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

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

Post by Cult Icon » 17 Jul 2016 15:30

KDF/Gua

You have been pushing your argument for a long time. However, you have never written about how major campaigns would be fought with these changes (by Generals).

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

Post by Guaporense » 18 Jul 2016 05:34

I don't think there would be campaigns. At most maybe a couple of amphibious operations ending in disaster.

I think that the most probable outcome of a German victory in Russia would be a state of Cold War between the Nazis and the Western Allies, just like it happened with Russia and the Western Allies historically. Eventually, the Nazi regime would be replaced by a less aggressive regime (as Hitler's health was in decline) and I guess Europe would be freed from Nazi domination naturally (like it happened with Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Empire). Maybe France, Italy and Germany would turn into third world countries if the Nazi regime lasts many decades though.

I don't think the Western Allies would be willing to risk invading continental Europe (specially because they know casualties would be in the millions from the experience WW1) and I don't think Hitler was interested in invading England either. I also don't think that strategic bombing alone could win a war (specially in this situation with a much stronger Luftwaffe, historically strategic bombing is said to have had a significant impact on German industrial production only in the late stages of the war, now it would be much harder for the Allies to drop 100,000 tons of bombs on Germany because they would lose many more bombers in the process*, and countries like North Vietnam and Germany did not surrender because of bombing raids either).

Germany's main objective in WW2 was to get Lebensraum in Eastern Europe, beating the USSR means that they achieved their main objective. The UK and US wouldn't be so interested in invading Europe and popular support for their governments would collapse after casualties in Europe reaches very high figures (and I guess they would be could be around 15 million in a large scale land invasion).

I would think that if Russia was defeated by Barbarossa the Western Allies would offer peace terms. Historically they came up with the unconditional surrender terms only in 1943 after the Failure of Barbarossa and Blau which sealed Hitler's regime's fate, this enabled the Western Democracies to occupy Western Europe while suffering only 1.2 million casualties, a number their civil population could handle. Western Democracies would try dealing with Hitler the same way the dealt with Stalin: cold war.

*At a loss rate of 6% means that to drop 100,000 tons of bombs they would lose about 3,000 heavy bombers and US output was ca. 1,200 heavy bombers a month in 44, UK output was 380 heavy bombers a month. Loss rates around 5-6% in 1943 were the main factor that prevented the Allies at the time in dropping as many bombs as they did in 1944. After several months of aerial attrition warfare combined with the destruction of synthetic fuel plans meant that Allied loss rates decreased greatly from late 43 to mid 44 (like by a factor of 3-4), enabling large scale strategic bombing.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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

Post by Guaporense » 18 Jul 2016 07:05

Marcelo Jenisch wrote:Some historians follow the line of those Wikipedians, and claim that the Soviets could have won the war alone, but the Western Allies could not. Kinda like the guy in this video says:



I'm not a militant from neither the Right or the Left, I'm just someone who likes from history, and people like that guy are clearly (at least for me) trying to put politics in the middle, making the things different from what we have evidence contrary to. The facts are that there was Anglo-American capability to defeat Germany alone, in the same manner that there was Anglo-Soviet capability to defeat Hitler alone. While a lone Soviet victory alone would largely dependend of the circunstances of the scenario.
Anglo-Soviet? With US logistical help, yes, well historically we have an Anglo-Soviet victory in WW2 because when the Americans broke through Normandy, the Red Army had already destroyed Army Group Center and the war was effectively won.

Again, I never actually said that without the USSR achieving unconditional surrender of Germany would be impossible. However it would be about as difficult as Germany invading North America and getting the US to surrender unconditionally. One thing to keep in mind is that the relative economic size of the Axis and Allies without the Soviet Union was about the same and logistical difficulties involved with the geography of this scenario (i.e. amphibious operations) prevented the full economic weight of the US being carried over the Atlantic.

Also, there is the democratic problem of sacrificing millions of your citizens would make politicians unpopular.

By the way, I am a Libertarian in my political orientation (I am probably the farthest away from a Nazi among anyone posting in this forum).

And I disagree with the historian interviewed there, he said it would take much longer and at a higher price for the USSR to win the war alone, I disagree I think that considering the trajectory of events as Bagration crushed the Wehrmacht and arrived near the borders of Germany proper before the Western Allies managed to gain a considerable strategic victory in the West:

Image, Paris was only liberated in August 25, when the Soviet armies were already into parts of Greater Germany. Given Western Allied logistical support, the war would have ended around the same time without operation Overlord (they would have surrendered when Berlin would be taken).
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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

Post by 2020hindsight » 21 Jul 2016 14:41

The key issue is whether the UK could have held out against a stronger Nazi Germany, let alone one with the backing of the USSR. I have seen it said that the UK was three days away from war with the Soviet Union, on the basis of a group of volunteers going to help the Finns. Whether the USSR would really have got upset over that, I don't know. It also depends on how much support the USA could provide covertly, and how long before Roosevelt would either have to commit himself openly or else back out if the USA was to be regarded as neutral. Given that all gaming scenarios that I know of show an invasion of the UK failing after initial successes, the UK could have held out. But an intensified submarine and air bombing campaign would have left the UK in far worse shape than was the case.

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

Post by 2020hindsight » 21 Jul 2016 14:44

Apparently a study made in Germany predicted that an invasion of the USSR was largely counter-productive, as it would not produce an overall benefit. The apparent promise of large amounts of grain was illusory, according to the study, and the conquered areas would be a net drain in resources, including food. There was of course the plan to depopulate the conquered areas (east and west) by starvation, but even this kind of asset-stripping was not a long-term solution.

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

Post by Guaporense » 22 Jul 2016 03:36

Cult Icon wrote: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.
Indeed. There would be no role for studying military history at all if wars were just an auction where victory is being sold: Which side spends the most buys victory. :wink:
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.
Actually its the fact that the Allies won that shows economics is wrong, that's because the European Axis had a great superiority over the Soviet Union in economic resources but failed to defeat it. While the bulk of the Allies' economic resources were with the Western Allies, the Soviet Union is responsible for the vast majority of Germany's losses and was by far the single most important Allied country in the war.
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.
Indeed. Although it's true rich countries can make their soldiers be more "durable" through material. Essentially, airpower and artillery's functions in war is just to support infantry, it's the infantry who actually holds ground, artillery and airpower are sophisticated ways to inflict casualties on the enemy's infantry.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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

Post by Guaporense » 22 Jul 2016 04:42

KDF33 wrote:
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.
The problem is that's from Wagenfurh armament index, which is an index incorporating only a few elements of total military expenditures. If you look at broad military expenditures we have in 1943:

Total military expenditures ---------- 112 billion RM (that data is probably incomplete)
Total expenditures on "armaments" - 20 billion RM (i.e. 18%)
-------------------------- aircraft ----- ca. 8 billion RM (i.e. 7%)
-------------------------- ships -------- 1.25 billion RM (i.e. 1%)
ammunition for aircraft and ships -- 1.2 billion RM (i.e. 1%)

Where monthly expenditures on aircraft were 725 million RM in the 3rd quarter of 1943 and ships were 103 million RM. So total expenditures on aircraft and ships were 8% of total military outlays for Germany in 1943.

The German armed forces in 1943 consisted of: 1.5 million men in the Luftwaffe, 700,000 in the navy and 7.2 million men in the army and Waffen-SS. The Luftwaffe, however had only 526,000 personnel operating and doing maintenance on aircraft among 1.46 million personnel in 1941 (http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 2#p2028122) rest were mostly ground forces or flak personnel, in 1943 the number was probably similar given that the number of aircraft in service was similar, so we have ca. 550,000 personnel on the actual "airforce" out of 9.5 million men in the whole armed forces, that's a 6% share. In the navy only 500,000 men were actually working in floating thingies and stuff (http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 3#p2019253). So combined the airforce and navy had about 10% of the Wehrmacht manpower strength not actually involved into shooting things from the ground. Hence, 90% of the Wehrmacht personnel was involved with ground warfare of some sort.

In terms of armaments, about 10.5 billion RM were for the navy and airforce combined and 9.5 billion RM were for the army. However, 90% of the personnel was involved in the ground forces so out of the remaining 92 billion RM military budget, 90% of that went to ground forces or the construction of fortifications like the Atlantic wall besides other government expenditures on the military industrial complex. Anyway, we can conclude that the Navy and Airforce combined probably represented about 10.5 billion RM in armaments, plus 4.5 billion RM for pay, supplies and subsistence*, or 15 billion RM, about 14% of the war budget, so the vast majority of German military expenditures was in ground warfare, of the scale of 70-80 billion RM with a few 10-20 billion RM on other expenditures like the Atlantic Wall.

However I would need to get access to more detailed accounting information regarding German government expenditures. In the US's case I already have better information, for instance, I know that their scale of expenditures on the navy and airforce was much greater than in Germany's case.

*that's assuming each personnel in the Wehrmacht costs ca. 4,000-4,500 RM per year in payment and subsistence and considering Germany's per capita income in 1943 was 2,000 RM that appears to be a reasonable guess.
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Re: Could The USA/British Empire have won on their own?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 May 2022 17:20

Guaporense wrote:
18 Jul 2016 05:34
I don't think there would be campaigns. At most maybe a couple of amphibious operations ending in disaster.

I think that the most probable outcome of a German victory in Russia would be a state of Cold War between the Nazis and the Western Allies, just like it happened with Russia and the Western Allies historically. Eventually, the Nazi regime would be replaced by a less aggressive regime (as Hitler's health was in decline) and I guess Europe would be freed from Nazi domination naturally (like it happened with Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Empire). Maybe France, Italy and Germany would turn into third world countries if the Nazi regime lasts many decades though.

I don't think the Western Allies would be willing to risk invading continental Europe (specially because they know casualties would be in the millions from the experience WW1) and I don't think Hitler was interested in invading England either. I also don't think that strategic bombing alone could win a war (specially in this situation with a much stronger Luftwaffe, historically strategic bombing is said to have had a significant impact on German industrial production only in the late stages of the war, now it would be much harder for the Allies to drop 100,000 tons of bombs on Germany because they would lose many more bombers in the process*, and countries like North Vietnam and Germany did not surrender because of bombing raids either).
Guaporense wrote:
22 Jul 2016 04:42
KDF33 wrote: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:


Total military expenditures ---------- 112 billion RM (that data is probably incomplete)
Total expenditures on "armaments" - 20 billion RM (i.e. 18%)
-------------------------- aircraft ----- ca. 8 billion RM (i.e. 7%)
-------------------------- ships -------- 1.25 billion RM (i.e. 1%)
ammunition for aircraft and ships -- 1.2 billion RM (i.e. 1%)

Where monthly expenditures on aircraft were 725 million RM in the 3rd quarter of 1943 and ships were 103 million RM. So total expenditures on aircraft and ships were 8% of total military outlays for Germany in 1943.

The German armed forces in 1943 consisted of: 1.5 million men in the Luftwaffe, 700,000 in the navy and 7.2 million men in the army and Waffen-SS. The Luftwaffe, however had only 526,000 personnel operating and doing maintenance on aircraft among 1.46 million personnel in 1941 (http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 2#p2028122) rest were mostly ground forces or flak personnel, in 1943 the number was probably similar given that the number of aircraft in service was similar, so we have ca. 550,000 personnel on the actual "airforce" out of 9.5 million men in the whole armed forces, that's a 6% share. In the navy only 500,000 men were actually working in floating thingies and stuff (http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 3#p2019253). So combined the airforce and navy had about 10% of the Wehrmacht manpower strength not actually involved into shooting things from the ground. Hence, 90% of the Wehrmacht personnel was involved with ground warfare of some sort.

In terms of armaments, about 10.5 billion RM were for the navy and airforce combined and 9.5 billion RM were for the army. However, 90% of the personnel was involved in the ground forces so out of the remaining 92 billion RM military budget, 90% of that went to ground forces or the construction of fortifications like the Atlantic wall besides other government expenditures on the military industrial complex. Anyway, we can conclude that the Navy and Airforce combined probably represented about 10.5 billion RM in armaments, plus 4.5 billion RM for pay, supplies and subsistence*, or 15 billion RM, about 14% of the war budget, so the vast majority of German military expenditures was in ground warfare, of the scale of 70-80 billion RM with a few 10-20 billion RM on other expenditures like the Atlantic Wall.

However I would need to get access to more detailed accounting information regarding German government expenditures. In the US's case I already have better information, for instance, I know that their scale of expenditures on the navy and airforce was much greater than in Germany's case.

*that's assuming each personnel in the Wehrmacht costs ca. 4,000-4,500 RM per year in payment and subsistence and considering Germany's per capita income in 1943 was 2,000 RM that appears to be a reasonable guess.
It's too bad Guaporense isn't around anymore, guess he didn't have the right views.

This method of analyzing commitment to air/land/sea warfare is just obviously correct (in general - not endorsing all particulars). The fact that armaments production was a surprisingly small part of German national effort is plain from the statistics but somehow missed in accounts like O'Brien's How the War was Won. For nearly every country (perhaps the US excluded), the biggest commitment of national resources was to military service not military production. Even within the realm of production, non-armaments items (food, clothing, other basic equipment like field kitchens and earth-moving tools) usually matched or nearly matched armaments output. As demand for these items is tightly correlated with deployed manpower strength, we have another indication that much of WW2 production fetishization is misplaced.

One minor bone I'd pick with Guaporense's analysis: He seeks to quantify the resource expenditure embodied in military manpower via pay and subsistence. While I appreciate the "and subsistence" move, that the metric remains tied to pay introduces an element of arbitrariness.

What do I mean? Well for most WW2 combatants, the pricing mechanism functioned largely (though imperfectly) as pricing does in capitalist/market economies: a thing cost X because X was a fairly good measure of the national resources that it embodied (production labor, raw materials, transport, energy, etc.). For military labor, however, that price-resources nexus is completely severed. Military pay was obviously not the result of market interactions that contained resource information - it was a fairly arbitrary number enforced on men who mostly had no choice about whether to take it.

Because military pay tells us nothing about the value of the resource deployed in military service, might there be a better metric? I suggest using the opportunity cost of military labor. Totally-mobilized modern states can deploy manpower in militaries or in factories/fields. When facing these choices, they trade the value of increased production against the value of increased manpower. A perfectly-wise, perfectly-informed leadership would deploy manpower such that the net marginal benefit/cost of moving a man from to the other would be zero. At that equilibrium, we've reached the optimal manpower allocation because marginal tradeoffs between production and manpower are equal. Before that equilibrium, you've got too many soldiers and too little production - or vice versa.

If WW2 leaders were perfectly wise and fully informed, then the opportunity cost of military manpower (i.e. the production expected from releasing one soldier to the economy) would tell us the price that WW2 countries were willing to pay for soldiers. This would be a much better metric of army cost than soldier pay. The examples of manpower-production tussles occurred in every WW2 strategic circle, so the leaders were obviously trying to find the right balance and behaving functionally as I've described.

Of course WW2 leaders were not perfectly wise/informed. Nonetheless, they actually paid the opportunity cost of each soldier deployed in armies rather than factories, so we can evaluate relative resource commitments using soldier opportunity cost despite imperfection in the decisions reached.

For Germany, I'd estimate a male industrial worker had an opportunity cost of 7,000 RM - only slightly higher than Guaporense's postulated "price" for military labor. We can discuss if anyone is interested. That suggests a 1944 "price" of Wehrmacht manpower approaching 100mil RM (counting not just active strength but also soldiers lost on Wehrmacht duty and thus "permanently allocated" to Wehrmacht).

-------------------------------

And no, the US/Empire would not have defeated Germany on its own except perhaps via nuclear holocaust. As I've discussed elsewhere, all US leaders understood that losing the SU meant never invading Europe.

The possibility of nuclear victory doesn't exculpate the basic strategic folly of the Western Allies during WW2, as that possibility emerged long after they set their strategies. They went to war with a non-serious strategic concept (blockade and strategic bombing will save us from the horrors of a large land war) and, once they realized this folly, understood that the fate of Europe was entirely out of their hands. The world's largest economies were helpful spectators to the critical 20th Century drama.
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