that to ever happen (similarly to what happened in the first place with the use of armor and melee weapons for armed combat). You have to remember that for a very long time, it was armor technology that was effectively outpacing weapon technology. This is why plate armor even became a thing, because it was extremely difficult to penetrate through with both ranged and melee weapons. What happened is that light arms were developed, the armor couldn't keep up, and now here we are. Sure we are creating better armor, but 500+ years of weapons development and just a couple resistant suits of armor to some light arms fire doesn't make me hopeful that melee combat is going to be the next big thing in modern warfrare.

Most likely it will be robotics, nanotech, and other such things. I forsee giant armies of remotely controlled nano-drone swarms decimating anything in their path, not dudes in armor smacking each other with swords and hammers.

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Grock
Posts: 580

Re: [RL]Will melee weapons ever return to active military use.

Post#7 » Thu May 28, 2020 10:06 am

future wars will be fought by auto-piloting drones :lol:

if exoskeleton armor becomes widespread it will also increase weight carrying capacity (that like the primary reason for using it :lol:) which means increased weapon caliber and ammo capacity

also don't forget those boston dynamics dog robots which are planned to be used essentially as pack mules that can pass over any terrain

a "combat chainsaw" is absolutely unrealistic idea, from needing powerful enough motor (that will make it too heavy to be a weapon) to any chainsaw having a strong "bounce-off" effect, which means you won't be able to just swipe it at the armored target, you'd have to press on it for a solid minute for it to catch on and start doing damage, plus any fiber armor will stop it easily
and for metal armors you'd need an angle grinder, not a chainsaw
not even mentioning that its nowhere close to power of a bullt impact no matter what you do

a potential melee range weapon tech could come from some kind of advanced electroshocks, arc welders or something similar to fry up target's exoskeleton system, but both of those are more likely to look like a telescopic spear or a taser instead of a sword or an axe

p.s. historical plate armor is lighter and has better mobility than what modern soulders wear just by a virtue of being thin plates spread all over your body
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Zxul
Posts: 747

Re: [RL]Will melee weapons ever return to active military use.

Post#8 » Thu May 28, 2020 12:59 pm

Foofmonger wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 9:21 am
Now, if they invent energy weapons or some ****, maybe everything changes, but the melee weapon technology would have to be so dominant over the armor technology (and the ranged weapon tech would have to be so inefficient) for that to ever happen (similarly to what happened in the first place with the use of armor and melee weapons for armed combat). You have to remember that for a very long time, it was armor technology that was effectively outpacing weapon technology. This is why plate armor even became a thing, because it was extremely difficult to penetrate through with both ranged and melee weapons. What happened is that light arms were developed, the armor couldn't keep up, and now here we are. Sure we are creating better armor, but 500+ years of weapons development and just a couple resistant suits of armor to some light arms fire doesn't make me hopeful that melee combat is going to be the next big thing in modern warfrare.

Most likely it will be robotics, nanotech, and other such things. I forsee giant armies of remotely controlled nano-drone swarms decimating anything in their path, not dudes in armor smacking each other with swords and hammers.
Thing is, armor could keep up- like I mentioned earlier, the problem was the cost of a single suit of plate armor vs cost of arming large number of soldiers with muskets. And it isn't a couple resistant suits of armor- when I mentioned light arms no longer considered effective, I was speaking about standard US military armor used by most of US infantry, or similar armor used by other major powers (which, to speak of, is already far surpasses 40k Guardsmen standard armor kit, even if we still ain't anywhere near Astartes level).

As for robotics and nanotech, we again ain't anywhere near being able to create a nanobot being able to perform anything useful outside of controlled environment. As for drones, even US can't afford using a several Hellfire missiles per each opponent infantry member (which is what dealing with highly mobile and highly fragmentation resistant targets will realistically take), and microdrones run into same problem that light arms do of getting past the armor.
Grock wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:06 am
future wars will be fought by auto-piloting drones :lol:
See what I said above, with addition that our AI research except for very specialized tasks is still very much in its infancy- we still don't even know what intelligence is. I do remember a quote from some AI researcher, which when asked about the current research state replied that "after a hundred years of research, we managed to get to level of a dumb cockroach, and in the current phase in a hundred more we might get to a smart cockroach level".
Grock wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:06 am
if exoskeleton armor becomes widespread it will also increase weight carrying capacity (that like the primary reason for using it :lol:) which means increased weapon caliber and ammo capacity
Depends on type- powered vs nonpowered, how effective the portable energy sources will be, and how much armor will advance vs how much more bung can you pull out of personal weapons. Like I said, if you have to use .50 BMG ammo to be able to reliably get past personal armor, there is limitation of just how much of it you will be able to howl around, specially if you want to be able to do it for 12 hours+ without having to recharge. Not to mention having to deal with recoil while using a heavy machine gun ammo in personal firearms.
Grock wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:06 am
also don't forget those boston dynamics dog robots which are planned to be used essentially as pack mules that can pass over any terrain
Question is, when "any terrain" will actually include urban combat terrain (like current Syria), or say mountains (Afghanistan). From what I read in Afghanistan they experimented with using actual pack animals in terrain where vehicles aren't useful, and gave up on the idea. Despite the actual say donkey having a much higher level of intelligence than the boston dynamics dog, not to mention having a much easier requirements power source vise (pretty much any grass will do).
Grock wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:06 am
a "combat chainsaw" is absolutely unrealistic idea, from needing powerful enough motor (that will make it too heavy to be a weapon) to any chainsaw having a strong "bounce-off" effect, which means you won't be able to just swipe it at the armored target, you'd have to press on it for a solid minute for it to catch on and start doing damage, plus any fiber armor will stop it easily
and for metal armors you'd need an angle grinder, not a chainsaw
not even mentioning that its nowhere close to power of a bullt impact no matter what you do
Here is an expert in medieval melee weapons speaking about using chainsaw swords (from 19:00 or so)- they can be used, though you likely will have to use them in push motion. Not no mention that there is a major difference between a ballistic impact, and a melee weapons impact- as it is for example, a ballistic vest which will stop a pistol bullet will get pierced by a knife.

As for fiber armors, no idea, though there is a point that for an obvious reasons it is pretty likely that so far non had tried to research how to make a chainsaw weapons more effective vs fiber armor.

Also, I'm speaking about melee weapons in general- there might be some more effective options then chainsaw, say piercing style weapon with a drilling end, or something similar.


Click here to watch on YouTube
Grock wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:06 am
a potential melee range weapon tech could come from some kind of advanced electroshocks, arc welders or something similar to fry up target's exoskeleton system, but both of those are more likely to look like a telescopic spear or a taser instead of a sword or an axe
Mil spec electronics are already pretty resistant vs electroshock as it is.
Grock wrote:
Thu May 28, 2020 10:06 am
p.s. historical plate armor is lighter and has better mobility than what modern soulders wear just by a virtue of being thin plates spread all over your body
Which puts us back to the question of how much armor will advance vs how much portable power sources will advance.
"Can we play with him, master? He seems so unhappy. Let us help him smile. Please? Or at least let us carve one on his face when he stops screaming."

— Azeila, Alluress of Slaanesh

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