The Allied nations outproduced the Axis nations in every weapons group except for missiles. German V-1 and V-2 rockets were a harbinger of the Cold War and beyond. However, in World War 2 the V-1 and V-2 missiles were imprecise and too few to be effective in halting the Allied onslaught in western Europe.
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Germany foresaw a series of short wars or political takeovers of states in one-on-one actions. And the early days proved out Germany’s expectations, beginning in 1935 with Germany violating the Treaty of Versailles by introducing military conscription on through to France signing an armistice with Nazi Germany in 1940. Germany saw no need to mobilize for an industrial total war. For example, Germany’s early war aircraft production was running two shifts for five days a week.
Outside of the ongoing war in China the Japanese saw a rapid expansion into the southwest Pacific followed by a negotiated peace. Japan believe they could expand their empire and control the much-needed resources that they lacked. “They planned to fight a war of limited objectives and having once secured these objectives to set up a defense in such depth that the United States would find a settlement favorable to Japan an attractive alternative to a long and costly war. To the Japanese leaders this seemed an entirely reasonable view.” (1)
(1) Morton, Louis, “Command Decisions Japan’s Decision for War”, Center of Military History United States Army, Washington, DC 1990, Page 122
Whereas the Allied Nations consisting of the United Kingdom (UK), the United States (US, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) all believe that it would be a long war, and each quickly mobilized their industries for total war in ways suited for their situations.
All three Allied nations relied on mass production. The UK and US utilized a capitalistic mass production approach, and the USSR utilized a central planning approach to mass production. The US adapted lessons from the automobile industry to the building of tanks, locomotives, and aircraft. The Soviet Union dialed up production rates. USSR military analysis determined the projected life of a weapons group or platform, such as a tank, and their requirements for subcomponents reflected that life expectancy.
Germany and Japan relied on a more artisanal production approach often with very short production runs. Axis militaries were intimately involved with production demanding design changes often in the middle of production runs thus slowing current production and making logistics later on much more difficult.
Additionally, the Allied nations tried to limit the number of weapon types. For example, Germany produced 42 types of aircraft versus the Soviet Union producing twelve types.
Coordination Between Partners
Italy’s and Japan’s leaders were stunned when Germany invaded the USSR. No pre-coordination occurred the three nations. Japan’s partners were also surprised when the bombed Pearl Harbor. The Allies had some level of cooperation between the three major partners and a high-level degree of cooperation between the UK and the US. Allied cooperation made all three of their industries more efficient via programs such as Lend-Lease and Reverse Lend-Lease.
Allies Axis Major Weapons Groups – Production Summaries Data
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|wdt_ID||Weapon / platform||Allies||Axis|
|1||Armored fighting vehicles*||4,358,649||670,288|
|2||Artillery, mortars, guns||6,792,696||1,363,491|
* Tanks, self-propelled artillery, vehicles
** For the Allies Missiles were only for test
Source: Wikipedia, “Military production during World War II.” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_production_during_World_War_II, Data accessed on June 28, 2022
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