Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Discussions on alternate history, including events up to 20 years before today. Hosted by Terry Duncan.
KDF33
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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 03 Jul 2021 18:07

historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 16:54
The United States dominated in both categories, as it did in basically everything else.
Fundamentally, I part ways with you on two counts: first, on what the ratios attained during WWII mean, and second on the inevitability of the U.S. attaining such ratios in the first place.

First, the ratios attained during WWII were not 'natural': they represented the outcome of how each country managed its war economy, and whether or not it had been devastated by the fighting. Soviet outputs, for instance, were adversely impacted by the occupation of a large part of their most developed territory; German outputs, likewise, were warped by the open-ended commitment of the Soviet-German war, as well as the belated German effort at effectively mobilizing the manpower of Europe.

Second, U.S. relative power was greatly increased by the First World War. To give but two examples, in 1913 the German and Russian Empires had respectively 69% and 176% of the population of the U.S. Due to the losses incurred in WWI and the Russian Civil War, either in lives, territory or decreased birth rates, by 1937 their successor states were respectively down to 53% and 127%.

Lastly, the U.S. is de facto an isolated island: the so-called 'stopping power of water' meant (and in fact still means) that, although rendering it very safe, it is also very difficult for it to bring its full power to bear outside of its hemisphere.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 03 Jul 2021 18:10

historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 18:06
Thanks. Where specifically in the Correlates of War website can we find the steel data? There are a lot of links and I'm having trouble navigating them.
On the page I linked to, download 'NMC v4 data'. There are different 'national material capabilities' listed, each separated by a comma. Steel is the fourth number, just after the year. The U.S. is the first country listed ('USA'), whereas Germany's country code is 'GMY' and Russia's (and the USSR's) is 'RUS'.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by historygeek2021 » 03 Jul 2021 18:32

John Ellis' WW2 Databook gives the following for steel production:
Ellis Steel.png
And oil:
Ellis oil.png
Which is the same data I presented originally, and everyone assumed was wrong because YouTube bad. I accept your apologies.

And here is Ellis' data on the overall raw material situation:
Ellis Raw Materials.png
The United States had a significant lead over any other country in:

Coal
Oil
Iron
Copper
Zinc
Molybdenum
Sulfur
Wheat
Rice
Maize
Meat

The only raw materials the USA was deficient in were tin, nickel, chrome and rubber, all of which were available in abundance in the British Empire, and the United States produced 800,000 tons of synthetic rubber by 1945, whereas German synthetic rubber production peaked at 117,000 tons per year.

https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USA/BigL/BigL-1.html
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id= ... 1up&seq=97
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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by historygeek2021 » 03 Jul 2021 18:44

KDF33 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 18:07
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 16:54
The United States dominated in both categories, as it did in basically everything else.
Fundamentally, I part ways with you on two counts: first, on what the ratios attained during WWII mean, and second on the inevitability of the U.S. attaining such ratios in the first place.

First, the ratios attained during WWII were not 'natural': they represented the outcome of how each country managed its war economy, and whether or not it had been devastated by the fighting. Soviet outputs, for instance, were adversely impacted by the occupation of a large part of their most developed territory; German outputs, likewise, were warped by the open-ended commitment of the Soviet-German war, as well as the belated German effort at effectively mobilizing the manpower of Europe.

Second, U.S. relative power was greatly increased by the First World War. To give but two examples, in 1913 the German and Russian Empires had respectively 69% and 176% of the population of the U.S. Due to the losses incurred in WWI and the Russian Civil War, either in lives, territory or decreased birth rates, by 1937 their successor states were respectively down to 53% and 127%.

Lastly, the U.S. is de facto an isolated island: the so-called 'stopping power of water' meant (and in fact still means) that, although rendering it very safe, it is also very difficult for it to bring its full power to bear outside of its hemisphere.
First, neither Germany nor the Soviet Union nor anyone else came close to U.S. steel or oil production before the war, so they were inherently weaker, regardless of whether they were at conflict.

Second, human nature being what it is, neighboring countries of comparable military strength will inevitably go to war with and weaken each other. That's how it always was up until nukes made it suicidal for the top tier countries. This meant that, in addition to having an abundance of raw materials and greater industrial output, the US was in a dominant geopolitical position because the other great powers would inevitably fight each other, and at least one of them (Britain) would sell out its neighbors and accept subservience to the United States.

Third, water is not a stopping power. It is the easiest mode of transporting bulk shipments. Far from stopping great powers, it enabled them: Portugal, Spain, Britain, and now the United States.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 03 Jul 2021 19:00

Avalancheon wrote:
03 Jul 2021 11:47
David Glantz made a very good observation about the course of the war on the Eastern front. His summation was like this: Moscow determined that Germany would not win the war. Stalingrad determined that Germany would lose the war. And Kursk determined how quickly they would lose.
IMO, although Glantz's formulation is clever, it's incorrect.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
02 Jul 2021 12:55
Do you have a verdict on the thought experiment? I don't. I lean towards believing the feasibility window for Germany closes no later than June '41 when they invade the SU with fatuous planning and preparation but am open to arguments that the window was open into mid-'42.
My mental schema looks like this:

1. June - August 1941: The Barbarossa concept fails from the start, despite the significant damage the operation inflicts on the USSR - the RKKA is getting stronger as the Ostheer is getting weaker.

2. September - October 1941: The twin blows of Kiev and Vyazma save Germany from impending disaster, restore Axis numerical advantage and allow the Germans to occupy further critical areas.

3. November - early December 1941: Despite the success of the previous two months, the fundamental factor at play in the campaign, that is, low German force generation and very high Soviet force generation, allows the Soviets to recover. By early December, the Germans are spent as an offensive force and the Soviets only need to stand still to accrue an insurmountable advantage going into 1942.

4. Mid-December 1941 - April 1942: Stalin snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by repeatedly impaling his forces on the German defensive front, thus allowing unfavorable casualty ratios to forestall the RKKA gaining a definite edge. The Germans stabilize their position after transferring strong forces from the OKW theaters.

5. May - mid-July 1942: The moment of greatest peril - the RKKA still has higher force generation than the Germans, but the gap has narrowed sufficiently that it is no longer the decisive factor. It has been supplanted by casualty exchange ratios, which favors the Germans. As during winter, every Soviet offensive fails, whereas through local concentration the Germans can overrun sub-sections of the Soviet front and capture large numbers of PoWs. If the Germans play their cards right, the Soviet war effort will enter terminal decline through manpower attrition and territorial loss.

6. Late July - mid-November 1942: Hitler snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by first dissipating, then overextending his forces. He is effectively stalled by early September. Instead of shifting gear, he blames his commanders, refuses to shorten the front, and commits to holding a vulnerable line, come what may.

7. Late November 1942 - early February 1943: The Soviets launch multiple offensives - they all fail, save for the one targeting the German weak point around Stalingrad. The Soviets recover vast territories, as well as population from which additional soldiers can be drafted.

8. Mid-February - March 1943: Despite Soviet success, attrition still favors the Germans and they break the Soviet offensive after transferring strong forces from the OKW theaters.

9. April - June 1943: There is very little fighting. This allows the Soviets to gain a decisive material advantage.

10. July - September 1943: The Soviets finally break the German front in early September, after a massive, 2-months-long attrition battle. Allied operations in the Mediterranean, as well as the fall of Italy, prevent reinforcement from the OKW theaters. The territory and population liberated feeds the next Soviet offensive, creating a positive feedback loop. There is no more contingency.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 03 Jul 2021 19:36

historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 18:44
First, neither Germany nor the Soviet Union nor anyone else came close to U.S. steel or oil production before the war
Before the war, no. Why you remain focused on those few years is to me a mystery.
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 18:44
Second, human nature being what it is, neighboring countries of comparable military strength will inevitably go to war with and weaken each other.
That's some handwaving. There was no generalized European conflict for close to a century between 1815 and 1914. Besides, not all conflicts lead to the belligerents weakening each other, as WWI did.

To give but two potential contingencies:

1. Friedrich III lives, and a liberalizing Germany develops close relations with Britain. There is no World War.
2. Fall Gelb fails. By the time Germany goes down to defeat, the USSR is intact and the dominant Eurasian power.
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 18:44
This meant that, in addition to having an abundance of raw materials and greater industrial output
The greater industrial output of the U.S. is contingent, not inevitable. To give but one more example, a modernizing Russian Empire, untouched by war, would have had ≈260 million inhabitants by 1939, against ≈130 million for the U.S. That would have completely changed the industrial picture.
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 18:44
one of them (Britain) would sell out its neighbors and accept subservience to the United States.
Heh?
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 18:44
Third, water is not a stopping power. It is the easiest mode of transporting bulk shipments. Far from stopping great powers, it enabled them: Portugal, Spain, Britain, and now the United States.
Distance, especially oceanic distance, is most definitely a constraint on military deployment. I don't want to belabor the point too much, given how self-evident it is, so I'll just ask one question: If, ceteris paribus, the U.S. had shared a common border with Germany on 11.12.1941, do you think WWII would have ended earlier?

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by historygeek2021 » 03 Jul 2021 20:28

KDF33 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 19:36

Before the war, no. Why you remain focused on those few years is to me a mystery.
It's not a few years. The United States was the dominant economic power in the world in the 20th century.

That's some handwaving. There was no generalized European conflict for close to a century between 1815 and 1914. Besides, not all conflicts lead to the belligerents weakening each other, as WWI did.

To give but two potential contingencies:

1. Friedrich III lives, and a liberalizing Germany develops close relations with Britain. There is no World War.
2. Fall Gelb fails. By the time Germany goes down to defeat, the USSR is intact and the dominant Eurasian power.
Please refrain from using disrespectful terms like "handwaving". It poisons an otherwise fun and informative discussion.

Regarding the substantive point, it is my impression from history that a large collection of militarily powerful countries in close proximity to each other, as is the case historically in Europe, will inevitably descend into armed conflict that, with increasing industrialization and destructive power of weapons, will increasingly devastate their homelands. This is what happened historically. The 100 year period of peace after Napoleon was an anomaly. It did end and was bound to end. A different leader here or there or a different outcome of this or that battle might change the time when destructive war inevitably comes, but it will come nonetheless. I can't prove this and you can stick to your anything is possible view of history, but the actual history of the world is that military powers of comparable strength go to war with each other over and over again until one is completely subjugated or a third power subjugates them both.


The greater industrial output of the U.S. is contingent, not inevitable. To give but one more example, a modernizing Russian Empire, untouched by war, would have had ≈260 million inhabitants by 1939, against ≈130 million for the U.S.
Untouched by war being the key contingency. I think other European powers going to war against Russia was inevitable, you don't. Not much else to be said.
Heh?
Again, let's try to keep a polite tone or I will opt out.
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 18:44

Distance, especially oceanic distance, is most definitely a constraint on military deployment. I don't want to belabor the point too much, given how self-evident it is, so I'll just ask one question: If, ceteris paribus, the U.S. had shared a common border with Germany on 11.12.1941, do you think WWII would have ended earlier?
Yes, ceteris parabus, the United States would have steamrolled Germany even faster than it did in the OTL.

But it does not prove your point. The United States still steamrolled Germany and Japan in the OTL, despite having to cross the 2 largest oceans in the world, and arguably could have done so a lot faster if it had committed to a ground invasion of France as soon as possible instead of toying around with large fleets of bombers and a sideshow in Africa.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by historygeek2021 » 03 Jul 2021 20:39

KDF33 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 19:00

My mental schema looks like this:

1. June - August 1941: The Barbarossa concept fails from the start, despite the significant damage the operation inflicts on the USSR - the RKKA is getting stronger as the Ostheer is getting weaker.

2. September - October 1941: The twin blows of Kiev and Vyazma save Germany from impending disaster, restore Axis numerical advantage and allow the Germans to occupy further critical areas.

3. November - early December 1941: Despite the success of the previous two months, the fundamental factor at play in the campaign, that is, low German force generation and very high Soviet force generation, allows the Soviets to recover. By early December, the Germans are spent as an offensive force and the Soviets only need to stand still to accrue an insurmountable advantage going into 1942.

4. Mid-December 1941 - April 1942: Stalin snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by repeatedly impaling his forces on the German defensive front, thus allowing unfavorable casualty ratios to forestall the RKKA gaining a definite edge. The Germans stabilize their position after transferring strong forces from the OKW theaters.

5. May - mid-July 1942: The moment of greatest peril - the RKKA still has higher force generation than the Germans, but the gap has narrowed sufficiently that it is no longer the decisive factor. It has been supplanted by casualty exchange ratios, which favors the Germans. As during winter, every Soviet offensive fails, whereas through local concentration the Germans can overrun sub-sections of the Soviet front and capture large numbers of PoWs. If the Germans play their cards right, the Soviet war effort will enter terminal decline through manpower attrition and territorial loss.

6. Late July - mid-November 1942: Hitler snatches defeat from the jaws of victory by first dissipating, then overextending his forces. He is effectively stalled by early September. Instead of shifting gear, he blames his commanders, refuses to shorten the front, and commits to holding a vulnerable line, come what may.

7. Late November 1942 - early February 1943: The Soviets launch multiple offensives - they all fail, save for the one targeting the German weak point around Stalingrad. The Soviets recover vast territories, as well as population from which additional soldiers can be drafted.

8. Mid-February - March 1943: Despite Soviet success, attrition still favors the Germans and they break the Soviet offensive after transferring strong forces from the OKW theaters.

9. April - June 1943: There is very little fighting. This allows the Soviets to gain a decisive material advantage.

10. July - September 1943: The Soviets finally break the German front in early September, after a massive, 2-months-long attrition battle. Allied operations in the Mediterranean, as well as the fall of Italy, prevent reinforcement from the OKW theaters. The territory and population liberated feeds the next Soviet offensive, creating a positive feedback loop. There is no more contingency.
I agree for the most part. Barbarossa as planned and implemented was doomed to fail since it vastly underestimated Soviet force generation capabilities. Immediate disaster was only averted thanks to the encirclements at Kiev and Vyazma.

I'm not sure the Soviet Union was in mortal danger in 1942. Germany could and did weaken them economically and could have held a shorter defensive line if Hitler weren't insane, but by that point the U.S. war machine was already in motion and Germany simply wasn't capable of fielding an army large enough to hold in both the west and the east. Even if Germany held the Kuban and Maikop and the Don up to Voronezh, the mere fact that the Soviet Union still exists and is fielding an army of 5 million+ on the frontline means that Germany will never be able to send enough army units to hold in the west.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 03 Jul 2021 23:36

historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 20:28
It's not a few years. The United States was the dominant economic power in the world in the 20th century.
Well, again, what is meant by 'dominant'? If you mean that the U.S. was the single strongest state in the international system during the 20th century, then I obviously agree. If you mean that the U.S. was inevitably destined to use that power to make 'all the old European powers [...] subservient to American interests', then we part ways.
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 20:28
Please refrain from using disrespectful terms like "handwaving". It poisons an otherwise fun and informative discussion.
Agreed. My apologies.
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 20:28
Regarding the substantive point, it is my impression from history that a large collection of militarily powerful countries in close proximity to each other, as is the case historically in Europe, will inevitably descend into armed conflict that, with increasing industrialization and destructive power of weapons, will increasingly devastate their homelands. This is what happened historically. The 100 year period of peace after Napoleon was an anomaly. It did end and was bound to end.
Well, it depends. If we look at overall history, I would tend to agree, although there are definitely exceptions, even in antiquity. Rome and Parthia, for instance, enjoyed almost a century of peace from 33 BC to 58 AD, with the occasional crisis being resolved through diplomacy.

If we look at modern history, that is, post-industrial revolution history, we see two long periods of relative peace, the first, as previously mentioned, lasting from 1815 to 1914, and the second since 1945 up to the present. For the last 200 years, general war has been the anomaly, not the norm.
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 20:28
A different leader here or there or a different outcome of this or that battle might change the time when destructive war inevitably comes, but it will come nonetheless.
Even were that argument correct (and I find it questionable), timing matters. Stretch Europe's general peace by a further 20 years and Russia's population growth as well as industrial development would have rendered it by far the strongest state in Eurasia, completely upending the European strategic picture. Had war come then, it is unclear that it would have turned into a 4-year grind.
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 20:28
I can't prove this and you can stick to your anything is possible view of history, but the actual history of the world is that military powers of comparable strength go to war with each other over and over again until one is completely subjugated or a third power subjugates them both.
Again, even were this to be true, the specific sequence of events that led to the U.S. coming on top was highly contingent.
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 20:28
Untouched by war being the key contingency. I think other European powers going to war against Russia was inevitable, you don't. Not much else to be said.
Well, I would suggest that this changes your argument. It goes from 'the U.S. was bound to emerge dominant by virtue of its resources and industrial base' to 'intra-European wars were bound to facilitate U.S. dominance'.
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 20:28
Again, let's try to keep a polite tone or I will opt out.
Allow me to reformulate: how did Britain 'sell its neighbors' and become 'subservient' to U.S. interests?
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 20:28
Yes, ceteris parabus, the United States would have steamrolled Germany even faster than it did in the OTL.
I'm not sure engaging in successful coalition warfare in partnership with two other great powers located in the area of the conflict counts as 'steamrolling'.

In any event, what does 'steamrolling' mean, practically speaking?
historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 20:28
But it does not prove your point. The United States still steamrolled Germany and Japan in the OTL, despite having to cross the 2 largest oceans in the world, and arguably could have done so a lot faster if it had committed to a ground invasion of France as soon as possible instead of toying around with large fleets of bombers and a sideshow in Africa.
At its peak in 1944-45, the U.S. was delivering ~200,000 men to theaters against Germany per month. Absent the British, which afforded secure staging areas, the U.S. would have been utterly unable to effect a build-up against a major European power. Even so, that build-up took time: total U.S. manpower in the ETO/MTO/Mid-East and Africa reached 1,416,485 men on 31.12.1943, inclusive of in-theater hospitalized wounded/sick as well as replacements. For comparison's sake, active (i.e. without hospitalized personnel and replacements) Wehrmacht land and air manpower for the same month amounted to 6,122,871 men.

To effectively project power into Eurasia, the U.S. needed to be invited.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 03 Jul 2021 23:50

historygeek2021 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 20:39
I'm not sure the Soviet Union was in mortal danger in 1942. Germany could and did weaken them economically and could have held a shorter defensive line if Hitler weren't insane, but by that point the U.S. war machine was already in motion and Germany simply wasn't capable of fielding an army large enough to hold in both the west and the east. Even if Germany held the Kuban and Maikop and the Don up to Voronezh, the mere fact that the Soviet Union still exists and is fielding an army of 5 million+ on the frontline means that Germany will never be able to send enough army units to hold in the west.
I agree that Germany was doomed if it went on the defensive in the East, but that is not my argument. It is, rather, that sequential offensives that destroyed Soviet formations as well as captured territory, without unduly lengthening the front, indeed ideally leading to a shorter, more compact front, would have worn down the Soviets reasonably fast, allowing for a renewed broad-front advance to finish them off.

This isn't even an 'alternate history', by the way. It is what actually happened, roughly from 8 May to 23 July 1942. Hitler never entertained sticking to such a gradual, systematic approach to prosecuting the war, however, and went for broke with overambitious objectives, as was his wont. It is noteworthy, however, that he did in 1943: Zitadelle was supposed to be followed by the destruction of the Leningrad Front, as part of a wider strategy of bleeding out the Soviets by destroying large formations in exposed positions. By then, however, the correlation of forces no longer made this a realistic option.

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by historygeek2021 » 03 Jul 2021 23:58

KDF33 wrote:
03 Jul 2021 23:50

I agree that Germany was doomed if it went on the defensive in the East, but that is not my argument. It is, rather, that sequential offensives that destroyed Soviet formations as well as captured territory, without unduly lengthening the front, indeed ideally leading to a shorter, more compact front, would have worn down the Soviets reasonably fast, allowing for a renewed broad-front advance to finish them off.

This isn't even an 'alternate history', by the way. It is what actually happened, roughly from 8 May to 23 July 1942. Hitler never entertained sticking to such a gradual, systematic approach to prosecuting the war, however, and went for broke with overambitious objectives, as was his wont. It is noteworthy, however, that he did in 1943: Zitadelle was supposed to be followed by the destruction of the Leningrad Front, as part of a wider strategy of bleeding out the Soviets by destroying large formations in exposed positions. By then, however, the correlation of forces no longer made this a realistic option.
Are you thinking that Germany should have continued to advance north from Voronezh, to attack the concentration of Soviet forces around Moscow? It seems plausible, but the Soviets had a large concentration of forces around Moscow and would have outnumbered the Germans even if the Germans focused on this sector. I don't have hard numbers because so few authors write about this sector, it's more a deduction from (1) the overall Soviet numerical superiority in 1942 and (2) the constantly repeated refrain in popular literature that Stalin concentrated his forces around Moscow in the first half of 1942. I am open to being educated on this point. :thumbsup:

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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 04 Jul 2021 04:33

historygeek2021 wrote:So many ad hominems. Let me know when you want to discuss history and not each other.
Apologies. I was busy, was being lazy, and didn't want to discuss the broad issues with the depth and effort necessary to make a point. I'm still hesitant for those reasons but will give it a try.

I'm not clear on what your meta-view of the determinants of military/strategic power are:
  • 1. Is it that the bigger GDP is always more powerful? Probably not, but where's the line?
  • 2. Is a 50% GDP advantage (or steel/coal/oil) always determinative?
  • 3. Is 900% always determinative?
I'd say no to (1) and (2), yes to (3). Depending on where your answer shifts from no to maybe/yes, we could then discuss which non-GDP (or other macro econ stats) also influence war/power, such as:
  • A. Geography and, therefore, relative logistical/tactical burden.
  • B. Combat effectiveness - all factors bearing on the efficiency of translating production and manpower into battlefield power.
  • C. "Warlikeness"
The Axis (and later the Eastern Bloc) had advantages on factors A-C, relative to USA.

A. Geography and, therefore, relative logistical/tactical burden.

The US was far from the battlefield. That shipping is efficient doesn't change the fact that it's an expense born by US but not by continental powers in reaching European battlefields. 8.7% of US production went to merchant shipping (O'Brien). After naval escorts, port facilities, and arming merchant men, total US spending on just getting to the right hemisphere was at least twice that and probably approached 20%.

There was also an essay written by, IIRC, US or UK military pointing out that improvements in rail transport meant that overland empires were no longer at a disadvantage. Anybody recall the cite? This was perhaps when shipping was least efficient, relative to rail, because break-bulk unloading practices were primitive prior to containerization.

Please note that this is NOT an argument about who was "better" at logistics (not for you but this being AHF, one has to preempt flag-waiving juvenilia). It's about who faces a disproportionate geographical/logistical disadvantage.

B. Combat effectiveness - all factors bearing on the efficiency of translating production and manpower into battlefield power.

There are two senses to this broad category: battlefield effectiveness and, basically, tooth/tail ratio.

As you're probably aware, all quantitative analyses of battlefield effectiveness show a German edge over US ranging from 20-50%. The lower ends of those estimates come from1944 when Germany's manpower quality had significantly declined and do not correct for US air superiority.

The tooth/tail ratio relates, IMO, to my next category so I'll address it there.

C. "Warlikeness"

Basically the US (and UK) fought blood-cheap, material-heavy in WW2. An aversion to large land armies caused adoption of inefficient strategic means; that aversion makes unlikely (and/or too late) any change to a more effective but bloody strategy.

The most prominent example is the emphasis on air power. Given past comments from you (e.g. Germany should have built zero bombers), I take it you agree that air power was an inefficient means of waging war in the 1940's.

Tooth/tail connects to "warlikeness," IMO, because American society was such that soldiers would not be sent into battle absent comfort and provision levels far beyond other countries. This exacerbated our swollen "tail," causing American divisional slices to be ~3x Germany's. The US Army internally bemoaned this dynamic throughout the war and tried to fix it. For whatever reasons (politics, morale, geography), they could not fix it. For all its might, US never has had as many divisions as did France in 1940.

Most controversially for you (I gather from past exchanges) is overall willingness to fight at the political level. Germany, SU, and Japan demonstrated they were willing to spend millions of lives to achieve national goals. US/UK did not so demonstrate. Absence of proof isn't conclusive but postwar American behavior is one good data point: We allowed China/Korea to stalemate us and Vietnam to defeat us, rather than press on amidst greater national sacrifice. In Korea we made peace with an odious regime not far from Hitlerish evil. Was our national character profoundly different in 1952? Doubtful. If anything we were more militarist in '52 than earlier.

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

Combining all the foregoing factors - geographic penalty, lower combat effectiveness, lower combat proportion (tooth/tail), inefficient strategic means, and lower national commitment to war - would give us an "X" factor translating abstract warmaking potential (GDP and population) into "real" battlefield prowess.

Mulptilying X * (GDP and population) would give us a more sophisticated measure of military power than simply GDP and population.

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

For clarity of discussion, do you agree that additional non-GDP/population factors (the ones I list and/or others) influence military power?

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

Having set out a framework for better analyzing military power, we could then look at parameters in different cases (including counterfactual cases).

The labor resources of an Axis-controlled Europe (defeated SU ATL) I've discussed elsewhere. I posit Axis European GDP being ~70% of the Anglosphere's in ATL 1944, had SU fallen.

Now, you can agree or disagree with that analysis... But if Anglosphere had only a ~50% GDP edge over Axis Europe, would you still find Anglo victory inevitable?

On the factors laid out above (and other reasoning) I don't: US loses ~15-20% of production just getting to Europe, loses ~half of manpower (relative to Germany) due to tooth/tail issues, loses significant prowess by being too air-focused (this being more difficult to quantify).

Taking those factors together, Germany's battlefield strength in ATL Europe is far greater than American on my modified GDP/population analysis.
----------------

TMP bookmark: basic framework for GDP->military power analysis
Last edited by TheMarcksPlan on 04 Jul 2021 05:31, edited 1 time in total.
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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 04 Jul 2021 05:00

historygeek2021 wrote:Which is the same data I presented originally, and everyone assumed was wrong because YouTube bad. I accept your apologies.
No your figures from YouTube are simply wrong. Here's the image:

Image

Russia 1943:
Your source: 13.94mil t steel
Ellis: 8.5mil t
Error: +64%

Germany 1943:
Your source: 18.7mil t
USSBS app table 72: 34.6mil t (inc. occupied countries)
Error: -46%

Japan 1943:
Your source: 7.06mil t
Ellis: 8.8mil t
Error: -20%

As for Youtube bad, and with reference to your (justified) calls to avoid inflammatory language, I again remind you of your reaction to my citing Youtube.

Youtube is just a medium, good and bad sources can publish it. All one can do is acknowledge when they've cited a bad Youtube source, which I hope you're beginning to recognize.
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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 04 Jul 2021 05:18

KDF33 wrote:3. November - early December 1941: Despite the success of the previous two months, the fundamental factor at play in the campaign, that is, low German force generation and very high Soviet force generation, allows the Soviets to recover.
Small quibble/clarification is that "low German force generation" is not, IMO, a fundamental factor of this period. Rather it's a hangover of bad pre-Barbarossa planning. Germany drafted 5mil after Barbarossa began - as you know a reserve available only due to later resource mobilization.

By November, Germany's population (~80mil) was within striking distance of Soviet (~130mil). Given that ~20% of remaining Soviet population were Muslims whom RKKA rarely sent into battle (and who defected frequently once in), the true ratio of potential military manpower was more like ~1.3:1.

Against 1.3 : 1 odds the Ostheer was easily successful.
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Re: Alternative history and its science fiction derivatives

Post by KDF33 » 04 Jul 2021 05:51

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
04 Jul 2021 05:18
Small quibble/clarification is that "low German force generation" is not, IMO, a fundamental factor of this period. Rather it's a hangover of bad pre-Barbarossa planning. Germany drafted 5mil after Barbarossa began - as you know a reserve available only due to later resource mobilization.
Oh absolutely. I meant 'fundamental' only inasmuch as it applied to the belligerents' forces deployed on the Soviet-German front between June and December 1941.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
04 Jul 2021 05:18
By November, Germany's population (~80mil) was within striking distance of Soviet (~130mil). Given that ~20% of remaining Soviet population were Muslims whom RKKA rarely sent into battle (and who defected frequently once in), the true ratio of potential military manpower was more like ~1.3:1.
Again, agreed. Indeed, past the initial Soviet mobilization wave, the Germans were growing the size of their armed forces much faster than the Soviets, at least until the latter started recovering territories and population. Thus, in 1942 we see:

January: 8,000,000 to 9,583,300 men = Wehrmacht is 84% of the Soviet armed forces
July: 8,670,000 to 11,746,866 men = 74%
November: 9,580,000 to 11,313,131 men = 85%

Once the Soviets started recovering territories, they roughly maintained the ratio, but didn't increase it:

January 1944: 10,600,000 to 12,377,800 men = 86%

By then, of course, the Allies siphoned off so many German units that the ratio in the East had nonetheless vastly improved in favor of the Soviets.

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