10. Roman Polybolos: The best Roman military advancement has to be the roads they built, but a road is not a machine. I can’t have a list of greatest anything without something Roman. Although the many Roman catapults, rams, and various weapons were unique and innovative, the Polybolos was the most effective. It was a copy of the earlier Greek Ballista, but with an attached cam that automatically reloaded a bolt into the chamber. It is estimated that the Polybolos could fire 11 times per minute. The Roman legions pounded and army that formed in front of them with the polybolos, then the Infantry would march through the scattered enemy and cut them to pieces.
9. Egyptian Chariot: Egyptians captured a Syrian chariot, and reverse engineered their own improved design (Leather lashed spoked wheels). Before the Egyptians, chariots were very expensive and rare. They were usually just transports for the generals. The Egyptians were able to mass produce chariots by using interchangeable parts. They rolled into battle with several thousand chariots armed with elite archers.
8. Greek Torsion Ballista: A large, cross bow weapon that could fire heavy round projectiles, or long iron tipped arrows. It was light enough to place on ships or atop siege towers. Alexander the Great developed the torsion Ballista and it is the first widely used piece of field artillery in history. The Greeks could bombard city walls, or skewer armored soldiers from up to 500 yards.
7. Maxim Machine Gun: After the development of the Machine Gun in 1884, no Army would march in neat lines onto an open field ever again. Hiram Maxim invented the first gun to use the energy from the recoil to eject each spent cartridge and insert the next one. This made it vastly more efficient and less manpower-demanding than previous machine guns. This design was copied and remodeled many times and used to devastating effects, most notably in the trenches of WWI.
6. Russian T-34 Tank: Developed in 1941, the T-34 was the most effective tank of WWII, and the most produced tank of all time. A study in 1996 showed that the T-34 was still in service in 27 countries. 57,000 were produced during WWII. The Russians could move through deep mud and snow with the versatile T-34. The Germans could not match their maneuvers and were consistently outflanked and destroyed. The Nazi’s failed on the eastern front largely due to the superior firepower, maneuverability, and productivity of the best tank ever made.
5. British Ship of the Line: Prior to the British Navy Ships of the line, naval combat consisted of ramming an enemy and boarding their ships for hand to hand combat. The Huge British Vessels had superior firepower which made the devastating broadside attack common in naval warfare for the first time. The HMS Victory, with 78 guns, is the most famous ship of the line, and was commanded by Admiral Horatio Nelson at the battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The British victory gave them control of the seas during the Napoleonic wars, and helped secure Great Britain as the dominant world power of their time.
4. Soviet R-7 Semyorka ICBM: In 1958, the world entered the space age. The first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile that launched soviet satellite sputnik into outer space was the grandchild of the Nazi V-2 rocket. In December 1959, the R-7 rocket was modified to carry a 3 megaton nuclear warhead. The Soviet Union had the capability of delivering a nuclear strike anywhere in the world within 30 minutes. There was no defense and no warning system in place. The ICBM is still the most feared weapon of all time, but it was thankfully never used in military action.
3. Ottoman Heavy Cannon: Gunpowder was developed in China. The Ottoman Empire saw the value of this new explosive and was one of the first states to put gunpowder weapons into widespread use. The Ottomans could not penetrate the thick walls of Constantinople until the siege of 1453. They brought 69 large cannons and continued a constant barrage which lasted forty days. When Constantinople fell to the Ottoman’s, the world changed forever. Walled cities and Castles which defended people for thousands of years were rendered nearly obsolete by the Cannon.
2. B-52 Stratofortress. A total of 744 B-52’s were built. The first 50 were entered into service in 1955. The B-52 is so well designed, that they are still in service after over 50 years. The B-52’s versatility and fuel economy make it the most successful aircraft in military history. The B-1B was introduced in 1986 to replace the B-52, but the B-1 averages a 53% ready rate while the B-52 still averages 80%. Still, clearly the best heavy bomber in the U.S. Air Force, the B-52 is not scheduled to retire until 2040.
1. Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier. The Nimitz Class is the largest and most powerful naval vessel in history. They are Nuclear powered which means no need for re-fueling. The U.S.S. Nimitz is still ruling the sea almost 40 years after it was commissioned. It carries 85 aircraft able to strike anywhere in the world. There are 10 Nimitz class carriers. Just one has enough firepower to defeat nearly all other navies in the world.