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NaziTechnology

JulianEfird
LBST2101
1December2015
AfterWorldWarIendedtheworldorderwasaverydelicatethingwithconstant
threatofcollapsing.Despitewhatmostpeoplethink,Germanywasnotthefirstcountry
togoagainsttheworldorderanduseaggressiveforceonanothernation.Itallstarted
withJapanthousandsofmilesaway.In1931Japanwantedtoexpandandtodothis
theyneededmorelandandresources.TheysawtheiropportunityintheChinese
provinceofManchuriawhichwasrichinresources.JapanbrutallyattackedtheChinese
andtheLeagueofNationsdidlittletostopthem.TheWorldOrderwasnowfallingapart
andnewpowerswerenowrising.
In1933amannamedAdolfHitlerwasappointedChancellorofGermanyputting
thecountryinthehandsoftheNationalistSocialistParty.HitlerrejectedtheVersailles
settlementandorderedasecretmilitaryrearmamenttobegin.Germanybecamemore
andmoreaggressiveleadinguptotheinvasionofPolandin1939.Duringthisperiod
Germanybuiltsomeofthemostspectacularandmassiveweaponstheworldhadever
seen.Notallthetechnologywasahugesuccessbutitwasveryimpressive.Manyof
theprojectsNaziGermanystartedinfluencedmodernweaponsandtechnologyweuse
today.IhavechosenalistofthemostmarvelousGermaninventionsofWorldWarII
andgoneintodetailaboutwhatthesethingswereandtheiruseinthewar.

TheGustavGun,finishedin1940,becameknownastheworldsbiggestgun.It
weighedinat1,344tonsandcouldfireshellsweighingseventonsadistanceof47
kilometers.ThisfearsomeweaponwasdesignedtoblastthroughtheFrenchMaginot
Line,ahugelineoffortificationsonFranceseasternborder.Theweaponwasnever
actuallyusedforthisastheNazisrealizedtheycouldjustgoaroundthroughBelgium.
Thefourstorygunwassobigithadtobedisassembledbeforemovingsoitwouldnt
destroythetwinsetofrailwaytracksitwasseton.Thegunwasoperatedbya500man
crewandtheyneededovertwodaystomoveandsetuptheweapontoreadyitfor
firing.Thegunsawverylittleactioninthewarandsoitwasnotaverysuccessful
weaponforGermany.ItsfirstusewasatthesiegeofSevastopol.InearlyJuneitbegan
firingandfired300shellsonSevastopolandfired30moreontheWarsaw.Shortlyafter
itwascapturedandcutupforscrapbytheallies.Thesecondrailwaygunwasused
brieflyagainstStalingradbutwasmovedbackquicklywhenSovietencirclement
threatened.ThebuildingoftheGustavgunisseenasabigwasteoftimeandmoney
forthelittleserviceitsawinthewar.Ithadincrediblefirepower,butitwastoobigand
costlytobeaneffectiveweapon.Itstillremainsanimpressivefeatandwillprobably
remainthebiggestguneverbuilt.
Anotherweaponthatreliedlessonbruteforceandmoreonspeedwerethev1
andv2rockets.Rocketshadbeenexperimentedwithfordecadesbutneverbeforehad
theybeensuccessfullyusedasweapons.Duringthe19thand20thcenturymany
scientistsfromaroundtheworldsawpotentialtomaketheseintoweaponsbutdidnt
havethetechnologytodoso.Germanywasalreadyexperimentingtouserocketsfor

spaceexplorationandattheoutbreakofworldwarIItheysawadifferentuseforthe
rocket.By1941theGermansweretestingtheirV1orVengeance1rocketinventedby
RobertLisserr.Therocketwaspoweredbyaspecialtypeofjetengineanduseda
newlyinventedguidancesystem.Therocketwas29feetinlengthandweighednearly
5,000pounds.In1944thousandsofthesemissilesweredirectedtowardsLondon.The
missilesweresofastantiaircraftgunshadtroublehittingthem.Astheyflewinthey
madeadistinctivebuzzingsoundwhichledtheBritishtocallthebuzzbombs.
Eventuallyartilleryshellsweremadewithaproximityfuse,atypeofradar,andthis
enabledLondontointercepttheV1fairlyeasily.
DespitebeingsafefromtheV1theywerenotsafefromthenextgeneration
knownastheV2.Thisrocketwasmoresimilartomoderndayrocketsflyingstraightup
andcomingstraightbackdownonitstarget.AtthistimeLondoncouldntevendetect
therocketandhadnowayofstoppingit.TheV2hadagreaterrangeandpayloadandit
wasusedtoterrorizecivilianpopulations.Theserocketswerenotveryaccurate
weaponsbuttheybecamethefoundationfortheSovietandUnitedStatesrocket
programsafterthewar.ScientistVonBrauncontinuedtodeveloptherocketafterthe
warundercontractbytheUnitedStates.Mostoftheearlyunmannedspaceflightsof
the1950sweremodifiedversionsoftheV2rockets.Themissileisnolongerusedby
theUnitedStates,butitisverysimilartotheSovietSCUDmissile.Itwasusedin
combatasrecentlyasthe1990sbyIraq.
Thenexttechnologywhichopenedaneweraofaviationisknownasthe
MesserschmittMe262.Developedneartheendofthewarthiswastheworldsfirstjet

plane.Atfirstithadmixedsupportasmanyexperiencedairmenbelievedthatthewar
couldbewonbypistonpoweredaircraft.In1941thefirsttestflighttookplacebutthejet
enginesfailedduringflightandtheplanehadtobelandedbyapistonengine.Finallyin
Julyof1942theplaneflewwithjustjetengines.Theplanewasfasterthananythingthe
allieshadandbecameapriorityfortheLuftwaffetobuild.Theplanewasfinallysent
intocombatin1944.Itwasverysuccessfultakingdownalliedbombersandtheirspeed
wassogreatgunnerscouldrarelyhitthem.Todealwiththisnewweapontheallies
developedstrategiestoshootthemdown.P51mustangpilotsrealizedthatthesenew
Me262fighterswerenotasagileastheirownplanesandcouldbeshotwhentheytried
toturn.Thep51pilotsbeganflyinghighovertheirbomberssotheycouldquicklydive
ontheGermanjets.Onlyabout100jetswerelostinthewarandaround500allied
planeswerebroughtdownbythejetfighter.Duetolimitedresourcesandpartsonly
abouttwentyfivepercentofthefightersproducedwereactuallyusedinthewar.
Attheendofthewarin1945thealliestookasmanyMe262jetsastheycould
sotheycouldbestudied.Theplanewasveryinfluentialinfuturefighterssuchasthe
F86Sabre.Manyyearslatertheywerealsousedforhighspeedtesting.Althoughthe
developmentbytheGermansendedin1945theCzechgovernmentcontinuedbuilding
themastheAviaS92.LikemanyoftheotherNazitechnologiesitcametoolateto
saveGermanyfromdefeat,buttheyinfluencedfutureaviationgreatly.
AftertheinvasionofFrance,GermanycontrolledalmostallofwesternEurope.
Theyknewthatanalliedinvasionwasinevitablesotheydecidedtobuildmassive
fortificationsthatstretchedalmost2,000miles.Theinvasionwhichwouldeventually

takeplaceatNormandy,wasprobablythemostvitalmomentofthewarandwasthe
beginningoftheendforGermany.Thefortificationsstartedinthespringof1942and
wasstillbeingimproveduponupuntiltheinvasion.Theybuiltminefields,concrete
bunkers/walls,barbedwire,andfortifiedartilleryemplacements.GeneralErwin
RommelwasputinplacebyHitlertoleadthedefense.Whenhetookoverin1943he
sawthatthedefenseswereinadequate.Hequicklybeganimprovingdefensesbylaying
additionalminefieldsandlayingmanymoreobstaclesintheoceanandontheland.
Floodplainswerefloodedandfieldswerepositionedwithpolestokeepthemfrom
beingusedasalandingsite.
Rommelbelievedthattheymuststopthealliesfromgettingafootholdbecauseif
theydidtheycouldbringamassiveamountofresourcestopushtheGermansback.In
Juneof1944theGermansnumbersinFranceconsistedof46infantrydivisionsand9
panzerdivisions.Severaldivisionscontainedinexperiencedoroldersoldiersthatwere
lowerqualitythanmanyotherdivisions.Stillmanysoldierswerebattlehardenedfrom
theeasternfrontandsomadeupforthelessexperiencedtroops.Therealquestionfor
Germanywaswheretheattackwouldland.Hitlerbelievedthattheinvasionwouldmost
likelycomefromthepointwhereFranceandBritainwereclosestbecausetheallies
wouldbeabletoprovidegoodairsupport.Theyalsoexpecteditmaycomesomewhere
alongthesoutherncoastofFranceoratNormandywhichturnedouttoberight.
Approximately1.2milliontonsofsteelwenttofortifythewallandabout17millioncubic
metersofconcretewaspoured.About260,000workershelpedbuildthewallanditcost
around206billiondollarsintodayscurrency.Despitetheimmenseamountofmoney

andmanpowerthrownattheprojecttheycouldnotholdbacktheinvasion.Averywell
plannedattacktrickedtheGermansandletthealliesgetafootholdinFranceinless
thanaday.MillionsofsoldiersandequipmentbeganpouringintoEurope.
OneofthemoresuccessfulweaponsofNaziGermanyweretheirfeared
Uboats.ThetreatyofVersaillesforbidanysubmarinesinGermanybutdespitethis
theystillhad50readyforwarin1939.Germansubmarinecrewshadbeentrainingin
RussiaandSpainsotheywouldbepreparedwhenGermanybeganbuildingthesubs
again.TheUboatshadgreatsuccessinWorldWarIandGermanyknewtheywouldbe
vitalinthefuture.AnysubmarinesthealliesbuiltwereallbasedonmodelsGerman
submarinesfromthefirstWorldWar.In1941thetypeVIICwassosuccessful600were
built.Thesubmarinewas220feetlongandcouldtravel17knotsonthesurfaceand7.5
knotsunderwater.JustlikethefirstWorldWartheUboatsworkedwithdevastating
effect.Unescortedshipswereveryvulnerabletoattackevenlargebattleships.When
Francefellin1940,GermanyhadopenaccesstotheAtlantictolaunchtheir
submarines.Thesubstraveledinwhattheycalledwolfpacksandweredevastatingto
theallies.
Possiblyevenmoreimpressivethanthesubmarinesthemselveswerethepen
thesubmarineswerekeptin.Thesubmarinesweresafeatseadeepunderwater,but
whenyoutakethemoutforrepairstheyareveryvulnerable.Thefirstpenswerethe
subswerekeptwereintwostructuresthatwere80feethighand275feetlongandhad
5footthickconcretewalls.Thisprovidedcoverforrepairingthesubs.Thesepenswere
goodbuttheyneededabiggerevenstrongerpentostorehisUboats.Thenext

submarinebasewasonanewlevelentirely.Theconstructionusedaquarterofallthe
concretetheNazisusedinFranceduringthewar,andcostabout2.6billiondollarsin
today'smoney.Theroofofthebiggestpenhadreinforcedconcreteabout78meters
thick,about3stories.Eventhebiggestalliedbombscouldntdestroythesemassive
buildings.
Theweaponsandstructuresofthethirdreichweresomeofthemostimpressive
theworldhadeverseen.Manyofthesetechnologiesinfluencedlaterweaponseven
intomodernday.Withmoretimeanddevelopmenttheseweaponsmaywellhavebeen
toomuchforthealliestohandle.WemayneverknowallNaziGermanywascapableof,
butwegetaglimpsewithweaponsfaraheadoftheirtime.

Sources

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UsedinCombat,1941."
RareHistoricalPhotos
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