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The most important US invention during WW2 that gave the Allies victory

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  • The most important US invention during WW2 that gave the Allies victory

    The most important US invention during WW2 that gave the Allies victory

    I used to be an agnostic. I did not know if God existed. But reading about the history of WW2 made me aware that we did not win without many miracles from God. Studying the battle of Midway was one of these times. There is no way I could except that all of the things that took place for us to have victory could have taken place by chance. There were many miracles that God preformed for us to have victory that day. The article below tells about another miracle that took place for the US Navy to shoot down Japanese planes over the Pacific.

    It took 20,000 rounds to shoot down one plane at the start of WW2. BUT this invention took 100 rounds to shoot down one plane. This invention was the main weapon that defeated the Japanese in the Pacific.

    Krishna Kumar Subramanian
    , Aircraft Engineer, Aircraft Systems Educator
    Updated November 22

    On May 7, 1944, in the deep of night, a train carrying the 130th Chemical Processing Company of the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service steamed toward London.

    Before sunrise, capping a three-week trek, the Americans disembarked in the British capital onto trucks with shuttered headlights. Winds from the east blew cool and damp. Nothing had prepared the soldiers, many of them still teenagers, for wartime London. Not the chemical weapons training at hot and dusty Camp Sibert, Alabama. Not the crossing on the SS Exceller accompanied by six destroyers, an aircraft carrier, twelve cargo ships, and nineteen tankers. Not the radio reports.

    This London felt otherworldly.

    Flashlights were dimmed by brown paper, and the bicycle lights permitted were so feeble that many riders pedaled without them.

    To the men of the 130th, London’s dilemma was too surreal to absorb at once. As their trucks navigated the dark streets, they were awed by the damage: a proud capital in tatters, ruins on nearly every block, bomb craters, stripped façades, charred skeletons of buildings, broken timber beams protruding like compound fractures. They could imagine what it all meant: high explosives, parachute mines, incendiary bombs, firefighters battling raging flames, and rescue squads digging all night for the missing. Those heaps of brick signified great trauma and loss.

    When the Blitz came, four years prior, the city had scarcely any protection from the German air force. “He comes when he wants,” one Londoner said, of the Luftwaffe. “There’s no stopping him.” Panic spread like an airborne virus, prompting the British air command to alter its overwhelming reliance on Royal Air Force fighters and to install dozens of antiaircraft gun sites in and around the city. The booming guns helped reassure residents they were not defenseless.

    But aside from the psychological boost to morale, the antiaircraft cannons were largely worthless. In the early weeks of the Blitz, the ratio of fired shells to downed aircraft—a metric described in RPB, or rounds per bird—was twenty thousand to one. Taking out a single German aircraft took twenty thousand shots.

    The enemy could be hit, but mostly when they flew low and straight during the day. At night targeting was nearly impossible. Planes had to be held in searchlights for primitive aiming devices. American antiaircraft defenses were just as shoddy—a potential disaster for the U.S. Navy. At the start of the war, an American scientist said, “It would be just a sheer stroke of luck to hit anything.”

    Figuring out how to shoot down airplanes—solving the rounds-per-bird puzzle—was one of the toughest, most urgent scientific tasks of World War II.

    By the time the 130th Chemical Processing Company reached England in May of 1944, Londoners were tired—of fear, of rationing, of the blackout. A German “Baby Blitz” claiming more than fifteen hundred British lives was still winding down. And Allied military planners believed things were about to get a lot worse.

    Thousands of soldiers, sailors, planes, combat ships, and beaching craft were being readied for the Normandy landing. An invasion of France would pose a direct threat to the heart of Germany, and the Allies fully expected Hitler to retaliate furiously, unleashing an airborne arsenal of secret weapons they knew were in development.

    American military analysts were especially concerned that Germany was planning to arm their retaliatory warheads with chemical weapons. In World War I, around ninety-one thousand troops died from chemical warfare, mostly from phosgene, a colorless gas four times denser than air that smells like freshly cut grass. By 1938, German science had invented something far more lethal: sarin gas. And the Nazis had already initiated plans to mass-produce the deadly poison.

    The 130th Chemical Processing Company was in London in preparation for the expected counterattack—a guessing game of worst-case scenarios.

    Hitler’s answer, as predicted, would come from the air, and present a profound test to the men of the 130th. But it would not be the test they prepared for.

    In the first war in history to be decided by weapons that did not exist at the onset of the conflict, the Führer’s response to D-Day would initiate the climactic battle between American science and Nazi science. The summer of 1944 saw two secret weapons face off head-to-head over the waters and skies of England.

    The V-1, a Nazi drone missile that propagandist Joseph Goebbels dubbed “Revenge Weapon One,” was a pilotless aircraft that sounded like a two-stroke motorcycle with strep throat. It was a 4,900-pound “robot bomb” flying on autopilot, and no one had ever seen anything like it. At launch in Nazi-controlled France, odometers in the drones were set to target London. At their destination, engines cut and the bombs silently drifted down to their marks. Londoners came to fear this quiet interval: twelve seconds of silence to wonder if their time had come.

    Over eighty long, hot summer days, more than seven thousand V-1s would be catapulted toward England. At first, the antiaircraft guns could do almost nothing. The Royal Air Force did little better; the V-1s were faster than its airplanes. The assault pummeled Londoners’ morale to its lowest point of the war.

    And then, something changed.

    In mid-July, America would deploy its own secret technology in Britain. Its very existence was unknown to all but a few scientists, intelligence officers, military brass, and gunners. It was America’s answer to the antiaircraft problem, a secret device that delivered a staggering rounds-per-bird ratio of a hundred to one. American scientists made shooting planes out of the sky radically easier.

    What changed was the proximity fuse.

    By September, the V-1s were stopped cold.

    Known as the world’s first “smart” weapon, the proximity fuse (or fuze) was a five-pound marvel of engineering, industry, and can-do spirit.

    The gadget, screwed into the tip of an antiaircraft shell, had a brain. It was able to sense nearby aircraft by sending out a radio signal and then listening for the signal to bounce back off the airplane. If it did, the fuse would trigger the high explosives in the shell, unleashing a lethal barrage of shrapnel. American factories would ultimately produce twenty-two million fuses at a cost of over a billion dollars. In the company of the atom bomb and advances in radar, it ranks among the most decisive technological breakthroughs of the war.

    Today, few know its story.

    The radio proximity, or VT fuze for artillery shells represents a major contribution to the success of the war in Europe as well as in the Pacific.

    Its development, production,and military use is an outstanding example of collaboration by R&D groups, industrial organisations and the military services.

    A fuze is that part of an artillery projectile which detonates the explosive charge and ideally would detonate the shell in the most optimum position to inflict maximum damage to the target.

    Early in the war, it became evident that speed, manoeuvrability, and heights attainable by modern military aircraft presented a method of attack against which fuzes currently available for anti-aircraft guns were relatively ineffective.

    Even with the improvements in directing anti-aircraft gunfire made possible by radar, low probability of hitting elusive attacking aircraft made the problem of defence against aircraft extremely important and urgent for a nation involved in the war.

    The idea of proximity fuzes is not unique and was suggested independently by many in the United States and other countries prior to 1940.

    However, the obstacles in the way of actually developing a fuze of this type seemed insurmountable.

    Many technical experts, who had witnessed an anti-aircraft demonstration, had toyed with the idea of a proximity fuze. The small target area presented by an aircraft, practically forced a serious and urgent need for a fuze which would detonate in the vicinity of the aircraft.

    The inherent disadvantages of the time fuze and the contact fuze stimulated the need for proximity fuze.

    The time fuze, which detonates a projectile at a specified time after it leaves the gun, has been widely used against aircraft and personnel.

    However,use of time fuzes requires, not only that time of flight from the gun to the aircraft be calculated precisely and immediately before firing, but fuze time be set accordingly.

    The slightest error in fuze time estimate or setting may cause the projectile to explode at a harmless distance from the target.

    The probability of success of the contact fuzed projectile in an anti-aircraft role is extremely limited, since it must actually hit its target before it detonates.

    As range lengthens, this becomes almost impossible.

    It had long been recognised that the efficacy of explosive projectiles would be greatly enhanced if these could be equipped with fuzes which would be actuated by the proximity to a target.

    For example, an anti-aircraft projectile which would automatically detonate when coming within lethal range of an aircraft would simplify fire control techniques and would be highly effective.

    Although inventors had suggested almost every possible type of proximity fuze,they failed to indicate how the formidable development and engineering difficulties could be satisfactorily overcome.

    Such fuzes to be useful for artillery purposes, would have to be capable of withstanding the shock of tens of thousands gs when fired from a gun, in addition to undergoing a high rate of spin imparted to a shell.

    Many patents on proximity devices were issued in various countries, but they failed to suggest any concrete technique to solve formidable problem.

    British scientists were working on proximity fuze devices for rockets and bombs at least as early as 1939.

    Captured documents indicate that German work on proximity fuze development had begun even earlier, as early as 1930s, and was still in process when hostilities ended in the Europe.

    The possibility that proximity fuzes of various types might be feasible, had been recognised for a long time.

    The American achievement, which was copied from the British development was the actual development of a proximity fuze that would function and that could be manufactured by mass-production techniques. The development work, started during 1940, was carried out in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism (DTM), Applied Physics Laboratory, National Bureau of Standards, and Crosley Corporation.

    The fuse has its accolades: shortening the war in the Pacific by a year, saving many thousands of British lives, winning the Battle of the Bulge. But this isn’t about awards or medals. It’s a story about the spirit and sacrifice of the Americans who made the fuse. They were physicists, engineers, statisticians, and ham-radio hobbyists; a twenty-eight-year-old British physicist called “the father of scientific intelligence” by the CIA, a French spy in occupied Paris known for her beauty, who spoke five languages, and eventually, a covert meeting in a Manhattan automat with none other than Julius Rosenberg.

    Next time a lousy bank manager derides engineers, you know what to do.
    Last edited by Lou Newton; January 18, 2021, 06:32 AM.