SmithAir747
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World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:18 am

Suppose that a third world war had finally broken out in Europe, between NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact. And suppose that it had been a largely conventional war fought on land, at sea, and in the air. How would it have ended?

Many scenarios held that the Soviets would, along with the Warsaw Pact nations, have built up massive armies along the West German border and launched a blitzkrieg-style attack into West Germany (and other parts of Western Europe) using massed armour and artillery to punch through NATO defences. Depending on how the war was going, either side might have used chemical and/or tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield (which might have led to strategic nuclear disaster).

How would such a war REALLY have come about, and eventually, ended? Who might have won--NATO or the Warsaw Pact? What might a Soviet-controlled Western Europe have been like? How would the world balance of power have played out?

(FYI, I have a very strong interest in Cold War/Soviet history!)

There have been many novels and speculative/alternative-historical fiction books written about a World War III between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. Just about everyone knows Tom Clancy and his treatment of World War III in his novel, Red Storm Rising, in which the Soviet Union (after a disastrous oil-refinery fire sparked by Islamic terrorists) first carries out a maskirovka to lull the West into false peace and security, then launches a conventional, full-frontal-assault type attack into West Germany.

More recently, I have read Sir John Hackett's documentary-fiction novel, The Third World War, August 1985, written back in 1978. (It was also subtitled, in another edition, as "The Untold Story", with additional Soviet viewpoints and even an extra chapter in which the Soviets won). Written in historical documentary style, this "novel" describes a quite realistic scenario (for that time, the late 1970s, when US-USSR relations were quite cold). While the war scenario is largely conventional, there is also included the use of chemical weapons on both sides, and even a Soviet nuclear ballistic missile attack on Birmingham, England (a desperate final Soviet act), to which the US and UK retaliate by nuking Minsk, USSR, with FOUR missiles (each with multiple MIRVs) launched from SSBNs. (Can you imagine a whole bunch of MIRVS, from four missiles, exploding over YOUR hometown?)

Obviously, all these novels are biased in such a way that the West nearly always "wins" the hypothetical war!

I'd like to know (forgetting those novels) how a NATO-Warsaw Pact European war might have REALLY resolved itself.

It ought to be an interesting discussion! Fire away!

SmithAir747
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)
 
MDorBust
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:23 am

Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
How would it have ended?

Very badly for everyone involved.
"I KICKED BURNING TERRORIST SO HARD IN BALLS THAT I TORE A TENDON" - Alex McIlveen
 
GAIsweetGAI
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:30 am

Quoting MDorBust (Reply 1):
Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
How would it have ended?

Very badly for everyone involved.

 checkmark 

It depends:
Who were the US and USSR leaders?
What year? What time frame?
Would it be the exact same history we know now up to the point where the war starts?
How, where, why does a war start?
"There is an art, or rather a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."
 
AsstChiefMark
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:31 am

No one would have won. Everyone would have lost.

Mark
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SmithAir747
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:42 am

Quoting GAIsweetGAI (Reply 2):
It depends:
Who were the US and USSR leaders?
What year? What time frame?
Would it be the exact same history we know now up to the point where the war starts?
How, where, why does a war start?

In the late 70s, when Hackett's book was written, the US president was Carter, and the USSR was led by a procession of aging (and dying) leaders (Brezhnev, Andropov, etc), who were hardliners.

In the early 1980s, President Reagan was in office in the USA (remember the "Evil Empire" speech right after KAL 007?) Gorbachev was not yet in power in the USSR; the last of the old codgers were stepping up to the plate (and dying shortly after) in the Politburo.

So this war might have occurred in either the late 1970s or early 1980s. It would have been quite unlikely after Gorbachev, in the mid-to-late 1980s, began his reforms, and the communist edifice in the USSR and Warsaw Pact nations started to slowly crumble.

By the way, I also have the book The Soviet War Machine, an encyclopedic work (from the late 70s) about the weapons, tactics, and strategy of the Soviet war machine. It is well illustrated--and supremely fascinating!

I remember lying in my hospital bed (on a tracheostomy) at Riley Hospital for Children, Indianapolis, IN, in December 1991, watching the news unfold as the Soviet Union finally collapsed!

SmithAir747 (A research medical student in London, who, ironically, is also an avid Cold War/Soviet history buff!)
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made... (Psalm 139:14)
 
MDorBust
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:54 am

A late seventies war would have likely ended with the USSR on top. The US military was badly demoralized after Vietnam and badly in need of modernization.

A mid to late eighties war would have favored the US as their newer technology was superior to what the USSR could field at the time and the military was/had regained it's professional standing.

The first gulf war clearly demonstrated that late '80s American military equipment and tactics dominated the soviet equipment and tactics used by Iraq. Better trained Soviet soldiers would have fared better, but the vast superiortiy of equipment still couldn't be countered.

T-72 vs M1A1 was clearly a mismatch.
USAF C&C abilities dominated GCI stations.
Fixed networked SAM installations fell prey to US WW tactics.

But then again, if the Soviets were desperate enough to start an all out war, they would probably be desperate enough to go NBC.
"I KICKED BURNING TERRORIST SO HARD IN BALLS THAT I TORE A TENDON" - Alex McIlveen
 
N231YE
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:58 am

If this was in the 1950s, with Khrushchev and Eisenhower at hand, the only thing I could say is Nuclear Winter...

As for the later part of the USSR era (1970s-1991), I think MDorBust hit it on the spot.

Edited for Content

[Edited 2007-03-07 00:01:28]
 
1stfl94
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 8:05 am

If Nuclear Weapons were used no one would win. If it was a conventional war in the late 1970s/early 1980s then NATO would have won. The USSR was far weaker and was already in the first stages of what would lead to its break up in 1991 at that time than the USA and I doubt it would have been able to hold out
 
TheSonntag
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 9:10 am

Think about the following: No politician with any sense of sanity left would have started such a war. Thus, if this war had happened, I think the use of nuclear weapons would have been extremely likely.

No one would have survived such a war. Even if the war would have been contained to Western Europe, which I am rather sceptical about, the fallout would have devastated large areas of the world.

We shall all be grateful this never happened. I think the cold war was a cynical game. However, it worked. We are still alive.
 
dl021
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 9:13 am

Well, since the question was about who would have won I'll say that since nuclear weapons would have been required to prevent the WARPAC forces from crossing the Rhein everyone in Europe would have lost a war in the seventies.

By the time the eighties rolled around it would have gone towards the west as long as we kept aerial superiority.

Germany would have been a loser either way, since their nation would have been destroyed. Poland and Czechoslovakia would have been gone as well. The Soviet Union would have broken up earlier.
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WrenchBender
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:03 am

I was on my first voyage in the Canadian Military the fall of 1980(HMCS Protecteur), Solidarnocsz (sp) was just starting up. The NATO fleet (SNFL) was staying together over christmas (a first). It was the first time since the Korean war that we had a ship deployed over christmas. Scary times on the north atlantic, playing chicken in the north sea with Soviet warships, us being trailed by Bears who were being trailed by Tomcats (we were working with the Nimitz). Freakin' trawlers with more antennae than fish onboard cruising thru formations. No fun at all, but if the balloon went up that was our job to keep the north atlantic open so Reforger could happen. This is the how Clancy came to write 'Red Storm', the board game(pre PC) Harpoon was the basis for the book.

WrenchBender
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us330
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:22 am

The question assumes that it was a largely conventional war (ie no nukes). As I am currently taking a class on the Nuclear Dilemma, I have to ask whether the question will assume that nuclear weapons never existed as well?
Obviously, if there were nukes and they were used, then in this hypothetical world, none of us would exist (or have been born, for that matter).

Assuming no nukes
NATO versus Warsaw Pact--would probably have been a two front war, as there would have been conflict in Japan, which would have been split up just like Germany (Stalin's army was only 40 miles from landing in Hokkaido when the peace treaty was signed with the Japanese)

In terms of sheer numbers, the Soviets would have destroyed us.
It would be to NATO's advantage for a longer, sustained war, however, as that would have allowed us to establish covert operations in the various Soviet satellite states to help fund and provoke internal rebellions (remember, as John Gaddis, the leading scholar in Cold War studies, argues, the Warsaw Pact was unified by fear and intimidated into loyalty by its "anchor superpower", whereas NATO did not require intimidation by its anchor superpower to maintain the alliance). In that case, then the Soviets would have internally collapsed and NATO would triumph.
Its just a question of how long we could maintain a stalemate or recoup following the initial Russian advance.
 
MaidensGator
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:29 am

Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
Suppose that a third world war had finally broken out in Europe, between NATO and the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact

I know it's a hypothetical question, but if it was truly a world war, I doubt if it would have been confined to Europe....

Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
And suppose that it had been a largely conventional war fought on land, at sea, and in the air.

I think the question with nukes would have been "when" not "if" And once the first nuke went off, there's no way the war would have been "largely conventional".

Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
How would it have ended?

China would have been the big winner....
The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers.
 
WestJetForLife
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 10:31 am

If the Soviets had invaded West Germany through either the Brandenburg Gate or any checkpoints, then the Americans would haul ass to prevent them from reaching the Rhine.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong or misguided, but the only two ways of reaching the Rhine River (the telltale sign that the former USSR wanted to invade Europe) would be either the Fulda Gap or the North German Plain.

Now, if the US was extremely overzealous, they'd use tactical, battlefield nuclear weapons to stop advancing Soviet troops from reaching the Rhine, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt and possibly the German-French border.

Other countries in Europe would either join the US, the USSR or stay neutral (Switzerland would remain neutral).

If all Hell broke loose? Europe, today, would be a gigantic crater, as would Canada, the States and Russia.

That's just my way/opinion of how battle warfare would've occurred in the 1970s/1980s against the USSR/US in the European battlefront.

PLEASE, please correct me if I am wrong or misguided.

Thank you,
Nik
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Jetsgo
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 11:42 am

Quoting MaidensGator (Reply 12):
China would have been the big winner....

Can you elaborate on this please?
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allstarflyer
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:08 pm

Quoting GAIsweetGAI (Reply 2):
It depends:
Who were the US and USSR leaders?

That would have been the biggest starting point. If it was Reagan for the US, the US would have either mopped up the Soviets or, if the US would have faced an a guaranteed loss, would have gone doomsday on the Soviets by unleashing the full nuclear arsenal from Moscow to the Bering Sea.

Quoting MaidensGator (Reply 12):
China would have been the big winner....

 scratchchin 

Personally, I think the US would have won, after some long drawn out ground conflicts. The battle would have focused on Central Europe with the combined forces of the US and every nation in Western Europe left standing against the Soviets. Whoever won that would have won the war. I say the US because the Soviets would have been at a disadvantage in the oceans - having the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans as barriers would have been huge, the Mediterranean could have been sealed off at Gibraltar, the Suez sealed off in the Red Sea, and then - the Pacific? I don't know all the main Soviet ports (some, I'm sure in the North Atlantic), but the fleets from Sebastapol would probably only get so far as to control the Mediterranean (which is huge, but says nothing for advancing beyond - and what if the US Navy engaged them in the Mediterranean?).

It would all have come down to ground forces. No US president would have been dumb enough to trigger a nuclear attack knowing the outcome. And no Soviet premier would have had the chutzpah to trigger an attack as nuclear warheads would surely have proliferated through Western Europe during any such conflict, thanks to the US.

I'd give the nod to the US and Western Europe as far as ground forces. I wonder, though, if we had a Patton or MacArthur type that would have put foot to butt so efficiently. I'm sure we would have, just not sure of any name. Maybe a drive across southern Europe through the Balkans and then northward to the Caucauses. Bottle up the Russians. Mine the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas. Non-nukes on Moscow and other key Russian cities. Air assaults on targets in and surrounding the Black Sea. Eventually, the Western Europe forces could have cut Russia from Iran and any Middle Eastern nation that sold them oil. War production plants springing up throughout Western Europe. Prolific spending on war material driving the Soviet military machine into the ground. This is all hypothesis, of course, but just my take on what likely may have happened.

-R
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TedTAce
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:12 pm

The only people who would have been 'winners' would be those lucky to be alive 200 years from the event. Thinking that a third world war would stay conventional is beyond my capability to believe unless it was the 'western world' versus Muslim countries. Getting the US and Russia to fight together in this kind of engagement is a VERY LONG reach. I dunno speculation on this kind of subject is meaningless without current facts pointing towards such an event occurring.

The only thing that's even close in recent history (and it's a reach) is Israel's invasion of Lebanon. Where there was a lot of sabre rattling; there was nothing in the way of meaningfull commitment from any other country that would have tipped off where the lines would have been as to which country would go one way or the other.

Interesting subject, but ultimately pointless morbid mental masturbation.
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dc863
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 2:43 pm

Anyone interested should watch the War Game, it's out on VHS and i'm sire DVD. It was made in Britain in 1966 and basically details what would happen to the UK if WWIII had come about. VSOM.com(Video Search of Miami) has copies.
I won't spoil the conventional military encounter that leads to nukes but it does revolve around Berlin.
I talked to a guy who was a tank crew member in M60A1's in W.Germany in 1981. He told me his units only purpose was to be "road bumps" for the advancing Soviet armies. In other words simply slow them(Soviets) down long enough to get reinforcements from the US. None of them expected to survive the initial Soviet onslaught.
That first 48 hours of a NATO/WP conventional fight would have been more violent than every war in history combined.
Soviet strategy called for massive use of Bio/Chem weapons from the get go.
 
pelican
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 6:56 pm

Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
Many scenarios held that the Soviets would, along with the Warsaw Pact nations, have built up massive armies along the West German border and launched a blitzkrieg-style attack into West Germany (and other parts of Western Europe) using massed armour and artillery to punch through NATO defences.

That's the very moment the NATO would have used tactical nukes. It was their purpose to stop a break through of the Soviet tank armies.

Quoting MDorBust (Reply 5):

The first gulf war clearly demonstrated that late '80s American military equipment and tactics dominated the soviet equipment and tactics used by Iraq. Better trained Soviet soldiers would have fared better, but the vast superiortiy of equipment still couldn't be countered.

While I agree on the technical superiority of the NATO I've to say don't draw too many conclusions from the Iraq war.

Quoting MDorBust (Reply 5):
T-72 vs M1A1 was clearly a mismatch.

Just as the T-72 vs. Leo 2 which would have been the main opponent during the first days. But don't forget the Soviets had always greater numbers.

pelican
 
TheSonntag
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:36 pm

Just for your information, I have decided to give you some numbers, taken from the West German book "Sowietische Rüstung" from the early 80s. Nice to see what my father has in the cellar from his active duty time in the 80s...These are official numbers from the west German government, which, of course, is not a neutral agency, but I would guess the numbers are rather accurate, since this report was made on request of the German parliament. WP = Warsaw Pact

Military unit Year NATO WP

Divisions 70 74 170
80 80 170

Main Battle Tanks 70 8900 32000
80 12000 43900

Schützenpanzer (smaller tanks) 70 2000 0
80 2900 10500

Artillery, larger than 100mm 70 6400 11800
80 8200 15100


Combat airplanes 70 3300 7200
80 3300 8000


Aircraft and Helicopter Carrier 70 31 2
80 18 4

Large Warships (Cruiser) 70 41 28
80 32 38

Destroyer, Frigates, Corvettes 70 492 229
80 320 321

Fast Boats 70 186 254
80 157 327

Submarines, total 70 257 382
80 269 478

Strategic Subs 70 45 61
80 50 88

Attack subs 70 43 58
80 85 69


Attack subs (another category) 70 169 282
80 134 321

I spare myself to list the nuclear potential. Bear in mind, that these numbers do not say anything about the quality of the respective military units, which certainly was better in the west. Nevertheless, these numbers are frightening!
 
miamiair
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 8:30 pm

Quoting Pelican (Reply 18):
That's the very moment the NATO would have used tactical nukes. It was their purpose to stop a break through of the Soviet tank armies

That was the doctrine of the times.

A wild card to keep in mind would have been the German troops; they are fighting to keep their homeland.

I couldn't tell you who would have come out on top; too many variables.
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TheSonntag
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 8:41 pm

Quoting Miamiair (Reply 20):

A wild card to keep in mind would have been the German troops; they are fighting to keep their homeland.

Yes, but they would have been forced to kill other Germans. I agree, though, that morale certainly would have been much higher in the west than in the east, so probably we would have seen huge amounts of East Germans defecting to the West.

I am glad this scenario never happened.
 
PanHAM
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Wed Mar 07, 2007 9:59 pm

Quoting WestJetForLife (Reply 13):

Now, if the US was extremely overzealous, they'd use tactical, battlefield nuclear weapons to stop advancing Soviet troops from reaching the Rhine, Wiesbaden, Frankfurt and possibly the German-French border

yes, right at the Fulda Gap.

But let's assume there would have been no Nuclear Weapons, just conventional and let's assume the Warsaw Pact would have won, conquering all of Western Europe, including Benelux and France, what would they have got?

Even if most of the buildings and infrastructure had been intact, imposing the Communist regime on their newly acquired territoty would have meant that personal freedom, entrepreneurship and whatever makes up a free and democratic society would have been taken away from the people.

The simple result would have been an impoverished West Europe, in a very short time. I am sure the old boys in the Kremlin knew that all the time during the cold war. Whatever phrases they used to keep their own population under control, they where true capitalists when it came to dealings on the World market selling their oil, gas diamonds and weapons and whatever else. No wonder their top brain KGB guys knew how to play the field and became instant Billionaires once that stupid communist ideology was dumped.

There wouldn't have been any winners, not even China. The US could have continued to exist, alongside with Canada as they are least dependant on others.But that would not have made them a winner either.



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dl021
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:22 am

Assuming nuclear weapons would not be used is a tool to enable theoretical hull-on-hull tank battles. It's unrealistic, and I believe it's why we never saw that conflict develop.

Quoting US330 (Reply 11):
then in this hypothetical world, none of us would exist (or have been born, for that matter).

I was born before the 70's...so why would I have not been born?

Quoting MaidensGator (Reply 12):
Quoting SmithAir747 (Thread starter):
How would it have ended?

China would have been the big winner....

No necessarily. Most planners believe they would have been neutralized with nukes in case of conflict. Just to keep them out and prevent them from coming in afterwards.

Quoting Allstarflyer (Reply 15):
No US president would have been dumb enough to trigger a nuclear attack knowing the outcome. And no Soviet premier would have had the chutzpah to trigger an attack as nuclear warheads would surely have proliferated through Western Europe during any such conflict, thanks to the US.

That was exactly the plan. Tactical nukes were the great equalizer if the maneuver groups behind the WARPAC lines were to find a hole and start a breakthrough. We intended to destroy transport lines, choke points and resupply elements forcing their advancing elements to run out of gas...bogging down their attack.

Quoting Pelican (Reply 18):

That's the very moment the NATO would have used tactical nukes. It was their purpose to stop a break through of the Soviet tank armies.

precisely....with the advent of Pershing 2 missiles that could reach Moscow in about 4 minutes we pushed the envelope to really make it inconceivable to the Soviets that they could win such a confrontation without overwhelming losses.

If their supply was uninterrupted, and if we could not deploy tactical nuclear devices (from SADM/MADMs with stay behind teams, to M110s launching atomic rounds, to Pershing missiles), and we could not execute REFORGER then they would have won. But they could not have resupplied if we decided to deny them that, they probably could not have controlled the North Atlantic sea lanes, and we had the nukes deployed.......they could not have won, and we could not have lost.....other than the millions of homeless and the destroyed economies....and the incredible weakening of the western democracies that would have resulted.

It really was no-win if that war happened. The rest of the world would have gained from it in terms of relative strength and power...both economically and militarily.
Is my Pan Am ticket to the moon still good?
 
pelican
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:54 am

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 22):
But let's assume there would have been no Nuclear Weapons, just conventional and let's assume the Warsaw Pact would have won, conquering all of Western Europe, including Benelux and France, what would they have got?

Even if most of the buildings and infrastructure had been intact, imposing the Communist regime on their newly acquired territoty would have meant that personal freedom, entrepreneurship and whatever makes up a free and democratic society would have been taken away from the people.

The simple result would have been an impoverished West Europe, in a very short time.

They could have limited their influence without a radical introduction of a communist economy. They early Czechoslovakia or the late Hungary shows that the Kremlin wasn't that stupid. And in the end the Soviet Union may have been relative poor nonetheless they were able to develop an impressive military. Imagine what the influx of western technology would have done - a kind of rejuvenating cure, just as the WWII. I doubt the Soviet Union (Soviet Russia) would have lasted more than 70 years.

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 19):
Bear in mind, that these numbers do not say anything about the quality of the respective military units, which certainly was better in the west. Nevertheless, these numbers are frightening!

Not really because the nuclear potential was always included -there would have been more conventional weapons without nuclear weapons. The numbers of the fifties were even more drastic.

So in the end this is very hypothetical because nuclear weapons were always an integrated part of all military planning.



pelican
 
Pope
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Thu Mar 08, 2007 3:37 am

Isn't Albert Einstein quoted as having said, "I don't know how World War III would be fought, but I'm sure World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones?"
Hypocrisy. It's the new black for liberals.
 
OlegShv
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Thu Mar 08, 2007 4:20 am

Realistically, no one would have won.

From the posts, it seems like people here think that NATO would base it's defense mainly on using tactical nukes to stop Soviet armies. Don't forget that Soviets had those too and they could use them just as well.

Quoting DL021 (Reply 23):
with the advent of Pershing 2 missiles that could reach Moscow in about 4 minutes we pushed the envelope to really make it inconceivable to the Soviets that they could win such a confrontation without overwhelming losses

Thinking that Western cities would have lived any longer than 10 minutes after the launch of Pershings bound to Moscow is an illusion.
 
Pope
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Thu Mar 08, 2007 5:05 am

Quoting OlegShv (Reply 26):
Thinking that Western cities would have lived any longer than 10 minutes after the launch of Pershings bound to Moscow is an illusion.

As WOPR concluded for itself, "The only logical move is not to play."

Hypocrisy. It's the new black for liberals.
 
UALPHLCS
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Thu Mar 08, 2007 5:43 am

Quoting MDorBust (Reply 5):

I think you hit the nail right ont he head.

The outcome depends on when the war is fought. The US Military was at it's weakest in the 1970s however, Soviet leadership was also going through Premiers like Kleenex, so the USSR was too disorganized to take advantage.

However, by the time the US was fielding the M1 the Soviet's lost the number s advantage. Soviet doctrine was to overwhelm with greater numbers. Especially tanks. But as MDorBust pointed out we now know the NATO designed tanks can destroy Soviet tanks at will. A-10's were at their prime, as well so that advantage of the Soviets is lost.

Quoting US330 (Reply 11):
In terms of sheer numbers, the Soviets would have destroyed us.

When a British Challenger or US Abrams, which use the same gun as the German tank, can punch through 4 tanks with one shot as was done in the First Gulf War (see Tom Clany's Book "Armored Cav") any overwhelming by sheer numbers is reduced.

The biggest problem faced by NATO would have been the logistics of getting food, fuel and equipment to Europe. The Merchant fleet is not what it was in World War II, and bigger container ships means a greater percentage is lost when one goes down. Add to the mechanization of ports means that a resonably succesful bombing of Rotterdam and other major European mainland ports means NATO is in a world of hurt. Men can't unload container ships.
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RJdxer
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Thu Mar 08, 2007 6:21 am

Quoting WestJetForLife (Reply 13):
Now, correct me if I'm wrong or misguided, but the only two ways of reaching the Rhine River (the telltale sign that the former USSR wanted to invade Europe) would be either the Fulda Gap or the North German Plain.

That's correct and those are the two main avenues to the Rhine. In the north the terrain is open and favors big tank battles the likes that haven't been seen since north Africa in 1941-2. The northern sector was more the responsibility of the European nations and they would have had their hands full. The fulda gap fell to the United States and the plan was always to grudgingly trade space for time. There were fall back positions to fall back positions from secondary and tertiary positions. The idea was to hold on long enough until supplies could get from the States. I don't think that anyone ever correctly surmised just how fast a modern army can go through war stocks though and I think that both sides would have had huge problems with resupply. The west because supplies would just run low and the east due to American air superiority.

Quoting Pelican (Reply 18):
While I agree on the technical superiority of the NATO I've to say don't draw too many conclusions from the Iraq war.

Anyone who concludes that the Soviets would have lost any war they started with the west based on Iraq's performance is just kidding themselves. The Iraqis did not present a tenth of the force that the Warsaw Pact armies would have presented Nato with. On top of that the Warsaw Pact armies would have been on the attack and the NATO forces purely on the defensive at least to start.

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 19):
Main Battle Tanks 70 8900 32000
80 12000 43900



Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 19):
Artillery, larger than 100mm 70 6400 11800
80 8200 15100

Those are the two big numbers for a land based battle. If you can present a 3-1 advantage to your opponent, your attack stands a pretty good chance of achieving at least an initial victory. The M60A1, and ANC can either correct or agree with me, was just not a fast firing stablized weapon platform. Until the M1A became readily available in numbers in the middle 80's, stopping those Warsaw Pact armies would have been a tough order to fill, especially when they could rain down artillery on those troops that would have had to expose themselves to fire an anti-tank missile like the Dragon or TOW. And don't forget, some of the thinest armor on a tank is on the top of the turret so if you get the one in a million shot that lands right on the tank, KABOOM. The Warsaw Pact, especially the Soviets, were leaders at using artillery to open up holes in the defense for their tanks to exploit.

One of the big hurtles for the Warsaw Pact forces to overcome would have been out at sea. Their real hope at winning lay in being able to slow or halt resupply from America. If their attack subs could have been successful, then the war would have been lost. If not, if would have depended largely on how fast the WP forces could achieve land gains in the face of a determined NATO defense.

It's a difficult call to say who would have won WW3 in Europe. Most scenarios don't have it happening unless the Soviet Union faced some sort of calamity at home that left the unelected leaders no choice if they wanted to hang on to power. In that case, why would they not use NBC weapontry, especially when their soldiers were routinely trained in how to fight in that enviroment and their equipment was geared to adapting to kind of battle field?
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PanHAM
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Thu Mar 08, 2007 7:03 am

Quoting Pelican (Reply 24):

They could have limited their influence without a radical introduction of a communist economy.

There is no such thing as "Communist Economy" . Communism is an ideology.

Economy is the result rational action of many individuals, or as Adam Smith has said - the invisible hands. Economy can happen only in a free society.

One of the many resons in this szenario why there would have been no winners in WWIII

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pelican
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Thu Mar 08, 2007 7:29 am

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 30):
There is no such thing as "Communist Economy" . Communism is an ideology.

Oh come on. Do you really want to argue about terms? Maybe you should look under Wirtschaft or oekonomie in your lexicon, so I don't have to explain what I mean. And yes Communism was an ideology (and not proper functioning). But this ideology was heavly based on economics - not on Smith theories but on Marx and worse stuff.

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 30):
Economy is the result rational action of many individuals, or as Adam Smith has said - the invisible hands. Economy can happen only in a free society.

That's how Adam Smith saw it in the 18th century. He - as a philosopher - tried to define an ideal, how it should be. He was talking about an economy of free markets as the best way to organise the economy of a nation. I'm not aware of that he claimed there were no other ways.
So don't mix Adam Smith ideal with the more complex reality.

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 30):
One of the many resons in this szenario why there would have been no winners in WWIII

Don't forget about the possibility of an NATO victory in your hypothetical thoughts.
In reality nukes were the reason why there would have been no winners.

pelican
 
dc863
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Thu Mar 08, 2007 7:40 am

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7973745710089945384&q=army


Check this late 70s West German Army video showing how to defend the built up industrial areas of W. Germany in case of a WP attack. Very interesting material.
 
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par13del
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:41 am

I think we need to put everything in context, the question as posed by the thread starter in my opinion, cannot be answered, because of the following.

1. The west did not attempt to match the east tank, for tank, plane for plane and soldier for soldier because NUCLEAR
weapons was their great equalizer. Yes the east had them to, but they never stated their commitment to use them
in defence of an attack. If they were attacked by nukes they would respond in kind, however, the west policy was to
use nukes to defend Europe because they decided not to match material for material.

2. As for the political leadership, I would just add that the US Neutron Bomb was completed during the Carter
administration, unless I have my nukes mixed up, it was supposed to kill the troops but the physical blast
was "derated" - hey this is an av web site.-

3. I think a historical "hint" can be taken from the Reagen years, when he decided to build up the US military in spite
of his allies objections, he wanted them to as well. The issue for me is not whether the equipment was superior but
how many of them you had. I just watched some documentaries on the US M4 Sherman during WWII, it scored high
on the selection list because it was built in "superior numbers" to its German counterparts. They could loose three
or 4 Sherman for one Tiger tank. Port this to the Europen theater and what do you have, they had much more tanks,
plane, ships, missles, soldiers, more of everything.

4. When the US started its military buildup, the Soviets could have stayed pat for a few years while the US attempted
to catch up in terms of numbers, however, they decided to match and the rest is history, as they say in US
elections, its the ECONOMY. Just a side note, they were still out producing the west in military hardware at the
expense of its citizens when the wall came down.
 
RIXrat
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Fri Mar 09, 2007 3:54 am

I'm sorry I missed this thread in its earlier stages, but it was quite an experience being the only foreign correspondent in Leningrad, USSR (1976-78).

I am an American and therefore the Soviets kept a very, very close watch over me, but I did get to see things that the top brass military planners for NATO never were told about by our military and civilian spooks from the Western consulates general. The embassy and consulate intelligence guys always reported back to Washington, London and Bonn in the excellent state of readiness of the Soviet armed forces, when it was not so.

The spooks admitted to me that they always inflated figures because the Pentagon and other allied ministries of defense would perk up and and ask their governments for more funds to finance a newer and better war machine against the Warsaw Pact forces.

During the October Revolution (in November) parade in Leningrad in front of millions of TV viewers one freshly painted T-62 tank with white wheels broke down just in front of the stand where regional party boss Romanov (no relation to the Czar) was watching. What a huge embarrassment. The tank commander, his crew, his maintenance crew back at the base and his commanding officer was courts martialled and sent away for six years in those cold Siberian hinterlands.

Here are some other examples of Soviet ineptitude. Driving by the Russian Naval barracks in Leningrad, the huge iron gates were thrown open and a Kamaz dirt hauler truck appeared driving minus it's left front wheel. In the dumpster was a huge boulder to balance the weight of the truck plus about a dozen seamen in uniform being taken somewhere on a work detail. It was -20C, yet these sailors did not wear any protective clothing, except the Russian equivalent of a Pea Jacket and a cap that didn't cover their ears.

Near Polkovo (LED) airport I saw a company of army soldiers marching in mid-winter, their feet wrapped in green leggings (bandages) without any boots.

At Polkovo airport the nearby air force base's main defense line consisted of four MiG-15 squadrons. According to intelligence sources, only half of them were in an operative condition. The rest were used for spare parts.

This, I admit, has been a very long lead-in to who would win WW III?

An acquaintance of mine, who served in a Soviet Army tank battalion near Magdeburg, East Germany, in the early 1980s, told me that less than half of his T-64 tanks were in working order. They were located 18 miles from the West German border and if all hell broke loose, their objective was Hanover, West Germany.

"We used to start them up once a week for 10 minutes. Then it became once a month, but when the generals arrived we somehow got them all working for the drive-pass, although some were visibly limping and we didn't have any ammunition," he said. "Once the brass went home, we returned to our usual routine."

I hope that all of the above which I have spouted gives you a clearer idea what the Soviet military was like, including their shortcomings and inflated figures by the West to get larger defense budgets. The Soviet grunt's morale was very low and if major hostilities had broken out at that time, it is very questionable whether their heart would be in them to fight hard to win. My tanker friend told me that they were supposed to be the first wave and were not to last more than five minutes. "We were more like a bump in the road."
 
UALPHLCS
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Fri Mar 09, 2007 4:02 am

Quoting RIXrat (Reply 34):

I'm not denying you story RIXrat, but the woeful state of the Soviet Military you paint doesn't jive with the Soviet Army that invaded Afghanistan in 1979.

Was all the good equipment and supplies sent there for the invasion? That could be an explanation for what you saw.

All I'm saying is that the Soviet Union was able to fight when it was ordered to do so. So the decrepit state of the military you paint had to have some explanation. It couldn't be a universal problem over the entire Soviet Military.

And I agree Western intelligence and military planners and designers always worked on the assumption that Soviet technology was equal or better than the West. It was a conservative way to think. I'd rather have the Western Military too well prepared for a paper tiger than not prepared enough for the real thing.
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Venus6971
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Fri Mar 09, 2007 4:25 am

If the WP decided to attack and be across the Rhine in 30 days the build up would have to be massive which even our own WMD missing intell would have found Eastern troops massing with massive amounts of munitions being moved and radio traffic being monitored and we had humint resources everywhere in Eastern Europe so we whould have known of the intent of offensive operations. No Battle of the Bulge type of surprise. NATO would have had premptive strikes at command and control and transportation hubs to slow down any resupply and the NATO Navys would have went open season before the first t-60 started going west. The Soviets would have used Tatical nukes on every airbase in east anglia to even the odds and the UK would have nuked Moscow,Leningrad an everything else. Then SAC and Soviet Nuke forces would have traded blows. In the end everybody loses.
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RIXrat
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Fri Mar 09, 2007 6:27 am

Quoting UALPHLCS (Reply 35):
All I'm saying is that the Soviet Union was able to fight when it was ordered to do so. So the decrepit state of the military you paint had to have some explanation. It couldn't be a universal problem over the entire Soviet Military.

From my experiences, the Soviet military has always been in a decrepit state, including Afghanistan. Who beat them there, but a bunch of Mullahs with some American Stingers. I've also talked to Latvians who served as Soviet troops in Afghanistan. Those few that wished to talk about it when asked, instead of throwing beer in your face, all admit that they were so demoralized that a number of them committed suicide, because the Soviet army didn't have any shrinks on the medical staff. Also, there was the huge complaint of out of service weaponry, be it tanks, cars, jeeps, personnel carriers, or guns. They all got grit in them and no one gave a flying hoot to fix them. That's why the mighty Soviet army trundled back across that bridge with heads down.

Now, speaking about the Western Front, I'll give you this WW III scenario. The Soviets could retreat to their own land and occupied lands, but NATO had no place to retreat to, except the Atlantic Ocean. Who would have thrown the first bomb?
 
bill142
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Fri Mar 09, 2007 8:14 am

The French of course.
 
SmithAir747
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Fri Mar 09, 2007 7:11 pm

The other day, someone responded (by email)to me about this thread.

He recommended I read a novel titled Arc Light by Eric Harry, about an accidental nuclear war between the US and USSR (triggered by a Soviet general who got a hold of the codes and mistakenly launched at the USA along with the intended target, China). So this war with China accidentally became a US-USSR nuclear war.

This book also invoked the "Lehman Doctrine" (an actual plan made by Reagan's former naval secretary), which would involve a "back door" invasion of Russia through the largely empty Far East side. In this novel, the US launched a huge amphibious invasion into the Far East USSR and fought their way across the largely empty eastern side, cutting off the Trans-Siberian Railroad and thereby cutting off supplies (and forcing the Soviets to defend two fronts instead of just one, as they were invading western Europe).

Ever hear of the Lehman Doctrine? I never heard of it before--what an interesting plan!

SmithAir747
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Gemuser
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Fri Mar 09, 2007 7:37 pm

Quoting Bill142 (Reply 38):
The French of course.

Spot on! I am surprised no Else has mentioned it. France was NOT a NATO member for most of the cold war and had its own nuclear force. If a large WP force crossed the Rhine France would launch an all out nuclear attack (I have no idea how big a force France could launch, but does it really matter?). Why not France was forfeit, so why not take every one else with you! A perfectly reasonable national opinion.

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Zkpilot
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:58 pm

All of this is of course forgetting that were the Soviets to attack western Europe, they would have to build up their forces in the West first... the relocation of such large forces from the East would not go unnoticed and would take considerable time (at least a week more like a month). Sure the Soviets had more tanks etc... but they were inferior to their western counterparts equipment and quite vulnerable to anti-tank RPG's... My understanding was that during the cold war most German villages had stores of RPGs for just such an eventuallity. NATO would have also gained air superiority up to at least the battleline in the conflict, possibly some of the airspace on the Soviet side... Tankbusters and BUFFs could have then had a turkeyshoot on the troops, tanks and equipment let alone the NATO tanks and anti-tank weapons such as RPGs, mines, artillery etc. The Navies of NATO could have contained the Soviet navy relatively easily also. The Soviets would not have won, and most likely would have sustained heavy losses, but NATO would most likely not win if they were the ones invading. Of course if it went Nuclear then all bets are off, although NATO did have more options regarding nuclear platforms...
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UALPHLCS
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Fri Mar 09, 2007 10:28 pm

Quoting RIXrat (Reply 37):
From my experiences, the Soviet military has always been in a decrepit state, including Afghanistan. Who beat them there, but a bunch of Mullahs with some American Stingers

Decrepit state or not it was guerilla tactics that beat the Soviets in Afghanistan not the poor condition of thier military. The US had the finest military in the world when we went into Vietnam, and who beat us there?

What I'm saying is that the Communist system is good at focusing on one thing and getting it done. The Soviet Military went to Afghanistan with thier best, and I would be willing to bet the system shifted to keep the best going where it was needed to the detrement of everything else.

Which is why you saw what you saw.

In the case of a conventional war with NATO, the Soviets would have done the same focusing everything on keeping the front supplied with what it needed to keep going. Everything else back east would have broken down shortly thereafter, and if the People didn't rise up a la 1917 when the same thing happened to the tsar, then the Soviets would have thrown the first nuke to get the war over with faster.
A little less Hooah, and a little more Dooah.
 
RIXrat
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RE: World War III In Europe: Who Would Have Won?

Sat Mar 10, 2007 6:55 am

Quoting UALPHLCS (Reply 42):
Decrepit state or not it was guerrilla tactics that beat the Soviets in Afghanistan not the poor condition of their military. The US had the finest military in the world when we went into Vietnam, and who beat us there?

You're absolutely right, but there are a few exceptions to your statement. The Soviets should have learned from our failures in Vietnam, but they didn't. They found their own Vietnam by not being taught in counter-insurgency fighting. These idiots marched straight up a mountain without cover and were surprised that the Afghanis popped out of caves and mowed them down wholesale.

In Vietnam, the American forces had an excellent supply, med-evac and ground-to-air targeting system. The Soviets had a hard time getting diesel for their equipment, spare parts, and ground-to-air coordination to HIND attack choppers or fixed wing aircraft. Med-evac was a only dream, because in the Soviet mentality, an individual soldier's life meant nothing.

It is said that the Soviets lost about as many men in Afghanistan as the U.S. lost in Vietnam. There are still issues about that from the Soviet side, so I won't mention exact figures

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