Military production during World War II
This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. (Learn how and when to remove these template messages)(Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Military production during World War II includes the arms, ammunitions, natural resources, personnel and financing which were mobilized for the war. Military production, in this article, means everything produced by the belligerents from the occupation of Austria in early 1938 to the surrender and occupation of Japan in late 1945.
The mobilization of funds, people, natural resources and matériel for the production and supply of military equipment and military forces during World War II was a critical component of the war effort. During the conflict, the Allies outpaced the Axis powers in most production categories. Access to the funding and industrial resources necessary to sustain the war effort was linked to their respective economic and political alliances. As formerly neutral powers (such as the United States) joined the escalating conflict, territory changed hands, combatants were defeated, the balance of power shifted in favour of the Allies (as did the means to sustain the military production required to win the war).
- 1 Historical context
- 2 Production summaries 1939–1945
- 3 Production overview: service, power and type
- 4 Reference data for summary tables
- 5 Propaganda posters
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
During the 1930s, political forces in Germany increased their financial investment in the military to develop the armed forces required to support near- and long-term political and territorial goals. Germany's economic, scientific, research and industrial capabilities were one of the most technically advanced in the world at the time and supported a rapidly growing, innovative military. However, access to (and control of) resources and production capacity required to entertain long-term goals (such as European control, German territorial expansion and the destruction of the USSR) were limited. Political demands necessitated the expansion of Germany's control of natural and human resources, industrial capacity and farmland beyond its borders. Germany's military production was tied to resources outside its area of control, a dynamic not found amongst the Allies.
In 1938 the British Commonwealth British empire contained a quarter of the world's population but relatively limited military power. From 1938 to mid-1942, the British coordinated the Allied military efforts of its Imperial forces in the Western European, Atlantic, North African and Pacific theatres. In those efforts, the British had varying levels of success in holding back the Axis onslaught. The greatest victory of note coming in the defensive Battle of Britain, which forced the Germans into the strategic blunder of fighting a two-front war with the British in the West and the Soviet Union in the East. However, the British Empire fared worse in other theatres, specifically North Africa when their main adversary the Italian Army was augmented by the German Afrika Corp and also when defending their far-flung Pacific territories against the Japanese. Particularly, in the Pacific theatre, the British Empire had no successful strategic offensive operations of note until the entrance of the United States.
The entry of the United States into the war in late 1941 injected financial, human and industrial resources into Allied operations on a greater scale than before. The US produced more than its own military forces required and armed itself and its allies for the most industrialized war in history. At the beginning of the war, the British and French placed large orders for aircraft with American manufacturers and the US Congress approved plans to increase its air forces by 3,000 planes. In May 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt called for the production of 185,000 aeroplanes, 120,000 tanks, 55,000 anti-aircraft guns and 18 million tons of merchant shipping in two years. Adolf Hitler was told by his advisors that this was American propaganda; in 1939, annual aircraft production for the US military was less than 3,000 planes. By the end of the war US factories had produced 300,000 planes, and by 1944 had produced two-thirds of the Allied military equipment used in the war—bringing military forces into play in North and South America, the Caribbean, the Atlantic, Western Europe and the Pacific.
The U.S. produced vast quantities of military equipment into late 1945, including nuclear weapons, and became the strongest, most technologically advanced military forces in the world. In addition to out-producing the Axis, the Allies produced technological innovations; through the Tizard Mission, British contributions included radar (instrumental in winning the Battle of Britain), sonar (improving their ability to sink U-boats), and the proximity fuze; the Americans led the Manhattan Project (which eliminated the need to invade Japan). The proximity fuze, for example, was five times as effective as contact or timed fuzes and was devastating in naval use against Japanese aircraft and so effective against German ground troops that General George S. Patton said it "won the Battle of the Bulge for us."
The human and social costs of the war on the population of the USSR were immense, with combat deaths alone in the millions. Recognising the importance of their population and industrial production to the war effort, the USSR evacuated the majority of its European territory—moving 2,500 factories, 17 million people and great quantities of resources to the east. Out of German reach, the USSR produced equipment and forces critical to the Axis defeat in Europe. Over one million women served in the Soviet armed forces.
The statistics below illustrate the extent to which the Allies outproduced the Axis. Production of machine tools tripled, and thousands of ships were built in shipyards which did not exist before the war. According to William S. Knudsen, "We won because we smothered the enemy in an avalanche of production, the like of which he had never seen, nor dreamed possible."
Access to resources and large, controlled international labour pools and the ability to build arms in relative peace were critical to the eventual victory of the Allies. Donald Douglas (founder of the Douglas Aircraft Company) declared, "Here's proof that free men can out-produce slaves."
Production summaries 1939–1945
Major weapons groups
|Tanks, self-propelled artillery, vehicles||4,358,649||670,288|
|Artillery, mortars, guns||6,792,696||1,363,491|
|Missiles||(only for test)||45,458|
Vital commerce and raw materials
- Cargo and resources in metric tonnes
Production overview: service, power and type
|Power||Tanks & SPGs||Armoured vehicles||Other vehicles||Artillery||Mortars||Machine guns||Personnel|
|USA and territories||102,410||2,382,311||257,390||105,055||2,679,840||10,000,000|
|Germany and territories||67,429||345,914||159,147||73,484||674,280||1,000,730||16,540,835|
|USA and territories||324,000||99,000||97,000||23,900||57,000||2,400,000|
|Germany and territories||133,387||57,653||8,991||28,577||5,025||8,396||14,311||11,361||3,402,200|
|Power||Total large ships||Carriers||Battleships||Cruisers||Destroyers||Frigates||Corvettes||Sloops||Patrol boats||Submarines||De/ Mining||Landing craft||Personnel|
|British Empire||890||41(24)||6[note 1]||102||291||209||387||33||4,209||238||1,244||9,538||1,227,415|
|USA and territories||6,771||124(101)||8||48||349||245||35,000||x|
|Germany & territories||1||2||17||1,152||540||1,500,000|
|Country||Coal||Iron ore||Crude oil||Steel||Aluminium||Nickel||Zinc|
All figures in millions of tonnes
Reference data for summary tables
GDP provides insight into the relative strength of the belligerents in the run up to, and during the conflict.
|Soviet Union Total||359||366||417||359||274||305||362||343|
|United States Total||824||893||968||1118||1259||1423||1523||1498|
|German Reich Total||351||461||817||1145||1150||856||681||310|
- Billions of international dollars, at 1990 prices. Adjusted annually for changing compositions within each alliance.
- France to Axis: 1940:50% (light green), 1941-44:100% (brown)
- USSR to Allies: 1941:44% (light green), 1942-1945:100%.
- US direct support to the Allies begins with Lend Lease in March 1941, though the US made it possible for the Allies to purchase US-produced materiel from 1939
- Italy to Allies and Axis: 1938:0%, 1939-1943:100% Axis (brown), 1944-1945:100% Allies
- Japanese to Axis begins with Tripartite Pact in 1940
- The Allied and Axis totals are not the immediate sum of the table values; see the distribution rules[clarification needed] used above.
Personnel - Allied - British Empire
Including all non-British subjects in British services.
|Army||Army (female)||Navy||Navy (female)||Marines||Air Force||Air Force (female)||Auxiliary||Merchant marine||Partisans||Total combat||Other labour|
|Free Belgian Forces||42,300||1,200||1,900||45,770||370|
|B. Indian Ocean||6,500||6,500|
|Caribbean / Bermuda||10,000|
|Free French Forces||3,700||20||3,720|
- Auxiliary units include Home Guard, Reserves, Police regiments, etc.
Personnel - Axis - German Reich
Including all non-German subjects in German services.
|Army||Army (female)||Navy||Navy (female)||Marines||Air Force||Air Force (female)||Auxiliary||Merchant marine||Partisans||Total combat||Other labour|
|France & territories||8,000||4,500||5,080||17,580||348,500|
|Germany & territories||14,793,200||1,500,000||3,400,000||19,693,200|
- Auxiliary units include Home Guard, Wehrmachtsgefolge, Reserves, Police regiments, etc.
- USSR includes Armenia 4k SS,14k Wehr, 7k Aux; Azerbaijan 55k SS, 70k Wehr; Belarus 12k Wehr, 20k Aux; Cossack 200k Wehr; Estonia 20k SS, 50k Wehr, 7k Aux; Georgia 10k SS; 30k Wehr; Kalmyk 5k Wehr; Latvia 55k SS; 87k Wehr, 300 Air, 23k Aux; Lithuania 50k Wehr, 10 Aux; North Caucuses 4k SS; Russia 60k SS, 26k Wehr; Turkestan 16k Wehr; Ukrainian 300k Wehr; 2k Aux; Tatar/Urals 12k Wehr
Aircraft - Allied - British Empire
Within the UK, initially aircraft production was very vulnerable to enemy bombing. To expand and diversify the production base the British setup "Shadow factories". These brought other manufacturing companies - such as vehicle manufacturers - into aircraft production, or aircraft parts production. These inexperienced companies were set up in groups under the guidance or control of the aircraft manufacturers. New factory buildings were provided with government money.
Aircraft - Allies - France, Poland and minor powers
Production numbers until the time of the German occupation of the respective country. Some types listed were in production before the war, those listed were still in production at the time of or after the Munich crisis.
Aircraft - Axis - All
Occupied countries produced weapons for the Axis powers. Figures are for the period of occupation only.
- Allied technological cooperation during World War II
- Combined Food Board
- Combined Munitions Assignments Board
- Combined Raw Materials Board
- Combined Shipping Adjustment Board
- American armored fighting vehicle production during World War II
- British armoured fighting vehicle production during World War II
- German armored fighting vehicle production during World War II
- Soviet armored fighting vehicle production during World War II
- United States aircraft production during World War II
- Forced labour under German rule during World War II
- Technology during World War II
- the five King George V class were started prior to war, a further four battleships were cancelled to make resources available for construction of other ships (Gazarke & Dulin)
- Two battlecruisers of Kronshtadt-class laid down but never progressed
- The majority of Blenheims were built as light bombers
- Total includes 140 unarmed Defiants produced as target tugs
- Pre-war production. 165 additional to export customers. Sea Gladiator conversions and production listed in Sea Gladiator entry.
- includes post-war production
- Includes some post-war production and conversions of Spitfires
- changed to ground attack role during war
- up to 1942 the Hurricane was chiefly used as a fighter aircraft
- includes transport and Coastal Command reconnaissance versions
- Includes pre-war production
- Blenheim variant, includes 457 produced as trainers
- light bomber/transport used in Middle East and Mediterranean theatres
- assault gliders generally not reusable following use
- Initially used as light bomber e.g. during Battle of France
- Including: Arpin A-1 (1) , Airspeed Cambridge (2), Airspeed Fleet Shadower (1), Avro Tudor (2), Blackburn B-20 (1), Boulton Paul P.92 (1), Burnelli CBY-3 (2), CAC Woomera, Australia (2), Chrislea Airguard (1) , de Havilland Dove (1), de Havilland T.K.5 (1) , Fairey Spearfish (5), Fane F.1/40 (1), General Aircraft Cagnet (1), General Aircraft Owlet (1), General Aircraft Fleet Shadower (1), General Aircraft GAL.47 (1), General Aircraft GAL.55 (2), General Aircraft GAL.56 (4), Canadian Car and Foundry FDB-1, Canada (1), Gloster F.5/34 (2) , Gloster F.9/37 (2) , Handley Page Manx (1), Hawker Hotspur (1), Hawker Tornado (4), Miles M.20 (2), Miles X Minor (1), Miles M.35 (1), Miles M.39 (1), Miles LR 5 (1), Parnall 382 (1), Reid and Sigrist R.S.1/2 (2), Saro A33 (1), Saro Shrimp (1), Short Shetland (2), Supermarine Type 322 (2), Vickers Type 432 (1), Vickers VC.1 Viking (1), Vickers Windsor (3)
- includes: CCF Maple Leaf Trainer II (2 plus 10 built in Mexico )
- includes: Folland Fo.108 engine test bed (12), General Aircraft Cygnet (10), General Aircraft Monospar ST-25 (30)[clarification needed], Hawker Henley (200)[clarification needed], Hawker Sea Fury (10), Miles M.15 (2), Miles M.18 (3) , Miles Mercury (6), Percival Petrel (27), Percival Vega Gull (~20), Supermarine Spiteful fighter (19)
- Delivered to France.
- First prototype incomplete by German occupation.
- Only 1 (designated P.11g) used by Poland in 1939. The remaining ones were exported to various Balkan countries.
- Around 200 more airframes were in advanced production stage.
- not counting uncompleted PZL.50
- Production was started in Denmark, but not completed before the German invasion.
- Originally an advanced fighter-training aircraft, this type was later used as a light attack plane, in particular by the Air Force of the Independent State of Croatia.
- not counting P.4/34
- According to some sources license production started in Denmark but not completed before the German invasion.
- All but 5 delivered to Bulgaria.
- Prototypes that were used in combat.
- Never entered service
- Number refers to production resumed after German occupation.
- Produced shortly before the war and mainly used for testing and propaganda purposes.
- Conversion from MS.406/410.
- Conversion from MS.406.
- Produced before the war and 2 used by Japanese for testing.
- All produced before the war, but used until 1944.
- Only 90 German-built Me 210 were completed and delivered, about 100 Hungarian-built were supplied to Germany
- Also used as a fighter and for reconnaissance
- Produced for Germany after German occupation.
- Only bomber versions listed here.
- Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, p. IX, Random House, New York, NY, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4000-6964-4.
- Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, p. 7, Cypress, CA, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9897906-0-4.
- Wrynn, V. Dennis. Forge of Freedom: American Aircraft Production in World War II, pp. 4-5, Motorbooks International, Osceola, WI, 1995. ISBN 0-7603-0143-3.
- Baldwin, Ralph B. The Deadly Fuze: Secret Weapon of World War II, pp. 4-6, 11, 50, 279, Presidio Press, San Rafael, California, 1980. ISBN 978-0-89141-087-4.
- Kumanev, G.A., "War and the evacuation of the USSR: 1941-1942", New Age, 2006
- Sawyer, L. A. and Mitchell, W. H. The Liberty Ships: The History of the "Emergency" Type Cargo Ships Constructed in the United States During the Second World War, Second Edition, pp. vii, 1-8, Lloyd's of London Press Ltd., London, England, 1985. ISBN 1-85044-049-2.
- Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, pp. 5, 7, Cypress, CA, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9897906-0-4.
- Parker, Dana T. Building Victory: Aircraft Manufacturing in the Los Angeles Area in World War II, p. 8, Cypress, California, 2013. ISBN 978-0-9897906-0-4.
- "Financial Calculators". dollartimes.com.
- Mitchell, B.R. British Historical Statistics, 1988[page needed]
- Dialogue on Aluminium 110 years of history in Canada approximation
- Baker The New Zealand People at War: War Economy 1965[page needed]
- Lend Lease as a Function of the Soviet war Economy
- Accounting for War: Soviet Production, Employment and the Defense Burden, 1940-1945 Mark Harrison, 1996
- Including 23.4 synthetic.
- Volume 3 -The Effects of Strategic Bombing on the German War Economy 1940-1944 only, retrieved June 8, 2014
- "Comparison of GDP adjusted for actual yearly shared contribution to war efforts after Zuljan, Ralph, Allied and Axis GDP", "Articles On War", OnWar.com, 2003, retrieved June 8, 2014
- Harrison, 1998
- General Article: Foreign Affairs, pbs.org
- Rose, Patrick (2012). The Indian Army, 1939–47: Experience and Development. Routledge.
- Granatstein, Dr. J. L. (May 27, 2005). "ARMING THE NATION: CANADA'S INDUSTRIAL WAR EFFORT, 1939-1945" (PDF). Canadian Council of Chief Executives. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
- Baugher "Hawk 75A-5 for China" 1999
- Ethell, Jeffrey L. and Steve Pace. Spitfire. St. Paul, Minnesota: Motorbooks International, 1997. ISBN 0-7603-0300-2. p117
Personnel -Allied - British Empire
- "Wings of Thunder - Wartime RAF Veterans Flying in From Argentina" (Press release). London: PRNewswire - The Anglo-Argentine Society in conjuction with the Argentine Embassy. April 6. Check date values in:
- Second World War Official Histories
- Australia 2
- "Facts & Information" Canada at War July 4, 2009
- Colonel C.P. Stacey. "Chapter XIX Conclusion". Repatriation and Demoblization. The Canadian Army 1939-1945: An Official Historical Summary.
- Daniel Owen Spence, Imperial Loyalties, 'Imagined Communities' and 'Britishness': The Royal Navy and the Cayman Islands
- Marika Sherwood (30 March 2011), Colonies, Colonials and World War Two, BBC History
- Gillespie, Oliver A. "I: New Zealand's Responsibility" The Pacific Historical Publications Branch, 1952, Wellington (The Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–1945)
- "Officers Database FAQ" bharat-rakshak.com
- India 3 idsa.in
- India Pioneers defencejournal.com
- India RIAF
- Malay 2
- Merchant Navy
- Netherlands 2
- New Zealand
- Saunders, Hilary St. George (1954), "Volume III The Fight Is Won", Royal Air Force 1939-1945, London: HMSO
- South Africa 2
- South Africa 3
- South Africa 4
- Martin Plaut (11 March 2014), African troops who fought in World War Two, Martin Plaut
- West Africa 2
- West Africa 3
- "Fact File : Commonwealth and Allied Forces", WWII Peoples War, BBC
Personnel - Axis
This includes all German and non-German subjects serving within German Reich forces.
- Croatia 2, Munoz 1996
- Croatia 3, Tomasevich 2001
- Croatia, feldgrau.com
- Daniel Laurent, French Volunteers in the Wehrmacht in WWII, feldgrau.com
- Germany, feldgrau.com
- Poland 2
- Lt. Gen Wladyslaw Anders and Antonio Munoz, Russian Volunteers in the German Wehrmacht in WWII, feldgrau.com
- The Latvian Squadrons in the Luftwaffe, Latvianaviation.com
- Volunteers, Ailsby 2004
- Volunteers 2
- Volunteer Pilots
Aircraft - Allied
Aircraft - Axis
- Dressel and Griehl 1994
- Encyclopedia of weapons of World War Two
- Francillon 1970
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft, 1985
- Jane's 1989
- Mondey 1996
- Smith and Anthony ?
- The Mineral Industry of the British Empire and Foreign Countries, Statistical Summary 1938-1944, The Imperial Institute, HMSO, 1948
- The Mineral Industry of the British Empire and Foreign Countries, Statistical Summary 1941-1947, The Imperial Institute, HMSO, 1949
- History of the Second World War (104 volumes), Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London 1949 to 1993
- Official History of Australia in the War of 1939–1945 (22 volumes), Australian Government Printing Service, 1952 to 1977
- Official History of the Canadian Army in the Second World War, Vol I Six Years of War, Stacey, C P., Queen's Printer, Ottawa, 1955
- Official History of the Indian Armed Forces in the Second World War 1939-45 (24 volumes), Combined Inter-Services Historical Section, India & Pakistan, New Delhi, 1956-1966
- Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939–45, Historical Publications Branch, Wellington, New Zealand, 1965
- Ailsby, Christopher, Hitler's Renegades: Foreign Nationals in the Service of the Third Reich (Photographic Histories), Potomac Books, 2004
- Barnett, Correlli, The audit of war : the illusion & reality of Britain as a great nation, Macmillan, 1986
- Barnes, C.H.; James D.N. Shorts Aircraft since 1900, London, Putnam, 1989
- Bishop, Chris, The Encyclopaedia of Weapons of World War II, Sterling Publishing, 2002
- Bowyer, Michael J.F. Aircraft for the Royal Air Force: The "Griffon" Spitfire, The Albemarle Bomber and the Shetland Flying-Boat, London, Faber & Faber, 1980
- Boyd, David, (2009) "Wartime Production by the Commonwealth during WWII" British Equipment of the Second World War
- Boyd, David (2009), "British Production of Aircraft By Year During The Second World War", British Equipment of the Second World War
- Butler, Tony. British Secret Projects: Fighters and Bombers 1935–1950. Hinckley, UK: Midland Publishing, 2004
- Canada at War, "The Canadian War Industry"
- Dressel, Joachim and Manfred Griehl. Bombers of the Luftwaffe. London: DAG Publications, 1994
- Flint, Keith, Airborne Armour: Tetrarch, Locust, Hamilcar and the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment 1938-1950. Helion & Company Ltd., 2006
- Francillon, René J., Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War, London, Putnam, 1970
- Gregg, W.A ed., Canada’s Fighting Vehicles Europe 1943-1945, Canadian Military Historical Society, 1980
- Green, William. War Planes of The Second World War:Volume Seven - Bombers and Reconnaissance Aircraft. London: Macdonald, 1967
- Harrison, Mark, "The Economics of World War II: Six Great Powers in International Comparison", Cambridge University Press, 1998 (Author's overview)
- Herman, Arthur. Freedom's Forge: How American Business Produced Victory in World War II, Random House, New York, 2012
- The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985). London: Orbis Publishing, 1985
- Jackson, A.J., De Havilland Aircraft since 1909 (Third ed.), London, Putnam, 1987
- Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II, London, Studio Editions Ltd, 1989
- "Les luxembourgeois de la Brigade Piron". (in French) Armee.lu. Retrieved 29 June 2013
- Long, Jason, Lend Lease as a Function of the Soviet war Economy, sturmvogel.orbat.com, Retrieved June 12, 2014
- Mason, Francis K. The British Bomber since 1914, London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1994
- Milward, Alan S., War, economy, and society, 1939-1945, University of California Press, 1979
- Morgan, Eric B. "Albemarle" in Twentyfirst Profile, Volume 1, No. 11. New Milton, Hants, UK: 21st Profile Ltd.
- Munoz, A.J., For Croatia and Christ: The Croatian Army in World War II 1941–1945, Axis Europa Books,NY, 1996
- Mondey, David. The Concise Guide to Axis Aircraft of World War II. New York: Bounty Books, 1996
- Ness, Leland, Jane's World War II Tanks and Fighting Vehicles, The Complete Guide, Harper Collins, 2002
- Otway, Lieutenant-Colonel T.B.H. The Second World War 1939-1945 Army: Airborne Forces. London: Imperial War Museum, 1990
- Overy, Richard, Why the Allies Won (Paperback), W. W. Norton & Company, 1997
- Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies
- Smith, J.R. and Anthony L. Kay. German Aircraft of the Second World War. London: Putnam and Company Ltd.,
- Swanborough, Gordon. British Aircraft at War, 1939-1945. East Sussex, UK: HPC Publishing, 1997
- Tapper, Oliver. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft since 1913. London: Putnam, 1988
- Tomasevich, Jozo, War and Revolution in Yugoslavia, 1941–1945: Occupation and Collaboration 2. San Francisco: Stanford University Press, 2001
- Veterans Affairs Canada, "Canadian Production of War Materials"
- Wilson, Stewart, Aircraft of WWII, 1998
- Wrynn, V. Dennis. Forge of Freedom: American Aircraft Production in World War II, Motorbooks International, Osceola, WI, 1995
- Zuljan, Ralph, "Allied and Axis GDP" Articles On War OnWar.com (2003)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Military industrial production during World War II.|