Pictures of World War I

Each Worth 1000 Words…

Forget The Cold War, THIS Was The Grand-daddy Of All “Arms Races”

Maybe bigger really is better. Or at least that seems to be the mentality that dictated weaponry during the Great War. Though there were many different types of weapons deployed during battle, artillery was the greatest threat to both infantry and armored vehicles. As you can see in these pictures, these weapons were used singularly, or lined up en mass for a targeted offense.

Categories of Artillery in The Great War

There were three main types artillery used during the war. Guns, called cannons by the French, were weapons that were used when there was a direct line of sight for the shot. Shots were fired with a fairly flat trajectory, and as such it was important that there were no friendly combatants between these guns and the target. Guns had relatively longer barrels and used smaller shells.

Howitzers, on the other hand, did not require a direct line of sight. They fired a shell with a curved trajectory given their short barrel configuration. Shot at a high trajectory, the propellant would come down at a sharp angle of descent, making these shorter range weapons. Howitzers were often organized in groups called batteries.

Mortars were a heavy gun also not requiring a direct line of sight. These fired at an even sharper angle of trajectory, making the projectile descend sharply as well. Mortars fired explosive projectiles (called mortars or simply bombs) for short range hits.

Logistical Issues of New Artillery

These big guns didn’t just move themselves, and they certainly couldn’t self repair. Infantry members would be required to learn how to use the weapons and how to ensure they were always in working order. This could take up a great deal of time both on and off the field. Smaller weapons could be moved by people, but heavy artillery would have to be moved by tractors. Each weapon required multiple people to operate, with some loading, others aiming and firing. The expense of bodies was worth it, however, as few things could deal such a swift blow to the enemy. The problem, of course, was that both sides used the same technology to persevere.

Germany’s Big Bertha

This weapon wreaked havoc on the morale of the allied forces. As the name suggests, Big Bertha was a force with which to be reckoned. She could shoot shells that weighed 2000 pounds up to 9 miles away. Bertha could fire up to 8 rounds an hour and with 12 pieces in rotation these weapons were formidable. In addition to Bertha, the Germans used other more mobile Howitzers, like the Paris Gun; what it lacked in accuracy it made up for in distance as this weapon was used to terrorize France from distances up to 70 miles away.

Britain’s Go-To Gun

The 6-inch 26 cwt howitzer was the artillery of choice for Britain. Having over 3600 units seeing action in WW1, Britain was able to summon enough muscle to fight back. The system itself was quite heavy, clocking in at 8100 pounds and requiring 10 personnel to move just one unit. Later in the war these units could be moved by motorized vehicles. Able to shoot 100 pound explosives, this weaponry could fire up to 2 rounds a minute with an experienced crew and projectiles could be lobbed up to 5.5 miles away.

With large guns firing both short and long range it could be nearly impossible to try to move from one area of trenches to the next. Though shooting shells or explosive projectiles was common, gas could also be thrown though these devices. Organized batteries of these weapons would ensure that stalemates could last for many days at a time. In addition to the trenches, these weapons left large craters that helped to decimate the landscape, making travel for soldier and equipment treacherous and sometimes impossible.


World War I Artillery Gun Pictures