Do Now: Watch the video and answer the questions below:
1. What message is the SMART Board slide trying to make? How do you feel about this?
2. Why would the U.S. Air Force make a television commercial like this?
Technology of Modern Warfare
The enormous casualties suffered on the Western Front proved the devastating power of modern weapons,
which greatly added to the destructiveness of the war.
The automatic machine gun was a mounted gun that fired a rapid,
continuous stream of bullets and made it possible for a few gunners to mow
down waves of soldiers. In theory, machine guns could fire 400-600 small-
caliber rounds per minute, a figure that was to more than double by the war's
end, with rounds fed via a fabric belt or a metal strip. Some have estimated a
single machine gun to be worth as many as 60-100 rifles.
July 30th: Heavy casualties coming to our M.O. Many men with nerves completely gone, crying like children with no
control of themselves. A man killed a few yards from us. Anybody's turn now.
July 31st: Heavy gun and shell fire continually going on, no slacking night or day. Doctors are kept busy and a cemetery
has opened between two lines of guns and the pegs are rapidly increasing."
-from the diary of a British infantryman, WWI
Machine guns weighed somewhere in the 65-130 pound range - often without their mountings,
carriages and supplies.
Machine guns required a gun crew of four to six operators.
Early machine guns would rapidly overheat and become inoperative, so they were fired in short
rather than sustained bursts.
Machine guns jammed frequently, especially in hot conditions or when used by inexperienced
How did the machine gun contribute to the stalemate that the Allies and Central Powers faced on the
The Armored Tank
“The vehicle must boast a minimum speed of four miles per hour, be able to climb a five foot high obstacle, successfully
span a five foot trench, and - critically - be immune to the effects of small-arms fire. Furthermore, it should possess
two machine guns, have a range of twenty miles and be maintained by a crew of ten men.”
Based on the style of warfare that was used in WWI, why do you the British gave these criteria to tank
"We heard strange throbbing noises, and lumbering slowly towards us came three huge mechanical
monsters such as we had never seen before. My first impression was that they looked ready to topple on
their noses, but their tails and the two little wheels at the back held them down and kept them level. Big
metal things they were, with two sets of caterpillar wheels that went right round the body. There was a
huge bulge on each side with a door in the bulging part, and machine guns on swivels poked out from either
Benefits of Tanks Drawbacks of Tanks
By Air and by Sea
Germany was the first country to employ submarines in war. These “unterseeboots,” or U-boats, were
underwater ships that could launch torpedoes or guided underwater bombs. At the outset of World War I,
German U-boats, though numbering only 38, achieved notable successes against British warships; but
because of the reactions of neutral powers (especially the United States) Germany hesitated before
adopting unrestricted U-boat warfare against merchant ships. The decision to do so in February 1917 was
largely responsible for the entry of the United States into the war. In April 1917, 430 Allied and neutral
ships totaling 852,000 tons were sunk, and it seemed likely that the German gamble would succeed.
However, the introduction of convoys, the arrival of numerous U.S. destroyers, and the vast output of
American shipyards turned the tables. By the end of the war Germany had built 334 U-boats and had 226
under construction, but there were never more than about 60 at sea at one time. In 1914–18 the destruction—
more than 10,000,000 tons—caused by the U-boats was especially remarkable in view of the small size (less
than l,000 tons), frailty, and vulnerability of the craft.
"The steamer appeared to be close to us and looked colossal. I saw the captain walking on his bridge, a small
whistle in his mouth. I saw the crew cleaning the deck forward, and I saw, with surprise and a slight
shudder, long rows of wooden partitions right along all decks, from which gleamed the shining black and
brown backs of horses. 'Stand by for firing a torpedo!' I called down to the control room.' 'FIRE!' A slight
tremor went through the boat - the torpedo had gone. The death-bringing shot was a true one, and the
torpedo ran towards the doomed ship at high speed. I could follow its course exactly by the light streak of
bubbles which was left in its wake."
"I saw that the bubble-track of the torpedo had been discovered on the bridge of the steamer, as frightened
arms pointed towards the water and the captain put his hands in front of his eyes and waited resignedly.
Then a frightful explosion followed, and we were all thrown against one another by the concussion, and
then, like Vulcan, huge and majestic, a column of water two hundred metres high and fifty metres broad,
terrible in its beauty and power, shot up to the heavens."
“They all rushed, ran, screamed for boats, tore and thrust one another from the ladders leading down to
them, fought for the lifebelts and jostled one another on the sloping deck. The men left behind were
wringing their hands in despair and running to and fro along the decks; finally they threw themselves into
the water so as to swim to the boats."
Why do you think the U-Boats were such an effective weapon?
In the first few months of the war, combat between airplanes was unknown; they were used for
reconnaissance photographs and some far-sighted aviators could envision using them for bombing. In 1915,
Germany used zeppelins, large gas-filled balloons, to bomb the English coast. Initially, defenders were
powerless as the Zeppelins flew at altitudes too high for defending aircraft or artillery to reach. It is
estimated that only 10% of the bombs dropped from Zeppelins actually hit their target. The psychological
impact of these raids, however, was enough to cause the British to dedicate precious air and ground units to
deal with this threat from the sky.
After some pilots took up pistols and rifles, some planes had machine guns mounted in the observer's seat,
which typically fired rearward or to the side. When a French pilot, Roland Garros, bolted steel deflectors to
his propeller, which permitted him to fire a machine gun through it, the airplane became an offensive
weapon. On the Western Front, the British and French air force outnumbered the Germans during World
War One. Together they produced 125,000 aircraft, while the Germans built less than 50,000. With these
superior numbers, the Allies were generally able to take the fight to the Germans, bombing and
reconnoitering over their lines.
“The airman, flying about the Zeppelin, let go rounds of machine-gun fire at her without effect, until one round fired
into her from beneath set her on fire, and down she came a blazing mass, roaring like a furnace, breaking as she fell into
two parts which were held together by internal cables until they reached the ground.”
What were the advantages and disadvantages of attacking an enemy by air?
In 1915, Germany began using poison gas that blinded or choked its victims or caused agonizing burns and
blisters. Later that year, the Allies also began to use gas. The first poison gas used in WWI was chlorine,
which, within seconds of inhaling its vapor, destroyed the victim's respiratory organs. Next came the use
of phosgene gas, which was more potent than chlorine. Finally, mustard gas was used, which would cause
serious blisters both internally and externally. Though soldiers were eventually given gas masks, poison
gas remained one of the most dreaded hazards of the war. Although poison gas could be fatal, it was an
uncertain weapon. Shifting winds might blow the gas back on the side that launched it. One British
soldier recalled the effects of being gassed:
“I suppose I resembled a kind of fish with my mouth open gasping for air. It seemed as if my lungs were gradually
shutting up and my heart pounded away in my ears like the beat of a drum…to get air into my lungs was real agony.”
How do you think poisonous gas affected the war?