Technological Breakthrough as a Consequence of Governmental Intervention

At the start of WWII, Germany had at least a 5-year lead in jet engine development over the Americans and was the only nation able to successfully develop and produce jet fighters during the war. Only Me262 with Junkers’ Jumo004 jet engine reached a high-rate production (with about 4750 units produced) in underground facilities (Younossi et al. 2002). Of the later developed Heinkel He 162 aircraft with BMW003 jet engine, about 750 units have been produced. Despite the fact that piston-engine aircraft were further developed and produced in very high numbers during the war, jets marked the break from piston-engine aircraft to the next generation of aircraft (Pavelec 2010). German technology surfaced because government was strongly backing up developments, e.g. by co-locating the primary researchers (e.g. at the Peenemunde facilities in case of the rocket technology), while at the same time honoring entrepreneurial activities (as e.g. with Heinkel around 1935). In the U.S.A., there was little support for commercialization or exploitation of experimental technology. The U.S.A. government did not see investments in Goddard’s rocket technology justifiable, while in fact Von Braun used his work directly and even contacted Goddard directly for information. In addition, if there was support it came from private funds or research institutes, while particularly for the latter the focus was more on systematic, scientific study.

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