Didn't the Germans have VAST stores of coal and lower quality iron? I thought the Ruhr was just chucked full of these things
W., "chock-full" and full enough
are two different things during a war
Coal is great - what can you do with it? You burn it for electrical power, and the Germans had and did this, electrification of rural areas was a big push before the war. You can use it in industry...and it needs to be good coking coal or converted to coke for smelting. And you use mbyproducts from it like bakelite and early plastics. Low grade iron CAN be improved but is vastly expensive to do so, so you make low-grade items with it - steel cores for concrete etc. - while quality ore is brough it from Sweden, good for rolling/machining/stamping/pressing when smelted, and good for case-hardening as armourplate.
Where the Germans DID succeed at using coal for during the war was learning how to crack coal for "ersatz" petrol, actually a benzene distillate.
And this is slightly off topic, but how in the world can France have more tanks and better of them in 1940 compared to the Germans when the Germans had a bigger economy, PLUS by all acounts, here and otherwise, they were already spending themsleves into the ground?
Ok, a number of things in here. First off - who says Germany had the bigger economy? It may have reached a high point during the war of being much higher, but prewar you have to take into account France's economy as a whole - which includes her resources from her colonial possessions abroad.
As for tanks - You have to remember German armour design and construction "officially" started in 1933. They had a few short years to begin not only mechanizing the army as a whole - which it never succeeded at - but creating tanks from the very basics. not only how to power, armour and arm them - but also how to use them. See elsewhere on the forum, or books like Len Deighton's "Blitzkrieg" - outdated greatly now but a good basic primer to start from. So in a few short years, from 1933 to 1939 Germany went from a tankless and almost totally armourless 100,000man army to a war machine spearheaded by its panzer divisions.
How? Well, just like the Russians gave Germany covert training and experimental facilities tio train pilots and develop aircraft - she also gave them facilities at Kazan to to design and build panzers, from well before the Nazi era. So the commanders of the Weimar Republic's Reichswehr army was already dabbling in how to design tanks in sefveral classes weights for MANY years before 1933. Not in quantity - or even quality! LOL - but it was ongoing. It was the products of this that appeared early in years after 1933 as the Panzer I and II, with the III on the drawing board. Remember also that Germany secured the Czech Skoda works and Czechoslovakia's Skoda T-35 and 38 tanks, and these equiped several of the panzer divisions in 1940.
Whereas France had been able to continue designing tanks in ALL classes and weights continuously from the end of the First World War, and was continuing their development right up to the outbreak of war; what she DID have was a very poor post-WWI policy of how to use them - parcel them out among the infantry just like in 1918! But like all tanks - even German ones! - they had major problems - basically because they hadn't been tested in war! Very unreliable, VERY few had radios, frequently light machinegun armament even in medium-class tanks, heavier tanks had bigger-bore guns...but the biggies were short-barrelled low-velocity things. So basically the French had more - but used them badly and whats more planned
badly how to use them. Whereas the Germans merely SEEMED to have superior numbers because they used them better, and concentrated nearly all of what they had for the thrust through France.
If for example you look at the German forces that invaded Holland and Belgium almost siultaneously...you'll see that they had armour
okay - but wheeled, very few tanks at all. Same in Norway earlier in the year - the Germans used some
armour, but mostly armoured cars of various types, and a few tanks.
"Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." - Malcolm Reynolds