World War II: Economy and Military Production

  • As my short link to a WW2 GDP list seemed to interest people, I will supply a few more links and quotes.

    When thinking about how many IPC each nation should have for the game to be “historical accurate” this might prove useful.

    But the GDP is only one aspect of the military production (A&A tt values are only used for military purposes). It also depends how much of the GDP is dedicated to the military.

    Britain and the US switched immediately to a war economy while Germany started doing so only in the beginning of 1942 (Until then still believing in a rather short war).

    Here are a few wikipedia quotes of the effect of these measures in Germany:


    In contrast, Germany started the war under the concept of Blitzkrieg. For example, women were not conscripted into the armed forces or allowed to work in factories. The Nazi party adhered to the policy that a woman’s place was in the home, and did not change this even as its opponents began moving women into important roles in production.

    The commitment to the doctrine of the short war was a continuing handicap for the Germans; neither plans nor state of mind were adjusted to the idea of a long war until the failure of the operation Barbarossa. A major strategical defeat in the Battle of Moscow forced Albert Speer, who was appointed as Germany’s armament minister in early 1942, to nationalize German war production and eliminate the worst inefficiencies.

    Under his direction a threefold increase in armament production occurred and did not reach its peak until late 1944. It was because the German economy through most of the war was substantially under-mobilized that it was resilient under air attack. Civilian consumption was high during the early years of the war and inventories both in industry and in consumers’ possession were high. These helped cushion the economy from the effects of bombing.


    At the time of Speer’s accession to the office, the German economy, unlike the British one, was not fully geared for war production. Consumer goods were still being produced at nearly as high a level as during peacetime. Few women were employed in the factories, which were running only one shift. One evening soon after his appointment, Speer went to visit a Berlin armament factory; he found no one on the premises. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, had declared in November 1941 that conditions did not permit an increase in armament production.


    ]By 1943, the Allies had gained air superiority over Germany, and bombings of German cities and industry had become commonplace. However, the Allies in their strategic bombing campaign did not concentrate on industry, and Speer, with his improvisational skill, was able to overcome bombing losses. In spite of these losses, German production of tanks more than doubled in 1943, production of planes increased by 80 percent, and production time for submarines was reduced from one year to two months. Production would continue to increase until the second half of 1944, by which time enough equipment to supply 270 army divisions was being produced—although the Wehrmacht had only 150 divisions in the field.

    According to Germany still spent more than 40% of its steel production in 1939 and 1940 into civilian production.

    It is therefore not only the GDP of a nation that determines its military production.

    Here is a survey of World War II aircraft production:

    Here is a survey of World War II armored fighting vehicle production:
    Soviet Union:

    One can see that the military production numbers go up much more than the GDP because the economy was turned into a war economy (Germany in 1943 and US in 1942).

    Some interesting facts seen in the numbers:

    • In 1943 Germany produced more tanks than in all the years before (including pre-war production).
    • The US started with double the GDP of Germany in 1939 and ended with three times as much in 1944
    • The overall military production in 1943/44 is much higher than in the previous years. There had to be much more aircraft and tanks in action than in the years before.

  • I wonder why that had so much more effect than “reduce, reuse, recycle.” Yes, there was a war on (we’re in one now, too), but I do think there’s something to be learned by comparing the two.

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