Technology in World War One

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The Machine Gun

1,2,4,8,9,11) In 1914, the machine gun became a devastating weapon. The machine gun, usually mounted on a tripod, would typically require a gun crew of four to six people to operate efficently. In theory, they could fire 400-600 rounds external image vickers.jpgper minute. However, this figure was closer to half in actual practice. The machine gun was fed small caliber rounds by a fabric belt or a metal strip. Early machine guns would rapidly overheat, and quickly become inoperative without the aid of cooling machanisms. Water-cooled machine guns would still overheat relatively quickly, sometimes within two minutes. This resulted in the need for large supplies of water would need to be on hand in the heat of the battle. When these supplies of water ran out, it was not unusual to see the gun crew trying to solve the problem by urinating on the gun.


external image 2029970-md.jpg3,6,11)Tanks are among some of the most feared weapons of today. Originaly called a 'Landship', tanks were designed to cross no-mans'-land, and break down the barriers of barbed wire.The first tank was called 'Little Willie', and was manned by a crew of three.They were used for the first time at the Battle of the Somme, and they were designed to cope with the conditions on the western front. Tanks were used in France in 1916, but faults in their designs were discovered there. The main problem of the tanks was their inability of the tank to travel across rough terrain. Another problem that was not as large was the fact that the first tanks made could only travel about 3mph, or about the speed the average person walks. A tank crew normally consisted of a commander, a driver, two steer man, and four gunners.


11,12)Planes did not play as big a role in WWI than they did in World War II; nonethless, they still had an important part in the first World War. At first, planes were simply used for surveillence. external image german-fokker-dr1.jpgLater, pilots began carrying pistols and other such things to try to take down enemy aircraft. Finally, machine guns began to be mounted on what we would now call fighter planes. These planes were used to shoot down troops and other fighters. These machine guns were normally mounted between the pilot and the propeller. This resulted in a need for an interupter because the gun would quickly destroy the propeller if the firing was not regulated. The Vickers gun became a standard on British and French military aircraft, especially after 1916. Although the Vickers gun was heavier than the Lewis, it's closed bolt cycle made it much easier to synchronize to allow it to fire through the aircrafts' propellers. The synchronizer reduced the planes' rate of fire, however, and some pilots prefered a top mounted machine gun that allowed them to have continous fire without worrying about the propellers.

Gas Masks

10,11,13)The early use of chemical warfare in WWI was mainly non-lethal, which would typically be as a tear-inducing chemical. During WWI, the first to use external image A3136-2_large.jpggas attacks were the French, using
26mm grenades filled with tear gas in August of 1914. The small quanties of gas delivered in this attack was not even noticed by the Germans. The first killing agent deployed in battle was chlorine, which was released by the Germans. This resulted in a need for protection from gas attacks. Immediately following the attack by the Germans, instructions were sent to British and French troops, telling them to hold wet hankerchiefs or cloths over their mouths. Simple pad respirators similar to those given to the Germans were soon given to the British and French troops. Later, better versions were introduced, and casulties from gas attacks were significantly reduced.


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