The tactic has been especially effective when used by armored and heavily-armed infantry against shield wall defensive formations, where defenders link their shields to form an all-but impenetrable wall, such as was used at the Battle of Hastings. The flying wedge can be used to knock a small section of the wall open, and flank the enemy from inside their own line.
This tactic relies on momentum and penetration. If the point of the wedge can be stopped for even a moment, the wedge can be easily enveloped in a pincer attack. The wedge is still used in modern armies, especially by tanks and other armored units. An example of this is the Panzerkeil or Armored wedge used by the Germans in World War II.
The wedge formation is used ceremonially by cadets at the United States Air Force Academy during the annual graduation parade, when the soon-to-be commissioned first-class cadets (seniors) leave the Cadet Wing. This is the reverse of the acceptance parade, held each fall, when the new fourth-class cadets (freshmen) join the Cadet Wing in the inverted wedge formation.
A complete description of an infantry wedge is given by Sextus Grammaticus in his "Gesta Danorum". He depicts it as a formation 10 men deep with the first rank being comprised by 2 men, each rank comprising of 2 more. Thus, each Viking wedge was composed of 110 men, 10 deep, 2 men on its tip, and 20 on its base. According to the Vikings Odin himself invented the wedge formation.
A wedge whose ranks are not complete in the middle is shaped as an Λ instead of a Δ and is called a hollow wedge or in Greek κοιλεμβολον koilembolon.
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