Technology of World War II
Maxim Machine Gun 1884
Hiram Maxim (above) invented the first portable, automatic machine gun. Machine guns fired hundreds of rounds per minute and were used by all the combatants in World War I.
First Military Plane 1909
The earliest military planes were used for reconnaissance of enemy positions. A passenger could drop bombs (below) and, in later World War I models, operate a machine gun.
Poison Gas 1915
Poison gases were introduced to help break the stalemate of trench warfare. They caused suffocation, blistered skin, or blindness (below) to those exposed.
Tanks like the early British model shown above, enabled armies to travel over uneven ground and barbed wire. Although too slow to be used to full advantage at first, they were devastating against soldiers in trenches
The Germans used blitzkrieg or “lightning war” to invade Poland. They employed air strikes, fast tanks, and artillery, followed by soldiers sped into battle on trucks (shown above). They swiftly overwhelmed Poland and disrupted its command and communications
German Me 1944
262 Military jet planes were first used by the Germans in 1944. These planes added speed to fire power. The Me 262 (below) was the only jet to be used extensively in World War II.
Atomic Bomb 1945
The United States dropped two atomic bombs on Japan and became the first nation to use nuclear weapons. An atomic bomb (right) creates an explosion that causes massive damage. The radioactive particles released are carried by winds for weeks.
1. How did technology change the nature of war in the 20th century?
2. Compared with earlier guns, what made machine guns so effective?
3. How did airplanes change the way war was carried out?