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New Advances in Warfare: World War II 19 th & 20 th Century World History Spring Semester Mrs. Huff Overview of Technological Advances Weaponry Ships, vehicles, aircraft, atomic weaponry Logistical Support Vehicles necessary for transporting soldiers and supplies Industrial

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new advances in warfare world war ii

New Advances in Warfare:World War II

19th & 20th Century World History

Spring Semester

Mrs. Huff

overview of technological advances
Overview of Technological Advances
  • Weaponry
    • Ships, vehicles, aircraft, atomic weaponry
  • Logistical Support
    • Vehicles necessary for transporting soldiers and supplies
  • Industrial
    • Factory Technology
  • Communications & Intelligence
    • Devices used for navigation, communication & espionage
  • Medical
    • Surgical and pharmaceutical innovations

Weaponry during WWII

Was constantly


Beginning (1939-ish)

Conclusion (1945-ish)

  • Cavalry
  • Trenches
  • World War I-era battleships
  • Jet aircraft
  • Ballistic missiles
  • DUKW – the Dells ducks- that allow for an amphibious landing
  • Atomic weapons
innovation 1 aircraft technology




Innovation #1: Aircraft Technology
  • German aircraft (and the lack of Allied) allowed the German military to overrun Western Europe.
  • French Air Force had basically been ignored.
    • By 1940, French had 740 fighter planes and 140 bombers.
    • Germans ~ 8,250 fighters and fighter-bombers
  • By 1940, the German military had an immense advantage in terms of reconnaissance and intelligence.
  • General Idea ~ Massed aerial bombing ~ the “Bomber Dream.”
    • Bomb an enemy into submission.
new developments
New Developments
  • Jet Aircraft
  • Smart Bombs

The Enola Gay ~ A B-29 bomber used to drop the atomic bombs over Japan.

The F-80 (also called P-80) was the best Allied fighter jet to emerge from World War II. Unfortunately, it was developed too late to see actual combat.

innovation 2 radar radio detecting and ranging
Innovation #2: RADAR(Radio Detecting and Ranging)
  • During World War II, battles were won by the side that was first to spot enemy airplanes, ships, or submarines.
  • Technology developed by British and American scientists. (Though almost every nation was working independently to develop effective radar.
  • Radar worked by sending out a radio wave and analyzing the reflected wave after it bounced off any objects in the air.

German engineers also developed radars during World War II. Perhaps the most important of these was the “Würzburg” type shown here at an installation in Douvre, France (then German-occupied France). It’s 8-meter wide dish antenna was part of a system used to detect incoming aircraft.


1940s radar relied on a semiconductor crystal, or "rectifier."

    • These crystals often couldn't handle the quickness and intensity of a rapidly changing radar signal. They would burn out frequently.
    • Purdue, Bell Labs, MIT, and the University of Chicago joined forces to build better crystals.
    • In the post-war era, this same technology would be used to create the transistor, as in transistor radio.
types purposes of radar
Types & Purposes of Radar


Fire Control

  • Used to create a radar map of all objects in all directions and often as far as possible.
  • Purpose
    • early warning detection of aircraft and ships,
    • ground controlled intercept of aircraft, which is done by directing fighter aircraft to detected incoming aircraft, and
    • mapping of the ground terrain for navigation and targeting, mostly by bombers.
  • Are the radar equivalent of a searchlight. Dedicated to the precise positioning of a previously detected particular target, precise enough to aim guns at it and hit it without actually seeing it.
  • Purpose
    • Used mostly by night fighters to help find their targets.
proximity fuse smart bombs
Proximity FuseSmart Bombs
  • The idea was simple, but seemingly impossible: put a tiny radar set on each artillery shell, and have the radar set trigger the detonation of the shell when it was close to its target.
  • The proximity fuze moved rapidly from experimental device to use in practical weapons.
  • By the end of the war some 22 million had been produced, and they became very important in artillery, particularly anti-aircraft artillery.
chain home
“Chain Home”
  • Chain Home - a network of British early warning radars used to defend Britain in the Battle Of Britain. It was an early and primitive radar, but it was powerful and reliable, and was efficiently operated by experienced operators, and therefore was a critical asset which allowed the British Fighter Command to optimally engage incoming German bomber formations. (range: 185 miles)
random factoid time
Random Factoid Time! 
  • There are more chickens on the Earth than people.
  • Donkeys kill more people annually than plane crashes.
  • Dentists have recommended that a toothbrush be kept at least 6 feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles from the flush.
  • Marilyn Monroe had six toes.
innovation 3 aircraft carriers
Innovation #3: Aircraft Carriers
  • Aircraft carriers were a new development in WW II and allowed for remote deployment of fighter and bomber aircraft.
  • These were used most effectively in the Pacific Theatre of the war as part of the “island hopping” strategy.
innovation 4 sonar so und n avigation a nd r anging
Innovation #4 – SONAR(SOundNavigation And Ranging)
  • The research into SONAR began following the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 and expanded greatly during World War I.
  • By 1918, the U.S. and G.B. had built SONAR devices, but it took until 1922 before active production of this technology was occurring.
  • During WWII, SONAR was referred to as ASDIC – a generic code used so that the Axis Powers would not know what the Allied Powers were up to.
basics of sonar
Basics of SONAR
  • Sonar is utilized by “listening” for the reverberation of sound against a solid material. (Ex. a U-Boat!)
  • Sonar operation is affected by variations in sound speed, particularly in the vertical plane.
  • Sound speed is slower in fresh water than in sea water.
innovation 5 coding devices
Innovation #5: Coding Devices
  • The ENIGMA was a German machine used to encrypt and decrypt secret messages.
  • The technology was developed during the mid-1920s, and it didn’t take long before the Allied forces could decrypt German messages.
  • ULTRA was the name used by the British for intelligence resulting from decryption of German communications in World War II.
navajo code talkers
Navajo “Code Talkers”
  • The Navajo language was used by the Marines during WWII. It was never deciphered by the Japanese.
  • Johnston believed Navajo answered the military requirement for an undecipherable code because Navajo is an unwritten language of extreme complexity.
  • Its syntax and tonal qualities, not to mention dialects, make it unintelligible to anyone without extensive exposure and training.
  • It has no alphabet or symbols, and is spoken only on the Navajo lands of the American Southwest.
  • One estimate indicates that less than 30 non-Navajos, none of them Japanese, could understand the language at the outbreak of World War II.
innovation 6 industrial dev
Innovation #6: Industrial Dev.
  • While the development of new equipment was rapid, it was also important to be able to produce these tools and get them to the troops in the appropriate quantity.
  • Those nations that were able to maximize their industrial capacity and mobilize it for the war effort were most successful at equipping their troops in a timely way with adequate material.
    • Ability to produce synthetic rubber.
    • Development of alternative fuels.
      • Hydrogen Peroxide ~ Forerunner to the development of fuel-cell technology and synthetic fuel technology.
more random factoid time
More Random Factoid Time! 
  • Only one person in two billion will live to be 116 or older.
  • The fingerprints of koala bears are virtually indistinguishable from those of humans, so much so that they could be confused at a crime scene.
  • Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:Spades - King David; Clubs - Alexander the Great;Hearts - Charlemagne; Diamonds - Julius Caesar.
innovation 7 medical advances
Innovation #7: Medical Advances
  • Most dramatic single advance was the widespread use of Sulfanilamide and Penicillin to treat wounds and disease.
    • Sulfanilamide ~ Developed in 1932 by a German biochemist whose discovery helped spare his own daughter from death due to a strep infection.
    • Sulfanilamide was widely used in WW II. All American soldiers carried a medic kit. They were instructed to sprinkle sulfa powder on any open wound and dress it with a bandage.
development of penicillin
Development of Penicillin
  • Sir Robert Fleming ~ 1906 ~ Scottish bacteriologist
    • Discovered penicillin, but could not make enough to make it useful ~ written off as a “lab curiosity.”
  • 1916 ~ Oxford scientists rediscovered Fleming’s work, but due to Britain’s role in World War I, they had to seek help from the U.S.
  • Representatives from Pfizer took a huge financial risk, curtailed production of other drugs, and ended up, in 1942, being the first pharmaceutical company to mass-produce penicillin.
role of penicillin in world war ii
Role of Penicillin in World War II
  • Due to the abundant demand for penicillin during World War II, Pfizer shared its production secrets with 19 other companies. None of these could even come close to producing the quantities that Pfizer could produce.
    • Pfizer produced over 50% of all penicillin used by the Allied forces over the course of the war, and ~ 90% of all the penicillin used at the D-Day invasion.
other medical advances
Other Medical Advances
  • Treatment of Malaria
    • Atabrine vs. Quinine
  • Use of blood plasma
  • Use of morphine as a pain killer
innovation 8 atomic weapons
Innovation #8: Atomic Weapons
  • The United States, with assistance from the United Kingdom and Canada, designed and built the first atomic bombs under what was called the Manhattan Project.
    • Developed out of fear that Nazi Germany was developing a large-scale bombing program.
    • Manhattan Project employed over 130,000 people and cost the U.S. Government ~ $2 billion!
three bombs
Three Bombs
  • 1: “Trinity” detonated on July 16, 1945 near Alamogordo, NM
  • 2: “Little Boy” dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Immediate casualties: ~ 140,000 (mostly civilian)
  • 3: “Fat Man” dropped on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. Immediate casualties ~ 74,000 (mostly civilian)
  • #2 & #3 are the only atomic weapons ever detonated as part of a military action (as of 2007).

The Devastating Consequences

Nagasaki ~ August 9, 1945

Hiroshima ~ August 6, 1945