There is a good discussion on this site of the German situation during World War II concerning ball bearings. Does anyone know what the Soviet situation was? I have heard as a result of Barbarossa they were in a desperate situation with ball bearings, only rectified by lease. Can anyone refute or confirm this?
At some point following Barbarossa there was a severe reduction in domestic production of ball bearings:
Beginning in September, and right to the end of 1941, a decline in industrial output occurred. At the end of 1941, industrial production amounted to only one-half of the prewar level. The output of nonferrous rolled metal, cable products, and ball bearings, had almost completely ceased. Average daily railway shipments at the beginning of 1942 had fallen to 36-37 thousand truckloads, i.e. one-third of prewar shipments. [citing: Rossiiskii Tsentr Khraneniia i Izucheniia Dokumentov Noveishei Istorii, f, 71, op. 25, d. 9250, l. 28.]
from: Mark Harrison, The Soviet Defense Industry Complex in World War II
Wikipedia cites/quotes the exact same para in one of their articles...
Not sure how it was solved, as Harrison doesn't address that.
There were definitely ball bearings shipped with some Lend Lease ships, but the ones I found were replacement parts for LL vehicles. I don't know if there were bearings shipped that would have helped with the Soviets' own standards/vehicles...
On the other hand, there's a Business Week article from 1960 (which was entered in the Congressional Record) that mentions the first "export of ball bearing machines" to the USSR since the end of WW2. So, I'm guessing entire ball-bearing production machines were shipped during LL to help the Soviets with the bearing problem. (The article also mentions that in 1960 an export license from the Department of Commerce was required for such machinery exports to the USSR. It also mentioned that some of the machines shipped to the Soviets during WW2 were made by Bryant.)