The USSR prior to World War II implemented several five-year plans developing massive industrial production capabilities. This required a steady raw material input producing final military and industrial grade good.
Copper – In an unusual twist the Soviet Union was providing copper along many other raw materials to Germany per the German–Soviet Commercial Agreement (1940). Most of the copper was destined for electric equipment used extensively in major weapon platforms, energy systems and telecommunications. Lend-Lease was 41.1% of the copper available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
Aluminum – Aircraft required lightweight and strong metals for their performance characteristics and in the 1940s none was better than aluminum. Soviet aluminum production dropped from 59.9 thousand metric tons in 1940 to 34.5 thousand metric tons the following year. Not until 1943 would Soviet production levels recover to their prewar numbers. In the meantime, the Soviets needed more than even their prewar levels provided. Lend-Lease was 51.5% of the aluminum available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
Tin – Tin was classified as a strategic material since tin-coated steel cans prevented food acids from corroding the steel. Tin coated packaging was also used in medical supplies for the same reason. Supplied tin was 69.0% of the tin available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
Cobalt – Military grade steel required cobalt. The British and Germans wrangled over control of Turkish cobalt exports each threatening trade embargoes. Cobalt was another raw material that Germany negotiated with the Soviet Union in the German–Soviet Commercial Agreement (1940). Western supplied cobalt was 58.0% of the cobalt available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
Railway Equipment – Lend-Lease took on many forms some less glamorous than others but still significant. Railcars and railway rails aren’t often thought of by the general public when thinking about supporting a war ally. However, not having to produce 1,977 locomotives, 11,075 railway wagons, or 622,000 tons of railway rails allowed USSR’s internal industries to concentrate on other needed war production. Lend-Lease was 91.1% of the railway wagon and 36.1% of the railway rails available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
Vehicle tires – All major combatants in WWII were deficient in rubber and the Soviet Union was no exception. Germany in the 1930s began synthesizing rubber knowing they would not have ready access to the raw material. Vehicle tires – Lend-Lease was 30.4% of the vehicle tires available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
Military Grade Materiel
Explosives – Explosives are used at prodigious rates almost always well beyond the largest forecasts. The Eastern Front with the millions on each side engaging on fronts hundreds of miles long consumed materiel like no where else. Lend-Lease was 34.6% of the explosives available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
Aviation fuel – The Soviet Union out produced all European Axis nations in crude oil production. However, octane boosters and aviation fuels were in short supply and Lend-Lease filled that gap. Prior to the US entry into the war the US was responsible for 63%* of the world’s oil production. Additionally, the US had extensive adjacent industries developing and producing petroleum, oil, and lubrication products. In all 2,700,000 tons of petroleum products were supplied through Lend-Lease. Lend-Lease was 35.5% of the aviation fuel available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
* Source: American Foreign Relations, https://www.americanforeignrelations.com/O-W/Oil-Oil-and-world-power.html
Often overlooked is the effect of the German invasion in 1941-42 on the USSR’s breadbasket, Ukraine. The USSR lost 40% of its state farms as well as farm animals, farm equipment, and labor. Per US Embassy and Consulates in Russia 4,500,000 tons of foodstuffs were transferred to the USSR via Lend-Lease. There are stories of Soviet troops throwing empty Lend-Lease food cans at German troops just to irritate them.
- Sugar – Lend-Lease was 39.8% of the sugar available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
- Canned meat – Lend-Lease was 82.8% of the copper available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
- Animal fats – Lend-Lease was 51.6% of the animal fats available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
- Wool – Lend-Lease was 21.4% of the wool available to the Soviet Union in World War II.
Lend-Lease Deliveries Compared to USSR Internal Production Data
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Source: Real History Online. “Lend-Lease WW2 – American Supply to the Allies.” https://www.realhistoryonline.com/articles/lendlease-ww2/, Data accessed on June 28, 2022
Other Lend-Lease and Production Data
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