WAR !! Yeah, a condition where technology rules more than manpower. History has witnessed several technical milestones in the war field. How have inventions changed the very pattern of war? Discover it here.
Gunpowder is a mixture of saltpeter, sulfur, and charcoal. This is used in fireworks. It was used for the first time in the 13th century. Gunpowder was the only explosive used in the civil domain until the 19th century, it was used for building tunnels in France.
2. Metal cartridges
It was either Edward Howard or Alexander John Forsyth who discovered the explosive properties of mercury fulminate. Howard noticed in 1799 that when mercury fulminate was added to gunpowder, it was more explosive. In 1807, Forsyth thought of using this substance to make explosive caps. During the 1860s this type of ammunition led to the invention of cartridges. These were made of steel cylinders in which there was crimped paper, and at the base of this in a hollow, was the explosive cap of mercury fulminate.
During the 17th century, guns with several barrels turning on an axle were used. They were flint guns with average efficiency. In 1815, the Frenchman Hippolyte Lenormand took up the principle of “pepper-pots” (old weapons) and replaced flint percussion with cap percussion, which ejects the bullet. In 1818, the Englishman, H. Collier built the first turning cylinder revolver. This cylinder had five chambers and had to be turned manually.
4. Machine gun
In 1718, the Englishman James Puckle made weapons called ribauds which were adapted as hand weapons. The sophisticated ones were equipped with a pivot-firing pin which enabled the ejection of bullets from the guns in quick succession. But ignition using flint could cause all the fires to off at the same time, thereby exploding the gun. Puckle thought of a pivoting loader of nine bullets. This could equip a light gun mounted on a tripod.
5. Aerial bombing
The Austrians dropped pilotless bombs during the siege of Venice in 1849. These were small balloons of hot air and each balloon carried a fused bomb of 15 kg. These bombs were not very powerful and did not cause much damage. The American Glenn Curtiss dropped a real bomb on a target -a boat, in 1910. Soon afterward, The Royal British Flying Corps equipped their planes with bomb-launching tubes. The Italians were the first to carry out real bombing during the Italo-Turkish war in 1911. These bombs were dropped after having their pins taken out, just like hand grenades. The damage caused was considerable and the planes by which bombing was carried out, were designed as bombers.
6. Air-to-air missile
A self-destructing projectile was the first air-to-air missile. It was designed in such a way that it could be dropped from one plane to another. The German Wagner built it in 1943. He designed it to be launched from the Dornier Do 217 aircraft in the direction of HS 298. The Air Launched Cruise Missile (ALCM), a modern development, flies on wings and is propelled by an engine using the atmospheric air as an oxidant to mix with the fuel which is in the missile.
7. Artificial satellite
In the 19th and 20th centuries, Newton’s law had given people the idea that a body with minimum speed, and launched beyond the layers of the earth’s atmosphere, would travel without stopping around the earth. A powerful launcher is required to send a satellite into orbit. This launcher has to reach the optimal escape velocity of 11.20 km/s which allowed an altitude of 200 km to be reached. In the 1930s, the Germans launched the famous VI and V2 Rockets. But it was the USSR which claimed the honor of inaugurating the Space Age with the launching of Sputnik 1 on 4th October 1957, without the help of computers.
8. Swing-wing aeroplane
In 1954, Grumman, the US aeronautical firm devised and built an airplane which could change the angle between the wings and the fuselage from the T-winged subsonic position to the supersonic delta-winged position. Only two models of the XF10 Jaguar were built. The advantage of the swing-wing mechanism was that the supersonic jets could have a short take-off and also that a supersonic bomber on a military mission could fly very low with less fuel consumption. By the end of the 1980s, the only types of swing-wing that remained were the Mig 23 and Black Jack, the strategic bomber. Both were manufactured by the Soviets. The American strategic bomber B1 was not so successful.
9. Land and sea mines
In 1277, the Chinese, who by then has mastered the manufacture of the bomb, thought of burying a large number of bombs in the ground. These they could detonate from a distance, using a process which is not fully understood. In the 17th century, bombs were detonated by placing a detonator made of fragments of flint and iron inside the bomb. When they jolted this by a cord, it produced sparks which in turn ignited a fuse. The sea mines appeared in the 14th century, a short while after the land mines. They were inserted into bovine bladders and balanced in such a way that the fuse on the surface of the water. The time limit between its launch and its explosion was determined by the combustion time of the fuse.
10. Atomic bomb
When Hahn, Meitner, and Strassmann discovered the fission of the atomic nucleus and the release of energy from it, it was realized that this energy could be exploited one day, though the methods of exploitation were not known. Later, it was established that in order to explode an atomic bomb, a critical mass had to be reached. A critical mass of uranium-235 or plutonium-239 was obtained to start the fission reaction with the release of tremendous energy and a chain reaction. Uranium-235 was replaced by plutonium-239 and the first experimental explosion took place on 16th July 1945, under the name “Trinity.”