World History notes 7.02.docx - MODERN WARFARE AND ITS...

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MODERN WARFARE AND ITS LEGACY What New Weapons and Technology Were Introduced During World War I? In the 19th century, all European armies had similar weaponry. When the English fought the French, the winner was determined by the number of soldiers on each side and by the strategies chosen by the generals. When Napoleon’s armies conquered Europe, it was because Napoleon was a brilliant general with a huge army, not because the French had superior warfare technologies. Forty years before the onset of World War I, the European continent was mostly at peace. During peacetime, however, the empires continued to develop new and deadlier weapons. By the time Europeans turned their attention to Africa, their guns had improved so much that they were considered invincible. European weaponry turned nearly every battle into a massacre. When the European powers began fighting each other again in 1914, they brought the new weapons and tactics that they had developed for conquering Africa. However, these weapons and tactics were primarily defensive. Although the Europeans were the invaders in Africa, during their battles against African nations they needed only to hold their positions. Aircraft Gases Tanks Submarines Machine guns World War I was the first war to make use of aircraft in battle. Airplanes were equipped with machine guns, and soldiers fought the first battles in the air. The Zeppelin, a kind of enormous blimp, was also vital to the war. A Zeppelin could fly much higher than the airplanes of the time and was extremely large, so it was hard for the enemy to shoot it down. Zeppelins were used for surveillance and to drop bombs. As combatants saw that traditional attacks were not successful against a well-armed trench, they began to develop new weapons that were invulnerable to bullets. Scientists on both sides created poisonous gases for this purpose. When the wind was right, poison gas was released. It would flow into the enemy's trenches and kill everyone who inhaled it unless they were wearing gas masks, as shown in this photograph of Polish soldiers during World War I. World War I saw the introduction of armored vehicles, called tanks. The armor on the outside of the vehicles protected the soldiers inside from bullets. A tank could roll into a battle unharmed, allowing soldiers to use the tank's machine guns to attack. Tanks were so successful in World War I that in the Second World War, tanks came better equipped with heavy artillery and were used more significantly in battle. A major new technology in naval warfare was the development of submarines or U-boats as the Germans called them. These underwater ships cruised beneath the surface of the water. When submerged, they were undetectable, sometimes even from radar. Submarines were very stealthy and were used for spying and surprise attacks.

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