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Soviet-Anglo/American Air War in the ruins of Europe

Discussion in 'What If - Other' started by demiurge, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. demiurge

    demiurge recruit

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    Hi! First thread, it's technically from 1945+ so I believe it fits the forum guidelines. Let me know if not!

    The potential for Soviet/Anglo-American conflict to extend WWII is obviously a popular what-if, in the category of 'my daddy can beat up your daddy.' :D

    I've looked through several of the previous discussions, and there was certainly quite a bit of insight there I hadn't considered before.

    I concur with the belief that the Soviets simply would have had too much of a material superiority in Western Europe for the Western Allies to have had much success. Assuming the European powers assisted (and if the Soviet juggernaut comes rolling West, that's a pretty likely scenario) you are still looking at a 3-1 advantage in divisions. While the Western Allies have some advantages on the ground (better communication, better logistics and transportation, more effective artillery due to doctrinal and technological advantages) in my mind they aren't likely to outweigh the Soviet advantages (more veteran units, some superior weapon systems such as the T-34, large usage of rockets and massive artillery barrages, and SMGs), especially considering the numerical discrepancy.

    So in my eyes that puts the ultimate success of a defense of Western Europe on achieving air superiority. Certainly that would not be an easy task against the Soviet Air Force that is extraordinarily large and by this point very competent tactically.

    In the early stages at least I would expect the Soviets to dominate the lower altitudes where their Yak-3s, La-9s and Il-2s were at their best, while the western forces dominated the upper altitudes where the P-51s were most dominant and the B-17s and soon B-29s would roam.

    And the US use of air power to break out of St. Lo in Operation Cobra would need to be employed in reverse, running interdiction missions to disrupt Soviet formations. Would the strategic bombers be capable of being tasked for tactical missions with any effect?

    I tend to think the Western Allies wouldn't be able to seize air superiority for several weeks, which would be very bad news for massively outnumbered ground troops at least in the initial stages of any Soviet thrust. Eventually they would, especially with the aid of the RAF, and I think logistics would keep the Soviets from seizing the entirety of Western Europe in the first month or so.

    Thought or comments welcome!
     
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  2. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Can you quantify that?
    Soviet divisions were substantially smaller than US and British divisions even when at book strength. Many Soviet divisions were well under book strength.
    The T-34 and Sherman are so close in capabilities that it's really hard to say which is superior. If pressed I'd give a slight edge to the Sherman.
    The Soviet artillery was relativly inflexable and the use of massive barages especially with rockets constitutes a severe logistics burden. SMGs were only effective at relativly short ranges.
    If the Western bombers can't reach Soviet industry the question is what do they hit? The obvious targets are Soviet airbases, logisitcs centers, and troop concentrations. Hitting these targets forces the Soviet airforce to come up and play with the Western airforces in a region where they are most capable and have a lot of experiance. I suspect the western airforces would achieve air superiority much quicker than you think. Also while many of the AA units were being disbanded by the US anyway their equimpent was vastly better than what the Soviets faced vs the Germans.
    Yes.
    Logistics would likely result in a complete collapse of the Soviets by late 45. They were facing a severe short fall in food (as was western Europe the west just had more access to food supplies and more logistics). The lack of lend lease would also result in considerable disruption over time. They could make up for some of the losses but only by changing over production which means they run short elsewhere. If they launch a surprise attack they might gain some impressive short term advances but they won't last long.
     
  3. tikilal

    tikilal Ace

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    Here we go again.

    Well my daddy can.

    We are now in the area of opinions so no one is completely wrong. While the Soviets would have been able to take the initiative early on this would only have lasted for half a year at the most. I give them the ability to get to the Rhine but no further.

    Why? Because of their ability to move supplies and provide all the needs to wage a war. The major mover of supplies in the Red army was US supplied trucks. There was no industrial base to build them in the USSR, they were too busy building tanks. Every offensive from 44 on came to a stop not because of the Germans but because of poor supply. Once the Soviets start fighting the US, there would be no more trucks and I dont think anyone doubts the ability of the US to destroy trucks from the air.

    Next food. The USSR was dependent on lend lease for food. Even with the Ukraine back under their control it would have been the end of 46 before they could have produced a crop, assuming they had the man power to spare to do this.

    Air power. Even if the US had only been able to use its high altitude superiority this would have been more then enough to turn the tide in Europe. The Germans were expert at repairing and running railroads, the Soviets, not so much. in late 45 the railroads, which would have been needed to move supplies, men, and equipment forward were a mess, and the US would have been able to continue their bombing of these installations. The Russians would have had to learn fast or be completely isolated from their industrial base. With no fuel and spares the Red air force would have been quickly beaten.

    Had this event happened the war against Japan would have been put on the back burner as Japan by 45 was largely isolated and impotent. This would allow for several courses of action. 1) similar end of Japan. 2) invasion by the US into Vladivostok and Manchuria. Either way Russia would have been facing enemies on both sides. had nothing been done in the Pacific theater this would allow the US to focus on Europe. Both are bad situations for the Red Army.

    Nuclear weapons. The contest only remains interesting as long as you dont allow the US to nuke the USSR, which they would have.

    Final note, if Stalin thought he could have won he would have done it.
     
  4. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    I think the Soviet tank formations would have been severely punished by US tank destroyer battalions. At this stage of the war, the Sherman 76mm and the Sherman Firefly were very common and nearly half of the machines (if I remember correctly).
     
  5. Gen.grant

    Gen.grant Member

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    If the American and British used captured Nazi equipment to the greatest potentioal then the GB/US would have a much stronger base of tanks then there Shermans alone
     
  6. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    And why is that? What equipment ? There really wasn't very much at the end of the war left. The Allies,especially the US, had more then enough AFVs and equipment.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm not at all sure about this. For one thing in July of 44 the European command request all tank destroyers be upgraded to M36s. For another the US usually didn't let tank destroyers run around on their own so you'd get US infantry, tanks, and arty as well. The Soviets had never run into (well possibly in Finland) arty as responsive as that of the Western allies. The US was also sending Pershings to Europe by that point. But back to the tank destroyers. They were actually designed to defeat tanks in a flexible defensive role. Combined with arty and I think they could have give a Soviet tank formation a very hard time.

    Note also that the Soviets produced almost no locomotives during the last couple years of the war. For that as well as most of their rolling stock and rails they relied on the US. What's coming from Siberia and up from Iran isn't going to be nearly as helpful if the two countries go to war.
     
  8. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    The thing to remeber is that the one and only trait that all of the allied commanders shared, to a man, was the distrust/ dislike of the Russians. They would not have stood a chance.

    I think your assesment of the Soviet Materiel advantage is skewed.

    Tanks and self-propelled guns

    Soviet Union = 105,251 (92,595)

    United States = 88,410 (71,067)
    United Kingdom = 27,896
    Canada = 5,678

    Total Allied: 121,984

    Note: Number in parenthesis equals the number of tanks and self-propelled guns equipped with main weapons of 75 mm calibre or larger. Smaller producing countries do not have this differentiation.


    Artillery includes anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons with calibres above 37 mm.
    1. Soviet Union = 516,648
    2. United States = 257,390
    3. Germany = 159,147
    4. United Kingdom = 124,877
    5. Japan = 13,350
    6. Canada = 10,552
    7. Italy = 7,200
    8. Other Commonwealth = 5,215
    9. Hungary = 447
    Mortars (over 60 mm)
    1. Soviet Union = 200,300
    2. United States = 105,055
    3. United Kingdom = 102,950
    4. Germany = 73,484
    5. Commonwealth = 46,014
    Machineguns
    Machineguns do not include sub-machineguns, or machine guns used for arming aircraft.
    1. United States = 2,679,840
    2. Soviet Union = 1,477,400
    3. United Kingdom = 297,336
    4. Canada = 251,925
    5. Other Commonwealth = 37,983
    Military trucks
    1. United States = 2,382,311
    2. Canada = 815,729
    3. United Kingdom = 480,943
    4. Soviet Union = 197,100
    And then you have the Natural Material Resources.

    Materials

    Coal
    In millions of metric tons
    1. Germany = 2,420.3
    2. United States = 2,149.7
    3. United Kingdom = 1,441.2
    4. Soviet Union = 590.8
    5. Japan = 184.5
    6. Canada = 101.9
    7. Italy = 16.9
    8. Hungary = 6.6
    9. Romania = 1.6
    Iron Ore
    In millions of metric tons
    1. United States = 396.9
    2. Germany = 240.7
    3. United Kingdom = 119.3
    4. Soviet Union = 71.3
    5. Japan = 21.0
    6. Hungary = 14.1
    7. Romania = 10.8
    8. Italy = 4.4
    9. Canada = 3.6
    Crude OilIn millions of metric tonnes
    1. United States = 833.2
    2. Soviet Union = 110.6
    3. United Kingdom = 90.8
    4. Germany = 33.4 (including 23.4 synthetic)
    5. Romania = 25.0
    6. Canada = 8.4
    7. Japan = 5.2
    8. Hungary = 3.2
    The aircraft you cite are derived from Allied and German designs : Spitfire/Mustang/ , Stuka, FW190.

    Fighter aircraft
    1. United States = 99,950
    2. United Kingdom = 49,422
    3. Soviet Union = 63,087
    Bomber aircraft

    1. United States = 97,810
    2. United Kingdom = 34,689
    3. Soviet Union = 21,116

    Transport aircraft
    1. United States = 23,929
    2. United Kingdom = 1,784
    3. Soviet Union = 17,332
    The Heavy bombers not so much; however, the Medium Bombers B-25, B-26, A-20, would wreak havoc on Russian ground forces and armored columns.


    You forget the enormous amount of resources the US had in the Pacific that could have been redirected at Russia. There was already an allied logistics chain in place that could have been used to support an allied advance through eastern Russia.

    At the close of hostilities Russia was surrounded on all sides and being supplied through "Lend Lease". Don't forget that Re-Arming the Germans, to fight the Russians, was possible; however, unlikely.

    cited references:
    Military production during World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Brad
     
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  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Actually I believe the few times that heavies were used to saturation bomb army formations they were quite effective. One of the problems is that one of the first times they tried it some US units were in the strike area.

    I also notice you left out the French who should be included if you are looking at the western allies.
     
  10. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    I reacted to his mention of the use of "Strategic Bombers" in a "Tactical Role" and assumed he meant in "Close Air Support". I imagined a B-29 dropping delayed action bombs from 250 feet with a nose full of .50 Cal and 40mm chewing up everything in its path. It would be an amazing sight.


    It was not my intention to malign the French. While they were included in the cited reference, I removed them from my post as I felt their resources had already been all but depleted by the Germans.
     
  11. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    I think its safe to say that one's nationalistic pride would be the ultimate factor in determining who the winner of this fictional scenario would be. ;)
     
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  12. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude Patron  

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    Let's just be grateful that nothing like this happened. Does anyone know of any close calls during this period shortly after the end of the war? I am familiar with the Berlin Blockade crisis, but that is just about it. Any help?
     
  13. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    My comment about fireflies and 76mm's directed towards US tank battalions. Tank destroyers had the M36 with 90mm gun, and would have been quite formidable against massed Soviet tank assaults.
     
  14. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    People don't get this.

    Strategically, the USSR was well pass spent. The Red Army was scraping the bottom of its manpower barrel. The US mobilization had not begin slow down its economy. The US could afford more rounds of military mobilization. Russia could not.

    Russia as of 1945 had pathetic aluminum production and its aircrafts flew on American high octane. If there was a war, all of those resources that propped up Russian economy will dry up.

    In terms of front line combat strength, if memory serves, the Russians had over 500 divisions against Eisenhower's 90, but almost all Russian divisions were down to half the size of its Western counterpart. The Russians nearly achieved the magic number for the attacker, 3:1, assuming equal troops. The STAVKA was however observing a general decline in the quality of its infantrymen by 1945. The US Army did not.

    In weaponry the Russians had no technological edge whatsoever. Actually, the difference in medium tank performance was minimal and in grand strategy, such minutiae is of no relevance.

    Russian artillery was significantly inferior to US artillery in lethality due to rigid fire control structure and slow fire direction. This neutralized Soviet numbers. With their fire control, could they even duel allied artillery in counter-battery fire? I have my doubts.

    To me, that Russian aircrafts had no high-altitude capability means that they had not even begin to grasp the strategic application of air power. The Allies and the Germans built high performance fighters because when strategic bomber is in play, the defender must go up and dance to the attackers tune. Tactically, a low-flying fighter is in disadvantage even if he is the better turn fighter, because he had conceded the initiative and SA by flying at a lower altitude.

    It is an equal contest, at the very least.
     
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  15. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    Besides that, this what if has no value beyond comparing the armed forces of the early Cold War. It would be insane for anyone of the major powers to fight again at 1946, 47 and much later.
     
  16. formerjughead

    formerjughead The Cooler King

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    Thank God Wikipedia is free and easily accessable. I found a chart that compares the 1939 World Census to deaths during WW2 and has it broken down by country. I didn't do the math for Eastern Europe; but, they took a shelacking.

    World War II casualties - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    The US had an untapped resource with from which to draw to feed into a post war eastern european wood chipper of world domenance if the need were to arise.

    I am thinking that Harry would have given the green light to drop a few more "special weapons" before things got too out of hand with the Russians.

    The one "Wild Card" in the equation is China and how would they have responded to a Soviet plea of assistance?
     
  17. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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    From my Blue on Blue thread I created,
    http://www.ww2f.com/weapons-wwii/22475-friendly-air-air-kills-blue-blue-incidents.html

    Soviet
    Ml.Lt. Zizevskii ,14 IAP, 29/Aug/1945, damaged and forced to land 1 USAF B-29 while flying Yak-9

    Yugoslavia
    por. Dragomir Zecevic , zas. Dragan Stanisavljevic.254. puk,.9/Aug/1946. claimed 1 USAAF C-47 while flying Yak-3


    Vladimir Vodopivec, Milorad Knezev.254. puk. 19/Sep/1946. claimed 1 USAAF C-47 while flying Yak-3

    Zeljko Cermelj. 111. puk. 1946. RAF C-47 forced to land while flying Yak-3
     
  18. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    Especially with the brand-new and revolutionary HVAP ammuntion that was coming off the assembly lines in ever growing numbers.
     
  19. Triple C

    Triple C Ace

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    1. Well, that I am not sure of. After Hiroshima and Nagasaki the US had a sum total of zero atomic bombs. More is down the pipeline, of course.

    2. Very little, methinks. China was in a state of civil strife. Jiang and Mao would sooner kill each other than become involved in a hypothetical new round of blood shedding amongst the great power.
     
  20. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude Patron  

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    Thanks again JC. You always seem to have what's needed. Much obliged. Seems that the fog of war was more than clouds at times. I've bookmarked it for future reference.
     

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