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World War One - Inventions and Weapons

American Naval Mines of W.W. I (Sea Power Magazine, 1919)

"Being the story of the second of the three splendid achievements of the United States Navy in the World War: the laying of the greatest submarine mine barrier in all history, which effectually prevented the Kaiser's U-boats from leaving their secret bases for the steamer lanes of the Atlantic."


German Gas Shells (Almanach Hachette, 1919)

The attached is a black and white diagram depicting five different German gas artillery shells that were manufactured to be fired from a number of different guns of varying calibers.
In retaliation for a 1914 French tear-gas grenade attack at Neuve Chapelle, the German Army, on April 22, 1915, hurled 520 gas shells at British and Canadian units in Belgium, killing five thousand and incapacitating ten thousand more.

Clicke here to read more articles about W.W. I gas warfare.


German Mortars and Field Guns (Almanach Hachette, 1919)

A couple of the primary field guns of the German artillery corps are clearly rendered in black and white on the attached file: the 105mm field gun and the 150mm howitzer. Also illustrated are two German trench mortars; 240mm and 305mm, respectively.


German Howitzers (Popular Mechanics, 1914)

At the time, the war of 1914 - 1918 was unique in the sense that it was the first war in which more men were killed as a result of the projectiles rather than from disease; and it was artillery that did the lion's share of the killing. This article appeared during the early months of the war when the world was shocked to learn of the astounding losses due to advancements in artillery. There is an illustration of an unidentified German howitzer (more than likely a 1911 model 210mm) and an account of the roll that German gunnery played during the siege of Liege and Fort Loncin in particular.

"The one big surprise for the military experts thus far developed in the European war is the effectiveness of the heavy guns of the German field artillery. Never before have such terrible engines of annihilation been carried by an invading army as those used in the assault upon the forts at Liege."


Armed Motorcycles (Popular Mechanics, 1914)

The combining of machine gun and motorcycle was an entirely Canadian concept that made an appearance early in the war. It is highly likely that the vehicles never got their "baptism of fire":

"an interesting adaptation of the motorcycle to military uses has been made by employing it as a light artillery vehicle...the accompanying photograph shows a machine gun mounted on a sidecar chassis."


An Artillery Observation Tower (L'Illustration, 1917)

The need for elevated artillery observation platforms is as old as the science of artillery itself. As this black and white image makes clear, the ones built during the Great War had to meet different needs: in order to evade detection from the air (as well as enemy artillery spotters) the more successful ones were built among the taller trees and draped in camouflage.

This article appears on this site by way of a special agreement with L'Illustration.


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