Military Technology of the First World War - Development, Use and Consequences, Wolfgang Fleischer

Military Technology of the First World War - Development, Use and Consequences, Wolfgang Fleischer

The First World War was the first example of a technological war, with new technology on land and in the air having a major impact on the course of the fighting - it saw the introduction of the tank, the development of military aviation, the introduction of the flamethrower and poison gas and the first large scale use of machine guns.

In most cases the focus is on German technology, with the Allied equivalent dealt with second (and not at all in the case of motor vehicles and aircraft). The one exception is the chapter on the tank, which inevitably has to start with the British development of the weapon and the Allied attempts to use armour in increasingly large numbers.

Most of the book covers land based technology that was used to directly support the infantry fighting on the Western Front - looking at their own weapons (machine guns, mortars or flame throwers) or items that directly supported the infantry battle (artillery or tanks). There is also an interesting chapter on military geology, looking at how the Germans placed and designed their trenches and other defensive positions. Small arms aren’t covered, and didn’t really see much change during the war

The last two chapters look at two forms of technology that supported the fighting less directly - the vast number of motor vehicles required to keep the army at the front supplied and the development of air power. The air power chapter is probably the weakest, covering a vast topic in a limited space.

The book is well illustrated, with a good selection of contemporary photographs, supported by maps and plans. The excellent text is supported by a good selection of eyewitness accounts, describing the impact of the new technology on those at the front end. The book's strongest point is that it covers the German point of view - unsurprisingly the majority of English language books on this topic focus on the British point of view, with German innovations seen through the mirror the British response to them (for example focusing on the development of gas masks instead of the changes in types of gas and launching equipment). There is also more material on the purpose of each piece of technology and its impact and less on the nuts and bolts details of different variants than is often the case. Overall this is an excellent piece of work, and a useful addition to the literature on First World War military technology.

Chapters
1 - The Administration of Scarcity
2 - Machine-Guns in the First World War
3 - Trench Warfare and Geology
4 - The Rise of Artillery
5 - Tanks
6 - Chemical Warfare
7 - From the Catapult to the Mortar
8 - Flamethrowers in Place of Fire-Extinguishers
9 - Motor Vehicles in Field-Grey
10 - From the Eye in the Sky to the Fist of the Military Leadership

Author: Wolfgang Fleischer
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 222
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military
Year: 2017


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