Did Tank Manufacturing Determine the Outcome of World War Two?

This graph, created from data in John Ellis’s book Brute Force: Allied Strategy and Tactics in World War Two, reveals that the Allies invested a huge amount of money and resources into tanks in order to capitalise on their growing advantage in terms of access to resources. This paid off and in total they produced four times as many as the Axis Powers.

As his book’s title suggests, Ellis theorises that the Allied victory in World War Two was in large part due to their ability to produce more weapons than the enemy. The USSR’s victory at the Battle of Kursk is a good example of this concentration on superior numbers to ensure victory.

Tank and Self-Propelled Gun Production by Year 1939-45

Tanks were not the only example of this material superiority. The USA produced 2 million lorries in the war around 400,000 of which were shipped to the USSR under the lend-lease scheme. Trucks were arguably an even more important aspect of wartime manufacturing as they had a much more diverse array of uses than tanks.

Total Tank and Self-Propelled Gun Production for World War Two

For specifics on the kind of tanks being produced see our selection of 12 Important Tanks of World War Two.

Alex is a history student at King's College London focusing on Europe and the Near East in the Middle Ages. He currently works writing and editing content for madefromhistory.