- This topic has 11 voices and 28 replies.
January 11, 2006 at 7:03 am #109January 22, 2006 at 6:31 am #4771kingjoeyParticipant
I’d have to say that gunpowder opened the door to several different weapons. Cannons, firearms, and bombs were all developed from this invention. The wheel also ranks high as it allowed armies to move larger weapons and seige equipment farther from their bases of operationJanuary 23, 2006 at 5:55 am #4772
I think that gunpowder certainly did separate its age of warfare from the previous age. According to this site, gunpowder was introduced to Europe some time in the 13th Century. Obviously, it took some time for it to spread in its use before it came to be a force in military technology. Had one nation taken the lead to begin to produce weapons utilizing gunpowder, it would have had a clear advantage over its rivals. I don’t know that this happened, though.
I remember watching a show a few years ago about fireworks, and how that kind of powder was used in carnivals or some entertainment form in Italy...perhaps Venice...I think during the Renaissance. They liked the bright, "sparkly" colors, no doubt.
Certainly, the U.S. had an advantage with the atom bomb in 1945. Even today, one of the reasons for the U.S. dominance in its role as a superpower is its nuclear arsenal, and its ability to sustain such an arsenal (the economics of it probably helped bring the USSR down during the Cold War). Today, there's constant worrying that rogue nations - or even careless ones - will get nuclear technology. This would take away some advantage the U.S. has in terms of military might, but it would also push the world closer to destruction. Unfortunately, these nations will not know the lessons learned by the superpowers during the Cold War.January 24, 2006 at 8:45 am #4773DonaldBakerParticipant
I’m going to say the Maxim machine gun was the most devastating and remarkable advancement in warfare. The use of internal energy to self load a weapon in milli-seconds made killing easy enough for event he most novice soldier. The maxi gun made marksmanship a secondary concern as the maxi just sprayed the field with its destruction. Britain maintained a global empire with that remarkable weapon.January 24, 2006 at 4:40 pm #4774
When was the Maxim used? Last summer I went to the Museum of American History at the Smithsonian where I saw a history of guns. I remember one of the earlier machine guns must have had about 20 barrels, all lined up side by side (this must have been pre-Gatling). I think it was around WWI that they started producing a machine gun that resembled modern-day guns.February 3, 2006 at 6:46 am #4775kingjoeyParticipant
IIRC the Maxim was introduced in 1908. The gun you are thinking of was a carriage mounted setup that held multiple barrels loaded with blackpowder and balls. This was used as a predecessor to the Gatling as it allowed multiple shots without reloading. Unfortunately, when it had to be reloaded it was out of commission for several minutesMarch 2, 2006 at 3:49 pm #4776jonnyjmboyParticipant
How about the invention of the sword? I have no earthly idea when that happened in history, but has there ever been an instrument more closely associated with warfare? Swords are not useful for anything but killing and fighting. you can't make anything with them, build furniture, they are not good kitchen tools. I suppose you could harvest grain with them, and a lot of the pictures i've seen of ancient civilizations have soldiers using modified scythes as swords. But for the most part, the sword is exclusively for warfare, and certainly a huge step on the road to modern warfare.March 2, 2006 at 4:56 pm #4777
While watching a show on Biblical battles, I learned a bit about the different forms of swords. The early Israelites began using the sickle sword which had a “bent”, curved blade. I believe that they adopted this from another civilization during the time. However, they also would have used things such as clubs – inferior to the sword. The advantage of the sickle sword was that it was good for slicing things with, and perhaps as such it was also used in some form or another for harvesting. The disadvantage was that it would not be used to directly pierce.Later on, by the time of David and Jonathan, the Israelites battled the Philistines using a superior weapon, a version of the short sword which had been developed (I believe by another civilization of the era). This weapon was superior because of its piercing power with its pointed end. What's interesting is how long the sword was used in battle, even after its time in the limelight as a primary weapon had ceased. I think that it is obvious that its decline came with the invention of gunpowder sometime during the late Renaissance period, but even then it took several hundred years for an effective firearm to be produced that could be used as a primary weapon. This was probably some time during the 1600s or so, meaning the sword was a primary instrument for over 3000 years (!!). An impressive history, indeed.March 8, 2006 at 3:06 am #4778nemesisenforcerParticipant
The advent of nuclear weapons. Nothing else in history so fundamentally altered calculations of risk and reward between nations or alliances like The Bomb. The chance of eradicating millions of people in the time it takes to push a button is truly frightening and such a power and threat can serve as the greatest restraint imaginable.March 8, 2006 at 5:46 am #4779
I think you're right about this one. It separated one nation from the rest in such a gigantic way. It is the real doomsday weapon. Forunately, it was confined to countries which kept it largely secure for many years. Unfortunately, for whatever reason (likely because of man's nature), nuclear secrets have made their way around, and we really should ask how soon it will be before one of these new atomic countries (India, Pakistan, or another) uses such a weapon on its enemy.This is not to say that more powerful weapons won't be developed in the future (i.e. something which is more secretively delivered). But the a-bomb's development certainly was a break from wars (and geo-politics) of the past.April 23, 2006 at 11:29 pm #4780
I'll throw in here – while watching a program on castles it said that it was in 1464 that Bamburg castle in Britain was the first castle to be hit by gunpowder weapons (cannon). So it was around this time that castle warfare died down. I imagine that it was amazing for both the winning and losing armies to be in a cannon vs. castle style of battle.April 27, 2006 at 3:59 pm #4781jonnyjmboyParticipant
here's a thought…The invention of the airplane. One of the very first applications after the Wright bros. got the bugs worked out of their flying machine was as military transport, or a spy delivery system. The resultant growth of military aeronautics has been explosive, and coincidently, the only practical method of delivering a nuclear weapon, until the creation of the Crusader artillery cannon, which can spit a shell an uncannily long distance.April 27, 2006 at 10:14 pm #4782Cousin AviParticipant
I agree with the nuclear weapons. It's simply so destructive to the point where we could destroy everyone and everything with them.April 28, 2006 at 1:09 am #4783
Nuclear weapons certainly ushered in a new age of “total warfare”. From then on, no one nation could really ever hope to rule the world as long as an enemy had an arsenal of nukes. So there is a definite dividing line there.The airplane is another good thought, as it did bring in a whole new dimension of warfare. Up until that time, man had fought on the ground or at sea for thousands of years. Along with the airplane came a whole new way of looking at battles, and strategy all of a sudden had to contend with a new dimension. So what could another "new" potential dimension be? How could wars be fought that change the very strategy of campaigns? Perhaps a time machine? Hmmm..... 😛April 29, 2006 at 12:01 am #4784nemesisenforcerParticipant
Nuclear weapons certainly ushered in a new age of "total warfare". From then on, no one nation could really ever hope to rule the world as long as an enemy had an arsenal of nukes. So there is a definite dividing line there.The airplane is another good thought, as it did bring in a whole new dimension of warfare. Up until that time, man had fought on the ground or at sea for thousands of years. Along with the airplane came a whole new way of looking at battles, and strategy all of a sudden had to contend with a new dimension. So what could another "new" potential dimension be? How could wars be fought that change the very strategy of campaigns? Perhaps a time machine? Hmmm..... 😛
I don't think there will be any more fundamental shifts after nuclear weapons. The whole arc of military history has been the race to win faster and more completely against your enemy, in short to be more destructive of him than he is of you, and nothing that I can conceive of is potentially more destructive than nukes.