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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. King Randall

    King Randall New Member

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    Oh definatly it goes to USA. without them could England have landed on normandy bythemselves? or could they have taken africa?(although they started to i dont believe hitler would allow them to take it fully back) although the USSR did have a major effect on the outcome of the war, they get my number 2 vote.
     
  2. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Really? That explains why the Germans lost more units in the Stalingrad campaign alone than in all other (non-Eastern) theatres combined...
     
  3. Ricky

    Ricky New Member

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    The big question is whether the USA could have withstood an assault similar to that which the CCCP sustained.

    To my mind - yes they could, although obviously their industrial output and ability to wage effective war around the globe would be reduced.

    Bottom line -

    The CCCP was militarily & Industrially powerful enough to absorb and push back the best the Germans (and supporting Allies) could throw at it

    The USA was Industrially and militarily powerful enough to not only wage war against multiple enemies across the globe, but also to provide weapons and supplies to its allies.
     
  4. Miller phpbb3

    Miller phpbb3 New Member

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    I think russia because of the kick ass armor they had and the numbers of men.
     
  5. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Yes, but had the USA withstood an assault on the scale of 1941, they would not have had the rsources to provide weapons to their allies as they would be too busy replacing their losses as Russia was till 1945. If the USSR were only required to fight 10% of the Wermacht as America had done, they too would no doubt have the industrial capaciity to supply their allies... However, it is questionable whether they would have, as while it was in America's best interests for the USSR to win the war, it was not in the Soviet's best interests that the USA would succeed in France or Japan; It probably would have been better for the USSR if they lost, as it would allow them to gobble up France/Mancuriaas well. The fact that America's military interests revolved around the USSR's success against Germany (whereas America's war was largely inconsequential to Russia's interest) should speak eons about who played the larger role in determining WW2's outcome.
     
  6. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

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    Whether the US could have withstood the assault that the USSR endured isn't the issue as I see it simply because of geography. There was no nation capable of delivering that kind of assault to the shores of America.
    Far too many "what ifs" and imponderables are involved. If there had been potential enemies able to deliver that kind of attack on American shores then it is likely that the US would not have been as unprepared for war as they were in 1939-40.
    One thing is certain; the USSR was not then nor at anytime since been able to come close to comparing with the US in economic power. Their flawed, misguided economic system made this impossible.
     
  7. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Yes it is true that the USSR and her sattelites neglected prodction of consumer goods, sometimes to a criminal extent (when food is considered a consumer good) but as long as it is military power which is being dicussed, what should be noted is that the Soviet's economy, while it yielded less overall than the American one, was far more military orientated. Indeed the massive overspending on military technologies eventually led to the USSR's economic collapse, however it gave them a a distict military and numerical advantage right up until the end of the cold war... Essentially by outstripping America in military production and development for almost 50 years, the USSR doomed themselves to economic ruin
     
  8. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

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    It has always been the view of US military planners that large quanties of poor equipment can be trumped by smaller numbers that are more capable and deployed intelligently. Since, as you pointed out, the USSR was unable to continue to contest and no US/USSR war came about we will never know which sides assumptions were correct.
    Insofar as economic go there is more to it than merely not producing consumer goods. There was a huge difference between the economic capibilties of the US and the USSR. For instance at the end of WW II the US GDP was greater than the GDP of all the other WW II combatants combined, on both sides. The USSR GDP was barely larger than that of the UK.
     
  9. Hoosier phpbb3

    Hoosier phpbb3 New Member

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    I would support Griegs' arguement by saying that although we didn't have the tanks in West Germany to match the vast numbers facing us across the Iron-Curtain...
    the United States instead depended on weapons systems such as the A-10 Warthog, and Apache helicopters with hellfire missles to "even-out" the odds. I think they validated that doctrine in the Gulf War of '91.

    Tim
     
  10. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Ahem,
    Frogfoot, Hind, Aphid, Shilka?

    These guys built more than just tanks ( more of them too ) To focus production entirely on a horde of tanks would be foolish

    - Any distict technological advantage? I see none when comparing the two countries, have you got any exampes in mind?

    - Who has better deployment strategies? I am unfamiliar with American or Soviet battle doctrine, though juding by the conflicts each country has engaged in sice WW2 (Vietnam, Afghanistan, Korea) I do not see any distictly better 'performance' in battle... The only real discernable difference between the two countries seems to be numbers...

    I am sure that, as you say, a smaller well deployed force would knock out a larger less disciplined one... but is it safe to assume that the enemy will lack discipline? I think not
     
  11. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

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    Lots of technology differences. For example, around the time that the F-15 was being deployed the top Soviet fighter was the Mig 25. The Mig 25 had a horrible radar system(vacuum tubes), used steel in the airframe rather than titanium and just used an overpowered engine to claim altitude and speed records. It was a poor weapons system but was typical of much of the Soviet technology. The crudeness of theT-55 and T-62 also demonstrated the level of soviet sophistication in manufacturing and technology. These examples are not abberrations IMO but are typical.
    Guerilla wars like Vietnam and Afghanistan probably won't give you much hints about how a major conflict would be conducted.
    I haven't seen the Russians conduct a military operation comparable to the Gulf War with multiple armored and infantry corp sized units being deployed with long and complex logistical supply lines and cordination between air, ground and sea as well as with coalition partners.
    In contrast we read of the Russian ships rusting at anchor with unpaid sailors and soldiers and former weapons tecnology experts trying to sell their services to the highest bidder. The US paid much of the bill and assisted with destroying nuclear warheads as the Russians weren't capable any longer of doing so themselves.

    As far as discipline goes do you think that the Poles and some of the other large scale units that comprised a goodly portion of the Warsaw Pacts forces would have been willing to fight and die for the Soviets? The US doubted it at the time and I think that they were correct in doing so.
     
  12. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    Although the Poles and the Czechs were not exactly ready to die for the union, there was definitely an element of gratitude for ""liberating"" them from the Nazi's... The governments were indeed far more likely to fight with the Russians than the defect to the American's. How much they were willing to sacrifice is questionable...

    T-55 and T-62, crude you say? IMHO they were the best tanks of their period... while it is easy to denounce them today, (when Iraqi T-55's are dropping like flies to American M1A1's), the fact of the matter is they were designed to serve during the 50's and 60's... Hell, the fact that these things are still running should be testament to their durability. Back then their competition was the M-26 Pershing, the M-47 Pattonand the newer M-60. All those tanks had thinner armor and lower gun calibres than their soviet opponents, as well as being slower and (with the exception of the M-60) had a lower operational range... just look up the stats! They also had far better AA vehicles, AFIAK the USA has never produced an answer to the 'Shilka' low altitude air defence vehicle, prefferring to rely upon missile systems like the Patriot, which although excellent in their own right, do have trouble with some targets like SCUD's as was proven in 1991...

    The soviets were also decades ahead in the small arms department... The AK-47 was first given to elite Soviet units in 1947, wheras the only American equivalent, the venerable M-16, was first adopted in 1964, and early models were problematic... The M-60 machine gun was a sub-standard weapon, prone to frequent jamming and quicly overheating... the PKM was accurate and reliable. I would hope that it wouldn't come down to pistols :p but the Makarov and the Stechkin were not bad

    As for aircraft USA did have the technological edge. the F-15 was put into production a few years before the Soviets could answer with the Mig-29 or Mi-31 and was a better fighter than the current era of floggers and fishbeds... Nevertheless the fact remains that the soviets had 20,000 of these poorer fighters, and (it is supposed) better air to air missiles. Helicopters? The Hind is faster, can carry more weapons, but less agile than the Apache... IMHO Weapon guidance systems on American aircraft have always tended to be better, though Russian radar is more powerful... I have even heard rumors that Russian guidance systems were based off the codes of computer games like pong... However their missiles were nevertheless able to hit several American U-2's over Siberia and Cuba...

    Dismissing Soviet weaponry as decrepid inferior and useless is dismissive and wrong; Soviet weaponry was if anything superior for the duration of the cold war... However these days the CIS is using the same stuff as they did back then... the edge has been lost
     
  13. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

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    Apparently you were taken in by the intelligence reports that laughably overestimated Soviet capabilities. Many people were. The difference is that the disinformation wasn't intended for the well informed but to influence the masses. There was a method behind that deliberate campaign. The less than stellar intellects in congress could not grasp the significance of maintaining a technological lead so they had to be convinced that the west was consistently lagging behind the Soviets and trying to catch up. They controlled the appropriations for research and development and approved new defense projects you see?
    Now that we can look at things more clearly and analytically the gaps in technology are clear.

    Reconaissance sattelites- big US edge
    Recon aircraft - ditto
    ICBMs -ditto
    MIRVs for ICBMs -ditto
    radar technology -ditto
    computer technology -huge US edge
    armor technology - rough parity
    aircraft (fixed wing) - big US edge
    aircraft (rotor wing) - rough parity

    surface Navy - big US edge
    submarine tech - big US edge
    small arms tech - rough parity
    anti-armor missle tech - Soviet edge (until the late 80's)
    combat experience
    since WW II - big edge for the US
    Morale and discipline - overall very good to excellent for the US
    unknown but highly suspect for the Warsaw Pact

    Did I leave anything out?
    We can debate each point in detail if you wish. I think I can support each point with objective data if pressed (provided I can find the time) :wink:
     
  14. smeghead phpbb3

    smeghead phpbb3 New Member

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    actually most of the stuff i read is western (speaking english and all...) Often you can guess an opinion based upon what country the author is from, but there are some suprises... My opinion of the T-62 is based largely on US tests conducted on an Arab T-62 captured by the Israelis... It was found to be superior to the M-60 in all respects except for rate-of-fire and turret-elevation... Of course even if you're right and ws it all fabricated to convince congress to invest more in the military budget, I still don't see anything that makes soviet military technology vastly inferior in any repect

    I won't argue about all those points, but I am eager to know about the differences in radar technology... it has always interested me

    Perhaps you too were taken in by the post 1991 reports so eager to dismiss these weapons now that they no longer posed a political threat :p
     
  15. Ossian phpbb3

    Ossian phpbb3 New Member

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    In some areas, quantity has a quality of its own

    Tom
     
  16. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

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    Thank you, Uncle Joe Stalin :grin:
    Yes that is indeed the philosophy that was forced upon the Soviets out of necessity due to their significant technological disadvantages. The west, on the other hand, had the luxury of choosing the best philosophy. They could have pursued numbers as they did in WW II versus the Germans and which under those circunstances worked quite well. The world however was changing and advancing technology would eventually make sheer numbers obsolete as a viable military strategy. As long as there is a rough parity in technology then numbers make sense. For example German tanks used weapons of similar technology to the US and and it's Allies.
    I.E. they were evolutionary not revolutionary in their relative superiority.
    If however the technological changes overshadow the numbers advantage then you are in a position that is impossible to remedy.
    If you imagine 10,000 knights on horseback wearing plate armor and wielding pikes opposed by a company of M1A2s you will get a better picture of what I'm trying to describe :wink:
     
  17. Ossian phpbb3

    Ossian phpbb3 New Member

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    I would agree with your example, but I suggest that during the cold-war era there were insufficient technological differences to have so much of an impact.

    I have seen a cartoon which may illustrate the point. 2 Soviet officers standing near the (somewhat battered) Eiffel Tower. Caption "So, Comrade Ivan, do YOU know who won the air war?"
     
  18. Grieg

    Grieg New Member

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    My example was extreme in order to illustrate the point. The differences during the cold war were not that pronounced however the trend was in that direction and once embarked upon it is very difficult to change direction insofar as long term military strategic philosophy goes.
    In any case, just as in WW II the win was chalked up for the home team and the good guys won :grin:
     
  19. Roel

    Roel New Member

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    I'm not going to argue the point that the US had a technological edge over the USSR by the end of the Cold War - as far as I know, that follows easily from Communist bankrupcy on the one hand and stellar defence budgets on the other. However, I think you know as well as I do that getting the technological advantage is not "the best philosophy" per se. Having the best equipment does not mean your wars are won before they start; a certain respect for numbers, tactics, strategies, logistics, terrain, weather, morale and leadership must always be maintained. Even in modern times, the technologically inferior party can still win the war. Examples of this abound even in American history - from the war in Vietnam (won when it came to field battles, but lost because the enemy refused to fight them) to the modern training excersizes against the Indian air force, the 2002 digital simulation of the invasion of Iraq etcetera.

    In your example, too, the 10,000 knights on horseback will lose only if they accept a challenge and come storming down on the tanks. However if they decide to take advantage of the fact that they can traverse more difficult terrain than tanks, that they don't need gas or ammunition, and that they can fight even when away from their vehicles, I reckon they have a pretty good chance. It wil be gruelling and difficult, but there's a whole lot of them, see.

    Tank crews have to sleep too, and if a company encampment with 200 unsuspecting men is being assaulted by 10,000 plate-armoured guys with swords I know who I've got my money on.

    Of course I'm not suggesting that all emphasis should instead be turned on sheer numbers, but they should not be shrugged off with the assertion that the good guys have the technological edge. As often as small groups have held out against superior numbers by having the technological advantage, they have lost because they were overconfident, or outnumbered, or ambushed, or swamped, or a combination of these things.
     
  20. Blaster

    Blaster New Member

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    Yeah. The USAF is the world's most powerful air arm. The US Navy has more nuclear subs than the Russians do, and, while the US Army has the M1A2 Abrams, I dunno how far the Russians have got past their JS-III.
     

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