The year between the two great Wars saw the continuation and expansion of aviation technology. By now, European nations knew the uses of airplanes in war times. Even though disarmament was commanded by the treaty of Versailles, many nations (mostly Europeans) continued to advance their aircraft technology in a lesser or higher degree (Pavelic, 2007, p. 2).
Unlike the First World War, there was greater interest in research and advance studies on material science, aerodynamics, engine thermodynamics and fuel technology that favored the extensive use of monoplane and the use of new high powered weapons in fighter planes like cannons and rockets (Mathews, 2001, p. 9). Even though Germany was denied to build an air force by the Treaty of Versailles, nevertheless, they continued to conduct covert aeronautical research for secret rearmament plans during the interwar years.
Secretly they also bought aircrafts from other countries. It can be said therefore that in spite of being banned to build military aircrafts, Germany was up-to-date in aircraft development. In fact by the time the Pact of Paris (1926) relaxed their restriction on German aviation development, Germany built some of the most advanced aircraft in the world (Pavelic, 2007, p. 2). Increasing the speed and rising at high altitudes had remained the preoccupation of aircraft development in the interwar and Second World War.
Altitude was very important to the military because of their mission to intercept and attack invading bombers (Matthews, 2001, p. 9). For conventional type of airplanes, development was geared toward increasing speed and altitude through engine development, particularly the piston engine and turbo jet engine. Britain had design one of the best liquid-cooled aircraft engines, the Rolls Royce Merlin, used in World War II for two heavy bombers, the Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricanes (Pavelec, 2007, p.
7). However, the alternative to piston engine, the turbojet engine (engine without propeller) can be considered the greatest achievement in the history of aviation in terms of speed development and solved the problem of jet propulsion during the interwar and the Second World War. It was Germany who led in this development in the person of Dr. Hans von Ohain who completed a flight-worthy turbojet engine for aircraft, commencing the jet age on August 27, 1939.
Throughout the war, the race for jet speed was dominated by the Germans and they were the ones who initiated to produce jet aircraft for combat operations. Other countries soon followed suit (although they have their own jet inventions at the same time that the Germans developed it but with less support) in producing turbojet engine. In Britain, it was Frank Whittle who developed a turbojet engine that powered the Gloster Pioneer on May 15, 1941 and the only Allied combat jet aircraft ,Meteor.
By the end of the war, airplanes of the Second World War travel in faster speeds than their predecessors, with a record of 606 miles per hour by the British Gloster Meteor IV powered by a turbojet engine (Matthews, 2001, p. 6). Radar was also an innovation in aviation during the Second World War. When the First World War had ended, nations had realized that airplanes, especially those carrying bombs, will pose a threat to their safety.
Therefore, radar systems were developed and in the Second World War, they were installed in airplanes to detect enemy aircrafts or ships, or to help in navigation or to accurately locate bombing targets ( Perry, 1988, p. 703). IV. Conclusion It is very obvious that due to the pressing need of the First and Second World War, the history of aviation took a rapid turn. It is at this period that aircrafts changed its role from transport and reconnaissance vehicle to destructive weapons of war when fighter and bomber planes were developed.
Airplanes also undergone rapid change in physical appearance from biplanes to monoplanes and from using fabric to full-metal body. During the interwar periods, as aircrafts were already seen as an integral part in war victory, in-depth researches in aerodynamics and thermodynamics and other engineering technology related to flying was undertaken well into the Second World War. Moreover, the quest for greater speed and high altitudes was improved in the Second World War upon the invention of turbo jet engines as an alternative to the piston engines of the First World War.
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Topic: Evolution of aviation during World War II
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