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Old December 3rd, 2011 #1
Bread and Circuses
RickHolland's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2009
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Default Lend Lease - The American aid to Soviet Union

Despite deep-seated mistrust and hostility between the Soviet Union and the Western democracies, Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 created an instant alliance between the Soviets and the two greatest powers in what the Soviet leaders had long called the "imperialist camp": Britain and the United States. Three months after the invasion, the United States extended assistance to the Soviet Union through its Lend-Lease Act of March 1941. Before September 1941, trade between the United States and the Soviet Union had been conducted primarily through the Soviet Buying Commission in the United States.

Lend-Lease was the most visible sign of wartime cooperation between the United States and the Soviet Union. About $11 billion in war material was sent to the Soviet Union under that program. Additional assistance came from U.S. Russian War Relief (a private, nonprofit organization) and the Red Cross. About seventy percent of the aid reached the Soviet Union via the Persian Gulf through Iran; the remainder went across the Pacific to Vladivostok and across the North Atlantic to Murmansk. Lend- Lease to the Soviet Union officially ended in September 1945. Joseph Stalin never revealed to his own people the full contributions of Lend-Lease to their country's survival, but he referred to the program at the 1945 Yalta Conference saying, "Lend-Lease is one of Franklin Roosevelt's most remarkable and vital achievements in the formation of the anti-Hitler alliance."

Lend-Lease material was welcomed by the Soviet Union, and President Roosevelt attached the highest priority to using it to keep the Soviet Union in the war against Germany. Nevertheless, the program did not prevent friction from developing between the Soviet Union and the other members of the anti-Hitler alliance.

The Soviet Union was annoyed at what seemed to it to be a long delay by the allies in opening a "second front" of the Allied offensive against Germany. As the war in the east turned in favor of the Soviet Union, and despite the successful Allied landings in Normandy in 1944, the earlier friction intensified over irreconcilable differences about postwar aims within the anti-Axis coalition. Lend-Lease helped the Soviet Union push the Germans out of its territory and Eastern Europe, thus accelerating the end of the war. With Stalin's takeover of Eastern Europe, the wartime alliance ended, and the Cold War began.

According to Ukranian source: Andrew Gregorovich (

The USA supplied the USSR with 6,430 planes, 3,734 tanks, 104 ships and boats, 210,000 autos, 3,000 anti-aircraft guns, 245,000 field telephones, gasoline, aluminum, copper, zinc, steel and five million tons of food.

This was enough to feed an army of 12 million every day of the war.

Britain supplied 5,800 planes, 4,292 tanks, and 12 minesweepers.

Canada supplied 1,188 tanks, 842 armoured cars, nearly one million shells, and 208,000 tons of wheat and flour.

The USSR depended on American trucks for its mobility since 427,000 out of 665,000 motor vehicles (trucks and jeeps) at the end of the war were of western origin.

The Initial Problems Facing Soviet War Production

In 1941, the Russian armaments industry was in the process of being modernised and expanded as part of Stalin's industrialisation programmes. This involved overhauling older Tsarist-era factories as well as building newer, more modern ones. Most of the existing industrial plants were in European Russia, but the new factories constructed during the 1930's were built in cities along the length of the Volga River and some as far east as the Ural Mountains. Stalin and his planners felt that by constructing them further east they would be safe from the threat perceived by any invasion.

The Relocation of Soviet Industry

In July 1941, following the German invasion, plans were initiated to relocate Russian industry, mainly from the lower Dnepr River and Donbas regions and large cities such as Moscow and Leningrad, eastwards towards the Urals and Siberia. In total 1523 industries were relocated between July and November 1941, involving the utilisation of over 1.5 million rail wagons. They were moved to remote locations, where despite the fact that they arrived haphazardly and with only a small portion of the skilled workforce, they were offloaded into hastily constructed wooden buildings. Production resumed as quickly as possible and ran around the clock six days a week, often despite appalling working conditions. Despite the huge efforts made to complete this relocation, it would take over a year before industrial output reached its pre relocation levels.

Soviet Weapons Losses in 1941 (The First Six Months Of The War)
One of the most compelling reasons for Western Allied assistance to Russia was the incredibly heavy losses of weapons and equipment suffered during the first months of the German invasion. The following examples illustrate the severity of those losses.

72% of all Tanks.
34% of all Combat Aircraft.
56% of all Small-arms and Machine guns.
69% of all Anti-Tank guns.
59% of all Field guns and Mortars.

The Response Of The Western Allies

All of these factors obviously created serious shortfalls of equipment for the Russian armed forces. When STAVKA met with representatives of the Western Allies in Moscow in July, after forming an uneasy alliance with them, they asked for their assistance. The British and the Americans both stepped in to keep Russia in the war. The Lend-lease Act of March 11th 1941 permitted the President of the United States to 'sell, transfer title to, exchange, lease, lend, or otherwise dispose of, to any such government whose defense the President deems vital to the defense of the United States'. The existing program of Lend-Lease was extended to include the Soviet Union and US President Franklin Roosevelt approved US$1 billion in Lend-lease aid to the country on October 30th 1941. The first deliveries of military aid began in November 1941 and were delivered to Russia via convoy across the North Atlantic to the port of Murmansk, through the Persian Gulf into Iran, or from Alaska across Pacific to Vladivostok in the Soviet Far East. The large number of cargo ships moving long distances through dangerous waters resulted in the loss of over 7% of all shipments sent. In total $11 billion in war materiel was given to Russia up until the lend lease agreement ended in 1945. While the shipments included much equipment the British and Americans considered to be obsolete, the Russians were for the most part grateful to receive it.

Lend Lease Armored Fighting Vehicles

There were differences in opinions as far as lend-lease tanks were concerned. The Kremlin officials were generally happy with them initially as they managed to bridge the shortfalls between Russian production quotas and their heavy combat losses. They weren't quite so popular with the Russian tankers who had to crew them however. Later on in the war however, when the Russian's received some of the more advanced tank models like the M4 Sherman/76 they began to realise that some Allied tanks had features that were superior to their own. Allied tanks that had stabilised guns, radios and good reliability made a great impression on the Russians. A point often overlooked is the proportion of the Russian tank force that Allied Lend-Lease shipments represented. The lend lease shipments accounted for some 15% of the total Russian tank force in 1941-1942.The list below details the numbers and types of individual vehicles sent to Russia:

Bren Carriers - 2336
M3 Halftracks - 900
M3A1 Scout Cars - 3092
M3A1 Stuart - 1233
Valentine - 3487
Churchill - 258
M3A3 Lee/Grant - 1200
Matilda - 832
M4A2 75mm Sherman - 1750
M4A2 76mm Sherman - 1850
Half Tracks - 820
Light Trucks - 151,000
Heavy Trucks - 200,000
Jeeps - 51,000
Tractors - 8070

Lend-Lease Aircraft

The aircraft delivered as part of the lend lease programme were especially welcome following the Red airforces catastrophic losses during the opening months of the campaign. Lend-lease aircraft amounted to 18% of all aircraft in the Soviet air forces, 20% of all bombers and 16% of all fighters and 29% of all naval aircraft. Some American aircraft types, such as the P-39 Airacobra fighters, A-20 Boston and B-25 Mitchell bombers and C-47 transport aircraft, were highly revered by their Russian crews. Several Russian aces scored more than 40 victories with Airacobras. The list below details the numbers and types of individual aircraft sent to Russia:

P-39 Airacobra single-engine fighters - 4719
P-40 single-engine fighters - 2397
P-47 - 195
Hurricane single-engine fighters - 2952
Spitfire single-engine fighters - 1331
A-20 twin-engine light attack bombers - 2908
B-25 twin-engine medium bombers - 862

Lend-Lease Artillery Shipments

The Russians felt that they had sufficient numbers of field artillery and knew that production would increase following the relocation their manufacturing facilities to the Urals and Siberia. However they did need AA and AT guns more urgently. However they were not satisfied with the performance of the AT guns they received and did not request any more. They were however satisfied with the Allied anti-aircraft guns they received. The list below details the numbers and types of individual AA and AT guns sent to Russia:

37mm Anti-Tank 35
57mm Anti-Tank 375
37mm Anti-Aircraft 340
40mm Anti-Aircraft 5,400
90mm Anti-Aircraft 240

Lend-Lease Ammunition And Explosives

The Allies supplied 317,000 tons of explosive materials including 22 million shells that was equal to just over half of the total Soviet production of approximately 600,000 tons. Additionally the Allies supplied 103,000 tons of toluene, the primary ingredient of TNT. In addition to explosives and ammunition, 991 million miscellaneous shell cartridges were also provided to speed up the manufacturing of ammunition.

Additional War Material

In addition to military equipment, other commodities were sent which were essential to the war effort. These included 2.3 million tons of steel, 229,000 tons of aluminium, 2.6 million tons of petrol, 3.8 million tons of foodstuffs including tinned pork, sausages, butter, chocolate, egg powder and so on, 56,445 field telephones and 600,000km of telephone wire. The Soviet Union also received 15 million pairs of army boots.


Overall, lend lease material made a considerable difference to the Russian war effort. Following heavy equipment losses in 1941 and early 1942 and the almost complete relocation of Soviet industry, it helped to reestablish the Russians ability to continue fighting. In the later years of the war it helped to enable and sustain the large mobile operations the Russians undertook as they pushed German forces out of Russia and back into Germany. Joseph Stalin never revealed to his own people the full contributions of Lend-Lease to their country's survival, but he referred to the program at the 1945 Yalta Conference saying, 'Lend-Lease was one of Franklin Roosevelt's most remarkable and vital achievements in the formation of the anti-Hitler alliance'. Lend lease material accounted for almost 10% of all Russian war material.

Only force rules. Force is the first law - Adolf H. Man has become great through struggle - Adolf H. Strength lies not in defense but in attack - Adolf H.

Last edited by RickHolland; December 6th, 2011 at 05:08 PM.


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