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Thread: The role of technology, did it affect the war's outcome?

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    Default The role of technology, did it affect the war's outcome?

    World War II saw the new application of many new technologies by military forces on all sides of the conflict, and some of them had a profound impact on the war. The airplane in particular became a fundamental instrument of war and changed the way many battles were fought. Much the same may be said of the aircraft carrier, which became crucial to the United States after so many of its battleships were lost at Pearl Harbor. As a result of these developments, the Battle of Britain in 1940 marked the first time in history when air power alone determined the course of a major battle, and the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942 was the first naval battle in history fought exclusively in the air, by carrier-based planes. Both sides also realized the effectiveness of radar as a way of warning against approaching enemy planes. Germany experimented with new missile technologies as well as both jet- and rocket-powered aircraft, but none of these projects was perfected in time to change the outcome of the war.

    Although the majority of these new technologies had an effect on the war, they generally were created by one side in response to similar technologies being developed by the other side—the net effect of which was to balance out the new power these technologies offered. The notable exception was the atomic bomb, which the United States developed in secret from 1942 to 1945 and which Japan had no way to counter at the time. Indeed, Japan declared its surrender just days after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Even today, however, historians debate whether the atomic bomb changed the outcome of the war, as Japan may have been already very close to surrendering

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    Default Re: The role of technology, did it affect the war's outcome?

    Read up on the effects of ASV radar against the U-boats in the Atlantic. Indeed, the whole Battle of the Atlantic could be used as a case-study of the effects of technology in wartime.
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    Default Re: The role of technology, did it affect the war's outcome?

    Quote Originally Posted by garm1and View Post
    Much the same may be said of the aircraft carrier, which became crucial to the United States after so many of its battleships were lost at Pearl Harbor.
    The US lost only two battleships at Pearl. The other six went on to fight again. The Japanese should have known this would happen from their studies of the British shallow water torpedo harbour attack at Taranto in 1940 to inform their torpedo attack on the shallow water harbour at Pearl which, like Taranto, resulted in merely grounding rather than sinking most ships which were able to be repaired and brought back into service. Both attacks were tactical victories but strategic failures,as neither deprived the enemy of most of the damaged ships in the long term.

    The US aircraft carriers were crucial to Japan before Pearl, but in strategic terms Japan launched a foolish and strategically counter-productive attack when the carriers weren't in port. Brilliant idea brilliantly executed, but with poor results. Intelligence (in sense of information about the enemy's dispositions) failure.

    All Japan did was manage to outrage the American people and government and ensure Japan's defeat, not that it seemed that that was the inevitable result during 1942 and early 1943.

    Quote Originally Posted by garm1and View Post
    As a result of these developments, the Battle of Britain in 1940 marked the first time in history when air power alone determined the course of a major battle,
    To some extent, but it was an air battle and not part of a combined services battle where air supremacy supported gains on the ground or sea, or both.

    It wasn't just air technology that won for Britain, but people.

    Britain had far more planes than it had pilots.

    It was running out of pilots faster than it was running out of planes.

    By the end of the Battle of Britain the pilot shortage was coming to the point that Britain wouldn't have been able to muster the same fighter forces if the Battle had gone on much longer, which would have put Britain on a potentially losing side if Germany had been able to persist with its attacks.

    Quote Originally Posted by garm1and View Post
    and the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942 was the first naval battle in history fought exclusively in the air, by carrier-based planes.
    .......
    Although the majority of these new technologies had an effect on the war, they generally were created by one side in response to similar technologies being developed by the other side—the net effect of which was to balance out the new power these technologies offered.
    So far as the balancing effect of new technologies was concerned, it wasn't simply a case of one new weapon cancelling the corresponding weapon on the other side. There were technical, tactical and operational differences which meant that the same weapon wasn't in balance with the enemy's weapon.

    For example, and this is a very rough comment rather than a detailed one, in the early part of the war British aircraft carriers had armoured flight decks but could carry only , very roughly, about 80% of the planes equivalent unarmoured US carriers could, which allowed the US carriers to put up combat air patrols as outward defence while having a strike force / in reserve about the same force as a full British carrier. However, if enemy aircraft penetrated the US combat air patrol the carrier was more likely to be badly damaged by bombs or kamikaze aircraft penetrating its unarmoured flight deck or hangar deck and spreading damage to lower decks than might happen on a British ship.

    Operationally, the US carriers refuelled and rearmed on the flight deck giving them a quicker turnaround time than the IJN carriers which took their planes below deck to refuel and rearm, which in turn made IJN carriers with unarmoured decks more vulnerable than US carriers to hangar explosions damaging more of the ship if bombs penetrated the flight deck.

    The Japanese operational practice of refuelling below decks and taking a lot longer to do it than the USN was a significant factor in the Japanese defeat at Midway when IJN carriers were caught while refuelling etc. This limited their ability to launch aircraft to defend the attack and ensured that fuel and munitions were ready to explode and damage lower decks when the flight deck was penetrated by US ordnance.

    Probably the greatest example of the gap in efficiency of the same weapon in the Pacific war was the great range, impact and efficiency of the IJN’’s Long Lance torpedo versus the consistently defective American torpedos in the early part of the war. But, again, it’s not a case of weapon equivalence as the oxygen powered Long Lance made Japanese ships carrying it much more vulnerable to fire if the oxygen propellant detonated onboard under Allied attack.

    Most weapons developed and used somewhat differently by different nations usually show the same sorts of advantages / disadvantages when compared.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 10-11-2013 at 09:31 AM.
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    Default Re: The role of technology, did it affect the war's outcome?

    Probably all technology affects ... determines is something different.

    The A-Bomb for example... Did it "affect"? It shortened the war, no? But it did not determine, that was all done before.
    It is nice to have big heavy tanks, it is even nicer not to need them

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    Default Re: The role of technology, did it affect the war's outcome?

    Your absolutely correct, ASV radar made a huge difference in the Atlantic Ocean, once they got it working effectively. I'm sure that it would have been developed eventually, but don't you think because of the U- boats early successes that ASV was given a priority, therefore sppeding up it's development?

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    Default Re: The role of technology, did it affect the war's outcome?

    War always hastens development of technology and weapons.

    I remain in awe of the amount and types of items of every type the US had in 1945 compared to 1941.

    Some things not even visualised in 1941, available in mass quantities by 1945.

    Others did significant developing as well, but our resources and geographics provided us a lot of room for work.

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