Inventions in Aviation Technology: The brilliance of the WWII German Air force
Inventions in aviation technology during WWII changed the history of the industry and directed the future of aviation innovations.
The beginning of 2018 saw the release of Oscar Nominated ‘Darkest Hour’, a thrilling and inspiring true story of Winston Churchill becoming Prime Minister during World War II, facing a defining three-week period as Nazi Germany advanced across Europe.
The movie highlights the incredible testament of both inventions in aviation technology as well as the Marine industry during the war; as Churchill withstands his darkest hour, he rallies together all commercial boats – from fishing smacks and cockle boats to lifeboats and sailing barges – in an effort to evacuate 8,000 British soldiers from an inevitable German invasion at Dunkirk.
Operation Dynamo proved a success and was there after referred to as ‘the Miracle of Dunkirk’. Due to engineering advancement in the Marine industry, alongside Churchill’s triumphant judgement, many commercial boats were able to reach the shore of Dunkirk and rescue British troops.
However, the Marine industry was not the only engineering sector that prevailed during WWII. Germany’s inventions in aviation technology arguably marked their early success during the beginning of the war; it is this secret development that can be said to be catalyst for many innovations within the Aviation industry today.
History of German Air Force in WWII:
As a result of the Treaty of Versailles, Germany’s air force in WW1 (The Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte) had been disbanded in May 1920; the treaty stated that Germany was forbidden to have any air force. However, with the rise of the Nazi party and the rejection of the treaty, Germany began to build its most powerful air force yet, the Luftwaffe.
In total, the Luftwaffe fleet saw just short of 120,000 aircraft produced with 3,400,000 personal servicing them – at that time it was the largest air force, comprised of the best inventions in aviation technology that the world had ever seen. By 1939 and throughout the war, the Luftwaffe had become one of the most sophisticated, technologically advanced, battle-experienced air forces to exist.
Arguably, the German Luftwaffe fielded two of the best inventions in aviation technology and fighters in all of WWII – the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulf 190 (FW-190).
The predominant opinion among the FW-190 pilots was that the Focke-Wulf 190 was the best Luftwaffe propeller-driven fighter of the entire war; the excellent visibility provided by the plane’s cockpit assisted the pilots in supporting one another. As time went on, the FW-190 became a terror to Allied aircraft in every region where the Luftwaffe was active.
Technology advancements in the Aviation industry during WWII had led to numerous contributions and inventions in aviation technology. The construction of ground-to-air communication systems, single-engine Luftwaffe fighters able of employing under-wing rockets, new top-speeds of 400mph and excellent handling characteristics which made take-offs and landings less hazardous are just a handful of creations picked from an impressive list.
It is said that quite possibly, the Focke-Wulf 190’s biggest influence on the Allies was that it served to spur on greater advances in aircraft design to counter its threat.
The Post-war Aviation Industry
The war was a catalyst for innovations in the aviation industry; it conducted amazing inventions in aviation technology.
The period between 1945 and 1979 (the post-war period) was when inventions in aviation technology dominated the engineering world, especially with the arrival of the jet-age.
The jet engine allowed a huge expansion of commercial air travel, while in military aviation, the jet engine introduced the widespread production of the supersonic aircraft.
The first supersonic jet to enter service was in 1954 while commercial jetliners were on the rise. The Commet was the first commercial jet to be developed, however it struggled with metal fatigue and therefore never amounted to commercial success. Meanwhile in America, the Boeing 707 had been designed, leading to a new era of great social change and the introduction of a new medical syndrome – also known as jet lag.
The production of riveted stressed-skin aluminium airframes was widespread by the end of the Second World War; the pursuit of greater strength for less weight led to the introduction of advanced manufacturing techniques.
Current Innovations in the Aviation Industry
The development of composite materials such as fibreglass and carbon fibre have allowed designers to make more fluid, aerodynamic shapes for aircrafts; however, these are not the only advances being made in aviation.
For Germany, the aviation and aerospace industries now include airlines and aircraft manufacturers, as well as all companies dealing with the production of spacecraft and satellites.
The development of revenue in the German aviation and aerospace industries has been pointing upward for years, in 2013 the amount was already more than 30 billion euros.
Germany’s largest airline, Lufthansa, is Europe’s largest airline in terms of fleet size and number of passengers carried in 2017. As well as its own services, Lufthansa also owns several aviation-related companies such as Lufthansa Technik; the Lufthansa Group has over 600 aircraft which makes it one of the largest airline fleets in the world.
Find out how the Aviation industry helps other engineering sectors and the environment.
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