6 military developments from WW1 that made warfare more deadly

Sometimes the span of years can be summed up in one quote.

“One really clear way of understanding the shift in World War I in terms of technology is that soldiers rode in on horses and they left in airplanes,” military historian Dr. Libby H. O’Connell told the History Channel.

World War I saw counties mobilize their industry to produce materials needed for the conflict, (Youtube screenshot)

The fact is, World War I wasn’t just about turning out the instruments of death rapidly but instead, new death dealing technology evolved from the slogging stalemate of the trenches. Some of the technologies that helped end the war didn’t even exist when it started in 1914.

Here are some of the most notable developments.

1. Aircraft

In the early part of World War I, bombing attacks were carried out by dropping mortar rounds from planes. There were various ingenious methods being used to mount machine guns so they wouldn’t shoot off a propeller.

By the end of that war, though, the interrupter gear had been perfected, making the fighter a dominant part of aviation. From the ad hoc arrangement of dropping mortar rounds, large, multi-engine bombers delivered massive payloads on target. The aircraft was a proven weapon of war by the end of World War I.

SPAD XIII at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

2. Submarines

Viable submarine technology was in its infancy in World War I. The basics of the diesel-electric boat were worked out, though, and in 1914, an obsolete submarine, the U-9, sent a message by sinking three British armored cruisers in about an hour. That submarine displaced about 600 tons, had four torpedo tubes and eight torpedoes. By the end of the war, German submarines displaced 1,000 tons, had six torpedo tubes and 16 torpedoes.

German U-boats in Kiel. U-20, which sank the Lusitania, is second from the left in the front row. (Library of Congress photo)

3. The machine gun

Hand-cranked Gatling guns had emerged during the American Civil War, but they were still very clumsy affairs. It was Hiram Maxim, though, who came up with the design that would turn the battlefields of World War I into a charnel house. The frontal charges, like Joshua L. Chamberlain’s at Little Round Top, became more about death than glory.

Vickers_machine_gun_crew_with_gas_masks

British soldiers fire the Vickers Machine gun during the Battle of the Somme. (Photo: United Kingdom)

4. Tanks

With the rise of the machine gun, troops needed a way to punch through defensive lines. Ideas for the tank had been kicked around, but short-sightedness meant practical designs didn’t arrive on the battlefield until the Battle of the Somme in 1916. By 1918, both sides had tanks, even though Germany’s inventory was very limited.

Scary military vehicles scariest Mark I Tank danger

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

5. Chemical Warfare

Another idea to break the deadlock of the trenches was the use of poison gas.  While it was effective early on, eventually gas masks were developed to protect troops from toxins. Chemical weapons remain a threat on the battlefield today, with sarin gas recently being used during the Syrian Civil War.

However, unexploded World War I chemical munitions also remain a threat across France and Belgium, according to a 2015 Daily Mail article on the Battle of Verdun.

2-soldier-horse-gas-masks-canadian-army-veterinary-corps-ww1-colour-colorized-world-war-I

Photo colorized by Open University. Original black and white photo copyright Library and Archives Canada.

6. Howitzers

The howitzer came about because the artillery of previous eras, mostly focused on providing direct fire, proved inadequate against troops dug into the trenches. The howitzer came into its own in World War I and was able to provide the long range of cannons with a trajectory able to drop the shell in on enemy troops like a mortar. Today, most artillery pieces used by military forces are howitzers.

WWI doughboys with a 155mm howitzer. (National Archives)

So, with that in mind, take a look at the HISTORY video below to learn more about the deadly military technology of World War I.

TOP ARTICLES
This is what the DoD has planned for a zombie apocalypse

It does touch on many of the pop culture elements of zombie lore, but it breaks things down to become applicable to most situations that would similar to an actual outbreak.

Some dirtbags messed with an Iwo Jima memorial — and Marines caught 'em on film

Officials say an Iwo Jima memorial in Fall River was doused with the contents of a fire extinguisher last weekend. Police are investigating

Vets are going to get a new ID card, and they'll be ready for use next month

The new identification card will provide employers looking to hire veterans with an easier way to verify an employee's military service.

This is the story behind the rise and fall of the Islamic State group

The Islamic State group, responsible for some of the worst atrocities perpetrated against civilians in recent history, appears on the verge of collapse.

Now the Iraqi army is going after the Kurdish forces who helped beat ISIS

Iraqi federal and Kurdish forces exchanged fire on Oct. 20, capping a dramatic week that saw the Kurds hand over territory across Northern Iraq.

This Kurdish female militia refuses to stop its hunt for ISIS terrorists

A Kurdish female militia, after helping free the city of Raqqa, said it will continue the fight to liberate women from the extremists’ brutal rule.

The US just sent nearly 1M bombs and missiles to Guam — here's why

Hint: There's this guy a few thousand miles away who's threatening to lob a nuke in their direction.

This is what the 400 US troops in Somalia are actually up to

The US has quadrupled its military presence in Somalia after Al-Shabab killed nearly 300 civilians in two truck bombings. Half of them are special ops troops.

The war between the US Army and Magpul is heating up over ice

Magpul officials are calling foul on the Army's claim that its rifle magazines don't work in the cold — and they say they can prove it.

The real-life dictator who ruined his country and became a cannibal

In this episode, the WATM podcast team talks about Ken Burns' 'Vietnam' series, the down side of communism and Idi Amin. You won't want to miss it.