Aircraft production 1939-45

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Senior Airman
Oct 25, 2005
Found this interesting chart on aircraft production figures for all types for 1939 to 45, apparently from the WW2 Almanac or something, no idea of accuracy but they seem reasonable enough to me and seem to match what I have already heard.

The US seriously kicked into gea, going from lowest here by far in 1939, to tripling production by 1940, then tripling again from '40 to '41, then more than doubling from '41 to '42, almost doubling again from '42 to '43, finally levelling off a bit in '44 and then backing off in '45 obviosuly as the war wound down. You can see the massive industrial might they had at the time, noone else comes close.


1939 - 2,141
1940 - 6,086
1941 - 19,433
1942 - 47,836
1943 - 85,898
1944 - 96,318
1945 - 46,001
Total - 303,713

Britain was already cranking them out in 1939 when the war officially started, almost doubling in 1940 during the Battle of Britain, but then only adding a bit each year until they pretty much topped out in 1943/44 at 26K per year, maybe this was their upper limit of production?


1939 - 7,940
1940 - 15,049
1941 - 20,094
1942 - 23,672
1943 - 26,263
1944 - 26,461
1945 - 12,070
Total - 131,549

The USSR was obviously preparing for a war in '39, 10K per year in 1939 is easily the most aircraft of this lot, only Germany comes close at the time. They seemed to have kept up and even increased production during the early invasion years when they were shfiting production to the urals, then they shifted gear and got into it, though never really made that many compared to the US for example. their peak production in 1944 was not even as much as Germany, though I guess they didn't need so many as they were also being given lots of aircraft via lend lease


1939 - 10,382
1940 - 10,565
1941 - 15,737
1942 - 25,436
1943 - 34,900
1944 - 40,300
1945 - 20,900
Total - 158,220

Germany was unsuprisingly at fairly high production (comparatively) in '39, suprisingly not increasing production all that much until the later years, you can see them creeing up quite a bit in '43 then a lot in '44, but then of course dropping off considerably in '45 for obvious reasons.


1939 - 8,295
1940 - 10,826
1941 - 12,401
1942 - 15,409
1943 - 24,807
1944 - 40,593
1945 - 7,540
Total - 119,871

Suprisingly Japans output is quite low, even in the first 3 years when they were quite involved in war on all fronts, even by '42 they are still at quite low production, they start pedalling harder in '43 once they realise they are starting to lose ground, then hitting full speed in '44 like Germany when they probably realise they might in fact lose, then petering out in '45 once they did lose.


1939 - 4,467
1940 - 4,768
1941 - 5,088
1942 - 8,861
1943 - 16,693
1944 - 28,180
1945 - 8,263
Total - 76,320

Quite interesting really, why didn't Germany or Japan increase production until the later years? Was it overconfidence in victory? or does it take until you are getting hammered and your homeland is under threat to realise you need to pull your finger out? Or was it due to mounting losses that production needed to be upped?
Interesting subject.

One thing thats scarey about the US production totals, is it doesnt include all the wastage that was prevalent in starting up production.

In early 1945, the aircraft industry was just "warming" up and there was even more capacity available if needed.

One big reason the US could build so many aircraft is the willingness to use woman in the labor force and there was a vast cadre of managers, engineers and technicians who understood the mass production concept, and readily applied it to area's where it was never tried before.

Japans totals in 1945 were low because of the submarine blockade and B29 raids were destroying their capacity to build anything, let alone aircraft.
Britain was already cranking them out in 1939 when the war officially started, almost doubling in 1940 during the Battle of Britain, but then only adding a bit each year until they pretty much topped out in 1943/44 at 26K per year, maybe this was their upper limit of production?

To a certain extent it reflects a change in aircraft types. More heavy bombers in 1944 than 1943. The weight of aircraft produced increased, from 185 million pounds to 208 million.

The production totals from the British Bombing Survey Unit, in million pounds of airframe weight:

1941 - 81.36
1942 - 275.83
1943 - 654.19
1944 - 961.12

1941 - 87.25
1942 - 133.38
1943 - 185.25
1944 - 208.47

1941 - 64.43
1942 - 91.72
1943 - 139.90
1944 - 173.66
This is very interesting. The one that surprised me were the figures for the USSR. I always had them down as producing vast numbers of relatively basic aircraft. To find their numbers in the same basic ballpark as the UK wasn't what I expected.
Well one thing this really shows is the capacity that the US had compared to other nations. As for Germany I would say it is because of overconfidence and also a bit of reaching there industrial capacity. I agree with syscom about the Japanese figures.
Its interesting to see just how the change in focus to single seat fighters allowed German and Japan to massively increase aircraft production.

As far as I can see, there are a few factors behind the decision:

1. Their offensive arms were now fairly impotent in the face of Allied air power,

2. They were desperately trying to regain control of thier own airspace and damage/defeat Allied bombing efforts

3. The capacity of the single seat fighter as a tactical weapon had grown immensly since 1939, particularly as a fighter-bomber.
The main reason was to try and stop the allied bombing offensive. Germany however did not completely give up the production of larger multi engine aircraft because Hitler was so damn hell bent on bombing the enemy back.
i know this is off the subject but did the ussr outproduce the us in tank production they rally had a lot of t34's rolling around
Hmm, yeah? What are tank productions numbers for the countries? All those "Free" 1 1/2 and duece and a half trucks we sent allowed them to concentrate on T-34s instead.
The T-34 was the most produced Tank of WW2. I believe it is the 2nd most produced tank of all time, but I am not sure on that.

Between 1940 and 1945 there were 57,339 T-34s built in Russia. Including these tanks built during WW2 and the ones built by the Russians and other countries after WW2 until the 1950's there were about 84,070 T-34s built all together.

The Russians used the T-34s until the 1960s in there reserves and the T-34 was used in Vietnam including the attack on Lang Vei. T-34s were used in Vietnam and even the Iraqi Army had T-34s during Desert Storm.
US Tank production didnt really begin untill well into 1942.

If you look at the strength of the US Army in 1941 and what it was equipped with, it was pathetic and laughable.
The Shermans could have been produced just as quickly for the US like the T-34 was for the Russians. The Sherman was easily mass produced and because of its simplicity is the only reason I think they kept building it rather than try to build bigger and better tanks. The object was to build something that got the job done and win the war.

Anyhow this needs to get back on topic.
I wonder if this was true.

Goering (or Speer maybe?) was quoted as saying that the US could build razors and washing machines, but not airplanes.

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