How did the use of new technologies during World War I influence the war? Which side benefited the most from which technologies?

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thetall's profile pic

thetall | (Level 1) Senior Educator

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Trenches made military advances difficult, which forced the different sides to develop new technologies to achieve advantages over their opponents. The German Army developed and used flame throwers in attempts to deal with soldiers taking positions in the trenches. The technology worked to an extent, but the German Army realized that it left the operators vulnerable to small arms attacks due to its limited range.

The introduction of tanks by the Allies earned them some advantages. The tanks were designed to travel over trenches. However, the tanks were highly unreliable and suffered mechanical faults during operation. It was only until World War 2 that they were well developed.

The German side developed and deployed the U-9 submarines to counter the British Naval power. The U-boats were quite effective in sinking commercial and attacking ships belonging to the Allies. However, the U-boats could not stop the naval blockade against Germany. 

The Lewis gun designed and developed by the United States was the first true light machine gun used in the war. Although it could be operated by one man, ammunition setting required assistance from other soldiers. Its inadequacies led to the development of the Browning Automatic Rifle M1918, which provided better movement and operation for the soldier. The German side also benefited from developments of its machine gun as experienced during the Battle of the Somme.

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mkoren's profile pic

mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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New technologies were used in World War I. Both sides benefitted from the new technology. The Central Powers used several new technologies in World War I. The Germans used the Zeppelin to attack Allied sites. The Zeppelin was an airship that could carry bombs and travel over 100 miles per hour. The Germans also used a howitzer gun. This could fire shells over a long distance. The Germans used chlorine gas in World War I. This gas could kill if inhaled. The Germans developed the flamethrower. This basically fired a stream of liquid fire when used. Additionally, gas shells were used.

The Allies also used new technologies. The British developed the armored car called the Napier. The British air force used tracer ammunition. This allowed a pilot to see where his fired shots were going. The Allies used gas masks to counter the German use of chlorine gas. The American Army used the Browning machine gun. The Allies also introduced the tank as a weapon of war.

Both sides used airplanes. However, the use of airplanes was not a major factor in the war. It did signal that they would be a major factor in future wars.

Thus, both sides developed, used and benefited from new technology in World War I.