Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
historygeek2021
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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by historygeek2021 » 05 Jul 2021 23:39

KDF33 wrote:
05 Jul 2021 21:01
historygeek2021 wrote:
04 Jul 2021 23:36
I found this chart online, the underlying source being Harrison. It suggests that the U.S.A. had a relatively low percentage of its population employed in war industry or serving in the armed forces, which shouldn't be too surprising. Even with a far lower mobilization percentage than other countries, the U.S.A. vastly outproduced them all.
The table seems about right for the Anglo-Americans and Germany, but is most definitely wrong for the USSR. Harrison himself shows that the Soviet workforce (including military) averaged 57.1 million persons in 1943, of which 9 million (15.8%) were employed in industry, of which the so-called 'Group I' constitutes but a part.

After Britain, the U.S. devoted the largest share of its labor force to 'Group I', namely what the USSBS defines as the 'Metal, chemical and allied industries'. A better, ranked table would look like this:

'Group I' + military share of total working population, 1943:

1. United Kingdom: 23.0 + 22.3 = 45.3
2. Germany: 14.2 + 23.4 = 37.6
3. United States: 19.0 + 16.4 = 35.4
4. Soviet Union: 15.8* + 20.8 = 36.6* (recalculated from the Harrison PDF - No data for 'Group I', so overall industry is used instead, thus inflating the overall figure)

The Soviet share of 'Group I' + military was the smallest, which makes sense given how almost half of its working population worked in agriculture. It was, after all, the least developed of the four belligerents.

The U.K. came first because it employed virtually no one in agriculture. The U.S. and Germany are within each other's margin of error, with the U.S. tilted toward industry and Germany toward the military.
Which means that U.S. workers were far more productive than German workers, and simply throwing more workers into German industry would not have enabled Germany to compete with the economic might of the United States, as I explain here:

viewtopic.php?f=66&p=2352106#p2352106

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 05 Jul 2021 23:45

historygeek2021 wrote:
05 Jul 2021 04:25
Thus, U.S. workers were orders of magnitude more productive than their German counterparts, due to superior capital and institutional experience in mass production and a vastly superior raw materials base. Even if Germany doubled the number of workers employed in industrial tasks, Germany would not have come close to matching U.S. war production. This is especially true when we factor in the law of diminishing marginal returns.
That's highly disputable. Although U.S. workers were, indeed, somewhat more productive, the gap was far narrower than is commonly assumed, and the vast majority of the differential in outputs is accounted for by larger U.S. inputs. Looking at aircraft production, for instance, we get:

Airframe weight produced, April/May 1943, compared to workforce employed in airframe assembly on May 1st of the year:

United States: 67,644 metric tons / 1,084,000 workers = 0.062 ton per worker
Germany: 19,368 metric tons / 373,000 workers = 0.052 ton per worker

German productivity is 84% of that of the U.S., at a time when a large part of the former's workforce was composed of coerced foreign labor. U.S. productivity was definitely higher at the margins, but it was not 'an order of magnitude' higher than that of Germany - or of any of the other main belligerents, for the matter.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by historygeek2021 » 05 Jul 2021 23:54

KDF33 wrote:
05 Jul 2021 23:45
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 Jul 2021 04:25
Thus, U.S. workers were orders of magnitude more productive than their German counterparts, due to superior capital and institutional experience in mass production and a vastly superior raw materials base. Even if Germany doubled the number of workers employed in industrial tasks, Germany would not have come close to matching U.S. war production. This is especially true when we factor in the law of diminishing marginal returns.
That's highly disputable. Although U.S. workers were, indeed, somewhat more productive, the gap was far narrower than is commonly assumed, and the vast majority of the differential in outputs is accounted for by larger U.S. inputs. Looking at aircraft production, for instance, we get:

Airframe weight produced, April/May 1943, compared to workforce employed in airframe assembly on May 1st of the year:

United States: 67,644 metric tons / 1,084,000 workers = 0.062 ton per worker
Germany: 19,368 metric tons / 373,000 workers = 0.052 ton per worker

German productivity is 84% of that of the U.S., at a time when a large part of the former's workforce was composed of coerced foreign labor. U.S. productivity was definitely higher at the margins, but it was not 'an order of magnitude' higher than that of Germany - or of any of the other main belligerents, for the matter.
Sources please.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 Jul 2021 00:00

KDF33 wrote:German productivity is 84% of that of the U.S.
The really big US productivity edge was in basic materials and transport. I'll have to track down my sources but IIRC American productivity in coal mining and railways was >100% higher.

As the war went on, this differential only got worse. German coalminers lost up to 30% of their productivity due to inadequate nutrition. Source: The Taste of War by Lizzie Collingham.

In transport, one factor is that America's oil-richness enabled greater reliance on diesel locomotives, which removes the enormous labor force behind coaling/water stations all along routes.

This is another area in which one needs to be conscious of path dependence. German productivity in many cases is partially a product of the war's course rather than intrinsic to the German economy.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 06 Jul 2021 00:07

historygeek2021 wrote:
05 Jul 2021 23:54
Sources please.
American and German labor: USSBS report on aircraft industry, Exhibit V

German aircraft production: Same source as above, Exhibit III

American aircraft production: Official Munitions Production of the United States, Section I. Aircraft

I multiplied the number of each individual type of airframe by its empty airframe weight, for both countries. I excluded German airframes produced outside of Germany, and I reduced the American total by 2.5% to reflect Canadian production counted in U.S. numbers.

The average German airframe weighs 5,065 kg, whereas the average American airframe weighs 5,131 kg. This might seem counterintuitive, but U.S. heavy bomber production is offset by its large trainer production.

You can redo the calculations if you want - you'll arrive at the same figures.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by historygeek2021 » 06 Jul 2021 00:59

KDF33 wrote:
06 Jul 2021 00:07
historygeek2021 wrote:
05 Jul 2021 23:54
Sources please.
American and German labor: USSBS report on aircraft industry, Exhibit V

German aircraft production: Same source as above, Exhibit III

American aircraft production: Official Munitions Production of the United States, Section I. Aircraft

I multiplied the number of each individual type of airframe by its empty airframe weight, for both countries. I excluded German airframes produced outside of Germany, and I reduced the American total by 2.5% to reflect Canadian production counted in U.S. numbers.

The average German airframe weighs 5,065 kg, whereas the average American airframe weighs 5,131 kg. This might seem counterintuitive, but U.S. heavy bomber production is offset by its large trainer production.

You can redo the calculations if you want - you'll arrive at the same figures.
Your USSBS source contains this chart:
Pounds per employee ww2.png
If we do a raw calculation of pounds per employee, we get this:
Labor efficiency aircraft ww2.png
Which shows, as does the USSBS analysis, that German labor in the aircraft industry was consistently less efficient than that of the United States, and the gap widened significantly as the war progressed.

This is, moreover, just the aircraft industry, which was the most modern and efficient armaments industry in Germany. As I showed in my other thread, U.S. industrial output dwarfed Germany across the board during WW2, despite having only 8 million more industrial workers.

Simply throwing more workers into its armament industry would not have allowed Germany to come close to U.S. armaments production.
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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 Jul 2021 01:27

historygeek2021 wrote:aircraft industry, which was the most modern and efficient armaments industry in Germany
the gap widened significantly as the war progressed
Again this is a product of the war's course rather than something intrinsic to the German economy or aircraft industry. That industry transformed from Germany's most skilled to its most reliant on unskilled foreigners.

From Daniel Uziel's Arming the Luftwaffe, under Chapter 4 titled "From Technological Expertise to Slave Labor":
In firms like BMW, foreigners of all
sorts formed 85 percent of the productive workforce. In October 1943 Milch brought the
series production of the Ju 52 transport plane in Bernburg, which was done by 6 German
foremen and around 2,000 foreigners p.177
The progressive German shift to smaller planes, and American shift to larger, also biases the statistics: Bigger planes are cheaper, per ton.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 Jul 2021 01:39

Indeed the draft's impact on German productivity has been understated by me and KDF33 so far because we have relied only on raw numbers of draftees.

Younger men were disproportionately present in the aviation industry because it was a young industry: because of how apprenticeship worked in Germany, older men were already skilled in other fields when the industry started going in the latter '30's. Again from Uziel:
during 1943 most [aviation] firms lost large numbers of German and foreign workers. MIMO, an important
producer of aero-engines, lost 1,585 of a total of 8,033 workers (19.7 percent) during 1943,
mainly due to conscription of Germans and of foreigners choosing not to renew their contracts.
This loss happened after MIMO’s manpower statistics peaked at the beginning of
1943... In early 1943 a total of 6,189 workers—11.5 percent of BMW’s entire workforce—
were called up by the Wehrmacht. Most of these workers
were both skilled and experienced, and their loss was immediately felt.
By '43 when these drafts happened, the remaining German workers would have survived several rounds of "emergency" callups and therefore would have been highly productive. Nothing similar happened to the US aviation industry, which was always given high priority in a country that conscripted less of its workforce.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 Jul 2021 01:54

historygeek2021 wrote:Simply throwing more workers into its armament industry would not have allowed Germany to come close to U.S. armaments production.
The return of skilled German workers to the aviation industry would have enabled labor force expansion at increased productivity. It was precisely the lack of skilled Germans that prevented "throwing" more foreigners into the industry. Again from Uziel:
German workers became scarce and foreigners of different skill levels were
employed in growing numbers under German professional supervision.
Then he quotes Milch to describe how unskilled workers operated under German supervision:
The manufacture of a high-quality double-row radial engine by unskilled foreigners is possible
only if it is being done pattern-wise on a conveyor belt, where each man operates only a specific
knob. This sort of training is possible with foreigners; we cannot make skilled workers out of
these people. Skilled workers cannot be created within 4 weeks or even a year. A skilled worker
is a man who studied his profession for 3—mostly 4—years, and then performed this work for
3 to 4 years. Someone who didn’t do it is not a skilled worker. A semi-skilled worker can perform
only specific work on a machine or on an object. You can see how difficult it is to perform
the manufacturing tasks of so many types of aircraft.
As you can probably tell by now, Uziel's book is really good.

-----

TMP bookmark: skilled German aviation workers (this post and the preceding)
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 06 Jul 2021 01:58

historygeek2021 wrote:
06 Jul 2021 00:59
Which shows, as does the USSBS analysis, that German labor in the aircraft industry was consistently less efficient than that of the United States, and the gap widened significantly as the war progressed.
The problem with the chart is that the weight figures for German airframes are completely wrong. They show 43,224,000 pounds for 'July 1943' (which, as note A shows, is for May-July), which amounts to 19,606 metric tons, inclusive of spares.

But then, another USSBS report shows the Germans producing 37,174 metric tons of airframe weight for the May-July 1943 period, with no clarification whether or not this second figure includes spares.

Thus, to allow a proper apples-to-apples comparison, I've recalculated the data on the basis of 'empty weight' - which includes the airframe plus fixed equipment, but without fuel, ammunition or cargo.

Note that, in the case of the U.S., 'empty weight' is 154% of 'airframe weight', sans spares. By applying the same ratio to German output, it becomes quite apparent that Germany didn't produce just 43,224,000 pounds of airframes + spares in May-July 1943.
historygeek2021 wrote:
06 Jul 2021 00:59
This is, moreover, just the aircraft industry, which was the most modern and efficient armaments industry in Germany. As I showed in my other thread, U.S. industrial output dwarfed Germany across the board during WW2, despite having only 8 million more industrial workers.

Simply throwing more workers into its armament industry would not have allowed Germany to come close to U.S. armaments production.
As seen above, this conclusion is based on a corrupt dataset, therefore...

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 06 Jul 2021 02:06

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
06 Jul 2021 01:27
Again this is a product of the war's course rather than something intrinsic to the German economy or aircraft industry. That industry transformed from Germany's most skilled to its most reliant on unskilled foreigners.
It goes beyond that. As discussed in my reply, HG is basing his conclusion on a faulty dataset. Even allowing for all the disruption you mention, Germany's airframe industry in spring 1943 had 80-85% of the productivity of its U.S. counterpart.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
06 Jul 2021 01:27
The progressive German shift to smaller planes, and American shift to larger, also biases the statistics: Bigger planes are cheaper, per ton.
This, however, I find questionable. Although the U.S. did produce much more heavy aircraft, they also produced a lot more small trainers. IMO, it's probably a wash - indeed, average empty aircraft weight between the two countries was similar in spring 1943.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 Jul 2021 02:17

KDF33 wrote:As discussed in my reply, HG is basing his conclusion on a faulty dataset.
wouldn't have caught that, good work.
KDF33 wrote:Although the U.S. did produce much more heavy aircraft, they also produced a lot more small
Didn't catch that either.

OTOH I wonder whether trainers embody much real production, even per weight. They're lower-performance, especially the basic trainers. The thick-chord, low-aspect-ratio wing of a crop duster is surely far cheaper to make then the thoroughbred wing of a combat plane (just for example). They're also often unarmed; weapons-frame interface is complex/expensive engineering plus the cost of weapons themselves.

Trainers could be cheaper per ton than heavy bombers. I'll look at AAF stat digest and see if I can reach a conclusion. Later...
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 06 Jul 2021 03:08

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
06 Jul 2021 02:17
wouldn't have caught that, good work.
Looking closely at the various data points, my best (preliminary) guess is this:

The U.S. data shown here is what it claims to be, i.e. weight of airframes + spare parts. This, in fairness, isn't quite a guess: the 'Official Munitions Production of the United States' shows the same data, and details what it is.

The German data shown next to it is airframes weight but, unlike what the document claims, it doesn't include spare parts.

The divergent German data shown here, despite the table's title, is actually empty weight + spare parts.

Thus, all three datasets are counting different things, and are thus impossible to directly compare. Given how the USSBS table comparing American to German aircraft production includes spares only for the U.S., it overstates the difference in productivity between the two industries. Comparable data must be generated independently, which is what I did in my initial post about aircraft production in this thread.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by historygeek2021 » 06 Jul 2021 06:00

KDF33 wrote:
06 Jul 2021 03:08
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
06 Jul 2021 02:17
wouldn't have caught that, good work.
Looking closely at the various data points, my best (preliminary) guess is this:

The U.S. data shown here is what it claims to be, i.e. weight of airframes + spare parts. This, in fairness, isn't quite a guess: the 'Official Munitions Production of the United States' shows the same data, and details what it is.

The German data shown next to it is airframes weight but, unlike what the document claims, it doesn't include spare parts.

The divergent German data shown here, despite the table's title, is actually empty weight + spare parts.

Thus, all three datasets are counting different things, and are thus impossible to directly compare. Given how the USSBS table comparing American to German aircraft production includes spares only for the U.S., it overstates the difference in productivity between the two industries. Comparable data must be generated independently, which is what I did in my initial post about aircraft production in this thread.
If I convert the 186,940,000 pounds of U.S. airframe weight for the period May-July 1943 shown by both sources, I get 84,794.49 metric tons. But you used 67,644 metric tons for the U.S. side of the equation. Please explain how you arrived at this, and if possible, show screenshots of your work.

Likewise, if I convert the German figure from 43,224,000 pounds to metrict tons, I get 19,606 metric tons, which is essentially the same as the number you used in your calculation (19,368). So, if the ratio you gave us of 67,644 to 19,368 is what we should be using, it is really the U.S. number that is too high in the USSBS Aircraft Division report, even though it perfectly matches the figure in the Official Munitions Production of the United States. So please explain why we should be using 67,644 metric tons for the U.S instead of 84,794.49.

Also, it would be good to see what figures you get for the same period in 1944, for which the USSBS shows a 58% leap in U.S. productivity versus an increase of only 13% for Germany.

To do a real apples to apples comparison, we would compare output and employees of specific types of aircraft (e.g., twin engine bombers and single engine fighters), but we don't seem to have employment information for either country at that level of detail.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 06 Jul 2021 07:59

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
06 Jul 2021 02:17
Trainers could be cheaper per ton than heavy bombers. I'll look at AAF stat digest and see if I can reach a conclusion. Later...
I pulled together some quick data on cost and airframe weight:

Image

Price data from AAF Statistical Digest, p.134.
Empty frame weight from various sources, mostly Wiki (always cited in article, usually Jane's or some other reliable source - feel free to correct)


I only used planes that were in production for >2 years and used their cheapest price. This minimizes the data problem of production learning curves. B-29 is an exception because how could I leave it out? But it seems an obvious outlier - 1945 price is barely into mass production. Some medium bombers had odd production histories as well.

Anyway, the heavy bomber average $/t is 27% lower than the fighter average. Mediums are only 7% less $/t but again they saw lower production runs and had some odd discontinuities. B-25, the most-produced and longest-run medium, was 21% cheaper per ton than average fighters.

Trainers were indeed cheaper per ton than heavy bombers. This shouldn't be surprising given how low-tech, low-performance were most trainers - especially the very numerous primary trainers. Here's a PT-13:

Image

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

Given the predominance of heavy bombers and trainers, by weight, in US production relative to German, we should probably discount the US's weight-based advantage by something like 20-30% at the German peak (when fighters dominated production).

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

TMP bookmark: cost per tonne of US planes
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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