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Weapons of World War I

Weapons and modes of communication at the outbreak of World War I were primitive. A hundred years of peace in Europe did not foster the development of high-tech armaments. But as the Great War progressed, newer and better weapons appeared and heralded a new era of ordnance development. Rifles:

Rifles were the most common infantry weapons used in World War I. The bolt-action rifle was a favorite of Allied troops. A bolt-action rifle had a range of about 1,400 meters (0.87 miles) and could fire fifteen rounds a minute.

Weapon Country Models/Types
         Riffle          Germany Steyr-Mannlicher M1895
Gewehr 71 Mauser
Gewehr 88 Mauser
Gewehr 98 Mauser
Austria- Hungary Steyr-Mannlicher M1880
Steyr-Mannlicher M1880/1890
Steyr-Mannlicher M1895
Gewehr 88 Mauser
Turkey Gewehr 88 Mauser
Mauser Model 1887
Mauser Model 1889
Mauser Model 1890
Mauser Model 1893
Mauser Model 1903
Bulgaria Steyr-Mannlicher M1888
Steyr-Mannlicher M1890
Steyr-Mannlicher M1895
Britain Lee-Enfield
Pattern 1914 Enfield
Winchester Model 1894
Winchester Model 1895
Winchester Model 1907
France Lebel Model 1886
Berthier M1907-15 and M1916
Fusil Automatique Modele 1917
Winchester Model 1907
Winchester Model 1910
Fusil Gras mle 1874
Italy M1870 Italian Vetterli
Winchester Model 1895
Winchester Model 1907
Winchester Model 1910
USA M1903 Springfield
M1892-99 Springfield
M1917 Enfield
M1918 Browning Automatic
Winchester Model 1907
Winchester Model 1895
Remington Model 8
Belgium Mauser Model 89
Serbia Steyr-Mannlicher M1895
Poison Gas:
The stalemate of the Western Front and the need to end the prolonged trench warfare led to the introduction of poison gas in World War I. The Germans, though infamous for use of deadly gasses, did not introduce it. The French used tear gas grenades in 1914. The Germans quickly introduced the use of chlorine and mustard gas as weapons.

 Weapon Types
Poison Gas Chlorine
Tear Gas

Although poison gas accounts for about 4 percent of the causalities in World War I, the agonies of soldiers maimed by gassing have inspired the most heart-wrenching accounts.

Nation Deaths
Germany 9,000
Austria-Hungary 3,000
Russia 56,000
France 8,000
British Empire 8,109
USA 1,462
Italy 4,627

A significant number of grenades were used in the trenches of World War I. The British troops used the Mark I grenades quite extensively. By 1915, the British troops preferred the grenade known as “No. 15.” About half a million of these were used in World War I.

The Mills Bomb was, perhaps, the most popular grenade used. Introduced in 1915, it was subsequently improved upon in 1917.

By 1914, German troops put over 70,000 hand grenades to use. The Germans developed their own grenades:
Diskushandgranate, Stielhandgranate, Eierhandgranate, and Kugelhandgranate.

The Battle of Pozieres Heights in July 1916 was the largest grenade battle of World War I.

Machine Guns:
Machine guns accounted for most of the deaths in the Western Front. While the British troops preferred the standard Vickers gun, a number of other models were designed and developed in the course of World War I.

Weapon Country Models/Types
   Machine Guns Germany Maschinengewehr 08
Madsen Gun
Parabellum MG14
Parabellum MG17
Bergmann MG15
Austria- Hungary Madsen Gun
Salvator-Dormus M1893
Skoda M1909
Schwazlose MG M.07/12
Turkey Maschinengewehr 08
Maxim Gun
Bergmann MG15
Bulgaria Maschinengewehr 08
Maxim Gun
Britain Vickers Gun
Maxim Gun
Lewis Gun
M1895 Colt-Browning
M1917 Browning
Hotchkiss Mark I
France Hotchkiss M1909
Hotchkiss M1914
St. Étienne Mle 1907
Italy Vickers Gun
M1895 Colt-Browning
Hotchkiss M1914
St. Étienne Mle 1907
Lewis Gun
Fiat-Revelli Modello 14
Perino Model 1908
Russia Madsen Gun
Lewis Gun
M1910 Maxim Gun
M1895 Colt-Browning
USA Lewis Gun
M1917 Browning
Hotchkiss M1909
Hotchkiss M1914
M1895 Colt-Browning
Belgium Lewis Gun
Hotchkiss M1914
Hotchkiss M1909
M1895 Colt-Browning
Serbia Maxim Gun
Schwazlose MG M.07/12

Flame Throwers:
Flamethrowers were introduced in World War I. Two models of the Flammenwerfer were used by German troops: the Kleinflammenwerfer and the Grossflammenwerfer (meaning small and large flamethrower, respectively). In the battle of Hooge more than thirty-one British officers and 751 other soldiers lost their lives.

The French Schilt was a modified version of the German Flammenwerfer. The Germans then developed the Wex. Flamethrowers were limited in their range and hence not considered very useful. Flamethrowers were ultimately abandoned due to the costs. The Germans are known to have used about 650 flamethrowers in World War I

The trench warfare of the Western Front was broken and some amount of mobility restored only with the introduction of tanks. While the Allies concentrated on the development of tanks, the Germans concentrated on creating better antitank weapons.

Tanks Country Year of Introduction Range (miles)
Mark I Britain 1916 22
Mark IV 1917 34
Mark V 1917 44
Medium Mark A 1917 39
Schneider CA1 France 1917 46
Char St. Chamond 1916 34
Renault FT M17 Mitrailleur 1917 21
Renault FT M17 Canon 1918 21
A7V Germany 1917 21

Over 8,530,000 soldiers were killed in World War I. Despite the destruction, the war itself spurred research and development of weapons and ordnances to new heights.

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