Example Of The Impact Of War On The Development Of Technologies In The 20th Century Essay
The development of technology in the 20th century was inseparably linked with military conflicts resulted in two world wars. The industrial progress has resulted into massive militarization of the world leading countries. On the one hand industrial achievements made possible the escalation of global war conflicts. On the other hand, the expansion of military force promoted the rapid development of science and supported the technological evolution throughout the 20th century.
The outcome of the World War I has altered the interpretation of military dominance. The power of aircraft has revealed itself and key political forces attracted their attention to the aircraft industry. According to Fritzsche, the appearance of airships in European skies during the World War I made it obvious that future military conflicts are not far off. This promoted the arms race and contributed to appearance of new technologies. Fritzsche states that the threat of bombardment or gas attack using air forces has lead to the discovery of preventive mechanisms such as radar in late 1930s.
The revanchist sentiments in Nazi Germany have on the contrary made the creation of powerful air forces the national aim interpreted by Fritzsche as “German airmindedness”. The World War I airplanes spread panic and terror even in spite of the fact that they were made of “wood, canvas and baling wire” (Fritzsche, 688). The sheet metal stamping and electric resistance welding techniques developed by American engineers have brought the construction of airplanes to the next level – the airplanes of the World War II were made of steel, could carry weapon of mass destruction and cover long distances (Hounshell, 332).
Military conflicts have accelerated the development of arms production that promoted the breakthroughs in other industries. Hounshell in his work mentions that during the 19th century the Springfield armory has developed the manufacturing technology enabling the usage of interchangeable parts in metalworking and woodworking industries. Henry M. Leland carried this knowledge to sewing and automobile industry by working in Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company and then establishing the Cadillac Motor Company and Lincoln Motor Company. Eventually, the technology of uniform parts has migrated to other industries contributing to mass production in early 20th century.
During the World War II many factories that worked for civil needs switched the production purposes to satisfy military needs of the government. The production facilities of Volkswagen during the war were used to manufacture aircraft parts, bombs, ovens and military cars (König, 256). This enabled to preserve the production capacities during the hard economic times and obtain valuable experience that helped revive the German automobile industry after the war. For such companies as BMW, Volkswagen and Opel government military orders were vital in order to keep their business running as the demand for cars was extremely low during the war period. After the war some government contractual works turned out to be successful business projects – General Motors’ Hummer or Mercedes Geländewagen inititally designed as military automobiles gained huge popularity as civil transport vehicles.
König, Wolfgang. "Adolf Hitler vs. Henry Ford: The Volkswagen, the Role of America as a Model, and the Failure of a Nazi Consumer Society." German Studies Review 27.2 (2004): 249-68. JSTOR. The Johns Hopkins University Press. Web. 16 Mar. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/1433081?sid=21105665612421&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739232#references_tab_contents>.
Fritzsche, Peter. "Machine Dreams: Airmindedness and the Reinvention of Germany." The American Historical Review 98.3 (1993): 685-709. JSTOR. Oxford University Press. Web. 16 Mar. 2015. <http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2167546?sid=21105665612421&uid=2&uid=3739232&uid=4#references_tab_contents>.
Hounshell, David A. "Polhem 2." From the American System to Mass Production, 1800-1932: The Development of Manufacturing Technology in the United States (Studies in Industry and Society). Johns Hopkins UP, 1985.
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