Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by Sid Guttridge » 23 Jun 2021 06:36

Hi TMP,

Does it look as though O'Brien might be implying that German materiel losses in France in May-June 1940 must have amounted to more than the entire German armaments production for the year July 1940 to June 1941? If so, the French influence on the war's outcome should perhaps be looked at again.

Or is he saying that the forces held back in the West absorbed the equivalent of most of that year's production? If so, the importance of the British threat in 1941 may need re-evaluating.

Does he take into account improvements in German equipment, such as that that the armoured formations had higher proportions of more expensive medium tanks in 1941 than in 1940?

Does he factor in the value of captured equipment, notably French trucks, that Germany used against the USSR in 1941?

I presume he also takes no account of the contribution of minor Axis allies.

Cheers,

Sid,

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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by stg 44 » 23 Jun 2021 16:47

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Jun 2021 09:45
Tom from Cornwall wrote:Was it the latter from which the Harrison quote came from?
Whoops, Harrison's remark comes from a working paper not yet published. https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics ... 8.2020.pdf page 22
There are some significant problems with the claims in that paper, specifically ignoring the huge morale impact of the bombing and ignoring all the efforts that were made for peace or even surrender by the Allies, which is really what kept the Germans from quitting much earlier. The bombing did pretty much break morale, but there was no viable alternative other than to fight it out given the options on the table, unconditional surrender with Soviet occupation and the Morgenthau Plan.

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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by Art » 23 Jun 2021 16:50

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Jun 2021 09:47
I wouldn't agree with that:
https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/AA ... l#tableIII
The number of aircraft deployed on the Eastern Front in June 1941 was about 2800 vs about 3500 deployed in the West Campaign.
Even by those numbers, LW is still stronger in Fall Gelb than Barbarossa. (I suspect you're right though that O'Brien is overstating the numerical difference).
Sorry, that must be this table:
https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/AA ... l#tableXII
In terms of the combined aircraft strength the situation didn't change a lot. Given distraction to other fronts the number of aircraft initially deployed for Barbarossa was smaller by about 20%.

I can go pedantic with numbers a little. O'Brien twitted that "In the crucial categories for which we have exact data they are:
April 1, 1940 1656 long range bombers; 356 bomber/recon; 392 dive bombers; 1258 single engine fighters"
I believe that pertains to the total holdings of combat aircraft, not to the numbers deployed in the West.
Further on "as there somewhat over 3000 German tanks involved in Barbarossa"
Somewhat over 3000 pertains to tanks in panzer divisions. If separate panzer battalions, assault guns units, tank destroyers etc are included there were about 4000 German AFVs on the Eastern Front. Not that makes a crucial difference, but still.

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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 23 Jun 2021 17:06

Art wrote:
23 Jun 2021 16:50
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Jun 2021 09:47
I wouldn't agree with that:
https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/AA ... l#tableIII
The number of aircraft deployed on the Eastern Front in June 1941 was about 2800 vs about 3500 deployed in the West Campaign.
Even by those numbers, LW is still stronger in Fall Gelb than Barbarossa. (I suspect you're right though that O'Brien is overstating the numerical difference).
Sorry, that must be this table:
https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/AA ... l#tableXII
In terms of the combined aircraft strength the situation didn't change a lot. Given distraction to other fronts the number of aircraft initially deployed for Barbarossa was smaller by about 20%.

I can go pedantic with numbers a little. O'Brien twitted that "In the crucial categories for which we have exact data they are:
April 1, 1940 1656 long range bombers; 356 bomber/recon; 392 dive bombers; 1258 single engine fighters"
I believe that pertains to the total holdings of combat aircraft, not to the numbers deployed in the West.
Further on "as there somewhat over 3000 German tanks involved in Barbarossa"
Somewhat over 3000 pertains to tanks in panzer divisions. If separate panzer battalions, assault guns units, tank destroyers etc are included there were about 4000 German AFVs on the Eastern Front. Not that makes a crucial difference, but still.
Thanks Art. I didn't bother to check O'Brien's figures despite being suspicious of them - wasn't and isn't my primary area of concern.

I tend to grant a bit more leeway to tweets than books or even forum posts - they're not usually sent with the best sources at hand.

Aside from the numbers as of June 22, one could argue that the LW cycled many more planes through Barbarossa than fought in France.
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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 23 Jun 2021 17:16

stg 44 wrote:
23 Jun 2021 16:47
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Jun 2021 09:45
Tom from Cornwall wrote:Was it the latter from which the Harrison quote came from?
Whoops, Harrison's remark comes from a working paper not yet published. https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics ... 8.2020.pdf page 22
There are some significant problems with the claims in that paper, specifically ignoring the huge morale impact of the bombing and ignoring all the efforts that were made for peace or even surrender by the Allies, which is really what kept the Germans from quitting much earlier. The bombing did pretty much break morale, but there was no viable alternative other than to fight it out given the options on the table, unconditional surrender with Soviet occupation and the Morgenthau Plan.
Are you saying that bombing would have caused German surrender, had such (conditional) surrender been viable? I can see the argument having a feasible counterfactual form (e.g. resistance replaces Hitler, makes peace).

I take Harrison to be alluding to something like my argument: that Allied bombing resources committed to a '43 (or '42) landing arguably would have won the war quicker and cheaper.
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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by Richard Anderson » 23 Jun 2021 18:50

Art wrote:
23 Jun 2021 16:50
I can go pedantic with numbers a little. O'Brien twitted that "In the crucial categories for which we have exact data they are:
April 1, 1940 1656 long range bombers; 356 bomber/recon; 392 dive bombers; 1258 single engine fighters"
I believe that pertains to the total holdings of combat aircraft, not to the numbers deployed in the West.
Yes, it is total on hand strength of the Luftwaffe, but the date was actually 30 March 1940, not 1 April 1940. It is taken from the weekly "Einsatzbereitschaft der Fliegenden Verbände". The same source gives the strength as of 21 June 1941 as:

Bombers ("long range" is not found in the original source) - 1,511
Long range reconnaissance ("bomber/recon" is not found in the original source, nor is the figure of 356, it was actually 322) - 393
Dive bombers (well, at least that wasn't edited by O'Brien, although the number was 411 not 392) - 424
Single engine fighters - 1,440

Other types (30 March 1940/21 June 1941):

Close reconnaissance - 337/440
Night fighters - 0/263
Twin-engine fighters - 325/188
Ground attack - 42/0
Coastal - 246/223
Total combat - 4,597/4,882
Transport - 466/648

So Luftwaffe strength (except for bombers, twin-engine fighters, ground attack, and coastal) actually grew from 30 March 1940 to 21 June 1941. Gee, I wonder if the extended operations in the west may have had anything to do with that? Well, ground attack was effectively deleted by orders of ObdL in January 1941 and did not reappear as a type (except in a sense with the Jagdbomber) until April 1942. But, yeah, I think the extended night campaign in the BoB had an effect on bomber strength as did the continuing effort in the North Sea and Norway on the coastal aircraft strength, while overall the campaign in the west had badly eroded the Zerstörer and the Luftwaffe's confidence in the concept.
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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by stg 44 » 23 Jun 2021 22:04

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Jun 2021 17:16
stg 44 wrote:
23 Jun 2021 16:47
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
22 Jun 2021 09:45
Tom from Cornwall wrote:Was it the latter from which the Harrison quote came from?
Whoops, Harrison's remark comes from a working paper not yet published. https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics ... 8.2020.pdf page 22
There are some significant problems with the claims in that paper, specifically ignoring the huge morale impact of the bombing and ignoring all the efforts that were made for peace or even surrender by the Allies, which is really what kept the Germans from quitting much earlier. The bombing did pretty much break morale, but there was no viable alternative other than to fight it out given the options on the table, unconditional surrender with Soviet occupation and the Morgenthau Plan.
Are you saying that bombing would have caused German surrender, had such (conditional) surrender been viable? I can see the argument having a feasible counterfactual form (e.g. resistance replaces Hitler, makes peace).

I take Harrison to be alluding to something like my argument: that Allied bombing resources committed to a '43 (or '42) landing arguably would have won the war quicker and cheaper.
Yes, considering they made multiple offers of peace, apparently even Himmler did toward the end. Now that obviously wasn't just the bombing alone, but morale was severely undermined within the public and military until it was clear that the Allies refused to negotiate and had some pretty nasty plans for Germany in store, so then logically from their perspective they had to try and fight it out and if they still lost then there was nothing more to be done than endure. American intelligence specifically mentioned this as the reasons the Germans had a renewed fighting vigor in the last 7-8 months of the war despite it being hopeless and begged FDR to change the unconditional surrender policy to save lives. Supposedly even Canaris personally offered a good peace deal in 1944 but was ignored.

FDR said he refused to make peace with the resistance, even told them so and ignored other offers after, so Hitler being removed had nothing to do with it; in fact had the OSS's suggestion been made to tell the resistance they would only negotiate after Hitler had been removed the German resistance would have had virtually the entire army's leadership behind them; IOTL the resistance was discredited largely before the attempt was even made due to FDR's refusal to negotiate, so few saw the advantage of removing Hitler and risking a civil war at that point.

I don't see how a 1942 or 43 landing would have lead to a cheaper victory or even a quicker one given that it would play to the German advantages and Allied weaknesses at that point. See Italy. You'd just transplant that to France minus the logistical advantages the Allies enjoyed over the Axis, especially if that left Italy untouched and the Mediterranean theater still active. Invading Italy was the right choice in hindsight given the huge manpower deficit it created for the Germans, who then had to replace virtually the entire Italian army with their own divisions.

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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 23 Jun 2021 22:40

stg44 wrote:. See Italy. You'd just transplant that to France
By redirecting strategic bombing resources and some of the Pacific effort (on a suitable timeline), Allies probably could have done Roundup and Husky simultaneously.

Re unconditional surrender, I sympathize with FDR believing that German militarism and imperialism - not just Nazism - needed to be crushed. Else it's just another 1919. Probably beyond topic thread but I view even someone like Stauffenberg as a noxious threat to peace and democracy. With hindsight we maybe could have suppressed the Stauffenbergs in a negotiated peace but I can't fault FDR for believing otherwise at the time.
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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by Pods » 23 Jun 2021 23:49

Clearly O'Brien's vision of World War II is infamous from every point of view and of course he has a serious problem differentiating "value" from "price."

In World War II the value was mainly in the number and quality of soldiers, mostly armed with very cheap and easy to produce weapons.

Therefore the reality is the opposite of what O'Brien says since the war was won by a large number of low-quality Soviet soldiers who managed to defeat a small number of high-quality German soldiers and where the "front maritime-air "played a negligible role.

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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by historygeek2021 » 24 Jun 2021 01:07

The air forces had a minimal contribution in both campaigns, especially the "expensive" twin engine bombers that couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. It was the ground forces that won or lost it. Modern man simply has a predilection for airplanes and assumes they must determine who wins/loses.

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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by Cult Icon » 24 Jun 2021 04:30

Hayward's articles on Luftwaffe close air support (2nd battle of Kharkov, Kerch) :

https://www.joelhayward.org/JH-Air%20Po ... istory.pdf

https://archive.org/details/JoelHayward ... ew=theater

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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by stg 44 » 24 Jun 2021 13:08

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Jun 2021 22:40
By redirecting strategic bombing resources and some of the Pacific effort (on a suitable timeline), Allies probably could have done Roundup and Husky simultaneously.
Not sure that would be politically viable and even if it were I don't think you'd be able to launch both with the strength either would need.
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
23 Jun 2021 22:40
Re unconditional surrender, I sympathize with FDR believing that German militarism and imperialism - not just Nazism - needed to be crushed. Else it's just another 1919. Probably beyond topic thread but I view even someone like Stauffenberg as a noxious threat to peace and democracy. With hindsight we maybe could have suppressed the Stauffenbergs in a negotiated peace but I can't fault FDR for believing otherwise at the time.
I'm not taking a position on the morality or whatever of FDR's stance, just pointing out from the German perspective that is why they fought to the bitter end; had they felt they had a viable choice to quit they would have and the bombers were a major factor in that.
Pods wrote:
23 Jun 2021 23:49
Clearly O'Brien's vision of World War II is infamous from every point of view and of course he has a serious problem differentiating "value" from "price."

In World War II the value was mainly in the number and quality of soldiers, mostly armed with very cheap and easy to produce weapons.

Therefore the reality is the opposite of what O'Brien says since the war was won by a large number of low-quality Soviet soldiers who managed to defeat a small number of high-quality German soldiers and where the "front maritime-air "played a negligible role.
The Soviets wouldn't have been able to do that without Lend Lease or the other fronts the Wallies contributed including the bombing campaign. So a bunch of 'low quality' soldiers still depended on smaller high tech allied militaries to achieve what they did.

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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by stg 44 » 25 Jun 2021 23:19

Article you might be interested in:
https://voxeu.org/article/how-allied-bo ... uring-wwii

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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Jun 2021 08:58

stg 44 wrote:
25 Jun 2021 23:19
Article you might be interested in:
https://voxeu.org/article/how-allied-bo ... uring-wwii
I don't find this article to support its broad claim that bombing was effective.

"For every doubling of bomb tonnage a 4.8-19% increase in resistance case"

Ok but what absolute effect? If resistance cases are 1 per 1,000 population (would be extremely high), a doubling of bombing moves maybe 1 in 10,000 to act against the regime. To get a majority to resist the regime via bombing would require tens of billions of bomb tons. If anything, this proves that bombing was literally several orders of magnitude away from achieving its morale goals.

Furthermore, the study doesn't control for East-West differences in Germany. The western parts were bombed the most and had the most resistance cases. But those were also the most proletarian areas (i.e. least receptive to Nazism), while the east was more conservative/reactionary and - when bombing was greatest - probably more intensely viewed the approaching Soviet armies as a reason to support the regime regardless of their personal views. West Germans ambivalent about Hitler, meanwhile, could view Allied arrival favorably.

-----------

I also wonder whether the fighter ace effect - lower kills after hometown bombed - controls for whether pilots got leave to return home when, say, their family was injured or killed in a bombing. A pilot attending a funeral makes few kills that day. Did the authors control for this?
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Re: Phillips P. O'Brien on France v. Barbarossa and some thoughts on price vs. value

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 26 Jun 2021 09:21

Cult Icon wrote:
24 Jun 2021 04:30
Hayward's articles on Luftwaffe close air support (2nd battle of Kharkov, Kerch) :

https://www.joelhayward.org/JH-Air%20Po ... istory.pdf

https://archive.org/details/JoelHayward ... ew=theater
Thanks again for the recs. I enjoy Hayward's style, which seamlessly goes between personal narrative (e.g. about Richtofen's personality and strategy) and analysis. And his analysis ties together land/air/sea war nicely as well. Cult's rec is repeated by me. I'm still working through Stopped, read most of the articles.

One reservation - does Hayward anywhere attempt to reconcile German land support claims (i.e. tanks/guns/etc destroyed) against Soviet records? As I said I haven't finished it all yet but haven't seen him do so yet. As we know from Western Europe claims, inflation is a huge problem in this area.
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