“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.”
George Washington said this a little over 100 years before the first armed petrol engine-powered vehicle, F.R. Simms’ “Motor Scout,” existed. It’s highly doubtful the eventual first President of the United States paid any mind to future technology when he said this, but it seems today’s world military authorities took his cue anyway, and some of the most intimidating, authoritative machines ever built now have their place in world history. Here are just some of those machines, in order of firepower, armor, mobility, and the effects they had on the era in which they were used.
A modified Kiev-class aircraft carrier first built in 1987, the INS Vikramaditya was originally named “Baku,” but took on its new name when India’s military purchased it from the Russians at a steep cost of $2.35 billion. While it’s difficult to justify that kind of price tag (the Russians jacked up the price when they realized how badly India wanted it), the INS Vikramaditya has a range of 7,000 nautical miles, powered by eight diesel boilers with six turbo alternators and six diesel alternators. With a capacity of up to 2,000 personnel and about 30 planes and/or helicopters, it shows up on radar almost more like a mini floating city than merely a warship.
As World War II raged on, the United States military had a need for an armored vehicle that was more nimble than a tank, but also had the ability to fire at enemies coming from all sides. The M8 Greyhound became a staple in the American forces march through Europe, and featured a rotating turret complete with 40 mm high-powered guns.
Reconnaissance roles filled by the M8 Greyhound could now display greater speed and stealth versus a large tank, and allowed the US military to gain advances on enemies in tight spaces.
Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II
An American twin-engine, straight wing jet aircraft from the 1970s, the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II entered service in 1976 and remains as the only United States Air Force aircraft designed specifically for attacking tanks, armored vehicles, and other ground targets.
The A-10 is armed with a 30 mm GAU-8 Avenger rotary cannon, and features 1,200 pounds of titanium armor to protect its cockpit and other systems. Its short takeoff and landing required distance allows the A-10 to get away from enemy lines in a hurry. Nicknamed “Warthog,” the plane resembles the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt of World War II, which was particularly effective at close air support.
Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit
Better known as the Stealth Bomber, the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit features low observable stealth technology designed for penetrating dense anti-aircraft defenses. Each bomber carries a production cost of $737 million, and as of 2004, the US military has spent $44.75 billion on the B-2 program.
The flying wing design of the B-2 Spirit is infamous, and was on the cutting edge of military aircraft design in the late 1990s. The B-2 is capable of attack even in extreme altitudes up to 50,000 feet, and has a fuel range of more than 6,000 nautical miles. It was originally designed primarily as a nuclear bomber, but was first used in 1999 to drop conventional ordnance warheads in the Kosovo War before seeing further action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
German U-31 Submarine
The German military constructed 11 submarines in the U-31 class between 1912 and 1915 for the purpose of cutting down the British Empire in World War I. According to Nationalinterest.org, “Four of these eleven boats (U-35, U-39, U-38, and U-34) were the four top killers of World War I; indeed, they were four of the five top submarines of all time in terms of tonnage sunk (the Type VII boat U-48 sneaks in at number 3). U-35, the top killer, sank 224 ships amounting to over half a million tons.”
USSR T-34 Tank
WarHistoryOnline.com ranks this bad boy as the all-time greatest tank to ever see war action, due to its combat power, strong armor, and cat-like maneuverability. The Soviets tank often credited as the most effective, efficient, and influential tank design of World War II. It could travel up to 55 km/hr (34 mph), possessed a 76.2 mm (that’s three inches) high-velocity tank gun, and was covered in sloped armor that was very difficult to penetrate by any other WWII anti-tank weapons.