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World War 1 Weapons WW I

Updated on August 11, 2013

A Group of German Soldiers in 1914

The German Army During World War 1

The German Army (The Axis)

In 1914 at the Outbreak of World War 1, the German Army was the strongest in Europe; Germany knew that war was immanent and had been preparing for many years before The Great War started.

At the outbreak of the war, Germany had 840,000 men in the army with over 3 million reservists at the ready for the call up to arms.

During the War Turkey and Bulgaria fought alongside Germany and Austria-Hungary.

German infantry were issued with the Mauser rifle. This rifle was designed in 1898 by Peter Paul Mauser. It was popular with those who were issued with it because of its reliability but it did suffer one weakness - its magazine only took five bullets.

A Group of British Soldiers 1914

The British Army In World War 1

At the start of the war, the British army had 247,400 soldiers and only 218,000 reservists, during the war though many more men joined the army or were conscripted (forced to join).

The Allied armies of Britain, France and Russia were joined by Serbia, Montenegro, Belgium, Romania, Portugal, Greece, and in 1917 The United states joined in the war effort.

The basic British infantryman, like his French and German contemporaries, was issued with his uniform, webbing and a rifle with bayonet. Some infantrymen were trained to use the relatively new machine gun but the majority had to make do with his rifle. The British infantry man was issued with the Lee Enfield 0.303 rifle.

German Maxim MG'08 Machine Gun

Weapons of World War I

The Vickers Machine Gun

Big Bertha

British 6inch 26cwt WW1 Howitzer

WW1 Tank

German Stick Grenade

British Mills Bomb

Land Combat Weapons Of World War 1

World War One on the Western front brought a new kind of war, Trench warfare, where both sides slugged it out for most of the war years. With this new type of war, new weapons had to be developed and modified on either side for them to have any tactical advantage.

Machine Guns

Machine guns were first used during the American Civil War to devastating effect, but advances in technology made the machine guns even more effective during World War 1.

They could fire over 600 bullets in one minute and they were so effective that they were considered as "Weapons of mass Destruction.

The German Maxim machine gun was fed by a fabric or metal belt, making it a very effective automatic weapon, its relatively small size also made it difficult for the enemy to destroy.

On the opening day of the Somme offensive the British suffered a record number of single day casualties, 60,000, the great majority lost under withering machine gun fire.

The Vickers Gun,

closely modelled on the Maxim Gun, comprised the British Army's standard heavy machine gun at the start of the First World War, following its formal adoption in 1912.

Water cooled - via a jacket around the barrel which held approximately one gallon - the Vickers was loaded from a 250-round fabric belt mounted on a tripod. A rubber hose leading to a container condensed steam from the jacket as a means of minimising water wastage.

The gun used standard rifle 0.303-inch ammunition and weighed a little under 20kg; it was thus lighter than both the original Maxim Gun and the German Maschinengewehr 08. It fired some 450 rounds per minute; after some 10,000 rounds had been fired the gun barrel invariably required replacement.

Despite this the Vicker's was still considered unwieldy as a battlefield infantry weapon, and could not be readily transported from site to site without great effort. The gun itself was usually operated by a team of six men.


For four years the British used artillery and fired 170 million shells in that time. But Germany had a plan up their sleeve. For years, German scientists were developing the biggest artillery ever known. It was call the ‘Big Bertha'. Big Bertha was so powerful it could fire at the heart of Paris from 120 kilometres away. The cannons weren't the only things that had been improved. The shells were upgraded as well. Instead of ordinary shells, new High-explosive shells were developed. The Shells were thin casings and were filled with tiny lead pellets. This was so effective, that artillery fire killed hundreds and thousands of men.


Tanks were introduced into battle for the first time in 1916 by the British, these proved to be unreliable though, A later model played a vital role during the allied advances of 1918, flattening barbed wire,crossing enemy trenches and acting as shields for the advancing troops.


The Germans introduced the Hand Grenade better known as the Stick grenade into the battlefield, they worked in the same way as today's grenades, pull out the pin and throw it.

The Mills Bomb introduced into battle by the British looks more like a hand grenade that would be used today.

Both of these bombs were designed to cause maximum damage in confined spaces.

A German Club For Close Combat

World War One Close Combat Weapons

Apart from Bayonets attached to the soldiers rifles, soldiers also carried other weapons for hand to hand combat, during a raid a silent kill would keep the enemy unaware of your presence, allied soldiers would be armed with daggers and sometimes even swords.

German soldiers also had daggers for a silent kill and they also carried a wooden club with a spiked metal head similar to a medieval weapon.

Gas Attack

Victims of a Gas Attack

Poison Gas In The Trenches of World War 1

Gas: The German's "secret" new weapon

Gas was available in three basic varieties:

Lachrymal (tearing agent)

Much like today's tear gas and mace, this gas caused temporary blindness and greatly inflamed the nose and throat of the victim. A gas mask offered very good protection from this type of gas. xylyl bromide was a popular tearing agent since it was easily brewed.


These are the poisonous gases. This class includes chlorine, phosgene and diphosgene. Chlorine inflicts damage by forming hydrochloric acid when coming in contact with moisture such as found in the lungs and eyes. It is lethal at a mix of 1:5000 (gas/air) whereas phosgene is deadly at 1:10,000 (gas/air) - twice as toxic! Diphosgene, first used by the Germans at Verdun on 22-Jun-1916, was deadlier still and could not be effectively filtered by standard issue gas masks.

Chlorine gas destroyed the respiratory organs of its victims and this led to a slow death by asphyxiation. One nurse described the death of one soldier who had been in the trenches during a chlorine gas attack. "He was sitting on the bed, fighting for breath, his lips plum coloured. He was a magnificent young Canadian past all hope in the asphyxia of chlorine. I shall never forget the look in his eyes as he turned to me and gasped: I can't die! Is it possible that nothing can be done for me?" It was a horrible death, but as hard as they tried, doctors were unable to find a way of successfully treating chlorine gas poisoning.

Blistering Agent (Mustard Gas)

Dichlorethylsulphide: the most dreaded of all chemical weapons in World War I - mustard gas. Unlike the other gases which attack the respiratory system, this gas acts on any exposed, moist skin. This includes, but is not limited to, the eyes, lungs, armpits and groin. A gas mask could offer very little protection. The oily agent would produce large burn-like blisters wherever it came in contact with skin. It also had a nasty way of hanging about in low areas for hours, even days, after being dispersed. A soldier jumping into a shell crater to seek cover could find himself blinded, with skin blistering and lungs bleeding.

Sopwith Camel

Fokker Triplane


Aerial Combat During World War 1

At the beginning of the war, aircraft were used for reconnaissance,flying above the enemy lines, helping to direct the artillery bombardments or to detect and troop movements, it was soon realised though that bombs could be dropped from the planes onto the enemy causing as much damage as possible.

This led to the development of fighter planes, the Sopwith Camel was developed by the British and the Germans retaliated with the Fokker Triplane.

The most famous pilots of The Great War was a German pilot named Manfred Von Richthofen, better known as the Red Baron, He was responsible for shooting down over 80 Allied aircraft before he himself was killed when his aircraft, a Fokker Triplane, was shot down over France in 1918.

In 1915 the first German Airships or Zeppelin's appeared in the Sky over Britain, they were silent invaders that caused a lot of panic amongst the people below, at any moment a hail of bombs could be dropped from the airship.

In the early years of the war Zeppelin's could fly much higher than airplanes and it would be almost impossible to shoot them down, this made them useful for bombing raids, although Zeppelins were rarely used and played little part in the war.

By 1917 airships were mainly restricted to Naval Reconnaissance because of the invention of incendiary bullets and higher flying and faster airplanes.

WW1 German U-boat

HMS Dreadnought

Naval Combat During World War 1

In 1906 Britain launched the Dreadnought Battleship, which sparked off a naval building programme in other countries.

Britain being an Island relied on their fleet of Merchant ships to keep them supplied with food and equipment, built a fleet of battleships to protect the merchants and to prevent supplies from reaching Germany.

Although the German Navy did have a few Battleships they took the fight below the surface by building submarines or U-boats as they were better known.

The Battle of Jutland off the coast of Denmark in the North sea, was the only major sea battle of the whole war, the battle mainly took place under the sea, as German U-boats fought a damaging war against British merchant and troop ships.

Fourteen British and eleven German ships were sunk with great loss of life.

Both sides claimed victory. The British had lost more ships and many more sailors, and the British press criticised the Grand Fleet's actions, but the German plan of destroying Britain's squadrons had also failed. The Germans continued to pose a threat that required the British to keep their battleships concentrated in the North Sea, but they never again contested control of the high seas. Instead, the German Navy turned its efforts and resources to unrestricted submarine warfare.


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    • profile image

      Duke 3 years ago

      I have also had a great interest and curiosity for WWI specifically. I wonder if it was part of our past lives.

      "jimmythejock 6 years ago from Scotland Hub Author

      Thanks Eileen, WW1 has always been of interest to me so I really enjoy carrying out the research for these hubs.....jimmy"

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      3 years ago

      i love this site. can u guys make more history sites like this on different subject?

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      king86 5 years ago

      so cool it helped me so much.

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      padur1 5 years ago

      hi jimmy. today i found a world war 1 gun in a bog not far from my house. just woundering do you know anyone in ireland to take a look at it??

    • profile image

      shroomie 5 years ago

      thanx helped lots with history project!!!

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      clf 5 years ago

      Excellent. Helped me get a good mark on my history essay at Eton!

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      ShadowPoke 5 years ago

      Do you have any info on what explosives the canadians used in world war 1? i have a history project on explosives!

    • profile image

      lol 5 years ago

      its really good information for school stuff

    • profile image

      Dash 6 years ago

      I liked the info helped me a lot on my info report

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      papagomas 6 years ago

      This extract helped me with my exam Thank You very much :)

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      big z 6 years ago


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      raymar 6 years ago

      thank for the stuff

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      Vivky 6 years ago

      This very good info.. thanks(;

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      natalie 6 years ago

      this was really helpful for my project for school.

    • jimmythejock profile image

      James Paterson 6 years ago from Scotland

      Hi Terence this article was written on 08/30/11 i dont give out my last name here but if you visit my profile page you will find a link to my facebook where you will find my name.

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      terence 6 years ago

      Jimmy, I am using your article as a source for my research paper. May I have your last name and the date this article was written?

    • nikipa profile image

      nikipa 6 years ago from Eastern Europe

      Very educational and interesting!

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      ?????????? 6 years ago

      This seems like a helpful website, but try to find weapons that start with Y. That's what I needed

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      Lhanslip 6 years ago

      GD info! my homework is now dne! :p

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      undead 6 years ago

      Ohhoi! This helped me a lot :)

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      ken 6 years ago

      This is very helpful! I got away with 2 hours of researching just by looking at this website!!!!!

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      eric 6 years ago

      Thank you so much. My Global HW got way more easier.

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      Jeeny 6 years ago

      I love this! I just finished my History essay, and this was super helpful!!(:

    • profile image

      tanisha 6 years ago

      Awesome.It helped me a lot in EVS project.Thanks.

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      tom 6 years ago

      Thank you so much, this is going to help me with my History assignment.

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      will 6 years ago

      this is cool l know the true

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      cardona 6 years ago

      thanks you helped a lot in my socal studies homework

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      bob 6 years ago

      good information for my project

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      Hollie 6 years ago

      thanks, this helps a lot. p.s when did the british first sight the germans?

    • profile image

      Avery 6 years ago

      good this helped me in solcial studies it a great find and good info

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      Aryan M 6 years ago

      This is all very interesting, and I did learn stuff from this article or hub or whatever you wanna call it. It was incredibly useful and helped me complete my history essay. I thank you very much for this. :)

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      girl 6 years ago

      helped with ww1 assignment thanx(;

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      amber 6 years ago

      this a cool web site for my s.s project just a lital bit more info on the guns

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      jr 6 years ago


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      reasey 6 years ago

      thanks this helped allot for my english project

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      Timi 6 years ago

      Thanks, your really happened! but can someone help me? wat was life like before ww1

    • profile image

      Ben Prout 6 years ago

      good info, but you don't have any on American infantry weapons that I saw. might want to add that. jus a tip.

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      Xavion Tucker 6 years ago

      this is cool

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      derek 6 years ago


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      trevor 6 years ago

      this stuff is good for my history and i learned about a bunch of wepons

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      Rod 6 years ago

      I have a shell from either WWI or WWII. It is approx. 5 inches long and 3/4 of an inch in diameter. It has a M on the bottom above the primer and a V M below the primer. I'd like to know what it is? Can you help?

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      Alex C 6 years ago

      this is very coo. I feel bad for the people that are in it.

      i like the video that is from world war one. I am adding it to a project so i like it.

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      asdfghjkl 6 years ago

      Wow, this is so informative. good work buddy.

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      amy m 6 years ago

      very good info, helped a lot with my assignment! thanks a lot

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      Darren mcfeeters 6 years ago


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      minimaccaa 6 years ago

      Hi thanks for the information REALLY HELPED WITH AN assignment.


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      casserole123 6 years ago

      you really helped me with my project thanks a bunch i really appreciate it you got me out of having a bad grade in that class

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      sc 6 years ago

      thank u so much it was very useful

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      Josef J 6 years ago

      Thanks for the information! It helped a lot with my homework.

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      Ihearthistory 6 years ago

      tH@nK5 4da 1Nf0 Br0.

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      Thomas Terrington 6 years ago

      This helped melots

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      histroyNERD 6 years ago


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      fugdy 6 years ago

      thanks for the info for studys

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      lukolio 6 years ago


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      none of your news 6 years ago

      i know this hub thank jimmy it helped a lot assesment in social studies

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      racheal 6 years ago

      This has been very helpful for my history coursework! Thank you!

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      pauline 6 years ago

      Hi Jimmy,

      I have been given a WW1 shell and am trying to find out if it is British or German, has PAR 1918 on it Can you help!

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      ash 6 years ago

      very helpful, i needed information about weapons of ww1

      thanks JIMMY!

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      Student 6 years ago

      Thank You so much!

      I have a project on this and the info helped a lot. :)

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      harnold 6 years ago

      I am doing an essay on weapons in World War One and this helped a lot!! Thanks!

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      taco1128 7 years ago

      this helped me out with almost all of my history assignment i just need drawings thank you so much

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      Doofus 7 years ago


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      downesem 7 years ago

      people, how much did a mills bomb cost to make?? thats what i NEED to know. and yo, duffin tn, its not called the 'tripartite alliance'. germany, austria and italy where known as the triple alliance. britain, france and russia where known as the triple entente. they were the two main forces in 1914 - 1916

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      phil 7 years ago

      thanks you helped a lot with the info I needed to gather

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      young man123 7 years ago

      thanks you heped with my project:)

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      alex 7 years ago

      much help

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      hunter 7 years ago

      So cool!!!!!!!!!!!

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      EzKilla 7 years ago

      this info is top notch it helped me with this big ass history assignment that i have to do so thanks a lot

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      Bob 7 years ago

      Good job!

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      Jonathan 7 years ago

      Thanks for putting all this info together, good work.

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      Jill 7 years ago

      this is good

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      Felix dj 7 years ago

      Omg this is so helpful i need one of u in my life

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      gordon strachan  7 years ago

      thank you for helpin me with my project x

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      Malcolm_Cox 7 years ago from Newcastle, England


      I have published a HUB and linked a couple of yours on there. I hope you don't mind.

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      yeshi zangpo 7 years ago

      dang.............dang......dats great

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      Crazy 7 years ago

      yo man this is very good stuff so keep it up and make another page to get more info

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      shpard 7 years ago

      thanks guys this really helped me with my history project that im currently working on now! Thank you sooo much!!!!!

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      case 7 years ago

      world war 1 is awsome

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      Wilson 7 years ago

      Thanks for the great article, it was interesting and also saved me for my WWI assignment. This information is very useful and helped me answer my questions.

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      Adam 7 years ago

      Thanks, this helped a lot in English. I am doing a project in English were I have to get a talk prepared and this information was very helpful, thank you.

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      Berti15 7 years ago

      thanks so much dude. i hav to do this project for history class about how technology evolved in WW1 and your info and pics have really helped me out! thanks man!

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      ELITE WARRIOR CP 7 years ago

      great info to do my homework L.O.L

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      jiii 7 years ago

      this is awsome!!!

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      Brandon 7 years ago

      Thanks! I'm doing an essay on weaponry in WW1 and this helps so much! Thanks again!

    • profile image

      Dim 7 years ago

      great info thanks a lot

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      SId 7 years ago

      thanks so much this is grrrrrreeeeeeeeaaaaaaaatttttttt :) :)

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      rob24hrs 7 years ago from UK

      Good hub Jimmy. My grandmother witnessed a zeppelin being shot down over Hartlepool. I have documented it here. rgds Rob

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      ssssssssssssssssssssssssss 7 years ago

      It really helped me but more info

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      Kyle Crawford 7 years ago

      I have a 303. WW1 and also used in WW2 how can i find out the background of the gun

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      Junie 7 years ago

      Thanks a lot on this hub. Great insights. I thought I hate to learned my history subject. But I love to learn more on this action story.

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      someone 8 years ago

      do u know anything about the averadge cost of artillery

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      Chaos Boy 8 years ago

      Thanks the info is great lol

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      joshie 8 years ago


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      Justice  8 years ago

      Wow thx a lot man. used it on my WW1 project. dont think i coulda found this info easly anywhere els!!!!!

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      holden cox  8 years ago

      very good stuff mate nice work as u u say say in america shiten. goog good

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      WW1 8 years ago

      thx!! lots of info, helped me finish my history project

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      FunnymonkeyIl 8 years ago

      Thanks for the info, it helped a lot on my school project

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      Robert 8 years ago

      Cheers mate, that's great.

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      zach b 8 years ago

      great info , used it for a history project

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      Mico Sanchez 8 years ago

      thanks for the info