Friday, February 9, 2018

The Myth of Soviet Power in WWII

Much ado is made of Hitler, his ill fated decision to invade Russia right before winter, and, for those who've really drank the cool aid, how the Russians could have kicked Nazi Germany's butt without Allied assistance. However, when you get right down to it, the Soviet Empire would almost certainly have fallen without outside assistance, and certainly wouldn't have been able to do better than a stalemate without it.

20% of all Soviet armored vehicles came from Lend-Lease.
30% of their fighters and bombers were Lend-Lease.
59% of their non-armored tactical vehicles (this category includes Jeeps, trucks, and half-tracks, but it's worth noting that the US sent more trucks than the Soviets total production in this category).
Food aid and petroleum products numbered in the millions of tons.
Then there's the almost 2000 locomotives provided (mostly steam, with less than a hundred diesel locomotives) and close to 10000 train cars to go with them.

I've seen some people make the specious argument that "The Soviets didn't like our weapons, so they got assigned to rear echelon roles where it didn't make a difference". This argument is, of course wrong, for a couple of reasons:
  1. Rear echelon roles are still vital - a Sherman in the rear frees up a T34 for the front.
  2. They likes several of our designs so much that they based designs of their own on them, or in some cases (such as the B-29) blatantly copied it in the post war era.
  3. Sheer numbers meant that entire units were armed with lend-lease weapons - and those units did see combat using those weapons.
  4. It of course completely ignores all the support vehicles, trains, food, and petroleum producs that were also a part of lend-lease.
In fact, we really only need to look at one category to understand just what would have happened to the Soviets without lend-lease - Trucks. The US gave the Soviets more trucks (1 1/2 and 2 1/2 ton models) than the entire non-armored vehicle production of the Soviet Union during the course of the war. Without those trucks, the USSR's logistics capability would have been more than halved. If you can't get ammunition, food, and fuel, let alone replacement weapons and repair parts to the front lines, you can't win.

Sources:
https://ww2-weapons.com/lend-lease-tanks-and-aircrafts/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lend-Lease#US_deliveries_to_the_Soviet_Union
https://history.army.mil/books/AMH-V2/PDF/Chapter05.pdf
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lend-Lease_Sherman_tanks#USSR
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1st_Guards_Mechanized_Corps_(Soviet_Union)