Article: Germany's Use of Chemical
Warfare in World War I
First Published 1999
Cylinders released gas
clouds that would 'float' towards the
enemy. Carrying the cylinders through
the maze of trenches to the front line
and placing them for an attack usually
took several days as each weighed 100-pounds
and up to 12,000 might be used for a single
operation. The task was carried out when
visibility was poor to avoid alerting
the enemy to an impending attack. If spotted
by the enemy, their gunfire could damage
the cylinders, exposing friendly troops
to their own chemical agents.
The speed and direction
of the wind was a problem to be considered.
The wind needed to be blowing towards
the enemy at a speed sufficient to move
it away from the release point, yet slow
enough for it to linger over enemy positions.
The lack of favourable winds often delayed
chemical operations for days or even weeks.
This unpredictability eventually forced
Germany to abandon the cylinder-based
cloud attack and use specially-adapted
artillery shells instead.