German Superiority of Scientific Advancements During World War II
At both the start and end of World War II, Hitler’s Germany astounded the Allies with their advanced technology. During the middle years of the war, the Allies caught up in many of the technological fields like weapons, radar and aircraft, but they were never sure what Germany’s next “Secret Weapon” would be.
The reason Germany (and in some cases, the Soviet Union) was so advanced compared to the United States was that Hitler never stopped thinking about the next war after World War I ended, and the Soviets were also aggressive minded, so they sunk a lot of time and money into scientific advances geared for the military. The United States was led by hopes of peace and neutrality with much lower defense budgets. It showed very clearly in the early stages of World War II.
The Germans were responsible for many “World’s first” discoveries and inventions. Many were so far ahead of the rest of the world in the 1940s that they are still basically in use today. A list of “firsts” includes:
- Jet Bombers
- Jet Fighters
- Rocket-powered Fighters
- Fighter planes with ejection seats
- Precision Bombers
- Military Helicopters
- Guided Missiles
- Guided Bombs
- Cruise Missiles
- Long Range Ballistic Missiles
- Highly Advanced Attack Submarines
- Stealth Coating
- Assault Rifles
- Synthetic Fuel
- Nerve Gas
Called “secret weapons” by the Allies and “wonder weapons” by the Germans, the three main reasons that the Germans were winning the race in technology in the 1930s were:
- Some of the greatest scientific minds in the world were ordered to work on advancements.
- Hitler gave enormous amounts of money and resources to the military, with his war-minded attitudes.
- When the war was ending, a frustrated and desperate Hitler pulled out all stops for developing the newest and most highly developed weapons that had been put on temporary hold. The results were impressive, but his shortage of mass producing basic military equipment hurt.An interesting note here: The Germans had developed the first nerve gases: Tabun (1936), Sarin (1938) and Soman (1944). They caused muscle paralysis and certain death by not being able to breathe. The Germans did not know the Allies had no such weapon; the Allies had no knowledge the Germans did. Hitler, with a gasping sigh of relief from the world when it was revealed, did not use it for fear of retaliation with same.
- Arado 234 – First jet bomber, single seat, auto pilot, ejection seat, rear guns, too fast to intercept.
- Messerschmitt 262 – First jet fighter and bomber interceptor.
- Messerschmitt 163 – First rocket-powered fighter, so fast it once shot down three US B-17s during one aircraft mission or sortie.
- Heinkel 162 – Mass produced fighter planes.
- Dornier 335 – First fighter plane with ejection and faster than US P-51 Mustang escort fighters.
- Junkers 87 – Called “Stuka” and the first precision bomber which was responsible for many early war victories. Decidedly the best dive bomber of World War II.
- Flettner 282 Helicopter – First military helicopter
- Focke Archgelis 223 Helicopter – Utility helicopter that was hampered for production when Allies bombed needed factories.
- Type 21 – The world’s first highly advanced submarine that could:
- Stay submerged the entire mission
- Was faster submerged than on surface
- Had a 300 miles battery range and could recharge by schnorkel with no resurfacing
- Advanced sonar without using periscope
- Electric motor for silent running
- Fast torpedo reload
- Air conditioned
- Type 23 – Smaller version of the 21 that had a 10 second crash dive and was used in coastal and shallow waters. Only carried a crew of 14.
The Germans also had developed an electric powered torpedo that left no trail of bubbles, so was undetectable where it came from, thus avoiding counter attacks. Decades ahead of other countries, they also had a stealth coating for surfaced submarines that was invisible to night detection.
Other German Advances
- Sturmgewehr 44 – First assault rifle like the modern day M-16 and Ak-47.
- Synthetic Fuel – made from coal, it was very expensive to manufacture, but desperately needed in Germany since they depended on imports for petroleum.
- Radio Navigation – The Germans had the forefather of the modern GPS and for the first 2 ½ years of the war, the Allies had no match.