The Advances of Weaponry During World War II In every war fought throughout the history of mankind, the dependence on weapons was highly sought after. From swords to guns, weaponry has progressed throughout the ages with each war fought. No other war has seen more advances in weaponry than World War II. Many of those advances made this war focused on artillery, land vehicles, naval ships and aircraft. These advances, although beneficial, have also led to more bloodshed on the battlefield because they can do a lot more damage than their previous versions.
Understanding these advances helped the Allied Powers win over the Axis in many battles, but both sides contributed many advances in weaponry. One of the biggest contributions that World War II brought in terms of weaponry was artillery. On both the Allied and the Axis powers, most of the advancements made were made by refining previous concepts from World War I. Most artillery weapons went through a few improvements such as reliability, better barrels to increase speed and accuracy, and useful raw material for the guns and bullets.
The most notable example and the gun that had the biggest impact was the machine gun, whose full potential was utilized in World War II. During World War I, machine guns had less portability and were installed onto motor vehicles. During the follow up to World War II, advances to the machine gun provided more portability and much larger caliber compared to their counterparts. (“History Learning Site”) Rifles also played a huge part as artillery during World War II, but its design and features were similar to those of World War I and only got a few minor, albeit useful, improvements.
These improvements made to rifles included auto loading and continuous single shot which made it easier for foot soldiers to use. The next major improvement made to weaponry during World War II would be land vehicles. Tanks were the main vehicles used during both world wars. Prior to this war, tanks were the major benefactor and played an important part during World War I, so they were in need of improvement. World War I tanks were introduced by the British and made in response to trench warfare. However, the impact of these tanks during World War I was little to none, because they were mechanically unreliable.
So to improve tanks for the next war, upgrades were a must. A major improvement was the addition of a rotating turret. A majority of tanks during World War I lacked turrets, so this means that their defense was lower and they could only shoot the direction they were facing. Artillery on the tanks of World War I was generally machine guns. With the addition of rotating turrets, tanks had a bigger purpose and they could shoot in any direction without turning the bottom part of the tank. The rotating turret also gave the tank better artillery fire as they could shoot bigger rounds and do more damage. “GlobalSecurity. org”) Many of the tank’s improvements came during the interwar period, and these helped shape the tank for what it was in World War II. Another field of advances during World War II was naval ships and others. U-boats were the main ship used by the Axis powers, mainly Germany during World War II. U-boats were military submarines developed by Germany and used during both World Wars. Their main objectives were to target merchant ships and set up blockades along enemy shipping lines. The U-boat was so efficient that it dominated most naval warfare in both wars.
The World War I U-boat used standard torpedoes that did serious damage which could cripple or destroy a boat. Later improvements to the firepower of a German U-boat yielded a deadlier torpedo that could hone in on its target. (“Encyclopedia Britannica”) Another ship that sought great improvement was the aircraft carrier. The aircraft carrier, although in service during World War I, played a huge role for the United States in the Pacific wars against Japan during World War II. Most of the battles that were fought over the Pacific Ocean used planes that were from aircraft carriers.
Many innovations came about for aircraft carriers, like making them lightweight. Making them lighter helped out to provide a fast way to provide additional planes. There were two smaller types of aircraft carriers as well. They included escort and merchant ships. With no lift or hangar as regular carriers have, it made it easier to deploy the planes. Escort carriers were mainly used to deal with anti-submarine warfare and provide some defense for the bigger carrier. (Germisnsky) The contributions made to aircraft during World War II were the most important in deciding the victory for the Allies over the Axis.
Like the naval ships that carried them, they were the main contenders for many battles fought over the Pacific Ocean. The Japanese also used the aircraft itself as a weapon to do damage to ships, otherwise known as kamikaze bombing. The biggest innovation that came to aviation was the introduction of the jet engine. It was first commercialized by Germany for the first jet-powered fighter plane. One problem with it was that it consumed more fuel than the Germans had on hand, so their operations were very brief. However, the British got the jet engine to work and later used it in the war. Judy) One little-known fact was that the design for American jet fighters came from a Japanese aircraft that crash-landed on one of the Aleutian Islands off the coast of Alaska. This aircraft was a Japanese Zero and a technician repaired it and took some of its design to improve the design of the overall American aircraft and how it performed. (Hanes) With all these innovations made to weaponry, vehicles, ships and aircraft, some improvements proved to be the most deadly. The darker side of World War II yielded some weapons and tactics that could do a lot more damage than the ones previously mentioned.
One notable example was the use of napalm. Napalm is a highly flammable substance made with petroleum. When combined with the flamethrower, or any source of combustion, its effects were devastating. It was highly used by the United States as a tactical weapon on jet fighters that got dropped onto Japanese fortifications. The effects of it were so bad that an illegalization on the use of it was passed by Congress. (Silverman) A tactic known as strategic bombing was of common use to inflict serious damage. Strategic bombing is when a group of jet fighters carrying explosive bombs flew over a city or settlement and bombarded it.
This practice was used in World War I, with the worst one being done over Warsaw, Poland. World War II took it up a notch with using much more powerful bombs that could level a city. The Nagasaki and Hiroshima bombings are the single most devastating case of this strategic bombing, which ended the war due to the power of the bombs. (“National WWII Museum”) Improvements and innovations in technology are an important part in the development of weaponry. Without newer discoveries being found, many of the weapons used during World War II would have been outdated.
Many of these innovations made during World War II led to further research into developing better weapons and newer ways of fighting future wars. Who knew that we would be able to fly planes over Iraq and Afghanistan for covert intelligence mission without anyone being on board? Work Cited Hanes, Elizabeth. “The Akutan Zero: How a Captured Japanese Fighter Plane Helped Win World War II. ” History. A&E Television Networks, LLC. , 04 2012. Web. 13 Dec 2012. Germisnsky, Robert A.. “A Brief History of Aircraft Carriers – The Escort Carriers. ” About. com. About. com. Web. 13 Dec 2012.
Judy, Ben. “Five Innovations from World War II. ” BigDesign:Events. WordPress, 04 2011. Web. 13 Dec 2012. “Machine guns in World War Two. ” History Learning Site. HistoryLearningSite. co. uk. Web. 13 Dec 2012. Silverman, Jacob. “How Napalm Works. ” HowStuffWorks. HowStuffWorks, Inc.. Web. 13 Dec 2012. “Strategic Bombing in WWII. ” The National WWII Museum. WordPress, 11 2012. Web. 13 Dec 2012. “Tank History – World War II. ” GlobalSecurity. org. GlobalSecurity. org. Web. 13 Dec 2012. . “U-boat. ” Encyclop? dia Britannica. Encyclop? dia Britannica, Inc.. Web. 13 Dec 2012
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