What was the significance of lend-lease materials for the war on the Eastern Front (1941-1945)?

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History Internal Assessment

What was the significance of lend-lease materials for the war on the Eastern Front (1941-1945)?

Words: 1990

Johan Oxenstierna

Contents Page


  1. Plan of investigation_________________ 3
  2.  Summary of evidence_________________3
  3.  Evaluation of sources_________________5      
  4.  Analysis____________________________5      
  5.  Conclusion__________________________7      
  6.  Appendix___________________________7      
  7. Endnotes___________________________9
  8. Bibliography_______________________11

  1. Plan of investigation

What was the significance of lend-lease materials for the war on the Eastern Front 1941-1945?

During the War on the Eastern Front 1941-1945, the Soviet Union received all kinds of material from the USA, the Great Britain (Commonwealth) and Canada that aided the soviet military effort against Germany. This was called “lend-lease”. The aim of this investigation is to find out what impact lend-lease had on the war on the Eastern Front. The investigation will include a comparison between the amount of soviet production of material used before and during the war with the amount of lend lease material brought there, a comparison between the quality of Soviet products and lend-lease products used in the war and the findings will then be analysed.

B.   Summary of evidence

The lend lease aid was shipped in convoys to Archangelsk and Murmansk in northern Russia, Vladivostok in the Far East and through Persia.

1. The type and quantity of lend-lease products brought to the Soviet Union

A total of 1.8 million tons of lend-lease shipments arrived to Russia in 1941-1942. In 1943-1944 the aid was stepped up and an estimated 7 million tons arrived in those years.

Table 1 (pg. 8) shows the quantity of military products that were sent to Russia by lend-lease.

Table 2 (pg. 8) shows some civilian material sent to Russia by lend-lease.

2. The type and quantity of material produced in the Soviet Union

Table 3 (pg. 8) shows the quantity of some military articles produced by the Soviet Union 1941-1945.

Table 4 (pg. 9) shows the quantity of some military articles produced by the Soviet Union in the pre-war years of 1939-1941.

The total quantity of key articles in the Soviet military (1941-1945) is therefore: Tanks: 116100. Artillery: 590999 guns. Combat aircraft: 135755 planes.

Table 5 shows some other, civil commodities produced by the Soviet Union 1941-1945.

The figures for the Soviet food production are uncertain but it is known that the Germans had captured 42% of the Soviet agricultural areas in 1942 and that they by 1943 still possessed around 37%.  

4. Qualitative comparison: Lend-lease products to Soviet counterparts

Civil articles will not be compared in this way (assuming that the significance of raw materials is based on quantity, not quality), so this only concerns military articles.

  1. Tanks

Most of the lend-lease tanks were light and could not match German tanks.

2 007 of the lend-lease tanks were the much better Sherman M4:s. These tanks were almost as good as the T-34:s, the bulk of the Soviet tank potency.  

b) Aircraft

The most commonly sent aircraft were the P-39, the P-40, the P-63 fighters and the A-20 bomber. These were “very highly appreciated” by the Soviet airforce, which found them better than most of their own models.

5. An assessment of the situation on the Eastern Front 1941-1945


In 1941 the Germans enjoyed a tremendous military superiority and by the end of  

the year they had occupied Ukraine and had reached the outskirts of Moscow and Leningrad. The USSR lost enormous amounts of both civil and military materials in these first months of war and industrial production was severely lowered; totally by as much as 50%. However, much of the industry was ‘moved’ to the east, and production started to recover in 1942, but it suffered from lack of raw materials and manpower.

The German advance was stopped at the end of 1941 particularly with the use of Siberian reinforcements. A fresh German assault in the summer of 1942 extended the southern frontline to Stalingrad.


“The Red Army of 1943 was very unlike the Red Army of 1941 or even 1942” both in terms of equipment, morale and leadership. The Soviet victories at Stalingrad and Kursk marked the ‘turn of tide’ in the war on the Eastern Front. After these battles the Russians pushed the front westwards and invaded Germany in 1945 and victory was claimed later that year.

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C.   Evaluation of sources

1. “Lend Lease to Russia”, from Major Jordan’ Diaries, NY, Harcourt, Brace, 1952, Chapter Nine.

This is a 26-paged document describing the type, quantity and cost (in US dollars) of all US material sent to the Soviet Union during the Second World War. It was written during the Korean War and when the US introduced harsher policies against Communism.

The purpose of the document is mostly professional; it was major Jordan’s job and interest to find out exactly what products had been sent to Russia. Major Jordan also wanted to ...

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