Re: Alan Brown Re: bombastic bob 400 billion? Try 1.5 trillion
".....Tiger tanks - it was easy to disable them by targetting their fuel supply....." The Tiger was the perfect example of an attempt to ensure dominance through making a vast and unproven leap in technology. The result was massively unreliable in the few advancing campaigns it participated in (such as Kursk, where the majority of Tigers broke down before even reaching the start lines), gaining its reputation in the predominantly defensive operations the Germans were forced into after 1942. Throughout 1944-45, more Tigers were abandoned and lost due to mechanical problems than lack of fuel. However, the fuel point raised is still valid as the Tiger used twice as much as even the "good enough" long-75mm-armed PzIVs. Indeed, the Tiger took more than twice as long to build and used up almost twice the resources as the arguably more effective PzIV.
".....The desperation part only kicked in in the latter stages of the war....." No. When Hitler committed Germany to war in 1939, his generals and most of his economic staff had already twigged that Germany did not have the economic and production resources, especially for high-quality steel and refined oil, to pursue a long war. Hitler's Chief of Staff, Ludwig Beck, opposed the annexation of Czecheslovakia in 1938 because he was one of the Nazis to realise that Germany couldn't win a war with France and Britain without significant changes to supply and production. The Germans had already absorbed the lessons of WW1, where Germany and her partners had been unable to compete economically with the Allies (as an example of this, Germany was so short of high-quality steel by 1916 that the Germans were forced to recycle the engines from crashed Allied aircraft, the engine in one of Manfred von Richtifen's scouts being a recycled French unit). In the 30s this led the Nazis to a policy of "dominance though superior technology" - Germany would beat her enemies by making such giant leaps in science and technology that they would maintain a qualitative edge for the duration of the expected short war (staring in mid-1940 at the earliest, and preferably not until 1942, and lasting only six months), yet require the production of fewer actual weapons. This strategy dictated that a "supertank" would use less resources and defeat ten or more ordinary tanks expected to be produced by the more economically-affluent Allies or Russians over the timeframe of a short war. This chimed neatly with the Nazi ideal of Aryan superiority (and why the T-34 was such a shock to those ideas of racial superiority). Thus, schemes which promised quick rewards (such as the Tiger "supertank") were encouraged, whilst those requiring slow and steady development (such as the Heinkel 280, the actual first jet fighter) were ignored or ordered to stop. When the actual War went on longer than the few months expected, and the programs didn't provide the war-winning superweapons expected, the desperation set in very early on (in cases as early as November 1940, when it became clear Germany could not invade Britain and bring the War to a quick conclusion). Fortunately for the Allies, the Nazis had instilled such a focus on the "dominance through superior technology" mantra, and with resources getting ever fewer, the Germans simply pushed even further into unproven technologies (and ridiculous "supersupertank" projects like the Maus tank), producing designs that consumed even more resources for less returns than their Allied counterparts. Last ditch attempts to rationalise development and production programs eventually churned out masses of ordinary weapons which were actually technologically-inferior to the best Allied designs (such as the Bf109K compared to the P-51D or Tempest V), but failed because the Germans didn't meet easily anticipated shortfalls in other areas (aero fuels and pilot training in the case of the Bf109K).
".....Shermans might have been tommycookers....." The Sherman tank was actually arguably the best all-round tank when introduced to combat in 1942. It had good enough armour, a good gun that also fired a good HE shell, was manoeuvrable and fast enough, was quick to build in numbers, and was easy to train on, service and reliable in use. The problem was the Yanks didn't understand the irrational "dominance through superior technology" mantra pushing the Nazi scientists and engineers, and thought the Sherman was such a technological leap whilst still being reliable that they could not see anyone producing a better all-round tank by the expected end of the War (which the Yanks predicted in 1941 as ending by Christmas 1943!). Therefore the Yanks virtually stopped development of a real heavy tank, and were later surprised by the appearance of the heavier (but much less reliable) Tiger and Panther. Even so, the majority of Shermans knocked out in 1944 and 1945 were attacked by German infantry using cheap recoiless weapons (such as the Panzerscrechk, a copy of the American Bazooka technology) and not Tiger tanks (as many as 70% of all T-34s destroyed are thought to have been lost to the cheap and simple Panzerscrechk and Panzerfaust weapons).
".....Japan's war effort was doomed from the moment its fuel supplies were cut off...." The Japanese had plenty of fuel (they went to war to seize oilfields in Malaya and Java, and were still in control of them through 1945), what they lacked was the industrial capability to produce enough aircraft and pilots of good enough quality to fight the more numerous and better-armed Allies. The Japanese never did produce a tank to match even the Sherman, but they did produce some excellent fighters (such as the Ki-84 and the chop-shop Ki100). Their problem was producing those fighters in numbers and training enough pilots to the level of their Allied opponents, both of which proved impossible. As an added problem, no-one had predicted and prepared Japan for bombing by B-29s, and so what industry they did have was not dispersed and was poorly protected. The Japanese also tried to make technological leaps so they could produce "superweapons" to defeat the larger numbers of superior Allied planes, but these projects were even less successful than those of the Germans.