Military Inventions that Changed Warfare

Military Aircraft– The earliest use of aircraft during war, was for reconnaissance. As early as the battle of Fleurus in 1794, the French used a balloon to spy on the Austrian forces movements from above.  During the first world war, early aircraft were starting to come into use and great technological advances had been made by the end of the first world war. By the time second world war came along, the Royal Air Force had been established and airborne warfare was a huge part of the war.  In 1940, the Battle of Britain was fought – and it was an entirely airborne battle. Since the end of the second world war, the rise of the Cold War spy planes, capable of reaching extremely high altitudes and packed full of technology for reconnaissance missions – a long way from that first French spy balloon!


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Tank – Up until the first world war, and during the early years of this war, warfare was considered best conducted in trenches – it made it difficult for the enemy to cross the terrain and advance. But in September 1916 it all changed – 36 British tanks descended on the Somme, and the tank, even in these early days, and despite a lot of faults (originally there were more than 50 planned to go to the Somme, but a lot of them broke on the way!), tanks played an enormous part in helping the war to be won. If you want to feel what it is like to drive a tank for real, check out for an unforgettable tank driving experience!


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Nuclear Weapons – The biggest and arguably most controversial invention of the 21st Century – when a team of scientists, led by Robert J Oppenheimer conducted the first successful test of an atomic bomb during the second world war, warfare was changed forever. Oppenheimer famously said ‘I am become death, the destroyer of worlds’ – and with good reason. The Americans used the bombs twice on Japan – on the cities of Hirsohima and Nagasaki – creating destruction like no weapon ever seen before. However, this was arguably the event that ended the war in Japan for good, thus saving more lives in the long run.


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Radar – The Brits biggest secret – and what led to the myth that carrots help you to see well in the dark! Radar was one of the biggest inventions of the 21st century and helped the allies win the war against Germany as it was a closely guarded secret. Robert Watson Watt was a huge contributor to the success of RADAR, which gained valuable information that was then shared with America. The RAF Radar museum is an interesting place to visit to learn more about the history of RADAR .