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This investigation will attempt to answer the question: How did new innovation in terms of sonar and radar advance the development of the U.S Navy during World War 2? The scope of this question is limited to the years of 1939 to 1945, during the time period of World War 2. It will examine the actions and new technology created to improve the power of the Navy. The methods that will be used to approach this question include deep research into the history of naval battles during World War 2 and how the successful victories were accomplished. To answer this question, primary and secondary documents will be used to analyze different perspectives about the various advancements made. Additionally, the primary documents gave an account of how useful the weapons were in battle, and the secondary documents analyze the specifics of the technology. Each specific piece of technology will be analyzed and questioned for its contribution to one of the strongest navies in the world. Also, the difference between sonar and radar will be presented. Sonar is used as a system detecting objects under water and for measuring the water’s depth by emitting sound pulses. Radar is used as a system for detecting the presence, direction, distance, and speed of ships, and other objects, by sending out electromagnetic waves that are reflected off the object back to the source. This essay will break down the use of radar and sonar and how each was used for different circumstances in the Navy. Overall, the technological advancements that contributed to the successful victories of the Navy during World War 2 will be examined.

A drastic turn towards naval warfare took place during World War 2, from 1939 to 1945. As an international war containing the participation of multiple nations, control of the seas proved to be a vital component to gaining the upper hand. The ultimate goal in war is to obtain the surrender of the opposing country, and come out victorious. A large part in the potential of a nation achieving victory is showing strength on both the ground and at sea. Towards the beginning of the war, the United States Navy consisted of 17 battle ships, 7 aircraft carriers, 18 heavy cruisers, 19 light cruisers, 171 destroyers and 114 submarines.1 Although the navy was well stocked in terms of resources and had more along the way under construction, the organization and structure of the Navy was weak. As seen on December 7, 1941, Japan took an impulsive action and bombed the coast of Pearl Harbor, a straight attack on the United States’ Navy. The result of this action sunk four battleships, and harshly damaged others. In light of this event, the eyes of the naval force of America were opened and an immediate priority was given to assess the necessary precautions that should be taken in the future as well as the actions that should be taken to build a stronger force. To survive and prosper by joining World War 2, it was essential that America build a stronger navy to fight, protect and retaliate. Therefore as a result, organization and tactical resources such as the use of sonar and radar were implemented to create a stronger advantageous navy. Sonar utilizes sound navigation and ranging to detect objects underwater by emitting sound pulses to determine the water’s depth.2 Sound waves used in sonar are called compression waves, a process similar to echolocation seen in bats. Radar contains the use of radio detection and ranging to detect direction, distance and speed with help of high-frequency electromagnetic waves.3 Radio waves used in radar are called transverse waves which stretch and spring from one die to the other. Both of these techniques reflect off the desired object to indicate the length. The innovations and changes made in the field of sonar and radar technology transformed the techniques used to provide information on the enemy’s whereabouts on Navy ships.

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1 “US Navy in late 1941: strength, ships, organization for WW2.” WW2 Weapons.

2 “What is sonar?” NOAA’s National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 1 June 2013.

3 Lee, Jong-Sen, and Eric Pottier. Polarimetric radar imaging: from basics to applications. CRC Press, 2009.

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