New production methods for weapons such as stamping, riveting, and welding came into being to produce the number of arms needed. While this had been tried before, during World War I, it had resulted in quite possibly the worst firearm ever adopted by any military for use: the French Chauchat light machine gun. Design and production methods had advanced enough to manufacture weapons of reasonable reliability such as the PPSh-41, PPS-42, Sten, Beretta Model 38, MP 40, M3 Grease Gun, Gewehr 43, Thompson submachine gun and the M1 Garand rifle. Other Weapons commonly found During World War II include the American, Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), M1 Carbine Rifle, as well as the Colt M1911 A-1; The Japanese Type 100 submachine gun, the Type 99 machine gun, and the Arisaka bolt action rifle all were significant weapons used during the war.
World War II saw the establishment of the reliable semi-automatic rifle, such as the American M1 Garand and, more importantly, of the first widely used assault rifles, named after the German sturmgewehrs of the late war. Earlier renditions that hinted at this idea were that of the employment of the Browning Automatic Rifle and 1916 Fedorov Avtomat in a walking fire tactic in which men would advance on the enemy position showering it with a hail of lead. The Germans first developed the FG 42 for its paratroopers in the assault and later the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44), the world’s first assault rifle, firing an intermediate cartridge; the FG 42’s use of a full-powered rifle cartridge made it difficult to control.
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Developments in machine gun technology culminated in the Maschinengewehr 42 (MG42) which was of an advanced design unmatched at the time. It spurred post-war development on both sides of the upcoming Cold War and is still used by some armies to this day including the German Bundeswehr’s MG 3. The Heckler & Koch G3, and many other Heckler & Koch designs, came from its system of operation. The United States military meshed the operating system of the FG 42 with the belt feed system of the MG42 to create the M60 machine gun used in the Vietnam War.
Despite being overshadowed by self-loading/automatic rifles and sub-machine guns, bolt-action rifles remained the mainstay infantry weapon of many nations during World War II. When the United States entered World War II, there were not enough M1 Garand rifles available to American forces which forced the US to start producing more M1903 rifles in order to act as a “stop gap” measure until sufficient quantities of M1 Garands were produced.
During the conflict, many new models of bolt-action rifles were produced as a result of lessons learned from the First World War with the designs of a number of bolt-action infantry rifles being modified in order to speed up production as well as to make the rifles more compact and easier to handle. Examples of bolt-action rifles that were used during World War II include the German Mauser Kar98k, the British Lee-Enfield No.4, and the Springfield M1903A3. During the course of World War II, bolt-action rifles and carbines were modified even further to meet new forms of warfare the armies of certain nations faced e.g. urban warfare and jungle warfare. Examples include the Soviet Mosin-Nagant M1944 carbine, which were developed by the Soviets as a result of the Red Army’s experiences with urban warfare e.g. the Battle of Stalingrad, and the British Lee-Enfield No.5 carbine, that were developed for British and Commonwealth forces fighting the Japanese in South-East Asia and the Pacific.
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When World War II ended in 1945, the small arms that were used in the conflict still saw action in the hands of the armed forces of various nations and guerrilla movements during and after the Cold War era. Nations like the Soviet Union and the United States provided many surplus, World War II-era small arms to a number of nations and political movements during the Cold War era as a pretext to providing more modern infantry weapons. Besides seeing conflict long after World War II ended, the small arms of World War II are now considered collector’s items with many civilian firearm owners and collectors around the world due to their historical nature, low cost (due to many of these firearms now appearing on the firearms market in large numbers over the past decade), and their durability.
The atomic bomb
The massive research and development demands of the war included the Manhattan Project, the effort to quickly develop an atomic bomb, or nuclear fission warhead. It was perhaps the most profound military development of the war, and had a great impact on the scientific community, among other things creating a network of national laboratories in the United States.
Development was completed too late for use in the European Theater of World War II. Its invention meant that a single bomber aircraft could carry a weapon sufficiently powerful to devastate entire cities, making conventional warfare against a nation with an arsenal of them suicidal.
The strategic importance of the bomb, and its even more powerful fusion-based successors, did not become fully apparent until the United States lost its monopoly on the weapon in the post-war era. The Soviet Union developed and tested their first nuclear weapon in 1949, based partially on information obtained from Soviet espionage in the United States. Nuclear competition between the two superpowers played a large part in the development of the Cold War. The strategic implications of such a massively destructive weapon still reverberate in the 21st century.
There was also a German nuclear energy project, including talk of an atomic weapon. This failed for a variety of reasons, most notably German Antisemitism. Half of continental theoretical physicists including (Einstein, Bohr, Enrico Fermi, and Oppenheimer) who did much of their early study and research in Germany, were either Jewish or, in the case of Enrico Fermi, married to a Jew. Erwin Schrödinger had also left Germany for political reasons. When they left Germany, the only leading nuclear physicist left in Germany was Heisenberg, who apparently dragged his feet on the project, or at best lacked the high morale that characterized the Los Alamos work. He made some faulty calculations suggesting that the Germans would need significantly more heavy water than was necessary. Otto Hahn, the physical chemist who had the central part in the original discovery of fission, was another key figure in the project. The project was doomed due to insufficient resources.
... and people began to envision nuclear weapons in the context of our world and our lives. The atomic bomb and nuclear proliferation affected all facets ... might be necessary. This letter ultimately led to the Manhattan Project, the effort that involved billions of dollars and tens of ... out could be much like the accident that could cause World War III. One small thing that sets off an amazing series ...
The Empire of Japan was also developing an Atomic Bomb, however, it floundered due to lack of resources despite gaining interest from the government.