Weapons of World War I


By: Nathan Chandler

5 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

The Great War pitted old-school battlefield tactics with modern killing machines, to terrifying effect. How much do you know about World War I weapons?

How many tanks did Britain produce during World War I?

After seeing their infantry chewed up by trench warfare, Britain was all-in on tanks. The country produced perhaps 2,600 during the war.


In what year did a pilot finally land a plane on an aircraft carrier?

Edwin Harris Dunning, a British pilot, made the first landing on a ship in 1917. Sadly, on his second landing attempt, he was hurt and then drowned.


What weapon utilized open-bolt blowback as part of its operation?

The German MP 18 was an open-bolt blowback design, which greatly increased its firing rate. It could shoot roughly 500 rounds per minute.


Which weapon did the Germans fail to use effectively in World War I?

The Allies constructed and deployed hundreds of tanks. The Germans, however, were slow to adopt the devastating technology .


Which country became known for its widespread use of submarines during the war?

Germany lagged behind the Allies in naval power, so it invested heavily in U-boats, its version of a submarine. German subs generated huge fear among Allied sailors and civilians.


After you pulled the pin, about how long did you have before a World War I-era hand grenade exploded?

Most grenades had a delay of about five or five and a half seconds. Throwing too early or too late often had disastrous consequences.


What was the maximum range of the German 10.5 cm Feldhaubitze 98/09 artillery gun?

Artillery was one of the most common weapons of this war of attrition. The 98/09 had a range of just over 3.5 miles.


About how many A7V tanks did Germany deploy during the war?

Germany deployed only about 20 A7V tanks during the war. Germany was behind the curve when it came to tank deployment in this particular conflict, but they made up for it in World War II.


The use of poison gas resulted in significant strategic advances during the war.

Both sides used massive amounts of poison gas and, although it made life miserable for the soldiers, these chemicals didn't alter the strategic trajectory of either side.


Which country extensively used flamethrowers during the war?

The Allies did use flamethrowers, but no one could top Germany's deployment of these fire-spewing weapons. They were exceptionally good for clearing out deep trenches full of enemy soldiers.


How many aircraft did France have at the beginning of the war?

France had just 140 aircraft at the war's start. By the end, though, they had at least 4,500 of the machines at their disposal.


Where did Britain obtain many of its horses that were sent to the front lines of the war?

Horses died in appalling numbers during the war, meaning that Britain needed constant reinforcements. By some estimates, 1,000 per day were shipped from the United States.


What was the maximum firing rate of World War I-era machine guns?

No wonder soldiers were so terrified of confronting machine gun nests -- some guns could blast 600 rounds per minute, devastating an entire group of unprotected men.


World War I is known as the conflict that introduced unmanned aerial bombs into widespread battlefield use.

The U.S. developed a pilotless plane loaded with munititions and stablized with a gyroscope. But the system was too unwieldly for any real use during this war.


What was a defining characteristic of the British Medium Mark A Whippet tank?

The Whippet was a lighter, faster tank meant to accompany larger, slower tanks. It weighed only about 14 tons and could top 8 mph.


During the Battle of Bolimow, the Germans used thousands of poison gas shells. Why were the shells ineffective?

The Germans launched thousands of the shells, but much of the gas was blown the wrong way by the wind. Even then, it didn't matter because the extreme cold froze the xylyl bromide and made it a useless weapon.


What was the approximate top speed of Britain's "Little Wille" tank?

The Little Willie could only go about 3 mph. The first tanks were prone to malfunction and often broke down before they ever encountered enemy fire.


How did the Allies detect incoming enemy warplanes during the early phases of the war?

They sometimes used so-called acoustic locators, which were simply large horns that captured and amplified sounds. Radar didn't really appear until World War II.


Tracer bullets were first introduced during World War I.

The first truly effective tracer bullets made their appearance during World War I. They were filled with chemicals that left a phosphorescent trail.


A creeping barrage relied heavily on which weapon?

As infantry advanced across the battlefield, artillery gunners would initiate a creeping barrage just ahead of the soldiers, with the idea that the exploding shells would clear enemies from their path.


The creeping barrage strategy was first used during which battle?

At the Battle of the Somme, the Allies first attempted the creeping barrage, and it worked. Unfortunately for the British, they didn't adequately follow up their gains with reinforcements.


After World War I, the use of poison gas in battle was outlawed by international law.

The ugliness of poison chemicals was too awful even for a world war, leading to a battlefield ban. However, chemical weapons have still been used in isolated areas during certain conflicts, such as the Iran-Iraq War.


What purpose did German stirnpanzers serve?

Stirnpanzers were pieces of metal that strapped onto the front of existing helmets. They added a bit of protection to soliders who were vulnerable each time they popped their heads up from the trenches.


In what year were aircraft pilots finally able to establish voice communications with people on the ground?

Engineers in the United States pioneered the technologies that allowed for voice communications with pilots. The first systems were installed in 1917. These radios made it much easier for pilots to coordinate their attacks.


Which country suffered from an artillery shell shortage in 1915?

Allied forces unexpectedly blew through many thousands of shells, leading to a shortage among British troops. As a result, there was widespread negative publicity that caused a political crisis among leaders.


How many Renault FT tanks were made by French manufacturers during the war?

By 1918, the French had manufactured about 3,000 of the FT tanks, which are often described as one of the first truly modern tanks. The tank had a crew of two and carried enough fuel for eight hours of operation.


Which country used many Lebel and Berthier 8mm rifles during the war?

The French began using these rifles in the 1880s. The bolt-action 8mm was used often during World War I and lingered around for World War II, too.


Depth charges were a type of weapon meant to thwart which threat?

Ships dropped depth charges, which were explosives set to blow up once they sank to a specific depth. These newfangled weapons helped many ships survive submarine attacks.


What sort of weapon was the Langer Max?

The Langer Max (or Long Max) was a massive German artillery gun. It fired enormous 15-inch (38-centimeter) shells. Only eight of these unwieldy guns were built.


Which country developed the M1916 37mm gun?

France created the M1916 37mm, which was better known as the one-pounder. It was often used to destroy machine gun emplacements.


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