Ww2 Essay, Research Paper
On September 1, 1939, the German military forces invaded Poland to begin World War II. This invasion was very successful because of its use of a new military strategic theory called blitzkrieg. Blitzkrieg, literally ?lightning war,? involved the fast and deadly coordination of two distinct forces, the Wermacht and the Luftwaffe. The Wermacht advanced on the ground, while the Luftwaffe destroyed the enemy air force, attacked enemy ground forced, and disrupted enemy communication and transportation systems. This setup was responsible for the successful invasions of Poland, Norway, Western Europe, the Balkans and the initial success of the Russian invasion. For many years after the first of September, the air war in Europe was dominated by the Luftwaffe. No other nation involved in the war had the experience, technology, or numbers to challenge the Luftwaffe?s superiority. It was not until the United States joined the war effort that any great harm was done to Germany and even then, German air superiority remained unscathed. It was not until the advent of the North American B-17 Flying Fortress, and later the P-51 Mustang fighter, and all their improvements, benefits, and side effects that it brought with it, that the Allies were able to achieve air superiority over the Germans.
The continued domination of the European skies by the Luftwaffe was caused by two factors, the first of which was the difference in military theory between the Luftwaffe and the Royal Air Force. The theories concerning the purpose and function of the Luftwaffe and RAF were exactly opposite and were a result of their experiences in World War I. During WW I, Germany attempted a strategic bombing effort directed against England using Gothas (biplane bombers) and Zeppelins (slow moving hot air balloons) which did not give much of a result. This, plus the fact that German military theory at the beginning of WW II was based much more on fast quick results (Blitzkrieg), meant that Germany decided not to develop a strategic air force. The Luftwaffe had experienced great success when they used tactical ground-attack aircraft in Spain, and so they figured that their air force should mainly consist of this kind of planes. So Germany made the Luftwaffe a ground support force that was essentially an extension of the army and functioned as a long range, aerial artillery. The RAF, on the other hand, had experimented with ground attack fighters during WW I, and had suffered grievous casualty rates. This , combined with the fact that the British had been deeply enraged and offended by the German Gotha and Zeppelin attacks on their home soil, made them determined to develop a strategic air force that would be capable of bombing German soil in the next war. Thus, at the beginning of WW II, the RAF was mostly a strategic force that consisted of heavy bombers and backup fighters, and lacked any tactical dive bombers or ground attack fighters. (Boyne 21)
The development of the B-17 began in the summer of 1934 using the specs given out by the army requesting a multiengine bomber. These specifications called for a bomber that was capable of carrying 2,002 pounds of ordinance and have a range from 1.025 to 2.175 miles. This aircraft would also have to fly at speeds around 200 mph. When Boeing began designing their proposal for the aircraft they strayed from the normal approach of the time to use four engines instead of the normal two. The aircraft made its first flight on July 28, 1935 and about a month later covered a distance of about 2,110 miles in nine hours without stopping. After the design was complete and the B-17 was constructed it began its testing phase. These tests were so promising that it began production almost immediately. The first order came in 1938 for 39 then in 1939 another 38 B-17s were ordered. These B-17s were given more powerful engines and stronger armor. In 1941 a new model of the B-17 was completed. The B-17E was finished with a new rear section of the fuselage and an increase of stability and an addition of a rear machine gun mounted in the tail. Also another gun turret was placed on the belly as well as increased weapons. With the completion of the B-17E production increased drastically. 512 B-17s were eventually produced then later 3.400 B-17 the B-17G was produced the most with a total of 8.685 aircraft. This final model had more defensive armament and the addition of another turret below the nose in the front of the aircraft. In all about 12.800 B-17s were built.
The B-17s of WW II played such a major role in winning the air battles against Germany?s blitzkrieg that Hollywood decided to bring it to the big screen. Warner Home Video produced a movie on one of the spectacular B-17s in WW II. Memphis Belle, the name of this movie based on true missions made by the plane Memphis Belle received its name from the captain of the plane. He named it after his girlfriend from Memphis. This plane flew over 25 bombing missions during WW II and made it home from every mission. This was the first B-17 to do so in the eighth air squadron based in England during 1943. This record was set on May 17th 943.