World War I Powers

During World War I many different types of weapons were utilized by both the Allied and Central powers. Some were variations on older models of weaponry, and others were totally new inventions created to aid in the wartime effort. Most of the new weapons were used as killing machines in trench warfare, which was practiced during World War I, while others were employed as tools of espionage, scouting land areas, or air and sea warfare. Communication also played a major role in World War I, especially the newly invented short wave radio. My report will discuss several of these new types of weaponry and communication; their uses in the war and their technical make-up.

Ground warfare
Trenches were long tunnel-like structures dug on the fronts during a stalemate in the war. They protected the troops inside from deadly artillery and especially machine gun fire. There were usually four sets of trenches dug on each side. An area of “no-man’s land” separated the two sides. Crossing the “no-man’s land” meant the risk of instant death by machine gun fire. An attack was usually staged in waves. Line after line of troops attempted to overrun the opposing trenches, only to gain a couple of miles.
The firing trench was first, backed by cover trenches, which were a back-up line of defense in case the firing trenches were overrun. Following the cover trench were the support trench and the reserve trench. Off-duty troops lived in man made dugouts in the support trench. Rations, communications, extra troops, and other utilities were stored in the reserve trench. Some trenches also had a fifth trench dug out especially for the communications systems.
Modern tanks are heavily armored track-laying military vehicles which have road speeds up to 60 mph. They weigh in between 14 and 50 metric tons and carry various types of mounted machine guns. Tanks are designed to penetrate or flank enemy lines and strike deep into the rear, capturing or eliminating vital fortifications. Although not as fast as modern tanks, and not as heavily armed, World War I saw the first mass use of tanks in open warfare.
The idea of the tank was first designed by Leonardo daVinci in 1482. The French attempted to create the armored vehicles of which daVinci spoke, but it was the British who developed the first track-laying armored vehicles during World War I. On September 16, 1916, forty nine tanks were used at the battle of Somme near Courcelette, France, with negative results. A year later, in November 1917, 400 tanks penetrated the Hindenberg line near Cambrai on the Eastern Front. This attack captured 8000 enemy soldiers and 100 enemy guns. Through this battle, the role of the tank was established in modern warfare.

Chemical warfare
This particularly horrific method of warfare is based on releasing toxins or incapacitating chemicals into enemy lines in order to cause mass death or at least incapacitate the enemy.
During World War I there were several different types of gases used to break the deadlock of trench warfare. Tear gas, a gas causing excessive tearing when it comes into contact with the victim’s eyes. Chlorine gas and phosgene were two of the more common lung irritants used by the armies. Also widely used was mustard gas, which caused whoever it came into contact with to break out in severe burns. Mustard gas was often used in conjunction with the flame-thrower.
By the end of World War I, most European powers had integrated gas warfare capabilities into their armies at some levels. Between the two great wars Germany developed various different nerve gases such as sarin, a paralysis inducing gas. Most western countries have taken steps to destroy their arsenals of chemical weapons.

This was a military weapon used to project flames toward the enemy. A flame-thrower consists of a fuel container filled with oil, a cylinder containing a gas propellant under a high pressure, a discharge tube with an adjustable nozzle and an ignition device. During World War I, two styles of flame-throwers were used: A heavy one mounted on a tank and a light, portable, hand carried one. The flame-thrower had great psychological impact during the war because it succeeded in inflicting fear into the enemy. However, as a weapon it was limited by its short range and unpredictable aim.