U.S. nukes the Soviets before 1949

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Bullmoose713, Oct 2, 2019.

  1. Bullmoose713 Well-Known Member

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    What if the United States dropped an atomic bomb in a preemptive attack against the Soviet Union before the Russians could get the bomb in 1949? Obviously this starts world war 3. How would the American public react? The world? Could the U.S. push the Soviets out of eastern Europe?
     
  2. HJ Tulp Vice Admiral, Eutopian Navy

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    I think @ObssesedNuker has a few interesting things to say about the US nuclear capabilities in this period.
     
  3. M79 Well-Known Member

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    US capabilities for manufacutre were limited, besides the USSR was pushing hard to have all nuclear weapons placed under UN control (until they could make their own in quantity). All this does is reinforce theor point and besides the US was toying with ICBMs by 1947 under the MX-774/Hiroc program anyway.
     
  4. 33k7 Well-Known Member

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    so we're looking at a United States with around 180 atomic bombs if the United States is able to pull off a surprise attack the Soviet Union probably collapses in a matter of months but with all the spies in the US the Soviet Union is probably tipped off about this War last a one year Soviet Air Forces are able to repel enough bombers to actually keep itself alive after the first strike. cold war is ended before it can begin. Chinese Civil War is probably affected by this communist lose their as well with us dropping A bombs everywhere. United States loses all its moral High Ground for the rest of its existence and minor nuclear winter probably happens to.

    Mark 8:36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? the United States just did that in this scenario.
     
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  5. M79 Well-Known Member

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    US retains industrial supremacy but Western Europe likely unites into an EU-like federation earlier. Germans are shocked and end up leading this potentially as a united country. Eastern Europe is freed much earlier and US retains allies there. By the 1960s the world is recovering and a Russian rump state of some kind exists. Decolonization is more violent and Vietnamesque without Soviet arms to aid its progress but it still happens.
     
  6. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    US could indeed drop a bomb, somewhere in the USSR.
    If it would be on the correct city, that's another matter entirely in 1949.

    Inertial Navigation was still a slowly realizing dream for Doc Draper at this point, 4 years away.
     
  7. ObssesedNuker Commander of 10 million men

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    Indeed I have!


    Given these well-recorded deficiencies, the attack probably fails catastrophically and the Soviets run the US out of Europe in response, if their own allies don't to avoid Soviet retribution. Given the unprovoked nature of this attack, there would be a strong domestic backlash that could heavily energize the dying remnants of the isolationists. The Republicans would argue that the Democrats had gone insane after being in power for so long and Truman is likely drummed out of office in disgrace. The odds of a subsequent peace with the Soviets that leave them in a dominant position of Eurasia are high.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  8. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    I agree with everything EXCEPT, the Russians run anyone anywhere. They had just lost 18 million dead, 5 years before, and Stalin was going off into Cloud Cuckoo Land. Manpower losses have a quality all of their own. Figure a draw on the ground in Europe. Potemkin Russia is still a hard fact to believe. I finally believed it after I dug through the casualties in the histories. Incredible that they bluffed the West.
     
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  9. ObssesedNuker Commander of 10 million men

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    Citing what the Soviets previously lost in WW2 is far less useful then looking at what they had. Three-four Western divisions going up against a initial force of four Soviet armies is only going to end one way and it won’t be a draw.

    In terms of manpower, in addition to the ~9 million men demobilized during 1945-46, another ~9 million men fit for military service came of age in 1945-1947 who had been born in the late-20s. The class of 1930, who would be coming of age in 1948, would be the first class in which the Soviets started to see a serious drop-off in the yearly number of young men becoming available as it was the first class born at the time in which the collectivization program, and it's consequences, had impact on the Soviet population, but the drop off was still only about 20% at this point which leaves the class of 1930 as being about 2.4 million. So, that leaves the Soviets with a unmobilized military manpower reserve of potentially some 20.4 million men. Add on to that the ~3 million man standing military the Soviets had in the late-40s and that's 23.4 million total military manpower. While this figure is smaller then the number of men the Soviet Union who cycled through during the course of WW2 (34,000,000), it's still more then 6 million men larger then the number of men the Germans cycled through during the war and about 3 million more then the total military manpower fielded by the US during the war.

    The manpower above is far more then enough to fulfill all of the Red Army's mobilization plans with room to spare for losses. In addition to bringing their standing divisions within the first 20 days of mobilization, the Soviets would also begin to mobilize the 120 Category-D "ghost" mobilization rifle divisions, which normally only exist on paper in peacetime with their equipment in storage and their manpower in the civilian reserves. As the link I posted notes, the first of these would reach strength by M+30 and the last by M+60, with all being at full-combat readiness by M+120. The ability of the Red Army to do this is very much in line with the historical record: in 1941, the Red Army mobilization system managed to generate more then 300 divisions from 5 million men mobilized in the course of 5 months and this was under a series of deficiencies (most notably, the unexpected surprise attack and collapse of the front caused massive disruption and there was a shortage of trained or experienced officers due to the purges) that the late-40s Red Army does not have. Even 1914 Imperial Russia, operating under logistical and material constraints which make the 1941 Red Army (never mind the 1948 one) look like paradise, managed to mobilize a additional 100 divisions on top of bringing their standing army up to full manpower strength in the opening two months of WW1.
     
  10. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    The Russians are all glass. They have no depth at all. This is the demographics.
     
  11. ObssesedNuker Commander of 10 million men

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    I’ve already shown how the demographics show otherwise. You’ve supported your assertion with basically fuck all and have just reiterated the arguement. Put up or shut up.
     
  12. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    Your demographic assertions have a couple of PROBLEMS.

    1. By your logic the Russians should have recovered from their civil war, the Stalin pogroms and the mass depopulations the Germans imposed in WW II when they murdered millions of young teen aged boys. Just a few incidentals that factor into those mythical teenagers coming of age.

    2. Here. The "veterans" can be at the front fighting, or they can be trying to put a shattered country back together. They cannot do both and against a West backed by an intact United States, they cannot last. They have no staying power and no reserves. Hence "glass".

    Finally,

    Your case is "not proven".
     
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  13. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    Biggest problem would be feeding the Red Army, coming off from disastrous droughts and worsened by Collectivization Policies, that lasted in some areas thru 1948
    I image more would starve in 1949 to keep the spearheads fed.

    Or it all breaks down and Soviet Troops act like the Germans at the end of WWI during Ludendorff's Offensive
     
  14. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    The US and our Western allies had demobilized massively by 1949. The Soviets however had maintained far more combat power at wartime levels. It would not be out of the realm of possibilities that the Red Army could chase the Western powers into the Channel.
     
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  15. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    I give the odds 40/60. I think the Russians faced with WWIII would just be as horrified as the West is, and that Stalin's life is measured in mere hours while someone sane tries to figure out what he did to piss off Truman and tries to "Make peace you fools!"
     
  16. ObssesedNuker Commander of 10 million men

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    And they had. The Soviet Union had recovered from the Civil War in 1927, decades beforehand. In economic terms, GDP, GDP-per-capita, and industrial output all returned to pre-WW2 levels by 1948, per Mark Harrison’s works on the subject. Stalin's anti-Jewish pogroms occurred later, nearer his death and don't seem to have reached a scale which hurt economic activity at all. And per Walter Dunn's works on Soviet manpower, the Soviets generally found that the Germans were unsuccessful in denying more then 10% of the occupied regions potential military manpower.

    Nothing in your link contradicts anything I’ve posted and, as the numbers I have posted show, the recruitment of enough men just to bring the Soviet military back to it's WW2 manpower levels would still leave about 3 million more men in the economy then was the case even AFTER the 1945-1947 demobilization. Additionally, it ignores that the manpower the Soviets released after the war actually represented the least capable soldiers available to the Red Army. Per Victor Gobarev's work on the Red Army during the Berlin Blockade, the great bulk of the most experienced, physically fit, and capable Soviet soldiers were retained. This is in contrast to the American demobilization, which largely let their most capable and most experienced soldiers return to the workforce, with deleterious effects on discipline, training, and overall combat readiness that would dog the Army well into the Korean War.

    Additionally, after reaching it's nadir in February 1948 at 2.86 million, the size of the Soviet military began to increase as the Cold War intensified. The Soviet Group of Forces Germany alone received 80,000 additional soldiers in the Spring of 1948. By the time of Stalin's death, it was 5.3 million. According to you, the Soviet manpower situation means this build-up should have been impossible without devastating the Soviet economy. Yet not only did the build-up happen, it happened and the Soviet economy would continue to grow well until the 1970s.

    The Soviets had already demonstrated their ability to maintain and even increase agricultural production while mobilized, as the increase of agricultural production from it’s low point in 1944 from it's low point in 1943 shows. Additionally, as the political circumstances of the proposed war means it likely won’t last longer then a year, it likely wouldn't last long enough to have much negative impact on Soviet agricultural output. Certainly the taking of Western Europe, which would take a few weeks if it doesn't take a few months, wouldn't last long enough to do it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  17. Blue cat Well-Known Member

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    I suppose it depends where the bomb detonated.

    Best case for the U.S. might involve the Bomb killing the Soviet leadership, and perhaps whom ever takes over decides to cut a deal with the U.S. I don't see this as a particularly likely outcome but it might happen.

    The more likely outcome is a rather annoyed Soviet Union wages war against the west while the US scrambles to drop more bombs on the Soviet Union. Starting a war by dropping a single bomb does seem rather odd.

    I don't see the U.S. public or the rest of the world being very happy about this.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
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  18. Blue cat Well-Known Member

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    Dropping one bomb as per the OP is probably feasible for the U.S. in this time frame :)

    Especially if it is delivered as the opening move in a war. The OP did use the phrase pre emptive attack :). I suspect there are ways the U.S. could get a single air craft over at least some likely targets in peace time. I suspect the rest of the world would be rather unimpressed with the U.S.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2019
  19. ObssesedNuker Commander of 10 million men

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    Well, in the strictest sense of SAC capabilities it is. There are good odds that a single bomber could be shot down though, which is why SAC warplans at the time called for hundreds of bombers to try and overwhelm the PVO. That SAC at the time didn’t have the infrastructure to put hundreds of atomic-capable bombers over the Soviet was... not taken into account.
     
  20. Blue cat Well-Known Member

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    I think there are ways the U.S. might have a reasonable chance of getting a single bomber to its target as the opening move in a pre emptive attack. Nothing would be 100 percent certain however.

    I suspect such an attack would have far reaching consequences and our world today would be a much less pleasant one.