Potentially game changing WWII technologies - if they had matured more quickly

#1
World War Two saw rapid technological development, and I have sometimes wondered what what have happened if the Air Ministry had taken Frank Whittle's ideas for the jet engine more seriously. Could the RAF have had jet fighter during the Battle of Britain? There are loads of things that could have significantly changed things had the technology matured faster. I am not thinking of things like the Atomic Bomb, but aircraft propulsion and weapons, naval technologies, Army weapons and vehicles, as well as radio communications, things like radar, ASDIC, and computing.

One 'what if?' that occurs in my mind is what if US/UK helicopter development had been ten years ahead of what it was. Whilst we would not have seen Chinook like heavy lifters, attack helicopters as such, or helicopters with dipping sonar, I think earlier helicopter development would have changed things. As in the Korean conflict, they may have been used for CASEVAC, and their speed in search and rescue would have saved many of the RAF Pilots lost to hypothermia during the Battle of Britain. They have have played a special operations role.

However, it is in the naval role I see the most potential. If viable helicopters had existed I think they would have been deployed with convoys and would have been used to drop depth charges against U boats. If the escorts could have kept ASDIC contact with a submerged U boat, then the helicopter would have provided the means to attack beyond the range of shipborne Hedgehog/Squid type weapons. That could have reduced the air gap in 1941/1942 whilst escort carriers (and aircraft), escorts, and long range aircraft numbers were being built up, defeated the Wolfpacks sooner, and allowed for a faster build up of men and equipment in Britain, an earlier D-Day, and so on.

That is just one possible example, there must been dozens more. What ideas come to your mind?
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#2
did a reliable tank engine exist able to push something Centurion sized in 1939? the Centurion a couple of years before the end of the war would have been quite handy I imagine.
 
#5
World War Two saw rapid technological development, and I have sometimes wondered what what have happened if the Air Ministry had taken Frank Whittle's ideas for the jet engine more seriously. Could the RAF have had jet fighter during the Battle of Britain? There are loads of things that could have significantly changed things had the technology matured faster. I am not thinking of things like the Atomic Bomb, but aircraft propulsion and weapons, naval technologies, Army weapons and vehicles, as well as radio communications, things like radar, ASDIC, and computing.

One 'what if?' that occurs in my mind is what if US/UK helicopter development had been ten years ahead of what it was. Whilst we would not have seen Chinook like heavy lifters, attack helicopters as such, or helicopters with dipping sonar, I think earlier helicopter development would have changed things. As in the Korean conflict, they may have been used for CASEVAC, and their speed in search and rescue would have saved many of the RAF Pilots lost to hypothermia during the Battle of Britain. They have have played a special operations role.

However, it is in the naval role I see the most potential. If viable helicopters had existed I think they would have been deployed with convoys and would have been used to drop depth charges against U boats. If the escorts could have kept ASDIC contact with a submerged U boat, then the helicopter would have provided the means to attack beyond the range of shipborne Hedgehog/Squid type weapons. That could have reduced the air gap in 1941/1942 whilst escort carriers (and aircraft), escorts, and long range aircraft numbers were being built up, defeated the Wolfpacks sooner, and allowed for a faster build up of men and equipment in Britain, an earlier D-Day, and so on.

That is just one possible example, there must been dozens more. What ideas come to your mind?
Proximity Fuzes- would have been an Allied godsend for AA work and Indirect fires against infantry assaults from 39 on

The Snorkel for submarines (Yeah I know the Dutch had it but it didn't get large use till 43)

Helicopters were used by the 1st Air Commandos USAAF in Burma for Casevac in 1944

for carrying a torpedo or depth charge doubtful until the turbine engines came about
 
#6
Did a reliable tank engine exist able to push something Centurion sized in 1939? the Centurion a couple of years before the end of the war would have been quite handy I imagine.
Even simpler the Navy had a large stock of 3" high velicity guns in storage. They could have been mounted into a tank in place of the 2 pdr giving us an armoured corp capable of stopping Guderian. Needless to say the RN wasn't giving them away. The guns were vital for the armed merchant ships that would be needed to ........... well what ever they might have been needed to.

The biggest stopper to 99% of these 'what ifs' was that the UK was bankrupt, there was no money to develope what we had invented so inventing somthing else that bit sooner wouldn't have gained us much if anything. As soon as the US joined the war we gave away a whole tranche of technology because they could make it and we couldn't.
 
#7
Better radar, guided air launched weapons, bigger and better diesels for tank and truck use, better optics for tank gunnery, better radios at platoon level, heavier machine-guns fitted to fixed and movable gun positions instead of depending on the .303.
 

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#8
Better radar, guided air launched weapons, bigger and better diesels for tank and truck use, better optics for tank gunnery, better radios at platoon level, heavier machine-guns fitted to fixed and movable gun positions instead of depending on the .303.
You left out Phase plasma rifle in 40-watt range.
 
#9
What if Hitlers Lebensraum had been delayed until the Uranprojekt completed it's nuclear weapons program and Von Braun mastered rocket technology capable of delivering an atomic bomb to America
 
#13
World War Two saw rapid technological development, and I have sometimes wondered what what have happened if the Air Ministry had taken Frank Whittle's ideas for the jet engine more seriously. Could the RAF have had jet fighter during the Battle of Britain?
The RAF didn't need anything as radical as a jet-powered fighter during the Battle of Britain, it simply needed one armed with something better than .303 MGs. Both Germany and France, inter alia, were already arming single-seat fighters with 20mm cannon in 1940, while the RAF was still using rifle-calibre armament.
 
#14
did a reliable tank engine exist able to push something Centurion sized in 1939? the Centurion a couple of years before the end of the war would have been quite handy I imagine.
Since the Centurion’s engine was a Meteor, which was a de-rated Merlin, yes, it did.
Probably not available for powering tanks until it was in reality though, as it was rather important for aeroplanes.

If the 2pdr had been shelved and the risk taken in producing the 6pdr that might have made a small difference. Had the restriction of turret ring size been lifted earlier that might have improved the armoured situation, but I don’t think that it would be game changing. The availability of a decent HE shell for armour and the doctrine to use it might have made more difference.
 
#15
Synthetic petrol for the Germans. Lack of mobility killed the Heer and Luftwaffe as much as anything else, as well as skewing German strategic planning (that is, Fall Blue and the goal of reaching and exploiting the USSR's oilfields; some major late war German offensives in the East were also based around the need to retain access to oil).
 

Sixty

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#18
Tangentially and not really relevant to the thread, does anyone else believe that it's unarguable that the First World War saw far greater and faster technological development?
 

maguire

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
Tangentially and not really relevant to the thread, does anyone else believe that it's unarguable that the First World War saw far greater and faster technological development?
such as? I mean, WW2 saw the move from biplane fighters to swept wing jets, the Battle to the B-29, from 250lb GP bombs to Fat Man and Tallboy. and that's just on the air warfare side of things.
 

Helm

MIA
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#20
Tangentially and not really relevant to the thread, does anyone else believe that it's unarguable that the First World War saw far greater and faster technological development?
In some aspects yes, I.E. Aircraft, but WWII had newer technologies that were also rapidly developed fast I.E. Hedgehog
 

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