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Anecdotes from the Archive
  • American Heavy Metal:

    American Heavy Metal: "Dreadnought" Battleships, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | May 22, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American , This Week in World War I: May 22, 1915 Naval technology progressed by leaps and bounds in the years before World War I. The British Royal Navy’s battleship HMS Dreadnought set a design standard in 1906: large, heavily armored, turbine-driven, with a main battery of large-caliber guns all the same size. […]

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  • A War of Poison Gas, 1915

    A War of Poison Gas, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | May 15, 2015 |

    Reported in  Scientific American , This Week in World War I: May 15, 1915 As the Great War ground down to a deadlock, both sides sought some method of gaining an advantage. The Germans (taking a cue from the French) first used poison gas on a wide scale on April 22, 1915, in the trenches near Ypres, Belgium, against French colonial troops. […]

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  • Sinking the Lusitania, Part 2: Death and Blame, May 7, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | May 7, 2015 |

    Reports and opinions in Scientific American on a key tragedy in World War I May 8, 2015 When the German submarine U-20 torpedoed the British civilian ship Lusitania on May 7, 1915, the grand ocean liner sank in only 18 minutes. Behind the outrage caused by the death of 1,193 people, including 128 Americans, there were questions. […]

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  • Sinking the Lusitania, Part 1: Many Civilians Die in "Wicked" Atrocity, May 7, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | May 1, 2015 |

    Reports and opinions in Scientific American on a key tragedy in World War I: May 1, 2015 On May 7, 1915, the British civilian ocean liner Lusitania was hit by a torpedo fired by German submarine U-20, just off the coast of Ireland. […]

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  • Battle of Gallipoli: A Strategic View, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | April 24, 2015 |

    Scientific American looked at the wider context of the battle for Gallipoli. This Week in World War I: April 24, 1915 Giant guns of HMS Queen Elizabeth , the most powerful battleship afloat when it shelled Turkish forts onshore. The main battery of 15-inch guns was impressive, but not particularly useful against well-camouflaged land targets. […]

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  • Heavy Guns Blast Trenches, 1915

    Heavy Guns Blast Trenches, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | April 17, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American , This Week in World War I: April 17, 1915 Two Austrians with a 305-millimeter shell for a siege howitzer (the propellant was loaded separately). Image: Scientific American , April 17, 1915 World War I was an artillery war. […]

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  • Rescuing the Drowning Submarine, 1915

    Rescuing the Drowning Submarine, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | April 10, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American , This Week in World War I: April 10, 1915 German submarine rescue ship and mobile dry dock “Vulkan,” built in 1912. Image: Scientific American, April 10, 1915 The United States submarine F-4 was launched in January 1912, and foundered in March 1915 near Honolulu in 300 feet of water, with the loss of all 21 crew. […]

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  • Proud Battleships, Subtle Mines: Dardanelles, 1915

    Proud Battleships, Subtle Mines: Dardanelles, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | April 3, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American , This Week in World War I: April 3, 1915 “The day when Constantinople will be covered by the guns of the enemy is not very far distant.” That’s the ebulliant sentence from the article in Scientific American two weeks before this one, just after the initial British and French attack near the Ottoman Empire’s capital city, Constantinople (Istanbul). […]

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  • The Zeppelin Earns a Fearsome Reputation, 1915

    The Zeppelin Earns a Fearsome Reputation, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | March 27, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: March 27, 1915 Airships with rigid frames were developed by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin of Germany starting in the late 19th century. He had envisaged them being used in a viable business for mail delivery, fee-paying travellers and sight-seers—and also for military use. […]

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  • Naval Attack on the Dardanelles: Prelude to a Disaster, 1915

    Naval Attack on the Dardanelles: Prelude to a Disaster, 1915

    By Dan Schlenoff | March 20, 2015 |

    Reported in Scientific American , This Week in World War I: March 20, 1915 The report published in this issue from a century ago delivers a robustly optimistic outlook on the Allied attack on Turkish territory at the entrance to the waterway between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean: “If the great Mahan were living to-day [Alfred Thayer Mahan, naval strategist, died December 1, 1914] he would witness, in the so far successful forcing of the Dardanelles by the allied fleet, one more of those striking evidences of the decisive value of the command of the sea, of which the present war has afforded so many.” French battleship “Bouvet.” The ship attacked Turkish forts in the Dardanelles and was sunk by a mine on March 18, with a disastrous loss of life. […]

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