What kill ratio would Nazi Germany need in 1945 to win? I am guessing around 100 to 1. They actually came close to this I think in aircraft.

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    This isn't very realistic as a question. By 45 they were probably not anywhere close in air-to-air kills. And they were also running out of fuel, veteran troops and industrial capacity. At an earlier point in time, better kill/loss ratios might have a made a difference, but there was no way either the USSR or the Western powers were going to offer a draw by that time. I suspect the only thing that might have made a difference is if the Cold War had started 3 years early. Or if they had gotten A bombs first. Feb 19, 2019 at 7:15
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    In general, questions about what might have been or what could have been are out of scope for H:SE. There is no way to select an authoritative answer for this question because there are no sources that refer to a history in which Nazi Germany won. Please review help center on hypotheticals & counterfactuals.
    – MCW
    Feb 19, 2019 at 9:21
  • Might be interested in this question, which seems related (and many of the answers likely answer this question too)
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 19, 2019 at 13:39
  • No kill ratio would have affected the final outcome. At most, they could have earned a few more months - and the dubious honour of having been nuked before Japan. Their only chance would be political - if the alliance between US, UK, and the SU had broken before the fall of Berlin, and one of those powers decided to side with them against the others. But they had already done whatever they could to reduce that possibility to zero, so it would have taken some very extraordinary fact to make it possible again... Mar 5, 2019 at 19:54

2 Answers 2


Germany was starved for resources and in a bad strategic position from the very first day of WWII. Winning by attrition (a.k.a. "kill ratios") was never really an option. The whole idea for Germany was to win in a series of quick raids, using surprise and (hopefully) superior training and tactics to win strategically before economic factors took hold. This worked in Poland 1939, in Norway and France 1940, in Greece 1941... but those campaigns (plus the unsuccessful Battle of Britain) had blunted the spear, so to speak, and so it didn't work in Russia in 1941.

From there onwards, it turned into a war of attrition. In such an environment, your "kills" vs. enemy "kills" do not paint a correct picture. You have to look at two separate ratios:

  • Own losses vs. own replacement capabilities, and
  • enemy losses vs. enemy replacement capabilities.

To be in a "winning" position, you need...

  • your own losses not exceeding your own replacement capabilities (i.e. "not losing"), and
  • enemy losses exceeding enemy replacement capabilities (i.e. "winning").

That was a losing proposition for Germany even in 1942, indicated by the fact that their 1942 offensive in the east (Fall Blau) was no longer an attempt to actually defeat the Russian army, but a desperate bid for the resources of the Caucasus region.

Two and a half years later, in 1945, Germany...

  • was fielding Hitler Youth and Volkssturm units as they rapidly ran out of men in the proper age bracket to recruit;
  • did send up pilots who hardly knew how to control their aircraft, as they did not have the fuel to train them properly;
  • had its surface fleet annihilated and lost the Atlantic harbors, the U-Boats retreating to the North Sea (where they were ineffective at stopping merchant shipping);
  • had its production capabilities for just about anything (together with the residential areas of just about every major city) bombed into oblivion;
  • had its last strategic offensive operation in the east (Battle of Kursk) dating August 1943, and the last strategic offensive operation in the west (Battle of the Bulge) just depleted the very last reserves Germany could muster.

At the same time Germany was running out of virtually everything, all Allies had their production capacities unthreatened by either ground or air attack (if you discount V-1 and V-2 "terror attacks" on London, which wasn't even targeted as a major production city but rather because they could not hope to hit anything smaller).

So Germany's replacement capabilities were rapidly approaching zero, while Allied replacement capabilites, if not exactly unlimited, were not limited for any practical purpose.

There was no rational way that anything Germany could do by 1945 would have swung around those odds. The Kriegsmarine was basically out of the picture, the Allies had complete air superiority over Germany (let alone their own airspace), and the Wehrmacht was really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

You know what happens if you try to divide by zero, or by infinity:

What kill ratio would Nazi Germany need in 1945 to win?

Computation error.

We would be looking at ridiculously high numbers, because Germany could no longer afford any further losses, and the Allies were better equipped than ever before.

Imagine a miracle tank that could defeat enemies 1000:1. Or a miracle jet plane that could defeat enemies 1000:1. If you have only a handful of those, your enemy can still swamp you. (As the Russians showcased pretty much throughout the war.)

By 1945 the war was lost for Germany regardless of how effective they would fight (short of summoning several thousand Iron Man suits from thin air). The German armed forces had been bled dry.

And even the highest possible kill-ratio does not give Germany any fuel...

To win the war on a strategic level (which, as I hope I have pointed out, has little to do with kill numbers) in 1945, Germany would have needed to advance back into Russia (forcing the USSR into armistice), would have needed to advance back into the Atlantic (forcing the UK into armistice), and then somehow, miraculously, do {...} to force the USA into armistice.

Because by this time, none of the Allies would have surrendered to a Germany pressed back to its own borders simply because losses soared. The Allies were so close to winning the war, strategically, that they would probably have gone to quite some lengths, losses-wise, to see it through.

A turn-around for Germany, aside from ridiculous kill numbers, would have required men, weapons, fuel, trains, planes, ships, and time that Germany just did not have anymore. And the Allies knew that perfectly well.

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    @LangLangC: I thought it save to assume "protracted war" from the question. But you are right, that could have been phrased better. Will do that as soon as I have access to a proper keyboard.
    – DevSolar
    Feb 19, 2019 at 18:13
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    @rs.29: I edited in the "strategic", which I considered somewhat self-explanatory. Coming up with "10:1" and then believing that all Germany had to do to win the war was killing at that ratio or a bit above is exactly the kind of tomfoolery I was hoping to put an end to with my answer. 10:1 in what? Surface ships? Tons of fuel in depots? Tons of fuel produced each day? Aircraft in the sky? Men ready to be drafted should thinks turn sour at the front?
    – DevSolar
    Feb 21, 2019 at 20:50
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    @rs.29: I repeat, if you have an opposing opinion -- which is something else entirely than pointing out the missing "strategic" in my answer, which was a justified criticism -- please write your own answer and have it open for voting on its own merits.
    – DevSolar
    Feb 21, 2019 at 21:06
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    @DevSolar I cannot, question is put on hold . I'm not satisfied with your answer and I explained why .
    – rs.29
    Feb 21, 2019 at 21:08
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    @rs.29: Fair enough. I think your evaluation of the situation is even worse.
    – DevSolar
    Feb 21, 2019 at 21:12

In 1945 the Germans were not in a position to even negotiate an unfavorable armistice. Much less win the war. All they could do is sign on the dotted line and hope for the best.

100 to 1 is what Luftwaffe fighters encountered on a quiet day. After Operation Bodenplatte there wasn't much left of the Luftwaffe. They had more problems that were unsolvable: there were planes, yes. But almost no experienced pilots to fly them. Even if there were a few pilots and planes available: not enough fuel.

Which is something the Luftwaffe knew very well: Bodenplatte means bottom plate; scraping the last bits of bottom of the barrel.

The situation for the Kriegsmarine was even worse. The U-boats were defeated in the Battle of the Atlantic. All capital ships were either sunk or permanently out of action.

What about the Wehrmacht? Same story. Not enough fuel to operate motor vehicles, conscripts that were either too old or too young to fight were called up (Volkssturm). Soldiers otherwise unfit to fight were dragooned into 'stomach divisions' (Especially the 70th division) where you had many doctors and orderlies to keep the soldiers more or less standing up.

In 1945 most of the Wehrmacht had been de-motorized for lack of fuel. They didn't need too many reconnaissance units anymore, but their recce units were now doing their jobs on bicycles. Not in armored cars, for want of fuel.

Now, supposing they would be able to hold out for a couple more months? In that case Germany would have had the dubious honor of being the first country to be nuked. What prevented Nuremberg (probably) from becoming Hiroshima was the surrender in may 1945. Had they been able to hold out until September, the first nuke would have been used on Germany.

No matter how you cut it - Germany was utterly and totally defeated. Hitler's 'wonder weapons' were too little and far, far too late to make any kind of a difference.

To give you an example:

The Messerschmidt 262 wasn't introduced too late because of Hitler. It was introduced too early. It was rushed through the development program, in order to get it asap into battle. Far quicker than was required or save. It couldn't have been introduced any earlier.

Now, supposing by some miracle Germany was capable of building any number of Me 262's you want. Who's going to fly it? Not enough pilots anymore. How are you going to fly it? Not enough fuel. From where will you fly it? All airfields were either out of operation, destroyed or under attack.

That's just one wonder weapon that didn't work - even in the most optimistic scenarios that nearly always forget to mention the lack of materials, fuel and logistics.

  • Good answer, though the Wehrmacht was not the German Army, but the whole of the conventional armed services, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, and Heer (army). Feb 19, 2019 at 11:51
  • Nürnberg (German), or Nuremberg (English).
    – DevSolar
    Feb 19, 2019 at 18:21
  • -1 Advantage over Luftwaffe was never 100:1, although it did close to that if you count both Allied bombers and fighters against German jet fighters only . Also, even very late in the war (March 1945) , LW had certain success with Me-262. See for example history of JG7 en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jagdgeschwader_7
    – rs.29
    Feb 21, 2019 at 20:34
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    @rs.29: JG-7 was a collection of the best pilots the LW had left, but that also meant every loss was that of a veteran. JG-7 lost over a dozen aircraft in the week from March 18th-25th alone. New pilots were pressed into active service with less than 10 hours of flight training... Those were unsustainable losses for the Germans, while the USAAF and Royal Air Force were able to replace theirs. And those Me-262 required fighter cover over their airbases to take off and land, because even they -- the best pilots in the best fighters -- could not wrest air superiority from the Allies.
    – DevSolar
    Feb 21, 2019 at 20:48
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    @rs.29: If you believe that, post it as your own answer and have it voted on its own merits.
    – DevSolar
    Feb 21, 2019 at 20:59

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