When the Empire of the Rising Sun lashed out at Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt knew that America’s destiny was war. FDR rallied his countrymen to a cause, citing the “day of infamy” that brought death and destruction to Hawaii. But the United States didn’t stop in the Pacific Theater — it geared up for war in Europe, too. In our World War II quiz, do you think you can top Hirohito and Hitler the same way Roosevelt and his Allies did?
After World War I, the Treaty of Versailles punished Germany for its aggression and outlawed a German military. Hitler’s rise to power defied the treaty, secretly constructing a Third Reich war machine that was unleashed on Poland in 1939. Britain and France could only wring their hands in fear — would they be the next targets on Hitler’s hit list? Do you know how the war in Europe slowly consumed the continent, and how the Axis and Allies developed their strategies as the conflict raged?
Both sides invested heavily in men and machines, hoping to gain the upper hand in battle. Some of those new weapons were outdated even before they found combat, while others caused mayhem and destruction that killed men by the millions. What do you know about the tactics and weapons that left entire cities in ruins?
From MacArthur to Patton, Zhukov to Churchill, the Red Army to the Wehrmacht, World War II was the bloodiest conflict in human history. Lock and load that Tommy gun and hop aboard that Sherman, we’ll see if you can survive Axis and its mechanized murder!
Britain and France immediately declared war as a result of Germany’s aggression ... but then sat on their hands. The U.S. covered its eyes as best it could until 1941, when it finally plunged into the fray.
When Hitler’s men invaded Poland in 1939, they had their Soviet allies helping them. But by 1941, the entire political dynamic between the Nazis and Soviets changed.
The Allies dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, one named named Little Boy and the other, Fat Man. They still stand as the only nuclear devices ever used in combat.
In the summer of 1943, the month-long Battle of Kursk turned into one of the biggest tank battles ever. More than 10,000 total tanks were deployed, and Soviets ultimately triumphed over their German enemies.
Armored vehicles like tanks were specifically designed to surmount the challenges of trenches in WWI, and by WWII, tanks were better than ever. Trenches were still used, but not nearly as much as in WWI.
From early September 1941 to January 1944, the Germans laid siege to Leningrad. The Soviets refused to budge, but countless civilians died from starvation and some resorted to cannibalism.
In the face of certain defeat, MacArthur hopped a plane to Australia, but he swore he’d be back. He eventually made good on his word.
The Japanese hoped to devastate the American carrier fleet. Because without the carriers, they figured the U.S. would have no choice but to surrender.
America’s carriers were out at sea when the Japanese surprise attack came. But eight out of nine of America’s Pacific Fleet battleships were in the harbor — and they suffered miserably in the onslaught.
The German military became known for its blitzkrieg ("lightning war") attacks, in which it struck quickly and with overwhelming force, using both land and air weapons. It was a terrifying thing for Allied troops to witness.
The Japanese fortified chains of islands in the Pacific. Rather than take all of them one by one, the Allies used "leapfrogging," bypassing the islands that looked like suicide.
Starting in 1940, the Soviets began deployed the T-34, a medium tank that played a huge role in the war. In desperation, the USSR manufactured around 80,000 of these tanks in hopes of stopping the Nazi war machine.
The Italian Fiat C.4.42 Falco was a biplane that found widespread use during WWII. Though outdated, the Germans sometimes sent hundreds on night bombing missions, where the were effective in their deadly purpose.
Hitler used his concentration camps to rid Europe of the "Jewish problem," in which millions of people (including non-Jews) were systematically murdered. The Holocaust is one of the blackest stains from a terrible war.
Given Japan’s relentless opposition, American commanders were prepared for the worst — that they’d have to invade Japan in order to end the war. It’s certain that such an invasion would have cost countless American lives.
Germany and its researchers dumped huge time and energy into new weapons during the Third Reich era. The Germans did develop the world’s first jet aircraft and put it to use, but it was too late to turn the tide of the war.
At the Battle of Midway, America sought — and found — revenge for Pearl Harbor. They sent four vital Japanese carriers to the bottom of the sea and changed America’s prospects in the Pacific Theater.
It was the biggest order for horses since the Civil War. Even though cavalry forces were outdated, the U.S. saw fit to order 20,000 horses, just in case they might be needed to help with the fight against the Axis. Mounted units saw limited (but important) action in the Pacific theater.
The Soviets gathered about 5.5 million troops to oppose the Nazi invasion. Given that Germany still had to hold the Western Front, too, their circumstances looked dire.
Desperate for man, er, womanpower, the USSR put females into combat against the Germans. The 588th Night Bomber Regiment was a group of women who flew night bombing sorties on the Eastern Front.
The Night Witches were clever. As they approached targets, they cut their engines, glided in silence, and then bombed the Nazis straight to the ever after.
An American company named Higgins Industries created the Higgins boat, a landing craft that made amphibious assaults much more effective. These boats were vital in both theaters of the war.
Sure, radio communitions were coming of age in WWII, but the Allies still used pigeons to carry messages all along the front. The Air Ministry Pigeon Section had hundreds of thousands of pigeons at its disposal.
Hitler’s God-complex and control-freak nature meant that he took directy control of the military in many situations. Generals who opposed him were often sacked.
We tend to think of WWII as a high-tech conflict, but Germany was incredibly dependent on horses. As many as eight out of 10 German combat units may have relied on horses ... even to the end of the war.
The Marianas were incredibly important to U.S. strategy. Using airstrips there, its long-range B-29 bombers would be able to attack the Japanese mainland.
It was a good thing they built a lot of them. The Soviets lost many T-34 tanks — about 45,000 — in this single war, the most tanks ever destroyed in an armed conflict.
By the middle of 1944, Hitler knew the Eastern Front was lost. He threw all of his efforts in to one last major attack on the Western Front — the Battle of the Bulge.
When German troops mounted one last desperate offensive in December 1944, U.S. troops found themselves surrounded in Bastogne, trying to survive the Nazi onslaught amid terrible winter weather. They bent ... but then held the line in the face of overwhelming odds.
The atomic attacks were certainly a factor in the Japanese surrender. But days earlier, the Soviets had began attacking Japanese lands — and if Japan hadn’t surrendered, the huge, angry Red Army would have steamrolled the Empire’s army in no time.