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Soviet Fleet Shipbuilding - Fourth Five-Year Plan (1946-50)

The Fourth Five-Year Plan not a real plan. In August 1945, the Kremlin boastfully announced the resumption of planning; the Fourth Five-Year Plan was scheduled to begin in January 1946 and to terminate on December 31, 1950. However, it was not until seven months later, on March 18, 1946, that the Fourth Five-Year Plan was legally promulgated at the first session of the Supreme Soviet. Almost simultaneously came the news of another purge sweeping through every sphere of Soviet economic, social and cultural life.

The first postwar plan, the Fourth Five-Year Plan (19451950), restored most branches to their prewar levels, with most resources going to those with the most war damage. The main features of the Fourth FYP

  • To reconvert wartime factories back to civilian production.
  • To reconstruct large scale industrial plants that had been destroyed.
  • To ensure that the economy was in a constant state of readiness for war.
  • To restore the economy to pre war levels.

The Fourth Five-Year Plan began in 1945. During the early years of the period, attention focused on repair and rebuilding, with minimal construction of new facilities. Repair work proceeded briskly, with spectacular results. The country received no substantial aid for postwar reconstruction, Stalin having refused to consider proposals for participation in the Marshall Plan in 1947. Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and especially defeated Germany made reparations payments to the Soviet Union, however, consisting in large part of equipment and industrial materials.

During the final years of the plan, Stalin launched several grandiose projects, including building canals and hydroelectric plants and establishing tree plantations in the Armenian, Azerbaydzhan, Georgian, and Ukrainian republics and in the Volga River area of the Russian Republic to shield land from drying winds. Collectively, these efforts were referred to as "the Stalin plan for the transformation of nature."

As a part of the Fourth Five-Year Plan undertaken by the USSR, and formally announced on March 15, Joseph Stalin confronted Soviet scientists with a task of great magnitude. The scientific-technical basis is evident on every page of the sections of the law on the plan which deal with industry, agriculture, and transport.

A brief outline of most of the important work and researches to be completed between 1946 and 1950 fills a large volume for each department. Problems of physics and chemistry and other technical sciences hold an especially important place.

About 50 major constructions erre planned for 1946 to 1940. Many hundred millions of rubles were to be spent on the construction of institutes for the central building of the academy, and on dwelling houses for scientists, in the next five years. In addition to the central building, there will be erected institutes of organic chemistry, metallurgy, machine-building, mechanics, automatics and telemechanics.

Consumer goods were neglected, a situation worsened by the fact that in 1947 the state reformed the currency. This drastically reduced amount of money in circulation, with people struggling to buy necessities, bartering and black market widespread. Large amounts of machinery could be seized from Eastern European countries and taken back to Russia, however, few people actually knew how to put the machinery together.

Entire German factories and their workers were brought to the Soviet Union to train Soviet citizens in specialized work processes. Although the government never published definitive statistics, an authoritative Western assessment estimated the value of reparations at an average of 5 billion rubles per year between 1945 and 1956. The exertions of the country's inhabitants, however, coupled with ambitious economic strategies, proved most crucial for the recovery.

Like earlier plans, the Fourth Five-Year Plan stressed heavy industry and transportation. The economy met most of the targets in heavy industry. The performance of agriculture again lagged behind industry. Western observers believed that factors in agriculture's poor performance included a paucity of investment, enforcement of a strict quota system for delivery of agricultural products to the state, and tenuous linkage between wages and production, which deprived farmers of incentives. Housing construction, community services, and other consumer items also lagged noticeably.

By 1950 industrial production was 75% higher than in 1940. Metal and heavy engineering was particularly successful. Some of the big prestige project of 1930s that had been destroyed were rebuilt.

Stalin's Ocean-going Fleet

The Soviet Navy played a very minor role in the war, but emerged from it in an excellent position for expansion. It is estimated that a least 10 German Type XXI submarines had been captured. Even more important was the Soviet seizure of the blueprints for the Type XXVI submarine, a Waltherengine-powered true submersible. German shipyards, although damaged, were to provide a basis for Soviet naval ship construction, and Stalin's prewar dream of a Soviet high seas navy now seemed possible.

On the orders of the People's Commissariat of the Navy in January 1945, a commission was formed to prepare materials for the development of prospective ships. The main naval headquarters in the summer of 1945 developed the proposals of the Navy for a ten-year plan for military shipbuilding for 1946-1955. According to this plan, by January 1, 1956, the Navy was to have: 4 battleships, 10 heavy cruisers, 30 cruisers, 54 light cruisers, 6 squadron aircraft carriers, 6 small aircraft carriers, 132 large destroyers (with three 130-mm twin artillery mounts) , 226 destroyers, 268 large, 204 medium and 123 small submarines. The creation of other classes of ships was envisaged.

Based on the findings of the commission in the summer of 1945, the Main Naval Staff developed proposals for a 10-year plan for military shipbuilding for 1946-1955. According to this plan, it was planned to build 132 "large destroyers" with three double-barreled 130-mm universal artillery towers and 226 "simple" destroyers with two similar artillery units. Together with the battleships of Project 24, the heavy cruisers of Project 82, the light cruisers of the 68-bis project and the aircraft carriers, the "big" destroyers were to form the basis of the USSR Navy, designed to operate throughout the world's oceans.

From a production and economic point of view, these proposals were unrealistic, since the industry's opportunities were overstated by a factor of 1.5-2. In September 1945 at a meeting with Stalin, proposals were considered by the Civil Code of the Navy in a slightly abridged version. The construction of aircraft carriers, battleships, large destroyers was rejected, and other classes of ships were reduced.

In the order of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief IV Stalin ? 371 of July 22, 1945 . It was said: "The Soviet people want to see their fleet stronger and more powerful. Our people are creating new warships and new bases for the fleet." And already in the first post-war five-year plan of 1946-1950. The discussion of the draft program in the Kremlin took place on 27 September 1945. The transcript preserved in the archive displays the attitude of Stalin to the subject. After reading the title of the "big EM" in the text of the draft program, Stalin immediately said: "We can do without them, I would like to build as much as possible EM, I advise you to have more KRL and EM at this stage. With the personnel you are not well, it is even difficult for you to take 8 ships from the Germans." NG Kuznetsov replied that for him it was not difficult to receive captured ships. "Do not brag, do not take the moon out of the sky," Stalin said and added that he would never forget how they fought on the Black Sea and lost 3 EM at once. The People's Commissar of the Navy continued to insist on the need for the construction of "large EM" (according to the revised version 40, which, provided the saturation of the ship with the latest technology, mainly radar, fully satisfied the requirements of seamen). Stalin replied that the program is limited by the production base and therefore we are forced to choose what to build. "The sailors always differed ignorance and unwillingness to reckon with the opportunities of industry, they never wanted to descend from the sea to the ground," he said with sarcasm. In November 1945, the Council of People's Commissars of the USSR approved by its decree the program for the construction (surrender) of navy ships: it was planned to surrender in 1946-1955. 4 heavy cruisers, 30 light cruisers, 188 destroyers, 177 patrol ships, 40 large, 204 medium and 123 small submarines, 945 submarine hunters, 828 torpedo boats, up to 800 minesweepers, 195 landing craft, 1,876 auxiliary vessels and boats.

The new program, in fact, represented a further development of the plan for the creation of a large fleet, adopted in 1937, differing from it only by a smaller number of heavy surface ships. Thus, although the accepted program took into account the experience of the Second World War at sea, the most important conclusion from it - about the decline of the era of heavy artillery ships and the advent of the era of aircraft carriers - was not taken into account.

The law passed on March 18, 1946, says: "To increase shipbuilding in 1950 was twice as much as in 1940. Ensure the construction of a strong and powerful fleet in the USSR. To build for the fleet new ships and new naval bases. "

During the early postwar period the Soviet Navy was dismissed as primarily a coastal defense force capable only of sporadic raids against merchants and minor naval actions. In November 1948, testimony before the General Board of the Navy revealed, "The Soviets have succeeded in building a sizeable submarine force and maintaining it in a high state of readiness."

Official estimates for 15 November 1948 credited the Soviet Navy with a confirmed 229 submarines of all types. U.S. Naval Intelligence speculated that they were also currently engaged in construction of coastal defense submarines and patrol craft. The Soviets were also believed to be completing heavy cruisers and destroyers begun before or during the war, and preparing for the mass production of destroyers, destroyer escorts and minesweepers.

Projecting into the next 10 years, U.S. Navy analysts testified prophetically that: "As a conclusion, aircraft development and employment trends of the Soviets indicate that ships will be attacked with guided missiles carried by aircraft of great range and speed.... Missiles will probably be launched from well outside conventional gun range."

Although the capability for submerged missile launch was many years away, the Soviets had captured German V-2 rockets and had displayed interest in adapting a missile to submarines.

During the third period (1945-55), the ships of pre-war projects were completed and designs of ships with rocket weapons and nuclear power plants were developed. In the fourth period (1955-65), a fundamentally new nuclear missile fleet and, above all, nuclear submarines were created on the basis of decisions developed under Stalin. The fifth period (1965 - 85) is characterized by the fact that teh Soviet fleet has become, along with the American, the most powerful fleet in the world, i.e., a Global ocean fleet.

1945 - 10 Year Program [1946-55]

Ship types VMF First
request
VMF
Reduced
Plan of
27 Sep
10-Year
Program
Actually
Built 1955
Project Battleships 9 4 3 0 0
Project Battle Cruisers 12 10 74 0
Project Heavy Cruisers 30 30 10 0 0
Project Light Cruisers 60 54 30 30 19
Project Big Carriers 9 6 0 0 0
Project Light Carriers 6 6 2 0 0
Project Big Monitors 18 12 -- 18 0
Project Big Destroyers 144 132 0 0 0
Project Destroyers 222 226 250 18885
Project Seagoing Gunboats 42 38 --36 0
Project Patrol Ships 546 558 --177 48
Project Big Sub-chasers 327 345 --345 157
Project Big Submarines 168168 40 40 6
Project Medium Submarines 204 204 204 204151
Project Small Submarines 117 123 123 123 66
Project Squadron Mines Sweepers 110 110-- 30 0
Project Coastal Minesweepers 237 237-- 400150
Project Inshore Minesweepers 297 330 -- 306 100
Project Small Sub-chasers 564 600-- 600 86
Project Torpedo Cutters 738 828 -- 828 730
Project Landing Vessels 476 135-- 195 1
Source : Dmitrii Litvinenko, "Plany Vozhdya" Morskoi Sbornik. No. 2 (1997), p 102.




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