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? Let us know in the comments and make sure to like and subscribe While you’re at it, check out this great Alltime10s video on screen now

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