CHANGES IN MODERN WARFARE- WORLD WAR I There were many advances in science and technology during World War I that changed modern warfare. New battle strategies and tactics had to be created due to these changes. Both sides had scientists and inventors who worked throughout the war to improve weapon technology so their side would have an edge in the fight AIRPLANES The first war to use the airplane was World War I. Airplanes were initially used to observe enemy troops, but by the end of the war they were used to drop bombs on troops and cities. Airplanes had machine guns mounted on them to shoot down other planes. Fights between two planes in the sky became known as “dogfights.” ZEPPELIN The Zeppelin, or the blimp, was an airship used during the early part of the war during bombing raids by the Germans. They carried machine guns and bombs, but were abandoned because they were too easy to shoot out of the sky. TANKS Tanks were first introduced and used during World War I at the Battle of the Somme. They were armored cars that were used to cross “No Man’s Land” between the trenches. Tanks had mounted machine guns and cannons. The first tank was the British Mark I. Its prototype had the code name of “Little Willie,” which needed a crew of three. Its maximum speed was only three miles per hour and it was unable to cross trenches. Initially, the tanks were unreliable and difficult to steer. They were originally called “landships” by the British, but later changed the name to tank, which what the factory workers called them because they looked like large water tanks. By the end of the war though, they became more effective and were able to carry ten men, had a revolving turret, and could reach four miles per hour. TRENCH WARFARE The Western Front mainly used trench warfare, where both sides dug long lines of trenches to help protect soldiers from gunfire and artillery. The area between the enemy trenches was known as “No Man’s Land.” Trench warfare led to a stalemate between the two sides for several years because neither side was able to gain ground. Unfortunately, both sides lost millions of soldiers during this fighting.
NAVAL WARFARE Large metal-armored battleships known as dreadnoughts were the most dangerous ships used during World War I. They had powerful long-range guns allowing them to attack other ships and land targets from a large distance away. The Battle of Jutland was the main naval battle during World War I. Allied naval ships were also used to blockade Germany to prevent supplies and food from reaching them. Submarines were also used during World War I. Germany used their U-Boats to sneak up and sink ships with torpedoes. Allied passenger ships, such as the Lusitania, were even attacked. 1,195 people were killed in the sinking of the Lusitania on May 1st, 1915. Americans were outraged and joined World War I in 1917 on the side of the allies. WEAPONS
BAYONETS were simple weapons that were designed more for their psychological impact. Men were trained to advance in rows with their faces contorted, lungs blaring, and bayonets thrusting. These charges were not typically effective when placed against other modern weapons, but they were effective propaganda. Bayonets were also used as all-purpose tools- used for anything from digging to opening canned food.
RIFLES were the main weapon used by the British in the trenches. The bolt- action rifle could fire 15 rounds in one minute and a person 1,400 meters away could be killed. Soldiers spent much of their time cleaning and maintaining their rifles. ARTILLERY, or large guns, were improved during World War I. They included anti-aircraft guns that were used to shoot down enemy planes. The large artillery guns needed as many as twelve men to aim, load, and fire them. The majority of the casualties during World War I were inflicted by artillery. Some large artillery guns were able to launch shells almost 80 miles.
MACHINE GUNS were improved during World War I. They were made much lighter and easier to move around. They needed 4-6 men to work them and had to be on a flat surface, but had the fire-power of 100 guns. They were able to fire up to 500 rounds per minute! Large field guns had long ranges and could deliver devastating blows to their enemies, but needed up to 12 men to work them. These guns fired shells that exploded upon impact. German troops had the upper-hand when the war started when it came to the quality and quantity of machine guns. The German army had more than 10,000 units in 1914, while the British and French had less than 1,000 each.
GRENADES were small bombs that were thrown by hand or launched from a rifle attachment. They detonated on impact or by a time. Germany led the way in grenade development. The early British version was awkward to use and prone to accidental detonation. The Mills bombs were then created. They were pineapple-shaped and had a safety pin and firing lever. They were produced with four and seven second fuses. Allied soldiers were trained to hurl Mills bombs over by arm. The best cricket players were often called upon to be grenade specialists. MORTARS were later created to launch grenades and small bombs short distances. They made a distinctive “whoomp” sound when launched, which was often a signal to take cover.
FLAME THROWERS were used by the German Army on the Western Front to force Allied troops out of their trenches. They were not widely used, but were terrifying. They were usually wielded by a single soldier and used pressurized gas to spurt burning oil or gasoline up to 40 meters. The problem was the flamethrowers had to be relatively close to their enemies, which made it easy for competent riflemen to kill them. CHEMICAL WEAPONS were introduced during World War I. Germany used chlorine gas to poison the Allied troops in the Battle of Ypres in 1915. Chlorine gas caused severe burning in the throat and chest pains. The death was extremely painful because it caused one to suffocate. The problem with chlorine gas was that the weather had to be right. If the wind blew in the wrong direction, troops could end up killing their own people, rather than the enemy. Later, mustard gas was developed and used by both Central and Allied troops. It was the most deadly weapon used and was shot into the trenches in shells. The gas was colorless and took 12 hours to take effect. The effects included: blistering skin, vomiting, sore eyes, external and internal bleeding. Death was slow and painful, taking up to five weeks. Troops started be equipped with gas masks by the end of the war, so the weapon was not as effective.
MINES were large bombs or explosive charges that were planted underground and detonated remotely or by the contact of soldiers’ feet. Sea mines were also used by navies. They floated in the ocean and exploded upon contact with ships. Mines were not used much on the Western Front since there was not much mobility. Trench soldiers often dug tunnels to plant huge mines under enemy trenches and positions though.
BARBED WIRE and caltrops (single iron spikes scattered on the ground) were used in “No Man’s Land” to stop enemy advances on one’s own trench. Barbed wire was laid as screens or “aprons.” It was installed by wiring parties who often worked at night. Attacking infantry found the large barbed wire screens almost impossible to penetrate. Many soldiers died slow deaths entangled in the wire. The positioning of the wire was important and often strategic. They tried to keep the enemy out of grenade range from the trench. They also tried to funnel troops toward machine-gun positions. More than one million kilometers of barbed wire was used on the Western Front.