TOTD 2018-8-19: Fighting War World II

I remember a friend telling me that WW2 was fought with paper and typewriters. That got me thinking of the other things that were lacking that we take for granted. Here is a list.

  1. Pallets and Containers (They used a lot of cargo nets at that time. A lot was moved by  hand.)
  2. Copy machines (I think carbon paper did most of this work.)
  3. Cell phones (They had walkie-talkies but they were cumbersome.)
  4. Helicopters (It took a lot of time to get the wounded to the hospital.)
  5. E-mail (People wrote letters that took weeks or longer to get to people.)
  6. Good weather forecasts (This can really help if you are in the middle of an ocean.)

What am I missing? Oh, there was no CNN.

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24 thoughts on “TOTD 2018-8-19: Fighting War World II”

  1. A few things I can think of:

    1) Nuclear weapons. Nuff said.

    2) Nuclear power. It would have been… interesting, if submarines had been nuclear powered for WWII.

    3) Angled decks for carrier-based aviation.

    4) Albacore-type submarines with streamlined hulls, which would have allowed a much higher speed under water.

    5) Guided missiles. The radio-controlled bombs the Germans used to sink the Italian battleship Roma weren’t quite the same.

    6) Jet aircraft, mostly.

    7) Satellites.

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  2. Xennady:
    A few things I can think of:

    1) Nuclear weapons. Nuff said.

    2) Nuclear power. It would have been… interesting, if submarines had been nuclear powered for WWII.

    3) Angled decks for carrier-based aviation.

    4) Albacore-type submarines with streamlined hulls, which would have allowed a much higher speed under water.

    5) Guided missiles. The radio-controlled bombs the Germans used to sink the Italian battleship Roma weren’t quite the same.

    6) Jet aircraft, mostly.

    7) Satellites.

    Yes, angled decks on aircraft carriers made a big difference. Too bad they could not have come up with that sooner.

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  3. Xennady:
    A few things I can think of:

    1) Nuclear weapons. Nuff said.

    2) Nuclear power. It would have been… interesting, if submarines had been nuclear powered for WWII.

    3) Angled decks for carrier-based aviation.

    4) Albacore-type submarines with streamlined hulls, which would have allowed a much higher speed under water.

    5) Guided missiles. The radio-controlled bombs the Germans used to sink the Italian battleship Roma weren’t quite the same.

    6) Jet aircraft, mostly.

    7) Satellites.

    The WW2 submarines were made for a lot of surface duty. Would the Albacore submarines been good for that?

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  4. 10 Cents:
    The WW2 submarines were made for a lot of surface duty. Would the Albacore submarines been good for that?

    I suspect that their design was because of the need for diesel engines to recharge batteries, surface running was better for this ergo the design of the hulls, although snorkels were used sometimes.

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  5. By the way, what was that movie in which a modern aircraft carrier was transported back in time before the attack on Pearl Harbor?

    In that movie they had all the technology that was wrapped up in that one ship, excluding satellites or external advantages, but still it was an impressive war machine with modern jet fighters, radar and the technical capability to sink the entire Japanese carrier group and prevent the bombing of Pearl Harbor. (Spoiler: They didn’t prevent it but could have.)

    Found It!              The Final Countdown (1980)

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  6. I read that the Bismarck had a problem when the British biplanes were attacking.  Its AA guns were calibrated to defend against much faster (modern) planes.

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  7. 10 Cents:
    I remember a friend telling me that WW2 was found with paper and typewriters. That got me thinking of the other things that were lacking that we take for granted. Here is a list.

    Did you mean to say; “fought with paper and typewriters” instead of “found“?

    Not that I just noticed that, just forgot to bring it to your attention…

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  8. Gerry D:

    10 Cents:
    I remember a friend telling me that WW2 was found with paper and typewriters. That got me thinking of the other things that were lacking that we take for granted. Here is a list.

    Did you mean to say; “fought with paper and typewriters” instead of “found“?

    Not that I just noticed that, just forgot to bring it to your attention…

    I see “fought” now.  Thanks for founding that.

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  9. there was no technological reason the US could not have had assault rifles and a decent tank

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  10. Xennady:
    3) Angled decks for carrier-based aviation.

    10 Cents:
    Yes, angled decks on aircraft carriers made a big difference. Too bad they could not have come up with that sooner.

     

    That was mainly advantageous for jets.  high landing speeds meant jets needed essentially the entire length of a straight deck carrier to land. This combined with the larger size of the jets greatly reduced the number of aircraft that could be carried by a carrier because you could no longer park aircraft on the forward portion of the deck while other aircraft landed.

    The angled deck also allowed the dynamic where the pilot throttles up his engines upon hitting the deck in case he misses the wire or the wire breaks. With nothing in front of him on the angled deck he can go back airborne

    Thus, when we were still using propeller aircraft the weight of an angled deck could better be spent on improved armor etc.

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  11. Xennady:
    3) Angled decks for carrier-based aviation.

    Steam catapults might have been even more useful. For example, they could have helped with the Doolittle raid.

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  12. ctlaw:
    There was no technological reason the US could not have had assault rifles and a decent tank

    Indeed, the Germans developed the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44) in 1942 and produced 425,977 of them between 1943 and the collapse in 1945.  The literal translation of its name is “assault rifle”.  It fired an intermediate cartridge which is very similar to that later used in the AK-47.

    The Soviet T-34 tank, of which 84,070 were made between 1940 and 1958 was superior to anything of its time.  Indeed, Hitler said that if he had known of the capabilities and number of T-34s deployed, he would not have invaded the Soviet Union.  It introduced sloped armour, which deflected incoming rounds and provided additional protection without the weight of thicker armour.  The 76.2 mm gun was able to penetrate the armour of all German tanks in the early part of the war.  Later, the gun was upgraded to an 85 mm.  Its diesel engine used less volatile fuel than the gasoline-powered U.S. Sherman.  It used the coil-spring Christie suspension (developed in the U.S.), which gave it better mobility than German tanks, especially in the snow and mud of the Eastern Front.

    The U.S. could have copied or improved on either of these designs, but prevailed by sheer mass-production.  The M1 Garand, the U.S. main battle rifle of World War II, had total production of 5,468,772 between 1934 and 1957.  A total of 49,234 M4 Sherman tanks were built.  (This is smaller than the number of T-34s, but the Western Front was smaller and not so much tank country as in the East, and tanks were not used in great quantity in the Pacific.)

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  13. ctlaw:
    Thus, when we were still using propeller aircraft the weight of an angled deck could better be spent on improved armor etc.

    Also, the angled deck fundamentally requires a larger ship.  If you build larger carriers, you can’t build as many, and in World War II the U.S. concentrated on quantity.  By 1945, the U.S. fielded 28 fleet carriers and 71 smaller escort carriers.  In World War II losing an aircraft carrier was a real possibility and in such an environment having many smaller ships was better than a few more capable ones.  Present-day U.S. naval doctrine seems to assume that carriers are invulnerable and that 11 suffice.  This will continue to seem obvious until it isn’t.

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  14. John Walker:

    ctlaw:
    There was no technological reason the US could not have had assault rifles and a decent tank

    Indeed, the Germans developed the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44) in 1942 and produced 425,977 of them between 1943 and the collapse in 1945.  The literal translation of its name is “assault rifle”.  It fired an intermediate cartridge which is very similar to that later used in the AK-47.

    The Soviet T-34 tank, of which 84,070 were made between 1940 and 1958 was superior to anything of its time.  Indeed, Hitler said that if he had known of the capabilities and number of T-34s deployed, he would not have invaded the Soviet Union.  It introduced sloped armour, which deflected incoming rounds and provided additional protection without the weight of thicker armour.  The 76.2 mm gun was able to penetrate the armour of all German tanks in the early part of the war.  Later, the gun was upgraded to an 85 mm.  Its diesel engine used less volatile fuel than the gasoline-powered U.S. Sherman.  It used the coil-spring Christie suspension (developed in the U.S.), which gave it better mobility than German tanks, especially in the snow and mud of the Eastern Front.

    The U.S. could have copied or improved on either of these designs, but prevailed by sheer mass-production.  The M1 Garand, the U.S. main battle rifle of World War II, had total production of 5,468,772 between 1934 and 1957.  A total of 49,234 M4 Sherman tanks were built.  (This is smaller than the number of T-34s, but the Western Front was smaller and not so much tank country as in the East, and tanks were not used in great quantity in the Pacific.)

    I would rank the deficiencies of the Sherman as:

    1. It had an unusually high profile. This was apparently in order to accommodate a radial engine. The high profile made it an easier target and thinned its armor.

    2. It was undergunned.

    3. Low speed suspension.

    4. Gasoline. It would have been even less of a problem if the tank was better armored and harder to hit.

    The first two were major. The latter two were minor.

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  15. ctlaw:
    4. Gasoline. It would have been even less of a problem if the tank was better armored and harder to hit.

    Actually, there were two variants of the Sherman, the M4A2 and M4A6, which were diesel powered.  The vast majority were gasoline powered, and gasoline was preferred since it was the fuel used by Army trucks, Jeeps, and most other vehicles, and logistics were much simplified by having a single fuel for all.

    Analyses of Sherman tank fires attributed most to the storage of main gun ammunition in the vulnerable region above the tracks where a hit could ignite it.  Later models (designated “wet”) moved the ammunition storage to the floor of the hull, surrounded by water jackets.  Combat experience showed this reduced the probability of fire after a hit to 10–15%, compared to 60–80% with the original model.  Gasoline was not considered a major factor in Sherman fires.

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  16. John Walker:
    It used the coil-spring Christie suspension (developed in the U.S.), which gave it better mobility than German tanks, especially in the snow and mud of the Eastern Front.

    Christie was insane.

    When dealing with the US government, he insisted that the basic configurations of his prototypes were perfect and would not re-configure them in the way the US wanted (e.g. a heavier more up-gunned tank). Given the massive bias the US Army has for products developed in house, this doomed Christie.

    On the other hand, foreign countries were able to simply adopt what Christie features they liked without having to deal with him interfering with other aspects.

    His coil spring suspension was a dead end. Promptly replaced by torsion bars. Also a relative dead end was his desire that the tank drive around on roads without its tracks and then install the tracks for off-road use.

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  17. Xennady:

    there was no technological reason the US could not have had assault rifles and a decent tank

    No comment on the rifles, but this guy on Youtube makes the argument that the Sherman was actually a good tank.

    His main argument is commonality with the M3. But M3 entered production in 1940. M2 in 1939.

    The T34 (1940) was based on the Christie-derived BT series that evolved through the 1930s.

    Thus, our real failings were in the 1930s.

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  18. He argues that the Sherman was a good tank.  However, the decision not to improve the gun prior to D-Day was questionable.

    I certainly agree, but in one of his videos he made note that the commanders in the field declined interest in an upgunned model- and if I recall even left some with a heavier gun in England prior to D-Day because they didn’t think they would be needed. Oops.

    I think he also did a decent job of explaining why the Sherman ended up being the tank mass produced by the US, despite the various issues, etc.

    Good videos, in my opinion.

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