Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Germany’s Greatest Wartime Machines

by Will Hall

With Remembrance Day falling just a couple of weeks ago, it got me thinking about the variety of wars that have occurred in the last century or so. The thought crossed my mind about the scale of the two World Wars; after all, they were called ‘World Wars’ for a reason.

Wars always demand a rapid growth of technological advancements, as you always need to try and stay ahead of your enemy if you want a good chance of winning. It’s not known to all that Germany had a massive technological lead over the rest of the world in WWII, though most of their inventions came too late to have a dramatic effect on the war, and couldn’t save them from a two-fronted invasion. With almost unlimited resources from occupied countries like Czechoslovakia and Hungary, combined with a seemingly infinite supply of gold, Hitler had no trouble funding his scientists, which makes it not exactly surprising that they managed to design and actually use these weapons of war.

  1. Me262
    The jet engine. Basically all powered aircraft of any variety used by any faction in the war was powered by propellers. As you will know, a jet aircraft has vastly higher top speeds than a propeller driven plane. The Germans came up with two revolutionary aircraft: one was a bomber, the Arado Ar 234, and one was a fighter the Messerschmitt Me 262. These aircraft were almost impossible to shoot down, as they eclipsed any allied aircraft in sheer speed, but only 200 Ar 234’s were built and less than 1,500 Me 262’s were put into service, meaning they came too late and there were too few to have an impact on the war.
  2. The V2 Rocket was the world’s first ballistic missile, developed to bomb allied cities. Hitler didn’t choose to use them on military targets, which seems strange considering they were unmanned, guided missiles that could have been used to actually destroy enemy units rather than innocent civilians. Either way, the V2 was an incredible invention that sparked a global race to build the largest ballistic missiles.
    V2 ballistic missile

  3. Tanks. German armoured vehicles were completely superior to almost any allied equivalent. They were significantly larger than allied tanks, with larger guns and thicker armour, making them a challenge to destroy. The Tiger II or ‘King Tiger’ as it was known was one of the largest, with an 88mm gun, which incidentally was the same gun used on German anti-tank cannons which shows just how big these machines were. 
  4. King Tiger tank

    These are in my mind some of Nazi Germany’s most significant military inventions, and, although none of them ultimately shaped the war, they might very well have done had they been developed earlier and in appreciably larger numbers.

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