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WWI: The First Modern War is a show from the History Channel that explores how the First World War was the beginning of modern warfare as we now know it. During World War 1 we first began using tanks, airplanes, and chemical weapons, famously known as "Mustard Gas." The ramifications of these modern weapons are then highlighted by the weapons that we use today that got their start from this historic conflict.

1 Season, 9 Episodes
July 26, 2014
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WWI: The First Modern War Full Episode Guide

  • See how the Lusitania sailed into history, leading the U.S. into World War I, and how the blistering conditions imposed by the Allies on post-war Germany resulted in the rise of Nazism.

  • Take a look back at the sinking of half of one of the largest Anglo-American convoys to sail to Russia in World War II.

  • The wrecks of a German submarine and an English steamship were discovered over 30 miles from where they were thought to have sunk in World War I. Host John Chatterton dives deep to piece together what really happened.

  • See how technological achievements that streamlined 19th-century production, improved transportation, and expanded science were used to efficiently decimate a generation of soldiers in the early 20th century.

  • As German submarines took on the British Navy the Atlantic became a killing field. 5,200 ships were able to be sunk by war's end by the stealth and silent killers, and brought Britain nearly to its knees. But during their attacks, the Germans sunk the US passenger liner Lusitania, which killed almost 2,000 on board. President Wilson got Congress to agree finally to enter the war from the outrage in America. The Allied Atlantic blockade forced Germany to surrender in the end, but the submarine was established as an effective military weapon.

  • The Germans were the first to weaponize a chemical. Starting with chlorine, a highly toxic ingredient used in chemical dyes which they had a large supply. Their action unleashed a rise in poison gas weapons as both sides made different chemicals and more effective counter measures. Their use of culminated in a bold British plan that unfolded beneath the battlefield at Messine Ridge. British explosive and mining experts planted 450 tons of high explosive hidden in tunnels under Messine ridge.

  • The first Blitz happened during WWI. Bombs from giant airships designed by Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin were delivered, he was inspired when he was an observer in the Germany Army in the US during the Civil War and rode in a hot air balloon for the first time. These superstructures are lighter than air, and two times longer than the Statue of Liberty is high, were able to measure flights in hundreds of miles when others measured success in hundreds of yards.

  • The first armored fighting machine used on the battlefield were tanks. They were called "land ships" at first, and were championed by Winston Churchill. They were adapted from an American tractor with caterpillar tracks, and was designed in secret to break through the heavily fortified trenches and give our troops protection from heavy artillery. But they broke down and got stuck in the mud during the first combat in the Battle of the Somme. British government propaganda reversed the story and led the way for thousands of tanks to be built and become a weapon in war.

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