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The First World War. Race Technology


In 1871, ended the Franco-Prussian War – the last major European conflict of the XIX century. And up to the August 1914 war, scholars and writers have tried to imagine what it will be, the new great war. Of course, many hoped that it will not happen, but the whole of human history suggests otherwise.

And when the war began that first call the Great, and later – the First World War, one of its main differences appeared unprecedented hitherto technological leap.

In the quagmire of protracted fighting

None of the countries – participants of the First World, including the Russian empire, not ready for a long military confrontation. Team is going to defeat the enemy in a series of short-term operations of a total duration of only a few months. Instead, they are stuck in the quagmire of long-term positioning, which is rapidly absorbed ammunition, equipment and people.

Centennial of the First World War is devoted A third campaign on the Global Map

resources accumulated warring empires for a new war, melted away before our eyes. Already in August 1914, the chief of the army of the Russian Empire, Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolayevich (Younger) ordered that the aircraft may only be used “when really necessary.” Aircraft left too little – and this at the very beginning of the war!

It was found that none of the theorist in any country and close miscalculated how many mines, cartridges and shells to take only a few hours of battle. Meanwhile, in 1916, ten machine guns, “Vickers” in just one fight fired a million rounds of ammunition. Artillery training lasting several weeks, if not months, “eats” tens of millions of shells.

And it needed more rifles, machine guns, cannons, aircraft, engineering accessories, clothing, footwear, food – and there are thousands of other things for the front. The war, like a cancer, has penetrated into all spheres of the economy and devours it from the inside. But with the crisis, which inevitably slipped industry of European countries, there was another phenomenon. Technical progress, which so strongly accelerated at the turn of the XIX and XX centuries, now, in the war years, and if at all broken loose.

Everything for the front!

«Илья Муромец». Один из самых крупных самолётов Первой Мировой войны In 1914, France produced 40 aircraft engines per month. During 11 months of 1918 was built nearly 24,000 aircraft and released 45 thousand aircraft engines. And this despite the fact that a number of French territories was occupied, many young able-bodied men were killed at the front, and on the military has spent an incredible amount of money.

At the beginning of the war between the pilots are exchanging fire with revolvers, catch the enemy propellers hooks on the ropes and threw his hands on enemy infantry metal arrows. In 1918, fighter aircraft to stand up to six machine guns, automatic and large-caliber guns. With the heads of the enemy bombers dropped bombs weighing up to 1,000 kg. Depending on the purpose of airplanes could be equipped with radios, armor or night sights.

On the ground, the soldiers started the war in the trenches. Then, when the shells and shrapnel began to break them, there were shelters at a depth of tens of meters under the ground. On the battlefield came superheavy guns that are not saved, and these fortresses. Infantry “has spread” for a variety of small, strong and well-camouflaged bunkers.

Development of field fortifications led to the fact that all attacks on enemy positions invariably ended in enormous losses with minimal moving forward. Just one well-placed and camouflaged machine gun in a matter of minutes could deal with a regiment of infantry.

Противогазы Зелинского-Кумманта на солдатах чешского легиона русской армии For the “opening” of enemy defenses needed new agents. Science and industry have given them. In late 1914, the French against the Germans used gas grenades. In January 1915 the Germans used against the Russian army teargas ksilobromid. This attack did not bring tactical success, but has had a great impact on the morale of soldiers. In April, on the river of Ypres in Belgium, the Germans used is much more dangerous and deadly gas – chlorine. Active use of chemical warfare agents was “calling card” of the First World until its closure. Naturally began to develop and personal chemical protection: masks and costumes. Incidentally, the world’s first carbon filter mask created Russian scientists ND Zelinsky and MI Kummant.

The number of types of artillery guns and shells for them. Anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, infantry guns, mortars and gazomёty. The first self-propelled guns. Exotics like pneumatic guns mortars and acetylene. Shells – incendiary, gas, smoke, shrapnel, high explosive. Artillery battle became an exact science. With new sights, the use of aerial photography and adjust fire cannon could fire in any weather, at any place and at any time. When shooting into account factors such as air temperature, wind speed and direction at different heights, barrel wear, the quality of gunpowder, and more.

Some weapons, invented in 1914-1918, remained for future wars. In England and the US are the first drones, France – tethered “land torpedoes”, the Germans used a radio-controlled boats in battle. In 1915, the founder of the Russian motor forces, Major General P. Sergeev raised the question of the application of alcohol engines. Average Petrograd everyman EV Kangro in July 1917 created the project of self-propelled artillery battery and a detailed plan of combat use of these machines. This is just a sample of ideas that had yet to be incarnated, sometimes decades later.

Tank “miracle weapon” does not reveal himself

The pinnacle of military progress 1916 and the response of shrapnel, machine guns and barbed wire steel tanks. But they were not able to instantly turn the tide of the war: another “miracle weapon” required crew training and close interaction with the infantry, cavalry, artillery, and even aircraft.

Британский танк Mark I в орудийной модификации Just over a year later, after the first use of clumsy ” tanks “on the Somme, the Battle of Cambrai, already used tanks specialized control with radio stations, transport and sapper tanks, by the end of the war infantry transported under armor, tested Gators.

Russian tanks in the First World War and created put into mass production was not, despite the abundance projects in the industry. By the fall of 1916 on the Eastern Front operated 12 linear armored divisions automotive Russian army, and in addition, allied Belgian and British Armored Division. For a few days before the fall of the autocracy in February 1917, Russian military agent was present at the trial outlandish French military vehicles, raportuya: “tank smashed the wall and went through a pile of rubble. Tractor these obstacles did not pass. The test went very well & hellip; Think tanks and tractors are very helpful for the fight. French Commission also “.

had no significant effect on the fighting of the Great War, after its completion tanks were in a strange position. The military realized that a new type of weapon is good, but no idea about the “implantation” of tanks in the armed forces have not yet had. Enough material for reflection: tanks had massed and some fighting alone against guns and anti-infantry. And even among themselves! Tanks were given one of the most powerful impetus for the development of military thought in the history of mankind. True, unleash new weapons only after a quarter-century, a new and great war.

Progress bitter price

After World War I hard times for Europe does not end there. Empire collapsed, the continent was gripped by revolutionary unrest. The Russian Empire was split, and it broke new territory, now a civil war.

However, no more, perhaps, no technical or scientific branch, which for four terrible years of war would not make a huge leap forward . World War marked the onset of the war machine. Henceforth, it was conducted in three dimensions, chemical weapons continued to collect the harvest and at the time of the interwar and the word “tank” became international. The Great War, in fact, was the cradle of modern civilization. But not insured passed through the crucible of her “lost generation” of the new world conflagration. And this is the main lesson of 1914-1918.

Also read: “The devil is coming!”: Tanks on Somme .

The authors of the text – Yuri Bahurin and Eugene Belas

Yuri Bahurin – historian. Author of several publications in national and regional scientific press: magazines “Questions of history,” “Military History Journal,” “Military-Historical Archive”, “Motherland”, “Anthology of War” anthology “Reiter” and so on. D. The author «Panzerj & auml; ger Tiger (P) & ldquo; Ferdinand & rdquo ;. Combat use. “

Eugene Belas – historian, author of books and articles about the First and Second World War. The most famous work – “Myths of the World.” Author of the book “Tanks of the interwar period” on the participation of armor in military conflicts 20s – 30s of the last century.


  1. Russian State Military History Archives.
  2. State Archive of the Russian Federation.
  3. Foundations Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineer and Signal Corps.
  4. Documentary collection of Wargaming.
  5. Bahurin YA, Belas E. Yu the Great War 1914-1918: The sum of Technology // Expert. 2014. № 31-33 (910). S. 61-65.

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