The 5 Most Dangerous Inventions of World War II

The Atomic Bomb

Image Source

The first fission weapons, also known as “atomic bombs,” were developed jointly by the United States, Britain and Canada during World War II in what was called the Manhattan Project to counter the assumed Nazi German atomic bomb project. In August 1945 two were dropped on Japan ending the Pacific War. An international team was dispatched to help work on the project.

The Soviet Union started development shortly thereafter with their own atomic bomb project, and not long after that both countries developed even more powerful fusion weapons called “hydrogen bombs.”  During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and United States each acquired nuclear weapons arsenals numbering in the thousands, placing many of them onto rockets which could hit targets anywhere in the world.

Currently there are at least nine countries with functional nuclear weapons. A considerable amount of international negotiating has focused on the threat of nuclear warfare and the proliferation of nuclear weapons to new nations or

The German U-Boats
Image Source
Prime Minister Winston Churchill wrote “The only thing that really frightened me during the war was the U-Boat peril”. In the early stages of the war, the U-boats were extremely effective in destroying Allied shipping, initially in the mid-Atlantic, where there was a large gap in air cover. There was an extensive trade in war supplies and food across the Atlantic, which was critical for Britain’s survival. This continuous action became known as the Battle of the Atlantic, as the British developed technical defences such as ASDIC and RADAR, and the German U-Boats responded by hunting in what were called “wolf packs” where multiple submarines would stay close together, making it easier for them to sink a specific target.

The most common U-boat attack during the early years of the war was conducted on the surface and at night, see submarine warfare. This period, before the Allied forces developed truly effective antisubmarine warfare (ASW) tactics, was referred to by German submariners as “die glückliche Zeit” or “the happy time.”

The Flame Tank
Image Source
A Flame tank is a type of tank equipped with a flamethrower, most commonly used to supplement combined arms attacks against fortifications or other obstacles. The type only reached significant use in the Second World War, during which the United States, Soviet Union, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom (including members of the British Commonwealth) all produced flamethrower-equipped tanks.  

A number of methods of production were used. Flamethrowers were either modified versions of existing infantry flame weapons (Flammpanzer I and II) or specially designed (Flammpanzer III). They were mounted externally (Flammpanzer II), replaced existing machine gun mounts, or replaced the tank’s main armament (Flammpanzer III). Ammunition for the flame weapon was either carried inside the tank, in armoured external storage, or in some cases in a special trailer behind the tank (Churchill Crocodile).  Flame tanks are generally considered obsolete. Today, thermobaric weapons such as the Russian TOS-1 are considered to be the successor to flame tanks.

The German Panzer Tank
Image Source
Germany’s armoured Panzer force was not especially impressive at the start of the war. Plans called for two main tanks: the Panzer III medium tank and the Panzer IV infantry tank. However, by the beginning of the invasion of Poland, only a few vehicles were available. As a result, the invasions of Poland and France were carried out primarily with the inferior Panzer I and Panzer II light tanks, with some cannon-armed light tanks from Czechoslovakia. As the war proceeded, production of the heavier tanks increased.  The Panzer III was intended to fight other tanks; in the initial design stage a 50-millimetre (1.97 in) cannon was specified. However, the infantry at the time were being equipped with the 37-millimetre (1.46 in) PaK 36, and it was thought that in the interest of standardization the tanks should carry the same armament. As a compromise, the turret ring was made large enough to accommodate a 50-millimetre (1.97 in) cannon should a future upgrade be required. This single decision would later assure the Panzer III a prolonged life in the German army.  After the invasion of Poland, the decision to adopt the Panzer IV tank as the mainstay of Germany’s armored divisions was made, production was extended to the many more factories. By 1941, 462 Panzer IV Ausf. Fs had been assembled, and the up-gunned Ausf. F2 was entering production. The yearly production total had more than quadrupled since the start of the war.  In 1941 an average of 39 Panzer IV models tanks per month were built, and this rose to 83 in 1942, 252 in 1943, and 300 in 1944.

The British Supermarine Spitfire Aircraft

Image Source
The Supermarine Spitfire is a British single-seat fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. The Spitfire continued to be used into the 1950’s both as a front line fighter and in secondary roles. It was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft and was the only Allied fighter in production throughout the war.

After the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire became the backbone of RAF Fighter Command and saw action in the European Theatre, Pacific Theatre and the South-East Asian theatre. Much loved by its pilots, the Spitfire saw service in several roles, including interceptor, photo-reconnaissance, fighter-bomber, carrier-based fighter, and trainer. It was built in many different variants, using several wing configurations.