2010/11/24

Earlier high-tech military technology conflicts

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I found this old website about early radio technology a few weeks ago. Some of its most interesting articles are these:



Both are interesting because very similar stories exist about 1940-1945. High frequency warfare is usually depicted as a WW2 thing, but it apparently began in WWI.

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The first article is also relevant to a topic that seems to interest quite a few people; why did the German military perform so out of proportion in both World Wars?

The answers aren't only in the German army's leadership and training system of the 1880's to 1943 period.


Germany was a leading country in physics, chemistry and engineering till the end of WW2. It's still strong in engineering (in fact, engineers play even an excessive role in the German economy) and its chemical industry is still strong as well. The physics research isn't outstanding any more, though.

It was the chemical industry that enabled Germany to fight in WW1 until 1918 because it substituted imported nitrogen (salpetre) with a process to extract the same from air. It provided Germany with coal-based substitutes for natural rubber and crude oil in WW2.
The engineering strength led to the great arms industries,  the quick rise of the navy in 1898-1914, the ability to compensate for bomb damage on a never seen before scale (the arms and ammunition production of 1944 was much greater than that of 1943) and the huge surge of military-technical innovation of 1938-1945.

Strong research in physics enabled a strong electrical equipment industry which was almost capable of meeting the combined radio technology advances of Britain and the U.S..


Finally, Germany had and has the second-largest population in Europe, second only to Russia.


Judging by this history, we better hope that the next huge war of necessity strongly benefits financial 'industry' and other service-related skills and capacities, for that's what many NATO countries went for instead of old sustaining and expanding actual industry-related skills and capacities.


Sven Ortmann
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3 comments:

  1. It always amazes me how few people know of the Haber process, without it, the war really would have been over by christmas because The German Empire would have ran out of bullets.

    I think your fear for world war three is unfounded, that war really will be over by christmas.

    Picking on Argentina as usual.
    Argentina has about a dozen major hydro electricity stations that provide about 40% of its electricity. These are big concrete immobile structures.
    The UK has about 800 long ranged missiles designed cut destroy big concrete immobile structures.
    I'm prepared to wager that a hydro damn cant survive 50 Storm Shadow Missiles, I doubt it can survive 1.
    The floods resulting from these going down would quite literaly wipe argentine cities from the map

    China might be the factory of the world, but factories dont work if you blow up the coaql station that powers them, and qworkers dopnt work if you blow up the gas network that stops them freezing to death.

    World War two Bomber Command could put 20% of its munitions within 5 miles of the target, a modern rate is 90% within 10 metres.

    Repairing the damage of a 25lb impact bomb is quite easy, a 20,000lb earthquake bomb would collapse a city.

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  2. It is clear there is a problem, but where is the origin of the problem and how do we resolve this?

    The discrepancy between decent wage difficult science & engineering work and high wage easy service sector jobs is part of the problem. Cheap industry in developing nations is another.

    The present generations in the west (but definitely not only the west) are actually spending the hard earned advancements and long term investments of their previous generations in real industry on short term luxury and comfort or service.

    It takes a lot of time and effort to build up proper industry related skills and capacities.

    One of the weaknesses of too much dependence on markets is that weak consumers are very reactionary. They follow trends instead of anticipating and planning their own future.

    Tariffs and currency devaluation could force the market into a more longterm direction, but if the people only see "the government taking their money and prosperity" than this policy would be unsustainable. I also don't know how practical/realistic this is in the EU.

    However better technology and products require more specialization forcing more cooperation on a larger scale, favoring freer markets and international cooperation.

    I am not really trying to propose a solution here, since I don't have one. My point is to show that this is a problem on many interrelated levels, with many conflicting interests.
    Whether a solution is right or wrong depends in some way on what we belief to have more value.

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    Maybe it is just me but from what I read in your blog, a lot of the strength of the military is inherent in the nature of the civilian world. Which is not so surprising since this is the source of all its warm bodies including the minds, skills, beliefs and cultures attached to them.

    I was however wondering how you think defense policy should influence the civilian world? Education and economic policy come to mind.

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  3. Strategic precision bombing might go the way of gas and nuke attacks; used in one conflict among major power and then never again because even the potential users feel too vulnerable and prefer to keep pandora's box closed in the new conflict.

    It might also happen that the next big war is more like Korea 50-53; regionally limited.

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