German arms production

Germany-flagGerman arms production in WW2 from 1939-1945

The annual German armaments and military equipment production (excluding ammunition) and a comparison of the necessary strategic raw materials. Additional, the origins of the strategic raw materials and effect of the Allied bombing offensive on the German arms production.

assembly line of German Focke-Wulf Fw 190

A WW2 assembly line of German Focke-Wulf Fw 190 single-seat fighters.

The surprisingly quickly gained ‘Blitz’ (lightning) victories in the years 1939 to 1940, as well as the initial great successes with the Operation Barbarossa, evidently proved the correctness of the ‘Blitzkrieg’ (lightning war) strategy.
Thus, on July 14, 1941, Hitler announced a disarming and conversion program for the German arms production, 1941, for the reason that ‘in the final battle, no new great opponent could be formed anymore’.

Thus in 1941, the German armaments production remained at the same relatively low level in the actual year of the decision of WW2, while Great Britain, the Soviet Union, and America increased considerably.
Up to now arms production in Germany was carried out in the course of the war according to the same scheme: the German workers manufactured the armaments, were subsequently conscripted and used these self-made weapons. Once the campaign had been successfully completed, the bulk of the army was released back into the factories to produce new armaments.

However, as early as the autumn of 1941, it became clear that the victory over Russia was not possible any more this year. This is also recognized by Hitler, but he is not willing to change the priorities for armaments.
On the Russian Front, the new tanks of the Red Army like the T-34 and KV-1, which are now emerging in ever-increasing numbers, are growing the difficulties. The German standard anti-tank gun 3.7-cm PAK 36 is not effective against it, and even the strongest German tank, the Panzer IV with the short 7.5 cm cannon, is also weaker.

This raises considerable problems for the German arms production, which are further increased by the rivalries inside the Wehrmacht. In March 1940, a Reichs Ministry for armament and ammunition under the Major-General of the Luftwaffe, Dr Fritz Todt was created. Todt, with his ‘Organization Todt’, had already organized the building of the ‘Reichsautobahnen’ (highways) and of the ‘Westwall’ (Siegfried line) and was responsible also to build the new ‘Atlantikwall’ (Atlantic wall), but his successes in the arms production are rather modest.

On February 8, 1942 Todt had a meeting with Hitler in Rastenburg (East Prussia) about the confused armament situation. A few hours later his plane crashes for unexplained reasons and Hitler’s young chief architect, Speer, is immediately appointed as successor.
Speer immediately recognizes that Hitler wants to maintain a sort of ‘pseudo-peace’ for Germany, and thus, for example, is against the use of women as workers in the industry. Obviously, Hitler had a pathological fear of a loss of popularity and wanted to avoid unrest, strikes and possible revolts or insurrections under all circumstances from the experiences of World War One.

There is also no parent control of armaments priorities between the army, the air force, Kriegsmarine (navy) as well as the new rising Waffen-SS. A development stop for the air force was already decided in 1941, since the war was regarded as won and no new and better aircraft models were needed.

All this can be solved by Speer and he reaches a much larger German armament production until 1944, but he can no longer catch up with the lost time. If the armaments of 1944 had been available two or three years earlier, it would have been sufficient to win the war, but at that time Hitler’s enemies had, in spite of all, a powerful and oppressive predominance.


German arms production by weapon types

Vehicles and transportation
Type of Weapon 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 (2-3 months) Overall
Battle tanks 9621,5733,3994,3865,8137,983 95625,072
Flamethrower tanks - 87 47 81 110 20 - 345
Armoured command vehicles 44 34 132 131 134 41 - 516
Tank destroyers - - - - 903,2801,7505,120
Assault guns - 184 548 7893,2795,172 98810,960
Self-propelled anti-tank guns - 173 2141,2221,695 457 163,777
Assault artillery - - - 34 3041,227 1121,677
Self-propelled artillery - 40 16 1831,362 670 872,358
Armoured anti-aircraft guns 15 - - - 87 361 64 527
Reconnaissance vehicles 324 422 618 992 867 555 1133,024
other armoured vehicles 55 334 605 45 310 959 1422,450
Demolition vehicles (Goliath aso) 100 - -1,0884,4943,102 1388,922
Armoured personnel carriers 232 337 8132,5747,1539,4861,28521,880
Semi-tracked tractors ?3,2247,4897,6279,8277,840 69636,703+
Semi-tracked trucks - - -10,70437,42727,761 72487,329
Military trucks and lorries32,55853,34851,08549,70752,896103,3144,582347,490
Military cars ? ? ?24,152105,69396,492 ?226,337+
Military motor-cycles ? ? ?34,01733,04627,8302,57797,470+
Locomotives ?1,6881,9182,6375,2433,495 ?14,981+
Train waggons ?28,20044,84560,89266,26345,189 ?245,389+

Not only the numbers were increased dramatically between 1942 and 1944, also the quality and combat effectiveness were partially strong increased, as – for example – the combat weights of the produced armored vehicles reflecting this fact:

Combat weights of the produced armored vehicles
Year: 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944
Numbers2,1545,1389,27819,82427,340
Combat weight in tons37,32583,188140,454369,416622,322
Average combat weight per unit17.316.215.118.622.8

t_arrow1 see also: German AFV production (in detail).

Infantry weapons
Type of Weapon 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 (2-3 months) Overall
Pistols ? ? ?467,253959,5401,038,340145,1402,610,273+
Rifles (K98k, K41, K43, G 33/40) ?1,371,7001,358,5001,149,5931,946,2002,282,380310,1188,418,491+
Machine-guns ?170,880 (incl SMG)324,800 (incl SMG)77,340165,527278,16456,089c. 674,280
Sub-machine guns MP 38, 40, 44 ? (in MG) (in MG)152,683240,073500,074131,672c. 1,400,000+
Anti-tank hand-weapons (up to Dec 42 Pz.B. 38,39,41 – from Aug 43 Panzerschreck) ? ? ? 88050,835209,00021,000281.715+
Panzerfaust (anti-tank hand weapon) - - - -c.500,0002,870,000 (only Oct-Dec), 1,500,000 or more before2,056,000c.7,000,000+
Mortars ?4,3804,23018,55125,95529,5983,67586,389+
Artillery and guns
Type of Weapon 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 (2-3 months) Overall
Artillery guns of all types1,2146,73011,200 (details below) (details below) (details below) (details below)159,144+
Light anti-tank guns (3.7-cm-PAK, 4.2-cm-PAK, Pak38) (see art) (see art) (see art)4,7982,481 - - (see art)
Medium anti-tank guns (7.5-cm-PAK 38, 40, 41, 7.62-cm PAK (r) ) (see art) (see art) (see art)4,34412,40012,151 618 (see art)
Heavy anti-tank guns (8.8-cm-PAK, 12-cm-PAK) - - - -1,2242,058 367 (see art)
Light anti-aircraft guns (see art) (see art) (see art)15,52719,60216,863+1,771+ (see art)
Heavy anti-aircraft guns (see art) (see art) (see art)1,0286,1387,714+ ? (see art)
Infantry guns (see art) (see art) (see art)1,6872,8026,458 876 (see art)
Nebelwerfer (rocket launcher) (see art) (see art) (see art)3,8641,7063,767 460 (see art)
Light art (mainly 10.5 cm) (see art) (see art) (see art)1,4764,5339,000 604 (see art)
Heavy art (10-cm K18, sFH, 17-cm-K) (see art) (see art) (see art) 9311,7733,652 475 (see art)
Super-heavy art (21-cm-K, 20.3-cm-K, 24-cm H, K3, K5, K38, E, M1) (see art) (see art) (see art) 33 123 125 61 (see art)
Planes
Type of Weapon 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 (2-3 months) Overall
Bomber planes 7372,8523,3734,3374,6492,287 -18,235
Fighter planes 6052,7463,7445,51510,89825,2854,93553,728
Ground attack planes 134 603 5071,2493,2665,4961,10412,359
Reconnaissance planes 163 9711,0791,0671,1171,686 2166,299
Seaplanes, floatplane 100 269 183 238 259 141 -1,190
Transport planes 145 388 502 5731,028 443 -3,079
Gliders - 3781,461 745 442 111 83,145
Communication planes 46 170 431 607 874 410 112,549
Trainers 5881,8701,1211,0782,2743,693 31810,942
Jet fighters - - - - - 564 9291,493
Jet bombers - - - - - 150 64 214
Fi 103 flying bomb (V-1) - - - - -23,6726,50930,181
A-4 rocket (V-2) - - - - -4,1281,6695,797
Ships
Type of Weapon 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 (2-3 months) Overall
U-boats 58 50 219 222 292 283 981,220
Battleships - 1 1 - - - - 2
Destroyers - 2 5 3 6 2 - 18
Torpedo boats ? ? 6 6 6 6 - 24+
MTB's ? ? 36 36 41 63 - 176+

It is noteworthy that the significant increase in arms production between 1942 and 1944 (over 300%) was made possible without access to more resources. It was especially done through much greater productivity and stripping out the civilian industrial sector. Therefore the following overview:

Annual strategic raw material production (m. metric tons)
Year: 1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945
Coal332.8364.8402.8407.8429.0432.850.3
Ore18.529.553.350.656.232.6 ?
Steel23.721.528.228.730.625.81.4
Aluminium (in 1,000 metric tons – especially important for aircraft production)239.4265.3315.6420.0432.0470.0 ?

Important influences on Germany’s military production

destroyed Krupp armaments works in Essen

A part of the plant of the Krupp armaments works in Essen after the RAF bombing raids. Apart from the large chimney’s is virtually nothing not destroyed anymore.

Underground production plant

With enormous efforts were production plants outscoured from the Allied bombing offensive and shifted under the earth – or at least decentralized in remote and distant areas. In this way it was possible to triple the arms production between 1942 to 1944, despite the more than 16-fold increase of the bombs which were dropped in this time.

Several factors had an important influence on the ability of Germany to produce armaments, munitions and military equipment during World War 2.

This includes the dependence on raw materials from the occupied and conquered territories or it’s import from neutral countries. Similarly, the Allied bombing offensive resulted in significant losses and forced a costly relocation of production facilities.


The importance of occupied and neutral countries for strategic raw materials for Germany:

Monthly average in 1,000 tonnes for 1943:
selected, important strategic raw materials Greater Germany Occupied Territories Overall Proportion of the occupied territories in %
Iron ore (particularly from France and Belgium) 950.0 437.01,387.0 31.5 %
Coal23,200.06,400.029,600.0 21.6 %
Crude steel (mainly from France)2,550.0 337.02,887.0 11.7 %
Aluminium 20.8 9.7 30.5 31.8 %
Pulp 5.3 14.5 19.8 73.2 %
Total26,726.17,198.233,924.3 21.2 %
Importance of manganese ore from Ukraine 1941-1943 (in 1,000 tonnes manganese content
Half year II/1941 I/1942 II/1942 I/1943 II/1943 Overall
German consumption 63.8 55.7 67.4 84.1 85.8 356.8
Imports from Ukraine 25.5 39.0 86.7 94.8 70.0 316.1
Share of the imports from Ukraine on consumption in % 40.0 % 70.0 % 128.6 % 112.7 % 81.6 % 88.6 %
Important raw material imports from neutral countries 1942-1944:
Country raw material 1942 1943 1944
SwedenIron ore (in 1,000 tons)8,00010,300 (=38%)4,500
Pulp (in 1,000 tons) 174 150 110
Portugal Tin ore (in tonnes) 6491,236 ?
Tungsten ore (in tonnes) 611 463 895
Turkey Chrome ore (in tonnes) -4,95011,700

This tables are showing, for example, that such an important strategic raw material like iron ore (for steel production) in 1943 was coming by 42% from Greater Germany, 38% were imported from Sweden and 20% were delivered by the occupied territories.


Failures in arms production as results of the Allied bombing offensive:

Selection of the period from October to December 1943:
Weapon Manufacturing Failure Overall Proportion of failure in %
StuG assault gun 909 1771,086 16.3 %
PzKpfw V Panther 776 144 920 15.6 %
PzKpfw VI Tiger 173 79 252 31.4 %
Semi-tracked carriers 457 210 667 31.5 %
7.5-cm Pak 40 645 55 700 7.9 %
8.8-cm-Pak 43/41 117 63 180 35.0 %
light FH 18/40 gun 268 32 300 10.7 %
heavy 10-cm gun 18 26 19 45 42.2 %
Trucks11,3732,25713,630 16.6 %
Overall14,7443,03617,780 17.1 %
Selection of Germany cities, based on the few effective and most ineffective bombing attacks in the view of loss of production::
City first 500t attack total dropped bombs in tons Population 1939 Population share of Germany Value of the industrial production in 1000 RM (c.$450) Share of industrial production of Germany Total production failure in months Failure based on the total production of whole Germany
Wuppertal 29.05.19435,883401,6720.50 %77,2420.82 %4.40.30
Düsseldorf 31.07.194224,000726,2610.91 %153,2621.63 %2.20.30
Dortmund 04.05.194317,538542,2610.68 %84,8660.90 %3.40.26
Bochum 13.05.194311,175305,4950.38 %84,8200.90 %2.80.21
Bremen 22.06.194213,890450,0840.56 %114,1321.22 %1.90.20
Leipzig 20.10.19434,764831,6151.07 %157,8221.68 %1.20.17
Oberhausen 14.06.19433,067191,8420.24 %47,7850.51 %2.00.09
Hagen 01.10.19434,502151,7600.19 %32,0820.34 %0.60.02
for comparison:
Berlin 01.03.194335,0004,338,7565.46 %717,2517.41 % irrelevant irrelevant
Stuttgart 11.03.194320,822458,4290.57 %176,7901.84 % irrelevant irrelevant
Munich 09.03.194416,666893,9541.12 %161,8651.72 % irrelevant irrelevant
Cologne 31.05.194230,679887,7241.11 %132,6001.41 % irrelevant irrelevant
Essen 03.04.194331,146666,7430.83 %113,5121.21 % irrelevant irrelevant
Gelsen-kirchen 25.06.19438,035317,5680.40 %88,6670.95 % irrelevant irrelevant
Progress of the bombing war 1940-1945 (in tons of bombs dropped):
Year: 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 (4 months) total (projected 1945 to a full year)
on cities in Germany10,000 = 0.4 %30,000 = 1.3 %40,000 = 1.7 %120,000 = 5.1 %650,000 = 27.7 %500,000 (1,500,000 projected for the year) = 63.8 %2,350,000 (actual 1,350,000)
for comparison; on cities in UK38,84421,8583,2602,2989,151761 (2,283 projected for the year)77,694 (actual 76,172)
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6 Comments

  1. Hello!

    Interesting data set but what is the source of this material; figures etc?

    In addition would you know where I could find an allied POW chart showing total number of allied captured by Germany and allies?

    Cheers!

    • Hi !
      All data here are used to develop realistic War Games (means the outcome most be the same thna in history if every decision taken by the opponents is the same).
      So from a lot of sources the ‘strong’, safe, confirmed and true datas to reaxh this goal are used and it’s impossible to mention all of them here.

  2. Phillips Payson O’Brien is his book “How The War Was Won” is suggesting that at least 55% but even 60% of German war production was targetting air warfare, 12-13% sea warfare and only about 30% of munitions went on land warfare. With all efforts including V-weapons, concreat sheltet construction because allied strategic bombing that share of air war might have been bigger than 60%.

  3. 1944 was the year of highest war production. Interesting…

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