Soviet Fleet Shipbuilding
Fifth Five-Year Plan (1951-55)
Although Stalin died in 1953, the Fifth Five-Year Plan (1951-55) as a whole reflected his preoccupation with heavy industry and transportation, the more so because no single leader firmly controlled policy after Stalin's death. In many respects, economic performance pleased the leadership during the period. According to government statistics (considered by Western observers to be somewhat inflated), the economy met most growth targets, despite the allocation of resources to rearmament during the Korean War (1950-53). National income increased 71 percent during the plan period.
As in previous plans, heavy industry received a major share of investment funds. During the final years of the Fifth Five-Year Plan, however, party leaders began to express concern about the dearth of consumer goods, housing, and services, as they reassessed traditional priorities. The new prime minister, Georgii M. Malenkov, sponsored a revision of the Fifth Five-Year Plan, reducing expenditures for heavy industry and the military somewhat in order to satisfy consumer demand. The newly appointed first secretary of the party, Khrushchev, launched a program to bring under cultivation extensive tracts of virgin land in southwestern Siberia and the Kazakh Republic to bolster fodder and livestock production.
Stalin's Big Fleet Program
Stalin was very impressed by the large artillery ships, especially high-speed, and at the same time he clearly underestimated the aircraft carriers. During the discussion of the heavy cruiser of Project 82 in March 1950, the Secretary General demanded from designers to increase the speed of the ship to 35 knots, "so that he would panic the light cruisers of the enemy, disperse them and the ruffians. This cruiser must fly like a swallow, be a pirate, a real bandit. " Alas, on the threshold of the nuclear-missile era, the views of the Soviet leader on questions of naval tactics lagged behind their time for one and a half to two decades.
Stalin's Big Fleet Program was driven by the slogan "catch up and overtake" [dognat i peregnat}, a common phrase during Soviet forced industrialization. After the Soviet victory in 1945, however, Stalin resumed his dream of acquiring an ocean-going fleet, but found that the acquisition of giant battleships from abroad was even more troublesome than before the war. Instead of destroyers, Stalin had to settle for Heavy (Battle) Cruisers, which became the focus of his naval dream in the last three years of his life. The Stalingrad battlecruiser, however, was never completed. When Stalin died this class of cruisers died with him. On April 18, 1953, a month after Stalin's death, the construction of the ships was stopped because of their high cost and the complete obscurity of tactical application.
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