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Military production during World War II includes the arms, ammunitions, 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 materiel 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).
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Allies of World War II, called the "United Nations" from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
The Axis powers, also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.
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) the 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 Britain was a global superpower, with political and economic control of a quarter of the world's population, industry and resources, in addition to its close allies in the independent Dominion nations (such as Canada and South Africa). From 1938 to mid-1942, the British coordinated the Allied effort in all global theatres. They fought the German, Italian, Japanese and Vichy armies, air forces and navies across Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, India, the Mediterranean and in the Atlantic, Indian, Pacific and Arctic Oceans. British forces destroyed Italian armies in North and East Africa and occupied overseas colonies of occupied European nations. Following engagements with Axis forces, British Empire troops occupied Libya, Italian Somaliland, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Iran and Iraq. The Empire funded and delivered needed supplies by Arctic convoys to the USSR, and supported Free French forces to recapture French Equatorial Africa. Britain also established governments in exile in London to rally support in occupied Europe for the Allied effort. The British held back or slowed the Axis powers for three years while mobilising their globally integrated economy and industrial infrastructure to build what became, by 1942, the most extensive military apparatus of the war. This allowed their later allies (such as the United States) to mobilise their economies and develop the military forces required to play a role in the war effort, and for the British to go on the offensive in its theatres of operation.
The entry of the United States into the war in late 1941 injected financial, human and industrial resources into Allied operations. The US produced more than its own military forces required and armed itself and its allies for the most industrialized war in history. 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[ citation needed ] — bringing military forces into play in North and South America, the Caribbean, the Atlantic, Western Europe and the Pacific.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
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, often referred to by initials FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A member of the Democratic Party, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, which realigned American politics into the Fifth Party System and defined American liberalism throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II, which ended shortly after he died in office. He has been subject to substantial criticism. He is rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
Adolf Hitler was a German politician and leader of the Nazi Party. He rose to power as Chancellor of Germany in 1933 and later Führer in 1934. During his dictatorship from 1933 to 1945, he initiated World War II in Europe by invading Poland in September 1939. He was closely involved in military operations throughout the war and was central to the perpetration of the Holocaust.
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 Tizard Mission, officially the British Technical and Scientific Mission, was a British delegation that visited the United States during the Second World War in order to obtain the industrial resources to exploit the military potential of the research and development (R&D) work completed by the UK up to the beginning of World War II, but that Britain itself could not exploit due to the immediate requirements of war-related production. It received its popular name from the program's instigator, Henry Tizard. Tizard was a British scientist and chairman of the Aeronautical Research Committee, which had propelled the development of radar.
Radar is a detection system that uses radio waves to determine the range, angle, or velocity of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. A radar system consists of a transmitter producing electromagnetic waves in the radio or microwaves domain, a transmitting antenna, a receiving antenna and a receiver and processor to determine properties of the object(s). Radio waves from the transmitter reflect off the object and return to the receiver, giving information about the object's location and speed.
The Battle of Britain was a military campaign of the Second World War, in which the Royal Air Force (RAF) defended the United Kingdom (UK) against large-scale attacks by Nazi Germany's air force, the Luftwaffe. It has been described as the first major military campaign fought entirely by air forces. The British officially recognise the battle's duration as being from 10 July until 31 October 1940, which overlaps the period of large-scale night attacks known as The Blitz, that lasted from 7 September 1940 to 11 May 1941. German historians do not accept this subdivision and regard the battle as a single campaign lasting from July 1940 to June 1941, including the Blitz.
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."
William Signius Knudsen was a leading automotive industry executive and an American general during World War II. His experience and success as a key senior manager in the operations sides of Ford Motor Company and later General Motors led the Franklin Roosevelt Administration to directly commission him as a lieutenant general in the United States Army to help lead the United States' war materiel production efforts for World War II.
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."
|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|
In thousands of international dollars, at 2014 prices.[ citation needed ]
|Power||Tanks & SPGs||Armoured vehicles||Other vehicles||Artillery||Mortars||Machine guns||Personnel|
|USA and territories||108,410||2,382,311||257,390||105,055||2,679,840||10,000,000|
(excluding 6 million
|Germany and territories||67,429||49,777||159,147||73,484||674,280||1,000,730||16,540,835|
|USA and territories||324,000||99,000||97,000||123,900||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 |
& Destroyer Escorts
|Corvettes||Sloops||Patrol boats||Submarines||De/ Mining||Landing craft||Personnel|
|USA and territories||1216||124(101)||23||72||377||440||245||35,000||x|
|Germany & territories||1||2||17||1,152||540||1,500,000|
Source: Goldsmith data in Harrison (1988) p. 172
|Cargo tonnage||12,823,942 [ citation needed ]||33,993,230||1,469,606 [ citation needed ]||4,152,361|
|Country||Coal||Iron ore||Crude oil||Steel||Aluminium||Nickel||Zinc|
All figures in millions of tonnes
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|
Romanian, Hungarian, Bulgarian and Albanian GDP calculated by multiplying the GDP per capita of the four countries in 1938 ($1,242 for Romania, $2,655 for Hungary, $1,595 for Bulgaria and over $900 for Albania)by their estimated populations in 1938: 19,750,000 for Romania, 9,082,400 for Hungary, 6,380,000 for Bulgaria and 1,040,400 for Albania.
Many concerns and political influence come from the price of war. While GDP can easily increase Federal expenditures, it also can influence political elections and government decision making. No matter how much percentages of GDP increase or decrease we need higher amounts of GDP in order to pay for more investments, one of those investments being more wars. To pay for these wars, taxes are held at a very high rate. For example, by the end of World War II tax rates went from 1.5% to 15%. Along with tax percentages reaching high amounts, spending on non-defense programs were cut in half during the period of World War II. Tax cuts allow one to see GDP in effect for the average American. Still, almost ten years after World War II, in 1950 and 1951 congress raised taxes close to 4% in order to pay for the Korean War. After the Korean War, in 1968 taxes again were raised 10% to pay for the Vietnam War. This caused GDP to raise 1%. Although research can support positive relationship between production and jobs with GDP, research can also show the negative relationship with tax increases and GDP.
Prior to the Second World War, the United States was cautious with regard to its manufacturing capabilities as the country was still recovering from the Great Depression. However, during the war, Franklin Roosevelt set ambitious production goals to fulfill. The early 1940s were set to have 60,000 aircraft increasing to 125,000 in 1943. In addition, targets for the production of 120,000 tanks and 55,000 aircraft were set during the same time period. The Ford Motor Company in Michigan built one motor car (comprising 15,000 parts) on the assembly lines every 69 seconds. Ford's production contributed to America's total production of vehicles totalling three million in 1941. American production numbers caused the US employed workforce to increase massively. America's yearly production exceeded Japan's production building more planes in 1944 than Japan built in all the war years combined. As a result, half of the world's war production came from America. The government paid for this production using techniques of selling war bonds to financial institutions, rationing household items and creating more tax revenues. Some contribution to the US wartime manufacturing boom can be ascribed to the prior creation of the Alcoa plant in the 1930s. The Alcoa plant prepared thousands of tons of aluminum used for the production of 304,000 aeroplanes during the war. The United States quickly adjusted to the levels of production required to equip its military with the millions of war products used during World War II.
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|
This includes all German and non-German subjects serving within German Reich forces.
|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|
Within the UK, initially aircraft production was very vulnerable to enemy bombing. To expand and diversify the production base the British set up "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.
|Boulton Paul Defiant||1,065||1065|
|de Havilland Hornet||197||197|
|North American Mustang||200||200|
|de Havilland Vampire||244||244|
|Curtiss SB2C Helldiver||1,134||1,134|
|de Havilland Mosquito||212||6,199||1,134||7,545|
|Handley Page Halifax||6,178||6,178|
|Handley Page Hampden||1,270||160||1,430|
|Handley Page Hampden||152||152|
|Armstrong Whitworth Whitley||1,780||1,780|
|Supermarine Sea Otter||292||292|
|de Havilland Albatross||7||7|
|Armstrong Whitworth Albemarle||602||602|
|Northrop/Canadian Vickers Delta||19||19|
|De Havilland Australia DHA-G1/G2||8||8|
|de Havilland Dragon||87||87|
|de Havilland Dragon Rapide/Dominie||474||474|
|Armstrong Whitworth Ensign||15||15|
|de Havilland Flamingo||14||14|
|Fleet 50 Freighter||5||5|
|General Aircraft Hamilcar||412||412|
|General Aircraft Hotspur||1,015||1,015|
|Fairchild Cornell (PT-19/26)||1,642|
|de Havilland Don||30|
|North American Harvard||3,985|
|de Havilland Moth Minor||100|
|de Havilland Tiger Moth||1,080||5,738||1,748||150||8,716|
|Avions Fairey Tipsy B||15|
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.
|Avions Fairey Fox VI/VII||106|
|Hawker Hurricane I||15||20|
|Fairey Battle I||18|
|Fokker C.X/Fokker C.XI||53|
|Dornier Do 17K||70|
Occupied countries produced weapons for the Axis powers. Figures are for the period of occupation only.
|Mitsubishi A6M Zero||10,939|
|Arado Ar 240||14|
|Bachem Ba 349||36|
|Messerschmitt Bf 109||33,142||309||33,984|
|Messerschmitt Bf 110||6,170||6,170|
|Macchi C.200/Macchi C.202/Macchi C.205||2,766|
|Dornier Do 17Z-7/Z-10||12|
|Dornier Do 335||37|
|Caproni Vizzola F.5||14|
|Focke-Wulf Fw 190||20,000|
|Heinkel He 100||25|
|Heinkel He 112||60|
|Heinkel He 162||320|
|Heinkel He 219||300|
|Messerschmitt Me 163 /Mitsubishi J8M||370||7||377|
|Messerschmitt Me 262||1,430|
|Reggiane Re.2000, 2001, 2002 & 2005||204||531||735|
|Focke-Wulf Ta 152 & Focke-Wulf Ta 154||200||these are unrelated types.|
|Heinkel He 115||138|
|Heinkel He 118||15|
|Henschel Hs 123||250|
|Henschel Hs 129||865|
|Junkers Ju 87 Stuka||6,500|
|Messerschmitt Me 210||400||272||672|
|Messerschmitt Me 410||1,189|
|Arado Ar 234||210|
|Dornier Do 22||30|
|Dornier Do 17E/F||405|
|Dornier Do 17K||14|
|Dornier Do 17M/P/R/S/U||448|
|Dornier Do 17Z||875|
|Dornier Do 215||105|
|Dornier Do 217||1,025|
|Fieseler Fi 167||14|
|Focke-Wulf Fw 200||276|
|Heinkel He 111||7,300|
|Heinkel He 177||1,190|
|Junkers Ju 88/188/388||16,517|
|Mitsubishi Ki-67/Mitsubishi Ki-109||767|
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The Luftwaffe was the aerial warfare branch of the combined German Wehrmacht military forces during World War II. Germany's military air arms during World War I, the Luftstreitkräfte of the Army and the Marine-Fliegerabteilung of the Navy, had been disbanded in May 1920 as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which stated that Germany was forbidden to have any air force.
The European theatre of World War II opened with the German invasion of Poland on Friday September 1, 1939, which was then followed by the Soviet invasion of Poland on September 17, 1939. In the face of overwhelming forces of opponents and the betrayal of its allies, the Polish Army was defeated after more than a month of fierce fighting. Poland never officially capitulated. After Poland had been overrun, a government-in-exile, armed forces, and an intelligence service were established outside of Poland. These organizations contributed to the Allied effort throughout the war. The Polish Army was recreated in the West, as well as in the East.
The Lend-Lease policy, formally titled "An Act to Promote the Defense of the United States", was a program under which the United States supplied the United Kingdom, Free France, the Republic of China, and later the USSR and other Allied nations with food, oil, and materiel between 1941 and August 1945. This included warships and warplanes, along with other weaponry. It was signed into law on March 11, 1941 and ended in September 1945. In general the aid was free, although some hardware were returned after the war. In return, the U.S. was given leases on army and naval bases in Allied territory during the war. Canada operated a similar smaller program under a different name.
Following the outbreak of World War II on 1 September 1939, the Kingdom of Romania under King Carol II officially adopted a position of neutrality. However, the rapidly changing situation in Europe during 1940, as well as domestic political upheaval, undermined this stance. Fascist political forces such as the Iron Guard rose in popularity and power, urging an alliance with Nazi Germany and its allies. As the military fortunes of Romania's two main guarantors of territorial integrity—France and Britain—crumbled in the Fall of France, the government of Romania turned to Germany in hopes of a similar guarantee, unaware that the then dominant European power had already granted its consent to Soviet territorial claims in a secret protocol of 1939's Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.
Technology played a significant role in World War II. Some of the technologies used during the war were developed during the interwar years of the 1920s and 1930s, much was developed in response to needs and lessons learned during the war, while others were beginning to be developed as the war ended. Many wars had major effects on the technologies that we use in our daily lives. However, compared to previous wars, World War II had the greatest effect on the technology and devices that are used today. Technology also played a greater role in the conduct of World War II than in any other war in history, and had a critical role in its final outcome.
The European theatre of World War II, also known as the Second European War, was a huge area of heavy fighting across Europe, starting with Germany's invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 and ending with the Soviet Union conquering most of Eastern Europe and Germany’s unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945. The Allied powers fought the Axis powers on two major fronts as well as in a massive air war and in the adjoining Mediterranean and Middle East theatre.
The Eastern Front of World War II was a theatre of conflict between the European Axis powers and co-belligerent Finland against the Soviet Union (U.S.S.R.), Poland and other Allies, which encompassed Central Europe, Eastern Europe, Northeast Europe (Baltics), and Southeast Europe (Balkans) from 22 June 1941 to 9 May 1945. It has been known as the Great Patriotic War in the former Soviet Union and modern Russia, while in Germany it was called the Eastern Front, or the German-Soviet War by outside parties.
Strategic bombing during World War II was the sustained aerial attack on railways, harbours, cities, workers' and civilian housing, and industrial districts in enemy territory during World War II. Strategic bombing is a military strategy which is distinct from both close air support of ground forces and tactical air power.
Nearly every country and territory in the world participated in World War II. Most were neutral at the beginning, but only a few nations remained neutral to the end. The Second World War pitted two alliances against each other, the Axis powers and the Allied powers. The leading Axis powers were Nazi Germany, the Kingdom of Italy and the Empire of Japan; while the United Kingdom, the United States, the Soviet Union and China to an extent were the "Big Four" Allied powers.
The Pointblank directive authorised the initiation of Operation Pointblank, the code name for the primary portion of the Allied Combined Bomber Offensive intended to cripple or destroy the German aircraft fighter strength, thus drawing it away from frontline operations and ensuring it would not be an obstacle to the invasion of Northwest Europe. The Pointblank directive of 14 June 1943 ordered RAF Bomber Command and the U.S. Eighth Air Force to bomb specific targets such as aircraft factories, and the order was confirmed when the Allies met at the Quebec Conference, 1943.
The Mediterranean and Middle East Theatre was a major theatre of operations during the Second World War. The vast size of the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre saw interconnected naval, land, and air campaigns fought for control of the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe. The fighting in this theatre lasted from 10 June 1940, when Italy entered the war on the side of Nazi Germany, until 2 May 1945 when all Axis forces in Italy surrendered. However, fighting would continue in Greece – where British troops had been dispatched to aid the Greek government – during the early stages of the Greek Civil War.
The military history of Canada during World War II begins with the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939. While the Canadian Armed Forces were eventually active in nearly every theatre of war, most combat was centred in Italy, Northwestern Europe, and the North Atlantic. In all, some 1.1 million Canadians served in the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, Royal Canadian Air Force, and in forces across the Commonwealth, with approximately 42,000 killed and another 55,000 wounded. During the war, Canada was subject to direct attack in the Battle of the St. Lawrence, and in the shelling of a lighthouse at Estevan Point in British Columbia.
The Kawasaki Ki-32 was a Japanese light bomber aircraft of World War II. It was a single-engine, two-seat, mid-wing, cantilever monoplane with a fixed tailwheel undercarriage. An internal bomb bay accommodated a 300 kg (660 lb) offensive load, supplemented by 150 kg (330 lb) of bombs on external racks. During the war, it was known by the Allies by the name Mary.
The Allied leaders of World War II listed below comprise the important political and military figures who fought for or supported the Allies during World War II. Engaged in total war, they had to adapt to new types of modern warfare, on the military, psychological and economic fronts.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to World War II:
The air warfare of World War II was a major component in all theaters and, together with anti-aircraft warfare, consumed a large fraction of the industrial output of the major powers. Germany and Japan depended on air forces that were closely integrated with land and naval forces; the Axis powers downplayed the advantage of fleets of strategic bombers, and were late in appreciating the need to defend against Allied strategic bombing. By contrast, Britain and the United States took an approach that greatly emphasised strategic bombing, and tactical control of the battlefield by air, as well as adequate air defences. Both Britain and the U.S. built a strategic force of large, long-range bombers that could carry the air war to the enemy's homeland. Simultaneously, they built tactical air forces that could win air superiority over the battlefields, thereby giving vital assistance to ground troops. The U.S. and Royal Navy also built a powerful naval-air component based on aircraft carriers, as did Japan; these played the central role in the war at sea.
The Western Allied Campaign in Romania consisted of war declarations and aerial operations during the Second World War by 8 Western Allied countries against Romania which itself was primarily engaged on the Eastern Front in fighting against the Soviet Union.