Weapons That Changed The World TOP 10

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Top 10: Weapons That Changed The World

10 Trebuchet

Siege warfare was one of the most enduring types of warfare, from simple hill forts to imposing stone citadels. Often, the campaigns waged against these structures lasted for months, as the besieged sat behind almost impenetrable walls and moats. The trebuchet completely altered the balance of siege warfare. Firing much bigger projectiles (at much greater distance), and much more accurately than traditional catapults, trebuchets were capable of destroying a stone wall in a matter of days, dramatically improving the chances of a besieging force capturing a city before a relief force could arrive, or their camp was destroyed by disease.

9 Mark I “Mother” tank

While the most famous prototype for a tank was by Leonardo Da Vinci, it was not until World War I that tanks became deployed in warfare. With caterpillar tracks suitable for a wide variety of terrains, thick armor and heavy firepower, the Mark I ”Mother” tank marked a new stage in armored warfare. Much harder to stop than a horse, the British used them to penetrate the fortified German trenches. Tanks became a major part of strategy in WWII, and put an end to the use of trench warfare as a viable mode of conflict.

8 Hellebore

While not a weapon in the traditional sense, biological warfare has been massively significant in human history. Over the centuries, diseased people, poisons and, more recently, weaponized anthrax have all been used to attack enemies. But one of the earliest examples of biological warfare was through the use of hellebore, a common plant with poisonous properties. It was used during the siege of Kirrha in 585 B.C., poisoning the water supply and leaving the defenders too weak to withstand attack. The development of this new weapon in warfare has been refined over the centuries and frequently used with devastating effect.

7 Maxim machine gun

The invention of a viable rapid-fire, automatic weapon did not happen until the mid-19th century, and even then the Gatling gun was not especially effective. It was widely believed that cavalry and infantry combat would remain vital in combat, but this all changed with the introduction of the much more effective Maxim machine gun, during World War I. A weapon that scythed down attackers with ease, cavalry were rendered totally irrelevant, while infantry were liable to massive losses. The machine gun was a major step into fully mechanized warfare, and created loss of life on a scale hitherto unknown.

6 Fokker airplane

Even when flight was a nascent technology, it was applied to military pursuits. Hot air balloons were used to monitor troop movements in battle, zeppelins occasionally dropped bombs and early airplanes were used for reconnaissance.  But it was really during WWI that planes became weaponized. The Fokker was the best of the first wave of fighter planes, fitted with machine guns that could fire through the propeller blades without damaging them, allowing battle to be waged in the skies. To an extent, it also rendered naval warfare obsolete. Ruling the seas was irrelevant if you could not rule the skies too.

5 Chlorine gas

It was perhaps inevitable that as science advanced, its discoveries would be turned to military purposes. During World War I, the Nobel-prize winning scientist Fritz Haber helped develop the first chemical weapon, chlorine gas. This led to rapid development of other weaponized chemicals, such as mustard gas and phosgene. The devastating effect of such weapons led to them being outlawed by the Geneva Convention. They did, however, lead to the development of other equally devastating weapons, such as nerve agents. While as yet they have been used relatively infrequently, the fear of such weapons being used is as prevalent as it was in the trenches.

4 Predator drone

Drones are the ultimate in impersonal conflict. These weapons require virtually no human involvement, travel hundreds of miles and are controlled from extremely safe locations. Officially, they are used only for reconnaissance and intelligence gathering missions. Their greatest impact has been their ability to provide incredibly detailed, accurate and up-to-date information to enable successful strategy planning. It helps minimize resource wastage, and is vital in the concept of surgical strikes, reducing collateral damage and civilian casualties. It also reduces military casualties, as drones are sometimes fitted with hellfire missiles, which can do a lot of damage without risking close engagement with the enemy.

3 Harquebus

Guns are undoubtedly one of the most revolutionary weapons in human history. Although initially they were heavy, slow to load and liable to explode, eventually they became so efficient as to render more traditional weapons obsolete. The first gun that approximated to modern firearms was the harquebus, which was prominent between the 15th and 16th centuries, and was the first gun to be fired from the shoulder. It became prominent because, unlike traditional projectile weapons, it was capable of piercing armor at short ranges, making it much easier to kill heavily armored knights. It brought about the end of armor as effective protection.  

2 Atomic Bomb

The Atomic Bomb is by far the most devastating weapon ever used, and so powerful that on the two occasions it was deployed, there were an estimated 200,000 deaths. This marked the passage of warfare into the atomic age, and was undoubtedly a moment that changed the world. The power of an atomic bomb is so far removed from that of conventional weaponry that it has dominated diplomatic and military strategies ever since. Who would have guessed that a Little Boy and a Fat Man (the names of the two bombs) would together change the world?

1 Bow and arrow

The bow is the most enduringly effective weapon in human history. Evidence indicates origins as early as 12,000 years ago, and they only became obsolete in the 16th century. The bow and arrow, in its various guises, helped develop many great empires. The Ancient Egyptians used archers heavily, the composite bow was a vital component of great nomad invasions of Europe, including the Huns, Avars, Magyars, and Mongols, while the English longbow was a weapon of fear and proved decisive in many battles. These powerful societies were undoubtedly helped by the potency of the bow and arrow, making this a worthy candidate for the top spot.