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> Tanks or Aircraft, An alternate-history poll
 
Would WW2 Romania have been better off with a modest tank industry? Or the aircraft industry it had?
The aircraft industry which actually existed. [ 7 ]  [25.93%]
A tank industry along the lines of Czechoslovakia or Poland. [ 13 ]  [48.15%]
Split the difference -- repair and license-building of both. [ 7 ]  [25.93%]
Total Votes: 27
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Jeff_S
Posted on July 01, 2005 07:50 pm
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In this poll, you are Romania's Minister of Industrial Development in the 1930s.

As readers of this site know, Romania had a domestic combat aircraft industry in World War 2. While AFVs were designed in Romania, none were actually produced in usable quantities.

This is your chance to say that should have been reversed. Instead of an aircraft industry, Romania builds up its motor transport industry in the 1920s and 1930s. This allows the production of armored cars and light tanks by 1939. These are comparable to other East European light tanks of the era such as the Czech Panzer 38 or the Polish 7TP. You can assume that the industry continues to evolve during the war (a 75mm gun-armed medium tank by 1943, say), but the overall capacity remains modest. You also get a domestic armaments industry which can produce guns for these tanks as well as towed anti-tank guns. What you don't get is the ability to mechanize all your infantry divisions or send Panzer armies storming in to Russia. In terms of total capacity, think in terms of a more robustly-equipped armored division, supplemented with several light mechanized brigades with a mix of tanks, armored cars, cavalry, and truck-mobile infantry and AT guns. You get German-style recon battalions in your infantry divisions, plus more and heavier AT guns. You also get increased capacity to replace combat losses without depending on German goodwill.

What you give up is Romania's domestic aircraft industry. All combat aircraft must come from Romania's allies. You have fewer of them, and are more dependent on allies for both air defense and ground support.

In the third option, you keep both, but at reduced capacity. Romania can license build foreign designs of both aircraft and light tanks, but does not design them. You also get the ability to better maintain what you get from your allies.

Which policy would you support?

Yes, I am aware of the problems of "what if" history. As my Soviet politics professor used to say when asked "What if Lenin had lived?"... "If grandma had balls, she'd be grandpa." It's just a poll.
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Imperialist
Posted on July 01, 2005 08:04 pm
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I voted aircraft industry.
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dragos
Posted on July 02, 2005 06:27 pm
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I would say tank industry. Even if our aircraft formed excelent pilots, the land army was more important in the outcome of military operations. The lack of mobile reserves was the cause of many defeats.
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Jeff_S
Posted on July 03, 2005 01:25 pm
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QUOTE (dragos @ Jul 2 2005, 06:27 PM)
I would say tank industry. Even if our aircraft formed excelent pilots, the land army was more important in the outcome of military operations. The lack of mobile reserves was the cause of many defeats.

That was my thinking too, which led to this poll. Land combat power was decisive on the Eastern Front. The air forces (on all sides) made valuable contributions, but could not bring victory or prevent defeat. Reading the accounts of Romanian operations, one sees a similar story many times: heroic resistance by infantry, under-supplied with anti-tank guns, with few or no tanks, against masses of Soviet armor. And when the line is broken, the losses are magnified by the lack of reserves to cover a withdrawal.
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Imperialist
Posted on July 03, 2005 03:05 pm
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QUOTE (Jeff_S @ Jul 3 2005, 01:25 PM)
QUOTE (dragos @ Jul 2 2005, 06:27 PM)
I would say tank industry. Even if our aircraft formed excelent pilots, the land army was more important in the outcome of military operations. The lack of mobile reserves was the cause of many defeats.

That was my thinking too, which led to this poll. Land combat power was decisive on the Eastern Front. The air forces (on all sides) made valuable contributions, but could not bring victory or prevent defeat. Reading the accounts of Romanian operations, one sees a similar story many times: heroic resistance by infantry, under-supplied with anti-tank guns, with few or no tanks, against masses of Soviet armor. And when the line is broken, the losses are magnified by the lack of reserves to cover a withdrawal.

Maybe, but you said:

QUOTE

You can assume that the industry continues to evolve during the war (a 75mm gun-armed medium tank by 1943, say), but the overall capacity remains modest.

What you don't get is the ability to mechanize all your infantry divisions or send Panzer armies storming in to Russia. In terms of total capacity, think in terms of a more robustly-equipped armored division, supplemented with several light mechanized brigades...




That would have made little difference in the face of russian onslaught.
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PanzerKing
Posted on July 03, 2005 03:58 pm
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QUOTE (Imperialist @ Jul 3 2005, 03:05 PM)
QUOTE (Jeff_S @ Jul 3 2005, 01:25 PM)
QUOTE (dragos @ Jul 2 2005, 06:27 PM)
I would say tank industry. Even if our aircraft formed excelent pilots, the land army was more important in the outcome of military operations. The lack of mobile reserves was the cause of many defeats.

That was my thinking too, which led to this poll. Land combat power was decisive on the Eastern Front. The air forces (on all sides) made valuable contributions, but could not bring victory or prevent defeat. Reading the accounts of Romanian operations, one sees a similar story many times: heroic resistance by infantry, under-supplied with anti-tank guns, with few or no tanks, against masses of Soviet armor. And when the line is broken, the losses are magnified by the lack of reserves to cover a withdrawal.

Maybe, but you said:

QUOTE

You can assume that the industry continues to evolve during the war (a 75mm gun-armed medium tank by 1943, say), but the overall capacity remains modest.

What you don't get is the ability to mechanize all your infantry divisions or send Panzer armies storming in to Russia. In terms of total capacity, think in terms of a more robustly-equipped armored division, supplemented with several light mechanized brigades...




That would have made little difference in the face of russian onslaught.

I don't think so. There were many times when the Germans were able to drive off Russian 'onslaughts' with a few divisions or armored units. Well placed armored counter-attacks could have done a lot if Romania had the resources.

I'm thinking something like the Italian P.40 could have been possible for Romania if development started in the 30's.
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Iamandi
Posted on July 04, 2005 11:48 am
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P-40? Why not Maresal in "enough" nombers. Tanks and motorised/mechanised are the fist of an army.

Imaginate a morning with fog. Commander of the zone not even call an airstrike to counter a tank assault. Well, but if he had a company of tank destroyers like Hetzer/Maresal?

I will give a shot in favour of tanks. I love tanks more than planes. I run away from army service, but if they catch me.. i will try to arange something to make my service at tanks.

I love C.K.D. Lt-38.

Iama
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dragos03
Posted on July 04, 2005 01:25 pm
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I voted for both. Romania didn't need very good tanks or aircraft, only lots of them.
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Ilusa
Posted on July 04, 2005 01:48 pm
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Airpower is important, but a solid tank idustry would of made more of an impact to the final outcome of a battle.
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Florin
Posted on July 05, 2005 02:35 am
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Our IAR-80 fighters were useful to protect the ground troops and the mainland in the first years of the war.
As the German industry geared up with the needs of the war quite slowly, and Germany never supplied the Axis allies with reasonable quantities, the IAR-80's were the right thing in the right moment. Without them, the Romanian Air Force would have to rely in 1941 just on few dozens of Hurricane, Heinkel 112 and PZL.

The Romanian ability to produce a tank comparable with Matilda, Somua, PzIII or early PzIV, let say in 500 pieces in 1941 and 1942, would not make such a great difference. Obviously, the Romanian industry wouldn't be able to produce something like Tiger or Panther, as neither the Americans, the British or the Soviets were not able to do it.
500 light Romanian tanks would not be essential because the Soviet industry issued tens of thousands of T-34.
If the Romanian industry would be able to issue 500 additional heavy anti-tank guns before October 1942 (something comparable with the German 88 mm or 75 mm, or even with the Russian 76 mm), this could have a better impact than 500 tanks of obsolete design.
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PanzerKing
Posted on July 05, 2005 01:19 pm
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QUOTE (Florin @ Jul 5 2005, 02:35 AM)
Our IAR-80 fighters were useful to protect the ground troops and the mainland in the first years of the war.
As the German industry geared up with the needs of the war quite slowly, and Germany never supplied the Axis allies with reasonable quantities, the IAR-80's were the right thing in the right moment. Without them, the Romanian Air Force would have to rely in 1941 just on few dozens of Hurricane, Heinkel 112 and PZL.

The Romanian ability to produce a tank comparable with Matilda, Somua, PzIII or early PzIV, let say in 500 pieces in 1941 and 1942, would not make such a great difference. Obviously, the Romanian industry wouldn't be able to produce something like Tiger or Panther, as neither the Americans, the British or the Soviets were not able to do it.
500 light Romanian tanks would not be essential because the Soviet industry issued tens of thousands of T-34.
If the Romanian industry would be able to issue 500 additional heavy anti-tank guns before October 1942 (something comparable with the German 88 mm or 75 mm, or even with the Russian 76 mm), this could have a better impact than 500 tanks of obsolete design.

Yes, what if the Resita 75mm AT gun could have been produced at the beginning of the war and at Stalingrad every division had 36-48 of them?
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dragos
Posted on July 05, 2005 02:06 pm
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QUOTE (Florin)
The Romanian ability to produce a tank comparable with Matilda, Somua, PzIII or early PzIV, let say in 500 pieces in 1941 and 1942, would not make such a great difference. Obviously, the Romanian industry wouldn't be able to produce something like Tiger or Panther, as neither the Americans, the British or the Soviets were not able to do it.


I think the production of light tank-destroyers with a gun powerful enough to deal with T-34 tanks (at least 50mm) would have meant something, especially from 1942 on. However, most of the armed forces at the beginning of the war did not rely on tank-destroyers (which are more economical), but on (light) tanks. We should consider the doctrines in effect at that time. The German heavy tanks in mid-late war IMO were less practicable than a larger number of light tank destroyers.

QUOTE (PanzerKing)
Yes, what if the Resita 75mm AT gun could have been produced at the beginning of the war and at Stalingrad every division had 36-48 of them?


The Resita AT gun was designed on the basis of German 75mm PaK and of the captured 76.2mm Soviet guns, therefor it would require the experience of the first years of war.
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SiG
  Posted on July 05, 2005 03:33 pm
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QUOTE (dragos @ Jul 5 2005, 02:06 PM)
The Resita AT gun was designed on the basis of German 75mm PaK and of the captured 76.2mm Soviet guns, therefor it would require the experience of the first years of war.

I thought that the Resita gun was a British design produced under licence. :blink:
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Agarici
Posted on July 05, 2005 04:24 pm
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I voted for the last option, but in my opinion the things are more complex than summarized by these three variants. Leaving aside what could be one country particularities (geography, population size, neighbors). For example in the case of Norway or Denmark a low population density lead to small armies, with few tanks and planes; the same in the case of Finland, with its single tank company in the beginning of the Winter War, but also with a pretty capable air force due to it's big and aggressive neighbor, and an extensive line of fortifications). Even in the case of what can be called a “normal” medium European country as Romania was, the effectiveness of a decision as that presented above depends very much on the time when it is taken. In the beginning of the war a balanced army, including both tanks and airplanes, could benefit from an armored force of light tanks, but later in the war these are useless as fighting vehicles against other more modern heavier tanks (as it was the case with Romania’s R2 and T 38 from late 1942-early 1943 onwards).

Also we should note the paramount role of a superior air force (or rather of air supremacy) as was proven time and time again in the western campaign from the D-day onwards. The German superior tanks, armored warfare tactics and battle experienced units (and the existence of high skilled and battle hardened tankers like W. Whitman), though acknowledged by the allies (thus the idea that a 3 to 1 manpower superiority is needed in order to prevail) were downed by the fact that the Anglo-Americans had air supremacy. It is true what Iama have said, that bad weather could ground an air force (it was the case many times on Western front, but also during the Russian offensive at Don’s bend) but that would not take too long.

As for any reciprocally exclusive solution, I don’t think it could have been the case in the real world. Before WW 2, there were initiatives to produce in Romania both tanks and airplanes. There was a suggestion in 1937 to produce under license Renault R 35, then Skoda R 1 and then, according to some sources, a medium tank under Czech license (designated as R 3) - starting from a prototype used to build the first Hungarian Turan tank model. Also in late 30’s there were plans to build an indigenous fighter (along with/replacing license built fighters) and later a light bomber. These were materialized in late 1940-early 1941 when the serial production for both IAR 80 and for the modified (two engine) version of Savoia-Marchetti 79 started.

During the war, efforts were made to improve the situation on both accounts. Obsolete as they were towards the end of the war (even comparing with the Me 109 g variants), the fleet of IAR 80 fought until the last day of the war and I think that it wouldn’t have been possible to imagine any performance similar to that realized by the RRAF/FARR without them. The situation remained rather critical in what the tanks were concerned, at least until the Maresal tank destroyer was designed, tested and the infrastructure prepared for mass production. If the events from 23 august and the Russian occupation wouldn’t have changed that, Romanian army could have been, by the end of September 1944, in possession of some hundreds of such effective tank hunters.

This post has been edited by Agarici on July 05, 2005 04:57 pm
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Agarici
Posted on July 05, 2005 04:51 pm
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QUOTE (SiG @ Jul 5 2005, 03:33 PM)
QUOTE (dragos @ Jul 5 2005, 02:06 PM)
The Resita AT gun was designed on the basis of German 75mm PaK and of the captured 76.2mm Soviet guns, therefor it would require the experience of the first years of war.

I thought that the Resita gun was a British design produced under licence. :blink:


These were actually two different weapons:
- the Vickers model 1936 75 mm AA gun, build in Romania under British license starting from 1939 (and after the license has expired without it) at Resita (hence the designation Vickers/Resita used sometimes) and later also at "Astra" Brasov factories. It was used along with optics/fire control systems modernized in Romania
- the Resita model 1943 75 mm AT gun, a modified anti-tank version of the above-presented one (nothing new until here, this proceeding was also used by the Germans for the Krupp 88 mm AA gun), designed using the experience of (already in service) Germans mod. 1897/1938 and mod. 1940 75 mm and Russian captured 76 mm antitank guns. It entered serial production starting with the end of 1943. Reportedly, it had better results than both the German and the Soviet models mentioned.

Also, reportedly, during the Soviet offensive at Don’s Bend the Romanians AA 75 mm Vickers successfully engaged Russian medium tanks on several occasions.

This post has been edited by Agarici on July 05, 2005 04:54 pm
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