Military Invasions of the 20th Century Quiz


By: Zoe Samuel

7 Min Quiz

Image: avid_creative/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

The 20th century was very special when it came to war and war fighting. While the industrial revolution saw ships turned into floating gun platforms, and the Crimean War was the last battle of the sail, the 20th century was primed as an apex of technologically driven warfare. In the 1880s, Dr. Gatling thought his invention would stop all wars because no one would ever want to face his gun on the battlefield.  So too it was with many of the weapons innovations of the 20th century.

While the goal of military engineers of the 19th century was to simply mass produce death, their 20th century counterparts reached the zenith of mass murder with shocking alacrity, and the new design objectives military engineers were given were mostly around accuracy, and methodology. The 20th century saw the creation of tactical nuclear weapons as well as the invention (although not production, thank God) of the so-called Flying Crowbar, a nuclear weapon capable of destroying the whole world with one launch.

Enter into this explosion of innovation the many nations eager to make war and you have a world full of wars unlike any fought before or since. The question remains: How much do you know about the military invasions of the 20th century?

What continent was not involved in World War Two?

World War Two was indeed a world war, with the Allies and Axis Powers fighting in Africa, and one of those allies was Australia. Of course, Antarctica wasn't part of it. Nobody was there.


In what countries was The Vietnam War fought?

The Vietnam War was fought across North and South Vietnam. It bled into Cambodia, and at the end of the war, the US Embassy, which is considered American soil, was overrun and evacuated by helicopter.


What was the attack tactic favored by Germany in World War Two?

The Nazis employed the use of Blitzkrieg, or "lightning war" in their use of air power and armor, but they also used the power of large numbers of men marching in perfect unison to psychologically overpower people, which is a "shock and awe" tactic. They also made aggressive use of subs, sinking both military and civilian vessels in the Atlantic.


What countries were involved in The Falklands War?

The Falklands War was a brief engagement between the UK and Argentina, lasting just under a month and a half. In Argentina, it is referred to as "Guerra de las Malvinas" because they still do not accept the British name or ownership of the islands. The islands, a British dependency inhabited by Britons, was invaded by Argentina on April 2, 1982. By the end of the war, there were 649 dead on the Argentinian side, and 255 on the British side.


When did the Korean war begin?

The Korean War, which is still technically not over, began on June 25, 1950. It was "ended" with an armistice, not a treaty, which means that all parties remain in a state of war, and all days from June 25, 1950 to December 31, 2000 were days there was an ongoing war on the planet.


How many successor states resulted from what we now call the Yugoslav wars?

The 1990s breakup of Yugoslavia resulted in the creation of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (which is one state), Kosovo, Macedonia, and of course Serbia.


Who was the leader of The Cambodian Genocide?

From 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge, an armed, violent, Maoist group, massacred between 1,671,000 and 1,871,000 people under the command of Pol Pot, a monster who ordered not only the execution of children, but also mad-scientist style medical experiments conducted on children. Perhaps Pol Pot is best remembered, perversely, for his erasure of history with the so-called "year zero" policy.


How long did World War Two last?

The official start and end dates for World War Two are Sept. 1, 1939 and Sept, 2, 1945, however the war itself was preceded by many unresolved conflicts that had involved wars with nations earlier in history, so it could be viewed as simply a continuation of many previous wars.


What wasn't the name people used for the first World War before there was a World War Two?

WW1, as we often call it today, was the largest war ever seen by man, at the time. It spanned many continents, many nations, and many new, terrifying technologies. Pacifists in France called it what translates to The Last of The Wars. Some called it The Great War. The Germans called it World War. No one called it WW1 however, until there was a WW2 to contend with. The term arose in 1945.


In what country was the Dhofar Rebellion fought?

The Dhofar Rebellion was fought in the Dhofar region of Oman. It was a civil war between rebels and the Sultanate of Oman, who were backed by the UAE, Jordan, Iran and Britain.


What is the official start date of The Vietnam War?

What the USA refers to as The Vietnam War began on Nov. 1, 1955, and was just a war between North Vietnam and South Vietnam, but American "military advisers" arrived to help the South Vietnamese in 1950. Of course, the Vietnamese regard the war as a civil war, or a war against a colonial power, depending on who you ask.


Who did the United States support in the 1979-1989 Afghan war?

When the USSR went to war in Afghanistan, the US supported their enemies, the so-called "Mujahideen" or "Holy Warriors" who eventually became the Taliban and Al Qaeda. At the time, the philosophy in the US military was "My enemy's enemy is my friend."


What Vietnam-era aircraft's shortcomings led to the creation of Top Gun?

The hunt for new technological edges was the impetus for the creation of the F-4 Phantom II. The Phantom II was a huge, powerful attack aircraft but it lacked the maneuverability of its Soviet counterparts, and it was built around the philosophy that pilots should rely on radar-guided and heat-seeking missiles rather than dogfighting skills. As a result, dogfighting skills atrophied and after the war, the Navy created Top Gun to train the best pilots to be better.


What was Erich Hartmann's American-Soviet kill ratio in WW2?

Erich Hartmann was the greatest Ace Pilot of all time, with 352 aerial victories, making him an Ace many times over. The Russians were new to aviation, with poorly trained, if numerous pilots, and very poor aircraft. This made them easy pickings for the talented pilot. The Americans were a tougher nut to crack, but Hartmann still showed his talents with seven American aircraft shot down. While some Russian historians disputed the number of his Soviet kills, the number they insist on is still so high, arguing is silly.


Who was leader of North Korea at the beginning of The Korean War?

Kim Il-sung was the founder of the regime that governs North Korea to this day, a quasi-religious military dictatorship that has changed little in aesthetic and style since 1950.


Why is North Korea divided the way it is?

At the end of WW2, the USSR and the USA each had a piece of Korea, having liberated it from the Japanese. As with Germany, it was decided that Korea would be divided up, with the north becoming effectively another part of the Iron Curtain, and the south becoming an ally in the Pax Americana.


What "animal" did the USA send to China to defend it from Japan, prior to the USA entering WW2?

The Flying Tigers were volunteer US airmen who went to China to fly against Japan in the early stages of WW2. Because the US was not eager to get involved in the war, these pilots had to choose to go of their own volition. The Flying Tigers bravely held off the Japanese long enough to make a difference in the war, and they are revered as Chinese national heroes to this day.


What world leader inspired the people of Kosovo to create a new first name for their children?

Tony Blair is credited with stopping a genocide of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo by pushing the 1999 NATO campaign against the former Yugoslav government. When he arrived to tour Pristina after the war, people chanted his name in the streets. Soon, people took to naming children Tonibler in honor of the British PM.


What did the press dub the period between September 3, 1939 and May 10, 1940?

The term seems to have been coined by Senator William Borah (an isolationist who thought he could persuade Hitler to stop if he could just meet him) who called the declared war "phony" (to use the American spelling) but newspapers quickly picked up the term, and used the British spelling of phoney. It was called this because while a state of war was declared, there was no major military action on behalf of Germany's opponents, France and England.


What was the name of the rebel group in the Dhofar Rebellion?

The Dhofar Liberation Front, or DLF as it was sometimes called, was led by Musallam bin Nufl, and armed by Saudi Arabia, China, and the USSR, as each wanted a stake in the future of Oman.


What policy took the place of frequent US military intervention in Latin America?

FDR began this policy in an official capacity in 1933, in an attempt to extricate the US from its fraught role in Latin American self-governance. Prior to this policy, the US would use the threat of its "big stick" (a vestige of FDR's cousin, Teddy) to threaten its neighbors into compliance over free trade or debt repayments, making diplomacy difficult. In instituting the policy, the US withdrew from such adventures as its occupation of Haiti, which was in effect from 1915.


What year was The Battle of Mogadishu?

The Battle of Mogadishu was fought in 1993. It was a victim of the shortcomings of intelligence in the region, the American role in the conflict, and the lack of any motive for peace existing among the warring parties in that part of the world. It was immortalized in the film "Black Hawk Down."


What group of special operators were not involved in The Battle of Mogadishu?

The SAS are the British elite special operators, but they were not part of The Battle of Mogadishu. The American special operators involved in the conflict included US Navy SEALs, Delta Force, Joint Strategic Operations Command (JSOC) and Air Force Special Operations Command, among others.


What deadly US unit led the liberation of Fort Rupert and Richmond Hill Prison in the 1983 invasion of Grenada?

Task Force Green, AKA The 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta, better known by its more common name, "Delta Force," and the "regular" Army Rangers led the attack on the fort where the rebel leaders were hiding out, and the prison where they put their political opposition.


When was the Malayan Emergency?

The Malayan Emergency was a communist uprising in what was called British Malaya, then The Malayan Union, later becoming The Federation of Malay, and today is Singapore, Malaysia, North Borneo, and Sarawak.


What African country played a role in the Malayan Emergency?

While Tripoli and Rhodesia and Nyasaland have since become other nations, the latter was still around in the 20th century, and as part of the British Empire, it helped Britain put down the communist uprising in its eastern colony of British Malaya.


What famous musician was on the front lines of the war in Kosovo, his guitar strapped to the outside of his tank?

James Blunt, who graduated from Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, comes from a military family, and pledged his youth to the service. While in Yugoslavia, he was in a lightly "armored" tank used for recon, and traveled with his guitar. Because there wasn't much room inside, the guitar had to be strapped to the outside of the tank.


What US trade agreement is said to have led directly to the Chiapas conflict?

Chiapas is a very poor area in Southern Mexico populated by subsistence farmers and indigenous people, many of whom have livelihoods that hang by a thread. Their relationship with the Mexican federal government has been fraught for decades, but when Mexico made policy changes to bring itself into line with NAFTA, the existing tensions boiled over, resulting in events like the 1997 Acteal Massacre.


What was the Portuguese response to Angolan protesters burning their ID cards and attacking Portuguese traders in colonial Angola?

Unlike many of its European counterparts, Portugal did not plan to release its African colonies, and so it held on tightly. When, in Angola, 1961, local peasants refused to work in the cotton fields, their protest slowly escalated until Portuguese traders in the country were attacked. Portugal responded with an aerial bombardment of several defenseless villages, using both napalm and conventional weaponry.


What was Israel's first move in the 6-Day War?

When Israel's neighbors simultaneous invaded shortly after Israel's recognition as a state by the UN, the young nation fought back and won. Tensions continued to simmer, and some of Israel's neighbors began to mass their militaries at their borders with Israel. Israeli intelligence said an invasion was imminent, so Israel decided to make the first move, which consisted of a surprise attack on Egypt's air force, bombing their air strips and strafing their aircraft.


What element was key to Israel's 38th Armored Division's victory against Egypt's 2nd Infantry Division, 6th Tank Regiment, 1 Mechanised antitank battalion, and additional artillery and infantry battalions?

While Israel's tank forces sent to face Egypt were certainly more numerous, their victory's most important element was that they had much better technology. The bulk of Egypt's armor was WW2-era Soviet weaponry, and their specialist anti-tank weapons were no match for the least powerful tank in Israel's army: the newly minted AMX-13s. The AMX-13s, Centurions, and Super Shermans were all more or less impervious to Egypt's biggest guns. Certainly strategy, psychology and numbers had their roles in the battle, but any of those advantages could be lost and technology would still have made the difference.


What tool did Iran use to effect the Al Faw peninsula landing?

Iran used fake news reports to create a panic which allowed them to insert forces into Al Faw, and the weather, which, amazingly, featured torrential rain, meant that Iraq could not use its armor to retake the position.


What October, 1947 invasion resulted in a hot border conflict that lasts through today?

Kashmir could have gone either way when the British decreed that Pakistan and India would be two countries. When a local rebellion broke out in Kashmir, the Pakistani army invaded in to support the rebellion against the Kashmiri government. India agreed to support the Kashmiri government provided that the Maharaja of Kashmir would hand his power to India, and he agreed. No sooner had this agreement been put on paper than the Indian army invaded Kashmir and the first Indian-Pakistani war began.


What was at stake in the 1903 conflict between Bolivia and Brazil?

When it became clear how much latex was available in the jungles around Acre, Bolivia, a huge number of people came to collect, including many Brazilians. When the Brazilians kicked all the Bolivians out of the Bolivian city of Acre, the Bolivian military went in to take it back. Then Brazil sent their military. In the end, the Bolivians surrendered. Later, a treaty would be signed giving Acre to Brazil in exchange for two million pounds and a railroad, both of which took decades to materialize.


What 1974 invasion divided a popular European vacation spot?

In 1974, the independent island The Republic of Cyprus was invaded by Turkey. The island had been a British possession until 1960, but the coalition of ethnic Greeks and Turks on the island fell apart and it looked like the Turks were becoming second class citizens. The island had (and has) elements of both the Greek military and the Turkish military, and in 1974, the Greek military overthrew the government. In response, the Turks invaded, taking nearly half of the island. Today, both nations manage a strange dance as bits of Cyprus change hands based on time of day.


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!