New Weapons in WW1: Unveiling the Role of Technology in World War One

Category: Wars
Last Updated: 27 Jun 2023
Pages: 3 Views: 43

World War One was a great motivator in the rush for technology at the beginning of the century. The nature and result of the first world war was largely determined by technology. World War One was the first war to utilise air power in a major way. It was also the first war in which the home front was a major concern, because of the ability of air power to strike deep behind enemy lines and affect the civilian population causing declines in morale. It was also the first war to include the use of biological weapons and weapons of mass destruction.

The First World War marked the end of an armed formation held in good stead since the very beginning of conflict and mankind, the Cavalry. The repeating rifle, (invented by the Americans during their civil war, was first used in great numbers by both sides during the first world war.) caused the end of the Cavalry. The repeating rifle was able to get off three or four volleys of fire against the charging Cavalry instead of just one volley like the flintlock. The Repeating rifle when used in collaboration with the machine gun and sheltered firing positions (such as the trench) was a formidable defensive weapon.

Gas weapons were a horrific addition the WW1 arsenal. They were deployed by manpacked pressurised cylinders or lobbed over enemy lines inside an artillery shell. The weapon was indiscriminate and instead of killing the enemy it crippled it, causing them widespread panic and causing its medical services to be choked up with the horrifically wounded. Gas is indiscriminate in its deployment as it depends on wind conditions to place it. The first case of gas use by the Entente powers was on September 25 1915 when the British tried to use chlorine gas on the Germans at Loos, this resulted in tragedy when wind conditions changed and the gas rolled over the British lines instead of the Germans.

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Airships such as the Zeppelin with the ability to make long range bombing runs caused the war to be taken to the home front. The morale of the civilians plummeted as a result of these air raids, causing civil discontent to be commonplace. Any soldier that is told his family was killed in an air raid loses his will to fight, if enough families are killed the countrys armys morale plummets rendering the army ineffective.

Submarine warfare was also a main influence of the war. The ability of submarines to strike convoys undetected and escape unharmed was a major factor in the war. The blockade of England by German submarines almost ended the war for England. The tiny island could not produce enough food to survive let alone wage a successful war without help from major producers such as Australia and Canada. England was starving and, if America had not become involved, would have died because of submarine warfare.

In conclusion; World War One was not won by great masses and subtle tactics, it was won by technology. Look at Russia, one of the oldest and largest powers in the world, it was defeated by a relatively new and weak power because of technology. Look at Germany, she had the entire course of the war subtly planned out and yet she lost to powers that had no plan in mind. Technology caused World War One to be one of the longest and bloodiest wars in all history. It turned the beautiful landscape of France into a cratered, gassed out wasteland and it destroyed an entire class of fighting unit.

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New Weapons in WW1: Unveiling the Role of Technology in World War One. (2023, Jun 27). Retrieved from

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