Many people think of World War II in relation to stories from older relatives or through various films, games, books, and other forms of media. While many people may imagine the war itself, not as many discuss the vast innovations during this era of human history. To learn more about this event’s impact on our daily lives today, read this list of industry innovations from WWII we still use.
Radar existed years prior to World War II, but the impending war compelled the Allies to find new ways to perfect their defenses against the Axis powers. Thanks to experts such as Robert Watson Watt, the Allies were able to upgrade existing radar technology and incorporate it into domestic defenses, primarily for detecting incoming enemy troops at a distance.
Not only did radars become crucial defense systems during WWII, but they continue to be vital outside of the battlefield today. For example, this technology played a key role in advancing the meteorology industry’s ability to study and predict the weather. Furthermore, the advancements to radar technology (specifically the cavity magnetron inside) during WWII played a significant part in the invention of a common commercial product in most households today—the microwave.
One of the most surprising industry innovations from WWII we still use is synthetic rubber. Today, various syntenic rubbers remain prevalent in the production of vehicle tires, conveyor belts, shoes, gaskets, and many other products. The need for synthetic rubber began all the way back in WWII when the Allies were effectively cut off from their supply of natural rubber. Lack of access to rubber was a major issue since the Allies frequently used that material in various vehicles, attire, and equipment.
Research into synthetic rubber was around during the early 1900s, but the demand for rubber during wartime pushed that research further so that the Army could develop large quantities of the product successfully and quickly. Thanks to Waldo Semon’s development of a synthetic rubber named “Ameripol,” the Allies found a solution to their rubber worries, kicking off a booming business of synthetic alternatives that has yet to slow down.
With WWII approaching, the U.S. Army sought light reconnaissance vehicles for traversing the battlefield. At the time, there wasn’t one, which is why the Army sought assistance from domestic automobile manufacturers. Three manufacturers stepped up to the plate—Bantam, Ford, and Willys. At the end of the day, all three manufacturers lent their expertise to developing this new, light reconnaissance vehicle.
As a result, the first jeeps were ready to hit the battlefield by the start of the war. Suffice it to say, the widespread love of jeeps hasn’t subsided. In fact, besides modern models like the Jeep Wrangler, enthusiasts can still find a classic jeep of their own for restoration projects. Classic jeeps remain as beloved as their modern counterparts, thanks to their important place in automotive history. Thanks to the innovations conjured by Bantam, Ford, and Willys, jeeps remain top-tier vehicles for off-roading enthusiasts.