To the Empire Eternal Part Thirteen - Technology and the Second World War

Author: Electricfox
Published: 2018-11-17

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To the Empire Eternal Part Twelve - The Second World War, and the effect it had on the world

Images: 6, author: Electricfox, published: 2018-11-17

The Gloster Meteor, the worlds first jet fighter.
The most startling advance in technology during the course of events of the Second World War was no doubt the entry into the atomic age undertaken by Britain and America. However, many great strides were also made in the areas of warfare, particularly in mechanised armour, but also in aerial and naval warfare. The era of the big gun battleship was swiftly being eclipsed by the coming of the aircraft carrier, with Japanese land based air power bloodying the nose of the Royal Navy during the Pacific War and British Fleet Air Arm aircraft providing decisive in several battles during the campaigns for Formosa and Okinawa.
No doubt the most innovation in armoured technology was seen in the Soviet/Nazi theatre, with the initial large gains and breakthroughs made by the organisational superiority of the Wehrmacht which eventually became offset by the sheer numbers and technology of the Soviet T-34 series.
However, Germany was quick to recover and began production on the Panzer V Ausf A 'Panther' which was designed and created to counter the dreaded T-34, however German industry struggled to produce the numbers of superior tanks needed. As the Soviet forces approached Berlin, plans were afoot to build an advanced heavy tank called the 'Tiger' but it never made it off the drawing board. Many historians have speculated that if the Tiger had come into service earlier it may have been able to have swung the war into Germanys favour due to its vastly superior 88mm KwK 36 L/56. However Germany did produce many Panzer IV and III tanks which drove deep into the Soviet Union, and some 17,000 of these tanks were destroyed during the advance to, and retreat from Russia.
Of course, much is owed to what the Soviets named 'General Winter', the bitter cold for which the might of the German armed forces were completely unprepared for, and while Hitler had hoped to capture Moscow and end the war before winter, the failure of the Soviets to capitulate, and the Wehrmacht to capitalise on several early successes meant that soon the wagers of war were firmly in Moscows favour.
One thing that did catch the Soviets by surprise was the rocket interceptor 'Komet', something which no other nation had worked on until that point although some countries were experimenting with jet engine technology.
The Me-163 was, however, as equally dangerous to its pilots as the enemy, and most Komet pilots were killed due to engine accidents or crash landings rather than by enemy action.
Following the introduction of the 163, the Soviets replied with the Bereznyak-Isayev BI-1, although only a handful of test flights were undertaken before wars end. Instead research was pushed towards the jet fighter MiG-9, and by wars end all of the major powers in the war would possess jet fighters, the RAF had the Gloster Meteor, the USAAF had the P-80 Shooting Star, and the Soviets the MiG-9.
One thing that we now know that the Soviet Union did lag behind in was atomic technology, while America and Britain were both testing nuclear explosives, the Soviet Union was still working on very rudimentary reactors, with two under construction on the outskirts of Moscow.
However, both sides of the new political order were experimenting heavily with missiles, with the Americans and British working on the PGM-17 'Thor' ballistic missile, and the Soviets on the R1 missile. Both weapons were capable of taking a conventional explosive payload many hundreds of miles to a target. Guidance systems were invented and improved constantly, bringing down the 'Circular Error Probable' of the warheads impact down to a smaller and smaller area, however these inaccuracies were soon to be rendered moot as scientists worked on making the giant nuclear devices which had been tested by the Americans and British from room sized contraptions down to something small enough to fit on a missile warhead.
Soon bombers would not have to risk pushing through heavy anti-air defences when a missile could arc overhead into space and then down onto the defenceless target below to deliver its payload of death and destruction.
British technology at the end of the war
American technology at the end of the war

As the world entered the new atomic age, and technology gleaned through the struggle in battle began to make its appearance on the world stage, no-one could predict the outcome of the years ahead.

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