Eagle vs Eagle circa 1940

George wonders how things stacked up:

We saw your impressive stats on materiel in your lovefest with Michelle…Tell us please, what was the state of the American Military in 1940 compared to Germany?

German forces consisted of 3,737,000 in the Heer (army), 400,000 in the Lufwaffe, 50,000 in the Kriegsmarine and 35,000 in the Waffen SS. This represented 19.2 percent of all German males between the ages of 15 and 65 in 1939.

The US Army consisted of 174,000 enlisted men in July 1939. However, within four years, US forces had 6.6 million in the Army plus another 2 million in the Air Force. This compared well with the 6.5 million in the 1943 Heer and 1.7 million in the 1943 Luftwaffe. Also, the US Navy was quite large in 1939, far superior to the Kriegsmarine, although not being a Navy buff I don’t have the numbers to hand.

The chief German advantage in 1939 was the training of its officers. Even before its PzIIIs were online, its officers were highly trained in aggressive tactics that were still catching American troops off-guard in 1944. In addition to the strategic problem – or perhaps insanity would be a better word – of a two-front war against two larger and more powerful nations, the Germans suffered from air inferiority as well as a failure to realize that quality is not an adequate substitute for overwhelming quantity.

And on the Eastern front, Russian armor was superior to German armor for most of the war. Indeed, early German anti-tank guns were not capable of penetrating T-85 armor and although the Tiger and King Tiger are far more famous, Russian heavy tanks and tank destroyers actually possessed larger bore main armaments.

Other than the element of surprise, Germany’s chief advantage in the initial going was that Stalin had purged the Red Army of most of its officer staff. But two years of battle provided the Soviets with hard-earned experience while many good German officers died, leveling the leadership aspect and allowing the Soviet advantages of shorter supply lines, better armor and superior numbers to take effect.