Discussion in 'The Guns Galore Section' started by Simonr1978, Jun 4, 2004.
"C'est l'essence de la vie..."
Sorry, I seem to have sort of started this one off and abandoned it!
An attempt at perhaps a better wording of the original question...
What in the opinion of those here was the single most influential weapon to be used in the Second World War. It doesn't necessarily have to be used solely in WWII, or for the first time neccessarily, or even actually in anger, it doesn't even necessarily have to be influential as a device but perhaps in the way it changed tactics or forced the enemy to change tactic. It is up to you to define why you think it was influential, it is also up to you to define what you think qualifies as a "Weapon" and why.
A good example of the latter would be ASDIC, whilst not perhaps directly a weapon it was just as instrumental in the destruction of U-Boats as the depth charges themselves.
I don't necessarily think I was after a definitive answer (There probably isn't one!), the question was deliberately vaguely worded, I think I posted this one quite a while back when some sections of the forum were a little quiet with the intention of trying to get some more posts on this section.
Perhaps interpreting the question a little broader than asked, but I would say that "airpower," or more precisely "air superiority," was the most influential weapon. All the major warring powers saw it as essential to the success of a ground operation (beginning with Poland in 1939), and without it the planned ground offensive would be in jeopardy (Germany's failure to achieve it against Britain in 1940). In 1941, Hitler established it in the first days of Barbarossa to ensure the Wehrmacht's success that summer. Japan recognized the need for air superiority in its plans to attack Pearl Harbor and the Philippines. And so on and so on ... Probably the best example is the Allies' requirement for air superiority to ensure success with Overlord. Airpower's influence also can be seen in Hitler's gamble that bad weather would nullify Allied air superiority during his 1944 Ardennes offensive. Although the potential of military aviation made an appearance in the First World War, it did not come of age until the Second. Airpower may not have been the decisive weapon in World War II that many hoped for, but it was very influential in planning offensive (and defensive) operations.
Good call - and of course the vital role that air cover had in ASW.
Back to the computer..
We lived with bomb, but every day, I dont pay attention to it..
Now my computers, my work desktop, my laptop, and my home PC..
The US developed a computer that was used to lay out artillary ballistic tables, the Brits used the at Blechly Park..
and frankly, the US used a large electronic computer to develop the bomb.
John von Neumann was born in Budapest, Hungary on December 28, 1903. His contributions were in the areas of quantum mechanics in physics, economics, logic, game theory, in addition to the theory used for developing high-speed computers.
Von Neumann's mathematical talent was recognized early in school, resulting in his being taught by a private tutor. In 1926 he received his Ph.D in mathematics from the University of Budapest, where he had distinguished himself by publishing a series of papers on quantum mechanics, logic, set theory, and game theory. In 1930 he was a visiting lecturer to Princeton University, and, in 1933, became one of the initial professors at Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study.
While at Princeton he developed the Von Neumann algebras that were a new set of principles for mechanics in explaining subatomic particle behaviors. He theorized that axioms in regard to quantum theories would comply when space was expanded from three dimensions to an infinity of dimensions. In 1955, he proved the equality of the two leading models of quantum theory, which are matrix mechanics and wave mechanics.
Von Neumann was a member of the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1943 where he helped develop the atomic bomb. His previous work was used to work with detonation waves for the investigation of implosions. He also used the Harvard Computational Lab's Mark 1 to solve difficult equations. The Lab was considered the fist programmable computer in the United States. The much faster ENIAC electronic computer being developed at the University of Pennsylvania was his next interest.
Von Neumann had many papers published on game theory beginning in 1926. He invented mathematical strategies for winning and analyzing the social dynamics in a competitive situation. In 1937, his "Model of General Economic Equilibrium," was the foundation of modern economic theory to which game theory is applied. Working with Oskar Morganstern, von Neumann helped with the publishing of Theory of Games and Economic Behavior in 1944.
Von Neumann was the hooked on computers and when ENIAC began planning the next computer he joined the team as the leader. The team planned the structure of the computer, while others worked on the technical problems. In 1945 he wrote First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC that proposed faster and more reliable computer designs.
von Neumann was involved in developing thermonuclear, or hydrogen, weapons and the ability to use long-range delivery. He believed in stockpiling weapons as a defensive measure and was opposed to disarmament. In 1955 von Neumann was appointed Atomic Energy Commissioner, but died two years later from bone cancer in Washington, D.C.
so maybe it was the computer..