Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

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ljadw
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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by ljadw » 02 Jan 2016 22:42

why would an invasion of conquered Europe have been necessary to defeat Germany ?

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by BobTheBarbarian » 03 Jan 2016 03:27

Short answer, yes. Though only the United States could have defeated both Germany and Japan. With respect to the war in Europe, Germany's economy was unstable and would have eventually imploded even if she was not beaten on the battlefield first, and the Wehrmacht was no match for Allied numbers and firepower on every level.

Ultimately of course had a decision is not reached in time by conventional means the nuclear option becomes available in August 1945.
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KDF33
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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by KDF33 » 03 Jan 2016 06:32

tramonte wrote:Germans sent much more mechanized forces to Normandy than to Eastern Front.
I'm afraid this in incorrect. On 31.5.44, the Germans had 1,479 tanks and 1,580 assault guns deployed on the Eastern Front, whereas they had 1,466 tanks and 345 assault guns deployed in OB West. Over the next four months, they sent a total of 3,429 replacement tanks and assault guns to the East, whereas they sent only 1,359 to the West. Even in the period preceding the Ardennes Offensive (1.10-15.12.44), the Germans sent more AFVs East (1,677) than West (1,559).
Stalin and Hitler were men on the past and they never really realized the value of air and sea warfare with higher technology in so called super battlefield. Instead both dictators had very limited perspective of war fare with searching "decisive land battles" and clearly focusing to repeat 1914-18 with only modern weapons.
Did they? Hitler was well aware that the showdown with the Western Allies would mostly be fought in the air and at sea. Indeed, Führer Directive 32, issued on 11.7.41, asserted that "[t]he main efforts of the armaments industry can be diverted to the Navy and Air Force". Indeed, in a supplement issued three days later, Hitler reemphasized the centrality of air power, asserting that the freed up resources would be used to "greatly strengthen" the Luftwaffe. The failure of Barbarossa is what prevented this shift to happen, and indeed swung the balance in the opposite direction.

As for Stalin, well, necessity is the mother of invention or, in this case, focus. The USSR was under invasion by a massive Axis land force; obviously, the Soviets focused on the classes of weapons needed to repulse that force.
Even their idea of aircraft was painfully narrow minded, tactical force. The result was of course evident: they never were able to destroy war production of enemy with long range deep air power.
Neither the Germans nor the Soviets had the fuel required to effectively crew and operate a sustained strategic bombing campaign.
That's why human military losses of Soviet Union and Germany were terrible high which underlines the fact that land warfare in Eastern Front was relatively primitive, bloody chain of meaningless battles hardly decisive at all.
Soviet losses were indeed very high, but I fail to see how it had anything to do with their lack of a strategic bomber force. As for the Germans, their losses in the East were comparable to what the Allies suffered fighting against them in North-West Europe, adjusting for duration of the campaign and the number of soldiers engaged. Here's some data:

Allied losses, 6.6.44 - 8.5.45: 158,443 KIA / 557,572 WIA / 94,147 MIA = 810,162 combat losses
German losses, 22.6.41 - 20.5.42: 255,942 KIA / 900,241 WIA / 57,566 MIA = 1,213,749 combat losses

Note that the Germans had more soldiers engaged against more enemy combatants. The Germans invaded the USSR with over 3 million men just in ground troops, against a force of roughly 2.5 million Soviets. As for the Western Allies, it took them until November 1944 to reach a total of 2.3 million men on the Continent, including air forces.

In sum, the main reason why the Allies took much less casualties in the West than the Germans in the East is because they fought for roughly 11 months, whereas the Germans fought for slightly over 46 months, more than 4 times the duration of the Allied campaign. Obviously by 1944 the large German formations being encircled led to much higher casualties, but then this was a function of the correlation of forces, not of the "primitive" nature of the fighting.
In Eastern Front material losses of armies were not actually heavy at all compared to their war production because land warfare was relatively cheap.
Cheap? I have a time-series of German munitions output compiled from here and here, showing the share of armaments output (in price) by category:

Data is 10.42 / 5.43 / 12.43 / 7.44:

Air: 51.3 / 50.5 / 49.7 / 56.0
Ground: 33.8 / 34.9 / 38.6 / 33.3
Sea: 11.9 / 11.7 / 8.5 / 6.1

Powder (no breakdown): 3.1 / 2.8 / 3.2 / 2.1

That gives you an average share of about 50% for air armaments and munitions, compared to a 35% share for ground armaments and munitions. Note that a substantial proportion of German air power was deployed against the USSR, so it's not like the full 50% share for air output was deployed against the Allies. Obviously, the reverse is also true in the case of ground output.

Then there's the matter that these are price figures, which represent one way to account for the share of production. We could also look at labor. Take, say, naval vessels and motor vehicles. In May 1943, the price share for naval vessels was 9.8%, whereas it was 4.3% for motor vehicles. And yet, there were a mere 143,000 workers employed in shipbuilding, whereas 394,000 workers were employed by the automotive industry. That's a 1:2.8 ratio. As for overall resource consumption, in 1943 1.86 million tons of steel were allocated to build "automobiles", whereas slightly more than half went to shipbuilding, 0.99 million tons.
This is another lesson of WW2: losses of even the biggest battles including lost aircraft were not so devastating as common wisdom is suggesting.
Well, it depends. While some battles have certainly been unduly mythologized (Alamein, Kursk), I'd argue that a few key campaigns had a truly decisive impact on the course of the war, i.e. the Fall of France, Barbarossa and the July - November 1942 portion of the Soviet-German conflict.
Much more German aircraft were lost because RAF/USAAF bombing than in both Eastern Front and Mediterranean. Even quite conservative estimates of USSBS are giving figure of 18 500 destroyed German aircraft in production because strategic air war of RAF and USAAF. The death spiral of Luftwaffe had many features including poor training because lack of fuel and other negative results of strategic air war.
[The Eastern Front also had a significant impact on the air war. Even though aircraft and pilot losses were substantially higher in the West than in the East in 1944, this wasn't the case in 1941-3, and these losses, plus all the avgas used up to fight in the East, had a cumulative impact on German strength. According to John Ellis, the Germans suffered about 40,000 total losses in aircraft during the war. From March 1942 to December 1944, the Germans lost 8,340 in combat on the Eastern Front, 21% of the total. Throw in a few thousand more for 6.41-2.42 and 1945, plus a couple thousand more due to accidents, and you're looking at something like 50% losses occurring in the East, a conclusion that hitherto hasn't been much acknowledged.

That the drain occurred gradually, unlike the flood of aircraft and pilot losses against the Western Allies in 1944, shouldn't obscure it's impact in stressing fuel and pilot availability, as well as pilot training, and in setting up favorable conditions for the Anglo-Americans to establish air supremacy in 1944.
]

EDIT: After reviewing the data, it appears that Ellis' numbers only account for combat losses between 1.1.39 and 10.1.45. Cross-referencing various sources, I've come up with this data:

Luftwaffe losses: combat west + east = combat total / operational

09.39-04.40: 400 + 0 = 400 / 1,379? (estimate)
05.40-12.40: 2,572 + 0 = 2,572 / 1,379
01.41-12.41: 1,329 + 1,769 = 3,098 / 2,202
01.42-12.42: 1,702 + 2,610 = 4,312 / 3,186 (estimate for 1-2.42 bc lack of data)
01.43-12.43: 4,291 + 3,128 = 7,419 / 6,064
01.44-12.44: 19,899 + 2,913 = 22,812 / 9,068

Total combat losses West / East 1.1.43: 6,003 (2,055 post-Barb) / 4,379
Total combat losses West / East 1.1.44: 10,294 (6,346 post-Barb) / 7,507
Total combat losses West / East 1.1.45: 30,193 (26,245 post-Barb) / 10,420

So the overall ratio is 74% west, 26% east by the end of 1944, although still just 58% / 42% by the end of 1943. Although the impact isn't as pronounced as I thought, it's clear that the constant drain from the Eastern Front had a major impact on the decline of the Luftwaffe, i.e.:

That the drain occurred gradually, unlike the flood of aircraft and pilot losses against the Western Allies in 1944, shouldn't obscure it's impact in stressing fuel and pilot availability, as well as pilot training, and in setting up favorable conditions for the Anglo-Americans to establish air supremacy in 1944.
Sad to say the truth for tank enthusiasts and apostles of armies but land warfare didn't play main role in WW2. Tanks were not war winners, men of Panzer Lehr and Leibstandarte division in Normandy surely realized it.
Tanks might not have been war winners, but they were war losers. First off, as seen above, the German armaments effort against the USSR was massive, probably on the order of 40% when one accounts for the air effort in the East - and that's a price figure, in terms of labor / steel it would have been higher. Beyond that, one has to account for the opportunity cost of fighting a major land war in the East, ergo my comment about tanks. Between 1941 and mid-1944, there were at any time around 3 million ground troops deployed in the East, troops that couldn't be reallocated elsewhere, most notably toward the air industry, as Hitler had planned to in FD 32. Beyond those frontline troops, there were all the men in the Ersatzheer either healing from wounds (overwhelmingly taken in the East) or training (overwhelmingly as replacements for the East). Take a look at table 1 here. You see the ballooning of the Ersatzheer due to fighting in the East:

Field troops / Ersatzheer troops (various dates):

1940: 3.70m / 0.90m
1941: 3.95m / 1.20m
1942: 4.23m / 1.80m
1943: 4.70m / 2.30m
1944: 4.60m / 2.51m

For 1942 - 1944, those extra men in hospital or training amount to, what, 1-1.5 million? That's another opportunity cost on top of the about 3 million men deployed against the USSR. On top of that, add up all the irrecoverable losses suffered by the Germans, which amount to 1.3 million just for KIA/MIA among ground troops by 31.5.44.

In Eastern Front the picture is similar. Though Soviet VVS was relatively poor compared to RAF and USAAF, thanks to sharply cut numbers of German fighters in east, Soviet forces facing mostly horse pulling German infantry divisions had quite easy task to wipe them out in 1944 (but taking heavy losses as always). Interesting but very few people are thinking why Germany left their divisions in east without air cover.
There were more single-engined fighters in the East during 1944 than there had been in 1943. What was reduced, by a large margin, was the number of twin-engined bombers. This is reflected in the number of sorties flown by aircraft type:

3-12.43: 76,958 Bf 109/Fw 190, 180,553 He 111/Ju 88
3-12.44: 90,659 Bf 109/Fw 190, 51,980 He 111/Ju 88

Reconnaissance sorties flown by Fw 189s also fell from 23,245 to 9,283 over the same period.
The story where Soviet Union is "Germany's main enemy" might be another myth. Because after all the story of abandoned Army Group Center in Belo Russia is underlining the fact the main priority for Germany in 1944 (and even in 1943) was not their armies in east and south but their war production dangerously bombed by western allied air power.

Just like UK and USA, Germany too gave pretty low priority for land warfare. Production and ammunitions for aircraft, U-boats, V-weapons, concrete shelter construction and AA-weapons were in top. Less than 20% of German war production was targeting Eastern Front land warfare.
It would be more exact to talk of Germany splitting it's war effort roughly 50/50 between East and West, IMO. The fundamental problem for the Germans is that, unlike the Soviets, they couldn't focus their manpower and armaments output strictly on fighting a land war in the East, and that unlike the Anglo-Americans, they couldn't restrict their manpower investment in large ground forces to focus on an air-sea industrial war. They were awkwardly stuck between those two poles, an unsustainable position that ultimately did them in.

Regards,

KDF
Last edited by KDF33 on 04 Jan 2016 00:41, edited 12 times in total.

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by Cult Icon » 03 Jan 2016 07:31

It is not so simple and clear cut. In truth, I believed these theories as well long ago- they follow the frame of historical materialism and are popular with those that believe that economic destiny decide all.

The nuts and bolts actual battles played out only partly due to economic laws and party due to technique. This is why studying the actual operations & human decisions of the war is still important. Based on economics, the germans should have fought a long war in france 1940 and the Soviets/western allies in 43-45 should have been far more effective than they actually were. The Axis were economically very inferior.
tramonte wrote:"decisive land battles"
Infantry is the king of battle, not material. 3rd world countries like the communists in Korea and Vietnam defeated the materialists. Victory in Iraq and Afghanistan were illusive.

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 03 Jan 2016 09:48

Each year the Wehrmacht had 9 million troops in arms they spent 3.5=>4 BRM for each million troops, while the amount of money on armaments each year increased dramatically .Using OXFORD COMPANION TO WW-II they only needed 6 million troops if no eastern front.
6 BRM in arms 1940 + 5.8 mill troops x 2.8 BRM = 22 BRM
6 BRM in arms 1941 + 7.3 mill troops x 3.45 BRM = 31 BRM
9 BRM in arms 1942 + 8.4 mill troops x 3.5 BRM = 38 BRM
20 BRM in arms 1943 + 9 mill troops x 3.7 BRM = 53 BRM
24 BRM in arms 1944 + 9 mill troops x 4 BRM = 60 BRM

If there is no Eastern front the personnel levels need not rise above 6 million. Like wise if their is no ongoing war of attrition in the east the cost per million troops in service will stabilise at about 3 BRM per million troops , meaning the personnel cost will also stabilise at ~ 18=>20 BRM, leaving the rest to fund more or better arms distributed over fewer troops. So the alternate armaments /troops will almost be 3 times historical levels.

1940 5.8 mill troops x 2.8 BRM =16.25 - 22 BRM = 6 BRM in arms /5.8 million troops or 1.03 BRM/MT
1941 6 mill troops x 3 BRM = 18 BRM - 31 BRM = 13 BRM in arms /6million troops or 2.1 BRM/MT [<TRIPPLE the historical 0.82 BRM/MT ]
1942 6 mill troops x 3 BRM =18 BRM - 38 BRM = 20 BRM in arms /6 million troops or 3.3 BRM/MT [ TRIPPLE the historical 1.07 BRM/MT ]
1943 6 mill troops x 3.3 BRM = 20 BRM - 53 BRM = 33 BRM in arms/ 6 million troops or 5.5 BRM/MT [< TRIPPLE the historical 2.2 BRM/MT ]
1944 6 mill troops x 3.3 BRM = 20 BRM -60 BRM = 40 BRM in arms / 6 million troops or 6.7 BRM/MT [< TRIPPLE the historical 2.6 BRM/MT ]

triple everything guns ammo/ planes/missiles/ships/fuel/tanks etc

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by KDF33 » 03 Jan 2016 10:21

Well, let's not exaggerate: to triple the amount of arms and ammunition produced, the Germans would need something like 5 million extra workers and 35 million extra tons of steel, to say nothing of the added factory floor, machine tools and, especially, coal production and transport capacity. I'm not doubting that the Germans could have achieved a much higher output absent the bleeding wound of the Eastern Front, but they wouldn't have transformed into the U.S.

To reiterate an important point: funding wasn't the only constraint on production.

Regards,

KDF

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 03 Jan 2016 21:47

That only applies if you continue with Hitler's antiquated "cost plus" limited war economy, that he forced on the Wehrmacht.

"Economy of scale" in production based on a multi year fixed price system, would have progressively reduced the wastage in production along with the # man-hours per unit built and thus increased output for the same industry size and thus solving the lack of factory space/ labour problems etc. Triple the money [actually more like 2.8 times] need not = 2.8 times the weapons out put. It could mean doubling the number of more costly weapons built etc etc. There were also short cuts that could be agreed upon based on a tri service agreements on what was really really needed for the war effort. Finding the rate determining step in the production would be critical.

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by KDF33 » 03 Jan 2016 22:30

Well, the limited war economy is an enduring myth. See this paper, for instance. Aircraft, which made up 35-40% of armaments output in price terms, were on fixed-price contracts since 1937.

Regards,

KDF

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 04 Jan 2016 04:33

yes the LW saw the 'writing on the wall' when Hitler forced his "4 year plan" on the Wehrmacht in 1936 and made a number of changes to meet Hitler's increasingly neurotic demands....too bad the other two services didn't follow suite. Raeder -to the very beginning of the war- swore that Hitler assured him war would not start for years and he still had time and thus the KM was the least prepared of the service branches when war began. Historically the Wehrmacht didn't change from 'cost plus' to 'fixed price' until may 1941.

The papers great, it changed my POV years ago, but it also exposes the limitations of the LW switch to 'Fixed price contracting'. You need to have compliant industries plus the vision for the larger industry. LW new that shifting from strategic bombing to tactical support would only work if they could mass produce a medium bomber to make up for the short fall. But Junkers would not yield and they had to be force to licence out subcontract work on JU-88 Medium bomber production- in order to build the numbers needed.

In one step they ruined the original JU-88 "schnell bomber" design [that would also allow fast night fighter well into 1945] & cancelling the Ural bomber ....even though their own secret studies had showed that with out the Ural bomber they could not hope to win any air war over the UK....good thing they were not going to war with the UK any time soon.... :-D

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by KDF33 » 04 Jan 2016 04:59

Paul Lakowski wrote:The papers great, it changed my POV years ago, but it also exposes the limitations of the LW switch to 'Fixed price contracting'. You need to have compliant industries plus the vision for the larger industry. LW new that shifting from strategic bombing to tactical support would only work if they could mass produce a medium bomber to make up for the short fall. But Junkers would not yield and they had to be force to licence out subcontract work on JU-88 Medium bomber production- in order to build the numbers needed.
Well, they did mass produce the Ju 88.
In one step they ruined the original JU-88 "schnell bomber" design [that would also allow fast night fighter well into 1945] & cancelling the Ural bomber ....even though their own secret studies had showed that with out the Ural bomber they could not hope to win any air war over the UK....good thing they were not going to war with the UK any time soon.... :-D
Again, the Germans lacked the fuel to mount anything approaching the strategic bombing campaign of the Allies. The American heavy bombers in the ETO/MTO consumed 2,040,000 tons of fuel in 1944 - whereas the Germans produced and imported a grand total of 1,917,000 tons of fuel in 1943.

In other words, for the Luftwaffe to bomb Britain at the level America bombed them in 1944, they would have had to cease training operations, including for heavy bomber crews, as well as cease operating any aircraft apart from heavy bombers. And that's in 1943. In 1940, at the time of the BoB, German fuel production and imports, including captured French stocks, amounted to 966,000 tons.

In other words, it made no sense for Germany to build a fleet of strategic bombers, because they lacked the means to operate one.

Regards,

KDF

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 05 Jan 2016 02:04

This is one dimensional thinking, you must think outside the box.

Its always dangerous to assume "they would do it the way we do it".

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by KDF33 » 05 Jan 2016 06:41

Well, it's not like there's a thousand different ways to do strategic bombing. You have to send your bombers over the target, then bomb it. Doing that requires fuel to operate the planes, which the Germans lack in sufficient quantity.

Regards,

KDF

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 05 Jan 2016 09:17

According to the Oxford companion to WW-II the German supply of oil was ....
1939= 10.4 million tons
1940= 8.8 million tons
1941 = 11.7 million tons
1942 = 11.3 million tons
1943 = 12.8 million tons
1944 = 7.5 million tons

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by KDF33 » 05 Jan 2016 09:36

Yes, that is correct. But oil is not avgas. In terms of the main types of fuel, here's the breakdown:

1940: 1.0 million tons of aviation gasoline, 2.1 million tons of motor gasoline, 1.5 million tons of diesel fuel
1941: 0.9 million tons of aviation gasoline, 2.3 million tons of motor gasoline, 1.7 million tons of diesel fuel
1942: 1.5 million tons of aviation gasoline, 2.0 million tons of motor gasoline, 1.5 million tons of diesel fuel
1943: 1.9 million tons of aviation gasoline, 1.9 million tons of motor gasoline, 1.8 million tons of diesel fuel
1944: 1.1 million tons of aviation gasoline, 1.5 million tons of motor gasoline, 1.3 million tons of diesel fuel

Note that only a fraction of that fuel goes to the Wehrmacht. Some has to be allocated to the civilian economy, especially agriculture.

Regards,

KDF

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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by Paul Lakowski » 09 Jan 2016 06:00

All the AVGAS went to LW from the beginning of the war and the civilian portions of the rest plummeted [1/6th gasoline & 1/4 of the diesel] , the moment Hitler found himself in an on going war of attrition in Russia in 1942.

but more importantly 1/2 of the gasoline & 1/3 of the diesel was imported product. This is critical because German refining capacity was pegged by USSBS @ 5.3 million tons annually 1938 - while it appears that was never fully used.

1940 = 2.5 million tons produced + 0.73 million fuel oil+ 2 million tons captured or imported [ unused= 1.8 million tons - ]
1941 = 3.1 million tons produced + 0.81 million fuel oil+ 1.75 million tons captured or imported [unused= 1.1 million tons - ]
1942 = 3.67 million tons produced + 0.85 million fuel oil+ 1.33 million tons captured or imported [ unused= <1 million tons - ]
1943 = 4.3 million tons produced + 0.85 million fuel oil + 0.43 million tons captured or imported [ unused 0.15 million tons]
1944 = 2.8 million tons produced + 0.3 million fuel oil+ 1.0 million tons captured or imported [1.6 million tons]

USSBS reports >2/3 million tons product difference between planed and historical = bombing effort....theoretical ATL =
1944 = 3.5 million tons produced + 1.0 million tons captured or imported fuels [1.5 million tons]

....this means with diversion of labor steel &funding in ATL more fuel can be added to this production up to a max of 5.4 million tons through the war...cost = 0.62 tons steel + 685RM ton of oil product & 86 labourers per TON OIL . So to maximise the fuel production would require

1940 = unused= 1.8 million tons fuel cost 1.1million tons steel + 1.2 billion RM + 21,000 more labourers
1941 = unused= 1.1 million tons fuel cost 3/4 billion RM....[steel & labour already acquired]
1942 = unused= <1 million tons fuel cost 2/3 billion RM....[steel & labour already acquired]
1943 =unused= ` 0.15 million tons fuel cost 0.1 billion RM....[steel & labour already acquired]
1944 = unused= 1.6 million tons fuel cost 1.1 billion RM....[steel & labour already acquired]

This is only 3.7 billion RM + 1.1 million tons of steel & 21,000 workforce. That much money was spent on the ATLANTC WALL and that is a fraction of the -none slave - work force plus some of the steel allocated to building the ATLANTC WALL.
...

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