On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

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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On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 20 Jan 2015 05:09

On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

I have seem some comments that India was bigger economy than France, using Maddison's data, which leads to the conclusion that India was a bigger colonial asset than France. This points out to problems in using Maddison's datasets. One has to take into account also the level of economic development of the country under consideration and how those estimates were constructed. A good idea is to check the size of India's machine tool stock compared to France's, I suspect there was a significant difference, or per capita income.

For instance, for 1939 we have the following GDP data (Europe excludes the Soviet Union) from Madison (adjusted with Figure 1 from http://gpih.ucdavis.edu/files/Fukao_Ma_Yuan.pdf, for better estimates for China and Japan), I also adjusted Europe's using Germany's per capita GDP for the 79.3 million inhabitants of the Reich instead of 68.6 million and deleting Austria and reducing Czechoslovakia pop. by 1/4 from the dataset (since Maddison's estimate is based on national account data and in 1939 there wasn't any for Austria or 1/4 of Czechoslovakia or Germany in the old borders), though overall change for Europe is 1%:

Europe -------------- 1,567,815
USA ------------------ 862,995
USSR ----------------- 430,314
China ---------------- 288,653
India ----------------- 256,924
Japan ---------------- 166,506

From this data it superficially appears that China and India were big economies with major impact on the world economy and great sources of resources to fight the war. However, one needs to look a bit into the per capita income estimates to get a more sensible picture:

Europe -------------- 4,045
USA ------------------ 6,561
USSR ----------------- 2,237
China ---------------- 619
India ----------------- 674
Japan ---------------- 2,301

The only large industrialized regions of the world were Europe and the US, these two regions, while accounting for nearly 60% of the world's GDP, had way more than 60% of the world's warmaking potential, more likely around the region of 80% (with USSR and Japan together accounting for most of the other 20%). And Europe here includes Spain, Yugoslavia, Greece, Portugal, and other non-industrialized regions, removing them from the picture (they represent ca. 5% of it's GDP in Madison's estimate), changes nothing besides increasing Europe's average GDP to ca. 4,500 dollars, or 70% of the US's level.

One should also think about how those estimates were constructed. China and India already had PPP per capita levels less than 1/10 of the highest per capita income in 1939 (Switzerland), how those were calculated? Well, Germany's per capita income was 5,500 dollars, average labor wages were 1,850 RM (in 1937), a kilo of bread with 4,000 calories cost 0.31 RM. Minimum subsistence wages were usually of 8,000 calories, or 2 kilos of bread a way, or 700 kilos of bread a year, that's 217 RM, or about 1/8 of Germany's average wages. Look again at the per capita income estimates:

Germany ------------ 5,500
China ---------------- 619
India ----------------- 674

China and India were minimum subsistence agricultural economies: 80-90% of the population consisted of subsistence farmers who produce mostly for self consumption hence most output wasn't sold at the market, it wasn't a monetary society nor one which people needed to develop skills such as reading and mathematics (hence, nearly all the population was illiterate), but a society were each farmer worked 60 hours a week to produce a minimum amount of food required for survival. Life expectancy at birth was ca. 25 years, compared to 65 years for Germany and 45 years for the Soviet Union. Their total GDP is estimated by simply multiplying the cost in Germany or the UK, or France of a minimum subsistence basket and multiplying that price by the population of India and China. They couldn't produce any war related munitions nor supply their armies with basic necessities: The output of steel in China not under Japanese occupation was estimated at 10,000 metric tons. :D

British colonization implemented a small modern sector in India which is the reason I suspect it's per capita income is slightly larger but notice that this modern sector could only affect a tiny proportion of the total population: in 1913, Indian manufacturing production was 13 times smaller than Britain's, while it's population was 7 times larger, per capita manufacturing output was 1/100 of British level meaning that only a fraction of perhaps around 1-2% of the population of India was living in a modern industrialized society versus the 98-99% of subsistence farmers. Hence, one should be cautious when one thinks about estimating that India had larger warmaking potential than France because it had a larger output measured in minimum subsistence baskets (just because it's huge population was alive). In fact, both India and China were not significant in terms of warmaking potential.

And Japan and the USSR were half industrialized societies. Thus their warmaking potential was relatively lower than GDP if compared to Europe or the US. The USSR had a similar level of GDP to Germany in 1939:

USSR: 370 (excluding territories the USSR gained after the war from Eastern Europe which were included in the table above)
Germany: 435 (taking into account Germany's annexations)

But measured in terms of output of basic industrial goods it was always lower than Germany's. The stock of lathes in 1938 was 1/6 of Germany's as well as output of machine tools during the war (though machine tool stocks tends to overestimate Germany's industrial resources since the country's economy was specialized in metal working industries before the war). In 1937, the per capita outputs of 7 industrial commodities: coal,pig iron, steel, electricity, soap (indicator of development of chemical industry), paper, cement was on average 25% of Germany's level (while per capita income was 40%), given it's population was slightly more than twice Germany's (168 to 79 million in 1939), so total level of industrial production of these commodities was ca. 55% of Germany's. After Barbarossa, the Soviet population dropped by 40% and many critical industrial areas were lost, so it's level of industrial production dropped further, in terms of these industrial commodities, to ca. 30% of Germany's level, less if we include areas under German occupation.

Japan's case is similar, it's estimated PPP GDP in 1939 was ca. 20% of the US's, but it's steel output was 10% and it's GDP on market exchange rates was 8.7%. Per capita levels of Japan's industrial production in these 7 industrial commodities were 20% of the US's level in 1937 while estimated GDP per capita was 35%. In terms of total level of industrial output of these commodities was ca. 11% of US's level. Germany's average output of these 7 industrial commodities was 83% of the US's in 1937, while estimated PPP per capita income was 84% in 1939. For Europe and the US overall (disconsidering the tens of millions of people in non-industrialized countries in Europe), GDP reflected industrial/warmaking potential better in this case.

So, overall, in terms of industrial warmaking potential it appears we have the following relationship, with China and India around 10% of it's PPP GDP to reflect the small size of the monetary (hence, taxable, thus, relevant for the British officers or Japanese occupators) sector of their economies, Europe we discount the non-industrialized countries (Romania, Portugal, Spain, Greece and Yugoslavia), the USSR and Japan are adjusted to 60% of their GDP level to match per capita supply of industrial commodities and the USSR is corrected also for territories which they gained after the war (Maddison uses post-war borders):

Europe -------------- 1,450,000
USA ------------------ 862,995
USSR ----------------- 223,000
Japan ---------------- 100,000
China ---------------- 29,000
India ----------------- 27,000

USA+Europe portion of the sample of regions increases from 65% to 85%, a more accurate representation. I don't think having enormous amount of colonies helped France and UK in their war versus Germany (with the important exception of UK's industrialized colonies: Canada and Australia, though these two countries had 30% of the economic size of the UK at the time, Canada's economic size was estimated 1/6 of the UK's and it's output of industrial products such as steel, coal and aircraft was even lower in comparison: Canada produced 1.6 million tons of steel a year on average (1/7 of UK's), 15 million tons of coal and lignite (7% of UK's) and 3,000 aircraft (1/8 of UK's output), it's warmaking potential was very small compared to the UK, Australia's industrial production was even more nimble.

War-making potential of the coalitions were:

Germany - 430,000
Italy ------ 110,000 (80% of it's estimated PPP GDP, since Italy was more industrialized (yes) than Japan or the USSR, possessing half of the PPP US's per capita income in the 30's instead of 1/3 for Japan or the USSR)
Japan ----- 100,000

US -------- 860,000 (or perhaps 950,000 adjusting for the very high rate of unemployment due to the depression: increasing hours worked in the country by 15%, taking into account the decreasing returns of increasing hours worked over a given capital stock)
UK -------- 300,000
USSR ----- 223,000

Italy, though, never mobilized for total war: military expenditures were around 15% of it's GDP before it surrendered, Germany and Japan managed to increase their's to 70% in 1944. The USSR managed to mobilize very effectively it's relatively small warmaking potential, unlike the US and the UK, who had vast industrial resources and spend most of them on bombers and naval vessels, the USSR focused their smaller resources (specially after Barbarossa) on producing basic military equipment: rifles, machine guns, tanks, cannons. Stuff that in proportion to the military expenditures of Germany, UK and the US were very small (in Germany in 1943, expenditures on tanks, small arms and artillery pieces was 3.6 billion RM, out of 112 billion RM military outlays: providing basic equipment for the army was almost trivial for Germany, a great effort for the USSR). Though the type of war the USSR fought favored it's superior manpower, in the US/Japan case, manpower was almost irrelevant (as long as you could man the ships and the few divisions needed to capture islands).

The only territories outside these 6 countries with significant warmaking potential were in continental Europe (Canada was the largest industrial producer outside of Europe, US, USSR and Japan, it's industrial capacity was nearly an order of magnitude smaller than the UK's), which Germany dominated, but output in these regions collapsed, overall Germany's warmaking capacity addition given by occupied territories was around 25% (the proportion of Germany's military expenditures paid by them).

I believe that today warmaking potential is much more evently distributed around the world. As industrialization has spread to many countries, Brazil, for example, today is a major power and industrial producer, in WW2 it was irrelevant: in 2013 Brazil produced 3.7 million motor vehicles and 35 million tons of steel, in 1939, Brazil produced 0.11 million tons of steel and 0 motor vehicles. In that sense, even though the US's proportion of world PPP GDP has stayed roughly constant at 20% in both 1939 and 2013, US's proportion of warmaking potential has declined, from ca. 30% in 1939 to 17% (current US's proportion in manufacturing output), in 2012.
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 22 Jan 2015 01:54

Case study: occupied Europe and the US.

After June 1940 victory in the west, Germany directly controlled the territories with a 1939 PPP GDP in millions 1990 dollars of, according to Maddion's estimates (used 1939 per capita income for Germany and multiplied by the pop. of Germany in 1939), call those territories Grossraum, after June 1940 Germany also occupied territories in Eastern Europe but they were pretty poor and hence had limited industrial capacity:

Grossraum --------------- 869,339
largest economies were:
Greater Germany ------- 428,750
France -------------------- 200,840
Poland -------------------- 67,788 (1938 figure)
Netherlands -------------- 48,687
Belgium ------------------ 43,216
Czechoslovakia ---------- 31,578 (3/4 of 1937, figure, to take into account the loss of territories to Germany)

For comparison, the US at the same time had a GDP PPP 1990 dollars at 862,995. Does warmaking potential was comparable, though?

To see that we should use other sets of data as well.

------------------GDP (PPP) ----- GDP (nominal) ----- Population ----- Per Capita Income ------ Coal output -------- Machine tool stock
"Grossraum" --- 869,339 -------- 82.2 billion ---------- 191,506 ------- 4,592 ---------------------- 425,769 ------------ 944,527*
USA ------------ 862,995 -------- 90.5 billion ----------- 131,539 ------- 6,561 --------------------- 400,979 ------------ 896,035**

Apparently the two regions were of similar size economically and similarly industrialized (Poland's per capita income lower's "Grossraum's" figures a little), so we can conclude after defeating France, Hitler was sitting on top of similar warmaking potential as Roosevelt.

The British Empire as a whole also had a comparable aggregate level at ca. 700 billion in 1939, but most territories were not industrialized (minimum subsistence agricultural economies in Asia generated nearly half of this number). Largest industrial producer outside of UK in the Empire was Canada, whose figures for coal was 2% of Grossraum or US's level, counting only UK and Canada, the two significant industrial producers in the British Empire, GDP was at 350 billion, 40% of USA's or Grossraum's figures.

USA had higher levels of unemployment so it's GDP was below the level expected with similar levels of labor inputs, adjusting for an extra 10% number of employed workers would increase US's GPD by ca. 7% using standard Cobb-Douglas production function and typical 2/3 labor share of GNP.

*1938 Germany only, though Germany's metal working sector worked to supply rest of continental Europe with metal products before the war, so counting the additional stock in occupied territories wouldn't result in a much larger number.
** 1940 figure


Machine tools --- http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/dae/repec/cam ... pe0342.pdf
Coal -------------- Grossraum, my coal thread, US, http://www2.census.gov/prod2/statcomp/d ... 941-08.pdf, adjusted for coal consumed at mines to be comparable
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 24 Jan 2015 07:38

Estimating Aggregate military expenditures

Market exchange rates (billions of 1939 dollars, at 1939 official exchange rates, source for exchange rates: http://www.paper-dragon.com/1939/exchange.html and 5 rubles for the dollar in 1937)

United States -------------- 189.24
Soviet Union --------------- 86.56
United Kingdom ----------- 77.73

Germany ------------------ 210.70
Japan ---------------------- 18.86
Italy ----------------------- 7.08

PPP (using Maddison's data, billions 1990 international dollars: defense spending in proportion to 1939 GDP multiplied by Maddison's estimate of GDP for that year)

United States -------------- 1,771
Soviet Union --------------- 742
United Kingdom ----------- 845

Germany ------------------ 1,751
Japan ---------------------- 387
Italy ----------------------- 117

Sources and methodology:

US: Friedman and Schwartz (1963) estimate US military expenditures as 188% of pre-war GDP (i.e. 1940 US GDP).
USSR: data is for 1940-1944 only, Harrison, Mark (1996), Accounting for war: Soviet production, employment, and the
defence burden, 1940–1945, Cambridge, 1941 data is linearly interpolated from 1940 and 1942 expenditure data, all is 448.35 billion 1937 rubles. For PPP calculation assumed GDP = GNP and used post-war borders, which may slightly underestimate Soviet expenditures since pop. in these borders was 195.9 million in 1940, compared to 198 million in historical 1940 borders, though it's a 1% difference.
UK: data is total government expenditure, I assume 90% are military expenditures, from 1939 to 1944, from World Economic Survey 1942-44.
Germany: Germany and the Second World War, volume 5, September 1939 to April 1945, deflated using data from Klein, Germany's Economic Preparations for War, it's 90% of all government expenditures, at 526.7 billion RM (at 1939 prices), for PPP data assumed GNP = GDP (usually variation between the two statistics is small, in 1939, US GDP was 92.2 billion dollars, GNP was 90.5 billion dollars), German military expenditures were over 4 times 1939 national income and 5 times 1938 national income (before annexations), compared to the US's expenditures at slightly twice 1939 national income.
Japan and Italy: Harrison, Economics of World War 2, Japan is 1939-1944 military expenditures, Italy is 1940 to 1943 military expenditures.

Note: There may be double counting of allied expenditures due to Lend-Lease.

Expenditures at the fronts:


1939 billions dollars at official rates
US ---------------- 28.39
Japan ------------ 18.86
1990 billions dollars PPP
US ---------------- 266
Japan ------------ 387

Japan's much higher relative PPP numbers reflect the country's low price level and low level of industrial development at the time meaning that tradable industrial goods such as steel, industrial equipment, aircraft, tanks and ships cost much more in terms of consumer goods (haircuts, food, rent) than in the US.

Assuming the US spend 15% of their resources there.

Western front
1939 dollars official rates
Western Allies -------- 238.6
Germany -------------- 94.8
1990 dollars PPP
Western Allies -------- 2,354
Germany -------------- 788

Assuming 45% of all German military outlays were spend on the Western fronts. 85% of American and 100% of British.

Not including Italy. :D

Eastern front
1939 dollars official rates
USSR ------------------ 86.56
Germany ------------- 115.88
1990 dollars PPP
USSR ------------------- 742
Germany -------------- 963

Apparently, the only front where Germany/Axis was superior in overall expenditures. The USSR, however, paid a major price in winning the war there with smaller expenditures of resources through very, very heavy casualties. I assume 55% of German military expenditures were spend in the eastern front.

Financing Germany`s colossal expenditures

During the course of the war the German government spend 614.4 billion RM, or 585 billion RM at 1939 prices, or ca. 200 billion dollars, over twice the US's national income 8O. These expenditures averaged 75% of Germany's national income during the 68 months of the war (Germany's national income in these 68 months was ca. 820 billion RM). I assumed that 90% of these expenditures were military, although only 414 billion RM were direct Werhmacht expenditures I also assumed that 140 billion RM out of 200 billion RM of expenditures in civilian deparments were military expenditures (i.e. the Atlantic Wall).

A large fraction of these expenditures were raised from occupied territories, France, the largest economy under German occupation, paid the following occupation taxes in proportion to GDP:

1941: 36.8%
1942: 36.9%
1943: 55.5%
1944: 27.9% (considering it was under German occupation only 7 months out of 12, that's ca. 50%)

Despite of these colossal expenditures, Germany's failure to defeat the Soviet Union and the combined economic strength of the British and American resources lead to massive Allied superiority in the Western front, at circa 3 times German expenditures. Economic historian Goldsmith had relatively similar estimates for combat related munitions, in 1944 dollars:

Western front
Allies ------ 100 billion
Germany -- 40 billion
Eastern front
USSR ------- 60 billion
Germany -- 50 billion

Though he apparently underestimated Allied superiority in the Western front and overestimated Soviet supply in the eastern front, compared to these estimates. Also, German supply of combat related munitions during the war was certainly lower because the proportion of military expenditures in combat related munitions was lower than in Allied countries.
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by South » 25 Jan 2015 09:40

Good morning Guaporense,

Ref: "In that sense, US's proportion of warmaking potential has declined [sic], from ca. 30% in 1939 to 17%...in 2012";

Yes, "in that sense".

Those trusted as fiduciaries to do this type of analysis do not rely on P3 and GDP.

Perhaps it's time to update your von Clausewitz quote.

Warm regards,


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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 25 Jan 2015 22:22

Well, I would think it's maybe even lower than 17% today considering that

1. US's manpower (i.e. pop) is only 4.4% of the world's,
2. US's motor vehicle production is 12% of the world's,
3. As consumption of machine tools (8 billion in 2013 out of global consumption of 80 billion, http://www.statista.com/statistics/2384 ... by-region/) by US industry is ca. 10%.
4. US's produces a much smaller proportion of engineer diplomas these days than in the past, Brazil graduates nearly a third as many and China alone graduates several times more, meaning US's supply of human capital is also a relatively smaller proportion of the world's, let's say ca. 10%.

Human capital is important in the development of military technology, a increasingly important element though not as important as some people might believe. Overall I might guess US's warmaking potential now is around 15% of the world's, similar to Germany's in 1939.

The world's warmaking potential was highly concentrated in the 1930's in Europe and the US. Today the US has even major difficulty occupying a tiny third world country like Iraq, 80 years ago that would be trivial job for UK or France (the world's superpowers of those days), as it is easy to use cellphones to coordinate attacks and explosives are more plentiful than in the past, making the job of a first world military force harder than in the past. I don't think it would even be feasible for the US to actually occupy a large third world country like Brazil or India, the manpower these countries can muster and the fact they have large industrial resources, means that invading and occupying countries like these would be extremely hard (think of Germany's invasion of the USSR but with transcontinental logistical costs).

US still has a powerful military because they spend a higher proportion of their resources on the military than other countries do. In terms of warmaking potential, China and EU certainly are superior (both are superior in manpower, industrial capacity and total human capital), the US lead (mainly in terms of technology) would vanish if China and the EU mobilized their resources to that end. China's warmaking potential today is perhaps more than twice the US's. Overall, it's hard to argue that the US represents currently a very large portion of global warmaking potential, as industrialization spreads thought the world.
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 27 Jan 2015 06:22

Proportion of German total military expenditures spend against the USSR 1941-1944, compared to USSR's own military expenditures.

For we must compute the military expenditures for the relevant period, USSR's expenditures were 404.45 billion 1937 rubles, compared to a GNP of 253.9 billion rubles, yielding 669.2 billion 1990 dollars (using Madison's estimate on the USSR on it's 1945 borders, whose population was 1% larger than on it's 1940 borders, so the margin of error here is probably very small).

German military expenditures are harder to come by, I used 90% of all government outlays as proxy for total military expenditures because direct cash expenditures by the Wehrmacht do not include costs of war related investments such as the construction of the Atlantic Wall, a very expensive project, just the French part cost the 1943 production price of 15,000 Ju-88. First we must decompose Wehrmacht expenditures into supplies/equipment and other categories, in 1943 I know from Tooze's No Room For Miracles, that in the 3rd quarter of 1943, the metal working industry from a total output of 4.06 billion RM, Wehrmacht brought 3.05 billion RM (of which only 1.8 billion RM were armaments), valued added in other industry groups besides metal working and basic materials, was 13 billion RM in 1943, compared to 30 billion RM in metal working, so it's output probably sold at 1.73 billion RM monthly, for a total of 5.8 billion RM sales from both metal working and other industries not involved in production of basic inputs, we known that in 1943 60% of all industry were involved in war related production and 5.4 million out of the 9.04 million workers in manufacturing were producing for the armed forces, meaning that of these 5.8 billion monthly sales perhaps 3.48 billion RM were for the Wehrmacht, for an annual level of 41.8 billion RM, in 1943 total cash expenditures of the Wehrmacht was 91 billion RM, so 46% of Wehrmacht expenditures were munitions/supplies, out of total military expenditures of 112 billion RM, that's ca. 40%, and ca. 60% was spend on other things (purchases of supplies from occupied territories included, were significant, from France alone it was in the order of several billion RM).

What proportion of total Wehrmacht personnel was employed on the eastern front? From http://www.axishistory.com/axis-nations ... rld-war-ii we know the proportion of Heer+Waffen SS (let's call then "army"), the proportion of the luftwaffe was always between 3/4 to 50%, as well, so I assume on average 2/3 of the luftwaffe strength. Most luftwaffe combat losses were in the west, but most losses to accidents and most sorties were in the east, also the cost of producing aircraft was much smaller than the cost of operating aircraft (considering that total German expenditures on aircraft during the war was at 35 billion RM compared to total military expenditures of 500 billion RM from 1940-44, or 7% of total), thus losses do not reflect the relative amount of resources consumed.

Proportion of army strength in the eastern front:

07.1941 - 70%
07.1942 - 75%
07.1943 - 66%
06.1944 - 51%

German armed forces strength:

--------------- 1941 ------------ 1942 ----------- 1943 ----------- 1944
Army -------- 5,150,000 ----- 6,030,000 ----- 7,000,000 ------ 7,110,000
Airforce ----- 1,680,000 ----- 1,700,000 ----- 1,700,000 ------ 1,500,000
Navy --------- 404,000 -------- 580,000 ------- 780,000 -------- 810,000
total --------- 7,234,000 ----- 8,310,000 ----- 9,480,000 ------ 9,420,000

Of these the strength allocated to the Eastern front (including reserve army) was:

--------------- 1941 ------------- 1942 ----------- 1943 -------------- 1944
Army -------- 3572967 --------- 4516192 -------- 4585366 -------- 3627551
Airforce ----- 1,250,000 ------- 1,130,000 ------ 1,130,000 ----- 1,000,000
Navy --------- 0 ----------------- 0 ----------------- 0 --------------- 0
total --------- 4,830,000 ------ 5,650,000 ------- 5,720,000 ----- 4,630,000
% ------------- 65% -------------- 68% -------------- 60% ------------ 49%

By the way, in 1944 most luftwaffe sorties were flew on the eastern front, at 350,000 compared to 150,000 in all western theaters combined, even though combat losses of the luftwaffe were much heavier in the western front, the cost of lost aircraft was tiny next to German military outlays (12,000 aircraft lost in combat would cost ca. 2-2.5 billion RM with spares, compared to total military outlays of ca. 120 billion RM) the cost of the total sorties (including the losses to accidents) probably was several times higher than the cost of aircraft lost in combat.

German ammunition production and consumption of ammunition in the eastern front, a good proxy of the relative cost of the eastern front in terms of total supplies/munitions (though most aircraft losses were in the western I don't think these losses were very significant in aggregate resource terms: Germany lost 50,000 aircraft in combat during the war, their total cost of production was ca. 10 billion RM or less than 2% of German military expenditures, I always discount 7% of total supplies/munitions used to supply the navy) and of the intensity of fighting (medical costs for the wounded in the eastern front must have been enormous), most of the 1.25 million tons of aircraft bombs Germany produced were dropped on the Eastern front as well:

---------- output -------------- spent on the eastern front ----- total munitions/supplies consumed (discounting the navy's share of ca. 7%)
1941 ---- 540,000 ------------- 571,663 (106%) --------------- 99%
1942 ---- 1,270,000 ---------- 1,160,182 (91%) --------------- 85%
1943 ---- 2,558,000 ---------- 1,838,750 (72%) --------------- 67%
1944 ---- 3,350,000 ---------- 2,132,463 (64%) --------------- 59%

So if 40% of German military expenditures were on supplies (a conservative estimate) and 60% with the rest (which I assume to be proportional to total personnel employed), we have the following share of German expenditures for the Eastern front:

1941 ---- 79%
1942 ---- 75%
1943 ---- 63%
1944 ---- 53%

German total military expenditures in 1939 RM:
1941 - 72 billion
1942 - 90 billion
1943 - 104 billion
1944 - 110 billion
total: 376 billion

Total on the eastern front would be:
1941 - 57 billion
1942 - 67 billion
1943 - 65 billion
1944 - 58 billion
total: 237 billion

So 63% of all German military expenditures from 1941 to 1944 were spend on the eastern front, and 237 billion was 184% of Germany's 1939 GNP, measured in 429 billion 1990 dollars by Madison (using a pop. of 79.3 million instead of 1937 borders pop. as used by Madison in his excel file), is 788 billion dollars.

The comparison
So we have, total military expenditures in the Eastern front in millions of 1990 dollars:
Germany ---- 788,160
USSR --------- 669,200

So my assumption of 55% for the whole war underestimated the relative importance of the Eastern Front, assuming 63% of all German military expenditures were in the Eastern front and 37% in the west we have the following military expenditures, in millions of 1990:

Western Allies ---- 2,354,000
Germany ---------- 647,870

Nearly 4 to 1 advantage over Germany, even though American military expenditures were on the same relative level as Germany's (US/Ger was 102% on Madison's PPP, 90% in official pre-war exchange rates), since most of Germany's resources were spend in the Eastern front, the Western allies obtained a massive superiority over Germany (like attacking a person by the back).
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 31 Jan 2015 18:44

GDP, Military Outlays and Coal Production

Notice the strong correlation between these 3 statistics:

------------------------- GDP (1939) ------------- Coal Production (1939) ------------- Military Outlays during the war
"Grossraum" ---------- 869,339 ------------------ 425,769 ------------------------------ 1,751
USA ------------------- 862,995 ------------------- 400,979 ------------------------------ 1,771
British Empire ------- 406,965 ------------------- 246,200 ------------------------------ 845
USSR ------------------ 420,091 ------------------- 170,100 ----------------------------- 742

Coal production includes coal used to produce coke and doesn't include lignite, in thousand metric tons. Includes British and Canadian coal output but doesn't exclude coal consumed at mines, US, Grossraum and USSR data does. Military outlays in billions 1990 international dollars, computed using Maddison's data.

British Empire GDP data is the following:
UK --------------- 300,539
Canada ---------- 55,167
Australia -------- 40,749
New Zealand ---- 10,510
total ------------- 406,965

I only include the industrialized parts of the British Empire because they were the ones most capable of paying taxes and producing supplies. Also, the UK themselves paid for ca. 75% of their military outlays during the war, so it's reasonable to estimate that 75% of the tax paying capacity of the British Empire was the UK.

Also, crosschecking US/Germany military outlays against prices of certain commodities:

Nominal military outlays during the whole war, not corrected for inflation, but provide a rough idea:

Germany -- 550 billion RM (90% of 614.4 billion RM total government expenditures, 1st September 1939 to 30 April 1945, 68 months)
USA -------- 308 billion dollars (4 years, 48 months: 1941-45)

Divided by 1943 costs of 2 engine bomber

Germany ----- 2.16 million bombers (cost of 2 engine Ju-88 bomber: 254,496 RM)
USA ----------- 2.03 million bombers (cost of 2 engine B-25 bomber: 151,894 dollars)

Divided by 1942 cost of machine tools

Germany ----- 56.1 million machine tools (average cost of machine tool: 9,811 RM)
USA ----------- 55.8 million machine tools (average cost of machine tool: 5,515 dollars)

from: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 6#p1925866
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by DarthMaur » 02 Feb 2015 15:14

Guaporense wrote: Life expectancy at birth was ca. 25 years, compared to 65 years for Germany and 45 years for the Soviet Union.
What is the source of these three numbers?

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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 03 Feb 2015 06:32

Several articles and books on economic history. Life expectancy in India and China was around 24 years by the turn of the 20th century. Russia was 32 years, increasing to around 45 by 1940.

This is an interesting table of life expectancy around the world by the early 1950's (life expectancy in Eastern Europe increased a lot between 1935 to 1955):


Also, see page 6 of this: http://www.ipss.go.jp/seminar/j/seminar ... m/john.pdf
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 07 Feb 2015 01:29

Military Outlays and GDP of all controlled territories

Notice that in threads I made earlier such as in Nominal GDPs (i.e. converted on nominal exchange rates) of the world were attempts to deal with imperfections regarding PPP measures of GDP. However, reflecting on the military expenditures implied by PPP's it appears that PPP's GDP might be a superior measure: Japan's military outlays looked more like 20% of the US's rather than 10% as implied by official exchange rates. Instead, it appears that computing PPP GDP's and understanding the effects of per capita income appears to be a better approach: countries such as USSR and Japan managed total economic mobilization even though their per capita incomes were one third of the leading economies, but that was perhaps due to the fact that their per capita incomes were 4-5 times higher than China, Africa and India's, the truly backward regions of the world, which were agricultural subsistence economies, incapable of mobilizing their resources for total war, Japan, despite being relatively poor already was a industrial market economy, capable of mobilizing most of it's product for modern warfare. As a result I will consider only regions with per capita incomes equal or higher to those of the lowest income economies capable of military mobilization: Poland, Japan and the USSR (i.e. bigger than 2000 1990 dollars, so India, China and African colonial territories are irrelevant (and they practically were in warmaking potential terms))

Anyway, in 1942, at the turning point of the war, these were the 1939 PPP GDP's in 1990 dollars of the regions controlled by each coalition were:

Allies ---------------- 1,538,650
----- USA ------------ 862,995
----- UK ------------- 300,539
----- USSR ----------- 268,660 (reduced by 37% due to Barbarossa)*
----- Canada -------- 55,167
----- Australia ------ 40,749
----- New Zealand -- 10,510

Axis -------------------- 1,386,806
----- Germany -------- 428,750
----- France ----------- 200,840
----- Japan ------------ 166,506
----- Italy -------------- 154,470
----- USSR -------------- 151,430 (areas under German occupation)*
----- Poland ------------- 67,788
----- Netherlands ------- 48,687
----- Belgium ----------- 43,216
----- Czechoslovakia --- 31,578 (3/4 of the 1937 estimate, 1/4 was in Sudetenland)
----- Hungary ----------- 26,184
----- Denmark ----------- 22,803
----- Greece ------------- 18,875
----- Norway ------------- 13,118
----- Finland ------------- 12,561

*estimated in terms of reduction of labor force size: 86 million workers, 31 million under German occupation, 55 million in the "free" USSR

Not including Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria, China, India, Thailand other British, French, Dutch and Japanese colonies (which were almost all agricultural near-subsistence economies of negligible war-making potential). Total Axis military outlays were relatively smaller than that though.

Total Military Expenditures

Allies ------ 3,358,000 (218% of the pre-war GDP)
Axis -------- 2,255,000 (163% of pre-war GDP territories)

The Allies managed to mobilize the economic potential of their territories to a greater degree than the Axis did. Though there is also the fact that Germany did not control all these territories in 1939, these territories were under Axis control for 2 years of the nearly 6 years long war.
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by South » 07 Feb 2015 09:06

Good morning Guaporense,

Are you saying or suggesting that "China...truly backward...agricultural subsistence [economy], incapable of mobilizing their resources for total war..." ?

Chinese resources were mobilized ............ for a civil war. There was more than 1 government involved in this. As an aside, WWII was ongoing in China prior to Poland and Pearl Harbor. Origin reference points can be 18 Sep 31 ("Mukden Incident") or the 1937 Nanking attacks. The mobilization(s) occured in the referenced agricultural subsistence economy, accepting ongoing improvements such as new air fields and roads.

For background, see:

THE ORIGINS OF CHINESE BOLSHEVISM, Michael Y.L. Luk, ISBN: 0-19-584209-X, 1990.

I believe mobilizations can be accomplished even in destitute economies.

Warm regards,


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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 07 Feb 2015 09:42

Military expenditures of Western Allies versus Germany: two types of evidence

I compared total military outlays for the whole war with different timeframes for each country, how about comparing outlays for same period? 1943-44, peak war activity for both Germany and the Western Allies.

Total military outlays: 1943-1944, millions

----------------- PPP 1990 dollars ------- Official 1939 exchange rates
Germany ------ 772,024 ---------------- 92,913
USA ------------ 1,007,359 -------------- 107,623
UK ------------- 340,134 ---------------- 32,255

PPP's numbers based on Maddison's estimates are relatively lower for Germany compared to exchange rates values, given the overvalued mark in 1939: 1943-44 military expenditures for Germany were 77% of the US in PPP terms, while in official exchange rates were 86% of the US's. In terms of 2 engine bombers (respectively, Ju-88 and B-25), using 1943 prices, Germany's military outlays in 1943 were ca. 85% of the US's.

Assuming that 80% of the US's expenditures are directed against Germany (instead of 85% because I think this preliminary allocation of resources was not followed rigorously), 100% of the UK's and using my estimates of proportion of German expenditures on the Western fronts as 37% in 1943 and 47% in 1944, we have the following relative expenditures in the Western fronts:

----------------- PPP 1990 dollars ------- Official 1939 exchange rates
Germany ------ 327,240 ---------------- 39,420
USA ------------ 805,680 ---------------- 86,099
UK ------------- 340,134 ---------------- 32,255
Allies total --- 1,146,022 -------------- 118,354
ratio ---------- 3.50 --------------------- 3.00

So we have a superiority in terms of expenditures in the western front of three to three and half times depending on the measure we use, official exchange rates or PPP. Interestingly, let's compare data from Numbers and Predicition and War on strength (based on equipment deployed in the field), we have that in 78 engagements in the second half of 1943 and over the course of 1944 in Italy and in the Western front the following numbers:

Number of soldiers engaged in all 78 battles:
Allies -------- 1,783,237
Germany ---- 940,198

However, I took the average per capita strength ratio for the 78 engagements, which measure the firepower per capita and the allies had a significant advantage: each Allied soldier had 121.7% of the firepower of the German soldier engaged, on average over the 78 engagements measured in terms of OLI (operational lethality index) though the data I used is for strength with also take into account Allied air superiority and Allied airpower (close air support). Using this data we have that the Allies had on average in these 78 engagements, 231% of the firepower of the Germans in the Western front and Italian fronts. Ammunition consumption probably followed the same pattern as firepower measured in the number of weapons: in Normandy, the Allies outnumbered the Germans 2.5 to 1 and according to Zetterling, ammunition supply was 1,400 tons a day for the US army compared to 480 tons for the opposing German forces (not counting ammunition depots the Germans had access and US data doesn't include small arms ammunition), a ratio of 2.91 which implies the average allied soldier had 117% of the ammunition supply of the German (compare with the 122% firepower stat).

The difference in total military expenditures was larger than the difference in average firepower in these engagements perhaps because of two reasons:
1 - Expenditures on the Strategic Air War
2 - Higher logistic costs of transporting troops and supplies

Notice that even though German total military expenditures in WW2 were comparable in scale to the US's, the fact that the Eastern front consumed most of Germany's resources left the Western fronts a bit "nude" making possible the victory of the Western allies despite their lower combat efficiency.


Interestingly, it's the relationship between GDP 1939 and 1943-44 military expenditures of respectively's, Germany's Sphere of Power (I called it "Grossraum": Germany, Czechoslovakia, France, Benelux, Denmark, Norway and Poland, the regions which paid nearly all of Germany's occupation taxes), US and the developed parts of the British commonwealth/Empire:

1939 GDP 1990 PPP dollars
Grossraum ----------- 869,339
USA ------------------ 1,070,418*
British Empire ------ 406,965

1943-44 Military Expenditures in 1990 PPP dollars
Germany ------------ 772,024
USA ------------------ 1,007,359
United Kingdom ---- 340,134

Also, anthracite/bituminous coal consumption in 1943 was circa. 590 million tons for the US, 450 million for the Grossraum, and 215 million for UK+Canada. Also in proportion to these statistics. I think that I have pretty much "figured out" why Germany, despite controlling massive economic potential had a large inferiority in firepower in the Western fronts (though it wasn't that large: about 2.3 to 1, given the sample of 78 engagements from Numbers Prediction and War).

Now, USA's GDP is "corrected" for the Great Depression, instead of actual 1939 GDP I am using the trend GDP given by the average growth rate between 1913 and 1950 according to Maddison's estimates: growth of 2.8% a year between 1913 and 1950 yields this figure for 1939. Hence, the "Grossraum's" PPP 1939 GDP was 81% of US's 1939 "long run" growth trend (although nearly the same size as the US's actual "depressed" figures) and 1943-44 military expenditures were 77% of the US's.

Germany mobilized their resources to a slightly greater degree than the Allies, (60% versus 50% of national income at factor cost) but given the economic collapse of occupied Europe, they still managed to actually mobilize resources nearly proportion to the occupied territories economic potential ( though I am not counting the occupied parts of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe that Germany also occupied).
Last edited by Guaporense on 07 Feb 2015 10:16, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 07 Feb 2015 09:49

South wrote:I believe mobilizations can be accomplished even in destitute economies.
True. I can agree, however, due to their lack of logistical capability they are not able to supply their armed forces were effective weapons, supplies and training. As a result, even though China's economy was twice as large as Japan's, Japan could relatively easily invade China and take the strategic initiative. So China was not capable of translating their GDP into effective fighting power while the Soviet Union and Japan were. They were the lowest income economies who managed to do so. Japan produced 65,000 aircraft and a huge number of major naval vessels, their GDP was 19% of the US's (PPP) in 1939 but in these two categories Japan's output was greater than 19% (also much greater than the 9% of the US's official exchange rate GDP).

So I did not include China and India into the Allied GDP total, as well as other territories under Allied and Axis control with very low per capita incomes for this reason (including Brazil, by the way, though Brazil's contribution in the war was completely insignificant: sending 25 thousand men, out of the tens of millions the allies mobilized).
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by Guaporense » 07 Feb 2015 18:39

Ammunition figures

Ammunition was the basic fuel of the army and perhaps the single most important basic munition in WW2, given it's production cost was greater than the guns which fired them and represented the most important element of the supplies of a division's daily consumption. Here is listed army production/supplies of ammunition. I only included calibers over 75 mm, which were the bast majority of total ammunition weight produced (in Germany's case, even including small arms ammunition, the weight of projectiles over 75 mm was more than 90% of the total). Interestingly, it's often neglected by military historians and comparisons of war related output, however, considering the relative homogeneity of ammunition (compared to the highly heterogeneous quality of equipment: Soviet vis German), it provides perhaps the best general index for army supply/mobilization of resources for the army. I didn't include mortar and rockets in the data.

Total ammunition production/supply of calibers over 75 mm:

(1) Germany (1940-1944) --------- 312 million rounds (production)
(2) United States (1940-1945) ---- 211.8 million rounds (deliveries to the army)
(3) Soviet Union (1940-1944) ----- 168.4 million rounds (prewar stock+ war production)
(4) United Kingdom (1940-44) ---- 72 million rounds (production)

Note: American figures refer to army ordnance department deliveries from July 1st 1940 to December 31 1945. Some were used by the navy though and some of navy's procurement was used by the army, but, well, German guns also fired captured French projectiles so this is a very imperfect figure.

(1,4) https://books.google.com/books?id=qCeg7 ... e&q&f=true
(2) The Army and Economic Mobilization, Smith R. Elberton
(3) Art's tables (I don't know if the original link still works though). Stocks in June 1941 plus production from July 1941 to December 1944. Figures are incomplete for AA ammunition so this is a low end figure.

By projectile weight:

(1) Germany (1940-1944) --------- 4,565,592 tons (avr. weight 15.12 kg)
(2) United States (1940-1945) ---- 3,168,279 tons (avr. weight 14.96 kg)
(3) Soviet Union (1940-1944) ----- 1,661,415 tons (avr. weight 9.86 kg)
(4) United Kingdom (1940-44) ---- 1,080,000 tons (assuming avr. weight of 15 kg)

Note: Here I only had German data by caliber for 301.9 million rounds, so this is a lower bound estimate. The composition of German and American production was very similar: for example, 105 mm numbered 117 million rounds in German production out of 302 million, 84 million rounds in American out of 211 million. Russian was lighter, I think that British composition, given similar levels of industrialization, was like German and American figures.

Notice that while Western Allies had greater total military outlays than Germany (2.63 trillion versus 1.75 trillion), their production of ammunition was slightly smaller (284 million rounds to 312 million), reflecting greater focus on the airforce and navy. However, the per capita ammunition supply of the Western Allies was greater given that their field army size was relatively smaller: American field army was ca. 55% of the German field army in size but it's ammunition production was about two thirds of German output and army activity was much less intense overall. Though the US ended the war with large stockpiles of ammunition while Germany spend nearly everything, especially in the Eastern Front. The Soviet ammunition production was indeed much smaller than Germany's, if you look at steel allocation, in 3rd qt 1944, Germany was allocating 4 times more steel to ammunition production than the USSR's.

I used the following projectile weights:

75 mm ----------- 5.8 kg
90/88 mm ------ 9.4 kg
105 mm --------- 14.5 kg
114 mm --------- 18.5 kg
122 mm --------- 22 kg
152/155 mm ---- 43.5 kg
203 mm --------- 103 kg
210 mm --------- 113 kg
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Re: On estimating the warmaking potential of the world's regions

Post by RichTO90 » 08 Feb 2015 01:06

Guaporense wrote:Ammunition figures
(1) Germany (1940-1944) --------- 312 million rounds (production
(2) United States (1940-1945) ---- 211.8 million rounds (deliveries to the army)

Note: American figures refer to army ordnance department deliveries from July 1st 1940 to December 31 1945. Some were used by the navy though and some of navy's procurement was used by the army, but, well, German guns also fired captured French projectiles so this is a very imperfect figure.
Army Heavy Artillery 33.956 million
Army Light Field, Tank, and Antitank 295.392 million
Army Aircraft 0.656 million
Army Antiaircraft 11.485 million
Navy (all types, 3" to 16") 15,306,719
Total - 356.795719 million

Note: Army data is for "proof acceptances" as well as "factory acceptances", i.e., accepted by inspectors and ready for delivery from the factory or accepted by proof lots and already delivered. Navy data is for complete filled and fuzed projectiles available for issue.

And, no, there were no rounds 75mm or above produced by the U.S. War Department that were used by the Navy Department except for those in common systems such as the Medium Tank M4 - used by the USMC. The Navy 3" and the Army 3" were completely different systems for example.

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