Analysis: How ready was Europe for war in 1939?

Statistics

  Army Navy Airforce
Germany
  • 1.5 million men
  • 2 Battleships
  • 2 battlecruisers
  • 9 Cruisers
  • 22 Destroyers
  • 60 U Boats
  • 1750 bombers
  • 1200 fighters

(Numbers deployed in the Invasion of Poland)

Poland
  • 700,000
 
  • 164 fighters
USSR
  • 1.8 million
  • 2 battleships
  • 2 Cruisers
  • Submarines - many, I can't find an exact number though.
18,000 (planes by 1941)
France
  • 900,000 men
  • 5 million reservists
  • 2 Battlecruisers
  • 7 Heavy Cruisers
  • 12 Light Cruisers
  • 71 Destroyers
  • 76 Submarines
  • 826 fighters
  • 250 bombers
Great Britain
  • 1.65 million following Dunkirk
  • 15 battleships
  • 7 carriers
  • 66 Cruisers
  • 184 Destroyers
  • 60 Submarines
  • 920 fighters
  • 600 bombers

Other factors:

  Experience / Weaponry Other Factors
Germany
  • Sub machine guns were used by the Wehrmacht.
  • Panzer Tanks well armed and highly efficient
  • Luftwaffe experience in Spanish Civil War
  • Trained to combine forces in offensive operations (Paratroopers, Luftwaffe and Heer)
  • Technologically advanced
  • Politically motivated troops (Waffen SS)
  • Danger of fighting on two fronts
  • Kriegsmarine under developed
  • Potential supply problems in prolonged conflict
Poland
  • Polish army experienced as a result of border skirmishes following creation of USSR
  • Limited mechanisation of forces
  • Ability to decipher German encrypted messages
USSR
  • Brief war with Japan and veterans from the Russian Civil War
  • 4 engine bombers
  • Reliability of armaments an issue
  • Purges of armed forces leadership in 1936 / 1939
  • Availability of raw materials and manpower almost limitless
  • Industry relatively inefficient, goods produced of variable quality
France
  • Maginot Line considered impregnable
  • Technologically sound: Tanks produced by companies such as Renault
  • Defensive policy
  • Number of reservists
Great Britain
  • Experience of policing the Empire
  • Largest navy in the world
  • Problems with reliability of infantry rifles
  • Radar
  • Forces from Dominions and Empire

Other key questions to consider:

  1. Which nations are militarily capable of conducting a prolonged war?
  2. Which nations have superior weapons, training and leadership?
  3. Which nations have the means to supply their troops in the event of a sustained campaign?
  4. What economic, social and political factors need to be considered when assessing the readiness for war of the major European nations?