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Anecdotes from the Archive

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

The RMS (“Royal Mail Ship”—a level above the more common “Steam Ship”) Lusitania as the vessel appeared in 1907, shortly after being launched. Image: Scientific American, September 14, 1907

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. Within 18 minutes, the ship sank; 1,193 people died, including 128 Americans, [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

Battle of Gallipoli: A Strategic View, 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.  Image: Scientific American, April 13, 1918

Scientific American looked at the wider context of the battle for Gallipoli. This Week in World War I: April 24, 1915 April 25, 2015, marks the 100-year anniversary of an important battle in the First World War: it was a major defeat for the Allies (Britain, France and Russia) and a great victory for the [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

Rescuing the Drowning Submarine, 1915

German submarine rescue ship and mobile dry dock “Vulkan,” built in 1912. Image: Scientific American, April 10, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: 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. This disaster was a stern reminder, if any was needed, that this relatively [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

Proud Battleships, Subtle Mines: Dardanelles, 1915

British battleship "Irresistible," launched 1898, sunk in the Dardanelles, 1915.  Image: Scientific American, April 3, 1915

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 [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

The Zeppelin Earns a Fearsome Reputation, 1915

German civilian Zeppelin “Viktoria Luise.” After war broke out it became the military “LZ-11.” Image: Scientific American Supplement, March 27, 1915

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. After the [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

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

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. Image: Scientific American, March 20, 1915

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 [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

Magnets of Mercy Treat War Injuries, 1915

Demonstrating how a powerful electromagnet could extract steel shell splinters from wounded men. Image: Scientific American, March 6, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: March 13, 1915 In a war that was defined by the mass production of war supplies, the great manufacturing center of Pittsburgh, Pa., was already an important source of matériel for all the armies involved: “Pittsburgh’s great industrial plants are furnishing practically all the barbed [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

The Big Guns, 1915

A 42-centimeter German shell that failed to explode, displayed as a trophy by the French. Image: Scientific American, July 17, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: March 6, 1915 World War I was an artillery war. Even as new technology—tanks, airplanes, submarines and poison gas—changed the nature of fighting, it was the power of mass manufacturing that had the most profound effect on the conduct of war. The size and number [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

American Fear, 1915

U.S. Marines at the occupation of Veracruz, Mexico, 1914. Image: Scientific American, February 27, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: February 27, 1915 The size, speed and ferocity of the Great War was unprecedented. By the time this issue was published on February 27, 1915—only seven months after the war began—the vast and well-armed military forces of Europe had lost in dead and wounded 10 [...]

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Anecdotes from the Archive

Airborne Scouts, 1915

Aircraft scouts: Before two-way radio was developed, it was suggested that an Edison recording machine might be useful for airplane observers. Image: Scientific American, February 20, 1915

Reported in Scientific American, This Week in World War I: February 20, 1915 The usefulness of scouting from the air had been demonstrated in the early days of the Great War. But gathering information from an airplane is one thing; it is another thing to give that information to people on the ground who could [...]

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