Sid Guttridge wrote:Hi John,
Which brings us back to an earlier point - were Germans really working that hard? After all, to take one example, in 1944 Germany, with a population of some 80 million people and the machine tools of a continent at its disposal, only produced about the same number of aero-engines and weight of airframes as the metropolitan UK, which had little more than half the population.
Might it not just be that German industry was not particularly efficient earlier in the war and that Speer's "production miracle" of 1944 just brought Germany up to international norms?
No, German aircraft industry was substantially more efficient than British. Thing is, they didn't NEED aircraft nor had the required fuel for it: they produced 480 fighters a month because the head of the fighter force said they couldn't do anything with more than 480 fighters a month. The Luftwaffe was tasked with supporting the ground troops and it did it's role well flying tens of thousands of sorties every month in the Eastern front, that's it, until the fuel supply collapsed in may 1944.
If you compare German production of guns and artillery shells, which were the most important munitions for both world wars since they represented the bulk of the firepower of the armed forces: German production was about 4 times the British level: 128,000 guns over 75 mm and 312 million shells over 75 mm compared to British output of 38,000 guns and 72 million shells.
German munitions production was a function of perceived needs: they increased production when they perceived the need for more, fighter production increased in response to bombing: from 400 fighters a month in mid 1942 to about 3,000 fighters in September 1944. Artillery ammunition production also increased or decreased in response to the perceived needs: ammunition production boomed from September 1939 to June 1940, after France collapsed the level of ammunition production quickly decreased 3 times, until when Barbarossa failed, in December 1941, ammunition production began to increase again from 1/3 of the mid 1940 levels as expectations of a long land war were being realized, then ammunition production increased 8 fold from January 1942 to mid 1944. Since fighter production increased at the same time, it became a "myth", but it's just normal. In WW1 munitions production in Germany, France, UK behaved in the same fashion as in Germany and the USSR WW2.
While the weight of Soviet projectiles fired by the army grew at a similar rate as Germany army's from 1942 to 1944, reflecting similar overall munition production trajectories.
"In tactics, as in strategy, superiority in numbers is the most common element of victory." - Carl von Clausewitz