The 77th US Congress on March 8, 1941, passed the Lend-Lease act (subtitled “An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States”) which President Roosevelt signed into law on March 11, 1941. The first beneficiary was Great Britain and her Commonwealth of nations. Lend-Lease was later extended to China in the spring of 1941 and to the Soviet Union in November 1941.
Per the US Embassy and Consulate in Russia Lend-Lease provide the USSR support in fighting what Stalin described to Roosevelt as the “enormous and difficult fight against the common enemy — bloodthirsty Hitlerism”. Both the United States and the United Kingdom and her Commonwealth of nations provided direct Lend-Lease support to the USSR. In turn the Soviet Union via Reverse Lend-Lease provided raw materials and other goods totaling $6.8 billion.
Germany had access to production within occupied territories, but it did not match the scale of Lend-Lease.
World War II is seen as the first truly mechanized war by many, however that was hardly the case between Germany and the Soviet Union. Once away from a train depot approximately 80% of German logistics was horse drawn. About one in six German divisions were mechanized while the other five relied upon the foot soldier to march and the horse to pull. Even though the Soviet Union utilized more horses than Germany they utilized a far greater number of trucks, jeeps, and other motorized vehicles to transport men and materiel. Additionally, the food, materiel, and manpower Germany required to maintain their horses made these divisions less efficient than their enemy counterparts.
Prior to Germany’s invasion the Soviet Union had about 270,000 trucks in the military. Soviet domestic truck production for military purposes were approximately 150,000 vehicles. Via Lend-Lease over 430,000 trucks were obtained including:
- Over 200,000 Studebaker US6 U3, 2.5-ton, 6×6, Cargo Trucks,
- Almost 50,000 Willys MB, truck ¼-ton, 4×4, Command Reconnaissance aka Jeep
- Over 60,000 Chevrolet G-7107, 1½-ton, 4×4, with Cargo body includes Chevrolet G-7117, 1½-ton, 4×4, with BM-8-48 “Katiusha” rocket launcher
Soviet domestic aircraft production was firmly in place prior to the war and ramped up significantly during the war. A total of 157,261 aircraft were produced by Soviet factories. Due to the massive aircraft losses during Operation Barbarossa the Soviets requested additional quantities. Via Lend-Lease over 21,000 units were delivered including:
- 4,719 Bell P-39 Airacobras fighters
- 3,414 Douglas A-20 Havocs medium bombers
- 2,397 Bell P-63 Kingcobras fighters
- 3,000+ Hurricane fighter aircraft
- 4,000+ other British aircraft
- Soviet Union requested B-17s and B-24s, but none were delivered
The Soviet military lost many tractors for artillery and rocket launchers early in Operation Barbarossa. Also, Soviets were lacking in tank recovery tractors even prior to Germany’s invasion. Additionally, Soviet farms were ransacked by Germany including tractors and other farm machinery. American and British supplied over 8,000 tractors via Lend-Lease.
The Soviet Union produced 10s of thousands of tanks during World War II. Perhaps the most famous production site was the Stalingrad Tractor Factory which continued production through much of the Battle of Stalingrad. Like other weapon platforms the Soviet tanks were destroyed or captured in massive numbers during 1941-42, therefore the supply of over 12,000 tanks helped hold back the German onslaught. American and British tanks supplied included:
- 1,084 Matildas
- 1,380 Valentines from Canada
- 1,386 M3 Lees
- 4,102 M4 Shermans
- Other armored vehicles – 6,303
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.
Other Lend-Lease Transfers
- Petrol products (tons) – 2,700,000
- Food (tons) – 4,500,000
WW2 Allies Lend-Lease to the USSR, 1941-1945 Data
WW2 Allies: US Lend-Lease to the USSR, 1941-1945
Sources: US Embassy and Consulate in Russia, “World War II Allies: U.S. Lend-Lease to the Soviet Union, 1941-1945”, https://ru.usembassy.gov/world-war-ii-allies-u-s-lend-lease-to-the-soviet-union-1941-1945/, and Wikipedia. “Lend Lease” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lend-Lease, Data accessed on June 28, 2022
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