Three production items jump out in the Allies favor; 1) Allies outproduced the Axis nation in tanks and self-propelled guns by a 3.5 to 1 margin, 2) the Allies held almost a ten to one ratio in other vehicles allowing the Allies greater mobility in the field and not as reliant on railroad systems, and 3) the Allies, especially the USSR, were great believers in artillery and again outproduced the Axis nations by a ten to one ratio.
Automotive Industry Transition to Military Production
Germany’s automotive industry, led by companies like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Volkswagen (which was then known as “Volkswagenwerk”), was heavily supported by the Nazi government. The government invested in infrastructure and provided subsidies to help the industry grow. German automakers also benefited from innovations in engineering and production techniques, such as the development of the assembly line. In 1936 Germany with a 4.8% market share was the world’s third largest auto manufacturer behind the United States at 77.2% and Great Britain at 7.8%.
Meanwhile, Japan’s automotive industry was still in its early stages. The government saw the industry as a key component of its efforts to modernize the country and catch up with the West. The industry was led by companies like Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, which were focused on producing small, affordable cars for the domestic market. The Japanese government also provided support for the industry, including the creation of a national research institute for automotive technology. Japanese market share did not even make it to 1%.
The United States and Great Britain transitioned their automotive industry to produce tanks, self-propelled Guns, other armored vehicles, trucks, aircraft, and dozens of other weapons and platforms. The Soviet Union as well transition their automotive sector into producing vast quantities of war materiel. In comparison to the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, Germany and Japan’s automotive industries were not as effective in terms of producing military vehicles and equipment.
Machine Gun Production
The most commonly used machine guns during World War II were the German MG34 and MG42, the American M1919 and M2 Browning, and the Soviet DP-27 and Maxim PM1910.
Exact production numbers for machine guns during World War II can be difficult to pin down, as records and data collection were not always complete. However, here are some production estimates for machine guns by some of the major powers:
It is estimated that Germany produced around 1.2 million MG34s and MG42s combined during the war, both fired a 7.92×57mm Mauser rifle cartridge. Production numbers varied by year, with approximately 100,000 MG34s produced in 1940 and over 400,000 MG42s produced in 1944.
The United States produced large numbers of machine guns during the war. The M1919, a .30 caliber medium machine gun, was the most common model. It is estimated that the US produced around 3 million M1919s and M2 Brownings, a .50 caliber machine gun, combined. Production numbers varied by year, with approximately 400,000 M1919s produced in 1943 and 700,000 M2 Brownings produced in 1944.
The Soviet Union also produced large numbers of machine guns during the war, with the DP-27 and Maxim PM1910 being the most commonly produced models and both fired the 7.62×54mmR cartridge. It is estimated that the Soviet Union produced around 1 million DP-27s and 520,000 Maxim PM1910s. Production numbers varied by year, with approximately 120,000 DP-27s produced in 1941 and 130,000 Maxim PM1910s produced in 1942.
Great Britain produced a smaller numbers of machine guns during the war. With the Bren which fired a .303 cartridge being the most common. It is estimated that Great Britain produced around 500,000 Bren guns. Production numbers varied by year, with approximately 28,000 Bren guns produced in 1940 and 133,000 produced in 1944.
Allies Axis Weapon Production – Land Forces Data
The above graph can be downloaded as an image.
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|wdt_ID||Country||Tanks & SPGs||Armored vehicles||Other vehicles||Artillery||Mortars||Machine guns||Personnel|
|2||USA and territories||108,410||2,382,311||257,390||105,055||2,679,840||16,000,000|
|5||Germany and territories||67,429||49,777||159,147||73,484||674,280||1,000,730||14,540,835|
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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