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- It was the first war fought in the air. - 15 years after the Wright Brothers made their first flight, more than 65,000 aircraft were produced by both sides. - 38 American volunteers served in the French Air Service before America entered the war. They flew more than 3,000 missions - Germany built 123 zeppelin airships, which carried out more than 100 bombing raids on Great Britain. - It took 5 downed aircraft or “kills” to be considered a “flying ace.” - America’s top ace, Eddie Rickenbacker, had 26 kills. - Germany’s Manfred von Richthofen (best known as the “Red Baron”) had 80.
- Not all air weapons were high-tech: 500,000 carrier pigeons were used to carry messages along the front.
- Tanks made their first appearance on a battlefield.
- Britain used 476 tanks in the 1917 Battle of Cambrai, and 8,200 were produced by war’s end. - The self-powered machine gun was invented in 1884 and became a mainstay of the war. - It had a range of 1,000 yards and fired 600 rounds a minute. - Heavy artillery included the French 75mm gun and Germany’s devastating 420mm howitzer, “Big Bertha.” - Artillery weapons caused 70% of all battle casualties.
- More than 2,500 miles of trenches were erected along the 466-mile Western Front, which stretched from the English Channel to Switzerland.
- There was one soldier for every 4 inches of trench. - The British army treated 20,000 cases of trench foot in 1914 alone. - 1.2 million men were lost just during the Battle of the Somme–the Allies only gained 7.8 miles of territory. - 110,000 tons of poison gas were used during the war, resulting in more than 500,000 casualties. - It was the first use of chemical weapons in warfare.
- World War I featured one of history’s last great naval battles. There were more than 250 ships involved in the battle of Jutland. - Germany lost just 178 of the 400 U-Boats it built–but still managed to sink 5,554 allied and neutral ships. - The U-boats’ most famous victim was RMS Lusitania. It was torpedoed in 1915 and sank in just 15 minutes. 1,198 people aboard died, including 128 Americans. - There were 6.6 million civilian deaths, including 2 million in Russia alone. - 8 million soldiers died–or 6,000 deaths every day of the war. - 21.2 million were wounded. In all, 65 million men fought in World War I–from 40 countries and dozens of colonies.
- For the first time in history, battle wounds accounted for more deaths than disease…Until the arrival of the Spanish Flu. - By 1918, 60% of U.S. Army deaths were attributed to the flue and more than 40% of the U.S. Navy had fallen ill. - By the end of the outbreak, the flu had claimed almost as many men as combat had.