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Allied Aerial Reconnaissance During World War I <br />(Vanity Fair, 1918)Allied Aerial Reconnaissance During World War I
(Vanity Fair, 1918)
This article,"Photography's Notable Part in the War" was written by an active participant in the aerial reconnaissance arm of the Royal Flying Corps, Captain Henry A. Wildon. He reported that both sides in the conflict recognized early on that intelligence gathering by way of camera and aircraft was a real possibility:

"Our first airplanes in France were not supplied with photographic equipment. It was not until the beginning of 1915 that the importance of of photography became apparent, and was made possible by improvements in the type and general stability of the airplane."

The  Airborne Machine Gun <br />(Literary Digest, 1912)The Airborne Machine Gun
(Literary Digest, 1912)
"This remarkable aeroplane gun is the invention of Lieutenant-Colonel Isaac N. Lewis of the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps. Curiously enough, the gun was designed primarily for infantry and cavalry use."

Click here to read a 1918 article about the Lewis Gun.

The Anti-Barbed Wire Gun <br />(Literary Digest, 1919)The Anti-Barbed Wire Gun
(Literary Digest, 1919)
A black and white photograph of the seldom remembered French anti-barbed wire gun.

Another anti-barbed wire invention can be read here...

The German Anti-Tank Rifle <br />(Almanach Hechette, 1919)The German Anti-Tank Rifle
(Almanach Hechette, 1919)
As a response to the drastic increase in French and British tank production, German industry manufactured a powerful (if cumbersome) anti-tank rifle in early 1918. The weapon fired a 13mm armor-piercing bullet but it's heavy recoil made the weapon difficult to operate. The Abris Museum in Albert, France has one of these currently on display.
The Cockpit of the  Giant Goltha Bomber <br />(j'ai vu..., 1918)The Cockpit of the Giant Goltha Bomber
(j'ai vu..., 1918)
During the spring of 1917 the Germans developed a squadron of large aircraft capable of dropping 660-pound bombs on London -and drop them they did, killing as many as 788 human beings between May of 1917 and May of 1918. The Giant Goltha Bombers conducted these raids primarily at night and utterly terrified the East End of London. Eventually, German losses escalated and the London raids were canceled in favor of Paris and various other French targets. In 1917 this image of a Goltha cockpit appeared in the French press.

Click here to read an article about the development of aerial reconnaissance during W.W. I.

Cockpit of the  Giant Goltha Bomber <br />(j'ai vu Magazine, 1918)Cockpit of the Giant Goltha Bomber
(j'ai vu Magazine, 1918)
In the spring of 1917, the German Air Corps developed a squadron of large aircraft capable of dropping 660-pound bombs on London -and drop them they did, killing as many as 788 human beings between May of 1917 and May of 1918. The Giant Goltha Bombers conducted these raids primarily at night and utterly terrified the East End of London. Eventually, German losses escalated and the London raids were canceled in favor of Paris and various other French targets. In 1917 this image of a Goltha cockpit appeared in the French press.
The German Blockhouse <br />(L'Illustration, 1917)The German Blockhouse
(L'Illustration, 1917)
Here is an architectural plan and a photograph of a German blockhouse that was constructed in Flanders during 1917. The Historian John Laffin is very informative on this subject when he refers to it in his 1997 book, The Western Front Companion:

"Blockhouses generally measured 30 ft. along the front, with a width of 10 ft. They were sunk three feet into the ground and stood 7 feet above it. The front was up to 30 inches thick. Massively strong, a blockhouse was virtually impervious to shell-fire; even a heavy shell would merely knock a large chip off the edge."

This article appears on this site by way of a special agreement with L'Illustration.

An  Artillery Observation Tower <br />(L'Illustration, 1917)An Artillery Observation Tower
(L'Illustration, 1917)
The need for elevated artillery observation platforms is as old as the science of artillery itself. As this black and white image makes clear, the ones built during the Great War had to meet different needs: in order to evade detection from the air (as well as enemy artillery spotters) the more successful ones were built among the taller trees and draped in camouflage.

This article appears on this site by way of a special agreement with L'Illustration.

Armed Motorcycles <br />(Popular Mechanics, 1914)Armed Motorcycles
(Popular Mechanics, 1914)
The combining of machine gun and motorcycle was an entirely Canadian concept that made an appearance early in the war. It is highly likely that the vehicles never got their "baptism of fire":

"an interesting adaptation of the motorcycle to military uses has been made by employing it as a light artillery vehicle...the accompanying photograph shows a machine gun mounted on a sidecar chassis."

German Howitzers <br />(Popular Mechanics, 1914)German Howitzers
(Popular Mechanics, 1914)
At the time, the war of 1914 - 1918 was unique in the sense that it was the first war in which more men were killed as a result of the projectiles rather than from disease; and it was artillery that did the lion's share of the killing. This article appeared during the early months of the war when the world was shocked to learn of the astounding losses due to advancements in artillery. There is an illustration of an unidentified German howitzer (more than likely a 1911 model 210mm) and an account of the roll that German gunnery played during the siege of Liege and Fort Loncin in particular.

"The one big surprise for the military experts thus far developed in the European war is the effectiveness of the heavy guns of the German field artillery. Never before have such terrible engines of annihilation been carried by an invading army as those used in the assault upon the forts at Liege."

German Mortars and Field Guns <br />(Almanach Hachette, 1919)German Mortars and Field Guns
(Almanach Hachette, 1919)
A couple of the primary field guns of the German artillery corps are clearly rendered in black and white on the attached file: the 105mm field gun and the 150mm howitzer. Also illustrated are two German trench mortars; 240mm and 305mm, respectively.
German Gas Shells <br />(Almanach Hachette, 1919)German Gas Shells
(Almanach Hachette, 1919)
The attached is a black and white diagram depicting five different German gas artillery shells that were manufactured to be fired from a number of different guns of varying calibers.
In retaliation for a 1914 French tear-gas grenade attack at Neuve Chapelle, the German Army, on April 22, 1915, hurled 520 gas shells at British and Canadian units in Belgium, killing five thousand and incapacitating ten thousand more.

Clicke here to read more articles about W.W. I gas warfare.

Shrapnel Shells <br />(Freedom's Triumph, 1919)Shrapnel Shells
(Freedom's Triumph, 1919)
Attached herein are diagrams of three World War I shrapnel artillery shells designed for use on land. The illustrator provided precise details concerning the mechanism of each - the precise operation of the percussion fuse, the time ring, the location of the acid and the essential shrapnel projectiles.
A Diagram of  Germany's Only World War I Tank <br />(Almanach Hachette, 1919)A Diagram of Germany's Only World War I Tank
(Almanach Hachette, 1919)
A black and white diagram depicting the interior and exterior of the German A7V heavy tank. Manufactured in the spring of 1918, only twenty were ever known to have existed. Although the illustration depicts only two men, it is said that the tank had a crew of 18 and measured 26 feet, three inches in length and 10.5 feet in width. The A7V had two heavy Maxim machine guns placed within it's turret, while the tank's primary weapon was a 57mm gun mounted at the very front (these guns were believed to have been of Russian or Belgian origin). The tank could travel an estimated fifty miles at the top speed of 6 mph; it weighed 32 tons and sported armor plating that was 30mm thick at the bow and 20mm thick all around. The tank's two 150 horse-power, 4-cylinder water cooled engines were made by Daimler.
A Diagram of the French Renault Tank <br />(Freedom's Triumph, 1919)A Diagram of the French Renault Tank
(Freedom's Triumph, 1919)
The French made light Renault tank was first seen on the Western Front in 1918, it had a crew of two, measured 13 feet (4 meters) in length and weighed 6.5 tons. The tank's 35 hp. engine moved it along at a top speed of 6 mph. The factory options were few: one turret was fashioned to accommodate a 37mm gun while the other was made for a machine gun. The American Army placed 227 of these tanks in the field; these Renaults were distinctly different from those commanded by their French allies: the American version sported an octagonal turret (the French used a circular one) and steel wheels (the French Army preferred wood).

If you wish to read about the only German tank of World War I, click here.

Read about the Patton tank in Korea...

A New  Propaganda Delivery Sysytem <br />(Literary Digest, 1917)A New Propaganda Delivery Sysytem
(Literary Digest, 1917)
Photographs of a small, hand-held helium balloon being loaded with German translations of President Wilson's April (1917) war address in order that they might be released over the German trenches. This small notice makes clear that this particular method of persuasion resulted in fifty Germans surrendering.
Armored Cars and Trucks <br />(Vanity Fair, 1916)Armored Cars and Trucks
(Vanity Fair, 1916)
The American trucks and armored cars pictured here were not created specifically for the Great War, but no doubt they were sold to the French and British; a year later these trucks arrived with the A.E.F.. The bull dog that has for so long adorned the hood of the Mack truck dates to this conflict -"the bull dog" was the nick-name bestowed upon that vehicle by the Tommies.

Recognizing the importance of armored vehicles, a group of American Millionaires, among them Henry Clay Frick (1849 - 1919), pooled their money and donated a number of such items to the New York National Guard. Vanity Fair Magazine followed this story and produced this article as it developed with a thorough review of each of the donated military vehicles. Although the trucks are photographed, few are named.

The Revolver-Canon <br />(Sur Le Vif, 1915)The Revolver-Canon
(Sur Le Vif, 1915)
The French made "Revolver Canon" must have had some difficulties...
A French Armored Car <br />(Sur Le Vif, 1915)A French Armored Car
(Sur Le Vif, 1915)
Two "action photographs" show a French armored car getting the job done in Northern France.

Read about the Patton tank in Korea...

The Steel Tree Stump, Part II <br />(Literary Digest, 1919)The Steel Tree Stump, Part II
(Literary Digest, 1919)
A black and white photograph illustrating one of the many iron tree stumps used throughout the war which served as field observation posts. It was in the night, when work was done by both sides to preserve and refortify their respective trenches that objects such as these were erected.
The Steel Tree Stump, Part I <br />(Popular Mechanics, 1917)The Steel Tree Stump, Part I
(Popular Mechanics, 1917)
The American press seemed a bit late in writing about the wartime innovations when they printed this piece:

"Observation posts made of lumber and sheet metal to look like tree trunks are among the latest disguises employed on the battle front to deceive the enemy and enable watchers to occupy positions of advantage."

The steel tree-stump gag had been in effect since 1915.

The Dummy Horse Observation Post <br />(Popular Mechanics, 1918)The Dummy Horse Observation Post
(Popular Mechanics, 1918)
History's ancient example of camouflage, the Trojan horse, has a modern twist in this illustrated article. The journalist reported that at some undated point earlier in the war the French had a chance to set a mock horse-carcass between the opposing trenches and use it as an observation post. It is quick read.
Papier-Mache Used to Deceive German Snipers <br />(Popular Mechanics, 1917)Papier-Mache Used to Deceive German Snipers
(Popular Mechanics, 1917)
By the time the U.S. Army had joined the war in 1917, they were far behind in the study of camouflage, but they did their best to catch up quickly. The American generals assigned the task camouflage to the Signal Corps, which began to cruise the ranks for artists and sculptors because of their natural abilities understand paint and scale (one of the more well-known W.W. I Signal Corps camofleurs was the painter Grant Wood: click here to read about him).

The attached article displays an illustration that clearly shows that the American Army had torn a page out of that well-worn play book written by the British Camouflage School in order to deploy papier-mache dummies along the front lines. There is no evidence or written word to indicate that it was actually done.

A Weird Anti-Barb Wire Artillery  Shell  <br />(Scientific American, 1917)A Weird Anti-Barb Wire Artillery Shell
(Scientific American, 1917)
During much of the war, inventors from all combatant nations had been trying to make a artillery projectile that could eradicate the obstacle that had become one of the symbols of trench warfare: barbed-wire. No one seemed up to the task and in the end, wire-cutters were still the best way to deal with the problem.

This article is about one inventor's failed effort to create a time fuse artillery shell that would deploy hooks that grab the wire as it goes speeding by and thereby saving the day. Needless to say, the "hook thing" didn't work out terribly well and the difficulty inherit with time fuse artillery shells would be perfected in the inter-war years.

A Three Part Anti-Aircraft Shell <br />(Scientific American, 1917)A Three Part Anti-Aircraft Shell
(Scientific American, 1917)
An "Honorable Mention" was certainly in order for the British inventor Edward Dartford Holmes who thought up a three tiered, time fuse anti-artillery shell:

"Briefly, his scheme calls for a shrapnel shell containing a number of compartments which are each exploded in turn at predetermined intervals."

French Artillery Pieces <br />(Almanach Hachette, 1919)French Artillery Pieces
(Almanach Hachette, 1919)
Assorted black and white illustrations depicting an variety of French artillery pieces from the years 1916 and 1917; among them is a railway gun, "Obusier de 520"

Click here to learn about the timing fuses designed for W.W. I shrapnel shells.

The British Ball Grenade  <br />(Trench Warfare, 1917)The British Ball Grenade
(Trench Warfare, 1917)
The attached mechanical drawing depicts one of the most common ignition grenades that were put to use by British and Commonwealth forces during World War One. The Ball grenade was essentially a cast-iron sphere that measured three inches in diameter and it was one of any number of British grenades that used the Brock lighter.

A Diagram of a French WW I Grenade <br />(NY Times, 1918)A Diagram of a French WW I Grenade
(NY Times, 1918)
A black and white mechanical drawing of a World War One French grenade with all parts labeled. In 1918, the New York Times wrote:

"The "pine-apple grenade", or as the French are wont to call it, the "citron" grenade (lemon) is charged with a powerful explosion called shedite, which when exploded on open ground is said to cause injuries at 250 yards. Primed with a sensitive detonator, the grenade is caused to explode when it strikes the ground. Very often the grenade is not thrown far enough, so the that the explosion is likely to cause casualties among one's own troops. Apart from these disadvantages, the grenade is an excellent weapon for hand to hand fighting.

The Mills Bomb <br />(Trench Warfare, 1917)The Mills Bomb
(Trench Warfare, 1917)
A black and white mechanical drawing illustrating the most famous of British hand grenades that was ever used by British and Commonwealth forces during the course of World War One.
Varieties of German Grenades <br />(Freedom's Triumph, 1919)Varieties of German Grenades
(Freedom's Triumph, 1919)
Dramatic diagrams of the three varieties of German grenades that were found along the World War One battlefields: the German "stick grenade" (ie. potato masher), the disc grenade and the rifle grenade.
A British Shrapnel Grenade <br />(Trench Warfare, 1917)A British Shrapnel Grenade
(Trench Warfare, 1917)
During the earliest days of the war the British and Empire armies were seldom issued grenades, but the need for such weaponry became apparent once it was clear to all that trench warfare was going to be the norm. The earliest grenades (improvised by both sides) were simply food tins that were jam-packed with an explosive mixed with nails, glass shards and bits of iron. By 1915 grenade production was in full swing and British historians have estimated that throughout the course of the war on the Western Front, British and Commonwealth forces had used fifteen million hand-grenades.

The following article concern a British shrapnel grenade that is of the heavy friction pattern.

Germany Introduces the Leather Gas Mask <br />(Popular Mechanics, 1917)Germany Introduces the Leather Gas Mask
(Popular Mechanics, 1917)
A year and a half before the end of World War I, the German Army introduced the "Lederschutzmasken", a leather gas mask made of specially treated Bavarian sheepskin with removable lenses. Designed to replace the rubberized cloth gas masks, the 1917 respirators proved to be far more effective against phosgene gas than the 1915 masks. The Allied powers dismissed the new design as evidence that material shortages on the German home front were forcing changes.

Click here to read about the celebrations that took place in Paris the day World War One ended.

An Early Gas Mask <br />(Magazine Ad, 1915)An Early Gas Mask
(Magazine Ad, 1915)
At the time when the Entente powers were first exposed to poisonous gas in the spring of 1915, their respective quartermasters scrambled to secure suitable antidotes and precautionary measures that would save the men in the front line trenches. One of the earliest improvisations was a gauze face mask that covered both mouth and nose, drenched in urine. The attached commercial illustration is from the margins of the French news magazine, L'ILLUSTRATION which depicts one of these earlier attempts.

Click here to see an illustration of the German gas shells.
Clicke here to read more articles about W.W. I gas warfare.

The Lewis Gun <br />(The Great War Monthly, 1918)The Lewis Gun
(The Great War Monthly, 1918)
"The Lewis gun was, in the circumstances, a weapon of very considerable value. It helped the British infantry to hold back masses of the enemy in the opening phase of the war, and became one of the most important instruments of attack and defense during the long period of trench warfare."

"The light Lewis gun became the favourite weapon of the British airman, against the Parabellum gun of German pilots and fighting observers."

Click here if you wish to read about the American inventor of the Lewis Gun.

Trench Mortar <br />(The Great War, 1918)Trench Mortar
(The Great War, 1918)
The attached is a photo from a 1918 issue of GREAT WAR MAGAZINE and pictures the Brandt Grenade-Thrower - designed in 1916 by the Frenchman Edgar William Brandt (1880 - 1960). A commonly used piece of trench artillery that was most often found in the French sectors, it is easily recognized by it's highly pronounced barrel that narrowed at the muzzle. An air operated mortar of 75mm caliber, this piece was one of several compressed air projectors deployed by the French Army.
Invented for Sharp Shooters in the Trenches <br />(The Great War, 1918)Invented for Sharp Shooters in the Trenches
(The Great War, 1918)
The German slide-rule jockeys of World War I burned the midnight oil well into the early hours coming up with this weird steel mask for their sharp-shooters...

Click here to learn more about W.W. I snipers.

Liquid Fire <br />(Literary Digest, 1916)Liquid Fire
(Literary Digest, 1916)
- A well-illustrated article which sought to explain to American readers the workings of one of the most heinous inventions of the First World War:

"This idea of projecting upon the adverse trenches and their occupants a rain of liquid fire was no sudden afterthought of the German mind. It was conceived, studied, and perfected for several years before the war, and its history may be traced in the German patent office."

Naval Camouflage of W.W. I <br />(Sea Power Magazine, 1919)Naval Camouflage of W.W. I
(Sea Power Magazine, 1919)
It was Lt. Commander Norman Wilkinson (1878 - 1971) of the Royal Navy who deduced that white (reflecting blue at night) was a suitable base color for naval camouflage. Wilkinson based his reasoning on the snow-capped iceberg that made such quick work of TITANIC, remembering all the while that seagulls are white, as are pelicans and the Antarctic Petrels. When the war broke out, his findings were presented to the Admiralty and it was concluded that elements of the North Atlantic fleet should be so painted. They added the black in order that the ships appear gray on the horizon.
The Mining of the Seas <br />(Sea Power, 1919)The Mining of the Seas
(Sea Power, 1919)
Naval mines had been around for centuries, in one form or another - and this article pertains to the particular type of anti U-boat mines that were put in place along those well-traveled sea lanes known best by that kind of German warship.
American Naval Mines of W.W. I <br />(Sea Power Magazine, 1919)American Naval Mines of W.W. I
(Sea Power Magazine, 1919)
"Being the story of the second of the three splendid achievements of the United States Navy in the World War: the laying of the greatest submarine mine barrier in all history, which effectually prevented the Kaiser's U-boats from leaving their secret bases for the steamer lanes of the Atlantic."

The Evolution of the Tank <br />(NY Times, 1919)The Evolution of the Tank
(NY Times, 1919)
A three page article concerning the development of tanks during the First World War. While they were being created on the drawing boards of Britain's W. Foster Company, the code name for these land dreadnoughts was "water tanks"; hence the name.

"The first armored battle cars, or "tanks" were a British invention developed from an American automobile tractor used for agricultural purposes on the Western prairies. They made their initial appearance at the battle of the Somme (Flers), September 15, 1916."

However, it should be known that they were first used to greatest effect in the Battle of Cambrai (November 20 through December 7, 1917).

Click here to see a diagram of the W.W. I French Renault tank.

Read about the Patton tank in Korea...

American Trench Periscopes <br />(America's Munitions, 1919)American Trench Periscopes
(America's Munitions, 1919)
The U.S Army only ordered two types of trench periscopes during the war. The first kind was a simple wooden box, painted a lovely shade of olive drab and measuring two inches square and 15 inches in length with two inclined mirrors set at both ends (pictured). This type was manufactured by two companies and well over 100,000 were produced.

The second variety was a mirror that was designed to fixed to the end of a bayonet, "a total of 100,000 of these were delivered before the end of July, 1918 and 50,000 additional ones before November".

(Until we get the title link fixed, you can read the article by clicking here.)

Helmets Along the Western Front <br />(Literary Digest, 1915)Helmets Along the Western Front
(Literary Digest, 1915)
The tremendous advances in artillery that took place during the years leading up to the war helped to reintroduce an old, time-tested element to the uniforms of the 20th Century soldier: the helmet.

So numerous were head injuries from high-explosive shells during the first year of the war that it compelled the doctors on both sides to beg their respective generals to issue some measure of cranium protection in order to reduce the casualty figures. As you will read in the attached article, the French began to wear helmets in the fall of 1915; the British and Germans a year later.