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Who was the most powerful nation: USSR or USA?

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by misterkingtiger, Oct 27, 2005.

  1. Varyag

    Varyag New Member

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    No, but they did build a lot of tanks.
     
  2. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    Indeed they did, and got quite a few from the west as well.
     
  3. corpcasselbury

    corpcasselbury New Member

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    And there does appear to be some evidence now that the Soviets actually used the Sherman in combat and liked them. Given the reliability and versatility of the M4, that's not too surprising.
     
  4. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    There's some good debate on lend lease in the thread.

    There's often two schools of thought on the subject, some like Keegan, think it was vital in the Soviets being able to either hold on in the initial stages, or being able to continue to successfully operate later in the war and eventually win.

    Others, including Alan Clarke and David Glantz, say that lend lease [particularly Motorized transport] was very helpful in shortening the war, but did not decide it.

    Glantz says "Lend-Lease aid did not arrive in sufficient quantities to make a difference between defeat and victory in 1941-1942''

    According to Glantz, had Stalin and his commanders been left to their own devices, it "might have taken 12 to 18 months longer to finish off the Wehrmacht," but "the ultimate result would probably have been the same''

    I'm inclined to go along with Glantz.

    Even by the time the Wehrmacht's second offensive was defeated at Stalingrad, lend lease hadn't fully kicked in according to Clarke.

    He says the help really started bearing fruit in the second part of 1943 following Kursk. At that time it was fairly obvious as to the direction of the war.

    By all accounts lend lease amounted to about 4.5% of the entire Soviet military production and around 7.5% of the civilian.
     
  5. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

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    Even if those figures were accurate they are very misleading. Certain types of goods , in wartime, are more important than others.

    A partial list:


    from:
    "The Role of Lend-Lease in Soviet Military
    Efforts, 1941-1945" by BORIS V. SOKOLOV

    Of course, it's only Zhukov, what would he know about it? :wink:
     
  6. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    I am having deja vu :grin:
     
  7. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

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    You mean it's "deja vu, all over again" to quote Yogi Berra :grin:
    I am repeating myself, it's true but it seems that anzac hasn't seen my earlier posts on this subject. Or perhaps he just needed reminding. :wink:
     
  8. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    Yep, I agree figures can be misleading at times.

    But which figures? :wink:


    The following is interesting........



    > 80% of all canned meat.
    Canned meat accounted for less then 10% of Soviet army food rations.

    > 92% of all railroad locomotives, rolling stock and rails.
    92% of all new locomotives and rails. USSR had plenty of locomotives before the war and a lot of locomotive park was left intact even after Barbarossa. Thus, production of new locomotives was not considered a strategic priority.

    > 56% of all aluminum.
    In this timeframe, Alcoa (US aluminium company) had a near-monopoly on aluminium production in the world due to lack of bauxite deposite discoveries in the rest of the world. So yes, aluminium was in short supply everywhere, and so USSR used to buy aluminium from the States for hard currency and would continue to do the same without lend-lease. In 1941 USA actually was behind on deliveries of materials ordered by USSR before the war. USSR did not have a lot of hard currency, but it had enough to buy strategic materials. Without lend-lease, USSR likely would have to raise some more currency ie by selling its gold reserves. Tough, but not devastating.

    The main use of aluminium is in aircraft production, USSR partially fought aluminium shortages by designing equipment which used it in minimum amount. So most of USSR fighters were made mostly of wood (which is not necessarily bad - so was Mosquito - but it limited their tactical capabilities). So you see, aluminium shipments were important - but not to the point where there were absolutely no alternatives to imported aluminium.

    > 53% of all copper.
    Same here.

    > 53% of all explosives.
    This was largely a question of optimal division of labor between Allies. In 1941-42 US industry was not quite ready for war-time production yet - there was little engineering experience in producing tanks and combat aircraft. However, US chemical industry was the best in the world along with Germany, and production of explosives does not require all that much special expertise. So production of explosives was much easier for US to handle at the time then production of armored vehicles etc. E. Stettinius, whom I mentioned above, writes about it to the tune of "We could not do everything Soviets wanted, but we tried to do what we could".

    > 57% of all aviation fuel.
    I don't know how critical the situation with aviation fuel was. Lacking US supplies, Soviet aircraft would use lower-grade fuel. This would limit their speed and ceiling, but most of air combat on the Eastern front was low-altitude, ground-support combat. And air force was not as decisive in the Eastern front by a variety of reasons (poor weather, spread-out theater of operations, etc).

    > 74% of all truck transport.
    > 74% of all vehicle tires.
    Given a correlation of these numbers, I suspect double-counting - trucks and their tires were counted separately Trucks, no doubt, were the most important of LL supplies. Studebakers appeared in quantity only in 1943 and thereafter but then became a staple of Soviet army. But, again, look at the German army - they were supplied by trucks even less then the Soviet army, and managed Ok.

    > 12% of all armored vehicles.
    > 14% of all combat aircraft.
    Oh well. These two do not look all that crucial do they? They were a mixed bag, since many armored vehicles were not fit to use in Russian conditions.
    The worst LL tank - a tie between Matilda (mud would get under its armored "skirt" and block tracks in no time, rendering an already slow tank unmovable) and M3 Lee (which got a nick "Brother's grave for seven").
    The best - Valentines, Shermans. Shermans were appreciated for its exotic comforts - iirc it even had an air conditioner. Valentines were tough, hard to spot (low profile), and very reliable.

    Of aircraft, according to memoirs, many pilots actually preferred I-16 to a Hurricane. Spitfires and A-20s were excellent, but they were not available in significant quantities. Airacobras and later Kingcobras were well liked, although it was a tough aircraft to fly. Soviet ace Pokryshkin, made 48 kills on Airacobra. He commented about it, though, that it's like a horse with an attitude. "A skillful pilot could ride it like a wind, but it will throw off an inexperienced rider in no time".
     
  9. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    Hey ANZAC,

    playing with figures is fun, isn't it! :D

    Just picking up on a couple of points:

    The last generation of Soviet WW2 planes had moved on from varnished wood to Aluminium construction. A sudden cut-off of aluminium supplies maens no more modern planes which means going back to the older designs...

    Copper is very important, it is used in everything from shells to tanks. Lack of copper was a limiting factor in German tank construction.

    Imagine the USSR having to manage with only half the ammunition that was historically available. Suddenly there are no more mass artillery barrages...


    German logistics were a nightmare... :eek:
     
  10. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

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    I concur with the valid points Ricky made and will add a few as well.
    You seem to conveniently ignore certain facts. Notice the top list is only a partial list. Canned foods of all types were provided in addition to the canned meat mentioned for example. I would also kindly ask you for sources when you mention claims like canned meat made up <10% of Soviet army rations.
    As far as the stocks of aluminum go you should be aware that the outbreak of war changes everything and all bets are off as far as commercial contracts go. Many contracts were voided, aircraft ordered by France and Britain for instance.
    Do you have a source for your contention that the USSR had plenty of locomotives and rolling stock thus didn't need the US equipment?
    Everything I have read states that the 2000 locomotives and the thousands of rolling stock were very necessary as the Soviets had worn out their rail system to the point of near collapse.

    Insofar as the production of tanks is considered you also neglect to take into consideration the fact that tanks are made with high quality steel. Armor plate isn't plain mild steel. Where would the Soviets have obtained the quantities of high quality steel needed to manufacture so many tanks?
    If you are going to contradict Zhukov on points like these then the burden of proof is certainly upon you to at least provide some sources that can be scrutinized.
    I should also point out that the figures listed are for US directly supplied lend lease not for the items (tanks and aircraft primarily) that were provided by Britain to the USSR. So when you criticize the quality of the British supplied tanks you are venturing into other issues. In regard to such criticism of AFV qulaity I can only guess that you are falling prey to the common assumption that the Soviets only made T-34s and KV and IS series tanks whereas they continued to manufacture light scouting tanks like the T-60 and T-70 series tanks up to 1944.

    As far as the most efficient division of labor is concerned if that is the case I would only wonder what goods or services did the Soviets supply to the western allies while they were benefiting from this one way largess?
    AFAIK US airmen were not even permitted to use Soviet territory for emergency landings of damaged aircraft.
    Of course there was one great benefit provided to the US. That would be when the Soviets decided they could no longer be neutral when it came to Japan and declared war. On August 8, 1945.
    Thanks Uncle Joe :wink:

    ps..the entire list is rather large and filled with items in non trivial amounts...can you say 15 million pairs of boots?
     
  11. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    They exported lots and lots of suspicion? :grin:

    On a serious note, their 'supplied labour' was more in supplying manpower to grind down the Axis powers in Europe rather than in exporting manufactured goods.
     
  12. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Arguably not quite as insignificant as you think it is... The Soviet declaration of war spelt doom for the Kwantung Army and the IJA in Manchuria, who maintained a very sizeable force even after America's successful island hopping campaign...
    Pop quiz, which nation captured the most Japanese POW's throughout the course of WW2?

    Tying down 11 million Germans, and making huge the human sacrifices necessary, but which would have certainly discouraged the traditionally-isolationist USA? ;)
    Whosoever did it; defeating Nazi Germany would have required a huge loss of life, one that I think the USA would not have been willing to commit, seeing as (across the Pacific) they were not under a direct threat of invasion. Perhaps not a service to America, but certainly a service to Western Europe...
    Gratitude? Whats that?

    Even if we accept an inflated assesement of lend leases' contribution, it does not change the fact that it was Soviet's who had control of such goods and weapons... A successful Soviet Army fighting with American weapons does not entail an American victory... Any way you look at it, it remains a Soviet victory

    As for the qualtiy of Lend lease tanks, I am inclined to agree with you... Interesting read on lend lease Shermans in Hungary

    http://www.iremember.ru/index.php?optio ... &Itemid=19
     
  13. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

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    Yes, the argument of the "great sacrifice" must be trotted out, as it always is. There is an aspect of the issue that is usually overlooked especially in a debate regarding voluntary contributions to the overall effort to defeat Nazi Germany. That is what we are talking about. Even though it, of course, also served the interests of the US for the Soviets to tie down the bulk of the German forces the fact remains that the US was not directly threatened by Germany. Certainly not in the way that it was by Japan.
    So the US contribution to the war in Europe was voluntary. The Soviets, on the other hand had no choice in the matter. They were fighting for survival.

    I resent the aspersions you cast regarding the will and fortitude of the American people to endure sacrifice. The only way we would ever know would be if we were placed in the same situation. That is to say, invasion and a fight for national survival.

    What are you basing your idea of an "inflated assessment" of the US lend lease contribution upon? I have seen no documented sources contradicting the sources and quotes that I have posted. If you have some why not produce them before using such terms?

    Some revisionist historians credit the Soviet declaration of war as being more significant that it was because IMO it suits their agenda of condemnation of the US use of the atomic bomb.

    Insofar as your assessment of the threat to the US from Germany compared to Japan, I disagree. The Japanese attacked American territory at Hawaii (and had drawn up plans for a possible invasion) and invaded and occupied the American territory of the Philippine islands, murdering millions of Philippinos in the process.

    ps... capturing Japanese wasn't a significant part of the Pacific war while it was still being being hotly contested. You might observe that typically very few Japanese attempted to surrender and very few prisoners were taken in island battles. The fighting was all or nothing, to the death.
     
  14. Canadian_Super_Patriot

    Canadian_Super_Patriot recruit

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    Not to mention the Aleution islands. Alaska wasn't a state then, but it was still US territory
     
  15. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    Those pesky figures.

    Colonel G.S. Kravchenko had enough data, figures, files and graphs etc, on the Soviet military economy [and how lend lease slotted in] to sink the Titanic.

    I suppose the first question to be considered is, did Lend-Lease prevent the defeat of the Soviet Union? Probably not, the most important defensive battles were fought and won before the arrival of large amounts of Allied aid. The survival of the Soviet Union was secured essentially with its own resources.

    And after that as Glantz and Clarke say the the Lend-Lease materials received allowed the Soviets to speed up the advance into central Europe.

    On locomotives and rolling stock, John Ericson in The Road to Berlin, states that ''substantial'' numbers of rolling stock were pulled out in time, and I think it was Kravchenko who said the lend lease locomotive figures were 1,911 steam and 70 diesel electric locomotives, and 11,155 rail cars.

    However none of this was shipped before the second half of 1943, no locomotives were sent before 1944, and only 20% of these amounts (in tonnage) was shipped - i.e. you then have to add sailing time, debarkation time, transit time to the front, etc - before 1 July 1944.
    Additionally, a lot of the US locomotives were too heavy for Soviet tracks so could only be of limited use except where the railway was rebuilt.

    Anyway, as I said in my first post, I'll stick with Glantz; according to him, had Stalin and his commanders been left to their own devices, it "might have taken 12 to 18 months longer to finish off the Wehrmacht," but "the ultimate result would probably have been the same" ...... and I haven't seen anything that would alter my thinking, although I'm certainly not dogmatic about it in any way shape or form.


    Stalin was in a good mood at Yalta, getting most of what he wanted and agreeing to the Americans urgent lobbying for Soviet support in the Pacific War concerning the invasion of Japan.

    He promised that within 2-3 months of Germany's defeat he would enter the fight, which he did when Vasilevski unleashed the biggest land battle of the Pacific war against the Japanese in operation August Storm.
    Of course by then the Americans had the bomb and the Russians were persona non grata.

    According to Ericson he even offered bases in Russia and Budapest, not sure if they were ever taken up.
     
  16. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    By August 1945 the Kwntung Army had largely been stripped of it's best, in terms of experience and equipment, and while they were capable against the Chinese, were no match for anyone else.
    Even the masses that were left would have been of little impact. Even if they had been able to get from China to Japan, they would have added more to the logistical nightmare than the fighting power of the IJA.
    Had the Japaese not surrendered in August 1945, there would have been millions of Japanese deaths, mostly civilains, due to starvaton in 1946.

    The Soviets did not entirely enter the war against Japan to help out the US. The expansion of communisim and Soviet influence had more to do with it than Stalin living up to his promises.
     
  17. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    Yep, he pushed the original attack date for ''August Storm'' forward one week when the first bomb was dropped.

    It was a race for territory before the Japanese gave in.

    If you mean the Atomic bombs forcing surrender in August saved millions of Japanese lives, or American for that matter, the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey say in part........

    ....Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey's opinion that certainly prior to 31 December 1945, and in all probability prior to 1 November 1945, Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped......

    That's before the invasion date, but of course the Americans didn't know that at the time.

    Some historians, [including Japanese] believe that the Russian declaration of war was the last straw that broke the camels back.
     
  18. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    Yes, Stalin had agreed to attack Japan three months after the end of the war in Europe and that's pretty much what he did. I wasn't really trying to make any cause and effect statements about the dropping of the A-bomb, but as you say there was arace for territory the Japanese surrendered, the hopelessness of their situation was probably evident to all and the Soviets had to act in case the Japanese did the logical thing and gave up. The Japanese were actually trying to use the Soviets to broker a peace arrangement, so they knew how close the Japanese were to the end. The Japanese had scrupuosly respected Soviet neutrality throughout the war, allowing for the flow of US lend lease goods to the USSR through the Pacific ports, and were hoping for the same treatment.
    I think you could make a case that the Soviet attack was a major contributor, but not the deciding factor in the Japanese decision to surrender.
    If you take the statements of many of the Japanese leaders at face value, it was the bombs first and then the attack by their possible chance to negotiate some kind of peace that led to the decision.

    Have you read Richard Frank's book, "Downfall"? I thought it was a pretty good and even portrayal of the end of the Pacific war, including the atomic decision and the Soviet attack.

    As for lend lease, it probably fall sin much the same category. A contributor to Soviet victory, but neither decisve or even strictly necessary in it's own right. But to also quote Glantz, "the overall importance of this assitance [lend-lease] cannot be understated" and "... without lend-lease ... every Soviet offensive would have stalled at an earlier phase, outrunning its logistical tail in a matter of days".
     
  19. ANZAC

    ANZAC Member

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    No, I haven't got around to Downfall, must get a copy. ''The Pacific War'' by John Costello is till the best I've read on the subject, he combines a detailed rundown on the battles, plus a good insight into the machinations behind the dropping of the bombs and the surrender.

    Those times [the bombs and surrender] certainly make for good debate dont they?


    And on lend lease, I agree with you, lend lease, although not decisive, probably got the Soviets to Berlin 12-18 months sooner.

    The thing is, if the Soviets were held up, it meant the Brits and Americans would have the doubtful honour of taking Berlin and the 100,000 plus casualties that it would entail.

    I've read that there was a powerful ''German lobby'' in Japan pushing for a move against the Soviets instead of the U.S. but of course they lost the argument.

    Wonder how things would have turned out if they got their way?
     
  20. zhengboyang777 phpbb3

    zhengboyang777 phpbb3 New Member

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    In my opinion,Soviet suffered from the powerful attack of German troops and it held on with the trememdous loss of soldiers.It was the only one that used the ocean of people during the hardest time in WW2.
     

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