Telecommunication is the transmission of information over significant distances. Telecommunications involve the use of visual signals or audio messages. Information transmission is a very important factor. Telecommunications aids sharing of knowledge, information and ideas. In wartimes, telecommunications played a very important role in ensuring that there was coordination amongst the warring groups. Telecommunications offer a better way to relay messages to each other. (Reo, 1994)
Old methods of relaying messages
Communication has been existing since time immemorial. Old methods of relaying information that was also used during wartime include:
Communication methods have been improving day by day. The ancient communications methods are no longer used and some more advanced methods used. The advanced methods used for relaying information include:
Telecommunications has the following benefits especially during wartime:
Enable flying on planes and helicopters
Enables navigation in the seas
Enable communication with people in different places
Enable troop coordination
Makes it possible for the soldiers to know where their enemies are.
Radio communication played a very important role for all combats during the First World War. In the early 1900s transportation of armies was done using horses and mules. A communication device was required which was portable and light in weight. This triggered the development of the radio equipment which had the properties mentioned above. Later on, there was the development of quenched spark transmitters. This was a smaller unit and more portable than the earlier versions of the radio gadget which was used for communication. The earlier systems of telecommunications were bulkier and slower. (Penelope, 1984)
Some of the communication devices and agents used for communication during wartime and their roles are:
a) Carrier Pigeons
In the ancient times carrier pigeons were commonly used to ferry messages from one point to another. They were not only used for critical dispatches but were also routinely deployed from the front lines to carry status reports back to the headquarters. Pigeons were commonly used to report the progress during battles. Pigeons could also be used as backup communication agents in case the radio systems failed. However, using pigeons had some limitations like; they could be trained to fly only to known locations. Telephone was however the most preferred method of relaying information.
Telegraph was used as a means of sending messages from one place to another electronically during wartimes. Telegraph corps followed troops and erected telegraph poles and wires to provide communication from the battle front. Some outstanding features that can be seen to date are signal towers which wee used to send messages over short distance. The picture below shows an image of a signal tower found in Virginia called the Butler’s signal tower.
Source: Library of Congress
c) Observation balloons
These types of balloons were used during the civil war to report on troop movements and battles. These balloons were used before the invention of the airplanes. The observation balloons were used to perform functions similar to those of a patrol aircraft. An example of an observation balloon is shown below.
Benefits of communication during war times
Communication enhanced coordination within the deployed troops. With an elaborate communication system, it was possible for the troops to know the whereabouts of their colleagues and know how to move in the battle field.
ii. Staying alert
Communication helped the warring parties to know areas of danger and know when the enemies were approaching. A good communication system helped the troops to be informed whenever the enemies were approaching so as to take the necessary precautions in order to avoid attacks thus keeping safe.
iii. Recording progress
Troops could easily report back to the headquarters on the progress of the battle. It was also possible for them to request for backups incase they were overwhelmed. The officials at the headquarters were constantly updated and decisions that were made were made in accordance to the information relayed from the battle field.
Telecommunication was also used by the warring parties to request for military equipments incase they ran out. It was also a very crucial aspect as it enabled the warring parties to be kept updated on the status of the battle and know where, when and how to attack their enemies.
During the Second World War, communication relied heavily on advanced technology. Many groups targeted their enemies’ telecommunications systems and the main achievement was being in a position to intercept the enemy’s communication system. This resulted into different countries encoding their messages and putting an elaborate system to decode the messages. This prevented the enemies from gaining access into the messages of the group. (Low, 2000)
Other form of developments in the telecommunications sector included electronic counter measures like jamming which involved sending of false or misleading messages so as to confuse the enemies’ radars. (Low, 2000)
Technology has several advantages as it makes work easier. Advanced technology which was employed during wartime, brought a complete difference on how the battles were handled. The invention of the nuclear weapons resulted into the end of the Second World War when Hiroshima and Nagasaki were bombed by the United Sates of America in 1945. Several inventions have been seen in the military sector which has resulted into several changes taking place.
There were several instances of the applications of wartime technologies just after the end of the Second World War. Wartime military engineers helped repair damaged infrastructure. The experience of the engineers was very important in the construction which was required after the war came to an end.
Roles of Technology during wartime
Technology played a very important role during the wartime. The advancement of technology has seen several weapons designed and manufactured. Technology played a very important role in determining the outcome of the Second World War. Most of the technological advancements were developed during the interwar years and some were developed as a result of lessons which were learned during the war. During the wartime, almost all sectors of technology were utilized. However, some of the major sectors which were involved include:
1. Weaponry: This resulted in the invention of big and small weapons which were used during the wartime. Some of the weapons which were used include:
a. Modern airplanes
Air power was a very crucial aspect throughout the wars. It helped in both tactical and strategic operations. With the invention of the modern airplanes, some wars were fought entirely on air. The airplanes also made it possible for bombs to be dropped in different places. Some of the areas that were greatly affected with the aero-bombings were Germany and London which were heavily bombed during the World War II.
Some superior German aircrafts were used to cruise all over Europe at a supersonic speed. The use of aircrafts for bombing was very common during the Second World War and the countries which considered themselves successful during the war were as a result of aero-aided bombings. This ‘success’ triggered further developments in the aero-military operations. The jet aircraft age began during the war and several developments were made which included the open cockpit airplane and the sleek jet fighter. The innovation of the first turbojet and the first operational Jetfighter which was made by the Germans was a major boost to the aerial bombings.
There were modern ships which were used for handling water related battles. The German Uboat (Submarine) was used for intercepting and destroying weapons and materials coming from the United States and Canada. Their invention brought a complete change on how water battles were handled. However, warships were constantly being sunk by the warring opponents. Among the warships which were sunk include the Shinano which was an aircraft carrier. The invention of the Sonar helped to prevent the sinking of ships.
c. Atomic bombs
This was the most profound military development during the war. The invention of atomic bombs changed greatly the way war was viewed in ancient times and the impacts the war had to the lives of people living in the countries that experienced the wars. A single aircraft could carry a bomb that was capable of destroying a whole city. The atomic bomb killed so many people and also has for a very long period of time triggered cold war. The cold war between US and the former Soviet Union was triggered by the invention of the atomic bomb. (Hecht, 1998)
d. Testing Garand riffles
With the improvements in technology, Garand riffles no longer need to be fired to line up the sights for factory tests. There is a new method which was developed that uses a plug holding a mirror inserted in the barrel. This method saved time, ammunition and manpower.
e. Photoelectric Spectrophotometer
This is very sensitive and can measure the light thrown on a human hand by a candle a mile away. It is used in the standardization of camouflage colors for the army. It has the capability of distinguishing two million variations of colors and also some invisible shades.
f. Glassless windows
This involved making glassless windows which were made of transparent plastic sheets laminated to standard wire screening. These were developed to reduce wartime danger from flying glass.
g. Heat Seeking Missiles
Technology made it possible for the invention of the heat seeking missiles which were used for bringing planes down. The heat seeking missiles could trail a flying plane hit it thus bringing it down.
These gadgets helped in telling the position of aero equipment. The radar was also used for communication between a flying airplane and a control tower in a station or with other flying airplanes.
i. Small arms
Guns and riffles are some of the basic equipments which are needed in war. The absence of such items cannot make any form of war to be possible unless it is the cold war which is a war in ideologies. Semiautomatic riffles were invented during the war to aid in combating activities. The machine gun/self loading guns were also invented and were used during the war to counter attacks from the enemies.
War vehicles were developed during this time of the war. The vehicles used during the wars were capable of moving in the jungle and were made using special material to protect the soldiers who were using them.
Technology has been one of the main reasons that has led to many countries go to war. Cold war which is a war on ideologies is usually triggered by the competition brought about by difference in technologies or innovations taking place.
Wartime transform have resulted into the invention of weaponized cell phones and hidden communications networks for human rights workers.
The use of electronics during the war was very prominent. Some of the electronic devices were not seen as important gadgets until the Second World War when the use of instruments like the radar and sonar became very useful. Communication equipments were also developed which aided in relaying information. Equipments to intercept these (communication) devices were also developed during the war. War related research gave digital equipments a major boost as there was need for numerous time-critical calculations which could be done best by the digital equipments. (Anderson, 2005)
Other developments which took place during this war time were the Invention of the ENIAC – Semisecret and the Colossus - Super Secret devices.
Computer programs which handled the time-critical calculations
Radar absorbing materials
Electronic and optical countermeasures
There was need to produce tools which were used to aid the operations of the war equipments developed during the war.
Some of the developments which were realized during this time of war include:
The production synthetic rubber.
The invention of alternative fuels (hydrogen peroxide).
Synthetic fuel technology.
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