Technological escalation during World War II

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Technological escalation during World War II was more profound than any other period in human history. More new inventions, certainly as measured by such means as patent applications for dual-use technology and weapon contracts issued to private contractors, were deployed to the task of killing humans more effectively, and to a much lesser degree, avoiding being killed. Unlike technological escalation during World War I, it was generally believed that speed and firepower, not defenses or entrenchments, would bring the war to a quicker end.

To some degree the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki which brought about the surrender of the Empire of Japan in August 1945, seemed to validate this, at least in postwar propaganda.

Contents

Between the wars

After World War I many innovations in metals and chemicals had created withering firepower that made defenses effective. In France the lesson was translated into the Maginot Line which was supposed to hold a line at the border with Germany. France had also more, and many better, tanks than Germany as of the outbreak of their hostilities in 1940. As in World War I, the French generals expected that armour would mostly serve to help infantry break the static trench lines and storm machine gun nests. They thus spread the armour among their infantry divisions, ignoring the new German doctrine of blitzkrieg which called for massed armour attacks (against which there was no effective defense but mobile anti-tank guns - infantry anti-tank weapons having not been invented yet).

Air power was a major concern of Germany and Britain between the wars. Amazingly, however, trade in aircraft engines continued, with Britain selling hundreds of its best to German firms - which used them in a first generation of aircraft, and then improved on them much for use in German aircraft.

The beginnings

Depending on one's frame of reference, one can reasonably assert that World War II began with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931, or as late as the last declarations of war between the United States and Germany in December 1941. Quite a bit occurred during this time to escalate technological conflict, most notably the upgrading and deployment of aircraft carriers by the U.S. and Japan in the Pacific, and invention of carrier-type aircraft such as the Mitsubishi Zero, largely considered the best plane of its time.

more on aircraft carriers and 1930s innovations in military technologies

Command and control

(Radio, radar, aerial photography, advanced use of cryptography and cryptanalysis)

War of attrition

(Shipping, submarines, bombing, the draft, civilian labour in Germany vs. USA)

Air warfare

The Air Force played a significant role in World War II especially during the island hopping campaign of the United States. Fighters and bombers were launched from aircraft carriers from the sea and from island airstrips on certain islands like Guadalcanal and Midway.

The tech of US fighters and bombers also increased significantly. Companies like Republic, North American, Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed, and Bell turned out 100,000 fighter planes and tens of thousands of bombers.

The American fighter planes include: Grumman F4F Wildcat, Vought F4U Corsair, Grumman F6F Hellcat, Grumman F8F Bearcat, Lockheed P-38 Lightning, Bell P-39 Airacobra, Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, P-51 Mustang, P-61 Black Widow, and the F-86 Sabre.

Fighters like these dominated the air in naval battles such as the Battle of Midway, the Battle for Leyte Gulf, and the Battle for Guadalcanal.

These fighter planes were used alone and were paired with new bombers as escorts. These same companies created American bombers like: SB2C, TBF/TBM Avenger, B-17 Flying Fortress, B-24 Liberator, B-25 Mitchell, and the B-29 Superfortress.

The B-29 Superfortress was used in the dropping of the atomic bomb. The bombers name was the Enola Gay.

Source: AcePilots.com, Retrieved May 2, 2005 [1] (http://www.acepilots.com/planes/main.html)


(See List of military aircraft of the United States, List of aircraft of the WW2 Luftwaffe, List of military aircraft of Japan)

Beaches

(Island hopping, seaborne invasions Dieppe, Sicily and Normandy)

Tanks

(Mass tank battles, e.g. Kursk)

Mobility

Extreme mobility (gliders, paratroops, bicycles, boats, landing craft,tanks)

Urban warfare

Horrifying city battles (Stalingrad, Berlin) and sieges (Leningrad, London) from ground and air.

Sources

See also:

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