I've read and heard this argument a lot. Overy, Tooze, Müller, Scherner. You name it. Everyone universally agrees on this apparently.
Unfortunately everytime I read this statement and claim, there are no sources. I am very curious as how is it that this knowledge came to be. Is it just one of this things that was just known at the time, an axiomatic truth that was just carried over with the years?.
Quoting "Why the Allies Won" in the Chapter "Economies at War" by Overy
No sources, no footnotes, for this. I'm very intrigued how they came to these conclusions. The most I've seen was a Jonathan Parshall 20 min lecture. I was able to find this comment on reddit from him regarding his lecture. (Link to the lecture: https://youtu.be/N6xLMUifbxQ?t=1627)The German military preferred to establish close links with smaller firms with traditions of skilled craftsmanship, which would be sensitive to frequent design changes and produce a sophisticated custom-built weapon. The great strengths of the German industrial economy had always been high quality, skilled workmanship, the conquest of technical complexity. German weapons were very good, but very expensive - in skilled manpower, time and materials.
(1) For Overy, well I've been there and he doesn't have evidence to back it up.or the Germans, I was very intrigued by the set of images and production descriptions for the Tiger found at www.alanhamby.com (but his site seems to be offline at the moment.) There was also production and cost data in the official Tiger Bible "Tigerfibel" which was on Alanhamby, but can be found elsewhere as well. There were comments on German production methods in Leland Ness, "Jane’s World War II Tanks and Fighting Vehicles: The Complete Guide." And of course there's a very lengthy report on the German tank industry to be found in the US Strategic Bombing Survey. I also learned things by watching some of their propaganda films that can be found on YouTube. This one, for instance (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RO1rrRiDaEU) is basically 7 minutes of hardcore machine-tool fetish porn. Note that when they finally get around to taking shots of the factory floor (around 4:30), that the Germans are using stand-based manufacturing methods, rather than continuous-flow automotive methods a-la Detroit. There was also production data in Thomas Jentz and Hilary Doyle's, "Germany’s Tiger Tanks, D.W. to Tiger I: Design, Production & Modifications." Folks on this thread have mentioned Tooze's "The Wages of Destruction." I have it on my shelf, but haven't read it yet. I hear it's fabulous.
(2) Regarding the youtube video Jonathan points at: This is actually good academic work, but it's just one factory, I don't know if from that one could empirically say the entire German industry was the same.
(3) Regarding Thomas Jentz and Hilary Doyle's, I didn't find anything regarding production methods.
(4) He mentions Tooze. Tooze does say same stuff, but like the rest, the evidence is not shown.
I am not saying they are all wrong. I mean, if everyone is saying there must be a reason. I just want to trace the roots and origins of this knowledge.