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

When the war began, which was first called the Great, and later – the First World War, one of its major differences appeared hitherto unprecedented technological leap.

into the quagmire of protracted fighting

None of the countries – participants of the First World War, including the Russian empire is not ready for a long military confrontation. The 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 bogged down in the quagmire of long-term positioning, which is rapidly absorbed ammunition, equipment and people.

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

It turned out that none of the theorist in any other country and nearly did not calculate how many mines, ammunition and shells to take just a few hours of battle. Meanwhile, in 1916, ten machine guns, “Vickers” for only one fight fired a million bullets. Artillery training lasting a few weeks, or even months, “eats” tens of millions of shells.

But it needed more rifles, machine guns, cannons, airplanes, engineering tools, clothes, shoes, food – and still a thousand other things to the front. War, like a cancer, has penetrated into all spheres of the economy and devouring it from the inside. But with the crisis, which inevitably slipped Industry European countries, there was another phenomenon. Technical progress, which so strongly accelerated at the turn of the XIX and XX centuries, and now, during the war, and if at all broke loose.

Everything for the front!

In 1914, France produced 40 aircraft engines per month. During 11 months of 1918 it was built almost 24 thousand planes and produced 45,000 aircraft engines. This is despite the fact that a number of French territory was occupied, many young able-bodied men died at the front, and on the military has spent an incredible amount of money.

At the beginning of the war pilots exchanging fire among themselves revolvers hitched enemy propellers hooks on the ropes, and his hands dropped on enemy infantry metal arrows. In 1918, airplanes, fighters stood 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 the airplanes could be equipped with a radio, armor or night sights.

Первая мировая война. Гонка технологий
“Ilya Muromets”. One of the largest aircraft of the First World War

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

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

For the “opening” of the enemy defense needed new means of combat. 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 fired tear gas ksilobromid. This attack did not bring tactical success, but had a big impact on the morale of soldiers. In April, on the river of Ypres in Belgium, the Germans used is much more dangerous and lethal gas – chlorine. Active use of chemical warfare agents was “calling card” of the First World until its completion. Naturally we began to develop and personal chemical protection: gas masks and costumes. By the way, the world’s first carbon filter mask created Russian scientists N. Zelinsky and MI Kummant.

Первая мировая война. Гонка технологий
masks Zelinsky-Kummanta on Czech Legion soldiers of the Russian army

The number of types of artillery guns and ammunition to 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, explosive. Artillery battle has become an exact science. Thanks to new sights, and the use of aerial cannon fire correction could fire in any weather, at any place and at any time. When firing into account factors such as air temperature, wind direction and speed at different altitudes, barrel wear, the quality of gunpowder and more.

Some weapons, invented in 1914-1918, left for future wars. In England and the United States tested the first unmanned aircraft in France – controlled by wire “land torpedo”, the Germans used the radio-controlled boats in a battle. In 1915, the founder of the Russian automobile troops Major-General P. Sergeyev raised the issue of the use of alcohol engines. An ordinary man in the street Petrograd 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 some examples of ideas that had yet to be incarnated, sometimes decades later.

Tank “miracle weapon” does not reveal itself

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

Just over a year after the first use of clumsy “tanks” of the Somme, the Battle of Cambrai, already used tanks specialized control stations, transport and sapper tanks, the end of war, the infantry transported under armor, floating machines tested.

Первая мировая война. Гонка технологий
British Mark I tank in the gun modification

Russian tanks during the First World War created and put into serial production was not, despite the abundance of projects in this sector. By the fall of 1916 on the Eastern Front operated 12 linear armored car division of the Russian Army, and in addition, the Belgian and British Allied Armored Division. Just days before the fall of the autocracy in February 1917, Russian military agent was present at the trial outlandish French combat vehicles, raportuya “Tank broke the wall and went over the pile of rubble. The tractor did not pass these barriers. The test went very well … think tanks and tractors are very useful for fighting. The French Commission, too. “

had no significant effect on the fighting of the Great War, after the end of its tanks were in a strange position. The military knew that a new weapon is good, but no ideas about the “implantation” of tanks in the armed forces do not have. Enough material for reflection: the tanks had to war en masse and individually, against guns and anti-infantry. And even among themselves! Tanks were given one of the most powerful impetus to the development of military thought in the history of mankind. However, it revealed a new weapon only in a quarter century, and the new great war.

Progress bitter price

After World War hard times for Europe is by no means over. Empire collapsed, the continent was engulfed in revolutionary turmoil. The Russian empire was split, and it broke new territory, now a civil war.

However, no more, probably, any technical or scientific branch that four terrible years of war would not have made a huge leap forward. World 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 inter-war, and the word “tank” has become international. The Great War, in fact, was the cradle of modern civilization. But it is not insured passed through the crucible of her “lost generation” of the new world conflagration. And this is the main lesson of 1914-1918.

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Drawing Austrian 8cm pneumatic mortar sample 1915 [1,999,003]

Первая мировая война. Гонка технологий
German airplane “Albatros” in flight. Photographed Russian aviator

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The crew of a German tank A7V special depreciation leather helmets and overalls. The soldier at the center of the face mask with attached steel chain mail mesh. 1918 [1,999,003]

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view of the battlefield to the firing point near the Belgian town of Ypres, West Flanders, 1917 [1,999,003]

Первая мировая война. Гонка технологий
Battle of Jutland 31 May – 1 June 1916 – the largest naval battle in history between the British and German fleets [1,999,003]

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German chemical attack at Ypres April 22, 1915. Aerial photography from the German positions

Первая мировая война. Гонка технологий
acetylene gun – exotic mortar predecessor

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German version of the machine gun “Maxim» – MG-08 [1,999,003]

The authors of the text – Yuri Bahurin and Eugene Belas

Yuri Bahurin – historian. Author of several publications in the central and regional scientific journals: journals “Questions of History”, “Military History Journal,” “Military-Historical Archives”, “Motherland”, “Anthology of War” anthology “Reiter” and so on. D. Author «Panzerjäger Tiger (P)” Ferdinand “. Combat application. “

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 armored vehicles in military conflicts 20s – 30s of the last century.


The Russian State Military History Archive.
State Archive of the Russian Federation.
funds of the Military Historical Museum of Artillery, Engineers and Signal Corps.
Documentary Collection of Wargaming.
Bahurin Yu , Belas E. Yu the Great War 1914-1918: the sum of technologies // Expert. 2014. № 31-33 (910). Pp 61-65.

(c) 2015 [1,999,142] Aces gg [1,999,144]

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