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The Evolution of Weapons

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Balor Appiarius

on 7 May 2015

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Transcript of The Evolution of Weapons

By: Balor Appiarius, Christian Wall, Sam Herzog, and Parker Niehaus
The Evolution of Weaponry
0 - A.D. 500
A.D. 501 - 1000
A.D. 1001 - 1500
A.D. 1501 - 1750
A.D. 1751 - 2000
The Beginning
Long Ranged Weapons
Close Quarters Weapons
War Machines
Defensive Equipment
Defensive Equipment
War Machines
Close Quarters Weapons
Long Ranged Weapons
Defensive Equipment
War Machines
Close Quarters Weapons
Long Ranged Weapons
Defensive Equipment
War Machines
Close Quarters Weapons
Long Ranged Weapons
Defensive Equipment
War Machines
Close Quarters Weapons
Long Ranged Weapons
The first weapons were derived between 15000 and 10000 B.C. from gardening tools consisting of blunt stones and (later on) stick handles. They were originally used for hunting and crafting, but quarrels between early men led them to be used in primitive warfare as well. Eventually, more sophisticated spears and bows developed at the end of this period. However, with the onset of better weapons came the need for protection. Even in the early B.C's, men were beginning to use armor and shields made from animal hide for defense against melee and ranged weapons. Throughout this period, armor would cancel out weapons, then new weapons would render armor ineffective, a cycle that continues today. The development of bronze and later iron led to better weapons and the use of metal chain and plate armor. Primitive war machines such as chariots and warships came into play, changing the way battles were fought. By the A.D's, man had mastered the use of long ranged weapons, melee weapons, defensive equipment, and war machines. Now, we will tell how these types of weapons developed from the early A.D's to the present day.
In these years, chain mail from the B.C's made from iron was all the rage. This armor was made of hundreds of tiny linked chains, and could turn a sword blow or lessen the force of an arrow. Armor was first used on a major scale in Asia, where (starting with Japan in the 4th century) warring armies gave their soldiers simple iron armor with leather straps. However, many other types of armor were deployed, although they all involved either chain mail or metal body pieces. Armor wasn't the only means of protection. Shields of metal or leather were very common as well. They were usually rectangular or roughly circular in shape and were found in three main types. The pavise was a shield that could stand up on its own and be used as cover. A targe was worn on an individual's arm. And finally, a buckler could be carried in the hand. The latter two were the most common in this period.
There weren't many stunning developments in armor during this period, probably because there weren't any for melee weapons or hand-held long ranged weapons, either. However, chain mail was beginning to lose favor, and other, cheaper armor types were starting to replace it. Plate armor, consisting (as the name implies) of overlapping plates of metal was starting to take over. It had been used by ancient civilizations, but was more expensive back then and so wasn't widely used again until this period. Metal as a whole became more popular in all types of armor, replacing the less effective leathers and hides previously used.
Chariots were not being used as often and were replaced by just riding horses. Warships were being used less often and naval warfare was almost forgotten.
During this time period, there were no major advancements in long ranged weaponry. Many people continued using the same weapons as they did from 500 B.C. to 1 B.C. They continued using the same major weapons, such as the catapult, the bow and arrow, and the spear to fight against their enemies.
During AD 501 through 1000, there were not many big advancements in long ranged weaponry. Although this is true, there were two main things that were created. First, in 673, Greek Fire was invented by the Romans. The "liquid fire" was hurled on to the ships of their enemies from siphons and burst into flames on contact burning up the enemies' ships. The second main thing, the Magna ballista was invented in 747. This was an ancient missile weapon that launched a large projectile at a distant target.
Catapults were beginning to become popular around the 600s. Ballistas were similar to giant crossbows and were designed to work through torsion. The ammunition used were basically giant arrows or darts made from wood with an iron tip. These arrows were then shot “along a flat trajectory” at a target. Ballistas are notable for their high degree of accuracy, but also their lack of firepower. Because of their immobility, most Ballistas were constructed on the site they would be used at. The Springald's design is a crossbow propelled by tension. The Springald's frame was more compact, allowing for use inside tighter confines, such as the inside of a castle or tower. This compromised the firepower though.
This date range was the end portion of the iron age which consisted of the traditional dual sided swords and daggers, This meant that the weapons were sharp on both sides of the blade. These weapons were mainly for cutting and thrashing. Also there were traditional war hammers, which had a blunt, or flat, head with a long wooden handle. This weapon was mainly used for trauma or internal injury. Spears, which had a long wooden handles and sharp heads meant for stabbing and puncturing. The maces with wooden handles and sharp but not flat heads. This weapon was used for trauma but also cutting. Then axes with wooden handles and large blades on the end meant for chopping and cutting
Plate armor was used almost everywhere during this period, especially during the 13th- 15th centuries. However, there were areas (such as joints) that weren't covered and protected easily by plate armor, so chain mail filled those gaps. Although firearms were invented in this time, they rarely saw widespread use, so armor was still effective in battles that continued to have swords and bows in them. Cheap plate armor was made even more popular during and after the Black Death (a massive spread of disease that killed millions in the 1300s). There was an extreme lack of labor available, hence the favor for plate armor. In addition the pavise shield became more popular due to the dangerous castle sieges common in this time.
In the 14th century ships were used to transport soldiers and supplies. Leonardo Da Vinci made drawings of a wheeled vehicle encased in armor with canons all around it like the one below in the 1400s. In the 1420s the "war wagon" was used in the Hussite war. It was a large wagon with slits for archers to shoot from.
During this time period, there were some very important things that happened. In 1232, the Chinese, who invented gunpowder, first used it in a weapon - gunpowder filled tubes (rockets). Also, in 1364, the first firearm was used by the shooter lighting the wicks by hand, which ignited gunpowder that was loaded into the gun barrel. The last very important thing that happened in this time period was in the 1400s, matchlock guns were invented. They were the first mechanically fired guns. Wicks were now attached to a clamp that sprang into gunpowder that was placed in a "flash pan".
The age of gunpowder weapons was escalating into full swing and was beginning to threaten old metal armor. Amusingly, some early firearms fired their bullets at such a low velocity that they were sometimes deflected by armor. But newer guns firing at higher velocities made armor completely obsolete in the field. Now it only served to identify officers, be used in ceremonies, and protect troops in the rare melee encounter.
In 1620 a man named Cornelius Drebbel built a rowboat covered in leather. The oars came out through airtight holes so no water could seep through. This was considered the first submarine. It was able to go under for a couple hours but could only go down 15 feet. By the mid 17th century warships were carrying canons that could be manually reloaded.
In 1794 the french used an observation balloon to watch the Austrian's movements which was the start of aircraft in war. On February 17, 1864, naval warfare changed forever when the Confederate submarine, the H.L. Hunley, rammed a torpedo into the Union warship U.S.S. Houstonic. In 1911 Italy Captain Carlo Piazza was the first to use an airplane for war purposes when he dropped four bombs on 2 oases held by Turks. In 1916 the French made the first tank which had a boxy design set up on tracks with one gun which had to be manually reloaded from the inside after each shot.
Armor remained just as obsolete against firearms, but it began to be used in the field again for another purpose... Starting around the American Civil War (1861-1865), armor consisting of several sheets of metal in a simple military vest was used to protect troops from shrapnel that exploded from cannon fire and simple hand grenades. This became the forerunner of the notorious "flak jacket". This protective armor was named after the anti-aircraft fire that it protected plane crews from in World War Two (1938-1945). It was later used in other wars against grenade and mortar shrapnel. An even greater discovery came in 1965 when Kevlar-a synthetic fiber that can be spun into cloth-was developed at DuPont Labs in Delaware. To this day, Kevlar is used in ballistic armor and protects the wearer from small arms fire.
From 1501 to 1750, there were two major advances in firearms. The first was in 1509 when the wheel lock was invented. This generates a spark mechanically. With no wick to keep lit, the wheel lock is easier to use, and more reliable than the matchlock. The next major advance was in 1630, when the first true flintlock was created. This weapon solved a longstanding problem. Some time in the late 1500s, a lid was added to the flash pan design. To expose or protect the powder, the lid had to be moved manually. The flintlock mechanism was designed to push back the lid and spark a flint at the same time.
A chain mail shirt
A buckler shield
An alternate type of metal armor
A set of medieval plate armor
An example of a pavise shield's use
This armor was used by the Spanish conquistadors
when they conquered the natives of South America who had no firearms.
These bomber crewmen are wearing their flak jackets.
A Kevlar bulletproof vest
At this time, the old school equipment of the B.C.s was still in use. Projectile weapons powered by tension and iron swords were common among the hand-held weapons of the day, while catapults and other siege engines were used to decimate fortified positions. Armor too was about the same as it had been several decades ago. Although this may make the weapons of this time seem primitive, it was not so. They still provided the effectiveness needed on the battlefield.
This seems to be a time when mankind had a passion
for destruction. Shock and awe weapons and massive siege engines were built to obliterate great magnitudes of enemies or turn an imposing fortress into rubble. However, there were shockingly few breakthroughs for the smaller, hand-held infantry weapons. Armies simply chose to change the types of weapons they used or to reinvent equipment that was deemed impractical centuries before.
This may be the most recognizable ages to all of us. A time of formidable castles, noble knights clad in gleaming armor, battles of great magnitude, and religious crusades. This may very well have been the peak of "old-fashioned" combat, before gunpowder weapons were used on a major scale. In a typical engagement, one might see new advanced war machines dash across a field as the troops inside unleashed projectiles on their foes. You'd get a glimpse of foot soldiers and mounted knights in brilliant armor carrying an array of razor-sharp weapons, and crossbowmen sending a hail of bolts into enemy lines, using gigantic shields as cover. Such were the weapons of this age.
This is the time when gunpowder really came into play in combat. As a result, war machines and ranged weapons leapfrogged forward, while armor and melee weapons were set back for a while. Commanders now had to rethink their tactics on the battlefield, deploying armies in an entirely new way. Now battles could be fought from a distance, and there was not as much of a need to engage one's enemy up close and personal (although some close quarters combat still occurred). To add to this, war at sea was escalated, with ships able to engage each other at much greater distances. And to think that all of this came from one thing: gunpowder
This is another age that we all know well, a time when America blossomed on a new continent, and along with it came new possibilities. In this time, man was able to take the fight to the air for the first time, and armor began to catch up with war machines and ranged weapons on the evolutionary scale. (although melee weapons remained behind) New hand-held weapons also gave single soldiers the power of dozens of men with lesser equipment. Weaponry finally evolved into the advanced technology we know today.
War hammer
Through the 0-1000AD gap there were not many advancements or new changes in melee weapons. Although, melee weapons did start being used for ceremonial reasons and developed hand guards, also the designs on the blades started to become more complex and have actual meaning. They were also used to cut through brush. Melee weapons were still a key roll in this date range when it came to close quarters combat.
Sword with hand guard
Ceremonial sword
Battle ax
In 1364AD the first recorded gun shot was fired. This was a great thing for people who were looking to advance melee weapons. Combination weapons came into play. For example bayonets were placed on the ends of guns, or axes with hidden guns. Warriors were more focused on guns,axes,swords,and daggers, they dropped the idea of using spears, battle axes and maces.
Bayonet on a rifle
Ax with hidden gun
In this date range rifles were becoming very popular. Warriors and soldiers dropped axes and started using rifles and hand held guns. In this date range swords and knives were still used for close range combat. Combination weapons were still a key roll, but were used mainly outside of war.
In the most recent time period, 1751 through 2000, guns had even more advances. In 1835, the first colt revolver was invented. They were the first mass-produced, multi-shot, revolving firearms. Next, in 1861, Doctor Richard Gatling invented the Gatling Gun, a six-barreled weapon capable of firing a (then) phenomenal 200 rounds per minute. The Gatling gun was a hand-driven, crank-operated, multi-barrel, machine gun. The last major gun advancement in this period was in 1903. The first automatic rifle, a Winchester, was created. This 1903 model was the first commercially available semi-automatic firearm made by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.
The Illustrated History of Weaponry: By Chuck Wills
Chariot: From Chariot to Tank By: Arthur Cotterell
During this date range there were more advancements in guns than anything else. Warriors and soldiers dropped the idea using melee weapons for combat. Knives are still used for field work.
The evolution of weapons continues today. As we speak, new and improved technology is being researched and developed. Weapons involving infrared lasers are amongst the possible ranged weapons of the future. Laser technology is also being considered in future melee weapons. New war machines that are controlled almost entirely by computers will get rid of human users, putting less troops in the face of danger. Advanced firearms such as the Corner-shot take on the obstacles of a modern day battlefield (in this case, allowing soldiers to fire around corners without exposing themselves). Advanced Kevlar armor can protect the user from multiple bullet hits, and transparent fiber-glass shields are used by law enforcement members in riot control. What will come next? Only time will tell.
People often used wooden bow and arrows to shoot down others and their objects in battle.
U.S. Marine field knife
With the Greek Fire, people would sail towards their enemies' ships and then just let the fire go.
The matchlock invention was very important because it was the first big advancement in guns. If the matchlock wasn't invented, guns today wouldn't be nearly as advanced as they are.
Wheel Lock
Flint Lock
Colt Revolver
Full transcript