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Old April 25th, 2010, 12:06 PM   #1

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Difference between Light and Heavy Calvary


I often hear people speak of Heavy Calvary as being distinctive from Light Calvary. Could some of you guys explain the major differences?
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Old April 25th, 2010, 12:09 PM   #2

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Re: Difference between Light and Heavy Calvary


This will depend on the time period, but basically speaking, heavy cavalry are heavily armed and armored (think medieval knights and mamluks, ancient cataphracts, etc) cavalry equipped for charges, whereas light cavalry are unarmored or lightly armored, and often carry light or missile weapons, and are used basically as mounted skirmishers. Famous examples of light cavalry would include Huns, Cossacks, Comanches, and the cavalry of ancient Greece.
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Old April 25th, 2010, 12:09 PM   #3

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Re: Difference between Light and Heavy Calvary


Mounted archers - like those used by the Parthians, Turkish and Mongolid peoples, would generally be considered "light cavalry".
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Old April 25th, 2010, 12:21 PM   #4

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Re: Difference between Light and Heavy Calvary


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Originally Posted by Salah ad-Din View Post
This will depend on the time period, but basically speaking, heavy cavalry are heavily armed and armored (think medieval knights and mamluks, ancient cataphracts, etc) cavalry equipped for charges, whereas light cavalry are unarmored or lightly armored, and often carry light or missile weapons, and are used basically as mounted skirmishers. Famous examples of light cavalry would include Huns, Cossacks, Comanches, and the cavalry of ancient Greece.
Good description. So which type of calvary is better depends upon the opponent? In other words, would light calvary be effective against heavily armored infantry?
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Old April 25th, 2010, 04:54 PM   #5

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Re: Difference between Light and Heavy Calvary


Well, if they armed with composite recurved bows like the Mongols, yes. European and Chinese heavy infantry were trashed by Mongol cavalry archers.
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Old April 25th, 2010, 11:16 PM   #6
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Re: Difference between Light and Heavy Calvary


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Originally Posted by Robert165 View Post
I often hear people speak of Heavy Calvary as being distinctive from Light Calvary. Could some of you guys explain the major differences?
In its most basic sense, "heavy" and "light" cavalries are defined more for their role than for the specific equipment. The primary role of heavy cavalry was to engage in direct combat with enemy forces; the mission of the light cavalry was primarily reconnaissance, skirmishing, and communications. Naturally, the former tended to be more heavily armed and armored than the latter, depending on the specific location and time, as already explained by Salah ad-Din.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 02:19 AM   #7

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Re: Difference between Light and Heavy Calvary


In addition to what has already been said, it should also be noted that heavy cavalry usually had heavier and larger horses.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 04:19 AM   #8

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Re: Difference between Light and Heavy Calvary


Light cavalry=Hit and run
Heavy cavalry=Hit and crush
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Old April 26th, 2010, 05:10 AM   #9

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Re: Difference between Light and Heavy Calvary


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Good description. So which type of calvary is better depends upon the opponent? In other words, would light calvary be effective against heavily armored infantry?
The two types of cavalry shouldn't be compared in a way heavy vs light, because both the light and the heavy have different goal during battle. The light cavalry can maneuver a lot easier, and its significatly faster, because the horseman isn't as heavily armed as in the heavy cavalry. So the light cavalry is great for archers, because they can keep there distance from the enemy, also the light cavalry can be used to diverse the enemy to cause havoc amongs the enemy, for example you can use light cavalry to attack the enemy, then you can order the light cavalry to withdraw, and make part of the enemy to chase them, which will brake there defense, and this tactic can lead the enemy to an ambush.
Also the light cavalry can be used to chase opponents who are running away from the battlefield, or this cavalry is good also for quick rides in the enemy camp.

The heavy cavalry usually carries better protection, which reduces the casaulties, such cavalry can be used to destroy infantry, because tell me how can an infantry which isn't armed with spears, stop the heavy cavalry which will just pass over them. Horeses are big animals, i remamber watching videos about the british police, which uses horsemans to crush riots and hooligans, and i remamber how the horse just push's everybody.
Take a look what impact horses have
Of course after all let us not forget that horses are animals, and they are afraid, in the video i posted, somebody trown a chair toward the horse, and the animal got scared.
Even dough horses in the police are trained not to react, to surrounding sounds, and its hard to scare them.
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Old April 26th, 2010, 05:16 AM   #10

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Re: Difference between Light and Heavy Calvary


The light cavalry was generally lightly or unarmored and had small weapons. Their missions were communications and reconnaissance, screening, raiding and skirmishing.


Heavy cavalry was tasked with direct enemy combat and were often used as front line shock troops. They had heavier horses, armor and sometime more substantial weapons than their light cavalry counterparts. Dragoons could be armed with short rifles and expected to fight as light infantry when they arrived at their positions by horseback.
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