World War 1 Weapons WW I
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
British 6inch 26cwt WW1 Howitzer
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 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.
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.
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
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.