Underused weapons and equipment in WW II info
Although WW II saw the construction of extremely expensive battleships (Bismarck, Littorio, Yamato, etc,) and the birth and rise of many sophisticated weapons that required huge investments and the best minds, there were many inexpensive, sometimes even low tech or obsolete weapons that could have made a major difference during the war, had they been available in larger quantities.
Here are some examples:
The Italian 90/53 AA cannon was lighter, easier to make and harder hitting than the famous 88 mm FLAK of the Germans. It fired a 10.2 kg projectile at a higher speed than the 9.3 kg projectile of the 88 mm yet only slightly over 500 were made throughout the war. It is surprising that Germany would not copy this weapon or supply the steel to Italy to produce many more of them, which would have been invaluable for AA and antitank duty. The self propelled version Semovente 90/53 was even more useful but made in even much more ridiculous numbers.
Even the German 88 mm FLAK that saved Rommel in Arras, Gazala, el Alamein, etc, from total defeat against tanks that were impermeable to his tank and antitank weapons was always in very deficient numbers at the front (only about 21,000 were made). In Barbarossa, the Germans had to face 28,800 Soviet tanks and had only 3,600 tanks and their antitank weapons were useless against the KV and T-34 tanks at 1,000 m or the other tanks at 2,000 m but vulnerable to the 88 mm, but the Gemrnas had only 7,180 cannon of all types for the invasion, perhaps as few as 1,100 of them were 88 mm, a ridiculously small number for a 3,000 km front and 4 million men. Moreover, many of these cannon were towed by 6 horses and advanced so slowly that they were always tens or hundreds of km behind the front, so the front had desperately few of them when they needed them during an offensive. It is ironic that Germany would build extremely expensive and difficult to transport 800 mm double rail guns capable of firing 7 metric ton shells and take them all the way to Sevastopol, yet would have ridiculously few of the relatively inexpensive 88 mm guns in all the fronts.
An apparently obsolete, inexpensive, fuel efficient plane that was easy to learn to fly and extremely useful during Guderian's sickle cut in France was the Henschel Hs-123. It was an all metal, biplane dive bomber with a very reliable air-cooled engine. Guderian was impressed with its quick turn around, ruggedness and precision. Although it was a little slower than the Stuka, it was much better for the muddy aerodromes in the USSR and as long as there was German air superiority it had excellent survivability. However, Göring stopped producing it in 1938 and destroyed the tooling in 1940, so only a few were available for Barbarossa. Had Guderian had the support of several dozen Hs-123 during Yelnya, he would probably have been able to hold back the Soviet tanks while he received supplies. Instead of losing 34,000 men and a large number of Stugs and tanks and invaluable time having to withdraw.
Although the 8 mm Kurz was designed in 1938, it was not used until the expensive assault rifle entered mass production in 1943. Had the Germans made some MG-34 for this caliber, it would have been ideal for assault troops that could run with a lot more of these lighter cartridges, under cover from a conventional MG-34 a few hundred meters back.
The M-1 Garand was designed to fire a smaller diameter bullet on a slightly shorter case, making it much more useful, comfortobale (less recoil) and efficient. But McArthur decided to produce it in .30-06 to use the available ammo. Not realizing that many more million rounds of this more expensive cartridge would have to be produced during the war than were in stock and that the soldiers would have to carry them and take the recoil. Furthermore, the Garand would have been much better had it used the same Magazine than the B.A.R. designed at the end of WW I.
Last edited by samneanderthal; November 14th, 2011 at 18:29..