This year marks
the 100-year anniversary of the beginning of World War I and even though thousands of
books have been written about the Great War, readily accessible images
have been scant. This is changing, however. Photo agency and library
Getty Images has been working over the past couple of years to preserve,
digitize, and put online tens of thousands of WWI images, which can now
be seen in its Hulton Archive.
The archive's WWI photos show many
aspects of the war, including the most notorious showdowns, civilians
on the home front, and life in the trenches. But some of the most
fascinating images are of the then-new innovations used on the
WWI marked an unprecedented change in how warfare was conducted -- bringing in new advancements and technology. Fighting went from cavalry and hand-to-hand combat to modern warfare.
One new invention first used for fighting during WWI was the Zeppelin, which militaries deployed for bombing and scouting. The German L2 pictured here is from around 1914.
During WWI, 16 million people died. Many of the casualties were caused by new innovation in firearms, which included long-range firepower; smaller, lightweight rifles; and machine guns. This image is from around 1912.
Several types of chemical weapons and gas were used in WWI. In this 1916 photo, a German officer leads his men through a cloud of phosgene gas, which they themselves set off. The gas was meant to act as a cover as the soldiers ran toward British trenches.
As with the Zeppelin, balloons were often used for scouting and surveillance during WWI. Here, a German soldier jumps from an observation balloon after it was destroyed by enemy action in 1918. Note the primitive parachute.
Flamethrowers were first used during WWI to take out nearby enemies during trench warfare. These early models could shoot blasts of black smoke and fire tens of yards. The flamethrower pictured here was photographed in 1917.
WWI was the first war to see extensive use of aircraft for fighting, bombing, and surveillance. Though long-range torpedoes had been invented by WWI, soldiers didn't have an efficient way to launch them from ships.
This 1920 image shows an American Martin bomber flying only a few feet above the surface of the water and dropping a torpedo as a way to launch it.
Germans test climbing power of captured British tanks
Tanks made their debut during WWI and were said to have shocked soldiers when they first saw the massive armored machines.
"If you were in battle and saw a tank coming over the hill, you'd think
'what on Earth is that?'" says Matthew Butson, vice president of Getty's Hulton Archive. "It's like us watching
'Star Wars,' and saying, 'good god, what the hell is that?'"
In this 1917 photo, Germans test out captured British tanks that have been redecorated in German colors.
Pilots from Royal Air Force prepare to drop bombs by hand
During WWI, airplanes went from being thought of as observation machines to actual weapons of war. In this 1916 photo, British pilots from what would in 1918 become the Royal Air Force are ready to drop bombs by hand over Germany.