WWI history has been dominated by the trench warfare that was a result of the machine gun. The real innovation was in the air and at sea. A very well chosen photo-plate section supports the recollections of those that were there – Excellent and great reading.
NAME: Sea & Air Fighting, Those Who Were There FILE: R2417 AUTHOR: David Bilton PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword BINDING: soft back PAGES: 168 PRICE: £12.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: WWI, World War 1, World War One, First World War, aircraft, carriers, bombing, dog fighting, ground attack, ships, warships, submarines, armoured ships, air ships ISBN: 1-47386-705-3 IMAGE: B2417.jpg BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/zddz6y2 LINKS: Current Discount Offers http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/sale DESCRIPTION: WWI history has been dominated by the trench warfare that was a result of the machine gun. The real innovation was in the air and at sea. A very well chosen photo-plate section supports the recollections of those that were there – Excellent and great reading. The carnage of the trenches has naturally been the focus of attention in the history of WWI. With so many fine young men dying, before they had much chance to live, cast a long shadow across the years that followed and still resonates a century later. In terms of land warfare it did not represent the introduction of new technology that many have claimed. The machine gun had never been used in large numbers before, but is several respects it was not the new terror weapon that has been suggested. Since the introduction of canon, the gunner has been able to command the field where ever sufficient numbers of guns have been deployed and the result has been the same that armies have been forced to dig in to provide shelter from bombardment. Colonel Shrapnel introduced a very effective anti- personnel round that made muzzle-loading artillery deadly against exposed infantry and cavalry. The use of canister shot was also an effective weapon to sweep a battlefield. Once deployed in fixed defenses, all the old tactics, pre-dating Roman times, were employed, including mining and counter-mining of enemy defenses and enemy engineers. Costly frontal assaults produced huge casualties and the real king of the battlefield was the artillery, including the machine gun. Naval forces had contended for thousands of years, but never in the range of technology deployed in WWI. In the air, warriors fought for the first time above the battlefield and obtained intelligence of enemy movements and deployments never previously available. This was the innovation of WWI that changed the way future wars would be fought. At sea, the line of battle, or fleet warfare, was continued, as was the duty of convoy escort and blockade of enemy ports. However, much of the technology was new. HMS Dreadnought had overnight made all pre-dreadnought warships obsolete. This became the standard by which big gun warship design was influenced until the big gun itself became obsolete. Steam turbine power enabled fast armoured and heavily gunned capital ships to be built and operated across oceans. Wireless communications enabled Admiralties to maintain contact with distant warships and direct actions, but they also provided a way of observing the enemy warships beyond visual range. The Royal Navy built interception stations that could triangulate on any enemy warship that used its radio transmitter and locate its position with accuracy, directing RN warships to attack it. The same technology enabled the RN to identify the German intention to take its Fleet to sea, by detecting increasing radio traffic. The submarine came of age and was used by the RN and the German Navy to great effect. By the middle of WWI, the design had settled and German U-Boats in 1939 were remarkably similar to their submarine designs of 1914-1918. In reality, the submarine was still a surface vessel that could submerge and often fought gun duels on the surface, but it was increasingly used submerged for stealthy attack by torpedo. This then produced new technology to locate submerged submarines. In the air, it was a completely new form of warfare. Armies were initially slow to think of aircraft as anything other than scouts to gather intelligence on enemy locations and movements, but the Royal Navy had successfully lunched the first torpedo from an aircraft just four weeks before the start of WWI and already had aircraft with bomb racks and special depth bombs that could be used against submerged submarines. When RNAS squadrons went to France, they were already fighting machines that were able to destroy airships in the air. Very rapidly, these capabilities became widespread beyond the RN and air fleets grew dramatically. By 1918, the RN had already pioneered carrier fleets and strategic bombing. The airship also made a great impact. Large rigid German airships were deployed in terror bombing of civilian targets in the British Isles. The RN made little use of rigid airships, although an RN rigid airship became the first to carry and launch heavier-than-air fighter aircraft. The RN found success with semi-rigid airships that carried bombs and radio to provide escort to coastal convoys and could remain with a convoy for 24 hours and sometimes longer. The author has used the voices of those who were there to provide a commentary of these momentous innovations in the art of war.