Engines in Warfare: Submarines and Missiles

By: John Miller
Estimated Completion Time
3 min
Engines in Warfare: Submarines and Missiles
Image: Stocktrek Images/ Stocktrek Images/gettyimages

About This Quiz

In the history of warfare, men have devised all manner of ways to slaughter their opponents. From spears to machine guns to atomic bombs, it seems there are unending ways to cause mayhem. In recent centuries, particularly the 20th, we witnessed the rise of advanced missile systems and submarine warfare. But what do you really know about the history of high-tech rockets and undersea warships?

Missiles, or rockets, have scorched the skies for hundreds of years. Cultures that we may regard as primitive actually made some sophisticated tweaks to basic rockets, turning them into effective death delivery mechanisms. These days, of course, first-world countries possess sophisticated missiles that can swoop toward targets at mind-boggling distances. Can you name any of the most famous and fearsome missiles on Earth?

We’ll also plunge from the clouds into the ocean’s murky depths. There, we’ll see the devastating power of submarines. These predators of the deep have been around longer than you think … and now, they can deliver weapons of mass destruction. As a bonus, none of them are commanded by Sean Connery doing an awful Russian accent!

Scream through the skies and plunge through the waves of this warfare quiz now! Let’s find out how much you know about subs and missiles!

What's the purpose of military missiles?
to kill single soldiers
to deliver warheads
Missiles have messages, all right -- deadly messages. They deliver explosive warheads meant to destroy both men and machines.
to deliver messages

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When did submarines first see combat?
Spanish Civil War
American Civil War
It was the Confederates that opened the era of submarine warfare. In 1864, the H.L. Hunley sank the USS Housatonic. But then the Hunley immediately sank, too.
World War II

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How are missiles propelled through the air?
powerful fans
hot gases
Missiles typically rely on explosives gases for motion. Those gases push missiles through the air at incredible velocity.
flames of fear

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Military rockets were probably first used in which area of the world?
China
There is no definitive record of the first military rocket. But most historians say Chinese troops used them all the way back in the 13th century.
France
United States

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What weapon did the H.L. Hunley submarine use to sink the USS Housatonic in the Civil War?
explosive kite
spar torpedo
The Hunley rammed the Housatonic with a spar torpedo, essentially an explosive-tipped spear. Five men on the Housatonic were killed. Then Hunley then sank … taking with her a crew of eight.
grenade launcher

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When did the use of explosive rockets first appear in Europe?
13th century
The concept of explosive missiles spread quickly from China in the 1200s. Europeans began using them to attack their enemies in that century, too.
18th century
20th century

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What were German submarines in both World Wars called?
U-boats
In both World Wars, Germany made good use of U-boats. They were Unterseeboots, which stood for "undersea boats," and they roamed the seas in so-called "wolf packs," sending Allied ships to early ends.
B-boats
S-boats

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In what war did missiles finally make a major impact?
American Civil War
American Revolution
World War II
Commanders tinkered with missiles in World War I, but the technologies were still primitive. In WWII, though, missiles shredded the skies in countless numbers.

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The CSS David was a Confederate submarine in the Civil War. It used anthracite coal as fuel. Why?
It doubled as a weapon.
It had four times as much energy as regular coal.
It doesn't produce smoke.
The CSS David was perhaps the very first sub used in the Civil War. It used anthracite coal as fuel. This kind of coal produces almost no smoke … and thus made the David very hard to see in dim light.

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What trend took hold in air-to-ground missiles following WWII?
laser guidance
pods that fired many rockets at once
After WWII, many designers began mounting pods of missiles onto the wings of aircraft. These pods didn't have accurate guidance … but their incredible volume of fire savaged ground forces large and small.
chemical warheads

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Bazookas are rockets intended primarily for use against which target?
individual soldiers
tanks
In WWII, tanks were a common (and terrifying) threat. Bazookas were rockets that measured about 20 inches … and with an accurate hand, could disable heavily armored tanks.
bombers

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German U-boats were most effective in which aspect of WWII?
damaging aircraft carriers
destroying coastal cities
sinking merchant ships
U-boats have a reputation as fierce offensive weapons of WWII. But in reality, they were most effective in sinking merchant ships and conducting blockades of critical ocean routes.

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What's the purpose of a SAM?
to destroy enemy bunkers
to shoot down planes
SAMs are surface-to-air missiles. Modern SAMs can automatically track enemy planes and then blast them out of the skies.
to blast submarines

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How do famous AIM‐9 Sidewinder missiles find their targets?
big magnets
heat-seeking technology
Sidewinder missiles are heat-seeking missiles. And because enemy planes produce a lot of heat … boom.
trained rabbits guide them

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In which war did a submarine first sink another sub?
American Revolution
Gulf War
World War I
Sub-on-sub attacks are incredibly rare. In 1914, during WWI, German U-27 managed to torpedo a British sub named the HMS E3, killing 28 British crew.

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The first air-to-air missiles made their appearance in which conflict?
Vietnam War
Russian Civil War
World War I
In World War I, warplanes took to the skies by the tens of thousands. Primitive air-to-air missiles also debuted, but they had no guidance system outside of the pilot's trigger finger.

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What was a common nickname for some German rockets during WWII?
"Sobbing Sally"
“Moaning Minnie”
Germany shot countless missiles in WWII. Those numbers included the “Moaning Minnie” or "Screaming Meemie," which made terrifying and distinct noises as they approached their doomed targets.
"Happy Harold"

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How many times in history have submerged submarines engaged and sunk another submerged sub?
once
In February 1942, Britain's HMS Venturer attacked and sank German U-864. It's the only (revealed) time in history that one sub has has successly destroyed another sub while both were deep underwater.
six times
countless

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Air-to-air missiles in WWI were mostly used against which targets?
bunkers
large targets like balloons
Sans guidance systems, WWI air-to-air missiles were nearly impossible to use against other planes. But they were useful against large reconnaissance balloons and similar targets.
small fighters

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In 1914, the HMS Pathfinder became the first ship ever to be sunk by which type of submarine weapon?
mine
torpedo
The British HMS Pathfinder is a sad historical footnote. It was the first ship ever sunk by a self-propelled torpedo, one fired by the German U-21.
ballistic missile

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What was the purpose of the Cold War-era AIR-2 Genie missile?
to end communism
to shoot down Soviet nuclear bombers
The AIR-2 Genie was incredible concept -- it was a missile with a nuclear warhead, meaning to destroy Soviet bombers loaded with nuclear bombs. The U.S. developed the AIR-2 Genie due to a lack of effective air-to-air guidance technologies.
to spray confettie on WWII victory parties

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During the War of 1812, British troops used rockets to capture which city?
Seattle
Washington D.C.
It was a day of infamy in 1814, when British troops captured America's capital. And they did so in large part thanks to rockets that devastated the U.S. army's flank.
Tampa Bay

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What's a human torpedo?
a fictional tale
a submarine with a detatchable warhead
During WWII, human torpedoes came of age -- they were akin to small submarines with detatachable warheads. As the small crew approached a target, they'd release the torpedo in hopes of destroying an enemy ship.
a suicide vessel

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What sort of technology guides the the AIM‐7 Sparrow?
radar
The AIM‐7 Sparrow is guided by Doppler radar. First deployed in 1958, they found decades of operational use, finally ending in 1990.
crossed fingers
very fast bald eagles

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What's a primary trait of so-called midget submarines?
They are operated solely by peopler under four feet in height.
They aren't armed.
They don't really have living quarters.
Midget submarines are small attack craft, and they've been used by many countries. They have very little in the way of living comforts, and that's OK because you're probably going to die if you set so much as one foot into these death traps.

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During WWII, how did Germans help the guided Henschel Hs 298 find its mark?
It was Bluetooth-guided.
It was wire-guided.
The Henschel Hs 298 was wire-guided. More advanced versions were also radio-guided, marking a major evolution in missile technology.
It was guided by hate.

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What sort of weapons are featured on some modern attack subs?
satellite intercept rockets
land-attack missiles
Advanced subs can shoot land-attack missiles at targets around the world. The U.S. used just these kinds of attacks in recent Middle East conflicts.
cannons

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The nuclear-tipped AIR-2 Genie was meant to kill Soviet bombers during the Cold War. What was its maximum range?
200 yards
6 miles
U.S. fighter pilots knew the AIR-2 Genie had a range of about six miles. Fortunately, America never had to try these powerful devices in real combat.
2,000 miles

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During the Vietnam War, what percentage of Sidewinder missiles found their targets?
about 15%
In the Vietnam War, America blew tons of money on air-to-air missile technologies … with dismal results. Sidewinder missiles had a probability-of-kill ratio of just 15%.
about 45%
about 85%

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How has submarine warfare changed since 1945?
It has not changed.
It has declined precipitously.
Since WWII, submarine warfare has slumped to very low levels. Some countries, like the U.S., use subs for spying missions and for potential future wars.

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