Feasibility of German aircraft production plans

Discussions on the economic history of the nations taking part in WW2, from the recovery after the depression until the economy at war.
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Guaporense
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Feasibility of German aircraft production plans

Post by Guaporense » 26 Dec 2014 23:20

German production plans made in early 1944 posted projected figures of output of aircraft that appear impossible given the historical levels of output achieved and the overall size of the German aircraft industry. German aircraft production plans posted a projected increase from 3,000 units a month in early 1944 to 7,000 units by early 1945, resulting in an annual aircraft output of over 80,000 units. But was that output really feasible?

These production plans reflected more the needs of the military by 1944: as Germany was having to fight with the combined airforces of the UK, US and USSR, to guarantee air superiority over Europe would require a supply of fighter craft larger than the combined output of all allied powers the plan specified an output of 5,500 fighters per month. Notice that in terms of air frame weight and requirements of engines this production plan of 7,000 aircraft per month was much less ambitious than the US's output of 8,000 aircraft a month since US output consisted in a large proportion of multi engine aircraft while Germany's plan was mostly of single engine fighters. Planned output of bombers and other craft was to be maintained at early 1944 levels, the projected increase was just in terms of single engine fighters to maintain air superiority. As result the increase in cost and requirements of aero engines would be small, increase in output would require an extra 4,000-5,000 aero engines per month over current output of 5,500 engines in early 1944.

Capital requirements/installed capacity

In the USSBS report of the German aircraft industry they said that there was a huge unused capacity of the German aircraft industry:
http://www.wwiiarchives.net/servlet/act ... e/150/24/0
Though the aero engine industry was regarded as the bottleneck and Germany was under-supplied with that input during the war.

The German aero engine industry operated with some excess capacity during the war: most of the labor force was working on the first shift: in march 1944, when aero engine output peaked at around 6,000 engines, there were 310,000 employees in the aero engine industry and 73,000 machine tools, or 4.25 employees per machine tool, much higher than the average for the German machine tool using industries of 2.33 employees per machine tool, but lower than the British average of 5.7 employees per machine tool. (source: http://www.wwiiarchives.net/servlet/act ... e/149/53/0).

Only 26% of employees in the aero engine industry worked on the second shift and 10% on the third shift, while 64% worked on the first shift. This implies that more than half of the industry was working on the first shift, as 2.4 times more employees worked on the first shift compared to the second. Still it was more intensively utilized than the average for the whole German industry: 1942 90% of all employees were working on the first shifts, 7% on the second and 3% on the third, which implies nearly 90% of the plants were working on a single shift basis. A full utilization of the second shift would be with around 40% of the workers in the second shift and nearly 20% on the third.

If the German aero engine industry were used as intensively as the average for the British industry it would have 420,000 employees. It had 200,000 employees on the first shift, full utilization of the second shift with 20% on the third would entail 500,000 employees. Output could rise to 10,000 aero engines per month without any investment in capital stock and the 7,000 aircraft would require about 8,500 engines, plus a couple thousand of spares. So a modest investment in capital stock for the aero engine industry, which would be very small if you compare to German output of machine tools of around 200,000 units per year and total industrial investment, would be required to increase it's output to around 11,000 engines per month which would be required to implement the 7,000 aircraft plan with a large increase in labor employed. The rest of the industry already had enough capital installed to implement the plan.

Labor

The German aircraft industry had 850,000 employees in mid 1944 when output peaked at 4,000 aicraft per month. Installed capacity was nearly enough but the total labor force employed would have to increase substantially, though not 75% as the increase from 4,000 to 7,000 would occur in terms of single engine types: total labor employed would have to increase at most by around 40% to about 1,200,000 employees, less considering th tiny number of labor hours required to produce Me-109 by 1944. However, that is not that much considering that Germany employed in 1944 16 million people in the war effort (armed forces combined with employment in war related industries), increasing from 5% to 7% of total employment in the war effort. Considering Germany had over 100 million people in occupied territories, a couple hundred thousand workers wouldn't be that hard to get.

Costs

German expenditures on aircraft wouldn't have to increase that much as the increase in output would consist of single engine fighters. Historically, using 1939 production costs, the aircraft output in 1944 was 12 billion RM for 40,000 aircraft, however, thanks to decreased production costs (in 1940, a Ju88 was 360,000 RM, in 1943, it was 240,000 Rm), total cost of 1944 aircraft industry output was around 8 billion RM, compared to military expenditures of 112 billion RM in 1943, I don't have data for 1944 but it appears military expenditures were slightly higher at around 120 billion, so aircraft was historically only 6.7% of all military expenditures. For comparison, the US spend 17 billion dollars in aircraft in 1944, about 20% of total 1944 military expenditures. It's said that aircraft was 40% of German military production, that's a mistake because it uses 1939 production costs, which decreased greatly for aircraft since it was a new industry in 1939. If you use 1943 prices, in 1943 aircraft was 25% of military production and 6% of total military expenditures.

The increase by 40,000 single engine aircraft and spares would represent an increase in costs of about 4-5 billion RM, from 8 billion to 12-13 billion in total expenditures on aircraft, or 10-11% of total military outlays: out of monthly expenditures of 10 billion RM, 1 billion would be spend on the 7,000 aircraft and spares (average cost of 143,000 RM), still much smaller in proportion than American expenditures. American expenditures were that high because they produced those four engine bombers which were 4-5 times more costly than single engine fighters: the B-29 cost 12 times more than single engine fighters, which explain why American expenditures on aircraft were nearly 20% of all military expenditures, 3 times higher than German expenditures in proportion to total military expenditures.

Overall, it appears to have been feasible for Germany, assuming no loss of territories after June 1944 and little impact of strategic bombing, to increase aircraft output to 7,000 units a month by early 1945 as production plans stated.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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stg 44
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Re: Feasibility of German aircraft production plans

Post by stg 44 » 29 Dec 2014 14:45

Well the Germans wasted a lot of capacity starting in mid-1941 and on with the failed Me210, He177, Ju288, and Ta-154, plus lots of Wunderwaffen projects by the end of the war. The losses of aircraft due to the Me210 fiasco are estimated at 2000 aircraft, while the He-177 produced about 1200 mostly inoperable strategic bombers. The other two its very hard to estimate their losses, but they sucked up a fair bit of resources and labor, both of which the Germans could ill afford by 1941. Otherwise I think you make some good points.

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Re: Feasibility of German aircraft production plans

Post by ljadw » 29 Dec 2014 16:16

I see that Guaporense is still living in Wonderland : where would the Germans get the fuel for all these extra aircraft,and,what is even more important :where would they get the crews for these aircraft ?

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Re: Feasibility of German aircraft production plans

Post by Guaporense » 31 Dec 2014 00:03

ljadw, I am not living in wonderland because I am aware of these factors you mentioned. I think you are because you think that the USSR had superior economic resources compared to Germany and the UK, it did not.

I agree, increasing aircraft supply by 7,000 units a month by january 1945 wouldn't still make any difference if the luftwaffe couldn't utilize the additional aircraft. Still they could put poorly trained pilots on these aircraft and use them as kamikaze against allied bombers.
Last edited by Guaporense on 31 Dec 2014 21:28, edited 1 time in total.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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Re: Feasibility of German aircraft production plans

Post by stg 44 » 31 Dec 2014 01:27

Earlier higher production would have made a bigger difference than later. Fuel and pilot shortages weren't so big an issue prior to 1942 and not critical prior to 1943 AFAIK. During the BoB shortages of aircraft, as during Barbarossa, were a significant issue. One minor remedy would have been to hold off on ordering the Me210 until it was ready in 1943, which would have meant keeping the Bf110 in production and not disrupting Bf109 production in 1941-42, which would have meant somewhere near 2,000 extra aircraft until the Me410 goes into production and a lot of savings in manhours and material for all the Me210 machine tools and unfinished units not wasted. In 1941-42 that would have been extremely helpful and avoided a lot of the mess later on. Plus having more aircraft in service in 1942-43 would have helped avoid the losses to oil production that happened in 1943-44 by having better air defense and thus more RAF/USAAF losses when trying to go after targets related to the oil industry or its expansion (like the steel industry smashed up in mid-1943).

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Re: Feasibility of German aircraft production plans

Post by Guaporense » 31 Dec 2014 03:50

It would be easily possible to increase fighter production in earlier years. In proportion of military expenditures, fighter craft in 1940-1941 were a tiny proportion, way less than 1%. Most German aircraft production was of bomber types from 1940 up to mid 1944, bombers like Ju-88 were the bulk of expendiutres as they are 3 times more expensive than fighters.

Fighters became the dominant focus of German aircraft production only in mid 1944, when the air war was already lost. Overall, German armmaments production was characterized by great underestimation of enemy strength and overestimation of German efficiency, they produced only 150 single engine fighters per month in 1940 because they assumed that was all that was needed, expenditures on these fighters were only ca. 400 million RM (including spares), only 0.8% of all German military expenditures.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz

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