The United States In World War ii

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					The United States In World War ii


 Between the two world wars, there were key military developments that
lead to a more destructive war on land, air, and in the sea. Superior
manpower and material resources on the Allied side led to eventual
victory. The war in the air was more significant than previous wars.
Naval warfare saw new developments which greatly influenced the outcome
of the war. Even technology experienced advancement during the war. The
combination of all these things pushed the war in a more destructive and
total manner; especially with the development of the nuclear bombs. Many
civilians lost their lives during World War II. It was also one of the
most costly wars in American history. With more money available and the
study of new technology wars continued to become more destructive and
more deadly. Military strategists from all over the world study all types
of wars—their strategies, weapons, leaders, successes, and failures. By
knowing what is good and improving what is not good, war grows meaner and
meaner.
All hopes of a quick war ended with the retreat behind the Marne in 1914.
Between 1914 and 1915, Germany’s hybrid form of authoritarian regime
crumbled before all of Germany’s eyes. However, the Germans are very
determined people. They experienced a collapse in the world economic
crisis, the birth and death of a National Socialist state, and
continually gained and lost territories during combat. Although blow
after blow came, the Germans scratched and clawed their way back to a
dominate force. Military advancements were made and technology improved
during the years of 1920-1930s. War did not have to rely on marching
armies quite so much. Soldiers could use engine powered machines instead
of horses as a means of transportation. Tanks which were nearly
indestructible became very popular in combat.
Very early in World War II, Hitler and his men had the luxury of fighting
only one country at a time—usually a country they had chosen to take
over. Although German troops knew all eyes were watching them they still
were not engaged in a multitude of battles with other nations. Hitler had
raised a nation to reverence their military. Men were educated and
trained in chemicals, technology, and engineering and applied this
knowledge to military strategies. As boys grew from childhood they knew
there would be a time when they could be soldiers just like other men in
their families. This constant preparation allowed rag-tag armies to be
thrown together and experience success. During most battles, German
troops would attack swiftly and very aggressively. American, British, and
Russian troops would move in and wait to see how the enemy responded.
Facing numbers much larger than their own, the German army still
experienced success on a regular basis. Superior tactics, superior
military leaders, and sometimes superior armor gave the Nazi army an
advantage over their opposing forces. While planes were flying overhead
bombing strategic targets, the front lines were fighting and pounding
away at their opponents. There was always a steady stream of supplies
pouring in and readily available for their men.
The technology that Hitler had available and was using was considered to
be the most modern at that time. In 1936, Hitler was able to test his
expertise during the Spanish Civil War. The Luftwaffe flew plans armed
with 20mm canons and could travel at 200 miles per hour. Other European
nations could only manage to fight air battles in biplanes. Hitler’s
intelligence encouraged him to venture away from the way traditional
European military leaders fought. Hitler targeted the countries that were
considered neutral, Low Countries. Hitler watched and studied other wars
and the military tactics used. Sometimes this led to his attacking that
country. In the Winter War of 1939-1940, Hitler’s men defeated Russia
after watching Finland repeatedly hold Russia off. Assuming that with a
much larger army than Finland had, he could overtake Russia—and he did.
Airpower had become a huge part of military operations in North America
and Europe. In industrialized nations the airplane as a weapon grew as a
major playing card in foreign policy and the way wars were planned
strategically. So much hype arose; the hype grew bigger than the
capabilities of the aircrafts. Somewhere around the mid 1930s aerial
technology had been revamped. In the early part of the war, the Luftwaffe
dabbed in strategic bombing. Through continued support, persistence, and
lessons learned at the Spanish Civil War, the Luftwaffe became more
capable of strategically bombing specific targets than the British. A
major strength was the flexibility of German air power at the start of
World War II but toward the end of WWII was a major downfall.
At the beginning of major air use during the war, the Germans focused
their efforts on becoming superior over the Polish air force. The Poles
had about 800 planes so the Germans built a supply of nearly 2,000
planes. These 2,000 planes were very modern and could fly at top speeds.
This was not true with the Polish planes. When faced in battle and only
two weeks into the war, the Polish plane supply was reduced by 75% of its
frontline planes. Romania became the refuge for the Polish air force. The
Luftwaffe remained the dominate air power. The success of the Germans was
due to their ability to achieve surprise along with a remarkable
breakthrough speed and relying on the support of the Luftwaffe.
As powerful and brilliant as they were the Germans had weaknesses that
were discovered during the Dunkirk evacuation of May 25 to June 2, 1940.
The Royal Air Force prevented the Luftwaffe from bashing the fleeing
British on the Dunkirk beaches and in the English Channel. The RAF had
better plans than the Germans. On paper the Germans should have won this
match up because of the numbers of men and troops. However, the Luftwaffe
lost 240 airplanes and the RAF gave up only 177. This was a devastating
blow considering the German aero-industry had limited powers in
recovering their losses. Before any of this had happened the Germans had
discussed a plan that was rejected by the German Air Ministry. However,
the Air Ministry knew that controlling the air was essential and at this
point the British RAF had the upper hand. The Luftwaffe had always used
the strategy of supporting enemy air force very early in battle.
The Luftwaffe could not hold their own against the RAF. The prewar
intelligence they had gathered greatly underestimated their enemies’
abilities and supplies. The British on the other hand were gathering
their own intelligence concerning the Germans. They overestimated the
German power and eventually decoded Enigma. The Luftwaffe did not plan
very well concerning where they wanted to fight. A strategic suicide, the
Germans lured the RAF fighters to come to them. The RAF took their
fighters too far north for the Luftwaffe. It was a very different story
though in 1942-43. The United States Air Force bombers challenged the
Germans for control of the air over Germany. There was no way to shut
down German air power. In 1943, the Allies were prepared and dealt with
the situation. There were just too many losses to recover. The key to
this success of air power was the destruction of the Luftwaffe from mid
1943 onward.
The Allied forces knew they had to gain air supremacy or the tactical air
forces would have faced some rather costly battles. The outcome of
Operation Overlord might not have come out the same. The Allied air
powers provided major support for all operations going on below. Often
times the air powers could cripple or halt anything happening on land. By
the constant presence of Allied planes, the effectiveness of the
Luftwaffe army was greatly reduced and hardly posed a threat to the
Allied forces as they swept across France.
Other than the tactical support that the air powers provided to ground
troops, a great help that cannot be overlooked is the use of satellite
balloons. From very early on tethered balloons were used in
reconnaissance missions. Before the terminology was coined, the “spying
missions” were proposed to Napoleon as early back as 1803. Not giving the
thought much consideration, most skeptics thought the balloon idea would
never work. They will only go as fast as the wind is blowing, they are
easy targets and they are almost impossible to steer. However, they
played an important part in World War II for the United States.
Toward the end of the 1920s, the United States Navy showed interested in
and acquired a metal-clad airship. The only metal-clad airship, it was
built by the Aircraft Development Corporation and delivered to the Navy
on September 12, 1929. During its 12 year lifespan it gained 2,200 hours
of airtime. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company attracted the Navy’s
interest during the 1930s with their advertisement blimps. As Goodyear
worked to build the K-1 envelope, the Naval Aircraft Factory built the
control car that would hang underneath. This blimp, fueled by a new fuel,
remained in use after its initial testing for nine years.
Eventually, the airships found their way into the war. During World War
II, only the United States used the strange aircrafts. Since airships
could stay in the air for as much as 60 hours at a time, they often
escorted civilian and military ships across the ocean. These airships
could search for enemy submarines, scouting missions, minesweeping,
photographic reconnaissance, escorting convoys, and search and rescue
missions. During this time approximately 89,000 ships were escorted by
the United States Navy airships—not a single one was lost to enemy
action.
Military technology expanded, changed and advanced rapidly during World
War II. Not a single area of military technology was left unchanged at
the end of the war. It seems as if every nation involved had different
focuses, at different times, which left no stones unturned. No two
countries were on level playing fields as far as equivalent abilities go.
The movement toward new technology actually started during the period
between the two great wars.
As a first, World War II was the first major conflict that used motor
powered means of transportation. However, it did not start out this way.
Germany understood how crucial motor vehicles were in gaining supremacy
but lacked the necessary equipment to employ the idea to its full
potential. The German Panzer forces used more traditional means of
support and flank units. The United States and Great Britain also knew
the untapped potential. The British had limited manpower and knew this
was a way to compensate for that deficiency. Although American troop
numbers were not limited, they did not have a large enough industry that
could support the cost or production.
The greatest advance in motorized vehicles was the tank. This slow
moving, iron clad mode of transportation was equipped with precise
firepower when used correctly. Since tanks could cross a diverse terrain,
no roads were necessary to get where they needed to be. They offered
superior protection to the men inside and had enough room to store a
large supply of food, water, and ammunition. At the beginning of the war,
Germany had a flimsy fleet of tanks compared to their enemies. The armor
on their tanks was not very strong and their firepower was weak. Like
everything else, they strived to be the best in this area. What the tanks
lacked in armor and firepower, the Luftwaffe made up for in tactics.
Another thing that made German tanks so successful was the radio. Through
use of radios, the Germans were able to coordinate ground forces, tanks,
and other strategies. French tanks lacked this valuable communication
device.
Ships also received upgrades and improvements during the war. One thing
that helped naval warfare was the aircraft carrier. From on board ships
in the middle of the ocean, bombers could take off and reach their
targets quicker. This allowed better protection to ships and ground
forces. Submarines were odd vessels that could steal through the water
and wreak havoc on enemy ships without their targets knowing what was
going on. Although there were only about two percent of submarines in all
of the naval fleets, they dealt their fair share of damage. About thirty
percent of the Japanese navy went down as a result of submarine fire. The
United States dealt the Japanese economy a huge blow by sinking about
sixty percent of the Japanese merchant ships. At this time, submarines
could not stay under water for very long before having to resurface to
charge their batteries. However, their radars and firepower made them
crucial to the war. Just after attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral R. Stark
ordered unrestricted air and submarine warfare against Japan.
Planes improved from bi-planes to stealthy fighter jets. Depending upon
the type of mission being ordered, various types of planes were used. At
the start of the war, bi-planes could be seen participating in combat,
but the need for faster engines and better guns saw the rise for changes.
Many of the planes were flown in the experimental stages. The Americans
are credited with producing the greatest number of superior planes. The
Spitfire was revamped over twenty times while the Bf-109 was given
serious improvements eleven different times. Each country tried to create
better armor, faster engines, larger fuel tanks and more weaponry to keep
their planes a step ahead of everyone else.
Weaponry, like the plane seemed to always be receiving improvements.
Guns, bombs, artillery and mortars were extremely unique and countries
were always studying for improvements. After the atomic bomb was dropped
on Hiroshima, fear choked every nation. Each country raced to create
their stockpile. Throughout the Cold War (and basically every war since
World War II) the threat of atomic weaponry was used whenever possible.
After witnessing first hand the destruction and power of nuclear weapons,
all nations gained new respect for this powerful device. Chemical weapons
changed and improved throughout the war as well as biological warfare.
Tank warfare made great gains in the areas of weaponry advances. With
their impeccable armor and precise shooting capabilities, tanks were a
huge improvement in the way wars were fought. Snipers were used during
World War II. With better guns that could shoot longer distances, snipers
could take out a single person without anyone knowing they were being
targeted.
Electronics improved, which in turn, improved our communication
abilities. Cellular phones and radio type “walkie talkie” devices allowed
news to travel to and from the battlefield, orders passed to field
armies, and changes of plans implemented. The United States and the
United Kingdom were frontrunners in the field of electronics. Both
nations had code-breaking and ballistics capabilities beyond other
countries. Cryptology helped the Allied forces shorten the war as much as
two years possibly. The United States Army confused German troops by
having Choctaw Indians send crucial messages in their native language.
Along about the middle of World War II radars were produced and improved.
This valuable tool improved air, ground, and naval combat. It also made
the difference in several of the battles. The British had superior radar
capabilities. Their system was extremely effective and it only failed
once at a crucial time. During “Operation Cerberus” in February 1942, the
Germans were able to jam all coastal radars. Some reports show this was
merely luck on the German’s part. The Russians probably had the least
advancements and use from their radar since their borders were so large.
Telegraph machines received improvements and just as with modern e-mail,
there was a steady attempt to interpret and decode the messages being
sent.
Industrial technology was one key to battles being fought. New pieces of
equipment were being invented and improved rapidly but getting these
intentions to the soldiers depended on how quickly they could be
manufactured. Nations that had quick turn around time could equip their
men with better weapons, armor and supplies. The ability to produce
synthetic rubber was greatly helpful and cut down on the time it took to
produce certain items. This alone gave the United States a significant
advantage during the war. The wide spread use of penicillin was one of
the most helpful medical advances. Penicillin was used to treat bacterial
diseases and wounds. The Germans experimented with the use of alternative
fuels such as hydrogen peroxide. These ideas led to the development of
synthetic fuel technology.
Naval warfare helped advance the Allied victory. It was during the Second
World War that the aircraft carrier and the submarine were established as
the most powerful weapon in water. The aircraft carrier proved to be the
most useful. During this time, the Soviet Union created no carriers.
France and Germany never completed theirs. The British had a total of 70
ships while the Japanese had only 4. The United States dominated the
numbers with 106 total ships that could provide landing strips and
storage to almost 4,000 planes of various types. The British wisely
created armored decks to reduce the amount of damage during attacks. The
United States advanced the most in the area of naval warfare.
Strategically, the United States Navy sent cruisers and destroyers to
escort a couple of aircraft carriers. This strategy gradually led to the
demise of the Japanese navy. Whenever Allied aircraft was needed, United
States ships could easily deliver or collect about 100 planes in one
trip. Japanese war leader, Tojo, credits an equal portion of America’s
victory to its submarines. He said without the work of the tiny sinking
ships naval victory may not have come to the Allied navies. Although the
Japanese surrendered to nuclear powers, many speculate that it would have
eventually caved to the United States Navy. Without naval warfare, the
Allied forces might not have won the war.
The Manhattan Project changed the way war was fought drastically. When it
first began, United States scientists knew Germany had the best
understanding of theoretical physics and they were afraid of what would
happen as a result. So, the Manhattan Project was organized to create our
own nuclear devices. Routine raids on Germany’s heavy water production
facilities and uranium mines revealed they were not as advanced as first
thought. United States Army General Leslie Groves and civilian scientist
Robert Oppenheimer worked together to create this deadly weapon. When the
creation of the bomb was complete, scientists suddenly realized how
powerful it was and questioned if it was needed at all. Those questions
arose again as testing time approached. Regardless, plans were being made
to use this massive device against Japan.
When the team of scientists gathered they all predictions of how
explosive this device would be. No one was really sure. The pilots used
in testing were sworn to secrecy. In a New Mexico desert on July 14,
1945, one of the greatest and most deadly advancements in military
history was tried out. Light from the blast was reportedly seen miles
away. A proposed list of targets had already been compiled and Hiroshima
seemed to jump out as the best choice. “Enola Gay,” a B-29 piloted by
squadron commander, Col. Paul Tibbets delivered “Little Boy” to
Hiroshima—a package they did not want.
Atomic and nuclear weaponry played key roles in victory for the Allied
powers. Just as the war seemed to get a little bit out of control,
America used the atomic bomb on Japan which led to surrender. The atomic
bomb was a powerful weapon; not to be taken lightly. At 8:16 a.m.
Hiroshima time, the first atomic bomb ever used against an enemy exploded
approximately 2,000 feet above Shima Hospital. The bomb was no respecter
of persons. People of all ages, gender, and professions were killed.
140,000 people died from the horrific blast; some suffering for months
before doing so. There were many more that were harmed and more people
continued to die. 60,000 more people died within five years of bomb
related injuries or sicknesses.
Hiroshima was probably a target because it was home to the 2nd Army
headquarters. This headquarters was command central to the defense of
Southern Japan. Although many of the buildings were constructed of wood,
some in the middle were made of concrete and were earthquake proof. Some
of these structures survived the blast. During the war, the government of
Japan had ordered an evacuation of Hiroshima. Of its 380,000 citizens,
only 255,000 remained when the bomb was dropped. About an hour before the
bomb was dropped, radars had detected American plans heading for
Hiroshima. A warning had been sounded all over the city. After seeing
only about three American planes on radar, the alert was canceled. Radio
signals had been lost and despite some calls from the railway system
reporting the bombing, officials in Tokyo did not think the city had been
hit. After Japanese pilots confirmed the blast and the damage, Tokyo
officials gained their greatest pieces of information from a United
States White House report.
The significant sea port city of Nagasaki was targeted three days after
Hiroshima. On August 10, 1945 at 11:02 a.m., the “Fat Man” was dropped,
landing approximately one mile off target. This city was home to
factories and industries that produced ships, military equipment, and war
materials. The overcrowded city housed buildings and homes made primarily
from wood which allowed fire to spread rapidly upon the atomic bomb’s
explosion. On August 1, 1945, Nagasaki had received several highly
explosive bombs; some of which hit the shipyard and docks. Not a lot of
damage was done but it raised concern among the citizens. Some had left
the city or sent their children out of the area which reduced the number
of causalities and injuries when the Fat Man dropped. Of Nagasaki’s
240,000 citizens, it is estimated that around 75,000 were killed and many
more died from injuries or radiation relation deaths.
World War II was the grandest of “total wars.” Each country that
participated had to use its moral, scientific and industrial resources.
With more than 40 million victims, entire countries devastated, and
European order greatly shaken, World War II deserves the title of the
largest total war. Another fact that helps to correctly label it as a
total war is the diverse nature of the fighting. Air power really grew to
maturity during this time. It was air power that contributed most greatly
to the amount of destruction. Economies were greatly affected by this
total war. Some nations sunk more than they could afford into the cause,
not to mention the cost of rebuilding and restoring nations as close to
prewar conditions as possible. The United States had all the great
advantage that other nations did not have. Some nations like Germany and
Japan, did not expect the kind of war they fought which led to their
demise. War had reached new heights with total destruction at our
fingertips.
If any country is credited with fighting a “more total” war, the crown
would rest upon Great Britain. The British had set limited goals which
they would fight for. Britain had to fend off attacks to its own self and
regain status quo. The Soviet Union ran a close second to Great Britain
for the title of “total war” combatant. All participants of the war
basically fought for the same objective; establish a new national and
international order by destroying or subordinating the enemy. Germany had
a somewhat different mission and they fought a truly apocalyptic war.
The British actually lured the United States deeper into their efforts
after the Battle of Dunkirk. Great Britain can be tagged with drawing the
world together to stand against the Germans. Although early on Germany
experienced success, it actually was not ready for a total war. Japan was
not either. Germany lagged behind at the moment its power was the
greatest. The normal pattern of military weakness is countered with
economic strength and support by a superior nation such as Russia or the
United States. However, this time Germany stood along facing the global
community.
With all of the technological changes including trench warfare, the use
of tanks, better guns and ammunition, better military leaders, better
strategies, and finally the use of the atomic bomb; war spiraled more and
more destructive in nature. This particular war covered a wide land range
as well. Battles were fought all across Europe and Asia. A large amount
of fighting was going on in Africa. Australia and North America received
very little battle time but did not go unharmed. Somewhere around 70
nations took part in the most deadly and most expensive war in history.
It is estimated that approximately 70 million people served in the
various militaries—17 million of which died. The civilians took the
hardest hits. 35 million civilians fell victim to this global war. During
bombing raids civilians were targeted by British bombing exercises
hitting many German places that civilians were likely to be at all times
of the day. The United States claimed to have been more accurate so that
civilians were not the target but if they got in the way bombing raids
went on. The Jews were heavily targeted by the Germans and many were
executed, tortured and held prisoner. Russians also saw large numbers of
their civilians killed during this war.
When the United States entered World War II, did our military and
national leaders know how deadly and destructive this war would be? My
guess is no. We knew we had sat back long enough and let the reign of
terror go on long enough in Germany. Something had to be done. All eyes
were on the United States. When the United States entered the war, did
our military and national leaders have a clear picture of who our enemies
actually were? Did those enemies change somewhat during the course of the
war? Americans worked hard in various areas to help the advancement of
many of the changes in the way was fought, the weapons it would be fought
with, and most of all the atomic bomb. Without the atomic bomb, I am not
sure the war would have ended as quickly as it did. Would Japan have come
back to target other areas in America just as we targeted Nagasaki after
bombing Hiroshima? During the course of America’s tenure in World War II,
our military strengths and weaknesses were exposed to the world. Our
military worked feverishly to improve the areas that we had fallen behind
other nations. All and all, by the end of the war, America had earned the
status quo that we had hoped for—global leader.

				
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