“WWII – Innovations and New Frontiers”
HIUS 380 – Modern American Military History
Professor Robert Ritchie
Student ID – 87118
April 13, 2013
War, in its raw nature, has always allowed mankind to invent and produce better weaponry, causing the opposing side to alter their military tactics and strategize over an offensive or defensive position based on the devastation an accuracy of the new armaments. WWII was no exception as history proved modern day warfare was about to become truly global. The confines of Europe in WWI would now expand to Africa, the Middle East, Russia, India, China, the Philippines, and Japan then even onto US territory. This “Great War” was truly a World War effecting billions of lives like never before and the new military arsenals of the Axis and Allied forces were becoming more powerful and accurate causing extreme devastation. We have all heard of the phrase “Necessity is the mother of all invention” and so it was with the military powers during World War II. To the Allies chagrin German scientists seemed to be coming up with new technological breakthroughs at an alarming pace. Hitler had built a militia that was second to none in the late thirties. Building upon the mild successes of the airplane in WWI he would have faster, sleeker and deadlier “weapons of the air” at his disposal. Air war would become critical and necessary to advance his ground troops as they invaded neighboring countries such as Poland. The German Blitzkrieg (lightning war), would begin against Poland in September of 1939 with expedient and overwhelming results. Gone were the trenches of the First World War as seen by the swift advance and maneuverability of the German war machine. They would use a strategy we would phrase as “shock and awe”. Germany’s military operations, “pioneered the use of massed armored formations to spearhead attacks, followed by infantry and other support troops to consolidate territory.” And leading the way was the new Junkers-87 dive bomber or Stuka. One author iterates, “It was a fearsomely effective weapon, partially for psychological reasons. Many of these planes were fitted with sirens on the undercarriages…and when it came plummeting down out of the sky with the ear shattering sound of a great siren, every soldier on the ground thought that the dive bomber was aiming straight for him.” The Germans quickly advanced and scored several victories in the early part of the war driven by the new technological advances of the airplane, the faster, deadlier tank such as the Panzer, which would form its own divisions, and the later development and use of the V1 and V2 rockets that would pelt Britain’s cities. These advanced modernizations of early prototypes as seen in WWI also helped the German’s to attack quickly over various terrains and geography hitting their enemies with rapid, catastrophic destruction. As mentioned previously, the greatest measurable innovation of WWII was the progression of the airplane. This was seen early on as the German Luftwaffe, led by the Messerschmitt109 and the Focke-Wulf 190, ruled the skies over Europe easily outmatching other planes that would dare go against them. That was the case until Hitler decided to take the war to Britain’s homeland. The British had already been dealt earlier defeats on European soil and had to flee the continent back to the island of England. However, the British RAF would soon produce two fighters, the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane, which would prove formidable against the German Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain in 1940. The use of the airplane would forever change the way war would be fought especially in a geographical and strategically logic. Commanders had at their disposal an arsenal of weapons that could deliver tons of bombs to targets hundreds of miles from the fronts. They could use these to deliver a blow to...
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