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The Development Of Technology During World War One

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The Development Of Technology During World War One

Artillery

Beginning Of The War:

* Inaccurate

* Poor communication and inaccurate range finding means barrage become
'disconnected' from advancing infantry.

* Artillery moves according to a prearrangement programme.

* Shell Shortage

End Of The War:

* Quantity and quality of shells improved. The German gun, the 'Big
Bertha' had a range of 120km.

* Improvements in the accuracy of artillery enabled armies to adopt a
'creeping barrage'.

* Improvements in communications between artillery and infantry
(radio) means artillery better able to support artillery.

* Generals learn to use artillery more effectively. At Somme it was
spread too thinly, later it was concentrated on specific targets.

* However, artillery was heavy and difficult to move. This slowed down
the speed of advance and allowed the enemy to bring up reserves to
slow down the advance.

Tanks

Beginning Of The War:

* Slow Max speed of around 5 km per hour.

* Often broke down.

* Cumbersome; often got stuck in shell holes and trenches.

* Poorly armoured.

* Too few of them to make a difference.

* Ineffectively deployed by the generals e.g. they were not given
enough artillery support.

End Of The War:

* Faster, more manoeuvrable, but still not very reliable.

* More firepower. By 1918 the Anglo-American Mark VIII could carry 208
shells and 13,000 bullets.

* By 1918 tanks were fitted with wooden beams which could pass clean
around the tank to enable the machine to 'unditch' itself.

* Were used on a much larger scale than earlier on in the war; enjoyed
significant success at the battle of Cambrai in 1017.

* Tanks made a valuable contribution to the successful allied
offensive in 1918 but could not have broken stalemate alone.

Aircraft

Beginning Of The War:

* Royal Flying Corps only had 63 aircraft in France in 1912.

* At the start of the war pistols were used by the pilots and co
pilots!

End Of The War:

* In 1918 the RFC had 22,000 aircraft around the world.

* The sped, range and weaponry of aircraft improved considerably
during the war. Top speeds had doubled since 1914 and the interrupter
gear allowed machine guns to be fired through the propeller. Long
distance bombers such as Britain's Handley Page and Germany's Gotha
were developed.

* Their role was largely restricted to a supporting role (e.g.
strategic bombing behind enemy lines and reconnaissance).

Increased Mobility

* The mobility or armies, and their ability to take the offensive,
were improved due to the development of tanks, lighter machine guns
and mobile mortars like the Stokes mortar.

Tactics

* The breakthrough of 1918 wars partly down to an improvement in
tactics. Generals learnt how to improve battle plans through bitter
experience.

* The Germans pioneered 'storm trooper' tactics which involved using
small, mobile heavily armed groups of soldiers attacking weak points
in the enemy line. This was made possible by the greater firepower
available to the soldiers.

Conclusion

* New Technology such as the tank, improved communications, artillery,
machine guns, mortars, gas all contributed to the breaking of the
stalemate.

* But there were still limitations to the technology; aircraft and
tanks were still in their infancy and artillery was still largely
immobile. Fully mechanised warfare would not arrive until the second
world War when the 'Blitzkrieg' saw rapid offensive operations.

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