3 This still meant about 2500 got through to London. They were however, about to become almost obsolete. The first V2 was fired in anger on the 8th of September 1944. 4 It was the first long range missile to be used in active combat. It was a huge advance on the V1, as it came down from the stratosphere meaning there was no way it could be targeted en route. The technology and experience gained by the Nazi scientists would later be harnessed by the US as it developed its first ICBM a few years later. It is an obvious statement to make, but warfare and its character has evolved tremendously since the end of World War 2.
World War 2 resulted in approximately 25 million service men and women losing their lives. About 30 million civilians are estimated to have been killed. 5 Warfare, as it existed then was very people intensive and high casualties were a definite feature. However, World War 2 to some extent did mark something of a watershed, as it featured the development of more advanced machines of war. It was these developments which would lead to the eventual dropping of two nuclear weapons. Hiroshima was bombed at 8:15 in the morning local time on the 6th of August 1945. 6 Nagasaki was bombed at 11:02 the three mornings later.
7 These attacks led to the unconditional surrender of Japan two days later, and marked the end of hostilities in the Far East. They also, in many ways, marked the dawn of a new age. The first nuclear weapon was exploded on the 16th of July 1945. It was a coup for the Allies and the Manhattan Project, as it was thought both Nazi Germany and Japan were making strides towards developing such a weapon for use against the US and its allies. It is probably fair to say that had the German’s developed the nuclear bomb before being defeated, then the outcome of WW2 would have been in stark contrast to what actually happened.
There can be little doubt such a weapon would have been used on London, and one can speculate how a US without nuclear weapons would stand up to a would be nuclear power in Germany. The end of the 2nd World War did not mean an end to the race for arms. With the US as the sole nuclear power, the race was on for other countries to obtain a nuclear arsenal for the US to keep its hard won advantage. The Soviet Union exploded its first nuclear weapon in 1949. This was followed in 1952 by the UK, France in 1960, and China in 1964. But technology continued to move at pace.
During the 1950s the only real way by which a nuclear weapon could be delivered was by large bomber aircraft dropping a ‘dumb’ nuclear weapon onto a target below. Having developed the warheads, the US and the USSR focused on improving the ways for delivering these warheads onto their targets. The US had two objectives they wanted to achieve. Firstly, they wanted a range of land launched missiles which could hit anywhere in the world with accuracy. Secondly, they wanted submarine launched missiles capable of the same thing. 8 The US had achieved both is goals by 1960, with the USSR not far behind.
This state of affairs made total war impossible. Had the USSR attacked and destroyed the US, then the US would attack and destroy the USSR. Both the USSR and the US had developed weapon systems which were too powerful to be used. The arms race continued at pace, with both sides developing even more extravagant weapon systems as both sides wanted very much to win any future war. They developed missiles which can could carry bigger warheads, and more warheads, and target them individually. The current main US ICBM, the MX Peacekeeper LGM-118A, can carry 12 warheads.
Each of these warheads is accurate to within 300 to 400 feet having been released from the missile towards the end of the flight. 9 The Cold War is now over, but these immensely powerful weapons remain. By the 1st Gulf War in 1990, technology had progressed so far that it was possible for the general public to watch the war in seemingly real time on their TV screens, thousands of miles away from the fighting. There was film of cruise missiles flying low, seemingly following the Baghdad road system as it flew towards it target.
The Gulf War was unusual in that it was the first time commanders, often hundreds of miles away, could see in real time what was happening and could act on it. This represents a large shift for those people commanding the war. For them, war is becoming the display on a computer screen. They are the green dots, and the enemy are the red dots. War is being removed from actual experience, at least for those countries with the resources to develop such systems. Many countries do not, and Iraq was one of them in the early 1990’s.
It must be remember, that each dot on the computer screen represents more than a machine, it represents the person inside as well. In modern warfare, the machine is now as important the soldier was 60 years ago. These machines can often defend themselves automatically, for instance some planes are able to release anti-missile measures automatically without any input from the pilot. In 2001, George W Bush, the American President, declared war on terror. This was in response to the tragic attacks of September 11. The so called ‘War on Terror’ is a new type of war altogether.
It is not a battle of one state versus another, and there is no front line. It may well be the taste of things to come. The US military is without doubt hugely powerful. And yet they are having heavy causalities inflicted on them in post Saddam Iraq by rebels using guerrilla tactics. The US is virtually invincible in a conventional war, yet by many reports is struggling to adapt to this new challenge.
Word Count: 1640 Bibliography Guns, Firearms, and Ammunition History, (http://inventors. about. com/library/inventors/blgun. htm) Machine Gun, (http://www. spartacus. schoolnet. co. uk/FWWmachinegun.htm) German Vengeance Weapons, (http://www. theotherside. co. uk/tm-heritage/background/v1v2. htm) .
The V2 Resource Site, (http://www. v2rocket. com/) World War 2 Body Count, (http://ww2bodycount. netfirms. com) A-Bomb WWW museum, (http://www. csi. ad. jp/ABOMB/) The Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, (http://www. csi. ad. jp/suzuhari-es/1000cranes/nagasaki/) Brief History of Missiles, (http://www. cdi. org/hotspots/issuebrief/ch2/) Rogers, Paul, Guide to Nuclear Weapons, (Worcester: Billings, 1988).
1 Guns, Firearms, and Ammunition History, (http://inventors. about. com/library/inventors/blgun.htm) 2 Machine Gun, (http://www. spartacus. schoolnet. co. uk/FWWmachinegun. htm) 3 German Vengeance Weapons, (http://www. theotherside. co. uk/tm-heritage/background/v1v2. htm) 4 The V2 Resource Site, (http://www. v2rocket. com/) 5 World War 2 Body Count, (http://ww2bodycount. netfirms. com) 6 A-Bomb WWW museum, (http://www. csi. ad. jp/ABOMB/) 7 The Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki, (http://www. csi. ad. jp/suzuhari-es/1000cranes/nagasaki/) 8 Brief History of Missiles, (http://www. cdi. org/hotspots/issuebrief/ch2/) 9 Paul Rogers, Guide to Nuclear Weapons, (Worcester: Billings, 1988), 7.