Name Professor Module Date The Invention of Tanks, Helicopters and Missiles: Impact on Contemporary Global Warfare Introduction The fact that technological advancements have revolutionized all aspects of human life cannot be overstated. Militarism has also significantly adopted technology throughout its timelines, effectively transforming the course of warfare…
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Background: Timelines for use of Tanks The tank is a perfect example of a difference between old and contemporary warfare. It was first used in World War I and has since then transformed traditional land warfare. At first, tanks were crude and inefficient as is typical to most new technologies but gained prominence as the war went on and by World War II had become the backbone of land warfare as they still are as of today. According to Trueman (2011) the idea for the development of tanks stemmed from the need to create an armored vehicle that could cross difficult land with ease on caterpillar tracks in a similar fashion to farm vehicles. The consensus for such an armored vehicle were that it should achieve speeds of 4 mph on bare land, possess the ability to turn sharply at top speed, the ability to climb 5 feet inclines, the ability to cross 8 feet gaps and a walking radius of 20 miles. The first tanks could also carry ten crew men, two submachine guns and a single light artillery gun. From this parent tank, later tanks in World War II (such as the M4 Sherman tank) and later wars in the 21st century (the general purpose main battle tank) with more sophistication and war ability have been developed. The direct results of use of the tank was transformation of land warfare from use of traditional systems of cavalries such as those in Napoleonic wars () and instead focus on mechanization. This was a necessary occurrence due to the earlier change in ground warfare that saw the rise of trench warfare. Trench warfare involved troops occupying trenches and thus effectively withering the power of ground regiments and creating stalemates in war which was quite costly in all military aspects. The tank doctrine was thus important in transforming land militarism from trench warfare to mechanized warfare and most importantly encouraging the use of radical technological advancements in war. Helicopters The most important period in the development of helicopters was between 1900-1939 (McGowen 1) which conveniently places their use in warfare in the contemporary sense and thus makes them important in this study. After decades of theoretical work but impractical strides in development of the helicopter, this period was groundbreaking due to two factors; invention of the internal combustion engine and secondly the advancements in mettulurgy that led to the development of lighter engines that could achieve high power/weight ratios (2). In terms of application in war, helicopters missed out on World War I since vertical flight could not be achieved, not until 1924. The Germans would first use helicopters in early World War II. Meanwhile, the United States possible entry into the war prompted military action strategists to seek procurement of new equipment one of which was the helicopter. Hence, the most important advancements of the helicopter in terms of military use occurred in the USA especially considering that efforts such as those of the Soviet Union were instead hampered by occurrence of war (McGowen 18). For instance, the XR-4 was of particular importance to the USA in World War II as it weighed on 2700 pounds and could fly at a height of 5000 feet at a speed of 70 mph. The first uses of helicopters in the war included carriage of light freight and mail and also for humanitarian aid supplies (34). By 1944, helicopters were being used for combat rescue and evacuation of air soldiers and wounded
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