The Third World War: Who Would Win?

Who would win WWIII (before it turns nuclear)?

  • NATO

    Votes: 41 43.2%
  • Warsaw Pact

    Votes: 18 18.9%
  • Depends

    Votes: 36 37.9%

  • Total voters
    95
Alright, so, question: I have been thinking of doing a scenario so far where the Cold War goes hot due to the Yom Kippur War, especially with that one time that Brezhnev threatened to intervene if Israel kept violating the ceasefire, which in the scenario I am about to postulate, it did violate the ceasefire, thus causing the war to spiral out of control. So, in the ensuing WWIII that rages across the Middle East, (possibly) Europe and (also possibly) the Pacific, who would in a direct NATO v Warsaw Pact confrontation in the months PRIOR to the use of nuclear weapons? We all know how it would end, but the situation I am asking is: who in 1973 would be able to defeat the other in a conventional, direct conflict between the superpowers?
 
This Is How the World Could Have Ended
World War III would have kicked off with hundreds of nukes
Polish plan to invade The Netherlands during World War III. Via Frans De Jonge
This is a plan for the end of the world, dated 1970.

The arrows are armies and the red vertical symbols are nuclear bombs, all part of a part of Cold War contingency plan crafted by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies in case of war.

War that would have destroyed civilization.


1*FZNgxewT6Nj49TXu96NUOg.jpeg

Map depicting a planned Warsaw Pact offensive. Via Third Republic blog
War plan
The map and other documents, discovered in Poland, show how the Warsaw Pact aimed to put tanks on the shores of the Atlantic within 14 days of the first shot being fired.

Among Warsaw Pact armies, Poland’s was second in size only to the Soviet Union’s. It had a peacetime strength of 361,000 troops and could expand to 865,000 upon mobilization. It had 15 combat divisions, versus the U.S. Army’s 10 divisions today. The Poles had 2,880 tanks, 2,750 armored personnel carriers and more than 2,000 artillery pieces.

In the event of war, the Polish and Soviet armies would have marched west, invading West Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium. The attack was meant to overrun NATO’s northern ports on the Atlantic, preventing the arrival of reinforcements from the U.S. and Canada. Polish marines and airborne troops would invade Denmark on day five, knocking the tiny NATO country out of the war.

All of this was to be accompanied by the use of hundreds of nuclear weapons.


1*KO7s8qDSg29cMar8TpeJLg.jpeg

Warsaw Pact plan for overrunning Denmark, including nuclear strikes. Via Third Republic blog
The atomic battlefield
All the Warsaw Pact war plans released, or leaked, to the public after the Cold War feature the liberal use of nuclear weapons. According to documents unearthed in the Czech Republic, Soviet generals “fully expected Western ‘imperialists’ to make the first nuclear strike.” The Soviets and their allies determined they should stage preemptive atomic attacks if war were imminent.

The Polish maps make it clear just how many nukes the Soviets would have dropped. Large-yield nuclear weapons would have wipe out economic and political targets. The West German cities of Hamburg and Hanover and the ports of Wilhemshaven and Bremerhaven all would have been nuked.

In The Netherlands, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amsterdam were on the nuke list. Belgium would have lost the port city of Antwerp and Brussels, the site of the main NATO headquarters.

Even tiny Denmark, with a population of just under five million at the time, would have been hit with no fewer than five nuclear weapons, including two dropped on the capital city of Copenhagen.

The Warsaw Pact would have used many more smaller “tactical” nukes against NATO command posts, army bases, airfields, equipment depots and missile and communications sites.

Radiation would have contaminated farmland and water supplies. Refugees fleeing the fighting would have been particularly hard hit. Radioactive fallout would have affected a far larger area than the bomb blasts themselves.

In all, Warsaw Pact plans called for 189 nuclear weapons: 177 missiles and 12 bombs ranging in yield from five kilotons—roughly a quarter the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima—to 500 kilotons.

And that was just for the Northern Front. There were two other fronts, Central and Southern, covering the rest of Germany down to the Adriatic. Atomic bombs factored into Soviet plans for those areas, too. According to the Hungarian Cold War archive, Vienna was to be destroyed with two 500-kiloton nuclear bombs, Munich one.

Escalation to all-out, global nuclear warfare would have been practically inevitable.


1*Qkwcke3QL0MDSMz_jIv0KA.jpeg

Warsaw Pact T-72 tanks on maneuvers. File photo
Apocalypse now?
But would any of this actually have happened? Just because the Warsaw Pact planned for atomic war didn’t mean the war was any more likely than if it hadn’t planned at all, right? Surely this was a case of “thinking about the unthinkable.”

Some historians insist that the Soviet Union had a “fairy-tale” mindset when it came to a hypothetical war in Europe and the use of nuclear weapons. It’s also worth noting that the United States has done all the same insane planning. America’s Single Integrated Operational Plan had thousands of nukes annihilating the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China.

But it’s possible to believe that the Soviet leadership did think realistically about atomic weapons and had no illusions about their dangers. Consider that the Soviets never exported nuclear weapons, except to China, and kept nukes out of the hands of Fidel Castro when they decided he was “unstable.”

It’s possible that in formulating these plans, the Soviets caught a brief glance at the realities of atomic combat—and that may have made them even more determined to avoid all-out war.

https://warisboring.com/this-is-how-the-world-could-have-ended-1ecd1db17ff2#.4zpyf8ml3
I don't think nukes won't be involved
 
This Is How the World Could Have Ended
World War III would have kicked off with hundreds of nukes
Polish plan to invade The Netherlands during World War III. Via Frans De Jonge
This is a plan for the end of the world, dated 1970.

The arrows are armies and the red vertical symbols are nuclear bombs, all part of a part of Cold War contingency plan crafted by the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies in case of war.

War that would have destroyed civilization.


1*FZNgxewT6Nj49TXu96NUOg.jpeg

Map depicting a planned Warsaw Pact offensive. Via Third Republic blog
War plan
The map and other documents, discovered in Poland, show how the Warsaw Pact aimed to put tanks on the shores of the Atlantic within 14 days of the first shot being fired.

Among Warsaw Pact armies, Poland’s was second in size only to the Soviet Union’s. It had a peacetime strength of 361,000 troops and could expand to 865,000 upon mobilization. It had 15 combat divisions, versus the U.S. Army’s 10 divisions today. The Poles had 2,880 tanks, 2,750 armored personnel carriers and more than 2,000 artillery pieces.

In the event of war, the Polish and Soviet armies would have marched west, invading West Germany, Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium. The attack was meant to overrun NATO’s northern ports on the Atlantic, preventing the arrival of reinforcements from the U.S. and Canada. Polish marines and airborne troops would invade Denmark on day five, knocking the tiny NATO country out of the war.

All of this was to be accompanied by the use of hundreds of nuclear weapons.


1*KO7s8qDSg29cMar8TpeJLg.jpeg

Warsaw Pact plan for overrunning Denmark, including nuclear strikes. Via Third Republic blog
The atomic battlefield
All the Warsaw Pact war plans released, or leaked, to the public after the Cold War feature the liberal use of nuclear weapons. According to documents unearthed in the Czech Republic, Soviet generals “fully expected Western ‘imperialists’ to make the first nuclear strike.” The Soviets and their allies determined they should stage preemptive atomic attacks if war were imminent.

The Polish maps make it clear just how many nukes the Soviets would have dropped. Large-yield nuclear weapons would have wipe out economic and political targets. The West German cities of Hamburg and Hanover and the ports of Wilhemshaven and Bremerhaven all would have been nuked.

In The Netherlands, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amsterdam were on the nuke list. Belgium would have lost the port city of Antwerp and Brussels, the site of the main NATO headquarters.

Even tiny Denmark, with a population of just under five million at the time, would have been hit with no fewer than five nuclear weapons, including two dropped on the capital city of Copenhagen.

The Warsaw Pact would have used many more smaller “tactical” nukes against NATO command posts, army bases, airfields, equipment depots and missile and communications sites.

Radiation would have contaminated farmland and water supplies. Refugees fleeing the fighting would have been particularly hard hit. Radioactive fallout would have affected a far larger area than the bomb blasts themselves.

In all, Warsaw Pact plans called for 189 nuclear weapons: 177 missiles and 12 bombs ranging in yield from five kilotons—roughly a quarter the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima—to 500 kilotons.

And that was just for the Northern Front. There were two other fronts, Central and Southern, covering the rest of Germany down to the Adriatic. Atomic bombs factored into Soviet plans for those areas, too. According to the Hungarian Cold War archive, Vienna was to be destroyed with two 500-kiloton nuclear bombs, Munich one.

Escalation to all-out, global nuclear warfare would have been practically inevitable.


1*Qkwcke3QL0MDSMz_jIv0KA.jpeg

Warsaw Pact T-72 tanks on maneuvers. File photo
Apocalypse now?
But would any of this actually have happened? Just because the Warsaw Pact planned for atomic war didn’t mean the war was any more likely than if it hadn’t planned at all, right? Surely this was a case of “thinking about the unthinkable.”

Some historians insist that the Soviet Union had a “fairy-tale” mindset when it came to a hypothetical war in Europe and the use of nuclear weapons. It’s also worth noting that the United States has done all the same insane planning. America’s Single Integrated Operational Plan had thousands of nukes annihilating the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe and China.

But it’s possible to believe that the Soviet leadership did think realistically about atomic weapons and had no illusions about their dangers. Consider that the Soviets never exported nuclear weapons, except to China, and kept nukes out of the hands of Fidel Castro when they decided he was “unstable.”

It’s possible that in formulating these plans, the Soviets caught a brief glance at the realities of atomic combat—and that may have made them even more determined to avoid all-out war.

https://warisboring.com/this-is-how-the-world-could-have-ended-1ecd1db17ff2#.4zpyf8ml3
I don't think nukes won't be involved

That is obvious. And the point of this scenario. But before the warheads go off, there has to be SOME conventional war, based on the situation in the Yom Kippur War at the time so......who would "win" the conventional phase of the conflict? At least until the world ends, that is?
 
How come nobody is an offering?

Because I already know how the war ends. The problem is: we are looking at it from a purely conventional perspective. Obviously those warheads WILL inevitably launch, but I am talking about the time when Soviet T-55 tanks roll across the Fulda Gap and into West Germany (or in this case: the minute the US Navy fires upon the Soviet Black Sea Fleet, due to them ignoring a warning shot, which results in the previously stated situation).
 
a long drawn out conventional war means a victory for the West... the resources, industry and no-how are just too disparate

If it goes nuclear... a clear victory for the roaches and ants
 
Tie at that point, you have command seeing combat in WWII and the West many saw recent combat as they left their colonies, the US is the only one that was really having issues by that time. Moral was in the tank, forces were in a weak position, although in Europe they were still a large numbers. I think it would be very difficult to call it, but slight edge to NATO
 
Tie at that point, you have command seeing combat in WWII and the West many saw recent combat as they left their colonies, the US is the only one that was really having issues by that time. Moral was in the tank, forces were in a weak position, although in Europe they were still a large numbers. I think it would be very difficult to call it, but slight edge to NATO

So, until NATO either secures East Germany and the Soviets obliterate the advancing NATO or NATO obliterates advancing Soviet forces along the Rhine, NATO will win the long-term. Makes sense.
 
So, until NATO either secures East Germany and the Soviets obliterate the advancing NATO or NATO obliterates advancing Soviet forces along the Rhine, NATO will win the long-term. Makes sense.
But it will be very touch and go, like for every USSR victory there will be 1.1 Western victory. Like I said, European forces were not as demoralized as US forces and had just as much combat experience as the US had. The main question is conventional weapons, I am better at small arms, others here are better with aircraft, tanks etc. When it comes to small arms the question is which rifle/s is better in combat in central Europe, for the West we are looking at several 7.62 NATO Battle rifles and the US M16 vs the AK versions that the Warsaw Pact is using.
 
But it will be very touch and go, like for every USSR victory there will be 1.1 Western victory. Like I said, European forces were not as demoralized as US forces and had just as much combat experience as the US had. The main question is conventional weapons, I am better at small arms, others here are better with aircraft, tanks etc. When it comes to small arms the question is which rifle/s is better in combat in central Europe, for the West we are looking at several 7.62 NATO Battle rifles and the US M16 vs the AK versions that the Warsaw Pact is using.

In other words: NATO does not get as much of a beating as most media wants us to think. :/ Meaning the Soviets have a harder time pushing into West Germany.
 
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In '73? Most likely the Soviets. NATO's most powerful member is bogged down and demoralized in Vietnam and has missed a entire re-equipment cycle. The other European forces don't have the numbers to pick up the slack. There is still serious lack of coordination between the various NATO forces at the operational level, which the NATO armies still don't recognize as a legitimate thing yet much less have much understanding of. Then there is the fact that just like the rest of the Cold War, NATO is politically committed to a linear defensive pattern that was repeatedly tried and failed against the exact kind of mechanized assault the Soviets could be guaranteed to carry off.

For their part, the Soviet armed forces are still at the top of their game... the rot in Soviet society from stagnation is still starting and small, not having had time to infect the military. It won't be a walk in the park, but the conventional balance of power still grossly favors them.

Best case for NATO is they hold a month before the Soviets cross the Rhine and the French go nuclear. Given the short timeframe the conventional conflict would occur, the nature and size of each sides economies would basically be irrelevant. Whether the greater militarization of the Soviet economy would let them outperform the larger overall size of western economies or vice-versa when it comes to wartime armaments production wouldn't have time to matter. It would be a "come as you are" war.
 
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In other words: NATO does not get as much of a beating as most media wants us to think. :/ Meaning the Soviets have a harder time pushing into West Germany.
It all comes down to combat experience. The command on both sides saw combat in WWII and is what the overwhelming majority are. In the West the vast majority have additional experience overseas, something that the Warsaw pact regular units do not have. The USSR had such a large military not just to counter the West, but for Garrison duty. At least 1/3 of the USSR's forces are going to remain along the USSR/China border because of the fear that China under Mao will send its forces streaming across the border at the same time its engaged with NATO forces. Also throughout the Cold War the USSR never fully trusted its occupied Eastern European allies, for a good reason. Then there was the Baltics, Ukrainian, Central Asian and Caucases forces that the trust more but still not at the same level as a Russian.

The only force that really had equal combat experience to the West was Spetznaz and even then the Russians were the best everyone was on a varying lower scale. The Russians depend more on material and numbers then on individuals and quantity has a way to beat quality, but it will be bloody. This will not be quick and any victory both sides achieve will be Phyrric. Entire army groups disappearing either through defeat or, and its highly likely defection. I will not be surprised if many battles end up going to entrenching tools, knives, bayonets, handguns and blunt objects. The fighting will be brutal, and devastating. Germany will look like how Hamburg and Dresden did after the second world war. As well much of Europe on the frontlines. It will not be pretty.
 
It all comes down to combat experience.

No it doesn't. Your equating experience gained fighting brushfire guerrilla wars with the experience needed to fight a massive mechanized land war. It just doesn't work like that. The combat experience the European Armies picked up in the turn of the 19th and 20th century fighting various native resistance proved utterly useless in the massive industrial slaughterhouse that was WW1. The scale and scope of a war against the Soviet Union would be utterly unlike anything the West experienced in the 50s or 60s.

From WWII to Vietnam, the overwhelming Western doctrinal focus was pretty much entirely on tactics. This meant their operations amounted to just a sum of various bits and pieces. Soviet doctrine, for its part, sought to make their operations part of seamless doctrinal whole.
 
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No it doesn't. Your equating experience gained fighting brushfire guerrilla wars with the experience needed to fight a massive mechanized land war. It just doesn't work like that. The combat experience the European Armies picked up in the turn of the 19th and 20th century fighting various native resistance proved utterly useless in the massive industrial slaughterhouse that was WW1. The scale and scope of a war against the Soviet Union would be utterly unlike anything the West experienced in the 50s or 60s.
You are right. I am willing to bet though when it came right down to it, much of the European force in NATO were better prepared and trained than much of that in the Warsaw Pact.
 
You are right. I am willing to bet though when it came right down to it, much of the European force in NATO were better prepared and trained than much of that in the Warsaw Pact.

At the tactical level, yes. But that isn't where the Soviets would be seeking to win the war. At the tactical level, the German forces of Army Group Center in June 1944 were also better prepared and trained then much of their Red Army counterparts. Didn't at all prevent the Soviets from basically annihilating the whole thing in the space of a week.
 
At the tactical level, yes. But that isn't where the Soviets would be seeking to win the war. At the tactical level, the German forces of Army Group Center in June 1944 were also better prepared and trained then much of their Red Army counterparts. Didn't at all prevent the Soviets from basically annihilating the whole thing in the space of a week.
True but that is what the op is asking for tactically who would win the Warsaw Pact vs NATO and I feel a slight edge to NATO
 
True but that is what the op is asking for tactically who would win the Warsaw Pact vs NATO and I feel a slight edge to NATO

Ah, fair enough. I thought he was asking more about the conventional war as a whole, rather then the tactical aspect specifically.
 
Ah, fair enough. I thought he was asking more about the conventional war as a whole, rather then the tactical aspect specifically.
That is what I have gathered from the question. I maybe wrong, please enlighten us if you know more than of us
 
No it doesn't. Your equating experience gained fighting brushfire guerrilla wars with the experience needed to fight a massive mechanized land war. It just doesn't work like that. The combat experience the European Armies picked up in the turn of the 19th and 20th century fighting various native resistance proved utterly useless in the massive industrial slaughterhouse that was WW1. The scale and scope of a war against the Soviet Union would be utterly unlike anything the West experienced in the 50s or 60s.

From WWII to Vietnam, the overwhelming Western doctrinal focus was pretty much entirely on tactics. This meant their operations amounted to just a sum of various bits and pieces. Soviet doctrine, for its part, sought to make their operations part of seamless doctrinal whole.

I seem to recall from reading that the Invasion of Czechslovakia was an impressive logistical nightmare for the Soviets in 1968. Are they that much better off in 1973?
 
I seem to recall from reading that the Invasion of Czechslovakia was an impressive logistical nightmare for the Soviets in 1968. Are they that much better off in 1973?

I'm given to understand that the Czechs did a lot of sabotaging of their own infrastructure to make that nightmare possible, but the initial invasion still went like clockwork nonetheless. It was the following occupation they ran into trouble. The Red Army's doctrine was superb at massed mechanized conflicts, but dealing with more irregular wars like Czechoslovakia or Afghanistan tended to bring it up short.
 
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