November 1931

The Wizard War, 1939-1945


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More than any other war in human history until the Gulf War, the Second World War was a war of technolo. Incredible advances changed the very nature of the warfare forever

The 1930’s was a period of military and technological stagnation due to the reduced budgets brought on by the depression. Many nations, especially Germany, developed plans in secret that represented radical departures from traditional military thinking.

The Spanish Civil War allowed Germany to test and implement what the world came to know as Blitzkrieg. Many of the aircraft in Spain served with the Luftwaffe throughout the war in updated versions.

The Allies were slow to implement new technologies, faced with shrinking defense budgets in the 1930’s, and shrinking military intellect since World War I.Most of the British and French aircraft, and even the American aircraft, were fabric-covered biplanes as the Germans were developing and fighting all-metal monoplanes.

The French High Command in the spring of 1940 still relied on the same communications system used in World War I: motorcycle dispatch.The German Panzer legions mounted radios in each tank, and constantly provided their central commands with radio updates.

Throughout the war, the Germans and the Allies implemented more and more technology to gain an advantage over their enemy.Here are some of the more notable technological achievements from both sides.

The Ultra Secret

The Allies found a way to exploit the German radio communication.In September 1939 the Poles, on the verge of collapse, created a German Enigma machine and it was taken to France and eventually England.Virtually all the German military and diplomatic radio traffic were encoded with this device, which used a complicated system of gears and rotors to recode messages into 200 quintillion combinations.The rotor settings were easily changed, and if used properly, could not be broken.

The Poles also developed a computer, called a ’Bombe,’ that could read codes by changing rotor combinations.Also, operator error increased the chances of breaking the code and reading the message.But simply possessing the Enigma machine was not enough.The German messages had to be radio intercepted first.

The British dubbed the codebreaking the ’Ultra’ Secret, for months of work could be undone if the Germans found out their codes were cracked.The nondescript mansion at Bletchley Park, 40 miles north of London, became the center of Allied codebreaking.Radio masts popped up all over the grounds, and operators slept and worked around the clock in shifts.

The Ultra Secret was of immeasurable value to the Allies, if the commanders were able to take advantage of it. Thousands of messages flew around the Third Reich, and it took time to process them all. Sometimes commanders who did not have Ultra clearance did not fully appreciate the accuracy of the information; sometimes commanders who knew of the source simply did not believe it.In a hard choice, the Allies sometimes allowed the Germans to proceed with an attack, even though they knew about it through Ultra information. The Ultra Secret was considered so important it could not be compromised to protect the lives of a few ships or planes or even whole cities. Even though thousands of lives might be at stake.

The Allies used Ultra to warn of U-boat Wolf Packs, major offensives on all fronts, and to read diplomatic transmissions. Naval hunter-killer groups were tasked with retrieving German U-boat Enigmas, and the U-110 capture in 1941 by the Royal Navy and the U-505 captured in 1944 by the US Navy helped to further Enigma research.

The Germans added a fourth and then a fifth wheel to Enigma, and Bletchley Park, staffed with 10,000 American and British mathematicians and codebreakers, developed an improved Bombe called Colossus. By 1944 ten Colossus machines were working on German codebreaking at Bletchley Park, operated by Royal Navy Wrens, women sailors.

As the Allies came closer to Germany, the amount of radio traffic decreased as more secure landlines were used to transmit orders, and the amount of Enigma traffic decreased.

Wonder Weapons

History of German Rocketry in WW II

Both the Allies and the Germans invested large amounts of resources and funds inventing new weapons. The most famous and effective wizard weapon was the atomic bomb. Driven by a fear that Nazi Germany would develop and use an atomic bomb first, physicist Albert Einstein wrote President Roosevelt in 1939 to warn him of the potential threat. US Army General Leslie Groves was tasked with creating the American program, which used a mix of eccentric academics and military spit-and-polish officers.

Raids on the German heavy water plants in Norway indicated that their program was behind the Americans, and emphasis switched to using the bomb on Japan after the German surrender.

The Germans were focusing on a number of weapons that were retaliatory in nature.

The V-weapons, or “vengeance” weapons, were high-technology guided and unguided missiles: the V-1 flying bomb began attacks on London and Antwerp, Belgium in the summer and fall of 1944, after the Allied landings. Randomly striking targets, the V-1s caused terror out of proportion to their damage, but killed hundreds. Soon the V-1s were supplemented with V-2 ballistic missiles, the first true medium-range guided missile. Developed at the Peenemünde missile complex, both missiles were soon out of range of London as the Germans fell back to their own borders. The V-3, a series of large guns built into the French cliffs and aimed at London, was never completed. Slave labor from the Nordhausen concentration camp was used to build the vengeance weapons, resulting in thousands of deaths from executions and starvations.

The other major German weapon was the Messerschmitt Me-262, the world’s first operational jet fighter. In the space of seven years, the world had gone from biplanes to jet propulsion. Mounting 30mm cannon, it was a capable fighter, but dangerous to the pilot if the fuel was not handled carefully. Furious over bomber attacks on Germany, Hitler ordered the aircraft to be used as a bomber, preventing its defensive use and saving many Allied bombers. Rare metals shortages grounded many planes. If the Me-262 had been introduced a year earlier, the Allied strategic bombing offensive would have been seriously compromised.

The Allies had very different opinions on the use of technology. American combat doctrine called for very heavy firepower to be used to smash a target, even if it could not be seen. This was contrary to the basic combat instruction that taught recruits to only fire at visible targets, but the Americans eschewed most tactical technological implementations. The British, however, developed many operational weapons, most notably under the inventor Barnes Wallis, who was an explosive expert. He developed the ’bouncing bomb’ that smashed Ruhr dams, and the ’Tallboy’ and ’Grand Slam’ very large bombs that destroyed submarine pens at Loríent and sank the battleship Tirpitz.

For the Normandy invasion, the British developed a number of new technologies, including flail tanks that set off mines, swimming dual-drive (DD) tanks, and carpet laying tanks. Called ’Funnies’ these tanks were not used by the Americans, except for the DD tanks. Other variants included the Churchill Armored Vehicle Royal Engineers (AVRE) that mounted a large mortar to assault concrete emplacements. Major implementations of new technology at Normandy included Pipe Line Under the Ocean (PLUTO) to provide the Allies with enough gas, and the Mulberry Harbors, artificial breakwaters Churchill insisted on building to facilitate landing men and materiel.

By the time the Allies landed in France, the tide of technological warfare had shifted to the Allies. Almost the entire Allied air force were modern designs created in 1940 or after. The Germans were still using the same designs created in the thirties. Also, the Germans developed several types for each role, diminishing the effectiveness of their armor and aircraft by making four or five types instead of one or two.


The use of radar in the battle of Britain was a critical factor in the British victory. The Germans, who did not have comparable radar in 1940, quickly developed better radar in the face of British night bombing raids.

Radar was mounted in every conceivable vehicle. Ships and planes carried radar sets, and mobile units with radar stations were sent to all fronts during the war. The German night fighters equipped with radar were effective hunter-killers of British and Commonwealth bombers, and the Allied use of radar to attack German U-boats turned the tide of battle.

Total War

Finally, the most decisive factor in the war was the total mobilization that the United States, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom underwent. Everything that could be manufactured was put on an assembly line, increasing production. All three countries called large numbers of women into factories, mobilizing them before war actually started in many cases. In contrast Germany never full mobilized, believing that German Aryan women should raise babies and be mothers, and Japan did not mobilize until 1944, closing universities and requiring everyone to do war work.

The use of woman combined with radical building techniques allowed the Allies to staggeringly outproduce the Axis on every level. The technological war required workers and resources, and to get them the Allies were willing to disrupt the social structure and the Axis was not. While this would have lasting consequences for the Allied nations in the form of the social protests of the 1950’s and 1960’s, women war workers ensured the survival and victory of the Allies.

The Wehrmacht

Unlike the American Army, the German Wehrmacht had a long standing professional officer corps that had experience going back to the Franco-Prussian War of 1871. While many American career officers had seen action in World War I, the vast majority entered combat for the first time.

Secretly, the Nazis built the 100,000 men allowed under the Versailles Treaty — for internal security — into a highly trained officer corps. The Night of Long Knives in 1934 ensured Army loyalty by removing the SA and its leader, Ernst Röhm.

By the eve of the Polish Campaign, the Wehrmacht had 2,000,000 men. The tactics that Heinz Guderian and others invented — Blitzkrieg — smashed through Poland, and then France and the Low Countries, Denmark, and much of Russia.

The Germans had enveloped themselves in precisely the situation Hitler warned about in Mein Kampf. Dividing their forces under two commands, Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) and Oberkommando des West (OKW.) The majority of men and materiel were sent to the Russian Front, duty detested by the regular army troops.

Casualties in the West had been very light, but thousands and then hundreds of thousands were killed. Nevertheless, Wehrmacht morale remained high, due in part to the Hitler Youth program, which placed emphasis on nationalistic ideals and group loyalty; personal loyalty to Hitler was above all. The Wehrmacht gained a reputation as an unbeatable foe, and the endurance of the German soldier was legendary. The stereotype was so powerful that even in 1944 Allied troops feared attacking German units without total numerical supremacy.

The centralization of authority was also a fatal flaw in German command doctrine. Unlike the independent authority units commanders and even noncommissioned officers had to alter or even abandon operational plans in the face of tactical needs, the German High Command often limited their commanders by requiring personal permission from Hitler in order to gain needed units or supplies.

In the orgy of violence that was perpetuated by the Nazis, the Gestapo or SS units like the Einsatzgruppen committed many atrocities. The Wehrmacht was not blameless; except for North Africa, were Rommel personally forbade reprisals, Germany Regular Army units shot and killed civilians and POWs in every theatre. The Wehrmacht was especially vicious in the Eastern Front.

Hitler, disdainful of the professional soldier, often overruled his commanders and sacked them for spurious reasons. After the July 20 plot to assassinate him, tens of thousands were executed or forced to commit suicide, including the able Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel.

Also in 1944 the huge manpower losses forced the drafting of thousands of young and old men into Volksgrenadier divisions that were under strength but had additional automatic weapons and Panzerfaust antitank weapons. They were the only men left available to replace the huge losses at Stalingrad, North Africa and elsewhere.

In the end, with constant air attack, huge armies with superior technology on both sides, the professional army of Germany tried to defend the borders of Germany. But without the ability to produce enough equipment, with millions dead, the Wehrmacht ceased to be the vaunted fighting force of legend.

Three Russian Army groups attacked Berlin on April 16, 1945, with 193 divisions and 2,500,000 men and women, 6250 tanks, 41,000 artillery guns and mortars, 4,200 rocket launchers, and 7,500 aircraft.Barely 85 German divisions faced them, with 1,000,000 soldiers, 1,500 tanks, and 10,000 guns.

Tired and undersupplied, the Germans fought hard to allow civilians to escape the Russians to the West.Surrender to the English or the Americans was preferable, as the bitter fighting on the Eastern Front meant that neither German or Soviet soldiers were inclined to accept prisoners.Many were simply shot.

"Fringe Science" is a label that history applies after the event to failures; successes are immediately transferred to the mainstream. What looks like ridiculous like fringe tinkering at the time may later be seen as pioneering genius.

Revolutionary advances tend to come from outside the mainstream. This is pretty much true by definition: if a concept is already in the mainstream then it will not be revolutionary.

Here are three cases of kooks who made good after years in the wilderness: the Spaceman, the Flyboy, and Mr. Death Ray.

Case one is the Spaceman, who spent his career dreaming of travel to other planets. He was suspicious of others and tended to work on his own, refusing to publish many of the details of his work. His report on how he spent a $5,000 grant from the Smithsonian was roundly mocked in the press -- especially the New York Times, which said he should go back and learn some high school physics. His biggest success was to send a craft a distance of 184 feet into a cabbage patch.

The Spaceman took his plans for giant weapons based on his space drive to the military, but nobody was convinced they were feasible. Twenty years earlier his idea for an infantry weapon - using a music stand - had also been shelved.

The Spaceman was in fact Robert Goddard, pioneer of the liquid-fuelled rocket. NASA's Goddard Space Center is named in his honor. Three years after the military turned him down, German V-2 rockets started raining down on London. The V-2 directly drew on Goddard's work from the 1920's; the Nazis had rounded up amateur rocket enthusiasts, who called themselves 'Society for Space Travel' and set them to building a weapon based on his liquid-fuelled design. Goddard's portable rocket was also resurrected - the shoulder-mounted rocket launcher, or Bazooka, became an important infantry weapon.

On July 17 1969 the day after Armstrong and Aldrin set foot on the moon, the New York Times published a correction to its 1920 story, accepting that Goddard was right: "it is now definitely established that a rocket can function in a vacuum as well as in an atmosphere. The Times regrets the error."

Case two is the Flyboy, a 22-year-old airman who was convinced he could build better aircraft engines than anything that existed at the time. When he took his designs to his superiors, he was told they were nothing new, and that better men with more experience had failed to get similar plans to work. The working temperatures were too high for any known material, the efficiencies required were too great, and the fuel consumption would be far too high.

"Very interesting my boy," one distinguished aeronautics professor remarked, "but it will never work."

The official rejection was scarcely less patronizing: "It must be remembered that a tremendous amount of work is being done, and you may rest assured the criticisms made of your scheme were made with the full knowledge of the results achieved by actual experiment."

The design was going nowhere. Five years later the patent lapsed; the military did not think it was worth renewing, and Flyboy could not afford the fee. He kept working at it though, building prototypes in a tiny workshop on a shoestring budget scraped together from family and friends.

The Flyboy was Frank Whittle, the jet engine pioneer, whose designs form the basis for almost all modern jet engines. He only started to get taken seriously when it became clear in 1939 that the Germans had flown a jet aircraft and were storming ahead in development. The RAF had thrown away a lead of several years: if Whittle had been taken seriously in 1929, the Battle of Britain might have been fought with jet aircraft instead of Spitfires.

Hans von Ohain, who developed jets in Germany, even suggested that WWII might not have happened if Britain possessed jets, as "Hitler would have doubted the Luftwaffe's ability to win."

Case 3 is the radio Death Ray. Rockets and jet engines may have attracted some ridicule, but death rays were even more absurd. When Marconi developed a directional radio transmitter in 1924, it seemed every crackpot in the word was building one.

One of the most notable self-publicists was Harry Matthews - known to the media as "Death Ray" Matthews - who claimed his apparatus could kill mice and shrivel plants at a distance, and that a weapon based on it would have a range of up to eight miles.

Although radio waves could do serious damage at close range, anything beyond a few feet was less plausible. In the US, the Army's Aberdeen Proving Ground offered a standing reward to anyone who could produce a death ray capable of killing a tethered goat. Britain's Air Ministry put up a similar prize to the inventor whose ray could kill a sheep at a range of a hundred yards.

Neither animal was ever seriously endangered.

So great was the public clamor for death rays in Britain that the Air Ministry appointed a committee to look into them. After considerable research, Dr. Robert Watson-Watt reported on February 4th, 1935 that although in theory it was possible to bring down an aircraft with a radio beam, the power required was far in excess of what was possible in practice.

Having done the work, the Ministry then asked Watson-Watt whether, in the absence of death rays, anything useful could be done with these radio beams. Watson-Watt had found that aircraft reflected radio waves, and he drew up a paper entitled "The Detection and Location of Aircraft by Radio Means."

Three weeks after the Death Ray paper, the first test was carried out, showing conclusively that an aircraft could be located from the radio waves it reflected. Radio direction finding, later known as Radar, became one of the RAF's most important tools and was kept strictly secret.

In each of these cases the breakthrough has come from outside the mainstream, and each of them has had a lasting impact. Goddard's rockets paved the way for satellite technology, global communications, GPS, and space imaging (can you imagine weather forecasts without satellite maps?). Whittle's jet engine revolutionized air travel, and we now take for granted out ability to fly the world quickly and cheaply. An although the death-ray enthusiasts were on the wrong track entirely, they were responsible for radar and the related rise in radio-frequency technology, including everything from microwave ovens to lasers.

Revolutionary progress is always going to involve going beyond the mainstream, because if something is in the mainstream already it is part of the slow process of incremental change. It is only the outsiders – often working alone and without sufficient funding - who can bring in those radical innovations.

It's easy to laugh at new ideas, whether they are space rockets, giant electronic brains - or manned flight. Supposed experts in the relevant field often reject such ideas out of hand, not bothering to look closely at the data, and dismiss them as impossible.

But it's surprising how quickly these impossible things become commonplace. We live in an age where robotic terminators taking out terrorists by remote control from thousands of miles away with laser-guided weapons are a routine news story.

Small incremental improvements based on existing ideas are never going to produce the weapons which give decisive advantages like ballistic missiles, jet engines and radar.

The German war machine went unchallenged until early to mid 1942. During that period of time the Western allies launched twin stratigic bombing campaigns, the USAAF by day and the RAF by night. Massive formations of heavy bombers started to bombard areas of German industry, mainly the Ruhr (the industrial heart of Germany). With the loss of factories and machinery due to the bombing, Germany struggled to set up mass production lines to build key wonder-weapons such as the Tiger, King Tiger, Panzerkampfwagen E-100 (heaviest tank created to date), the ME 262, the ME 163 Komet (Rocket plane), The Horten flying wing (Gotha GO 229) *first aircraft to achieve stealth*, the Arado AR-234 C3 (first four engined jet bomber), and the V2 rocket.

Hitler's many blunders were what ultimately doomed Germany's fate in the war. In 1940 he halted the German sweep through France to "regroup" as the both the French and British army's escaped back to England. He decided to put the "Battle of Britain" in the hands of Herman Göring who had no experience as a commander or war tactician. The invasion of England was called off which would have prevented the USAAF and RAF from ever bombing Germany. Hitler took matters in his own hands during the battle for Stalingrad. He pushed towards the city with great speed and effectiveness, but did not reinforce his flanks. A quarter million men and enough supplies for a quarter of the German army were lost.....

The Tiger tank was introduced before the Battle of Stalingrad. Without the allied bombing of German factories, the proper tooling and machinery would have been set up to mass produce the tank and other revolutionary weapons. It might have been produced in such numbers to affect the outcome of Stalingrad, the War on the Eastern front, and might have achieved victory for Germany in WWII. The awesome power of the Tiger tank was demonstrated countless times throughout the war. It was not uncommon to see a lone Tiger against an entire tank division, and having the Tiger as the victor.

Wittmann’s Tiger I In Villers-Bocage

On the morning of Jun 13th, 1944, just north of the Norman village of Villers-Bocage, Tiger company commander Obstf Michael Wittmann, already a legend from the Easter Front, single-handedly took on a column of the British 7th Armoured Division, and literally destroyed it, so forestalling General Montgomery's planned unhinging of the
Wehrmacht's Caen defense

Take the legendary battle of Villers Bocage with Michael Wittmann of Tiger No. 222 against the British 7th armoured column "Desert Rats". During this short engagement, Wittmann destroyed 4 Sherman Fireflys, 20 Cromwells, 3 Stuarts, 3 M4 Shermans, 14 half-tracks, 16 Bren Carriers and 2 6 pdr anti-tank guns.

On the road from Bollersdorf to Strausberg stood a further 11 Stalin tanks, and away on the egde of the village itself were around 120-150 enemy tanks in the process of being refuelled and re-armed. I opened fire and destroyed first and last of the 11 Stalin tanks on the road....My own personal score of enemy tanks destroyed in this action was 39.

~SS-Hauptscharführer Karl Körner, Schwere SS Panzer Abteilung (103) 503 / III SS Panzer Corps

It should be noted that production of some critical weaponry was not overly affected by the allied bombing. The Tiger I for example started out at 25 units/month in August 1942, and then peaked at 104 units/month in April 1944! The Bf-109G peaked at 755 units in the month of October 1944! Over 14,000 Bf-109Gs were built in 1944 alone despite the attacks on Messerschmitt factories in the same year. The key shortage factor for the Germans in the last year of the war was not weaponsl, but gas, and oil-based products, and not to mention seasoned soldiers and crews.

The only secret weapons to enter any kind of mass production were the V1 and V2. All the others came too late, and production priorities were given to other existing systems. It wasn't until the war was turning against Germany that the new super weapons were given the necessary funding for full development. But again it was too late, and time was against them. The King Tiger was a classic example of this. Rushed in development, and hence underpowered when it arrived in service, it, while powerful, was slow and unreliable. It first appeared on the front in mid 1944, too late to make a difference. Then only about 490 were built! The Me 262 was another example. The potential for that jet fighter was there, but not fully exploited due to bureaucratic bungling, and the fact that the axial jet engine technology had not been fully perfected. Again it too did not enter full service until mid 1944, again too late to make a difference. And again, only a small number actually made it into combat.

A couple of things Hitler should have HAD done:

Expedited final development of the Me 262, and put it into production in the late Summer, or early Autumn of 1943. Then reduce orders for the Me 109 in favour of the Me 262.

Ditch all Panzer IV production in late 1943 in favour of the Panther, and also later on the Jagdpanther. Dump the Tiger II program for increased Tiger I production, and have Panzer regiments fitted with Panther & Tiger I battalions only.

The Heinkel HE 280 (Father of the ME 262) Jet fighter first took flight on April 2nd, 1941. Despite all its power, at a time when it would have been utterly invincible, and despite the fact that the Heinkel HE 280 roundly trounced an Fw190 in early 1942, (a mock dogfight) the German High Command showed no interest. Had the He 280 become operational, it would have had no possible opposition, and at a time when the Third Reich was at its wartime peak. It would have swept enemy opposition from the skies over Britain, allowing for operation Sealion to go forward unopposed. Along with the Fw190 and good old Me109, it would have smashed North Africa and flown without opposition in Russia. And then where? Who knows? This is a fine example of the luck that certainly played a part in the eventual Allied victory.

The design program for the Tiger tank was also set up in the summer of 1939 (pre-war). Unfortunately for Hitler, he halted the design program until late 1941.

Two critical years of development lost.

Counter Attack At Villlers Bocage

Hauptsturmfuhrer Michael Wittman, the top tank commander whose solitary tank knocked out most of the 4th
County of London Yeomanry's regimental Stuart and Cromwell tanks

It took only one year after the program was reinstated to take the Tiger from the drawing stages to the battlefield. If they would have kept the program running in early 1939, the Tiger would have entered service in late 1940. No army in the world at that time, or even throughout the war, had anything to oppose the Tiger, and so it would have plunged throughout the Russian Steppe and beyond. However, it took until midwar ('42/'43) to get the Tiger into production, which at that period of time the turning point had already begun. Rather than having the Tiger as an attack weapon, which would have been devastating for it's enemies, It was used in a defensive manner that would only postpone Germany's ultimate defeat. Another one of Hitler's disastrous blunders.

The influence of the Tiger on Allied morale, known as Tigerphobia, was so powerful that British General Montgomery banned all reports mentioning its prowess in battle. Perhaps the Tiger's greatest fame was gained in a single action in Normandy where the famous commander SS Obersturmführer Michael Wittman destroyed an entire column of 25 tanks, 14 half-tracks and 14 bren-gun carriers in a few short minutes with one Tiger. Due to Allied air superiority, the Tigers in Normandy and France were employed mainly in a static defensive role. This conserved fuel as the Tiger normally consumed huge amounts of petrol. It also kept the mechanical breakdowns to a minimum.

Actual tests conducted by the British and American's show the true power of the Tiger. In armour piercing tests, The American Sherman, British Cromwell, and the British Churchill could not penetrate the frontal armour or turret armour of the Tiger at any range. The side and rear armour of the Tiger was breetched at just under 100 meters with all three tanks.

The Tiger could penetrate the frontal armour and turret armour of all three tanks at 2000 meters away, and penetrate the side and rear armour at 3500 meters!

The German heavy industry capacity was second only to the USA prewar and they had the capability to out produce the combined USSR/ UK production. At the start of the war only 1/4 of the auto industry capacity was used while at the end of this war they had only improved that to 1/2 of auto industry. According to USSBS they used only 1/2 of the aircraft and tank industries, while naval industry was used to capacity through out the war. Problem starts from there.

The building of weapons do depend on specialized materials, but the bulk is always steel ....don't matter if your talking tanks, ships ammo, fuel production , the limiting factor is steel production, or more particularly steel allocation and use. The only exception is aluminum allocation for planes production. The shocking fact is that the amount of steel allocated to the Wehrmacht throughout the war from 1938 to1944 used the SAME amount of steel per month...about 800-930K tons per month. However from 1938-1944 over all weapons out put increased 5 fold while and up to 10 fold increase in key industries like ammo production. The key was the incredible wasteful production methods used prewar and early war period.

All the other WW-II combatants spent the 1930s overhauling their war-related industries for high efficent massive weapons production. Despite repeated pleas of war ministers [Thomas and Blomberg] , Hitler refused to delegate power away from the Gauleiters etc to a centralised authority to oversee weapons procurement and resource allocation. Instead each service had to set up its own absurd buracarsy to hitler in direct competition with each other. That neurotic obsession with power control of Hitlers, is what handicapped the Nazis through out the war!

As a result of this debacle Germans were only able to manufacture 10,000 tons of weapons for every 100,000 tons of steel allocated from the late 1930s through the first years of the war. After Speer had ruthlessly wrestled control of resource allocation and control of weapons production, the efficiency leaped to 40,000 tons weapons for every 100,000 tons allocated. This more than any other factor explains the massive weapons production increase to the end of the war.

The identified changes Speer made were eliminate unnecessary duplication and instituting mandatory night shifts on all factories [they had none before 1942], fixed unit pricing and wages incentives linked to out put [prior to this it was cost plus production with no incentive to produce more] and strict resource allocation tied to weapons mass[ prior to this the same mass of aluminum was allocated to factories no matter if they were producing a 3000kg fighter or a 27,000 kg bomber!].

In this example, the air industry, between 1941 and 1944, production increased 4 fold while the work force fell to 90% and the resources allocated only increased 20%. Overall cost increased but only by about ~ 4 BRm [1941] to 6 BRm [1944]. When weapons go from mass production to massive production they cost per unit often is cut in 1/2 of even to 1/4 so the overall amount of money spent is not that much more.

The critical thing to recognize here is that ALL the other countries did overhaul their war industries, so we are only expecting them to do what their opponents historically did.

Contrary to what many report, prewar plans included war start and industrial mobilization towards 'total war production' by 1940.The fault entirely rests on Hitler/Göring shoulders since considerable efforts were made on the part of minister Thomas in the 1930s and Reichsminister Todt ~ 1939/40 to overhaul these key industries.

So Weapons output could easily have reached 1942 levels by 1940 ; 1943 levels by 1941 and 1944 levels by 1942. In fact given the prewar strategic situation [out numbered 10:1 in tanks 5:1 in planes and warships] , the rearmament program was completely wasted due primarily to the same inefficiencies in heavy industries. Given the money they spent , they should have had by 1940 ....

Completely motorised army of ~ 80 divisions plus 20 Pz Divisions

A naval fleet 1/3 the size of the RN

A strategic bomber force of ~1000 mutliengined bombers

Karin Hall synthetic fuel producing ~5 million tons by 1940 and 11 million tons by 1944.

A big part of this type of massive production is eliminating weapons that were not that effective over ones that were. So V-1 and V-2 represent appalling wastes of money research and resources since these are 'throw away technologies' that are essentially not aimed and thus can only be of limited value . Rather than reinvent the wheel, these industries; money ; research and resource would have been better allocated to the huge family of guided missiles [planed prewar] to greatly increase the effectiveness of the existing military troops and units.

The amount of money spent on the V-weapons [at least 10 BRm] would have financed the Me-262 & Ar234 jets plus guided missiles like the Schmetterling SAM ; Fritz X glide bomb; Hs-293 ASM ; Ru 344 wire guided AAM, X-4 ATGM & X-7 ATGM. ALL of these weapons were historically developed prewar and had their development halted or delay so they arrived too late to effect the war. These halts and delays evolved around Göring’s short sighted ruling in 1940 to halt all development on any weapons programs not destine to be in production by 1941....since the war was almost won

Historically some of these weapons were developed and produced by 1942/43. Had the other programs not been delayed, production of these weapons would have commenced in 1942 with operational use by 1943. In fact given the prewar strategic situation [out numbered 10:1 in tanks 5:1 in planes and warships] these special programs could have been the implemented about 1 year earlier, ie. operational ~ 1942.

The historical irony of Germany in WW-II is that they were ineptly prepared for and led into a war that they wanted, planned for and started. Most of this evolves around Hitler’s & his Nazis arrogant racial views of superiority and the nepotism that normally follows corrupt dictatorships.


Project Paperclip: Dark side of the Moon

Sixty years ago the US hired Nazi scientists to lead pioneering projects, such as the race to conquer space. These men provided the US with cutting-edge technology which still leads the way today, but at a cost.

The end of World War II saw an intense scramble for Nazi Germany's many technological secrets. The Allies vied to plunder as much equipment and expertise as possible from the rubble of the Thousand Year Reich for themselves, while preventing others from doing the same.

The range of Germany's technical achievement astounded Allied scientific intelligence experts accompanying the invading forces in 1945.

Supersonic rockets, nerve gas, jet aircraft, guided missiles, stealth technology and hardened armour were just some of the groundbreaking technologies developed in Nazi laboratories, workshops and factories, even as Germany was losing the war.

And it was the US and the Soviet Union which, in the first days of the Cold War, found themselves in a race against time to uncover Hitler's scientific secrets.

In May 1945, Stalin's legions secured the atomic research labs at the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in the suburbs of Berlin, giving their master the kernel of what would become the vast Soviet nuclear arsenal.

 US forces removed V-2 missiles from the vast Nordhausen complex, built under the Harz Mountains in central Germany, just before the Soviets took over the factory, in what would become their area of occupation. And the team which had built the V-2, led by Wernher von Braun, also fell into American hands.

 Shortly afterwards Major-General Hugh Knerr, deputy commander of the US Air Force in Europe, wrote:

Occupation of German scientific and industrial establishments has revealed the fact that we have been alarmingly backward in many fields of research.

If we do not take the opportunity to seize the apparatus and the brains that developed it and put the combination back to work promptly, we will remain several years behind while we attempt to cover a field already exploited.

Thus began Project Paperclip, the US operation which saw von Braun and more than 700 others spirited out of Germany from under the noses of the US's allies. Its aim was simple:

To exploit German scientists for American research and to deny these intellectual resources to the Soviet Union.

Events moved rapidly. President Truman authorised Paperclip in August 1945 and, on 18 November, the first Germans reached America.

There was, though, one major problem. Truman had expressly ordered that anyone found "to have been a member of the Nazi party and more than a nominal participant in its activities, or an active supporter of Nazism militarism" would be excluded.

Under this criterion even von Braun himself, the man who masterminded the Moon shots, would have been ineligible to serve the US. A member of numerous Nazi organisations, he also held rank in the SS. His initial intelligence file described him as "a security risk".

And von Braun's associates included:

* Arthur Rudolph, chief operations director at Nordhausen, where 20,000 slave labourers died producing V-2 missiles. Led the team which built the Saturn V rocket. Described as "100 per cent Nazi, dangerous type".

* Kurt Debus, rocket launch specialist, another SS officer. His report stated: "He should be interned as a menace to the security of the Allied Forces.".

* Hubertus Strughold, later called "the father of space medicine", designed NASA's on-board life-support systems. Some of his subordinates conducted human "experiments" at Dachau and Auschwitz, where inmates were frozen and put into low-pressure chambers, often dying in the process.

All of these men were cleared to work for the US, their alleged crimes covered up and their backgrounds bleached by a military which saw winning the Cold War, and not upholding justice, as its first priority.

And the paperclip which secured their new details in their personnel files gave the whole operation its name. Sixty years on, the legacy of Paperclip remains as vital as ever.

With its radar-absorbing carbon impregnated plywood skin and swept-back single wing, the 1944 Horten Ho 229 was arguably the first stealth aircraft.

The US military made one available to Northrop Aviation, the company which would produce the $2bn B-2 Stealth bomber - to all intents and purposes a modern clone of the Horten - a generation later.

Cruise missiles are still based on the design of the V-1 missile and the scramjets powering NASA's state-of-the-art X-43 hypersonic aircraft owe much to German jet pioneers.

Added to this, the large number of still-secret Paperclip documents has led many people, including Nick Cook, Aerospace Consultant at Jane's Defence Weekly, to speculate that the US may have developed even more advanced Nazi technology, including anti-gravity devices, a potential source of vast amounts of free energy.

Cook says that such technology "could be so destructive that it would endanger world peace and the US decided to keep it secret for a long time".

But, while celebrating the undoubted success of Project Paperclip, many will prefer to remember the thousands who died to send mankind into space.

Source: BBC


Bloodless theories, bloody wars
Easy-win concepts crumble in combat

By Ralph Peters

During the Second World War, American and British air-campaign planners attempted to force the Nazi war machine into collapse by attacking crucial links in Germany's national infrastructure. According to the theory, hitting well-selected individual targets would paralyze entire systems. So, at an enormous cost in lives and aircraft, we went after German rail junctions and ball-bearing plants, engine factories and Romanian oil fields.

We were, in short, executing Effects-Based Operations, or EBO, the current darling among "revolutionary" concepts.

Of course, the Wehrmacht had to be defeated on the ground. The Allied bombing campaign certainly aided in that defeat, but it was not decisive in itself. No matter how many railroad marshalling yards we struck, the Reichsbahn found work-arounds. As for bombing the industrial infrastructure, at the end of the war more than 90 percent of Germany's production capabilities remained intact (contrary to popular belief), giving the defeated country a launching pad for its postwar "economic miracle." In early 1945, German combat aircraft production was increasing. Those expensive attacks on "vital" nodes helped the war effort but could not have won the war alone had they lasted for a generation. Germany's lack of home-country petroleum reserves severely hampered the Nazis — but the advance of the Red Army did vastly more to interrupt fuel supplies from the east than did the EBO efforts of the 1940s.

The primary problem we face in preparing for future wars is an intellectually corrupt budgeting and procurement process, a system that forces the services — especially the Navy and Air Force — to make extravagant, impossible-to-fulfill claims for the weapons they wish to buy. It isn't possible to argue that a system will be "useful." To appear competitive, each system has to be "revolutionary." 

Compounding the damage, each of the services (except the Marine Corps) has fallen into the trap of designing its strategy to fit the systems it wants, rather than devising an honest long-term strategy, then pursuing the weapons best-fitted to support that strategy. 

We have gotten the process exactly wrong.

No sensible person would argue against the potential benefits of new military technologies — but those technologies must be relevant to genuine wartime needs, not merely sexy platforms for air shows. The services become so mesmerized by their in-progress procurement programs that any challenge to a system's utility is treated as an attack on the service itself.

The truth is that we lie.

Precision-guided weapons are marvelous additions to our arsenal. They save lives, spare resources and accomplish crucial missions. The fallacy is to believe they can win wars by themselves. The abysmally failed "Shock and Awe" campaign that was supposed to persuade Saddam Hussein to surrender by demonstrating our techno-prowess should be a lesson to us all: Take the enemy's psychology into account, don't engage in wishful thinking and worst-case what it takes to defeat your opponent.

Nonetheless, at the Joint Forces Command and in the Air Force, proponents of Effects-Based Operations now suggest that, by striking just the right pressure points, we might bring China to its knees. Well, China's already on its knees — a position that gives China greater inherent stability than our own top-heavy military and hyper-developed national infrastructure possess. The crucial question in any war is, "What will it really take to force our enemy to surrender?"

We know what it took in Nazi Germany. And in Imperial Japan. To defeat China, we'd have to inflict at least a comparable level of destruction.

EBO isn't a strategy. It's a sales pitch.

Yet, EBO also reflects a recurring American delusion — the notion that, if only we can discover it, there must be a formula for winning wars on the cheap. EBO and other schemes for sterilized techno-wars have surprisingly deep roots in our military culture — the American vines were grafted onto diseased European root stocks.

Far from being a brand-new, breakthrough concept, EBO is rooted in the 19th-century cult of Gen. George B. McClellan's favorite military theorist, Baron Antoine Henri Jomini, the Swiss-born, French-speaking military charlatan who seduced the engineers produced by West Point with his geometrical "the calculus is all" approach to warfare. Presenting himself as the heir to Napoleonic thought, Jomini got the emperor dead wrong (only his Ulm campaign makes any sense in Jominian terms), reflecting, instead, the mannered approach to warfare that was generally prevalent between the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 and the cannonade at Valmy in 1792.

Although there were many exceptions to the "mannerly war" school of that long 18th century — such as Marshal Turenne's scorched-earth campaigns in the Rhineland and the life-or-death battlefield ferocity of Frederick the Great — many of the period's conflicts within Europe were "cabinet wars" about slight alterations to frontiers. (Wars against the Turks were always fought with greater savagery, as were conflicts in the Polish empire, Ukraine and Russia.) Elegant campaigns sought to capture a single fortress, the loss of which might make a series of other fortresses untenable. Reverting to the maneuver dances of Renaissance condotierri, who had no wish to waste the lives of their expensively equipped and trained Landsknechte, post-1648 generalship often consisted in giving greater priority to preserving the king's regiments than to defeating the king's enemies. While the brilliant combination of the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene led to one decisive victory at Blenheim, the former's campaigns in Flanders, although waged brilliantly on the terms of the age, were limited in scope. Most Western European wars fought between the destruction of the Spanish tercios at Rocroi and the rise of Napoleon simply aimed at moving a dynasty's football a bit to either side of the 50-yard line.

Napoleon revolutionized European warfare with his strategic vision, his ruthlessness and his disregard for the accepted rules. The odd thing is that only Clausewitz, who fought against him, "got" Napoleon. An aide-de-camp to the emperor, Jomini interpreted Napoleon's campaigns through the long-dead eyes of the marshals of Louis XIV.

This arcane history matters because the U.S. Army never signed up for Clausewitz (not even in the 1980s, when he was quoted more often than he was read). Ours was instinctively a Jominian military when it came to theories of warfare. We did — and do — want checklists, formulae, easy how-to instruction kits. Clausewitz, a soldier of incomparable integrity, provided insights, not answers. Jomini, the hustler in uniform, laid out warfare as a board game, as an engineering problem, ever calculable for those who got the math right. Clausewitz is difficult and unsparing. Jomini is as superficial as a television commercial. Our choice was predetermined.

Clausewitz long remained unknown to American officers, but Jomini had become a must-read for our most-ambitious officers by the end of the 1840s. (Until he was translated, they read him in French; how much they understood is another issue entirely.) Compounding the problem, our military ancestors assumed that the French military was the world's best model to emulate, missing the fact that Napoleon had been a grand anomaly. Thus, officers such as McClellan not only took Jomini to bed with them, but also tailored their uniforms and trimmed their mustaches to appear as French as possible. (Those well-known Civil War caps of ours were based on French kepis, and the surest measure of a Civil War officer's vanity, whether he wore blue or gray, was the number of photographs taken of him with a hand burrowed into his tunic à la Napoleon). Even the Prussian triumph in 1870-71 hardly convinced us that the French military might not be the be-all and end-all, and we were still studying French tactics well into the bloodbath of the Great War.

Our Civil War was won by the officers who didn't read Jomini — or who read and dismissed him. By contrast, the Union's debacles were often shaped by Jominian thinking. Most notoriously, McClellan thought in terms of campaign geometries and strategic coups de main — EBO, in fact. McClellan fought as an 18th-century French marshal, worried more about the embarrassment of losing than the advantages of victory, building a lovely army then fearing to risk it, and, above all, imagining that the right combination of maneuvers might force a determined Confederacy to surrender.

McClellan's inept Peninsula Campaign — the worst example in our history of an entire army failing because of a single man's incompetence — was supposed to present the Confederates with check, then checkmate, by fatally threatening Richmond. Of course, he didn't reckon on Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson, soldiers who were more inclined to fight than to theorize. McClellan's attempts to "leverage strategic nodes" were all about his own genius, with no regard for a living, thinking, fire-breathing enemy.

Most of the Army of the Potomac's early campaigns tried to play Jominian chess with the Army of Northern Virginia — which kept knocking over the board. But even the Confederates were not entirely immune to Jomini's influence. Both sides angled against the other's capital city, imagining that its possession would inevitably mean victory. Lee's two invasions of the North — the latter of which forever crippled his army — were Jominian, aimed at outflanking Washington by invading Pennsylvania and making the Army of the Potomac's position militarily and politically untenable. The Gettysburg Campaign was EBO without smart bombs.

Tactically brilliant and strategically myopic, Lee seems always to have been torn, influenced by his studies and his background as an engineer, yet sensing that the war had to be won by attrition — a strategy he could not afford. Early in the war, when John Singleton Mosby commenced partisan cavalry operations in the Union rear area, Lee worried that the effort would rob him of mounted troops badly needed for reconnaissance and on the battlefield. With some difficulty, Lee was persuaded to allow Mosby to operate with great autonomy, and the Gray Ghost did, indeed, tie down a lopsided number of Union troops with EBO-style raids on crucial nodes, such as rail junctions or supply trains. In the end, though, Lee's instincts proved right. Mosby was a glorious annoyance but could not deliver winning blows against the enemy. The Confederacy was quantitatively incompetent — and Mosby's valiant efforts only diluted Lee's battlefield punch.

The Civil War had to be won by generals who grasped that victory would not come with fallen capital cities, interdicted rail lines or clever maneuvers but only with hard, bloody, relentless fighting. There was was no cheap way to win.

Thereafter, the Army read Jomini intermittently but fought Indians, as well as the Boxers, the Moros and then Pancho Villa. Then the Great War exploded every fashionable theory, from those of Jomini's French heirs (such as the tragic Ardant du Picq) to the fatal Prussian over-simplification of Clausewitz. Attempts at bold Jominian strokes, such as Winston Churchill's Gallipoli Campaign, ended in disaster (Liddell-Hart's "indirect approach" is pure Jomini). For the soldiers involved, it was one of the grimmest wars in history (ending with a devastating influenza epidemic). Military theory dissolved in a bloodbath.

Jomini went into eclipse thereafter, but his spirit had been embedded in the U.S. military. His formulaic approach to making war was a perfect fit for the psychology of the world's leading industrial power, the country that made progress by making things. Giulio Douhet, Italy's false prophet of airpower, was a peculiar bastard descendent of Jomini, convinced that airpower alone would decide the next war. (Sound familiar?) Likewise, the American general Billy Mitchell — in some respects a courageous figure — exaggerated the capabilities of airpower as surely as do today's Air Force theorists.

Mitchell got it partly right — a particularly dangerous situation. As a result, the Army Air Corps got it partly wrong, although it fought heroically. The Allied bombing campaign over Germany in the Second World War was a marriage of American industrial power and 18th-century military thought by way of Jomini: Just press the right node hard enough and Jack will spring out of the box, waving a white flag. In the end, the raw destruction of German and Japanese cities was far more useful in inculcating a useful post-surrender sense of defeat in our enemies than were our costly attacks on strategic nodes. But nothing was as useful as old-fashioned battlefield victories.

Inevitably, the Cold War saw renewed efforts to discover the alchemical formula for easy victory. Far from the great age of American military strategy, this was its nadir. From Mutually Assured Destruction to the Pentomic Army (which appears to be coming back), phony intellectualism obscured a poverty of minds and practical confusion. The most strategically incisive document of the era remains the film "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."

The neo-Jominians of the 1950s and early 1960s produced calculations far beyond their ancestor's scope, certain that they knew precisely how the next war must be waged.

Instead, we got Vietnam.

One could rehash this endless tug of war between our military theorists, who never fail to come up with new clothes for their emperor, insisting that this time they really do know how to win wars cheaply (in terms of blood and bother, if not financially), and the fighting generals and colonels who have to step into the mess the theorists have made and clean it up while the bullets are flying. Contemporary generals such as Mattis and Wallace are the heirs of Sherman and Sheridan — not afraid to fight and ever ready to ride to the sound of the guns. On the other side, you have the theorists, who have them outnumbered, if not outgunned. No matter the empirical evidence, theorists will always insist that they know a better, easier way to wage war than the men who must actually fight it. Compounded by the power of the defense industry and the political momentum of legacy weapons systems, the theorists win. In peacetime.

When the first early man discovered that he could bind a sharp stone to a stick with a leather thong, you can be certain that he turned immediately to his pals across the campfire and shouted, "I've just achieved the ultimate revolution in military affairs!"

There's no end of such revolutions. Only the End of Days will see an end to military innovation. And we're told, again and again, that the nature of warfare has changed. But the nature of warfare never changes — only its superficial manifestations. On the battlefield, Cain still squares off with Abel. The technologies evolve, but it's still about killing the enemy until the survivors raise their hands — and mean it.

Even as our soldiers and Marines fight primitive (but intelligent) enemies in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, we're told that the evidence before our eyes doesn't really mean anything, that the next war is going to be different, that technology really will do the trick this time. If the United States still exists a hundred years from how, I have no doubt that your great-great-grandchildren will also be assured that, while the theorists were wrong for the past century (or two, or three), they really have it figured out now and that technology really is going to be decisive this time.

Appropriate technologies are essential. But flesh and blood wins wars. The only Effects-Based Operations that mean anything are those that destroy the enemy's military, the opposing leadership and the population's collective will. Bombing well-selected targets helps. But only killing wins wars.

Oh, and a last note on Effects-Based Operations: Any combat doctrine that cannot be explained clearly and concisely will fail.