Here's an underappreciated fact of history: in WW1 the US was so ill prepared that it had to borrow rifles from France.

People now take for granted that "the sleeping giant" was going to awake after being attacked. But in WW1 the US was also the largest economy in the world, and it did not transform overnight in a weapons manufacturing behemoth, like it did in WW2.

If a conflict with China ever comes to pass, it is not at all predestined that the US will repeat its WW2 feat rather than its WW1 experience.

What this article misses is that the US "private planes" were being sold directly to Japan and then being converted into military aircraft. What we didn't sell we licensed the designs directly to them.

This went on well into the late 1930s. It was recognized as a potential problem by some but the profits were large enough that these were ignored.

I encourage everyone to read the book "Human Smoke." It is a collection of headlines and newspaper excerpts from the period surrounding WW2. It's a fascinating read and wonderfully exposes all the propaganda driven half truths and complete fabrications we've sold ourselves about the conflict ever since it ended.

Meanwhile America is now struggling to produce something as simple as artillery shells, while Russia is producing 2-5 times the number produced by the entire US + EU combined.




>It’s no secret that the Allies won World War II on the back of the U.S.’s enormous industrial output.

The author ignores the USSR completely in their article, except for a brief mention in the graphs (where it's #2). 157k planes is impressive, too, considering that many of the factories had to evacuate to Siberia. 22k planes were also additionally leased by the US and the UK.

Sort of interesting to compare the US experience in WWI, where a program to deliver 20k planes by the summer of July 1918 managed to get a whopping 196 planes into service before the war ended that November.

This will happen again with drones. No doubt China is watching Russia closely and ramping up their production. What we're seeing now with FPV and bomber quadcopters is literally the equivalent of WWI biplanes tossing grenades and mortar shells, which only took a decade to become long range strategic bombers dropping thousands of pounds. Once the production is in place, autonomous swarms are an inevitability. And we will be forced to match.
> Between 1939 and 1944, the value of aircraft produced annually in the U.S. increased by a factor of 70, and the total weight of aircraft produced (a common measure of aircraft industry output) increased by a factor of 64

Something about evaluating production quantity by weight always puts a smile on my face

I haven’t finished the article yet, so I’m not sure if this is brought up. But I’m always amazed by how much government control there was in mobilizing the US economy for WW2. Factories were converted to producing war goods overnight. From Pearl Harbor to Japans surrender, the US produced less than 200 commercial cars! The amount of centralized government control during this period was astounding. It makes you wonder if that would be possible in the US today. Not just would the American people tolerate this kind of drastic change, but whether the modern economy and supply chains could support these kinds of sudden, drastic re-directs
> As late as 1941, the U.K. was building more planes per year than the U.S. But by 1942, the U.S. was building roughly as many aircraft as Germany, Japan, the U.K. and Italy combined.

Wow. Unbelievable

Huh. There were _800k_ aircraft built during the war. Hadn't realised it was anything close to that. That's easily over a million pilots - how on earth did they train them all?
I will say, that I live on Long Island, which was a major industrial area, during WWII.

We enjoy one of the highest cancer rates in the world. All those factories used to dump their waste into our aquifers.

This is a nice write-up, although it focuses solely on the US industrial output, which is indeed impressive, going from ~2,100 aircraft to ~50,000 in six years. However, that first table raises some questions - the Soviets were already at ~10,300 in 1939, and the Germans at ~8,200. How were they able to do it?

One major influence is that American industrialists were busy expanding global markets and happily supplied their technology and manufacturing processes to the two major buyers, Nazi Germany and Communist Russia, in the 1930s, with Ford being one of the major actors, perhaps more active in Germany:

In Germany:

> "Ford and the Führer: A History of Ford Motor Company's Involvement in Nazi Germany" by Paul Ingrassia and Joseph B. White: This work delves into Ford's business activities in Germany, documenting the introduction of assembly-line manufacturing and the company's interactions with the Nazi regime."

> "The American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindbergh, and the Rise of the Third Reich" by Max Wallace: This book explores the relationship between American industrialists like Henry Ford and the Nazi regime, including detailed accounts of Ford's manufacturing contributions."

In Soviet Union:

> "Gorky Automobile Plant (GAZ): Built with the technical assistance of Ford, the Gorky Automobile Plant began producing vehicles using American-style assembly lines. Ford provided machinery, blueprints, and training to Soviet engineers and workers. Soviet engineers and technicians received training in Ford’s American factories, learning about assembly line production and modern manufacturing techniques."

I don't know if there's a particular moral to this story, other than that in search of short-term profit major American industrialists were happy to get in bed with any and all buyers.

>It’s no secret that the Allies won World War II on the back of the U.S.’s enormous industrial output.

Now China is the country with the largest industrial output.

It's very weird to me that we could build airplanes at this scale almost a century ago, yet nowadays even the biggest airforces can barely field more than a tousand planes.

It's not like those old machines were primitive, and there have been major breakthroughs in mass-manufacturing.

Don't forget that the armistice was just a pause for the new soldiers to grow up. Everybody knew WW2 was coming and was preparing for over 20 years.
> The Vinson-Trammell Act limited profits on government contracts to just 12% (later reduced to 8%)

What the actual _hell_ happened to this idea?

I could not find it in the article and here but i wonder how much not getting the factories bombed helped with this.
Anyone else feel like in today's world, China could do this better than the US?
Factorio IRL

The post has one interesting resource that can become a bottleneck: people, what if there is a mod where you need to find and employ aliens to run your production line? Maybe some of the aliens will choose to work in factories instead of attacking you..

Time to produce 300k F-35s and a much larger Navy.
The US was a place of hardworking, talented folks with natural geographical safety and a lot of resources. The only thing we need to do is stop anti competitive practices, break up monopolies, basically keep pure capitalism going.
What a waste.
Except The Red Army actually won WWII.
Here’s a video about how China out produces the United States in ship building.