Snapshots of Military Science from 1913, a Year before World War I [Slide Show]

Nations raced to gain an advantage with new technology and better armaments
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A Relaxed War:

As horse artillery crosses a river in the background, two captains find time to relax and have a cigarette in this tobacco advertisement (for a defunct brand) from 1913. By the time the Americans joined World War I in 1917, artillery was a much more serious business.....[ More ]

Pigeons for Communication:

Radio communication could be traced and was occasionally unreliable. Homing pigeons, however, were used extensively and securely until World War II. The birds were sometimes held in wooden cages carried by mules, such as this one in France in 1913.....[ More ]

Military Medicine:

In response to changing conditions of warfare and weapons, there were advances medical care. Whether the battle was fast-moving or was fought in the mud of the trenches, there was much emphasis on getting the wounded to aid posts and military hospitals, as show by this view from 1913.....[ More ]

Zeppelin Hanger:

These large, fragile aircraft needed much protection from the weather, such as this huge hanger photographed in 1913. Many of these airships were destroyed in accidents on the ground.....[ More ]

Zeppelin Menace:

German military offices watch as this impressive fighting machine, sprouting machine guns and carrying bombs, takes to the skies in 1913, one year before war broke out in Europe. The reality was that zeppelin raids in World War I caused some casualties and much alarm, but were not an effective weapon.....[ More ]

Air War:

The fear of zeppelins suddenly appearing high in the sky and raining down bombs held the imagination of military planners and civilians alike. This dismal French view of zeppelins from 1913, however, emphasized that these large, slow-moving, flammable vessels were quite vulnerable to enemy fire and to weather.....[ More ]

Naval Airships:

The Germans counted on airships to boost their armed strength against French airplanes and British battleships. Airships were useful as naval scouts because they could remain in flight for many hours.....[ More ]

Bouncing Mines:

From the prolific military inventor Nils Petersen Aasen of Norway came these electrically launched bouncing mines. In World War I such elaborate preparation of ground ahead of time was not often possible.....[ More ]

Battlefield Light:

Illuminating shells as designed by Krupp in 1913. The shell carried a bright flare and a parachute and could light up a field of battle for several minutes. During World War I soldiers caught out in the open when one of these shells went off were safest if they stayed perfectly still: any movement attracted machine gun fire.....[ More ]

Military Supplies:

A lot of thought was put into supplying the basic needs of thirsty soldiers. This mobile cart (horse-drawn) supplied water in which the micro-organisms had largely been killed by ultra-violet light. A similar cart was used in the French-Moroccan war of 1911-1912.....[ More ]

Japanese Battleship:

The "Kongo" was built as a battlecruiser by a British shipyard for the Japanese navy. During World War I the ship was used to protect Japanese shipping channels. After the war the ship was upgraded with armor and weapons to the strength of a battleship.....[ More ]

Submarine Gun:

75 millimeter gun made by the German arms manufacture Krupp. It was designed to provide submarines with defensive armament. The gun was supposed to fold away under the deck when not in use, but during World War I fixed larger caliber guns were preferred, often for sinking unarmed merchant ships.....[ More ]

Torpedo Defense:

With the improvement in torpedoes came schemes for defense against them. This idea would have blasted pressurized air into the cavity left by the torpedo, thus keeping out water and saving the ship (or maybe it would have torn apart a structurally weakened ship).....[ More ]

Torpedo Away:

Whitehead torpedo being launched from the deck of a warship at sea. By 1913 this weapon had become quite effective. During World War I torpedoes were occasionally used to deadly effect by surface warships but they were most harmful when used against merchant shipping and civilian seagoing vessels.....[ More ]

Italian Battleship:

When the "Dante Alighieri" was completed in 1913, the Italian navy joined the club of nations possessing dreadnoughts (a term used for the largest battleships). As with many battleships, this ship was of little use during World War I, and was scrapped in 1928.....[ More ]


In 1913 navy doctrine worldwide held that navy might rested on large battleships that combined large size, powerful guns, heavy armor and great speed. The USS Texas saw some action in World War I and World War II, and was decommissioned in 1948.....[ More ]

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