22 Responses

  1. Kay
    Kay at |

    Great list. I loved it.

  2. Scott
    Scott at |

    I was hoping for Military achievments in the field, not Weapon inventions.

    Example Blitzkrieg, Amphibian landings, Island hopping, and such

  3. Joe
    Joe at |

    Totally disagree on the submarine. It has proven to be one of the most ineffective weapons of all time. Contrary to popular belief, it's impact on WWII was minimal.

    Incidentally, for sailing ships; the key invention was the keel.

    While the airplane had a great impact, a careful reading of military history shows that close air ground support had a revolutionary impact. Far more than bombers.

    1. vx
      vx at |

      That's odd since the Nazis almost forced Britain into surrender by sinking so many ships that brought supples into the country.

    2. Sasa
      Sasa at |

      Bombers at the time of WWII were actually incredibly inaccurate (18% of bombs hit their targets), so you can’t really base it on that era.

      However, precision bombing has a profound impact. Being able to take out a bunker, or building, or vehicle from an aerial vehicle is incredible.

      I agree with vx. The only reason the submarine was less effective in World War II was because of it’s impact in the First World War. The U-Boat was so effective in WWI that the Allies basically made the North Sea a gigantic minefield.

  4. Josh P
    Josh P at |

    You left out one.. the discovery of steel?

    before that is was bronze, horrible metal.

    steel changed ALOT more than we realize, not only in war but in life as well.

    1. james
      james at |

      steel was not an invention hence why its not on the list

      1. Anvil
        Anvil at |

        Steel is arguably not an invention, however that cannot be said of steelsmithing tools and technologies that revolutionized warfare doe to the higher quality and strength offered, before steel/iron smithing became possible the only source of high quality metal for warfare was meteoric iron which, as you can imagine was not economical to oufit an entire army in. Thus without the invention of metal smithing half of this list is not possible, can you think of a plausible way to make cannons out of bronze for example?

  5. N. O'Brain
    N. O'Brain at |

    The stirrup.


    From wikipedia:

    "The stirrup is considered one of the basic tools used to create and spread modern civilization. Some argue it is as important as the wheel or printing press."

  6. N. O'Brain
    N. O'Brain at |



    "The stirrup, which gave greater stability to a rider, has been described as one of the most significant inventions in the history of warfare, prior to gunpowder. As a tool allowing expanded use of horses in warfare, the stirrup is often called the third revolutionary step in equipment, after the chariot and the saddle. The basic tactics of mounted warfare were significantly altered by the stirrup. A rider supported by stirrups was less likely to fall off while fighting, and could deliver a blow with a weapon that more fully employed the weight and momentum of horse and rider."

  7. Grey Fox
    Grey Fox at |

    "knorr" is a merchant ship, not a generic name for a clinker-built ship. There are multible names for warships in Old Norse- drakkar, snekkja, etc, denoting different types. The later medieval ships wer known as hulks and cogs depending on design.


    The stirrup thesis has been around awhile, but isn't really valid. The Romans invented a saddle that would allow the rider to do anything that he needed to do by way of swinging a sword or thrusting with a lance without stirrups. Even using a couched lance – which is where the thesis originated – doesn't require stirrups, or even a saddle.

    1. Logan
      Logan at |

      the stirrup wasn’t an invention to allow for swinging a sword or striking with a lance it was in invention to allow for balance while mounted and to be able to stay on the mount after the strike

  8. David Hurlbert
    David Hurlbert at |

    Thanks for all your valuable comments. Although I do think a list that examines the top ten military doctrines (Amphibious Assault; Spearhead; Wolf Pack; Air land, etc.) would be very interesting, I found it more captivating to examine the specific weapons as it is these systems which tend to proceed and drive military doctrine.

    The stirrup certainly added to the effectiveness of any mounted cavalry in particular and transportation in general. And while this invention may have proven significant in warfare, it would be rather difficult for me to classify the stirrup as a weapon system.

    I have many valid reasons for placing the submarine on my top ten list of weapon systems that forever changed the face of war. (Please see Submarine Warfare: An Illustrated History by Antony Preston and Submarines: An Illustrated History of Their Impact by Paul E. Fontenoy.) In addition, strategic submarines and attack submarines are a vital part of any modern naval force. It was not that long ago when a nuclear submarine was first use in active combat. This engagement took place in 1982 when the British attack submarine Conqueror sank the Argentine ship General Belgrano during the conflict over the Falkland Islands. Finally, I think submarines have revolutionized nuclear strategy as well as black operations and most will likely agree that submarines are expected to remain a vital part of any modern naval system for many years to come. With the demise of the Soviet Union, leading to reduced defense budgets, the U.S. Navy faces the challenge of reducing the cost of nuclear submarines while retaining their effectiveness. With this goal in mind, the New Attack Submarine program was devised in the 1990s, with the goal of replacing large and expensive Seawolf attack submarines with smaller, less expensive, yet equally effective nuclear submarines.

    1. Sasa
      Sasa at |

      I agree with your idea on the submarine. However, is it really true that paratroopers changed warfare that much? Sure, they were an incredible innovation, but Top 10 worthy?

      And the carrier–would you say that that sort of falls along with the airplane? Without the Airplane, carriers are rendered ineffective. The same goes for the cannon–would it not be more useful to just say “Gunpowder”, which would include all guns. If you think that gunpowder is more like the stirrup in that it is not a weapon, consider that gunpowder’s main purpose (not totally sure what else it is used for, other than dynamite used for construction) is to be used in weapons and warfare.

      I love this list, Dr. Hurlbert, but I thought I’d give my frank opinion.

  9. Kevin
    Kevin at |

    Cool list but whoever said the submarine's impact was minimal it played a huge part as an espionage device in the cold war.

  10. Dan the man
    Dan the man at |

    Awesome list dude

  11. Keith Watabayashi
    Keith Watabayashi at |

    What about Mustard Gas from WWI? Or any chemical warfare, for that matter? How about computer targeting systems? Or satellite targeting? I'd say that's pretty huge, granted also brand new, but far-range accurate targeting has got to be the greatest achievement of the 21st century, and could essentially put all other devices on this list (except for Atomic Bombs) out of business/

  12. Kevin
    Kevin at |

    What about the tank, helicopter, the rifle, Battleships, Carriers, or something from the Romans who had a lot to do with western civilization. The gladius, ballista or siege catapult. And the long bow or the capital ships from the English. You are writing this in English and most law and medical language is Latin so I would consider those two as pretty important if you look at the big picture.

    1. Sasa
      Sasa at |

      Your last sentence is irrelevant because this is a list of military achievements.

      The helicopter was first used in Vietnam…and we all know how that turned out.

      I’m pretty sure you can throw the rifle in with the cannon, although the author really should just say “Gunpowder” instead….

      Battleships can kind’ve go with sailing (or a combo of sailing and the cannon)

      Carriers is #2.

  13. jeff
    jeff at |

    long bow

  14. Josean
    Josean at |

    The radio fuse, without it it was almost impossible to down an airplane with antiaircraft fire.

  15. ace
    ace at |

    The paratroopers should not be on this page but the use of biochemical weapons should.


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