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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. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    Lets take a detailed look:

    USA:

    ends the war with the M4A3E8 as its newest standard Medium, but this will shortly be phased out in favour of the M48

    It also has a new 'heavy', the Pershing, which will become the M48.

    It has a host of TDs, SPGs and armoured support vehicles.

    It has a large number of designs for effective Big Tank killers in prototype form, all of which were cancelled as the war ended.

    It has a good tactical airforce, and also hads some good jet designs entering service.

    It has fleets of heavy bombers & escort fighters, including the best bomber going (B-29), which is practically un-interceptable by the current VVS.

    It has a HUGE and very effective navy.


    USSR:

    ends the war with the T-34/85 as its newest standard medium. The T-44 is almost around, but will shortly be replaced by the T-55.

    It has IS-2 and (in 1945) IS-3 heavy tanks, but not many.

    It has a host of TDs, and SPGs.

    It has the biggest/best tactical airforce, but no strategic bomber force to speak of and no workable jets (especially not if Britain witholds the Nene engine, which it would if the USSR and USA went to war).

    It has a teeny navy, but that's fine as it has a teeny coastline.


    Basically - after Fighting the Germans the Soviet ground forces were rather reduced. Back home the people were starving thanks to good old Uncle Joe.

    The US still had plenty of resources to throw around, having never fully ramped up to full wartime economy during WW2.


    Unless the Soviets could pull something spectacular out of the bag on the ground - and fast - the US would likely win. But it would be a damn hard fight.
     
  2. Blaster

    Blaster New Member

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    A large air force of prop planes aren't gonna' do ya' much good when the enemy has jets. Like the F86 Sabre. Armed with six .50 cal. machine guns, and much harder to stop than the Me 262 because it was much better, they would have kicked the crap outta' the best prop fighters ever created. Which I believe was the F4U Corsair or the F6F Hellcat, which the US has. The US would still win, but the Soviets would go down kicking and screaming!
     
  3. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    A little-know-fact is that the Russians had jets of their own in WW2, the Mig-9, and Yak-15 were beginning production in 1945. They also had the BI-1, which in 1943 had broken the world-speed-record at 800kph, 30 were built but were mostly destroyed during the course of the war. Apart from these, the Russians had piston engined high-altitude flyers easily capable of reaching the B-29, such as the Su-5 and the Mig-13...

    As for who was more powerful in Europe I really don't think USA stands a chance even with the technology to make 'the bomb'... Numerically their european forces (both air and land) were simply far too inferior in size to those of Russia's. Then again I also don't think Russia could ever have made it to America (small Navy)

    Churchill actually had a plan to repel the Russians after Germany was defeated (assuming they attacked)... It was callled "operation unthinkable", if you read it it is very very bleak. Basically it stated that the only possbile way of keeping the Russians from taking over Europe would be to fight small inital victories and hope that this would 'encourage' them to make peace...

    Here are some excerpts from "Operation Unthinkable"

    "Our numerical inferiority on land renders it extremely doubtful whether we could achieve a limited and quick success, even if the political appreciation considered that this would suffice to gain our political object."

    "It is clear from the relative strength of the respective land forces that we are not in a position to take the offensive with a view to achieving a rapid success."

    "As regards Strategic Air Forces, our superiority in numbers and technique would be to some extent discounted by the absence of strategical targets compared to those which existed in Germany, and the necessity for using these strategic air forces to supplement our tactical air forces in support of land operations."


    If Churchill didn't think it could be done, then neither do I... Russia wins
     
  4. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Also if you wait a few years, the USSR gets the AK-47
    ... the REAL weapon of mass destruction :bang:
     
  5. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    Ughh... Too much emphasis on technology, Blaster. P-51D Mustangs didn't have too much trouble taking down Me-262 jet fighters. What matters is who is flying the plane (training, experience, morale), and how much fuel and ammunition does he have to keep doing so?

    Smeghead: that plan you are talking about, was it only British or did it include American forces? Since the Americans had about three million soldiers in ETO from 1944 onward, I wouldn't say their numbers were that inferior to the Russians, particularly if they were backed up by the armies of the other countries that were under attack (France mostly). All they'd have to do is send them the stuff, which they could thanks to their unmatched industrial capacity.

    On this strategical level, technology makes practically no difference unless we're talking atomic weapons.
     
  6. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Roel... IIRC the "operation unthinkable" was a British plan, but it counted upon the support of the American forces already in Europe... One clause of the document stated that all strategic objectives would be impossible if American forces were withdrawn, due to the likelihood of war-weariness and civilian opposition to war back home... It also specified which countries would be suitable for enlistment to fight the Soviets, it was hoped that a German battallion numbering 100,000 would be rallied to fight against the Soviets, not sure about France though

    try this link... it usually works
    www.members.tripod.com/~american_almanac/church.htm
     
  7. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    The BI-1, about as dangerous to its pilots as the Me-163, but without the combat potential... :grin:

    Yes, the USSR had jets, but (and admittedly I worded my post badly) they were inferior to Western jets, until they were given the Nene engine.

    They did have interceptors capable of reaching high-altitude bombers, just not many, and don't forget that the bombers would have swarms of very capable long-range fighters protecting them, flown by men with lots of experience of fighting their way through very well-defended airspace.


    The inferiority was not hugely marked, and more American forces were available. The Americans (and allies) could even invade via the Pacific if they wanted to, or via India, or via the Middle East...

    was htis Churchill, or the British Army acting on behalf of Churchill?

    Winnie was a lot of things but a brilliant strategist he was not...


    None of those excepts actually supports the idea that Churchill did not think it could be done. They state that the West could not win immediately, and that the West could not immediately mount an offensive to allow them to win immediately, and that Strategic bombing would be of limited help.

    All of which is true. But none of which says 'its hopeless, the Russians will win'
     
  8. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Well everybody seems to be arguing the ol' "the US will win due to having a smaller but better trained army" however (as we saw in ww2) the larger, crapper, Russian army beat the Germans despite inferior technology... And Ricky is spot on; Churchill never said it was hopeless... However his assessment seem to be that beating the Russians would be extremely difficult and take alot more effort than everyone here seems to give them credit for.
    I am not aware of the specifics concerning either country's industrial capacity at the end of the war, only that both were more than able to sustain war materials for a looong time to come.

    BTW, can anyone tell me when was the first Western Jet fighter? The earliest example i know of is the Gloster Meteor and I'm sure there were plenty before it

    I meant "In my books" Russia has the highest likelihood of controlling Europe... personally I think that if the West and the East fought, many of the soldiers from both sides would be so sick of war that they'd simply desert... not to mention the shocking civilian reaction at home... Who knows, there could even have been a revolution against Stalin had he given such an order
     
  9. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    The first operational Jet Fighter in regular squadron service was the Gloster Meteor.
     
  10. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    As far as the Soviets go, you have 2 sides to that.

    1) they are no longer foghting for the Motherland, the Rodina, so are unlikely to be quite as fanatical about swatting the Westerners. Anti-German propaganda was very effective as everybody knew that the evil Nazis were the aggressors.

    2) Towards the end of the war Soviet propaganda did start turning against the Western Allies. Maybe they could have twisted it into 'Germany tried to bury us, but we buried them. Now the West want to try where the Germans failed.'


    I reckon the Soviets would be less likely to display the vigour and sacrifice they showed against Germany if they were fighting the West. Too many American & British supplies, trucks, tanks, rations, etc to convince the soldiers that these men were not on their side all along.
     
  11. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    I read somewhere on this site that the Russian troops were never even told that the US were involved in the war, only the officers knew. If this is true it wouldn't take too much convincing to get your typical Russian conscript to believe the West had been allied with Germany all along?

    Would the West be morally inclined to fight Russia? I'm not sure the typical American soldier had anything particular against the Russians, though fear of Bolshevism had been in the west since 1905 so i doubt it would have been too hard to convince the troops the Russians were the bad guys
     
  12. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    I've also got the impression from some (Admittedly western) sources that by VE day, and with 4 years of terrible sacrifice and constant fighting behind them the average Red Army soldier was also getting a bit war weary.

    This is no slight on them in the slightest, but as Ricky commented, having expelled the hated Facists from the Motherland and destroyed their capital, I can't imagine that the bulk of the Soviet Soldiers would have been too keen on carrying on the fight into WW2.1

    That said, one thing that isn't covered is that the British probably felt exactly the same (The US to a much lesser extent), not to mention that we were completely broke.

    Planning and carrying out military operations against the Soviets would be one thing, paying for them would be quite another and as much as Lend-Lease could make up material shortages, simple things like carrying on paying the wages of an army on wartime footing would quite possibly be beyond the abilities of the UK.
     
  13. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    Quite possibly true, wasn't there also a high illiteracy rate among Soviet conscripts? If they had trouble reading cyrillic I can't imagine they'd fare any better with English, so it wouldn't be too much trouble for the Commissar to explain to your average Red Army squaddie that the markings that read "Chrysler" actually meant "Produced in the Urals" for example. :wink:

    That said I don't think it would be too hard for the US to justify war with the Soviet Union to its people, afterall the average US citizen had nothing particular against the Germans (As a not insignificant number of Americans were and are of German descent afterall).
     
  14. jdbuk

    jdbuk New Member

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    not neccisarily true, postwar the uk set up the nhs which cost a
    huge amount of money, and hired a vast amount of staff. i dont know how this compared to the army of ww2 but nowadays we spend more on the nhs than w do the armed forces. And the armed forces then were not well paid(not know either realy lol). I mean i could be way off(wouldnt be the first time lol) but if we were realy flat broke we would not have been able to do this.

    incidentaly in 1945 the british army stood at 2.9m (2.7m in 44), the home uard disbanded in 1944 with 1.7 million men with an average age of unde 30, im sure that there would of been some people fit enough at least to relive more able bodied second line troops to fight in infantry/armour divisions if not themselves.
     
  15. Hoosier phpbb3

    Hoosier phpbb3 New Member

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    Simon:
    I don't agree.
    The average American GI--and the general population--were just as sick of war as the average Brit, Pole, Frenchman, New Zealander, Australian, Dutchman, etc.
    Don't forget that the US was very isolationist prior to WW1, and after it's conclusion we referred to it as "The War to End All Wars." I think we were in the same mind-set after the conclusion of the Second World War.
    As an example... we burnt our entire pacific fleet of PT boats down to the waterline, and used bulldozers and axes to chop-up brand-new P-38 Lightnings, rather than give them to allies or ship them back to the USA.
    Post-war USA resulted in multi-millions of dollars of "Army Surplus" being dumped on the civilian market for mere pennies on the dollar. Jeeps and trailers were a common sight.... still painted in Olive Drab. You could purchase a brand-spankin' new P-38L for something like $1500!!!!!!!!
    Of course we paid a fearful price for our myopic-vision of the future when hostilities broke-out in Korea. Our post-war occupation troops based in Japan were fat and lazy, and the resources and war-materiale available to them were pitiful at best.
    I DO NOT believe the American public would have supported a policy by the Truman administration to continue the war into 1946 against Russia.
    ... my opinion for what it's worth.

    Tim
     
  16. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    Thankyou Tim, I freely admit that I am really rather ignorant of the views of the Home-front in the US, my (incorrect) supposition was that as the mainland US had been far less directly affected than the Europeans or British they would probably be less war-weary.

    If I may ask, if tensions were raised between Western Europe and the Soviet Union immediately following VE day and prior to the wholesale destruction of equipment do you feel the US would have returned to an isolationist standpoint and left the Europeans to fight another European war? (I am thinking here of escalating Border Clashes rather than an outright push Eastwards on British initiative)

    I think events in Korea showed that the US was not about to return to 1930s style isolationism in the face of another potential aggressor, but as I said my knowledge of the US homefront is limited at best and I have no idea if an Ameican Public would have supported this so soon after WWII.
     
  17. Hoosier phpbb3

    Hoosier phpbb3 New Member

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    Simon:
    I believe the USA was aware that Russia would attempt a land-grab wherever the opportunity presented itself in post-war Europe. The Berlin airlift sent a very strong signal to them that they would not give-up on their "sphere of influence" in Berlin... and West Germany nor their commitment to the rebuilding of Europe. (I can think of no other comparable non-violent operation in modern history of such scale.)
    The result was tremendous goodwill from the Berliners--and West Germans--and also, a very clear message to Moscow.) It was a monumental effort--and accomplishment--that makes me proud to this day.
    Had the British decided to expand influence and confront Russia and communism directly, I can only suppose that yes, the USA would support the British with any--and all--military assets required by them. Short of a direct military presence that is. After VE_Day, thousands of troops were redirected to the Pacific, preparing for the direct invasion of the mainland of Japan. having cheated death against the nazi-foe, they no doubt felt they most certainly would be killed fighting the tenacious Japanese foe. They probably felt like they had been delivered a miracle when the Japanese sued for an unconditional--actually it wasn't--surrender.
    They were also committed to the Marshall Plan, and the rebuilding of Europe. This was an unprecedented action that forgave much war-debt from cash-strapped countries and helped jump-start the continents' recovery efforts in rebuilding all that destroyed infrastructure.

    On the Other side of the world--1950:
    When the North Koreans attacked across the 38th parallel, they were reasonably sure that the USA would not intervene. Our foreign policy at that time had sent a message that the old "Post-War Islolationism" would guarantee we would sit on the sidelines and not get involved.
    I believe we sent mixed signals diplomatically that the North Koreans--and Chinese, and Russians misread. It was a test of the NATO alliance that proved it's resolve to the sphere of communism in that region of the world.
    Again, my "two-cents" for all it is worth.
    It is an interesting discussion topic Simon.... I appreciate your impressions as well.

    Tim
     
  18. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    Just been digging up a few facts...

    At the end of the war, the USSR had a grand total of 6,000,000 soldiers in the army (and 12,400,000 in the Armed forces all together) I do not know how many were involved in the Manchurian campaign, so we'll be generous and guess that 5,000,000 soldiers were sitting on the frontline in Europe.

    The USA had 3,021,000 troops in NW Europe and a further 446,000 in Italy (and 11,877,000 in the Armed Forces all together).

    British & Commonwealth troops in NW Europe: 490,000
    Commonwealth troops in Italy: 168,000
    Commonwealth troops in the Middle East: 130,000

    British & Commonwealth Armed Forces all together: 8,620,400

    So you have:

    In Europe (and the surrounding area):

    5,000,000 Soviet soldiers vs. 4,255,000 Western Allied soldiers

    This obviously does not take into account air forces.

    In total, the West has a far greater pool of trained servicemen to call on (20,497,400 vs. 12,400,000), although a proportion of those will be naval personnel who (after quickly sinking the Soviet Navy) would only be useful if Amphibious landings were to take place (admittedly quite likely).


    So, in Europe, the Soviets have a slim soldier vs soldier advantage, but that would quickly change.


    Production:

    The USA alone vastly outstripped Soviet Russia in the production of all raw materials except Wheat and Manganese. The Lend-Lease program supplied the USSR with many much-needed materials, including the bulk of its aluminium (for planes). Remove Lend-Lease aid, and see how suddenly Soviet production drops...

    The USA alone vastly outstripped Soviet Russia in the production of every military commodity except tanks.


    In contrast, Germany spent the war consistantly producing less than the Soviets, and spent the latter years running low on poretty much everything, from fuel to copper to soldiers.


    Comparing the German performance vs the Soviets to the (imagined) American performance vs the Soviets is apples & oranges.
     
  19. jeaguer

    jeaguer New Member

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    There doesn't seems to have been ANY degree of enthusiasm , least of
    all amongst the russians , to carry on the fun and games ,
    the russians much vaulted manpower superiority was non existant in 45 ,
    the levies for the front involved practices like sweeps through
    central asia
    for any able bodied mens , even the practice of using russians "zeks "
    from the camps had to stop , the russain heartland had given all they had
    from 16 years old kids to 50 's .
    there would be a generation of spinsters for years to come !!
    the average russian had a traditional and long standing dislike for going to
    war in far off places , unless provoked to do so !

    In the west the strong sympathy for the russians struggle had not yet
    been besmirched by the cold war propaganda and there would have been
    a lot of explaining to do for any switch of position ,
    the jewish circles were still a byword for left wing agitation ,
    even the zionist were pro russains !
    in the commonwealth the desire for peace and demobilisation was even
    stronger ,leading to a change of government to labor in britain and
    much grumbling amongst the troops up to mutinies amongst a paratroop
    unit located in borneo !
    hardly a saber ratling combination .
    .
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  20. Mic von Krate

    Mic von Krate New Member

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    US
     

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