10 Weapons That Changed The History Of Warfare

10 Weapons That Changed The History Of Warfare 10. AK-47 If I asked you to name the first gun that
comes to mind, I’d be willing to bet it’s the AK-47. That’s because it’s the most
widely produced gun in history, with over 100 million made in total and 75 million in
existence right now. That’s 20% of all firearms worldwide. The AK-47 was invented in 1947 by Russian
General Mikhail Kalashnikov as a cheap weapon for the soviet army. Hence where it gets its
other name, Kalashnikov. From its first use, the gun exploded in popularity
across the USSR, thanks to its rugged construction, ease of production and relative lack of moving
parts. That means it was incredibly reliable and simple to maintain. Even people who had
never used a gun could field strip one with ease after minimal training. But that prevalence means that Kalashnikovs
are commonly used by terrorists and militia groups worldwide. Since they’re so cheap
and reliable, countries across Asia and Africa engage in widespread illegal arms trades. 9. Bow and Arrow Most people nowadays probably think of Legolas,
Hawkeye or Katniss Everdeen when they picture bows and arrows. But they actually have massive
historical significance, possibly dating back as far as 64,000 years. Classical civilisations like the Ancient Egyptians,
Assyrians and Hebrews were known to have made wide use of longbows, and they eventually
showed up throughout every continent except Australia. But it’s not just their ubiquity
that’s interesting. Stony Brook University biologists Paul Bingham
and Joanne Souza have coined the ‘social coercion hypothesis’, which is the idea
that more powerful weapons encourage civilisations to group together out of the threat of being
killed by them. In other words, you’re probably gonna follow
the person who points a load of lethal weapons in your face. Multiple researchers have pointed to that
effect in native american tribes, who became much less divided and developed more complex
societies after bows showed up around 500 AD. 8. Drones Unmanned aerial vehicles hold a special place
on this list. That’s because they haven’t just changed military history, but they’re
doing it as I speak. Let’s back up for a second though. The US military was developing drone technology
as early as the 1960s, though the technology didn’t really catch up until about three
decades later. But it wasn’t long until drones were put to use. The first ever Predator drone attack on Afghan
insurgents in 2002 was a major turning point in military technology. It was the first ever
instance that a remote attack was made in real time. And as technology develops, it could see future
warfare that entirely skips ground troops altogether. I mean why risk friendly lives
when you don’t have to? But drones have been fiercely criticised as
long as they’ve been used, thanks to their capacity for indiscriminate killing and the
numbing effect some soldiers have described from killing through a screen. 7. Trebuchet You might think ancient conflicts were all
about soldiers, swords and cavalry, but there’s a lot to be said for artillery. And there
might be no more important example of early artillery than the Trebuchet. Perfecting on the catapult and the ballista,
the trebuchet was first invented in 4th century china as a tool for siege warfare. After its
introduction in 6th Century Europe, it eventually became a staple of medieval warfare. Before Trebuchets were widely used, castles
were pretty much impenetrable. But thanks to its long range and high weight capacity,
it was capable of hurling projectiles with the capacity to breach even fortified walls. That meant that instead of taking their chances
waiting for defending armies to starve, siege warfare became a lot more proactive. Invaders
could push the issue by breaking through defences, or, if they felt really adventurous, they
were known to have pelted disease ridden corpses over castle walls to speed things up. 6. Tanks They don’t quite hold the prestige they
used to thanks to defences like anti-tank missiles, but for decades these behemoth weapons
were the pinnacle of wartime tech. Weirdly enough, the first idea came from Leonardo
Da Vinci, whose so-called ‘fighting vehicle’ bore more resemblance to a UFO than anything
else. Conspiracy? Probably not. Tanks were first developed by British engineers
during World War I in 1914. They actually got that name from their disguise, since the
people working on them were told they were building water tanks. But from their first
use in the Somme in 1916, they redefined trench warfare. Before then, battles overwhelmingly favoured
the defender, since it was so difficult to break the lines of a trench with foot soldiers.
But with the advent of armed vehicles, it was possible to break through the lines with
relative ease. German soldiers were even documented fleeing
from the scene of the first tank attack. 5. Sword It’s hard to think of a more iconic ancient
weapon than the sword. To most people, they’re the epitome of the age of knights, kingdoms
and gruesome duels. Swords are conventionally thought to have
been invented between the second and third millennia BC, in other words the bronze age.
There’s evidence from Turkey, though, which suggests that they could go as far back as
3300. In any case, those early swords were a huge
development but not all that widely used, since bronze swords tended to either be brittle
enough to shatter or flexible enough to bend out of shape. But once the Iron Age rolled around everything
changed, since blades became much stronger and could pretty much be mass produced. That meant that battles became a lot shorter
and bloodier than the spears knife fights of old, and any group with the means to mass
produce them had the fear-inducing authority to subjugate others with ease. 4. Hand Cannon It’s pretty hard these days to imagine warfare
without guns, so it would be weird not to talk about the first ever firearm. Those guns, called hand cannons, originated
in 13th century China and were widely used in warfare before spreading to the west in
the following decades. But they weren’t exactly guns in the sense we understand – they
literally worked like cannons by igniting gunpowder to pelt out stones. Once they reached Europe, however, they marked
a major change in medieval combat. Before then, you could be pretty sure that
your suit of armour would keep you protected, but that’s not so true when an infantryman
could fire a projectile fast enough to rip a hole through your chest. But hand cannons weren’t for just anyone.
They needed specific training to use, which had the knock-on effect that armies began
to be made up of less expandable peasant fighters and more trained soldiers. 3. Chlorine Gas Everyone knows that war is hell. So it takes
a special type of weapon to get banned in all forms. That’s the case with chemical
weapons, which were internationally banned from warfare in all forms in 1993. It all
started with Chlorine Gas. Chlorine was first isolated as a chemical
in the 1700s, and from then it was mostly used for bleaching and sterilizing. But in
April 1915, Chlorine gas was first released by German forces in Ypres as part of World
War I. The 10,000 gas canisters released onto allied trenches caused 15,000 casualties,
a third of which died. That first use of Chlorine Gas completely
opened up the field of war. Suddenly there was a weapon that could disable or kill thousands
with slow, agonising symptoms like fluid in the lungs and widespread blisters. Now chemical weapons are mostly used illegally
by ruthless dictators, most recently President Assad in Syria. 2. Spear
Where would we be without the first ever weapon? If it wasn’t for the spear, there’s a
good chance early man would never have escaped its many ancient predators. In fact, sharpened
rocks on sticks have been used in combat for so long, they predate modern homosapiens by
quite some way. In 2012, Archaeologists discovered the earliest
evidence of spears in Kathu Pan in South Africa. Those sharpened stones suggest that Homo Heidelbergensis
was crafting spears to hunt over 500,000 years ago. Long after those times, spears kept their
place as one of the most important weapons around the world, since they’re incredibly
easy to make and, of course, deadly in the right hands. Warriors and soldiers from the ancient Greeks
to native Americans to Medieval Europe all had their own takes on them, like the sarissa,
the lance and the polearm. Every type of spear made its mark in the history of weapons, quite
literally. 1. Nuclear Weapons There’s no way it could be anything else.
In terms of immediate impact, there hasn’t been a more immediate change in the course
of warfare than with nuclear weapons. It all started when physicists Lise Meitner
(Lee-zer Mite-ner) and Otto Frisch (Ot-toe Frish) pioneered nuclear fission in 1938.
4 years later, the Manhattan Project perfected the first nuclear bomb in 1945. And as we all know, that led to the infamous
attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that same year. Those attacks probably killed more than
200,000 people between them and had a major impact on Japan’s decision to surrender. Since then, the whole world has feared the
effects of another nuclear attack. Over the course of the cold war, there was the idea
of Mutually Assured Destruction, or MAD. In other words, if one country nukes another,
it’s pretty much guaranteed get nuked back. That pushed conflicts away from all out war
and towards much more tactical affairs. That was 10 Weapons That Changed The History
of Warfare. Which one do you think had the biggest impact? Were there any we missed?
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