Technology of Naval Warfare, 1916 [Slide Show] U.S.S. Arizona: This “superdreadnought” battleship (shown leaving the Brooklyn Navy Yard after being commissioned in 1916) was the U.S. Navy’s largest and most modern warship. The ship served in American waters in World War 1, and was sunk in Pearl Harbor at the beginning of World War 2. Credits: Image: Scientific American, November 25, 1916
Naval Aviation: Battleships early in the war carried seaplanes for reconnaissance. Launching them was cumbersome, though: they had to be lowered to the ocean surface. A blog about this image is here: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/anecdotes-from-the-archive/naval-aviation-1916/...
Image: Scientific American, January 8, 1916
Catapult for Aircraft: The ability to launch an airplane from the deck of a ship was a big step forward. Aircraft, although slow and with limited range by today’s standards, were invaluable as “eyes in the sky” for a fleet...
Image: Scientific American, March 18, 1916
Destruction of Landmarks: This cover image shows the extreme measures taken by the German military to get rid of the prominent landmarks along the Belgian coast that could help sea and air navigation by hostile forces...
Image: Scientific American, April 22, 1916
Arizona: This “superdreadnought” battleship (shown leaving the Brooklyn Navy Yard after being commissioned in 1916) was the U.S. Navy’s largest and most modern warship. The ship served in American waters in World War 1, and was sunk in Pearl Harbor at the beginning of World War 2... Image: Scientific American, November 25, 1916 Advertisement
Submarine Warfare: According to maritime law in 1916, submarines of all nationalities could surface and question civilian cargo ships, including the sailing ship in this image. Vessels aiding the military effort of hostile countries could be sunk (after removing the crew)...
Image: Scientific American, April 1, 1916
Dangerous Technology: Submarine accidents were frequent, and unlike surface ships, a crew could run out of breathable air. This image from 1916 shows a submarine crew using a new design for emergency breathing gear to escape a downed submarine...
Image: Scientific American, January 22, 1916
Cargo Submarine: The Deutschland was built for commerce by a private German merchant company. In 1916 it sneaked through the strict naval blockade enforced by the surface ships of the British Royal Navy to trade critical supplies between the U.S...
Image: Scientific American, July 22, 1916
Man at the Controls: With high technology and daring seamanship, the German undersea cargo boat Deutschland slipped through the British Royal Navy blockade and arrived at Baltimore in July 1916. Its Captain, Paul Keonig, became a celebrity...
Image: Scientific American, July 22, 1916 Advertisement
Desperate Measures: An inventor of a voice-operated typewriter tried his hand at an anti-torpedo device: whirling metal plates designed to be shot in front of a torpedo to act as a shield for cargo ships. ..
Image: Scientific American, November 4, 1916
Sea Mines: Minefields were laid by all naval powers in the First World War, for defense and for offense. This image from 1916 shows a ship laying a mine: the anchoring weight in the foreground, the buoyant mine in the background...
Image: Scientific American, October 28, 1916
Submarine Minelayer: The German UC-5 sank 29 Allied and neutral ships in 1915 and 1916. In April 1916 the boat ran aground and was abandoned by its crew. The British recovered the boat and publicized it for propaganda purposes...
Image: Scientific American, November 4, 1916
Bizarre Warship: This 1916 design for a battlecruiser “based on the lessons of war” (apparently a paper by a leading naval designer) comes from an artist “in a cellar” serving in France...
Image: Scientific American, October 7, 1916 Advertisement Advertisement
The year 1916 opened with no prospect of victory for any of the participants in the Great War—or even the sign of an ending—despite millions of casualties on all sides. The belligerents had co-opted large segments of industrial and scientific capacity and shifted significant portions of their populations away from peacetime industries into military service. Those in charge desperately sought to find some way of gaining an advantage, of any kind, over their opponents. One possible road to victory lay through the invention or adoption of some kind of technology to gain even a small measure of dominance, if not in the trenches in northern France and Belgium, then in the open oceans that were so vital to the trade that supplied the vast appetite of wartime production. These slides from
Scientific American issues in 1916 give us a snapshot of that struggle.
You can purchase a cruise through the coverage of the First World War or all 171 years of the Archive at
This article was originally published with the title "50, 100, & 150 Years Ago Web Ex" in Scientific American 314, 3, (March 2016)
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