German military technology during World War II
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German military technology during World War II increased greatly in terms of sophistication. Nazi Germany put much effort into developing weapons, particularly aircraft, rockets, submarines and tanks during the war.
In 1944, Germany developed the first assault rifle, the Sturmgewehr 44 which proved to be widely successful against the allies. However, the late production and usage of the gun was not enough to turn the allies near the end of the war.
Germany recognized the importance of tanks at the beginning of the war. Heinz Guderian, one of Germany's best commanders during World War II largely helped the development of Panzer forces and the organization of tanks into divisions. Hitler at first developed tanks to be used as a propaganda tool, since many thought them to be impressive. However, the effectiveness and power that tanks held caused further development for more powerful tanks.
German tanks of the second half of the war often outclassed all allied tanks, and proved very hard to destroy. German tanks had the most armor and often had larger and stronger guns than allied tanks.
The largest and strongest German tank was the Tiger II and its size, armor, and gun size gave Germany the advantage over almost all allied tanks, especially on the western front where the US and British had no equally matched tanks. Because Tiger II tanks were developed late into the war, they were sent directly to combat without much testing. The Tiger II had many problems including engine overheating, steering difficulty, and a high fuel consumption rate. In addition, the detail and the intricate parts of the tank made production inefficient.
German technicians developed the first jet to see combat in the world, the Messerschmitt Me 262 developed after the British Gloster Meteor in 1944. Too late to make an impact against the allied air force, its development led to postwar development of jets.
The Germans also experimented with the first operational flying wing aircraft. The Horten Ho 229 was designed as a tailless jet engine attack aircraft. Using the same engines as the ME 262, it was intended to turn the tide of the war. The project gained momentum, but the Allied push into Germany in early 1945 proved to be too great. With the defeat of the Nazis on the brink, testing was incomplete and mass production had yet to start. None of the existing airframes were made operational, and what was left of the project was overrun and captured by American forces.
Germany also developed the first cruise missiles (V-1) and rocket-powered ballistic missiles (V-2). Though their impact on the course of the war was primarily psychological, after the war, Allied powers, especially the Americans, profited immensely from captured German technology and expertise in the development of rocket vehicles capable of space travel.