S01:E01 - Rails and Rams
Railroads became an important factor during the Civil War especially to get troops to Washington D.C. once the war started as the Capitol was surrounded by Confederate states. The North had 21,000 miles of track and the South 9,000 at the start of the war giving the North an advantage and it was all the same gauge. Tactical use of railroads by the North was a force multiplier and the efforts by Bedford Forest and Mosby's Raiders did little to slow down the rail movement of troops and supplies. During the war Lincoln signed the legislation for a transcontinental railroad which was completed in 1869.
S01:E02 - Hot Air and Hot Lead
Weapons technology in the U.S. changed radically in the 1850's with the adoption of the 'American system' which was an assembly line technique to manufacture weapons of war. The other major change was rifling rather than smooth bore rifles and the Minie ball ammunition. The U.S. eventually had almost 1.5 million Springfield rifles and over 400,000 British Enfield rifles by war's end. For cavalry, the Sharps breech loader became the weapon of choice. Rifled artillery was also introduced and its greater distance and accuracy was pivotal at Gettysburg. Although the North had more guns, it was a massed artillery barrage by 130 Confederate guns during the battle that would be the largest bombardment of troops in North America.
S01:E03 - Rams and Rivers
Both the Union and Confederate Navy used a variety of Army field pieces on their ships during the Civil War as neither had a quantities of standardized naval guns. The North had the much larger Navy. The Confederacy had virtually nine except for a few gunboats at the start of the war. The North's plan was to blockade the South's ports and control the Mississippi River choking off supplies from overseas and down river to the South. While the blockade was fairly effective the South's blockade runners were also effective. The war saw the development of ironclads and the battle between the Monitor and the Merrimac at Hampton Roads in 1862 showed the future of naval ships and warfare. The South did usher in a new aspect of naval warfare during the war with the introduction of torpedoes.
S01:E05 - This Is My Rifle
Firing rates has always been a key element in warfare. The Battle of Cressy in 1346 during the Hundred Years War between England and France is a prime example with the English longbow men able to produce a fire rate five times faster, and with a longer range, than the French. This victory, along with the victories at Poitiers and Agincourt made England a major military power. Black powder, introduced in the 13th century, also became a major factor in weapons development with the advent of the rifle. The cap and ball system and rifling was a major factor in the Union Army's devastation of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg. During World War II the U.S. Garand rifle, the famous M1, was called 'the most deadly rifle in the world' by General George Patton. Rifle technology kept changing. In the 1960's the M-16 and M4 carbine became the weapons of choice for the U.S. while the Russian AK-47 became the most widely used assault rifle in the world. The current automatic rifles used by military forces around the world would be dismaying the soldiers of the past. However, the value of rapid fire has been known for a long time as Fredrick the Great noted in 1768 'Battles are won by superiority of fire".
S01:E06 - Vengeance Weapon
The first rockets were used by the Chinese over 1,000 years ago. Until artillery became accurate, the rocket was the most used weapon of range on the battlefield. Rickets also were the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to pen the Star Spangled Banner that became the U.S. National Anthem. In the 1930's in Germany 'rocket scientists' were looking at developing system for space travel. They were co-opted for military use in World War II with the result the V1 and V2 rockets that Germany used against London and Allied field forces. These rockets became the foundation for America's rocket forces and space program post was. The rocket engine also ushered in the jet fighter during World War II with the Me 262 being the most well-known. The British fielded the Meteor jet near the end of the war. The U.S. entered the jet age in 1942 with the Bell X-59 but did not make a production run for the war. The use of rocket engines during World War II changed both military and civilian aviation.
S01:E07 - Vertical Flight
While the idea of vertical flight - the helicopter - was envisioned as early as the 15th century by Leonardo da Vinci, the first actual helicopter flight was in 1924 and the first practical helicopter was the FW 61 in Germany in 1936 with a small number used during World War II. The U.S. used the Sikorsky VS 300 in World War II. Marine General Roy Geiger after watching an A bomb test in 1946 determined the need for helicopters for troop landings in the future in a battlefield with nuclear arms. The use of helicopters in the Korean War were instrumental in providing supply and troop movement, evacuation of wounded and rescue of downed pilots. Vietnam in the 1960's and 1970's became the first true helicopter war. By the end of the Vietnam War the Army and Marine helicopter fleet size made it the world's third largest air force after the U.S. and USSR air forces. The Huey of Vietnam was eventually replaced with the Blackhawk in 1978 with its first combat deployment in Grenada in 1983. Several Blackhawk variants are currently in use by the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard. The stealth version of the Blackhawk has been instrumental in the war on terror including use in the May 2011 operation that killed bin Laden.
S01:E08 - Movile Artillery
The ominous sound of cannons began to play a main role on battlefields in Europe in the mid 15th century. Over time, the use of trunnions for elevation made cannon more accurate and deadly. During the 17th and 18th centuries cannons became a major weapon of war. During World War II the creation by the Germans of self propelled artillery guns helped shape the battle field as these mobile gun platforms could keep pace with tank formations. The U.S. Army followed suit and by the 1960's had the M109 armored and tracked artillery piece. In 1993 the Army fielded the Paladin with a 155mm cannon with a range of 14 miles and has digital fire control. The modern warfare of combined arms is still paced by the tank but the Paladin artillery can move at the same speed and support the tank and infantry maneuver forces with immense firepower.
S01:E09 - Armour Knights
While the modern tank dominates land warfare, the idea of armor goes back to ancient times as the Greeks, Assyrians and Romans all had hardened material for their soldiers. By the 5th century chain mail become used for a 1,000 years until mobility became more important than heavy armor in the 16th century. In World War I armored fighting vehicles appeared on the battlefield to counteract the dominance of the machine gun. Eventually the tank became the dominate piece. The first U.S. tanks were used in combat on September 12, 1918 with the force commanded by then Lieutenant Colonel George Patton, the first officer assigned to the U.S. Tank Corps. In World War II German General Heinz Guderian created the first modern armored force and revolutionized the battlefield ushering the Blitzkrieg - Lightning War. The Battle of Kursk in WW II saw the largest tank battle ever with over 1,500 German and Russian tanks fighting at point blank range. General Patton's Third Army during World War II became the prototype of the U.S. combined arms force that is still essentially the same concept today.
S01:E10 - Top Secret
As World War II approached science, especially regarding electronics, aerospace research and nuclear physics became very important. Equally important was keeping new developments in these areas secret. The first new scientific breakthrough was the British development on a radio detection system that helped defeat the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain. The U.S. took the basic British research amd developed highly effective radar systems which were instrumental in defeating the German U-Boat threat in the Atlantic. The development of the a proximity fuse for anti-air and Navy guided artillery were major factors in the Allies victory. The most secret, and ultimately most advanced scientific achievement of the wear, was the development of the atomic bomb. The Manhattan Project developed the atomic bomb with the first test in July 1945. Two a Bombs were dropped on Japan in August and the Japanese surrounded on September 2nd ending World War II. Post wat, military R&D became a priority and the scientific breakthroughs have become as much a part of modern war as strategy and tactics.
S01:E11 - The New Navy
During World War II the battle doctrine for the U.S. Navy was to dominate all the world seas at once while striking into the enemy heartland. This remained the main doctrine during 49 years of Cold War should it became a hot war with the Soviet Union. With the end of the Cold War, the doctrine needed to change as the position and type of enemy changed,. Now the Navy would fight mostly in the littoral regions near coasts (where 80% of the world's population lives); rather than over vast areas in the major oceans. The main force if the carrier battle group that as a weapons system is formidable in the projection of power and in actual striking power. The aircraft carriers planes and the battle group's cruise missiles can strike targets up to a 1,000 miles away. The carrier battle group remains America's force behind global power projection and diplomacy.