US/UK lend-lease to Stalin

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Bronsky
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Post by Bronsky » 22 Aug 2005 14:32

This is an old thread, but...

Gwynn Compton wrote:I've already used part of this passage, but I feel the need to expand on it now to drive home the importance of Lend Lease to the Soviet War effort

As soon as Germany declared war on the United States, on 11 December 1941, Lend-Lease shipments began to flow to Russia directly from America, via Vladivostok, Murmansk and the Persian Gulf.


The American railroad industry supplied 2000 locomotives, 11,000 freight carriages and 540,000 tons of rails, with which the Russians laid a greater length of line than they had built between 1928 and 1939. American supplies of high-grade petroleum were essential to Russian production of aviation fuel, while three-quarters of Soviet consumption of copper in 1941-4 came from American sources


-All from John Keegan, The Second World War


Keegan makes plenty of mistakes, he's good as a general introductory historian, but you don't want to use him for specialist stuff. To his credit, lend-lease is particularly difficult to measure due to inadequate Soviet accounting, and Keegan's book was written at a time when access to Soviet historical data was incomplete.

1. On the "lend-lease shipments began to flow",

The source for US lend-lease is "Roads to Russia", and for Commonwealth lend lease, there's "Comrades in Arms". Please note that all the dates are when the stuff was shipped, i.e. left the US. Sailing time to the Soviet Far East was about a month, and about 3.5 months to Persia (counting delays to form convoys). Then you have to wait for the ship to be given a berth, then a couple of weeks to unload it, then transport from the port (I think that a lot of resources which were shipped to the Soviet Far East, which includes most of the lend lease food, were used locally to save transport).
With that in mind, below are figures for tonnage sent from the Western Hemisphere to the USSR ("North Russia" means the Murmansk convoys), in long tons. They include about half a million tons lost in transit, mostly in 1942, and 550,000t of petroleum products sent by the British from the Abadan refineries and made good by US lend-lease to Britain separately. I think that they are available online somewhere, but as I already have them I'm too lazy to search them :oops:

1941: 360,778t, of which 13,502t Persian Gulf, 193,229t Soviet Far East, 153,977t North Russia.
1942: 2,453,097t of which 705,259t Persian Gulf, 734,020 Soviet Far East, 949,711 North Russia, 64,107 Soviet Artic.
1943: 4,794,545t of which 1,606,979 Persian Gulf, 2,388,577 Soviet Far East, 681,043 North Russia, 117,946 Soviet Artic.
1944: 6,217,622t of which 1,788,864 Persian Gulf, 2,848,181 Soviet Far East, 1,452,775 North Russia, 127,802 Soviet Artic.
1945 3,673,819t (last shipments 20 Sept) of which: 44,513 Persian Gulf, 2,079,320 Soviet Far East, 726,725 North Russia, 680,723 Black Sea, 142,538 Soviet Artic.

So the amount of lend-lease that is described as "flowing" in 1941 is 2% of the total. This is certainly a "flow" of sorts, but more a trickle than a flood. We should keep that in mind when assessing how much lend-lease helped the Soviet Union survive.

Some notes on the British contribution: in the Persian Gulf, 165,655 tons delivered by the British during their operation of the Iranian State Railways in 1942, and 480,731 tons delivered by the United Kingdom Commercial Cooperation and other British agencies throughout the entire period. The remaining 4,502,990 tons were delivered chiefly by the US Army but include unknown British tonnages in 1942 figures for assembles trucks and aircraft, as well as the British share of rail deliveries during the period of joint operation which reduce the US share to 4,417,243t.

Other Commonwealth supplies were 5,218 tanks and 5,591 carriers, 250,000 trucks, 32,000 tons of aluminium, 40,000 tons of copper, 28,000 tons of tin and 114,000 tons of rubber. Also 8,210,000 pounds sterling worth of food (how much food that represents depends on how light and how expensive you consider British food to be, and how much of it you might consider edible although the Soviets wouldn't be too choosy).

In total, the Soviets received some 17 million tons of lend-lease, of which over 15 million were US.

2. On the "lend-lease supplied vital rolling stock", this begs the question "vital for what ?".

On the face of it, the figures look impressive: 1,911 steam and 70 diesel electric locomotives, 11,155 rail cars. However none of this was shipped before the second half of 1943, no locomotives were sent before 1944, and only 20% of these amounts (in tonnage) was shipped - i.e. you then have to add sailing time, debarkation time, transit time to the front, etc - before 1 July 1944.
Additionally, a lot of the US locomotives were too heavy for Soviet tracks so could only be of limited use except where the railway was rebuilt. All in all, the lend-lease rolling stock allowed a faster Soviet advance, but it certainly didn't influence the survival of the Soviet Union. One more influencial lend-lease contribution which I didn't find mentioned on this board was the equipping by the US of large portions of Soviet tracks with an automatic signalling system. This boosted the efficiency of the existing rail network by allowing higher average speeds. But I don't know by how much.

The two questions about lend-lease:

The first question, i.e. "would the Soviet Union have collapsed without lend-lease ?", is very difficult to answer for a number of reasons. Personally I believe that it could well have, not in 1941 but during the winter of 1942/43 when the Soviet economy was over-mobilized and the difference between success and failure was very slim, but of course I'm not sure and a good case can be made for the opposite view.

The second question, i.e. "How important was lend-lease to the rest of the war ?" was examined by Mark Harrison in his "Accounting for War". He assumed that the Soviets would keep civilian consumption at the historical levels, the result being that for 1942-45, in terms of defense outlays, the Soviets would be short of 2.1% of GNP but they would still have 1.6 % (vs. 6.5% with the Lend Lease) left in gross investments and 2.7% (vs. 4.2 % with the Lend Lease) in civilian surplus.
In other words, historically between 1943-45 the Soviets devoted the same (and by the end of the war larger) amounts of resources to rebuilding their country than they received from lend-lease, so Harrison assumes that they would simply make their population suffer a while longer and delay the rebuilding of the country until after the war.
I have my problems with that theory, particularly the fact that rebuilding infrastructure in the liberated areas served a military purpose (supply lines) and not just a "civilian surplus + gross investment" one. However, it should be noted that the Soviets in 1942 weren't sure exactly how far they could safely go in pressuring their own population, and that the Soviet population received smaller levels of civilian surplus in 1943-44 than in 1942.
So I think it can definitely be considered a fact that the historical Soviet war effort could be increased in an emergency, particularly in 1943-45. Which is one of the reasons why I don't buy the "Germans maintain a stalemate on the Eastern Front in 1943-45" scenario, but that's another story.

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Alter Mann
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Effect Of Lend Lease On Soviets In WWII.

Post by Alter Mann » 13 Dec 2005 03:47

One interesting statistic I read was that the Soviets produced less than 2000 trucks during WWI. The number might have been as low as 17, but I don't remember. Between 1919 and 1939, Soviet industry produced More than 200,000 trucks. Once again, possibly considerably more. Not enough to provide a large number of trucks per military unit, especially considering attrition, but still a large number for the time.

As late as 1980, the estimate of Soviet trucks available for military use in a conflict included more civilian trucks built to military standards than trucks actually built for the military. It seems unlikely that this was a new idea. Not all civilian trucks could be pressed into service without a very adverse effect on civilian quality of life, or survival, but a large number of trucks would have been available within a very short time, and an even larger number for only a short time.

It seems even more unlikely that WWII Soviet civilian trucks would be fragile, or less mobile in normal Russian terrain than that 1980 models would unsuitable for military use. Remember that in 1939 there were very few paved roads in Russia. Fragile vehicles would have been useless. It is quite possible that Lend Lease Studebakers required less maintenance, but then again, Russian equipment was usually built to be low maintenance. It seems more likely that the Soviet vehicles were less sophisticated than Lend Lease vehicles, kind of like Ural motorcycles. That doesn't make them less useful.

I have seen a number of statements to the effect that Lend Lease trucks and train components made it possible for the Soviets to concentrate on production of war only equipment, such as tanks and cannons.

I find it difficult to believe that the effectiveness of Soviet military aviation was affected at all by Lend Lease. The Soviets didn't really seem to like any of the Lend Lease aircraft except the Bell P-39. Other aircraft might have been used for training purposes, but I have never heard of them being used much in combat. Soviet pilots seemed to prefer Soviet aircraft, and some very good reasons have been given. If that seems odd, consider that Allied aircrews seemed to always want to fly in the latest aircraft available. Due to design issues possibly, this was not always the case with Soviet aircrews.

I doubt that anyone disagrees that Lend Lease had an effect, but I also doubt that anyone will ever know even approximately what the true extent was.

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Re: Effect Of Lend Lease On Soviets In WWII.

Post by Bronsky » 13 Dec 2005 08:56

Alter Mann wrote:One interesting statistic I read was that the Soviets produced less than 2000 trucks during WWI.


From memory, the Soviets received some 744,000 military vehicles during WWII, of which some 400,000 were from lend-lease. For 1942, in round figures we have 100,000 domestic Soviet production + 50,000 lend-lease vs 58,000 for the Wehrmacht.

Alter Mann wrote: It seems even more unlikely that WWII Soviet civilian trucks would be fragile, or less mobile in normal Russian terrain than that 1980 models would unsuitable for military use. Remember that in 1939 there were very few paved roads in Russia. Fragile vehicles would have been useless. It is quite possible that Lend Lease Studebakers required less maintenance, but then again, Russian equipment was usually built to be low maintenance. It seems more likely that the Soviet vehicles were less sophisticated than Lend Lease vehicles, kind of like Ural motorcycles. That doesn't make them less useful.


Soviet-produced vehicles were mid-1930's copies of US ones (mostly Ford, IIRC) built in factories bought from the US, with US production engineers to help set it up etc. This was a very efficient setup production-wise (i.e. the whole complex was integrated, economies of scale, etc) but of course it was geared to produce vehicles that were basically ten years old, with a few improvements added by Soviet engineers to adapt them to Russian conditions.

So lend-lease vehicles were superior to domestic Soviet production. That's why the Soviets mostly used the LL stuff in frontline units (better speed and cross-country ability) and their own production + captured trucks for logistics. This is one of the reason why the proportion of US-built trucks in the Soviet vehicle park understates their importance: first because it doesn't take quality into account and second because frontline vehicles had greater attrition.

Alter Mann wrote: I have seen a number of statements to the effect that Lend Lease trucks and train components made it possible for the Soviets to concentrate on production of war only equipment, such as tanks and cannons.


Former car and truck factories were producing light tanks - T-60's & T-70's - which were largely useless by 1943, and switched to SU-76 production which was a bit more useful.

Alter Mann wrote: I find it difficult to believe that the effectiveness of Soviet military aviation was affected at all by Lend Lease. The Soviets didn't really seem to like any of the Lend Lease aircraft except the Bell P-39.


Initially, the Soviets lost a ton of aircraft, and the lend-lease stuff was a welcome addition by supplying them with modern types, as good as or better than the best that they could produce, of which they didn't have enough. This goes for Hurricanes in the Murmansk region, P-40's, P-39's, B-25's etc. Later on, Soviet production picked up and lend-lease held no particular edge quality-wise. For example, compared to modern Soviet medium bombers (which were generally available by the end of 1942) the B-25 had inferior range and no particular edge in performance. It was easier on the crew, and more realiable.

Ditto with the P-39 & P-63: it supplemented Soviet production nicely, but was not decisive. Of far greater importance for the Soviet airforce performance was the large scale reorganization of production, training program, as well as doctrine issues.

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Alter Mann
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Lend Lease

Post by Alter Mann » 13 Dec 2005 16:28

Good points, Bronsky, and you pointed out several things that I should have thought more about before I posted them.

I wasn't aware that the US had helped so much with truck production. That one sentence about the increase in production between WWI and WWII stuck in my mind, and I really never questioned how it was done. American engineers were a lot better, in comparison to the rest of the world, than they are now, so, even though mass production was still relatively new, I sure that revitalizing Russian industry was a real opportunity. I think most will admit that the engineers were starting with what amounted to a clean slate as far as existing industry. It would seem likely that the production methods used in truck manufacture would be adopted by other industries as well.

I never really thought that 1930s truck designs were that much different form 1940s designs based on observations of the fairly large number of 1930s era trucks still in existence. (Isn't it odd that a truck that originally sold for a few hundred dollars in 1932 now costs several hundred thousand dollars if you can find one?) I would have thought that there would have been advances in metallurgy that made the frame more robust, advances in engine design that would increase power and efficiency, and, very importantly, changes in brake system design and efficiency, but I would also think that these would be easy retro-fits if the Russians had any incentive to upgrade existing production. I will happily accept your statement on the differences, though, and the consequent high percentage of loss of Lend Lease trucks that resulted.

I agree with your comments on Lend Lease aircraft. I really hadn't thought of it that way.

Was there ever any reverse Lend Lease that anyone knows of? I would have thought that the British, especially, would have been able to find uses for Russian artillery pieces if there were ever any to spare. The Russian pieces weren't as sophisticated as what the British would have been used to, but, from what I have read, the Russian pieces were actually quite effective, if used effectively.

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Re: Lend Lease

Post by Bronsky » 13 Dec 2005 16:51

Alter Mann wrote:Was there ever any reverse Lend Lease that anyone knows of? I would have thought that the British, especially, would have been able to find uses for Russian artillery pieces if there were ever any to spare. The Russian pieces weren't as sophisticated as what the British would have been used to, but, from what I have read, the Russian pieces were actually quite effective, if used effectively.


The British 25 pounder was at least as good as the Soviet 76.2mm (less polyvalent, but the Brits had tons of AA & AT pieces anyway), Soviet 122mm and 152mm guns & howitzers held no particular advantage over their Western counterparts.

That being said, there was no Soviet production to spare, so reverse lend lease only amounted to some raw materials and gold, plus the odd T-34 & other pieces of equipment for evaluation purposes. What the West was "buying" with lend-lease was more effective attrition of the bulk of the Wehrmacht, well worth it in my opinion even without reverse lend-lease ;-)

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Post by Alfred Naujocks » 20 Feb 2006 18:56

Is there any difinitive list of the material shipped by the U.S. to the S.U. during the war.
Also was any of the material credited for helping secure any victory in any battle?
Thanks.

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Post by Bronsky » 20 Feb 2006 20:07

Alfred Naujocks wrote:Is there any difinitive list of the material shipped by the U.S. to the S.U. during the war.
Yes, there is.

http://www.o5m6.de/routes.html
http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/english/d ... /index.htm

EDIT: forgot to add This list from Wikipedia
Aircraft.............................14,795
Tanks.................................7,056
Jeeps................................51,503
Trucks..............................375,883
Motorcycles..........................35,170
Tractors..............................8,071
Guns..................................8,218
Machine guns........................131,633
Explosives..........................345,735 tons
Building equipment valued.......$10,910,000
Railroad freight cars................11,155
Locomotives...........................1,981
Cargo ships..............................90
Submarine hunters.......................105
Torpedo boats...........................197
Ship engines..........................7,784
Food supplies.....................4,478,000 tons
Machines and equipment.......$1,078,965,000
Noniron metals......................802,000 tons
Petroleum products................2,670,000 tons
Chemicals...........................842,000 tons
Cotton..........................106,893,000 tons
Leather..............................49,860 tons
Tires.............................3,786,000
Army boots.......................15,417,000 pairs
Alfred Naujocks wrote:Also was any of the material credited for helping secure any victory in any battle?
No, that is debatable.

Most American posters mention aviation fuel and rolling stocks, as well as trucks, because that's the kind of supplies that the US provided.

My own personal favorite is explosives.

To each his own...

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Post by Alfred Naujocks » 21 Feb 2006 00:54

Thanks! that is most helpful!

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Post by BobNTexas » 07 Mar 2007 01:33

A great discussion, people.

Has anybody read the Hubert P. Van Tuyll book, Feeding The Bear?

Amazon

I agree with some posters here on the dearth of accurate English language sources; too much of it is the usual Rah Rah stuff, and not published by objective historians, and I also feel this way about the Soviet sources, though the latter is not quite as bad. From my own admittedly amateurish research, it appears to me that Lend Lease had very little effect on blunting the Axis invasion, and in the latter stages did help to speed up things in the race to occupy Germany, so for my own part it looks as if the Soviets could have won without Allied aid, though how conclusive a victory is certainly up for grabs.

Thanks for the links to the other sites on Lend Lease, folks. They're much appreciated.

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Re: US/UK lend-lease to Stalin

Post by Westwind » 06 Jan 2012 12:53

Although this discussion is very old, someone might find the following link to ibiblio.org useful. It has the full list of lend-lease goods to all countries (in exhaustive detail) in html format. The lend-lease.airforce.ru site appears to have the same data, but in pdf format.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref ... index.html

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Re: US/UK lend-lease to Stalin

Post by BobNTexas » 05 Oct 2014 17:31

Thanks. Great source.

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Re: US/UK lend-lease to Stalin

Post by OpanaPointer » 05 Oct 2014 18:45

Westwind wrote:Although this discussion is very old, someone might find the following link to ibiblio.org useful. It has the full list of lend-lease goods to all countries (in exhaustive detail) in html format. The lend-lease.airforce.ru site appears to have the same data, but in pdf format.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/ref ... index.html
And it was a lot of work. Glad to see people are using it.
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