Another WWII what-if: advance weaponry by 5-10 years.

The six years from 1939 to 1945 saw significant improvements in military technology, to the point where the prewar technology was utterly obsolescent by the end of the war (and the technology by war’s end was nearly obsolescent five years later!) And it wasn’t as if the war tech developed by 1945 couldn’t have been available five years earlier; it simply hadn’t developed yet. So I was wondering how the war might have been different if history could have been just different enough that the war was fought with more advanced technology. For example, if all the following had begun their service in 1939 instead of later:
[li]Radar is publicly developed by 1937, available to both sides throughout the war.[/li][li]First generation of jet fighters.[/li][li]First B-29 squadron enters American service.[/li][li]Submarines abandon surface service: deck guns eliminated, snorkels added and streamlined cigar-shape hulls are adopted.[/li][li]Shoulder-launched anti-tank rockets (bazooka or panzerfaust)[/li][li]fully-automatic assault rifles, like the German StG 44.[/li][/ul]

Forgot a few, for example :[ul]
[li]nuclear weapons,[/li][li]nerve gases,[/li][li]rocket artillery,[/li][li]first generation ballistic missiles,[/li][li]first generation computers.[/li][/ul]
The main effect of all these new toys would have resulted in a much more different and a much more deadly, as well as shorter WWII (If Hitler had owned nukes, you don’t think he wouldn’t have used them, as a corollary, if Stalin had owned nerve gases, you don’t think he wouldn’t have used them, especially in 1941 ?).

There’s literally tons of things which were invented in WW II that haven’t been mentioned, yet, some of which would have been enough to change the course of the war depending upon who had them. If give you everybody the same “toys,” then you’ve got a hideous mess on your hands. Hitler would promptly nuke everyone around him (and no doubt subject the Jews to hideous radiation “experiments”), the US would be forced to nuke most of Asia, to stop Japan (who no doubt would have nuked Pearl Harbor).
Oh yeah, other things which were invented during WW II:
Smart Bombs
Night Vision
High Powered Armor Piercing Rounds (the Germans had a shell which could go through multiple tanks)
Guided Torpedos.

Well, not that I would have liked it, but if “Big Daddy H” had pushed the jet figher program like a sane man, I believe he would have stemed the tide of daylight bombing and changed the course of the way. Had he listened to the "experts"and put the jets into a strict “fighter” role (much earlier), along with the “V” weapons, he would have (nearly) won the war (by preventing the USA from getting a foot in).

Ahh, who are we kiddin’? He was a loser!

Short answer: the USA would have swept the European Theater with weapons that the east would have wet thier pants over. War over in 3 weeks. Munich is a suburb of Pittsburgh.

(I’ve been drinking)

Tuckerfan, I consider myself knowledgeable on the subject and I never heard of that one. Could you, maybe, provide a cite so that I can get more info ? Thank you very much.

Other weapons we forgot to mentions :

[li]helicopters[/li][li]advanced ASW weapons (like the hedgehog)[/li][li]air-to-ground rockets[/li][/ul]

I don’t have time to dig for the cite, but it comes from the book German Secret Weapons of the Second World War by Ian V. Hogg (he’s a favorite on the Hitler -er, History, Channel). Hitler was so paranoid about them being discovered by the Allies that he forbade their use without his personal permission.

Refresh my memory, is the hedgehog, the dam busting bomb? Or was it a missile battery?

Interesting hypothetical, but it’s worth noting in the absence of WWII, there wouldn’t have been the huge leap forward in military tech to begin with.

This gets repeated a lot, but it’s just not true at all. The biggest holdup in deploying the Me-262 wasn’t Hitler, it was the fact that Junkers couldn’t mass produce reliable Jumo engines. The prototypes were fine, but used alloys the Germans were extremely short on, and production models were horribly unreliable.

And even if the 262s had been rolling out of Messerschmidt’s doors, there weren’t any trained pilots left to fly them. The few Me-262s that were deployed racked up extremely impressive scores, but they were flown by a collection of the greatest German aces of the war (well, those that were still alive). If there’d been a lot more of them, they’d have been flown by raw recruits, and effective use of the 262 requires a fair bit of skill. You have to use energy tactics - boom and zoom - because if you try to turn with the Allies, you’ll get eaten alive by the Mustangs and Spitfires. But when you boom and zoom in a 262 you have very high closing speeds, and so you need to be a very good aerial gunner to hit anything. Newbies won’t accomplish much, and German pilot training late in the war was, shall we say, not very thorough.

And to top it off, the Germans were desperately short on fuel of all types, and jets aren’t exactly fuel efficient.

WWII was a war of production capacity and attrition. Technical gadgets only made relatively minor differences in the end, as one can see by noting that German panzers were superior in every respect to American Shermans, but lost anyways.

On another note, I believe the hedgehog was a mortar system on destroyers that blanketed a wide area with depth charges all at once.

Thanks for the info, I am familiar with Hogg and will look for his book. The hedgehog was a forward firing depth charge that exploded on contact.

The US Navy tested a gyrostabilized rocket, torpedo-sized & unguided, that could be air launched at a merchant ship with a 50% of hitting at a range of 10 miles.

And, with its 1/2 ton warhead, a near 100% chance of sinking it with one shot.

This is a darn good approximation of an anti-ship missile.
It was introduced in the Pacific in the last few months of the war.

If it had been available for use against ground targets…

My error. The rocket was 1/2 ton, the warhead much smaller.

Here’s a LINK to the “Tiny Tim” class rocket.

It has a nifty photo of the weapon.

Tuckerfan, you were aware that a lot of the basic data about high acute doses of radiation comes from Nazi radiation experiments? There were tests done for 'non-surgical’sterilization, using radiation; simple exposure tests; and more complex things, too. The sad part is that the data gathered by the Nazis during these experiments remains invaluable, since, unlike most acute dose studies since, the exposure rates were carefully calculated, planned and recorded, unlike the estimates used in most other human acute dose studies. :frowning:

Of course, five years after World War II was the Korean War, so that gives you a model for your question right there.

From the standpoint of the infantry, not much different. They had guns that could fire better bullets, and probably better medical care if they were wounded, but otherwise, you still had walkie-talkies for comunication and Jeeps and trucks for mobility.

From a naval point of view, virtually no difference from 1945 to 1950. World War 2 battleships were still firing shells and World War 2 landing craft were still putting Marines on shore.

There were differences in the air. Jet fighters were used and bombers held more bombs, but strategic bombing wasn’t a big factor in the Korean War.

Now, if either side had gone nuclear, that would be an entirely different scenario.

FYI: some interesting data on WW2 guided missiles, including German and US television-guided missiles:

I was thinking mainly of conventional weapons, since nukes change the entire equation too much. But now that you mention it, I could see a WW2 where both sides had only just developed nukes, and only a handful were available, like two or three a year, due to fissionable material production limitations, especially if the enemy’s production facilities were the first target for the other’s nukes!

Nerve gas- I dunno. Both sides had stockpiles of gas but never used them. Is more and better of a weapon that neither side wanted to use first a real difference?

Rocket artillery: Was used, especially by the Soviets. I’m unfamiliar with what advantages it offers over “gun” artillery.

Ballistic Missiles: with conventional warheads, had a lousy cost-to-bang ratio. I’ve heard it claimed that every V2 Germany ever launched was a net loss to the German war effort. Rebuttal anyone?

First Generation Computers: Other than artillery tables (and physics calculations for nukes!), how would these have helped the war effort? I presume we’re talking about some UNIVAC-type vacuum tube beast.

Sort of like the Colossus, “The Worlds First Electronic Computer” which did in fact help us win the war?
The What-if for jets is interesting but my WAG is that neither side would have a run-away war winning advantage for long - as some often claim the 262 could have been.
Piston-engine planes tended to keep pace in terms of capabilities - any leap forward like the FW190 was quickly countered on the other side (and even copied - look at the La9, Bearcat, Sea Fury all post-war children of the 190)

If the 262 had appeared earlier the British would have started to take notice of that annoying RAF chap Whittle who held the patent on the jet and was always trying to get the Air Ministry to show interest in his experiments - he had a proof of concept engine running in 1937

AS Gorsnak says the Germans lacked the high-temp alloys, and the British didn’t have an airframe as advanced as the 262 - but things move fast in wartime

Jets guzzle fuel, early ones at a frightening rate, making fuel even more strategic. Early jet fighters would have very short range, good for shooting down bombers, not so good for escorting them.
The only ways round that would either be jet bombers able to carry enough fuel, or huge high-altitude piston-engined bombers on the scale of the B36 (design on which started before the US entered the war)
Tests in the 50s showed early jets found it almost impossible to intercept the B36

As to nerve gas I know the Nazis had sarin (I think from about 1942) but I don’t know why the didn’t use it

While talking about WW2 rockets, lets not forget the pigeon guided missile.

We had rocket artillery as well:

Allied Rocket Arty WWII.

My uncle served on a “Z Battery” in Scotland early in WWII; these were 3-inch projectiles which could be detonated at a fixed height, or could trail a long copper wire in front of oncoming enemy aircraft formations.

Z Battery, including a projector.

What about the Mk. 23 nuclear shells, built for the Iowa Class battleships? That might have made “island hopping” in the Pacific a bit different.

And, of course, I’d be remiss in not mentioning the role of aircraft carriers.

And, I should probably bring up…Luft '46 and Hikoki 1946.

And…this whole scenario means the Germans would still have Von Braun, but with 5-10 years more technology under his belt? Uh-oh.

Anyone want to wager how much bloodier WW II.5 would have been?

And then, there was the Bat Bomb .

Bruce Wayne was not involved. :slight_smile:

No, I wasn’t aware of that, but at least the data gathered is useful, unlike a lot of other Nazi “experiments” where people were simply tortured and the “experiment” label added to it later.

In the artillery advancements the Germans made there’s the taper-bore and squeeze bore guns which fired high velocity shells with a very flat trajectory. They only saw limited service because Germany didn’t have a source for the tungsten the shells required. The Germans were working on a version of these for aircraft, but the war ended before the testing phase. The Germans also developed a number of weapons which had a discarded sabot.

detop, I checked the book, and I was slightly mistaken in my initial comments of the shell. It’s the Rochling shell on pg 162 of Hogg’s book. It was an anti-bunker shell, and let me quote from Hogg’s book, because the description is mind boggling

As a WAG, I’ll say that it most likely could hole a line of tanks if it was used against them, but AFAIK, that was never tested.