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Was lend-lease essential in securing a Soviet victory?


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Seems to me that having a strategic bombing force is a good thing even if it isn't particularly efficient only if the productive capacity that goes into building would not be more useful if dedicated somewhere else. Isn't that caveat obvious, almost a tautology in fact?

You need to be careful with that line of thinking, since it can easily lead down the path of "this seems to be working, we should stop everything else and just do more of this!", which is pretty much the anti-thesis of combined-arms at the strategic (or any) level. Even as it was, the Germans found themselves too far down that path in WWII. The U-boats seemed to be working great, literally right up until the month before they were crushingly defeated. By then the Germans had sent themselves so far down the path of a freak force navy with just one trick, and once that trick was defeated they had no Plan B, and no capacity to create one.

Edited by JonS
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You need to be careful with that line of thinking, since it can easily lead down the path of "this seems to be working, we should stop everything else and just do more of this!", which is pretty much the anti-thesis of combined-arms at the strategic (or any) level. Even as it was, the Germans found themselves too far down that path in WWII. The U-boats seemed to be working great, literally right up until the month before they were crushingly defeated. By then the Germans had sent themselves so far down the path of a freak force navy with just one trick, and once that trick was defeated they had no Plan B, and no capacity to create one.

 

But that doesn't mean that they were wrong to build U-boats prior to that time. It does mean that once that point was reached, there was no point in producing more U-boats. In any event, during the period that U-boats were successful, they didn't stop doing everything else. They were still building airplanes, tanks, and artillery, for instance.

 

BTW, what other kind of navy could they have built that would have been more effective? They sure didn't get much of a return on their investment in capital ships.

 

Michael

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Surface commerce raiders were ineffective. The first few may have more than covered their costs but they could not scale, and any further investment in them would just hand surface combat victories to the British navy.

The Germans did however have a second effective form of economic warfare - mines. They were at least as effective as the u boats using torpedos in the early war, whether laid by u boats or by e boats, by plane, etc. The British deployed some effective countermeasures, but Germany could have continued that tech race, or renewed it after loss of the ASW campaign in the Atlantic in mid 1943, on a larger scale than they did historically.

On the rest of the discussion, I still see resistance to the proposition that the strategic bombing campaign was ineffective and a waste of resources, which it pretty clearly was. All I see on the other side are straw men - imagining dumb alternate uses of the resources e.g., or pretending the economic capacity involved was "excess" (whatever that is supposed to mean) or could not otherwise be used. That is just clearly not the case. It is enough to put together a set of alternate uses of the same inputs to be clear there were bigger bangs available for those resources.

A third of the investment in heavy bombers would have produced as many tactical aircraft, with at least as much ability to win the air war, and with much lower costs in manpower, losses, bomb tonnage, transport of all of the above to the theater, etc. The freed bomb tonnage could be had as additional artillery ammunition tonnage for the same inputs and transport costs. Existing artillery could have delivered that tonnage to German military rather than civilian targets, and if more 155mm howitzers are needed to deliver it, those are so cheap you can have 50 battalions of them for the cost of literally just 50 B-17s. The skilled manpower not needed for the bombers would readily equip 10 extra armored divisions, which could be supplied with vehicles for the cost of 10% of the heavy bombers you aren't building, and shipped to the theater with the tonnage that isn't moving an extra million men to England to man the strategic bombing campaign. You could still developed a quarter of the heavies and half of the mediums for uses like ASW and grpund support of the armies, skipping marginal types like the B-26 entirely, reducing B-17 purchases by 4/5ths and B-24s and Lancasters by 2/3rds, and you still have range for interdiction campaigns under fighter cover etc. This woukd all still cost less, and fund higher output of e.g. merchant shipping and ammo to move it to theater, by diverting manpower that historically went into the aircraft industry to those industries instead.

50,000 fighters would have won the air war faster, not slower. A dedicated tac air focus would have provided more close air support and theater interdiction, not less. A third more armored formations woukd have added punch to the ground war. As many more artillery tubes as could be fed could have delivered the munitions tonnage onto German military rather than civilian targets. Tens of millions of additional artillery shells woukd have killed or wounded more German servicemen than the inaccurate bombs scattered over half of Germany did. Above all, these measures would have concentrated the firepower on a more decisive target - the fielded forces of the enemy, the breaking of which actually won the war. Breaking the apartment blocks of their wives and children and elderly parents had no such payoff, and that is mostly what the strategic air campaign actually did.

Economic allocation is all about getting the best marginals for the inputs, which includes planned "matched sets" of complementary goods like artillery ammo and tubes and shipping space, or like armored vehicles and trained specialists and shipping space, or like tac air and medium bombers and their specialists, along with doctrine changes to put support of the armies above trying to win the war independently by killing civilians or making them homeless, that were provably ineffective in the actual event.

Edited by JasonC
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On the rest of the discussion, I still see resistance to the proposition that the strategic bombing campaign was ineffective and a waste of resources, which it pretty clearly was.

Perhaps, but I think one can convincingly tie the German late war lack of fuel to the Allied bombing campaign without too much effort.  All of the German fuel sources were bombed to the point where the entire German armed forces was almost immobilized.   

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It is enough to put together a set of alternate uses of the same inputs to be clear there were bigger bangs available for those resources.

 

The early-war GAF was efficient at close battlefield support, which is great, but they were utterly pants at the strategic mission of subduing the RAF during the Battle of Britain. And that was at least in part because they didn't have a strategic airforce and perhaps more importantly, the strategic mindset that goes with it. Failing to subdue the RAF cost them the war. It matters not a whit how 'inefficient' the solution is if the efficient alternative cannot produce the desired effect.

If the Western Allies hadn't conducted the CBO, then the GAF never would have been crushed in the first half of 1944, because they would always have had the option to 'pull back' and refuse the fight, which is exactly what the RAF had and did during the BoB. The super-long-ranged P-51 would never have been developed because there'd be no imperative to protect non-existent bombers on which weren't flying long-range raids into Germany. And with their home manufacturing base completely undamaged ... yeesh. It doesn't really bear thinking about what they could have turned out given a free hand at home.

 

There seems to be an idea that the German's late-war dispersion of production was a consequence-free decision that at a stroke negated all the effects of the CBO. Uh ... no. Aside from the massive effort (= consumption of scarce resources) to set up alternate sites, and the massive opportunity cost of actually halting production in one place and spreading it out to dozens of others ... even if we ignore all that, the dispersed production was itself highly inefficient and demanded a much higher overhead of management and coordination. There is a reason manufacturing undertakings tend towards massive centralisation.

 
The Allies already had more tanks, aircraft and ships than they could use, and 50 batteries of 155mm hows parked in England would have done diddly squat to the transportation system in NWE. I also wonder how it is proposed to deliver nuclear weapons in the absence of, you know, any bombers.
Edited by JonS
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From the New Spam in WW II thread on CMFI, #47

 

http://community.battlefront.com/topic/112357-new-spam-thread/page-3#entry1593722

 

" SPAM in World War II. Anyone inclined to diss Lend Lease would do well to ponder what bellicose "We will bury you" Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev said of SPAM's critical importance to Russia during the GPW.

 

"Without Spam," he reasoned "we wouldn't have been able to feed our army."  He was, pardon the expression, far enough up the food chain during the GPW to know something like that, since he was on a bunch of military councils, was at Kharkov, Stalingrad, Kursk, etc. K. was one of Stalin's leash holders for the field commanders, apparently. "Stalin sends his greetings, tovarisch Front Komandir." "

Respectfully submit feeding one's army is an essential war-winning activity. Puts Lend Lease in quite a different light and takes it way past discussions of tanks, trucks and planes supplied.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler

Edited by John Kettler
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Respectfully submit feeding one's army is an essential war-winning activity. Puts Lend Lease in quite a different light and takes it way past discussions of tanks, trucks and planes supplied.

 

One of the great things about Spam and the other rations that the US shipped to the USSR was that they were more or less ready to eat without the need of preparation. A lot of the countries at war provided their soldiers with rations requiring at least some preparation, the classic case being Italy issuing its army in North Africa spaghetti and other pastas, which of course requires boiling in water, a commodity in short supply in the desert.

 

Michael

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Conversely Japanese garrisons tended to have a big advantage in the fact that rice was a staple of their diet, and required no cooking or preparation to eat. 

 

In most wars though the sad truth the troops usually aren't the first people to suffer for food. It's the home front that does. 

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Conversely Japanese garrisons tended to have a big advantage in the fact that rice was a staple of their diet, and required no cooking or preparation to eat. 

 

In most wars though the sad truth the troops usually aren't the first people to suffer for food. It's the home front that does.

Since when do Japanese eat uncooked rice? My wife is over here freaking out calling you a barbarian.

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Michael Emrys,

 

I hear. Circa  2000 or so, I was in a big California military surplus store, where, among other things, they had various mess gear from foreign militaries, including Italy. They had a complete 1950s Italian cooking set (lots of pieces, all aluminum) for a unit (platoon or company; forget which) with, you guessed it, special cooking devices for pasta. Blew me away. Will see if I can find you a pic later.

 

Regards,

 

John Kettler 

Edited by John Kettler
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Can you just soak rice, though? Leave it in water for 24 hours-or-so? That's technically not cooking it, but would make it palatable and somewhat nutritious. Also, if you were hungry enough you would easily get past the first mouthful.

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Can you just soak rice, though? Leave it in water for 24 hours-or-so? That's technically not cooking it, but would make it palatable and somewhat nutritious. Also, if you were hungry enough you would easily get past the first mouthful.

 

Of course you can soak it, if you are willing to wait hours for it to soften. I wouldn't bet on it being palatable though. And I'm not so sure about the nutrition either. I may be mistaken, but I expect that cooking with heat may turn the starches into sugars. And anyway, if you have water to soak it, why wouldn't you cook it? Lack of fuel? Finally, eating it raw as was first suggested, would quickly wear out your teeth and exhaust your jaw muscles. Probably wouldn't care about that too much if you were starving, but anything short of that it would be a major disincentive.

 

Michael

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Conversely Japanese garrisons tended to have a big advantage in the fact that rice was a staple of their diet, and required no cooking or preparation to eat. 

 

In most wars though the sad truth the troops usually aren't the first people to suffer for food. It's the home front that does. 

 

Looks like the benefit was that Japanese rations required no refrigeration (still needed to cook.)

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_Japanese_rations

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Of course you can soak it, if you are willing to wait hours for it to soften.

One thing soldiers certainly have, is hours to watch rice soak up water. And in the Pacific, water is one of the few things available in abundance.

 

Finally, eating it raw as was first suggested

No, what Hawkeye said was that rice "required no cooking". That's not necessarily the same as eating crunchy rice grains raw.

Edited by JonS
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Conversely Japanese garrisons tended to have a big advantage in the fact that rice was a staple of their diet, and required no cooking or preparation to eat. 

 

In most wars though the sad truth the troops usually aren't the first people to suffer for food. It's the home front that does. 

It takes about 30 minutes of cooking to make rice edible. Thats 30 minutes of boiling in a container over a heat source.

 

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It takes about 30 minutes of cooking to make rice edible. Thats 30 minutes of boiling in a container over a heat source.

 

 

It's been a while since I last cooked brown rice, but ISTR that it took about 45 minutes to get tender. Milled white rice, on the other hand will cook up nicely in 20 minutes. I think so-called Minute Rice™ cooks up even faster, but I never touch the stuff.

 

Michael

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