Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by CarsonPalmer » 2012-07-31 08:57pm

Spoonist wrote:No, I just assumed you could read out the context without me having to lay it all out for you. But apparantly you didn't want to.
Note what I said at the end "So without barbarossa it is very unlikely that we would have a project manhattan in that time period." Your resulting response seems to ignore that sentence.

Let's do it like this instead then:

Which year did USA join the WWII?
Why did the USA join the war when they did?
Was the USA likely to join WWII at that time without such events?

Which year did Mark Oliphant present the findings of the Maud Committee to the NDRC Committee on Uranium?
Which year did the manhattan project start?
Which year did the nuclear projects in the US get funding to actually move from basic theory and minimal labs only, to starting tests and build enrichment facilities etc?
Why wasn't the manhattan project or its sister projects fully funded before then?


The answers to those questions should make it pretty obvious that you are indeed stretching and that what I said is true without having to resort to condescending attempts like your last sentance. You really should know me better by now than to assume ignorance.

I don't think it's likely that the USA stays out of the war entirely. FDR did want us in, and an incident in the North Atlantic would probably have been a pretext. I have a hard time imagining the war dragging on and on and the US staying neutral under the circumstances prevailing in 1941.

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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2012-07-31 09:35pm

After the attack on USS Greer in September 1941, a defacto state of war already existed in the Atlantic. Less often observed is the fact that in early November 1941 the US congress voted to modify the neutrality act. It doing so it allowed US merchant ships to be armed, and for US merchant ships to enter war zones. Now you add that on top of lend lease and the existing escort policy and you have US warships which are actively hunting U-boats escorting armed US merchant ships halfway across the Atlantic, and then said merchant ships carry US made weapons direct to the UK. Going even further the US actually had a plan going into effect to build a series of large maintenance depots for lend lease supplies through the British Empire, including in the UK and Cairo, both areas likely to be attacked. They would have been civilian manned, but built with the aid of the US military. Its really pretty damn well impossible this couldn't have led to a war. The whole reason for the neutrality act limitations in the first place was because everyone knew US merchant ships being sunk left and right in a war would led to the US entering said war, as it had in 1917, and in 1917 if anything US public opposition to war with Germany was much stronger then it had become by 1941.

The only way you don't get war between the US and Germany is if Hitler calls off the U-boat offensive for good. No way in hell would that happen, Hitler already considered lend lease to be all but a declaration of war in the first place, he just hoped to polish off Russia first. Allowing unlimited US weapons to flow into the UK to be maintained by US personal isn't happening.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Thanas » 2012-08-01 03:46pm

Even if the USA had entered the war against Germany, it still would have produced a better outcome than invading Russia ever could.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Force Lord » 2012-08-01 03:53pm

Thanas wrote:Even if the USA had entered the war against Germany, it still would have produced a better outcome than invading Russia ever could.
Well, it depends. Eastern Europe (including East Germany) would have not ended up communist and under the Soviet yoke, but just the US and the UK/Commonwealth fighting the Axis would likely prolong the war a bit more and it could have ended with Germany getting nuked before Japan.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by LaCroix » 2012-08-01 05:07pm

Force Lord wrote:
Thanas wrote:Even if the USA had entered the war against Germany, it still would have produced a better outcome than invading Russia ever could.
Well, it depends. Eastern Europe (including East Germany) would have not ended up communist and under the Soviet yoke, but just the US and the UK/Commonwealth fighting the Axis would likely prolong the war a bit more and it could have ended with Germany getting nuked before Japan.
Would it?

After all, all of Europe, including the British would have to deal with the fall-out. I don't even see the need - even if Germany would have gone 'FULL LAST STAND' like Japan promised to, it would have been a cake walk in comparison, simply for the reason that you wouldn't need to bring all troops and supplies by boat and do Normandy over and over again.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Mr Bean » 2012-08-01 05:14pm

Okay Alt history time, if in December 1941 could have Hitler used Pearl Harbor in any way to get a cease fire with Britain? Lets say Hitler becomes convinced that he needs every single soldier he can free up to take on Russia in the spring of 1942. Is there anything he can do to get Britain and America to call a cease fire to so he can focus on the Soviets and not worry about the Pacific or North Africa for awhile?

Lets say he's willing to make serious deals including giving back some of what he's taken, recalling Rommel to Tunisia, ending the U-boat attacks and offering America aid against the Japanese in some form.

Could it be pulled off? If the offer was made publicly and propagandized to heck and back by the Nazi administration for all it was worth.
I'm not asking if this results as Nazi victory, just could the Germans gotten to the Americans and British to the bargaining table long enough to free up men for a massive spring time push against the Soviets.

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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2012-08-01 07:34pm

If he could not get the UK to agree to some kind of truce in 1940, when he was at the height of his power and the British stood alone without lend lease, why on earth would they cave in when they now have full scale American support and Hitler is clearly heavily engaged in Russia? The British were not very interested in half measures, and he simply cannot give back Poland and the Czechoslovakia while still fighting Russia even if the British would agree to Hitler even remaining in power. Giving up France meanwhile is an open invitation to a two front ground war as soon as the French are rearmed by a flood of US weapons. Never mind that giving up Norway means an endless threat to German iron ore.

Not a single man would be freed up by even having negotiations, hardly any German troops were in the west in 1941, even abandoning the occupation of France and the low countries would almost certainly lead to a net increase in the requirement of troops, as large numbers of well armed troops would be needed to watch out for French rearmament, as opposed to using third rate depot troops to drink wine in Paris. About the only gain would be from North Africa, which amounts to all of a single Panzer corps. Such a force would mean little in the East, it is perhaps a 10% increase in German mobile strength, and in fact might well just go to guarding against France.

Also basically this idea requires that Italy also agree to an armistice, in which she losses her colonies, hardly acceptable, or else Hitler has one hell of a problem on his southern flank. Italy had occupied most of Greece, and if the British and Americans get back into Greece, as total Italian ass kicking would go ahead like crazy, they would then have bases from which to easily bomb German oil in Romania should the war resume. This is also likely to see Italian troops come out of Russia, which while they never did fight very well, they occupied space, and Germany badly needed infantry to fill space.

Since the only clear gain is not fighting in North Africa, well, Hitler could have just ordered support cut off for that operation called off anyway. Rommel was never actually supposed to go on the offensive in the first place.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Alkaloid » 2012-08-02 09:34am

It's funny, it doesn't link up with the way most people think about WWII, what with Germany doing almost all the invading to begin with, and cruising through an unprepared and confused France, but the Brits and the French declared war on Germany first. Sure, they tried hard to avoid a war, probably harder than they should have in hindsight, but war with the UK and France wasn't really on Hitlers agenda, or rather on his timeline, it was almost inevitable eventually but there were other things he wanted to finish first.

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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Captain Seafort » 2012-08-02 03:17pm

Alkaloid wrote:It's funny, it doesn't link up with the way most people think about WWII, what with Germany doing almost all the invading to begin with, and cruising through an unprepared and confused France, but the Brits and the French declared war on Germany first.
They started it - they invaded Poland. The UK and France merely responded to that.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Mr Bean » 2012-08-02 03:20pm

Followup question to Sea Skimmer, what exactly did Hitler offer in 1940 when Britain stood alone. It was my impression that he offered very little to the British and that in 1940 he was less interested in dealing than accepting their surrender.

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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Purple » 2012-08-02 07:00pm

Captain Seafort wrote:
Alkaloid wrote:It's funny, it doesn't link up with the way most people think about WWII, what with Germany doing almost all the invading to begin with, and cruising through an unprepared and confused France, but the Brits and the French declared war on Germany first.
They started it - they invaded Poland. The UK and France merely responded to that.
That is debatable for several reasons. First why than did the allies do absolutely nothing to try and actually help Poland. Surely some sort of offensive while the Germans are distracted could have if not worked at least shown initiative. And secondly the Germans did not attack Poland alone. So why declare war on them and not say the Soviet Union? Sure Poland was a good excuse but was it the true motivation of the political leadership?
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by CaptHawkeye » 2012-08-02 09:10pm

Purple wrote: That is debatable for several reasons. First why than did the allies do absolutely nothing to try and actually help Poland. Surely some sort of offensive while the Germans are distracted could have if not worked at least shown initiative. And secondly the Germans did not attack Poland alone. So why declare war on them and not say the Soviet Union? Sure Poland was a good excuse but was it the true motivation of the political leadership?
They didn't do as much as they could but declaring war was a lot more than Hitler believed they would do. They let him pretty much have his way with Czechoslovakia before even though ignoring the sovereignty of a nation is well worth something to start a war over. Especially when you're supposed to be in a military alliance with said country. Really we should be criticizing the Allies for not declaring war sooner. But the reality was no one in the west was physically or mentally ready for another Great European War so soon. Some people had better things to do than build big guns to kill people with.

The Allies didn't like the Soviet Union either but Stalin was simply not as immediately threatening to Europe as Hitler was. Plus through most of the 30s most people just didn't really think Hitler was such a bad guy. As he became consistently more and more pushy though opinion started to turn against him fast. He went from militarily occupying treaty territory, to absorbing a country, to bullying the Allies into giving him a country. Everyone knew where things were going.

Anyway it's debatable what state the Western Allies were in to conduct any offensive into Germany in 1939. Allied war planning had hoped to use Poland as a jump off point for offensives against Germany but that was back in the late 20s. Probably with forces that only existed on paper too. As for what happened, France had basically come near civil war in the 30s and a number of various political decisions crippled her military. Considering the country was barely in enough shape to defend itself I don't find it surprising their was no enthusiasm to invade Germany right away.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2012-08-02 09:14pm

Purple wrote: That is debatable for several reasons. First why than did the allies do absolutely nothing to try and actually help Poland. Surely some sort of offensive while the Germans are distracted could have if not worked at least shown initiative. And secondly the Germans did not attack Poland alone. So why declare war on them and not say the Soviet Union? Sure Poland was a good excuse but was it the true motivation of the political leadership?
The French did make an offensive, they quickly called it off because they had too many problems and not nearly enough troops to expect to beat the Germans. Poland was collapsing too quickly, and more German troops would have swiftly been moved west. The German army outnumbered the largest possible French force about 2:1 overall. Poland might have lasted longer, but only had she fully mobilized, as it was political considerations led to a delayed mobilization and only about half the Polish army was in the field on September 1st 1939; though it had more then half the weapons on hand. A major allied effort was made to send aircraft and weapons through Romania, more then a few aircraft got to the country but very few had been assembled and delivered by the time the nation capitulated. The reality was Poland collapsed too quickly to be helped, and the French, who could not have been supported by more then a few British divisions, quickly became concerned that the Germans would immediately shift forces west. The available allied force in the west in the fall of 1939 was simply not large enough to defeat the Germans. Maybe 40 divisions

As for the USSR, the allies had some idea that Stalin was not interested in full on war with them, and knew he had only attacked when Poland was already clearly defeated, so they were not about to rush into such a conflict. But in fact, once Stalin attacked Finland the British and French made plans to send troops to aid the country, and did send considerable war material. The Sweds refused to allow transit of actual troops to fight, and that directly led into the plan to invade Norway. A plan was also hatched, and the groundwork laid for a bombing campaign against Baku to cripple the Soviet economy and hopefully Germany by cutting off the oil flow. This plainly would have meant full scale war between the allies and the Soviets.
Mr Bean wrote:Followup question to Sea Skimmer, what exactly did Hitler offer in 1940 when Britain stood alone. It was my impression that he offered very little to the British and that in 1940 he was less interested in dealing than accepting their surrender.
It was hinted to the British that certain European states might be restored to sovereignty, but only under unquestioned German domination of the entire continent, that Czechoslovakia would not be one such state, that Dutch and French colonies would be open to negotiation, implying that Hitler expected to annex at least some of these territories and perhaps reward Italy as well. About the only thing firm was that the Germans would demand nothing from Britain possessions. This was basically conveyed through Sweden, direct German approaches via Switzerland basically just asked the British to come to terms. It was also hinted that the British would need to agree to some kind of ceasefire before full scale negotiations could take place. So not exactly a demand for surrender, not of Britain, but certainly a demand to surrender Europe to Hitler.

Some in the British government were still in favor of it in June 1940, believing the war already lost and any terms better then invasion, with Lord Halifax at the head of this moment. He was defeated swiftly by Churchill. Once the British got past the initial invasion scare another time never existed in which surrender or peace was credible. It would have taken starvation by U-boat blockade to do that. By September 1941 when the US took the gloves off on neutrality law, USN aircraft carriers, not just a few destroyers or what have you, were actually escorting convoys as close as 700 miles to Brest, they broke off only at the edge of German bomber range! That's more then two thirds the way across the Atlantic Ocean.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by aieeegrunt » 2012-08-05 11:21am

The way France had it's army set up for mobilization precluded any serious early offense.

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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by PeZook » 2012-08-05 11:28am

aieeegrunt wrote:The way France had it's army set up for mobilization precluded any serious early offense.
Yet they promised one within a week, which was why Poland agreed to delay mobilization.

Serves us right for believing them, I guess :D
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2012-08-05 02:35pm

The other problem being the Polish government didn't really think Germany would try to conqueror all of Poland. Mobilization back then was a defacto declaration of war so reasons existed to try to avoid it if you thought the consequences would not be complete destruction. The problem was Hitler already was mostly mobilized in peacetime.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by aieeegrunt » 2012-08-11 07:48am

True, the Poles had a large part of their military deployed in an awkward position around Danzig and in the Polish Corridor where it got easily pocketed because one of the more likely scenarios they were expecting was Hitler grabbing Danzig and the Corridor and then halting his advance.

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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Thanas » 2012-08-11 08:20am

Sea Skimmer wrote:The other problem being the Polish government didn't really think Germany would try to conqueror all of Poland. Mobilization back then was a defacto declaration of war so reasons existed to try to avoid it if you thought the consequences would not be complete destruction. The problem was Hitler already was mostly mobilized in peacetime.
And the train network of the Reich also allowed it to shift large forces on a scale and with speed the allies could not match - I think the rail network is one of the most important force multipliers of the entire early war but is mostly forgotten nowadays.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by CaptHawkeye » 2012-08-11 08:38am

The Allies viewed railroads I think as a liability somewhat, since they were very open, obvious targets to air attack that you couldn't just fix by bringing in a bulldozer and filling the craters with. Locomotives are also much harder to replace, and even harder to hide than trucks.

The Germans did somehow manage to shuffle a lot of men between the fronts regardless of Allied attacks on the rail network though.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2012-08-11 11:50am

The allies used the railways as heavily as they could in the war, and did effectively isolate Normandy from rail traffic by bombing, few other chances really existed to shutdown rail for a protracted period. Thing is the Germans could and did build huge numbers of locomotives, so many that it was noted in the railway attacks on Italy 1943-44 that it was realistic for them to actually throwaway every single locomotive needed to supply that front, about 20 a day! That's on top of being able to loot most of Europe for equipment, though they did have shortages of rolling stock. Its really hard to actually destroy a steaming locomotive in any case, strafing and rocketing really won't do it, boilers are meant to be replaced. You have to damage the frame to kill it for good and that's not easily done. Certainly not happening with strafing. Since nobody had aircraft that could do much against railway traffic moving at night, some trains were going to get through unless you could drop a bridge and keep it dropped, but even then the Germans would just unload on one side and raft stuff across the gap to load onto another train. Conscripting civilian labor helped with this of course.

The main problem with stopping military operations by rail is in an area with well developed railways, as was the case in all of western and central Europe, was military requirements only took up a small fraction of the required capacity most of the time anyway, and as military trains did not need sorting heavy damage to those big juicy marshalling yards did little to stop them. A single surviving through track was enough to keep traffic flowing. This was not the case on the Russian front, but the Russians made no serious effort to bomb railway targets deep behind the lines, only the forwardmost unloading areas were hit, and partisan attacks could only do so much. A bulldozer will fix anything but bridges or tunnels, problem was just one blown up tunnel could take months to fix, and while it was very hard to blowup a tunnel by air attack, the retreating Germans, or anyone else retreating, could much more easily blow in a tunnel with engineers. This is a big reason why you don't hear that much about allied rail use, though in fact it took place on a large scale. You also don't hear much about allied tactical pipelines on land, as opposed to the much reported but nearly useless PLUTO pipelines under the Channel, but without those you could forget about most of the North Western European campaign.

This site has some good stuff on British efforts repairing Italy's heavily demolished/bombed rail systems for allied use. Bridges, not so hard to replace depending on damage to the piers, tunnels, just a pain in the ass.
http://www.trenidicarta.it/reconstruction/contents.html
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Thanas » 2012-08-11 12:20pm

I was referring more to the stuff in the early war - for example the speed in which the Armies from Poland were relocated to the west was impressive for one. That said, the other things Sea Skimmer noted are certainly orrect.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2012-08-12 01:21am

Thanas wrote:I was referring more to the stuff in the early war - for example the speed in which the Armies from Poland were relocated to the west was impressive for one.
I don't get the original point then, the allies had no need to match the scale and speed of German movements in 1939, because they didn't have the forces to move in the first place, or the reason to make such a big shift. Its kind of like pointing out the Germans couldn't move troops around the Cape of Good Hope by sea as quickly, true but not a useful comparison. The French however were fully aware the Germans could shift forces quickly, thus the rapid fear of an attack in the west.

Now in 1914 when France actually did have really large forces rearing to mobilize and a plan to send them into battle at once, they did so just as effective as the Germans. But the lessons of WW1 included the fact that quickly mobilizing everyone by rail to die in the first week of the war was a totally excellent way to completely disrupt your economy for years afterwards. France and Germany both avoided this problem in 1939. The British were simply incapable of mass mobilization and deployment, the forces simply did not exist, nor for that matter did basic equipment like coats exist for many of the reservists who were called up.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Sea Skimmer » 2012-08-12 01:49am

One thing the Germans really should get more credit for too, going down this avenue, is for establishing the Luftwaffe across such a massive arc of bases prior to the Battle of Britain. Most commentary consists of complaining about the 'fatal delay' as if the Germans deliberately wasted time, basing this off random allied commentary during the war, and then moves onto Eagle Day. I've yet to find a serious detailed study of the immense logistical and organizational challenge that had to go into establishing such a force at over 200 airbases, a great many entirely lacking facilities, at a time when France was clogged with German army forces, many lines of communication were seriously damaged and the Luftwaffe units themselves were just coming off a very intensive campaign. I'm sure such a study must exist, somewhere, I'd love to find it. Quick back of the envelope calculations suggest around 6,500 tons of fuel and bombs alone would be needed just to make one sortie by each fighter and bomber in Luftflotte 2 & 3 and it doesn’t appear they ever ran seriously short of anything except high caliber bombs, and only then just because nobody ever bothered to order them from the factories.

Much larger concentrations of aircraft were made later in the war certainly, but generally they assembled over more protracted periods and certainly on the basis of much greater war experience and more developed facilities, and by people with more motor transport. The Luftwaffe really had its act together on being a mobile force to accompany the mobile ground army. One of those things people who complain about 'no strategic bombers' tend to miss out on ect...
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Thanas
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Thanas » 2012-08-12 05:19am

Sea Skimmer wrote:
Thanas wrote:I was referring more to the stuff in the early war - for example the speed in which the Armies from Poland were relocated to the west was impressive for one.
I don't get the original point then, the allies had no need to match the scale and speed of German movements in 1939, because they didn't have the forces to move in the first place, or the reason to make such a big shift. Its kind of like pointing out the Germans couldn't move troops around the Cape of Good Hope by sea as quickly, true but not a useful comparison. The French however were fully aware the Germans could shift forces quickly, thus the rapid fear of an attack in the west.
My original point (albeit poorly made) was that the railroad system was one of the reasons why an allied offensive would not have been able to succeed, even if they had more forces available, and that not a lot of people today talk about the railroads and their importance.
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Re: Who had the best (overall) military in WW2?

Post by Elfdart » 2012-08-12 01:27pm

Isn't that because most of the credit for rapid movement was erroneously given to the highway system -which the US kinda sorta copied in the 1950s?
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