World War II started in 1939 sparked by Germany’s invasion of Poland. Three months after the invasion, France and England joined the war to fight against Germany. The world war two provided such a great opportunity for the growth of technology and innovation of novel weapons. The military engineers of the day designed and experimented on many weapons. Some of these weapons saw the light of the day and were used during the war while others remained at the design stage. In fact some of the weapons were designed and developed before the war and the war only provided an opportunity to test the weapons. During the initial stages of the war, Germany seemed to outclass the others due to the advantage of sophisticated machinery it had and as a result it conquered a large part of Western Europe through to the desert of North Africa and Russia. As the war progressed the Allies grew in strength and knocked out Germany and Axis powers with such a formidable force[ CITATION Wil011 \l 2057 ].
Before the war began, Germany had already made big strides scientifically and was fairly more equipped than her allies and enemies and outclassed others in the display of magnificent military technology especially during the war. When Adolf Hitler assumed leadership of German in 1933 he made sure that a large proportion of the budgetary allocation was channeled to the military with the sole aim of equipping it with the most sophisticated military weapons in preparation for war. Most of the resources allocated to the military went to the innovation of new weapons and improvement of the existing ones. This impacted negatively on mass production of the most need weapons needed during the war leading to the defeat of the Germans[ CITATION Wil90 \l 2057 ]. This paper explores the array of the sophisticated weapons, referred to as wonder weapons by Germany and German’s secret weapons by her enemies (the allies), by developed and unleashed by Germany during World War II.
2.0 Assault rifles and other guns
The first assault rifle to be used was the Sturmgewehr 44 (ZG 1229) and it resembles today’s modern M-16 and AK-47. The ZG 1229, (coded as the Vampir vision) produced infrared light hence it could be used at night by soldiers. The light was supported by a 30 pound battery on the back of the solders while the gun itself weighed 5 pound. This assault rival was used in last months of the war. There were also assault rifles developed to fire at an enemy around the corner for example the Der Gebone Lauf[ CITATION Sim09 \l 2057 ]. Schrage Musiks were automatic upward shooting rifles used by fighters at night. They were automatically activated by photoelectric sensor when flying under the shadow of the bomber; being targeted this weapon facilitated quick and lethal attack from below making it more efficient
Another weapon developed by the Germans during the World War II is the sun cannon. There is no evidence of its use during the war. The sun cannons were large sun reflectors designed used to be used against the foes planes. There is no evidence that they were used in World War II but the American soldiers recovered a trial version in 1945. The sound cannon were designed to kill by producing a sound wave with very big amplitude (over 1000 Ibis) from an explosion of methane and oxygen. The noise would kill people within a radius of about 150 feet and those further would experience such an excruciating pain that they would be incapacitated for a significant amount of time. This weapon was neither used during the war nor tested on humans but is believed to have been tested on experimental animals. The vortex gun is another gun that was invented during the World War II. The gun was designed to apply the well le that known principle that air turbulence can bring a plane down breaking it into pieces. The gun was designed to have a shell with slow burning explosives and coal-dust such that on explosion a tornado or a whirlwind is created which can cause a plane to fall from the sky. It is not clear if the air turbulence caused by this gun could cause structural damage on the plain but it is believed that the pressure exerted on the plane’s wings could be high enough to bring it down. Once again this weapon only remained at the design stage and was not used in the war. Last but not least the wind cannons were designed to bring down aircrafts by shooting a jet of powerful compressed air. On trial it could destroy a twenty five millimeter wooden block within a distance of six hundred feet but when it was set up at one of the Elbe bridges towards the end of the war it did not bring down a single enemy craft. It was speculated that the wind cannon could only have adverse effects on a static target but probably not on a moving one[ CITATION Rog00 \l 2057 ].
3.0 Tanks and aircrafts
German engineers developed some of the best armored tanks that were used in the World War II. Various super-heavy tanks, for example the Penzerkampfwagen VIII maus, were used in the World War II by the Germans to advance into the enemy territory. The mentioned tank weighed 180 tones and due to its weigh it could only move at a speed of 13 km/hr and was not capable of crossing the bridges of the time. However these super tanks were tall and as such they could stand way above water levels in streams while in deep river they could be safely driven under the water[ CITATION Ant09 \l 2057 ]. This was only possible because the super tank could work with another tank which supplied electricity via a cable and in addition had a long pipe-snorkel to supply air to the crewmen at up to a depth of 45 feet under the water[ CITATION Jus00 \l 2057 ]. Another wonder tank created by the Germans and used in the World War II was the walking tanking tank also called the mine clearing vehicle. This machine weighed 130 tones and had steel wheels of 2.7m diameter. As the name suggests the cardinal role of this humongous machine was to clear the battle field of mine fields and to lead the solders and other tanks across mine infested areas[ CITATION Sim09 \l 2057 ].
The German engineers also designed a myriad of aircrafts ranging from helicopters and military jets. The Messerchmitt Me 163 and 262 were some of the earliest rocket powered aircrafts of the time. The later one so effective that though it was used in 1944 for the first time, towards the end of the war, it managed to bring down up to 500 enemy planes in the short time it was employed and only 100 Me 262 planes were dropped. The Focke-Wulf Ta-183 was designed to succeed the Me 262 but was only tested in wind tunnels. However there is controversy as to whether the Focke-Wulf Ta-183 was designed by the Germans because the first one to come to light was designed by Argentina in 1945 but some scholars believe that this was based on the German captured version. The Bachem Ba 349 was a rocket fuel fighter jet like no other of the time in the sense that it could employ vertical takeoff. This jet however was only experimented once in March 1945 during which it killed the plane. Another unique aspect of this fighter jet, by standards of the time, is that it was controlled remotely via radio but had to have a pilot whose role was to aim at the enemy targets and fire when at close range. The DFS 346 was a rocket fueled fighter jet which was not used in the war because its construction was not finished at the time when German threw in the towel. The plane is said to have been successfully rebuilt and tested by the USSR later[ CITATION Wal04 \l 2057 ]. The Heinkel He 162 is another fighter jet believed to have been developed by the Germans. Though it was not used in active combat He 162 was the fastest jet of the time and was mainly made of wood due to the scarcity of metals in the late stages of the war. The jet was powered by a single engine and was to be used as bomb diver and an interceptor plane. Arado 234 was the most sophisticated fighter jet of that time. It was powered by two engines making it too fast for the enemy’s interceptor planes. In addition it had rear guns which were operated by the pilot and a pilot ejector seat which allowed the pilot to come leave the moving jet using a parachute and land in the sea where they would be picked by submarines[ CITATION Johis \l 2057 ].
German engineers also developed a couple of sub-orbital bombers which could over long distances and helicopters. The sibervogel is one of the sub-orbital planes which was tested but was not used in the war. However this craft was the mother of today’s space shuttle (space vehicles). Though Germans constructed some of the earliest military helicopters which were used in the Mediterranean they were not mass produced e. During the war the Allies destroyed most facilities used for the construction of the Flettner 282 and the Focke Achgelis 223 and as such they were never constructed in a big number.
Various submarines models were developed by the Germans during the war his include. The type 21 submarines were built on earlier days of the war and used to stay submerged only during war. The type 21 is unique in that it did not require frequent surfacing because it had a battery range of 300mile between recharging. This required the scnorkel to be raised to the water surface. In addition, it moves faster when submerged in water compared to when on the water surface. The type 21 submarine was the first one to use sonar principle to target ship rather than use of a periscope. This submarine was furnished with a secondary mortar to enable it run silently during combat; also it had an air conditioner, fast torpedo reloading mechanism and many other facilities making it fairly sophisticated and difficult to detect via anti-submarine vessels or aircraft. Type 23 submarine was similar to type 21 but smaller in size. This submarine weighed 250 tones and could only accommodate only 14 crew members. It was constructed to maximize offensive strategies and survival in shallow waters and coastal areas. The type 23 had a unique feature in addition to those of type 12 in that it could nose dive in less than 10seconds. The German submarines had very advanced technology. For instance they were the first to be coated with stealth to evade night detection by aircraft infra red search lights. In addition the world’s first electric powered torpedoes were used by the German submarines. These torpedoes did not leave a trail of bubbles in the water, and therefore did not reveal the direction to the attacking submarine, greatly improving its chance of avoiding a counter attack[ CITATION Ant09 \l 2057 ].
5.0 Guided weapons and other military weapons
The first radio guided missile, Henschel Hs-293, was developed by Germany and was launched from a bomber plane then directed to the target remotely. The war head of this missile weighed 500Kg. and it was first used on 27th August 1943 to sink a British warship. During the war at least more than 2300 Hs-293 missiles were fired. The Ruhrstahl Fritz-X which was first used on 9th September1943 to target an Italian battleship weighing 45000 tons was the first world’s guided bomb. A German bomber dropped two Fritz-X bombs targeting the Italian warship and hit the warship so hard that it exploded. Fritz-X bombs are radio-controlled and are designed to penetrate and destroy even the toughest armor. In modern day they can be likened to ‘bunker buster’ bomb. Fritz-X bomb was composed of 20% explosives, 80% hard metal and it weighed 3460lb[ CITATION Ant09 \l 2057 ].
Germany made the first world cruise missile.-the Fieseler Fi 103, commonly known as the V-1. The first V1 was launched in England in 1944. The V1 missile was jet-powered with war head weighing 1875Ib and a 125 miles range. The Germans used air bombers to deliver the missile or they would preferably launch the missile y using long launching ramps hidden in forest cover. Due to their aerial visibility, the launching ramps were destroyed by the Allies forcing the Germans to use mobile launching ramps. Few missiles reached their targets as some were destroyed by, fighters, barrage balloons and aircraft fire. V-2 was the world’s first ballistic missile. It was comprised of a 2150Ib war head which was delivered using a rocket to a range of up to 200miles. It was launched using mobile launcher and could travel at a speed of 2500mpH landing on the target without prior warning. However the V2 was very inaccurate and very expensive to produce but had several advantages. A nuclear war head could be incorporated to the rockets software, also a biological or chemical weapon could be attached; these features made it effective even with the inaccuracy.
In addition to the weapons and military machinery discussed above Germany was credited for other military innovations in the World War II. Germany was the first country to develop nerve gases. These gases were, Tabun (1936), Sarin (1938), Soman (1944). The nerve gases were more lethal than any earlier chemical weapon; once inhaled they caused paralysis of the respiratory causing death by suffocation. Fortunately Germany never used the nerve gasses in the fear that the Allies had nerve gas and if they used it then the Allies would retaliate by using the same; Winston Churchill had warned that if Germany dared o use any chemical weapons then he would command the British army to pour any chemical weapon they had in store on them. Germany also developed synthetic fuel to avoid reliance on imported fuel during the war[ CITATION Rog00 \l 2057 ].
In conclusion Germany conquered many territories during the World War II due to its military prowess. On assuming power, the famous dictator Hitler, invested heavily in the invention and development of military weapons and technology that was more sophisticated than any other country at the time. The World War II only provided Germany with an opportunity to try some of her military inventions and develop new ones. Ironically Germany lost the war partly because of the high cost of developing these technologies and that the investment thereof prevented mass production of other more weapons. Suffice to say that most of German’s secret weapons were only designed and some tested but not used in the war.
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