Second World War is considered as the most widespread and most terrifying war in the history of mankind. There were more 100 million people from over 30 countries involved directly or indirectly. There were more than 60 million casualties. One of the major reasons for such mass destruction was the deadliest weapons used in the Second World War as it had more advanced and deadly armaments. During World War 2, the high focus was placed on innovation, technology, communication and medicine to gain upper hand in the war. While Allies achieved victory in this most destructive activity in the history, the war ended with the collapse of Nazis and the fall of Japanese and Italian Empires. Hundreds of massive weapons were manufactured by the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, USSR and other countries. Among them, the Atom Bomb is perhaps the most well-remembered weapon in common knowledge, the effects of which remained even decades later after the end of the war. Here is the list of 10 Deadliest weapons of World War 2
10. Messerschimtt Me 262
The Messerschimtt Me 262 was the world’s first jet-powered fighter aircraft. It was manufactured by Germany during the Second World War. The aircraft was the German effort to a failing war heading into 1945. It was nicknamed Schwalbe, German for Shallow in fighter versions and Sturmvogel, German for Storm Bird in higher bomber versions. The Me 262 was heavily armed than any other Allied fighter surpassing the British jet-powered Gloster Meteor.
The performance of the Me 262 included two lower Plant Junkers Jumo 004B-1 turbojets, 8.8 kN (1,980 lbf) each, range of 652 miles reaching a maximum speed of 541 mph with 37,565 ft. ceiling. Armament included four 30 mm MK 108 cannons and two 550 lb. bombs (A-2a only), and 24 x 2.2 in. R4M rockets. Me 262 pilots claimed a total of 542 Allied kills. While the production of the fighter started before the Second World War, it suffered many problems both political as well as logistic. While about 1,400 Me 262 were produced, only 300 of them were used in combat. The fighter could have been a game changer for the German side had it had the necessary resources and time, and thus remains one of the many “what ifs” of the Second World War.
9. 88mm Gun
The 8.8 cm Flak 18/36/37/41 commonly known as 88 or Acht-acht in German was an 88mm anti-aircraft and anti-tank artillery gun during the Second World War used by the German side. It was one of the most feared artillery pieces with the Germans using it widely from North Africa to Russian front. The term “Flak” is a short form of the German term Flugzeugabwehrkanone meaning “aircraft-defense cannon”. The 88 was originally positioned as an aircraft defense weapon. Later on “Flak” in English, became a generic term for ground anti-aircraft fire.
During Operation Battleaxe the 88 cost the British about 90 tanks and almost 1,000 men, rising the morale of the German side. The models of the early 88 mm guns were 56 calibers long, meaning the barrel length was 56 times of its diameter. The standard gun could rise a 17 pound grenade climbing thousands of feet into air and bursting into 1500 or more shards which could damage any place within 200 yards. The 88 earned its reputation as the best overall gun of the war feared by Allied airmen, tankers, and foot soldiers because of its accuracy, lethality, and versatility.
8. Grenade: Mk 2
The Mk 2 Grenade was manufactured by the USA and was the standard American Army Infantry hand grenade from 1918s until 1960s. It was used throughout the Second World War. The Mk 2 is also known as “pineapple” for its patterned groovy metal body which looked like the fruit it was known by. It was also known as “frag” grenade. The original Mk 2 had a 3/8 inch threaded plus in its base which covered the opening used to fill with explosives.
Mk 2 grenades which were low explosives were filled with smokeless EC powder which produced adequate amount of fragmentation and did not require a detonator. Mk 2 which were high explosives used flaked or granular TNT. The early variants of the Mk 2 – M5, M6 and M10 used fuses. These fuses gave out a loud bang sound and produced sparks when activated. During the Second World War the grenade could also be equipped with stabilizer fins along with a tube body for firing from the muzzle of service rifles that had M7 adaptor.
7. Avro Lancaster Bomber
The Avro Lancaster was a British four engine heavy bomber. The aircraft was built by Avro for the Royal Air Force (RAF). It went on to become the most important British Heavy bomber during the Second World War. The prototype of the Lancaster was first flown on January 1941. The Avro Lancaster was born out of earlier failed designs of Avro Manchester Bomber. The aircraft was used on many bombing raids in Germany, including the so called ‘1000 Bomber raid’ on Cologne. A well-known Lancaster bombing raid came in the 1943 mission which was codenamed Operation Chastise, which was to destroy the dams of Ruhr Valley.
The Lancaster was heavily armed with eight 0.303 machine guns in various turrets on board. As war progressed, the bomb bay in the plane was modified to allow bigger bombs such as the “Grand Slam”. At 22,000 lb (9,979 Kg) it was the heaviest bomb carried in the Second World War. During wartime, Lancasters flew over 156,000 sorties (offensive attacks) and dropped 608,000 tons of high explosive bombs and 51 million incendiary bombs. Only 35 Lancasters completed more than 100 successful operations each and about 3,249 were lost in action.
6. M1 Garand Rifle
The M1 Garand rifle is a 0.30 caliber semi-automatic rifle that was used by the US as their standard rifle during the Second World War and the Korean War. The Garand is still in use by drill teams and military honor guards. During its time, it was the first standard-issue semi-automatic military rifle. In fact the US was the only country to have equipped its troops with an auto loading rifle as the standard infantry weapon during the war. It gave the US troops upper hand in firepower, being called “The Greatest battle implement ever derived” by General George Patton. The M1 served with distinction.
M1 rifles were widely issued to US forces but many hundreds of thousands were also provided to the American allies as foreign aid. They were used by all the branches of the Unites States Military. M1 rifle gained priority after the Pearl Harbor attack by the Japanese forces in December 1941. Manufacturers Springfield and Winchester operated at full speed to produce more than 4 million M1 rifles by the end of the war in 1945.
5. T-34 Tank
The T-34 tank was the Soviet Medium tank which was used during the Second World War. It had a profound and lasting effect on the field of tank design, even though its armaments and amours were surpassed later during war. It has been credited as one of the most effective, efficient and influential tank designs. The T-34, during its initial introduction phase had an unprecedented combination of firepower, mobility, protection and ruggedness.
The initial T-34 had a powerful 76.2 mm high velocity tank gun, which provided substantial increase in firepower. It was difficult for its contemporary antitank weapons to penetrate its heavy sloped armor. During 1944, a second major version of the T-34 was used, which was the T-34-85 with a larger 85mm gun with the intention to deal with newer German tanks. The Soviet side produced about 80,000 T-34s as war progressed despite losing thousands in combat against the German Wehrmacht. It was the most produced tank of the Second World War and the second most produced tank of all time behind its successor the T-54/55 series.
4. MG 42
Designed by the then Nazi Germany, the Maschinengewehr 42 or MG 42 was a 7.92×57mm Mauser general purpose machine gun. The MG 42 was a streamlined version of the earlier MG 34. The weapon’s most notable features included its exceptionally high rate of firing at about 1,200 to 1,500 rounds per minute which was twice the rate of Vickers and Browning machine guns. The MG 42 had a 1,000 m range and a capacity of 50 rounds. The American G.I.s called the weapons “Hitler’s Buzz Saw” while the Soviet Red Army called it “the linoleum ripper” as it produced a unique tearing sound which was due to its extreme high rate of fire.
It was used extensively by the Wehrmacht (unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1946) and the Waffen-SS (the armed wing of the Nazi Party’s SS organization) during the second half of the Second World War. It was used all around the battle fields in Europe and caused thousands of deaths of the Allied troops. The weapon was much loved by its users and respected by the Allied forces who faced it. By the end of the war about 408,323 MG 42 were produced.
3. Katyusha Rocket Launcher
Built by the Soviet Union in the Second World War, the Katyusha Rocket Launcher was a type of rocket artillery with multiple rocket launchers attached to the back of a vehicle to provide it with mobility. They were used throughout the war and were famous for their powerful punch. They were available for a fraction of artillery gun and could bring down enemy troops in a matter of seconds. The sound the launcher had also caused psychological terror and was named “Stalin’s Organ”.
It had a 5 Kg explosive (HE) warhead and was attached on the vehicle designated as the BM-13. The rockets had a range of 8.5 km and the explosive fragmentation radius upon impact was over 10 m. The launcher was less accurate than artillery guns but were effective in saturation bombardment which was most feared by the German troops. Over 10,000 Katyusha Launchers were produced by the end of the war along with 12 million rockets.
2. Hawker Hurricane
The Hawker Hurricane was the British single seat fighter aircraft that was built by the Hawker Aircraft for the Royal Air Force (RAF). It was one of the greatest fighter planes of the Second World War. It could read a maximum speed of 340 mph and had a range of 468 miles with ceiling of 35,000 feet. Armaments in the Hurricane included eight 0.303 machine guns.
Over 14,583 Hurricanes were built including later versions named Sea Hurricane. The Hawker Hurricane is well remembered for the Battle of Britain in 1940 when the RAF defended Great Britain against the German Air Force resulting into a major campaign fought entirely in the air. The Hawker accounted for over 60% of the RAF’s air victories during the Battle of Britain and halted Hitler’s advancement in Europe. It was used widely serving major battle areas during the war like the jungles of the Far East and the deserts of North Africa.
1. Atom Bomb (Fat Man and Little Boy)
The atom bomb is perhaps the most well-remembered weapon from the Second World War, whose effects and impacts lasted several decades after the detonation and the end of war. On August 6, 1945, “Little Boy” the codename for the first atom bomb dropped over Japan, was detonated over the city of Hiroshima. The bomb exploded with an energy of approximately 15 kilotons of TNT which caused significant damage to the city. Three days later, the second atomic bomb, codenamed “Fat Man” was demoted over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 which was more powerful than the first bomb exploding with an energy of 21 kilotons of TNT.
The detonation of these bombs made USA the first and the only country to use atomic bombs against another country. Over 66,000 people were killed as the direct result of the blast in Hiroshima with over 69,000 casualties. Among the dead, 20,000 were from the Imperial Japanese Army. The total number of deaths reached over 192,000 including the after effects of the radiation and the aftermath. Over 70,000 people were killed instantly in Nagasaki. Five days after the second detonation, Japan surrendered ending the deadliest war in history.
Over 60 million people were killed during the deadly years of the Second World War, making it the most lethal and devastating military combat in human history. The death toll was about 3% of the total world population in 1940. Such a huge number of loss resulted largely due to advanced technology that accelerated the pace of human and infrastructural destruction from both the warring sides. After the detonation of the first atom bomb in combat, the world opened itself to nuclear warfare and the debate has prolonged since then.