Political Advantages of Weapons in World War II
International politics can get very complicated. When the use of force is threatened each nation must think of the defense of their borders as well as the safety of their civilians. With this in mind the ability to possess the best and most modern weapons because it’s a key factor. Hands down the nation that possesses these weapons have a distinct advantage. This advantage not only comes on the battlefield but at the negotiation table as well.
This is why weaponry plays such an important role in politics as well. With this the earliest modern weapons playing a primary role is in World War II.
Many new innovations and modernizations of weapons were introduced in WWII. Weapons from the Atomic bomb to the then new 50-caliber machine gun and everything in the middle including the new threat from the air. Along with this threat from the air comes the new invention of radar.
All of these inventions made a direct impact on the war and the world to come. Probably the three weapons that made the most difference in the war and politically were the long-range bombers, aircraft carriers, and the atomic bomb. When speaking of weapons of WW II there are two categories due to their locations in the world. These are the war in Europe and the war in the Pacific Ocean. Because of the two different settings there was two different ways of fighting. This carries different weapons and different ways of fighting in each of the surroundings. Also there was two different enemies so this put more pressure on the U.S. to have a very complete build up of armed forces in every aspect of war. This includes land, air and sea ability.
The first part of WW II is the war in Europe. One major deciding factor in Europe was the new role of air power compared to it’s previous use in WW I. “The U.S. Army was the first armed service to acquire an airplane.”(Grolier) But it was Italy who first used an airplane in war on October 23, 1911. This airplane just like the ones used in WW II primarily were used just for reconnaissance. At this time few small explosive bombs were actually dropped manually from these planes. At the beginning of WW II Germany possessed air superiority over Europe. Their infamous air force was called the Luftwaffa. Politically Germany had a different view of how to use their air force compared to the United States and Great Britain. “Germany … had built air forces designed expressly to support army operations.”(Grolier) For this purpose the Germans used the four engine Heinkel 177 for bombing raids. On the other hand, “… the Unites States, Great Britain…had concentrated particularly on developing the long range strategic bombers.”(Grolier) “The most advanced bombers of the war, the American B-29 and the British “Mosquito…”(Weinberg) Great Britain and the United States did argue over how to use their bombers. Great Britain wanted to bomb at night which would be safer for the bombers but where a lot less accurate than the United States idea of bombing. The U.S. would bomb during the day; this was a lot more accurate than bombing at night. The cost of this accuracy was heavy losses in aircraft and in life. Each country put their own theory in effect. At the end of the war German Generals and officers were asked what was more effective; the night bombing of Britain or the day bombing of the U.S.? They said the more accurate day bombing of the U.S. hurt them the most, not only in the war aspect but also their economy.
A new kind of airplane called the fighter also played an important part in the air. This new development of aircraft was much faster than previous planes. The fighter was specifically used for the new idea of air to air fighting or “dog fighting”. This included bomber escorting and for intercepting bombers. At this time trucks and trains were the main way to get supplies to the front lines and for general transportation. At first fighters used regular rifle ammunition (.30 cal.). But heavier ammunition is needed to take out these trucks and trains. So soon after the beginning of the war the Germans, British and Americans supplied their own fighters with the caliber that they say fit. “The Germans found the 20-mm Becker effective, and the British adopted the 20-mm Oerlikon gun for their aircraft and ships. U.S. planes used .50 caliber Browning-like guns; some carried a 37-mm cannon.”(Weinberg) The bigger ammunition of the American planes gave them two distinct advantages in being more effective on ground targets. For one, the bigger ammunition brought more penetration and one hit caused more damage. The other advantage was that the recoil of a bigger gun slowed the plane down slightly which gave them more firing time. This carried the same weight on the ground as well. The gun that made a huge difference was the Browning 50 caliber machine gun. This heavy gun laid down the firepower needed to support advancing troops. This gun was also used to take out engine blocks and generators as well. On the German side the new sub machine gun was a big hit. This was a small full automatic gun that shot a 9mm round. Pistols as well the U.S. used a larger caliber. Germany issued the Ruger 9mm and the U.S. used the Colt .45.
Probably the heaviest political advantage on the battlefield had to go to the Germans for their very effective heavy tanks. The two most popular and effective tanks in World War II belonged to the Germans. These were the “Panther” and the “Tiger” tanks. “These new German tanks in their various models were among the most effective built in the war, but they suffered from development problems, were rushed to the front when not yet ready, and could not be built in the numbers Germany needed…”(Weinberg) This is one problem the United States didn’t have due the massive industry they had being able to supply equipment in massive numbers if needed, and had few mechanical problems in the field. But the Tiger and Panther tanks had two distinct advantages over the allied tanks. First of all their armor was thick enough to take multiple hits from the allied tanks. This armor was so thick that stories have been told that after hitting them with a tank shell they bounce off like tennis balls. They seemed invincible at first but like any tank the most vulnerable weakness was to try and take out their track. Also there main guns were not only larger caliber but the barrels were longer. This gave them much more accuracy over longer distances. They were able to take out an allied tank before they even got into their maximum range of effectiveness. Which even at short range wasn’t very effective against these German tanks. With these guns they had no problems penetrating the armor tanks of the allied divisions. The majority of the allied tanks were medium armored tanks. The allies mostly used the “Sherman” tank. The advantage these tanks carried was that they were much faster, which is why the armor wasn’t as heavy.
The war in the Atlantic Ocean also played and important role in Europe. One of the first things Germany did was use their submarines to isolate Britain from getting supply. This hurt Britains supply roots as well as American ships going to Europe. This led to the development of sonar. Sonar is the form of underwater sound-ranging systems. Soon planes fitted with torpedoes and anti-submarine fleets hunted down these submarines. Soon being assigned to a submarine in the German fleet was like a death sentence. But at first the capabilities of the submarine was a political advantage for the Germans, which hesitated the U.S. to enter the war.
“It has been said that: “On a winter’s afternoon (26 February 1935) in the heat of the country, a device was born which was in large measure to decide the fate of Britain and the World.”(Hartcup) This device was radar. Radar is what saved Great Britain in the Battle of Britain. If the Royal Air Force (RAF) didn’t have radar for early detection of the German bombers they wouldn’t have been able to effectively defend their country form the massive bombing from Germany. As it was the bombing almost totally destroyed London.
Now the war in the Pacific was fought totally different compared to that in Europe. This was totally a navel and air battle with some land battles taking over the islands with marines. This idea of taking over islands one at a time to get to main land Japan was known as island hopping. This war was mainly influenced by aircraft carriers. The United States saw this coming and started to mobilize their fleets. “Mobilization took place piecemeal, but was nevertheless far advanced by the time Japanese bombs struck Pearl Harbor.”(the Dept. of the Army) But they weren’t prepared in the right manner due to the fact that the Japanese still heavily bombed Pearl Harbor. “… the U.S. Army and navy desperately searched for guns, ammunition, aircraft, and shipping to reinforce there beleaguered out posts.”(Helling Jr.) In the air the battle was between the Japanese “zero” aircraft and the American “P51 Mustang” fighters. At first the zero being more maneuverable dominated the air. “…U.S. military forces gained their first decisive victory in the pacific war at the Battle of Midway, repulsing the Japanese move to gain control of the Central Pacific.”(Coakley) After this new strategic ways of air battle came too. Pilots of the mustang were taught new ways of strategically fighting the Japanese zero. This turned the tide of kills in the air in favor for the American pilots. Eventually the U.S. brought the Japanese Empire to its knees with air and naval victories in the Pacific. Along with this the U.S. advanced forces with victory after victory of taking islands leading all the way to mainland Japan. Finally the war ended with the second dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. The first was dropped on Hiroshima. The Atomic bomb more so than any weapon changed the world by itself since the invention of gunpowder. This gave the United States political power over the rest of the world like no country has ever had.
In order to enter a war of such extent, one nation must have extensive political advantages and the ability to financially back the war. The U.S. in early 1945 hit the most spending during the war which was 5 billion dollars monthly.(Miller) As well modern industrialization is needed in able to produce war equipment at a rate substantial to the nations needs. “The success of a well-conceived procurement program in time of war depends above all else upon the experience and training of the personnel who implement it.”(Miller) At the time of the war the United States possessed everything a nation needs in order to fight a long-term war and come out on top. This includes modern and advanced weapons, strong industry, political advantages, and a willing army of soldiers. At time of war it is indisputable that advanced weaponry gives a nation strong political advantages and influence over the situation just as the United States did during World War II.
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