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History Of Weapons Timeline

Updated on March 21, 2011



A weapon is a tool with which a person can harm another or to defend themselves against aggression. In purely theoretical line, almost every object can be used as a weapon, although clearly some objects are more effective than others: thus distinguishes between legally own weapons and weapon, that is, between items designed and created specifically to be used as weapons and items originally intended instead to a completely different function, which in a certain juncture are used as weapons.



The club appears to have been the first, and then the oldest man-made weapon. The bat were soon pointed or pointed stick with horn or course, and then your axes and knives, daggers, spears made of worked flints, bows and arrows. With the use of metal variety, so much offense when defense, grew rapidly and gave rise to the first subdivision in defensive and offensive, which took various forms and names.


Offense and defense from the station is soon switched to offense and defense away, and the machines were built battleships and throwing weapons. With the invention of gunpowder in the fourteenth century, arose the small arms and artillery, as well as hand-launched weapons as bombs and grenades. The small arms seized from the beginning various names, depending on the time of construction, shape, of these mechanisms. The same thing happened to the artillery. The first gun was built in Spain in 1450


The number of offensive weapons in humanity's development, from early historical era went always increasing and this is made increasingly deadly. The invention of firearms and their application to the war did decrease and almost totally abandon personal defensive weapons, which are divided into ancient and modern.


Both the defense (staff, own assets and of its territory) and the offense (to earn goods and territories) have always been a key concern in human history, always bearing in use for the construction of weapons and defenses, the best technology and materials available: for better or for worse, the scientific and technological level of a civilization is possible to calculate the quality and type of weapons he creates.

Weapon System


For weapon system is the association between the weapon itself and the ancillary device, for example, a vehicle (even conventional), container, observation equipment (radar) or personal service, suitable for the conditions of battle , thus enhancing the performance of the weapon, such as furniture making or increasing the number of hits. For example, a knight in armor, his squire and their horses (carrying shields, spears, food, etc..), Are a weapon system. So are a gun, the truck that tows, other trucks with ammunition, the ammunition, the attendants to the piece and any helicopters or jeeps in the first line of sight, and radio to communicate. A nuclear submarine, with its SLBM missiles are a weapon system. So are the missiles as the SS-26 Stone and his pitcher, as well as the Boeing YAL-1 laser and the plane containing it, derived from conventional Boeing 747.


Classes Of Weapons

Historically, since the origins of mankind, evolution of weapons has followed the human hand in hand, reaching to the most modern means of offense and defense that characterize, in fact, the degree of technological evolution of a nation or group of nations or ethnic group.


Weapons are the objects that cause damage to the target if they are challenged and driven by the man with the only physical strength. They can be blunt objects or knives.


The damage inflicted blunt objects based on the principle of impact with the target and therefore, are also called to question and weapons are typical representatives sticks, hammers, clubs, the clubs. In fact, these are offensive weapons, with handle or longer likely to injure, bruise, contuse by blow. The gnarled sticks and clubs are the rudiments of such weapons and are as old as humanity. After the clubs were the clubs and then the ax in the stone age. He followed the flail (or scourge) flagrum similar to the ancient Roman instrument of punishment consisting of several chains with metal balls at their end, suspended from a short handle: this instrument was also used as a weapon of war.


The blades however, are based precisely on the use of blade: This is a piece of metal of appropriate shape having one or more sharp parts called "wire."


The blades may be more appropriate to cut (in this case we speak of bladed weapons and are typical representatives of swords, knives, swords and axes) or a poke in order to penetrate the target (hence the birth of Tip-term weapons), such as daggers or spears, pikes and bayonets to this end, some weapons do not provide even the tip of the presence of the wire on the blade, but only have the sharp point necessary to penetrate and / or break (as some stilettos, the flowers, the "one hundred and ten", the "crow's beak").


It can also distinguish the weapons according to size in short, medium and long.


The concealable weapons are short and generally do not exceed thirty centimeters in this category can be cataloged knives, daggers, stilettos, daggers the court, throwing hatchets.


The weapons were the average typical individual weapons of war to use a short distance before the advent of weapons: swords, daggers, battle-axes and so on.


Arms are long white, or otherwise known INASTI immanicate, those posed at the end of a stick (rod) which becomes the means to contest (neck) and to increase the effectiveness of distance weapons themselves: the category includes spears, pikes, halberds , javelins. With polearms or pole arms are indicated precisely all the weapons that have a long-handled by two multi-meters and allow you to hit your opponent at a distance while continuing to appeal (although some can also throw, the javelin type) . The militia used the so-called medieval Chiaverini. The name of the weapon comes from a part of it (the auction) that led to the top of a spire shape and material variables.


Previously, the hasta of the Romans was approx 1.75 meters, at the height of the person who wore which was called hastatus. In the centuries XV, XVI and XVII was called pike and was very long for the infantry, by finding the ancient bruised, his weapon of knights or ancient Macedonian Sarissa infantry army.


They made the Stone Age blades, knives, axes of flint, and clubs formed of single or split a stick at one end, with the gap in a stone held in place with a ligature made from strips of tree bark or a rope made of twisted gut.


Throwing weapons

Are defined by launching those weapons that, again thanks to the strength of man and in combination with mechanical devices (but always loaded by the force of the launcher) are used to launch - even at considerable distances - a variety of projectiles such as stones, arrows, squares (bow, crossbow, catapult, catapult, scorpion, ballista, carroballista), or who are themselves run (javelin, throwing axes, throwing knives).

Depending on the size and number of people necessary to the productive use of these weapons, there is the distinction between individual thrown weapons (all those launched directly as a javelin, throwing axes, throwing knives, and those that launch projectiles such as arc, slingshot, crossbow, blowgun) and artillery weapons (ballista, catapult, trebuchet, onager and carroballista).

Many historians argue that the machines or by launching the first project were used for the East which already used by several centuries when, shortly before Pericles, the Greeks learned to use. Instead, according to Plutarch, the machine is to launch Italian invention and the IV century BC and the Greeks would have imported from Sicily, which was already the center of highly developed civilization, even the military. However, it is certain that Cyrus, who was one of the most daring and brilliant leaders of ancient history, worked largely the ballista.

Among the Greeks had jet machines spread after the war against Xerxes and the Peloponnese, and were refined by Philip II of Macedon and Alexander the Great, who used it built parks and directed by Polido and diodes. These parks were used exclusively for the sieges, only Alexander made the first attempt to use them in operations campaign against the Thracians, and in the Asian shipping, put in excellent field artillery, and ballistic catapults, which were fully exposed and that the Persians proved its high technical quality in the sieges of Halicarnassus and Tyre. Trajan extensive use of war machines is also on the battlefield, especially carroballista. It should be noted that the machines casting the Greeks drew poor performance. Certainly contributed to this failure of the second battle of Mantinea.


The first big breakthrough in the manufacture and use of weapons in Europe occurred in the fourteenth century with the discovery of gunpowder and the invention of the first firearms (culverins, muskets, rifles, mortars, guns) that exploited as a force propellant for the launch of its projectiles gases generated from the explosion of gunpowder when it was burned, had equal influence in-depth analysis of studies on ballistics. Firearms can be divided, even in relation to their size and their type, in small arms and light weapons (pistol, rifle), weapons, artillery (cannon, mortar, etc.). And explosive weapons (bombs, mines, grenades). In the category firearms within the weapons that launch projectiles containing self propulsive energy (such as the bazooka or rocket launcher MLRS system, such as portable Stinger missile launchers, etc..): These weapons are essentially media launch weapons using explosive the principle of the rocket for their own propulsion.

Non-lethal weapons

The non-lethal weapons or disabling are particular types of weapons, aiming to secure or otherwise block people, masses of people, materials or means. They are often used to quell the protests against globalization and among immigrants. This type of strike weapons, punish and deter the target, but in theory should not kill. Usually this type of weapons to rely on modern technologies in electronics, optoelectronics, acoustics, chemistry, biology, medicine and mechanics. Some types of these weapons are:

the Taser stun gun that emits electrical discharges

the Phaser, which uses microwaves

Long Range Acoustic Device, a sonic cannon that uses acoustic waves

the beanbags (literally bags of beans), laser pistols that cause temporary blindness

Weapons that use the principle of the explosion (bombs, rockets and missiles)

They are weapons that harness the power generated by the explosive charge that incorporate, to create damage to persons and property. This particular class of firearms, consisting of explosive weapons, comes to damage targets very large or very large, such as buildings, machinery, vehicles, tanks, ships, etc.: generally not used by individual men (there are exceptions, such as grenades, RPG rocket launchers and some SAM missile launcher backpack), but shot from guns or dropped from aircraft or ships, ground vehicles or by special and differ among themselves mainly to the different ways to get on-target for this differentiation then we have:

Mine: Explosive weapons "to pose", or explosive devices that are buried in the ground or they are left waiting for it to reach the target in the vicinity of the gun making it explode and receiving there are mines that are activated when affected, and are called green parrots, or the original name: pfm1. In the case of landmines, there are anti-personnel mines (small and light, to be laid in large quantities) and anti-tank mines (the largest anti-personnel mines designed to hurt as armored vehicles) as well as demolition mines (which are explosive charges are laid directly by professionals on the targets or the building works to be destroyed). In the case of naval mines, they may be floating, anchored to the seabed (if this is not too deep) and held by chains to remain under water or even a certain depth, if "smart" on the bottom left, leaving the task dell'affioramento the mine itself (which will do when its sensors detect the approach of an enemy ship).I all cases (both terrestrial and marine mines), the explosion of the explosive charge can be activated in different ways, depending on the type of mine: the pressure as a result of contact with the target by an electric or broadcasted, by ripping up the appropriate wire-trap voltage or the signal generated by proximity sensors as well as by the mere expiration of a time prefissato.Al 's day today, 580 countries around the world signed the Ottawa Treaty: this treaty means that these countries who have not joined Fabbrichina more landmines.

Hand grenades (or grenades): Explosive weapons "throwing" that are pulled manually from the individual soldier. In order for the detonation takes place near the target, the bomb fitted with a trigger that can be "delayed time" (for which the explosion occurs after a certain period of time since the bomb was armed, such as the hand grenade OD included 82 current Italian Army) or "percussion" (for which the explosion takes place when the bomb impact against an obstacle, as in the case of hand grenades supplied to SRCM 35 ' EI until the nineties).

Aerial bombs: explosive weapons "to fall", or explosive devices that are dropped from aircraft and arriving at the target "in free fall." To activate the detonation of the explosive charge, may also be equipped with fuses that allow the explosion on contact with the target or a fixed time delay. Recent technical advances and technological developments have allowed the birth of the first "guided bombs" and the "smart bombs" guided bombs (also called Guided Bomb) bombs are falling with some aerodynamic furniture that allow you to change the trajectory the bomb during its fall trajectory is changed by commands or signals from outside (I'm an example of the laser-guided bombs, a TV guide or simply radio-controlled).The so-called smart bombs (also known as Smart Bomb) more than the Guided Bomb, are equipped with sensors of different types and are independent of external signals for their direction in that, once released, they themselves identify the target and dirigervisi against independently. Moreover, there are also bomb submunitions (Cluster Bomb) that have within them a number of smaller bombs that are released to the ground before impact, in order to cover larger areas.

Grenades (or project) Artillery: Explosive weapons "throwing" that arrive on the target using the propelling force of an explosive charge detonated behind the projectile inside a tube of an artillery piece (can currently be a mortar , a gun or a howitzer). Currently there are different types of ammunition for artillery (fragmentation, high explosive or HE, or a shaped charge HEAT, smoke, incendiary) to cover different needs and types of intervention, including projectiles "on submunitions" grenades that release smaller first impact on the target area: thus we can cover larger areas with a few strokes with specific devices for a variety of needs. Moreover, as in the case of "bombs", the modern technology has also led to the development of artillery weapons, "smart" and have some system of "guider" to head in a more or less independent on the target greatly improving the accuracy of the shot (An example of this type of ammunition are bullets in the course of development c / o the Italian OTO Melara manufacturer for their use in naval pieces of 76 mm and 127 mm anti-aircraft and the role controcosta)

Rockets exploding arms "throwing" that use the rocket motor built to move towards the target. In these weapons are not changing its guidance systems for ballistic trajectory (though modern technology allows the construction of warheads that contain more war "bomblets" that can also have a guidance system employed), so we need to calculate the exact trajectory carefully before launching them, otherwise you will hit the target. The rockets can be used for artillery (such as Russian Katyusha rocket launcher systems of World War II or in modern or MLRS Firos 25 and 50), for individual use (such as those fired anti-tank shaped charge for use by Bazooka Panzerschreck American or German in World War II, and the most modern systems or Swedish Carl Gustav AT4 Swedish / American) and for use by air (the rockets fired from planes and helicopters, normally to target surface).

Missiles: just like the rockets, explosive weapons are exploiting its engine and headed toward the target, however, are equipped with a guidance system (which can be either self-dependence, as can be mixed with both the ability to guide ) as well as movable aerodynamic surfaces: this can also go to the targets that make random movements, and not budgeted in any event, can correct its flight path during the approach of reaching a huge accuracy. Depending on the launch pad and the type of target for the destruction of which they were made, we will have ground-to-air missile, or SAM (Surface to Air Missile), which are launched from the ground to shoot down enemy aircraft, missiles or air-ground AGM (Air to Ground Missile) and vice versa, are launched from aircraft to attack ground targets, anti-ship missiles or ASM (Anti-Ship Missile) born to hit targets and possibly sinking ship, surface to surface missiles to attack ground targets were born starting pitchers and terrestrial Finally, the air-air missiles or AAM (Air to Air Missile), which are launched from aircraft to attack other aircraft.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

With the scientific discoveries of the nineteenth century and twentieth century, the so-called conventional weapons were gradually added or substituted the most sophisticated weapons that make use of advanced technologies based on the use of chemicals (chemical weapons, with poisons or toxins), biology (biological weapons, with strains of deadly bacteria or viruses), nuclear energy (nuclear weapons like the atom bomb, the H-bomb and other). In Italian the term is to use NBC weapons and NBC masks, initial Nuclear, chemical, biological. The acronym in English is currently the most used WMD, Weapon of Mass Destruction, but are also used NBC and ABC (with "A" stands for Atomic).

The purpose of these weapons is not so much to target a specific goal to destroy as many buildings and assets and / or kill as many people as possible, indiscriminately and without any distinction between military and civilians from the affected area it is in fact much vast, and so long-lasting effects, to prevent a return to normal life in the affected area for years or decades, by anyone. Weapons are also referred to the end of the world, because they use a massive scale, for example in a hypothetical World War III would have a good chance of causing the extinction of the human species and most of the plants and animals over the planet. The most common use of such weapons is deterrence, which are not intended to be used but to threaten retaliation or attacks.

Offensive Weapons

As I said, are considered offensive weapons with a utilitarian purpose-made objects, when used to practice violence.


Modern life is full of objects that possess an offensive potential, and thus also serve as weapon. This can be illustrated by kitchen knives and other tools, poisonous chemicals of natural or synthetic, used for various reasons and that can be used to harm a person, cars and other vehicles with which you can deliberately cause accidents, appliances, both domestic and industrial electricity: in practice, anything invented by man for a utilitarian purpose can be used as a weapon if the will exists.

Defensive Weapons


They are called improperly weapons (since they do not need to offend) those objects wearable passive defensive measures to protect the wearer, so they are also called personal protection equipment.


Old ones, are the armor, helmet, shield and all other parties who were defending the person from head to foot. They were very varied forms depending on the period of construction and the nation.


Modern ones are reduced to the helmet, which was adopted for the first time in the Great War by all nations. During that war, were used as "shields" that protected the individual men who had the task of approaching the enemy trenches to cut the barbed wire that protected them, in addition to be used also in the form of metal armor vest to protect "Arditi assault" and "spoilers" from these shells, using new materials such as Kevlar and ballistic ceramic plates, it has come to modern jackets with shrapnel and bullet proof vests. Another important element was until recently the bag on the ground and is transported empty and filled on site to create a fixed defensive position.

Prohibited Weapons In War


The agreement signed in St. Petersburg on 11 December 1868, prohibits explosive projectiles weighing less than four hundred grams. Considering that, even now, the efforts of civilization aiming at the reduction, as far as possible the calamities of war as the only legitimate object of a faction fighter is to weaken the opponent, it seemed unnecessary use of tools well knock out the soldiers aggravates their suffering leads to an inevitable death. Similar prohibitions exist even in the most ancient customs of war as reflected in the Indian and Jewish codes. Those codes considered to prohibit the arrows gear and weapons with the poisoned tip and made the prohibition of killing the helpless or those who surrendered, and fire or destroy without absolute necessity. The violation of such treaties, as above, or as the Geneva Convention, is considered a war crime, punishable by an international tribunal at the end of hostilities.


There are positive about the various rules in the Hague Declaration of 1899, the Hague Convention IV of 1907, the Washington Treaty of 1922, which prohibits certain weapons, poison, asphyxiating or deleterious gases, etc.. See the chapter on War illicit means of warfare. After the Vietnam War was also prohibited the use of napalm.


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    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 6 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi daffodil, Great history time line of Weapons, very well done !

    • susannah42 profile image

      susannah42 6 years ago from Florida

      Well researched and interesting hub.