Each of the major belligerent countries had weapons that became legendary. None more so than the Germans. German Panzers cut a swath across virtually all of Europe, but never crossed the Volga in the East. The Germans managed to make due with both a small number of Panzers and ones of limited capability. Eventually they produced perhaps the best tank of the war--the Mk. V Panther. They also produced the fearsome Mk. VI Tigers. The German 88 was one of th best tank killer of the War and an effective anti-aircraft gun. The Luftwaffe Stukas were terror inspiring dive bombers, but vulnerable. The principal German fighters were the legendary ME-109 and FW-190. The first effective jet was the ME-262 Swallow. The British fought off the Luftwaffe with the Hawker Hurricane and the Spitfire, one of the most admired fighters of the War. The heavy Avro Lancaster was one of the best bombers of the War.
The Mosquito was an extremely effective medium bomber. For some reason, the British never developed an effective tank. The Soviet T-34 probably saved the Soviet Union, arriving on the battle field at a crucial point of the War. The Luftwaffe destroyed the Red Air Force at the onset of Barbarossa. Gradually the Red Air Force was reconstituted and the Ilyushin IL-2 Shturmovik developed a reputation as a tank killer on the Eastern Front. The best known American aircraft of the War were the B-17 Flying Fortress and the legendary P-51 Mustang that destroyed the Luftwaffe. The M-4 Sherman tank was inferior to the German tanks it faced, but it had its atributes as well as air and artillery support. The best rifle of the war was the M-1 Garand. The American 2 1/2 ton truck played a major role in both the East and the West. The Japanese fought the war with largely inferior weapons except for the Imperial fleet. The most legendary Japanese weapon was the Mitsubishi A6M Zero which do
minated the Pacific for the first year of the War. The Japanese limited research and industrial capacity meant that they were still using the Zero at the end of the War.
The British fought off the Luftwaffe with the Hawker Hurricane and the Spitfire, one of the most admired fighters of the War. It fought off the German ME-109 fighters while the Hurricanes went after the bombers. Production problems limited how many were made when they were needed the most. By the time that production of Spits increased and more modern versions were being built the American P-47 and P-38 planes were better and being built faster. Then of course came the P-51. The heavy Avro Lancaster was one of the best bombers of the War. The Lancaster was until the B-29 had the longest range and largest bomb load. The Mosquito was a notable fighterbomber. For some reason, the British never developed an effective tank. The British wasted time and resources building different types of main battle tanks. And in small weapons the Brits had one innovative weapon and that was the Sten Gun; the only 9mm gun the Brits made because the Sten was invented mostly for use by Commandos who could use captured German ammo from their mp-40s that also used the same 9mm.
As far as we know, the Canadians did not develop any major weapons system. We think that they developed an inexpensive answer to a German acoustical torpedo. While they did not develop important weapons systems, Canadian industry did manufacture large quantities of weapons developed by the Americans and British. Canada became the fourth largest Allied manufacturer of munitions and arms, after America, Britain, and the soviet Union.
French weapons did not have a major impact on World War II. The country was defeatd and occupied by the Germans in the first year of the War (May-June 1940). This meant that there was no impriovement and mopderniozation of waponry as the War progressed which was the case of the other major belligerents.
Each of the major belligerent countries had weapons that became legendary. None more so than the Germans. While the German Panzers made headlines, excellent German infantry weapons played a major role in the War. The German infantry was the best armed of the War which shocked the American troops that had to fight them with inferior weapons. Infantry operations were centered around the machine gun and the Germans produced the best machine guns of the War. German infantry also had the best assault guns, stick grenades, and anti-tank weapons. The one exception to the German superiority in infantry weapons was their rifle with was outclassed by the American M-1 Garand. German Panzers cut a swath across virtually all of Europe, but never crossed the Volga in the East. The Germans managed to make due with both a small number of Panzers and ones of limited capability. Eventually they produced perhaps the best tank of the
war--the Mk. V Panther. They also produced the fearsome Mk. VI Tigers. The German 88 was one of th best tank killer of the War and an effective anti-aircraft gun. The Luftwaffe Stukas were terror inspiring dive bombers, but vulnerable. The principal German fighters were the legendary ME-109 and FW-190. The first effective jet was the ME-262 Swallow. A new generation of jet aircraft were being built, but Germany was forced to surrender before they could be deployed. The Germans had many innovative weapons from tanks to jets but most of them came too late and they had so many types they could not build enough of what was superior like the Panzer Mk V and VI, the Me-262 and they had started production of a jet bomber but also way too late. Then of course they had not only the V-1 the 1st cruise missile but the V-2 the first ballistic missile but without the accuracy to make it an effective weapon. The Germans were working on the so called "New York" missile that would have bee
n an ICBM but with conventional war heads unless Hitler would have used chemical bombs to terrorize the American civilians. The Germans had very lethal chemical weapons, but Hitler decided not to use them. The Mk XXI U-boat was built at the end of the War, almost 100 were being readied, but only a handful were actually deployed before Germany surrendered.
Few Italians weapons had a notable impact on the war. Baretta pistols were prized by some. One weapon that had some impact was the Siluro a Lenta Corsa (SLC) called the Pig (Maiale). It was a low speed manned torpedo, essentially a basic midget submarine. It was sucessfully used in a raid on the British naval base in Alexandria (December 1941).
The Japanese soldier was the most poorly equipped of all major belligerent countries. The Japanese fought the war with largely inferior weapons except for the Imperial fleet. The most legendary Japanese weapon was the Mitsubishi A6M Zero which dominated the Pacific for the first year of the War. The Japanese limited research and industrial capacity, however, meant that they were still using the Zero at the end of the War. The other major Japanese weapon was the Long Lance Torpedo which gave the Imperial Navy a powerful punch at a time that the U.S. Navy torpedoes had serious technical problems. Not only did the Japanese generally have poor equipment, but the Japanese General staff launched major operations without plans to supply their soldiers. They were expected to seize enemy equipment and food. As a result, large numbers of Japanese soldiers starved to death during the War, especially on isolated Pacific islands. At the end of the War the Japnese with German technical support attempted to introduce some innovated arcraft suchas the Baka, but to little affect. The Japanese were working on a nuclear weapon. They asked the Germans for uranium which was being delivered by a U-boat at the time the Germans surrendered. It is not clear what the Japanese were going to do with the uranium.
Soviet Union World War II weaponry contrasted sharply with that of the Germans on the all important Easrern Front. The differences boiled down to technology and philosophy. Germany was an extremely advanced industrial and technological powerhouse. They had the rechnical capability to build advanced, often meaning complex weaponry. The German focus was on performance such as rate of fire and narriw tolerances and clearances. Much less attention was given to maintenance requirements and ability to operate in field conditions. No matter how beautifully crafted a weapon is, if it jams or does not operate when it gets a little dirty or will not operate in the cold, it is not an effective weapon. The Soviet Union was much less technically advanced. As a result, Soviet weapons were often much more basic. Soviet wepons often looked crude in contrast to the finely crafted German weapons which Hitler insisted be built. The Soviet philopsophy was to bulld simple, easy to maintain weapons that functioned under field conditions. This meant that Soviet weaponry continued to funcrion even during winter weather and in muddu=y or other adverse conditions. Crude looking weaons did not upset Stalin. They also had the advantage that they could be built in huge numbers and at low cost. This put the Germans at a disadvantage. Their smaller industrial plant, especially working on complex weaons, could produce only a fraction of the weaponry produced by the Soviets and Allies.
The Soviet T-34 probably saved the Soviet Union, arriving on the battle field at a crucial point of the War and shocked the Germans when their shells bounced off the sloping armor. The T-34 had a fine cannon, but the motor and drive train were wht only an b called primitive. The crew had to use a hammar to change gear. Another nasty surprise to the Germans was the Katyusha multiple rocket launchers (Катю́ша) It was a type of rocket artillery. These multiple rocket launchers delivered a devastating salvo to a target more quickly than conventional artillery, but with less accuracy. The Luftwaffe largely destroyed the Red Air Force at the onset of Barbarossa. Gradually the Red Air Force was reconstituted and the Ilyushin IL-2 Shturmovik developed a reputation as a tank killer on the Eastern Front. Generally Soviet weapons were not noted for high technology. nut their ruggedness and low maintennce requirements giving them the ability to function under battefield conditions. On the battlefield, low-tech was often an advantage because it was less affected by mud and dirt and easier to service. High tech German weapons were more difficult to service and maintain.
Sweden managed to maintain its neutrality during World War II. This was not because it had a powerful, well-armed military. It dod not. It manged to maintain its independence beczuse it gave in to virtually everything the NAZIs demanded--except handing over their Jews. Sweden was vital to the NAZI war effort. German had fw resources other than coal. It did not have major iron ore deposits. The NAZI war economy got its iron ore in Sweden. And it could not have waged war without it. Sweden did not have a major arms industry, The Swedish Army was not well armed and the Swedish Navy had mostly aged World war I ships. The Swedish Air Force had to buy aircraft abroad. There was one exception to Sweden's lack of preparation for war--that was Bofars AB. Bifars provided naval artillery to the Swedish Navy and began working on anti-aircraft guns during the world war I era. The German Krupp Group bought a minority stake in Bofars, in part because the Versailles Peace Treaty linited arms manufacture in Germany. Bofars was Sweden's nne world-class arms manufacturer. And their most important creation was the Bofors 40 mm gun--commonly referred to as just the Bofors Gun. It was a raid fire anti-aircraft/multi-purpose autocannon designed in the 1930s. It was one of the most popular medium-weight anti-aircraft systems developed during World War II. It was the only important weapon used by both the Allies and Axis. While used by both Britain and Germany, it played its most important role in the Pacific War as the U.S. Navy after Miday equipped the Pacific Fleet wuth Bofars Guns. These reliable, rapid fire guns helped save carriers and fight off the Japanese desperation Kamakazee suiside attacks.
The American soldier during training was told that he was the best equipped fighting man in the world. Nothing could have been further from the truth. The one exception was that the GIs had the best rifle of the war-- the M-1 Garand. Other than that, American infantry arms were badly outclassed by the Germans who had assault as well as better machine guns, grenades, and anti-tank weapons. Rarely mentioned is that while the Germans were perfecting their weapons, the pacifists and isolationists in America proclaiming their moral superiority not only worked to limit defense spending, but also to vilify American industrialists manufacturing arms. One great asset was the 2 1/2 ton truck built in great numbers and providing great mobility to American forces. It played a major role in both the East and the West. The M-4 Sherman tank, the principal American battle tank, was inferior to the German tanks it faced in both armo
r and fire power, but it had its attributes as well as air and artillery support. The Sherman was better then any British tank and vastly outnumbered the production of the Germans. The Americans quickly stopped production of the M-3 Grant even if the British liked that tank (because it was better then anything the Brits had in 1940 and 1941). The little M-2 Stuart was an American tank that in Europe could only be used for advance recon or to be sacrificed at the head of a column. But in the Pacific it was good enough to take on any Japanese tank and for destroying machine gun positions or bunkers. That made more Shermans available for Europe but still many were needed in the Pacific mostly in ground support to take on larger bunkers or to be used as mobile artillery. Th United States in the Pacific was forced to hold back the Japanese with a small carrier force and inferior aircraft. After that first year, the Essex class carriers and the F6F Hellcats began to reach the Pacific
Fleet totally changing the strategic balance. The Americans won the air battles with the Hellcat and F4U Corsair, totally outclassing the Zero. The best known American aircraft of the War were the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the legendary North American P-51 Mustang that destroyed the Luftwaffe.
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Created: 7:44 AM 5/12/2012
Spell checked: 7:49 AM 11/5/2013
Last updated: 4:04 AM 12/2/2015