Lend-Lease as a Function of the Soviet War Economy

by Jason Long

Soviet historians have typically denigrated the Allied efforts to supply the Soviet Union with war material as paltry in comparison with her own production and that it was not essential to the Soviet victory. In armored fighting vehicles this is somewhat true, in aircraft less true and in raw and semi-finished industrial materials this is a bold-faced lie.

Information has appeared recently that put the lie to that old communist claim. Based on Soviet data on war production and Lend-Lease records it is now possible to show just how critical Lend-Lease was to the Soviet war effort. And, in short, the answer is that Lend-Lease allowed the Soviets to focus their own production almost solely on the production of weapons and ammunition. I'll show just how critical was the Lend-Lease connection below.

A number of commodities will be shown below. The totals derived do not include 1940 data and only 1/2 of 1941 and 1945 production. All weights are metric.

Aviation Fuel

thousands of tons (includes Allied deliveries)
Allied Deliveries258659
Soviet Production181041

Automotive Fuel

thousands of tons
Soviet Production9431.5
Allied Deliveries242.3
Allied Proportion2.5%

Railroad rails

(excluding narrow guage rails)
Soviet Production48,990
Allied Deliveries622,100
Allied Proportion92.7%


(all types)
Allied Deliveries1966
Allied Proportion81.6%

Rail cars

(all types)
Soviet Production2635
Allied Deliveries11,075
Allied Proportion80.7%


(in tons)
Soviet Production600,000
Allied Deliveries295,600
Allied Proportion33%

Copper Ore

(in tons)
Soviet Production470,000
Allied Deliveries387,600
Allied Proportion45.2%


(thousands of tons)
Allied Deliveries328.1
Allied Proportion55.5%


Soviet Production8,368,000
Allied Deliveries3,606,000
Allied Proportion30.1%

Note: The UK also delivered 103,500 tons of natural rubber so the actual Allied proportion was quite a bit higher.

Machine Tools

Soviet Production115,400
Allied Deliveries44,704
Allied Proportion27.9%

Note: If complexity is accounted for than the Allied contribution is considerably more important than the figures would suggest. Allied machine tools were considerably more complex and versatile than Soviet machine tools.


(thousands of tons)
Soviet Production1,460
Allied Deliveries610
Allied Proportion29.5%


(thousands of tons)
Soviet Production3,715
Allied Deliveries664.9
Allied Proportion15.1%

Unfortunately detailed data as to quantities of each commodity delivered by month by route are hidden away in relatively inaccessible archives. But month-by-month tonnage figures for each route are easily accessible so we'll just have to estimate things on a that basis.

As you can see Lend-Lease was absolutely critical in sustaining the Soviet railroad system. Without the deliveries of rails, locomotives and cars the system would have collapsed. I think the best way of showing this is to reduce the Soviet railcap if Lend-Lease is interdicted by the Germans.


Beaumont, Joan. Harrison, Mark. Accounting For War: Soviet Production, Employment, and the Defense Burden, 1941-1945
Ibid. Soviet Planning in Peace and War Jones.
Sokolov, B. V. "The Role of Lend-Lease in Soviet Military Efforts, 1941-1945"; Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 7, No. 3, Sept. 94

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