As part of the Discovery Channel\'s Future Weapons website are two lists of the 10 weapons that have changed the world, one chosen by the public, the other chosen by the programmes expert - former Navy SEAL Richard “Mack” Machowicz.
Looking at the results suggested by the public (120,000 of them) against those suggested by Mack, there are some obvious choices. Sure the AK-47 has shaped the world throughout the Cold War - and continues to be used today. The RPG-7 has also allowed infantry to take back the battlefield from heavy armour. The ICBM dominated the Cold War The aircraft carrier and the nuclear submarine have certainly shaped modern combat history. But I feel as if the choice to limit the list to post World War II weapons has overwhelmingly skewed the list. It is all very well to say that the F-117A has changed the world. And it has in a way. It is a truly awesome feat of engineering, taking the use of aircraft in war to a virtually untouchable level of sophistication. But does that mean that it has changed the world more than the first aircraft used in war during the First World War. Without those early aircraft, would the F-117A have ever been built?
And, as for Macks choice of the Military Industrial Complex as his number one choice…well I see what he is trying to get at, but again it is a modern concept.
So, I have decided to take it upon myself to choose an alternative top ten weapons that changed the world. With a short explanation as to why I chose it. If you have any suggestions that you think I have missed, please let me know - and feel free to suggest your own top ten!
10: AK 47 - I have already talked about the AK-47 on this blog in the past. Simple, easy to use, cheap to produce, it has become a staple weapon in the way that nothing else has been able to.
9: The Ironclad - this was a tough decision - choosing the one naval weapon that has changed history is not easy. I toyed with choosing the Viking Longship, but decided that in terms of shaping history Ironclads were simply the biggest technological leap forward.
8: The Landmine - now one of the most controversial weapons the landmine rapidly developed as the cheapest and most effective way of controlling and protecting massive areas of land without the mass deployment of troops. The deadly legacy that they have left still plagues civilian populations today, but the minefield remains a notable military defence.
7: Spitfire / Hurricane - again I could have chosen the Wright brothers first aircraft, or the early fighters and bombers of the First World War - but in terms of achievements not much comes close to the double act of the Spitfire and Hurricane during the Battle of Britain. Has any other fighter planes had such an impact on the outcome of a major world conflict?
6: The Rifled Barrel - not strictly a weapon, more the development and improvement of existing technology, but the rifled barrel changed the face of warfare, and went on to influence small arms technology.
5: Mark IV Tank - or any of the tanks deployed during World War I. They may not have changed the course of the war, but they forever altered military tactics. Without the Mark IV you would never have had the huge tank battles of the Eastern Front or the development of modern military armour.
4: The Longbow - used over hundreds of years, and even longer depending on how loosely you are willing to take the definition of the longbow, it has played an long and important role in the military world. It certainly helped to shape the Europe of today.
3: Gatling Gun / Maxim Machine gun - the first machine gun, it helped Britain to maintain and expand its Empire, and was the direct ancestor of the machine guns that wreaked havoc during WW1. In a way, without these weapons we would never have had the AK 47 - hence it\'s high position on my list
2:The Atomic Bomb - the single largest forward leap in weapons technology. The most awesome, frightening and world shaping weapon ever created. It finished the Second World War, fuelled the Cold War, and remains an international military threat. In fact some would argue that since the end of the Cold War, although the numbers of atomic weapons have been reduced, the chances of one being deployed in anger have increased.
1: The Horse - Ok, I will admit - I chose this to mimic Mack\'s off the wall choice of the Military Industrial Complex. And whilst the horse is probably not technically a weapon, just think about the impact that it has on the world. From rampaging Mongols, to Knights in armour. From the cavalry charges of the Napoleonic Wars through to First World War engagements.
So, that is my list…controversial I suppose in a number of ways - and based on my far from perfect knowledge of history! Let\'s see what you think!