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Was lend-lease essential in securing a Soviet victory?


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750 tons lift for 7 mobile divisions would be fine if the turn around time were a day and a half, and liveable if it were 2 days. At 3 days things are getting dicey and pauses will be forced. But push it to 6 days to turn that tonnage around, and you are down to 125 tons per division day, and that isn't going to cut it, either in POL when you are moving or ammo if you are fighting.

The extra info surprise is how slow the turnarounds are, and that is the state of the roads. The few good ones have traffic. The many poor ones are washboards and you go slow, and they eat trucks...

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I think this is shown in the table I posted earlier. The US Army in August 1944 has just 5,600 supply trucks supporting a force at 200 miles and they manage a turnaround in 3 days.

The Soviet force in Jan 1944 has x4 the supply need at a distance of 300 miles so you expect them to have around 30,000 tricks to account for the larger force and slightly longer distance. Instead they have 72,000 and they do not meet as much of the need as the US forces.

The reason is that they are using 1.5 tonne vehicles while the US are using 2.5 tonne vehicles (often loaded on roads to 5 tonnes and later pulling a 5 tonne trailer) and the reason for that is the roads are so bad, heavier loads simply get bogged down or require huge amounts of fuel.

Germans have the same problem but use heavier 2x2 trucks and find it hard to make the daily mileage.

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Germans have the same problem but use heavier 2x2 trucks...

Okay, nitpicking time. ;) Unless the Germans had some kind of two-wheeled truck that I've never heard of (or they are using motorcycles to move supplies), that should probably be either 4X2, or 6X4 if it has dual wheels on the back. The famous US Deuce-and-a-half was, for instance, a 6X6. The code is that the first numeral designates the total count of wheels on the road and the second numeral the number of driving wheels.

Michael

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DAF - I think the figure for US truck is low, because I have seen just under 6000 trucks for the Red Ball Express alone, which ran from Cherbourg to Chartres. They managed a thruput on that route of 12500 tons per day using 6000 trucks, which is nearly one "turn" per day (2.1 tons per truck per day, thruput, not one way, meanings 1.2 days per load about). The distance on that run was 450 kilometers. It certainly benefited from a much better road net than available in Russia - the outbound leg was pretty much all done on a single paved highway for the second half of its length, with return traffic able to use other routes.

Patton's Third Army reported round trip times of 3 days from their front line positions in Lorraine back to that forward supply dump at Chartres. (Technically, as an average counting some trips still being made to the beaches). It was that leg that "broke" after the race across France. But it had more trucks serving it, on top of the 6000 just running the Red Ball Express from ports and beaches to the "truckhead" at Chartres.

The RBE was an effective substitute for pipeline and rail, or waterborn supply to a railhead. It didn't cover the full distance across France, but it did cut the supply distance to the front line positions in half. Patton's Third Army had only 2 armor and 4 infantry divisions at the Lorraine border (his third corps was in Brittany, and later reinforcements hadn't yet been added to his army etc). Those 6 divisions were drinking 400,000 gallons of gasoline per day. That is 1.5 million liters or 1500 tons (displacement rather than weight).

Patton's total supply need was 3 times that figure, 750 tons per division per day, but they could likely have lived on 2/3rds of that provided they got the fuel. The issue, then, was that he didn't have a Red Ball Express of his own from Chartres to Lorraine - he didn't have 6000 trucks on that task, and the turn around time for that leg was 3 days not 1.2, because it was not one way traffic on a cleared, paved highway.

Anyway, interesting discussion. Route quality and management mattered, truck management mattered, but so does the pure quantity of lift pushed forward to the "lighter" role between railhead or other main supply dump and individual units. Heavy truck services can substitute for rail and water transport some distance with enough effort. It takes yet another such effort, and a harder one organizationally and in a route management sense, to get the goods from forward supply depot out to the units. Particularly when the units are still advancing, have only cleared portions of the road net, there are holdouts along the best and shortest routes, etc.

Suffice it to say, in the real deal it is decidedly more complicated to get a panzer army sized force to move 250 miles on the map and fight at the other end of it, than having a "10" printed on a cardboard counter as a "movement allowance"...

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Okay, nitpicking time. ;) Unless the Germans had some kind of two-wheeled truck that I've never heard of (or they are using motorcycles to move supplies), that should probably be either 4X2, or 6X4 if it has dual wheels on the back. The famous US Deuce-and-a-half was, for instance, a 6X6. The code is that the first numeral designates the total count of wheels on the road and the second numeral the number of driving wheels.

Michael

I think you know what I mean, these were civilian lorries taken up from trade and were the road version of the military trucks like the 6x4 Mercedes-Benz L 4500 A

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There are good accounts for both the US (Ruppenthal) and the British (21st AG) logistics as you are no doubt aware and it is well covered in Creveld's book.

I think that the only point to be made about this is the varying supply demand depending on the type of Operations. Planners allowed 750 tonnes but demand for heavy fighting around the beaches could be higher mainly in ammunition while normal fighting advance was found to be a bit less more like 600 tonnes average while the pursuit phase could be even less at around 250 tonnes when ammunition resupply dropped to zero but fuel rose enormously.

The principal categories were Rations (stable ) Ammunition (high close to depots ie.at breakthroughs, low at distance ie. Pursuit ) Fuel (low close to depots and high at distance,) and Replacement (men and equipment )

There are considerable variations between armies the US Army allowed 750 tonnes per division because they used a heavy type of artillery fire and a high level of replacement. Pattons army had units following behind to salvage the equipment that they threw away.

The German Army allowed 250 tonnes for an Infantry Division and 350 tonnes for a Panzer Divisions as they used short artillery bombardments and often no replacements.

The Soviets Red Army allowed 150 tonnes per Rifle Division being a smaller unit than either of the other two and short artillery bombardments and no replacements and often only minimal ration resupply but they did supply Front level artillery units with large amounts of ammunition for breakthroughs.

A key Soviet logistics objective was to ensure that at the end of the pursuit phase the point of the advance had sufficient fuel and ammunition to fight a major battle to capture the objective such as a bridgehead until everything else caught up.

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DAF - sure, I am aware of the division-day standards and their variation by unit type. Patton's divisions were burning 250 tons a day in gasoline alone (each); they needed more than that just to round out POL (motor oil etc), and they needed rations, sundries, replacement equipment, spare parts. If they are going to fight at all in Lorraine (hint, they are) then they have a non-zero ammo requirement. Hence my statement that with 500 tons a day they would be OK as long as the gas component of that 500 (half of it) was met. Not as lavish arty as they liked would be the result, but no immobilization or inability to fight etc.

The German panzer division allotment included 125 tons for fuel (by volume rather than weight) as a standard daily amount, but that was meant to be a ration that would let the division move 100 km on good roads. When achieved mileage is half the planning level due to the poor state of the roads, off road movement of tanks while fighting, etc, you either take that as a reduction in actual movement on the map or you have to increase the supply thruput specifically of POL to compensate.

As for Soviet logistics, that was the planning standard yes, but their op guys pushed too far just like the Germans did, at the commander's direction. Even when e.g. a Popov is saying we have to pause or retrace, his superiors are telling him to keep pushing. There is unreality in moments of operational success - audacity is so often the right answer that higher ups do not investigate the actual situation, but instead issue knee jerk commands to go-go-go. Everyone could suffer from that problem; the weaker the logistics backbone behind everything the harder things crashed when it was the wrong answer.

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Steve pretty much nailed it.

LL was 7% of Soviet wartime output by value. The mix helped too, filling weak spots and relieving bottlenecks in Russian production, notably nitrogen fixing shortages that limited total explosives production, and providing communications gear (both radio and land line, infrastructure like switches etc) that it was hard for the Russia economy to produce in volume. Everyone knows about the trucks and most about the prepared food, which made it possible to draft a much larger portion of the peasantry - though in the worst period 42 etc the rear areas were still starving.

But the scale of the other major effects needs to be understood. The Germans physically occupied territory responsible for 40% of prewar industrial output. Some was evac'ed to be sure, but that number is over 5 times the scale of the LL contribution. Retaking lost ground was more vital than LL, basically. Similarly, mobilization produced year on year changes in narrow armaments output around 40%. Being one quarter faster on that trigger matched LL. Of course it didn't raise capacity, it used it and diverted income from other uses (some of the former, lots of the latter). But the point again is the scale of the changes from economic management decisions and operational ground control, was bigger than the scale of LL.

The biggest things the Russians had going fir them were German hubris as Steve says, and the bare fact if the western allies being in the war. The latter helped not just through LL but by keeping German divisions in the west, by engaging most of the Luftwaffe, by straining the German war economy to produce planes and u boats and bomb repair and aid to Italy etc, that would all have been pointed at Russia instead in a one front war. Both were vital, LL was a modest part of the second.

But no, to the original poster, the early Russia counterattacks aren't really evidence of the conclusion. The outcome of the 1942-3 winter campaign yes, the small 1941 local stuff no.

I'm sure you know a lot more about he Lend-lease program than I do but it seems to me that you are probably underestimating the importance of filling in weak spots.

Also total lend lease vs total output isn't that relevant, would you happen to know a year by year comparison?

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gcrain - filling in weak spots is not actually all that important, because large complex economies readily move shortfalls to the place they are felt least. That is what prices do - they force less urgent uses to go without while allowing the urgent use to grab any given scarce resource. Total value measures exactly the portion of the shortage that cannot be shifted in that manner - the loss of the actually sacrificed, lower priority uses.

As for its time profile, it is not front loaded. It is tiny in 1941, just small amounts of British tanks and second line aircraft, none of the basic industrial inputs supports that come later after large scale US involvement. It doesn't trail off significantly until 1945.

When civilian consumption is falling by 40% and upward, we know where the bulk of the inputs came from to finance armaments output. The civilian population simply went through terribly hardship and made do with very, very little. Similar statements apply to the importance of recovering territory, etc.

As for my comments about the later 1942-43 campaign showing a more significant effect from LL, and more broadly just from the western powers being in the war, it can be seen in things like how fast the Russian tank fleet grows in calendar 1942. Russian production is already near peak levels by then, well over the 20,000 tanks per year level. But they are also still losing tanks at a high rate, and the LL portion of the supply lets them pull ahead in total fleet after losses, significantly faster than they would have with domestic production alone. They are not better types - plenty of American Stuarts and British Valentines or Matildas etc. But they have started arriving by then.

It is not that the increment is especially large at that point or in especially important categories - it isn't, compared to 43-44. But getting the fleet moving in the upward direction while the Germans still have their own AFV production practically in the "off" position, does help the Russians establish a large lead in tank fleet size that they never lose, thereafter. Similarly, there is some German air committed in the west, so the air balance (which takes longer to shift) turns sooner, as well. The tide in both still turns even if LL isn't in the mix, and the Russians would have built such leads and grabbed the initiative with them, regardless. But the LL stuff brought the date of those shifts forward by several months. That is about the earliest there is any meaningful benefit from it.

The bigger benefits come in 43-44 as vehicle shipments arrive, and industrial materials let Russian output focus more narrowly on finished armaments. Total weight of shell and total logistic "lift" off the rail net are both higher from the specific mix of goods provided by LL, in that period, and that helps sustain the war winning offensives.

But "helps sustain" is the right phrase. The Russians won the war operationally with Uranus, Little Saturn, Kursk defensive, and Kutuzov - from November 1942 to July 1943. The Germans were beaten by then - they had fight left in them certainly, it wasn't cheap to finish them off, but by the time Kursk fails and Orel falls in the first riposte counter offensive during it (and taking the initiative, for good this time), the writing is on the wall. By mid fall 1943 at the latest, the Germans are reeling and they never get their feet under them again.

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JK - The other excellent source on the topic I've read recently is Tank Warfare on the Eastern Front by Robert Forczyk. He has the benefit of being an armor officer himself and therefore understanding the importance of supply and maintenance issues, as well as combined arms, more than most historians. He is able to rate the performance of both sides not against each other or past history, but against what they should be able to do, with what they had etc.

I'd endorse this. Well worth reading. Excellent explanation for much of the course of the campaign over the first 18 months. Especially interesting on the early demise of the Soviet Mechanised Corps; the apparently endemic German logistic overstretch; and the impact on the development of weapons, munitions and tactics. Concise accounts of important actions - Mtensk is especially interesting.

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Xeno - note that Mtensk is the subject matter of two of the four scenarios in the GMT wargame "Roads to Moscow", which is quite a good game system. Battalion to company level depiction of the fight, at 2 turns per day time scale...

Sounds like my cup of tea, but I bet it won't run on a Mac.

:(

Michael

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It is an interesting fight, I have only started playing through it once myself.

The Russian force is made up of several high quality formation, better than the usual 1941 fare, though with a grab-bag quality. There is a tank brigade that includes 2 companies of T-34s (one of KVs, and a BT battalion of lights), 2 good airborne infantry brigades, one at the front and the other still arriving when the battle starts, and another brigade of infantry from the Tula weapons school, slightly weaker. Each of those brigades is 4 battalions of infantry; there are a few AT battalions as well for the airborne, plus 1 independent army level one. Besides the tanks, the tank brigade has a single motor rifle battalion represented by 2 units, and an armored car company. There are 3 small companies of motorcycle infantry and some army artillery, gun types with quite long range. There are also a couple of battalions of NKVD infantry supporting the tank brigade initially, and later a poor quality one as a garrison for the city in the rear.

That is the initial Russian force. A second tank brigade arrives in the course of the battle, with a similar layout of 1 KV and 2 T-34 companies, a bit lower quality, and a T-26 battalion for its lights (slower, but large). There is a strong and high quality Guards rifle division arriving in the Russian rear as well, but it is restricted to the north bank of a river and thus acts as a "backstop" behind Mtensk, only, and can't intervene in the approach fight or defend the city proper, itself. The Tula weapons school brigade arrives as reinforcements (not actually in the initial force), and there is cavalry regiment later, a few weak army units. Plus 3 units of rocket launchers, 2 early and 1 later, which are attack fire support only but can be useful.

Compared to the previous Roads to Leningrad game, the Russian force is significantly higher unit quality, with mostly 6s and 5s otherwise, compared to the Germans best 7s and lots of 6s. Basically the Germans can count on only a single DRM for quality in most fights. There are some lower quality Russian units - their AT battalions, the KVs for example - but that just means those are supposed to act as support for lead units (like an airborne rifle battalion), not alone.

Both sides also get good air support, that is not lopsided in favor of the Germans as in other fights in the system. The Germans get 2 JU-87 units with 7 efficiency and worth 2 DRM each, and 2 JU-88 with 5 and worth 1; the Russians get 2 IL-2 units with efficiency 5 worth 2 DRM each, 2 fighter units with 5 and 1 (one of them a reinforcement during the fight), and one PE-2 level bomber unit with 4 and 1, best used along with an escorting fighter squadron (only the lead air unit needs to check efficiency to "arrive"). Air support is halved on overcast turns, randomly. Basically the Germans have an edge in the likelihood their best ground support units will actually show up, but the Russians can try to match them and the usual result of both side's support efforts will be a "push" - just with plenty of variance, slightly skewed the German's way.

The other thing the Russians really have going for them is that the Germans have fuel problems. The Germans are in 2 KGs, one based around their panzer brigade HQ and the other around a Schutzen brigade HQ, and each can activate twice per turn. But they only have enough fuel to move with full MPs on 2 out of 4 of those activations for the first few turns, and an average of 3 out of 4 later on. The Russians meanwhile get 1 activation per formation plus 1 "any formation" chit, and are normally moving 3 times as turn as a result, 4 after the 2nd tank brigade arrives. The German activations due get to move more units and they definitely have the initiative, but they can't just run rings around the Russians as they frequently could in the Roads to Leningrad scenarios (where each German motorized division activated twice per turn, and each Russian formation only once. To be fair, with a lot more formations - those were about activity vs numbers, here the odds are more even on both counts).

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Getting back to the original thrust of this thread, I’m not convinced that it’s terribly sensible to talk about Lend Lease as a distinct item, as if the US and UK might somehow been slipping the Soviets millions of tons of goodies even if they weren’t at war with Germany themselves.

One argument which hasn’t been developed here is that WWII was, primarily, an economic war and therefore a war of machines. I touched on it earlier when I noted that – roughly speaking – Russian destroyed the German Army, the UK destroyed the German Navy, and the US destroyed the German airforce. This approach has been addressed, with a lot more rigour, by Phillips O’Brien.

Phillips O’Brien, East versus West in the defeat of Nazi Germany. The Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 23, No. 2 (June 2000) pp.89-113.
The basic thrust of his article is that the German ground forces only consumed a very small part of the German economy. For example, in 1943 – the key year of the war – the production of tanks consumed just 6.27% of German war production, most of which went to the Eastern Front. In the same year naval production was 8.02%, and essentially all of that went against the US and UK. But dwarfing either of those was aircraft production, at a staggering 41%! Granted a lot of that went to the East, but not nearly all of it, and in fact much less than half. As should be expected, the allocation of manpower was similarly skewed – in 1943 there were 2,100,000 workers were tied up in the production of German aircraft, and another 500,000 building German warships. There were only 1,900,000 workers involved in all army production.

As the war progressed the skewing became even more marked – in 1944 48% of productive effort went into aircraft, and ever more of that was directed against the US and UK, mainly against their bomber offensive. As an example of how this weighting of economic effort affected the war, O’Brien estimates that battling the bomber offensive, and the effects of bombing, cost the much Germans more – in economic terms – than the battle of Kursk did.

Using some admittedly rough calculations and conservative (i.e., favourable to the Soviets) estimates, O’Brien figures that the economic split of German effort between East and West in 1943 was roughly:

Land: 15% west - 85% east

Naval: 100% west - 0% east

Air: 65% west - 35% east

Anti Aircraft: 70% west - 30% east

TOTAL: 60% west - 40% east

(note: final figure includes additional weightings such as LL and bombing losses*)

In later years the split of economic effort moved even more against the Western Allies as a result of the increasing concentration on air and the concentration of that air against the west, the increasing effectiveness of bombing, and the gigantic economic sinkhole that was entirely westwards oriented V1 and V2 programmes. By the end of 1944 some 70-80% of economic effort leaned west, while in 1945 it was over 80%.

O’Brien notes and acknowledges the manpower question, and freely credits the Russians with occupying the attention of a lot of German soldiers. However, he notes that WWII was a war of machines, where smaller numbers of better equipped and trained troops could be expected to prevail over larger numbers of essentially 18thC forces. The Germans themselves leaned on this trend in their successes during the period 1939-1942. So too did the Russians later in the war. But the nations who embraced the war of machines most fully were the US and the UK. In that respect, the lack of men facing the Western Allies was less important than the number of machines they faced, and as already noted the West faced all of the German Navy and most of the Luftwaffe, which together made up well over half the German productive effort.

Furthermore, while the number of soldiers was higher in the east than west, the number of producers, as already noted, leaned heavily to the west, more so as the war went on.

What this means, in terms of this thread, is that without the West taking on the bulk of Germany’s economy the Russians would have been in big – probably insuperable – trouble. Meanwhile without Russia the West would have been in trouble but would likely have eventually prevailed in this war of machines, even without atomic weapons.

Jon

* With regards to LL, O’Brien makes the point that the provision of LL meant that Russia was better able to equip it’s army with machines, either by enabling the production of more of it’s own excellent tanks and artillery, or by utilising Western aircraft and trucks directly (and thus concentrate on make even more of it’s own excellent tanks and artillery). As such, a definite proportion of the German land effort in the East was actually facing Western machines, and thus fighting the Western economies.

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What this means, in terms of this thread, is that without the West taking on the bulk of Germany’s economy the Russians would have been in big – probably insuperable – trouble.

While I think that over all your post presents excellent arguments, I think that here and in your next sentence you may be overstating the case just a bit. Yes, definitely, without the West, the USSR would have been in very big trouble. But there were also certain peculiarities of the Eastern Front—which I won't try to enumerate here; they are mostly pretty well known anyway—it is far from certain that Germany would have found their victory either complete or satisfactory.

Meanwhile without Russia the West would have been in trouble but would likely have eventually prevailed in this war of machines, even without atomic weapons.

That depends. Without an active Eastern Front to bleed the Wehrmacht nearly white, Germany's resistance in the west would have been greater. We can argue about how much greater, but the difference would not have been negligible. The Allies, and especially the UK, were already starting to experience a shortfall in the number of available ground replacements. To some extent that was a management problem, and eventually more warm bodies could have been scraped up, but they would have had to have been taken out of the populations manning the industries back home, so maybe not as many of those nice machines that were winning the war. At some point, the leaders in the West would have had to start asking themselves whether the game was worth the candle. At some point, public discontent and war weariness would begin to tell. If Germany can drag out the war past the end of 1945, some kind of negotiated conclusion begins to loom on the horizon, as much of a bitter anathema as that would have been.

Michael

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While I think that over all your post presents excellent arguments, I think that here and in your next sentence you may be overstating the case just a bit.

Noted.

Yes, definitely, without the West, the USSR would have been in very big trouble. But there were also certain peculiarities of the Eastern Front—which I won't try to enumerate here; they are mostly pretty well known anyway—it is far from certain that Germany would have found their victory either complete or satisfactory.
Sure. The point is that with Germany having 3-4 times the number of a/c available and an unthreatened homebase, then Russian is never going to be able to compete in a war of machines.

That depends. Without an active Eastern Front to bleed the Wehrmacht nearly white, Germany's resistance in the west would have been greater.
Sure, but only if the West chooses to play Germany's game. They don't need to, though. They won the war in the air by themselves, and showed in late 1944-45 that they could bomb the tar out of Germany with increasing impunity. Yes; it would take longer. And yes; eventually they'd have to conduct some sort of Op OVERLORD, and yes it'd be expensive against an unattrited Whermacht, but it would only occur at the Wests time and place of choosing, and beneath a solid aluminium overcast.

Plus, of course, Ultima Ratio Regum as noted by JC.

There are, of course, some key counter factuals. Without the fear of Western airpower, would the Germans put so much effort into the Luftwaffe? Probably not, but that would free resources that could potentially be used for more ground based machines - artillery, tanks, TRUCKS. Without a war in the East, would the Whermacht ever get as big, and/or develop their range of kitties? Probably not, and probably although probably not in the same quantities.

Anyway, the point is not to play counterfactuals. The point is to note that if faced by the full might of Germany, the West would be better off without Russia than vice versa. And the point of that observation is to directly contradict 60-70 years of historiography asserting that the West was just mucking about while the Reds won the war all by their lonesome.

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ME - um no. If the war lasts into late 45, Berlin and the Ruhr are smoking, radiated ruins.

Except in the post I was responding to this sentence appears:

Meanwhile without Russia the West would have been in trouble but would likely have eventually prevailed in this war of machines, even without atomic weapons.
[Emphasis added.]

Michael

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Anyway, the point is not to play counterfactuals.

Agreed. It is addictive fun of a sort, but pretty useless as a means of understanding history. Events are linked in branching trees of probability such that beyond a certain point outcomes become imponderable as response and counter-response begin to pile up.

Michael

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Interesting discussion. My level of knowledge is dwarfed by a great many on this forum. However, from my limited level, and for awhile now, I've thought the following:

The USSR fights Germany alone = 1-3 years more and a lot more Soviets dead, but essentially the same result with Germany fully occupied as long as the USSR lasts.

The Western Allies fight Germany alone = a moderately higher number of Allied casualties and 1-2 years more, with the German population largely being wiped out and swaths of Germany becoming uninhabitable for a LONG time.

I think Germany can actually be thankful the way things went. The USA would never have expected its soldiers to make the kind of sacrifices that the Soviets did if there was any other way to avoid it--and there was with the Air and Naval power available.

Basically, the only hypothetical where the Third Reich has a shot of living past the mid-40s is one where Hitler allows the British completely safe passage out at Dunkirk after winning the BOF, following that up with strict orders not to attack Britain, no matter what reprisals are made. Assuming that situation persists long enough to make the British public (again, no Battle of Britain in this scenario) receptive to an official peace treaty, and no action occurs to give the US an entry into the war, and there is no Barbarossa, well...maybe.

Other than that, going back to the extreme hypotheticals:

Germany vs USSR alone: Germany loses

Germany vs UK + USA, or USA alone: Germany loses

Germany vs UK alone: Germany is stripped of its Navy and a stalemate is reached in the air, but financial and manpower limitations stop the UK from being able to defeat Germany alone. More time passes and something happens eventually to move the ball, but I don't think the Reich survives. Its only shot to survive WWII is a peace treaty with the UK and lots of turning the other cheek after France falls, coupled with not bringing anybody else into the war.

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