Military Technology of the First World War, development, use and consequences

The author has looked closely at the amazing technical advances made during WWI from the perspective of the land campaigns. Extensively illustrated, this is a very efficient review of the use and consequences of technology developed to achieve domination on land, including the part aircraft played in assisting land commanders.


 

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NAME: Military Technology of the First World War, development, use 
and consequences
FILE: R2484
AUTHOR: Wolfgang Fleischer
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back 
PAGES:  222
PRICE: £25.00
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: WWI, World War One, World War 1, First World War, The Great 
War, aviation, tanks, artillery, trench warfare, explosives, machine 
guns, gas

ISBN: 1-47385-419-9

IMAGE: B2484.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/n3q5fu9
LINKS:  
DESCRIPTION: The author has looked closely at the amazing technical 
advances made during WWI from the perspective of the land campaigns. 
Extensively illustrated, this is a very efficient review of the use 
and consequences of technology developed to achieve domination on 
land, including the part aircraft played in assisting land commanders.

The Great War saw the culmination of a very wide range of technical 
developments in all aspects of war. The author has made this a 
digestible review by concentrating on the development of weapons 
intended to give an army advantage in the field. Therefore, the 
review of aviation is relatively brief in respect of its application 
to the objectives and needs of army commanders. The equally 
impressive developments in technology at sea and in signals 
intelligence are also absent. As a result, the review is focused and 
both concise and comprehensive in relation to land warfare.

Most of the weapons appearing in the battles on the Western Front had 
never been deployed on anything like the scale of WWI, or at all. The 
opening stage of the conflict saw the German army advancing rapidly 
in a conventional manner with cavalry scouting ahead and attacking 
the enemy infantry. It was a war of movement and followed a careful 
plan that included surprise by advancing on the French via neutral 
Belgium. However it began to fall apart because the tiny British 
Expeditionary Force put up an outstanding defence, where it fought so 
fiercely that German Commanders thought they had encountered the main 
BEF when they were only attacking small units that fought, fell back 
in good order and fought again. The surprise was all the greater 
because the Germans had largely discounted the BEF as a 'contemptible 
little army'. A key part of the BEF achievement was down to a well-
trained if small professional army that was equipped well and knew how 
to make best use of its weapons. The Lee Enfield rifle was one of the 
best bolt-action rifles available and could achieve much in the hands 
of well-trained soldiers. The BEF did not at that stage have many 
machine guns but it used them very effectively as part of the field 
artillery available in a fluid war.

The other surprise that the Germans experienced was the level of co-
ordination and co-operation between the British and French commanders. 
Considering that the two armies had no prior experience of serving 
closely together, it was outstanding and in part due to an extraordinary 
and relatively junior British officer who was responsible for liaising 
between commanders. The result was that as the British rearguard slowed 
the German armies down, the French saw a gap in the German lines and 
used the BEF to exploit it. By that point, the BEF was near exhaustion 
and although it fought magnificently alongside French formations, 
forcing the Germans back towards their own border, it lacked the strength 
to complete the task of routing the Germans. That gave the German 
commanders just enough time to dig in and the trench war started. Up to 
that point the war had not been significantly different from earlier wars 
between armies, manoeuvring and chosing battle grounds. From that point, 
it became a war of attrition that was shaped by the new technologies.

The author has described the weapons and tactics that made WWI unique 
against all previous experience. The stalemate of the trenches forced 
both sides to try everything they could think of to break out and win, 
in the process making other theatres more important because the prospects 
for either side of achieving total victory on the Western Front looked very 
slim.

The machine gun made frontal assault by infantry costly. Victory was 
frequently an advance of a few yards, only to be reversed by counter-
attack. Artillery was used in huge numbers with ever heavier guns in an 
attempt to blast a path through the enemy trenches for the infantry to 
exploit. Mining and counter mining became routine. Poison gas was used 
to attempt a break through and often proved as deadly to the deployer as 
to the enemy. Then the British produced the tank, eventually producing 
tanks in enough numbers to deploy large formations, and breaches were 
made in the German lines. During this process, aircraft became a more 
important part of the land war. The Western Front was more comprehensively 
photographed from the air then any other location in history. As radio was 
introduced to aircraft, it became practical to use aircraft for gunnery 
direction, and they were also able to serve as aerial artillery, dropping 
bombs and machine gunning enemy trenches from above, where they were most 
vulnerable.

The Great War saw the complete mobilization of nations and the Allies won 
by developing new weapons and producing them in very large numbers, while 
blockading Germany to reduce its capacity meet that production and 
distribution of resources. It saw the use of submarines to attempt a 
blockade on the British Isles and the use of aircraft by Britain to attempt 
strategic bombing, which became the justification for the formation of the 
RAF through the amalgamation of the RFC and the RNAS to form the first 
dedicated air force.