Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

How Allies Used Math Against German Tanks

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the tanks-for-the-memories dept.

Math 330

Pepebuho writes "This an article about how the allies were able to estimate the number of German tanks produced in World War 2 based on the serial numbers of the tanks. Neat! Godwin does not apply."

cancel ×

330 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Look at the board (0, Flamebait)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028184)

Why is all this military intelligence stuff presented as so difficult? You can just look at the board and see what the other player's pieces look like.

what about (1)

Adolf Hitroll (562418) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028306)

analyzing the tatooed numbers on holocaust's survivors' arms to determine how many actually got killed [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:what about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028394)

"Those are my lucky numbers."
Ira Goldenberg,
Lottery Winner 1993

Old prank... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028188)

No points for mentioning the old prank of labeling $looseAnimal 1, 2, 3, and 5.

Who's to say (1, Insightful)

BigJClark (1226554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028210)


Well good for the bean counters then. I'm sure a vastly more important question would be, "where is the largest concentration of tanks?"

Re:Who's to say (4, Informative)

kg8484 (1755554) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028386)

Don't be so dismissive. Knowing how many tanks the Germans had in total is related to knowing how many they can marshal in a particular region. Also, part of the allies' goal was to figure out how many tanks the Germans could manufacture. If that number was high, then the Germans could have bolstered an undersupplied and perceived-to-be-weak region.

To be back on track, the math involved is pretty straightforward. For those interested, the Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] article has more information on the subject.

Re:Who's to say (3, Insightful)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028490)

Not to mention, if you have an idea of how much total strength the enemy has, you know how committed they are to a location where you know their strength. If your enemy has 90% of their estimated force in one location, you know that you can (if you want) hit them with a counterattack in another location unopposed.

The information is far more relevant than the GP thinks.

Re:Who's to say (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028574)

knowing how much they produce means you can estimate the time to replace destroyed tanks and plan accordingly. 90% of winning a war is mastering logistics

Re:Who's to say (2, Informative)

MarkvW (1037596) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028688)

Knowing tank concentration is NOT vastly more important than knowing the rate of tank production.

Adapting to tank concentrations invokes relatively short term planning concerns. This information is needed to help you decide your counter-concentrations. You know what they have and where they have it, and then you move your stuff in response.

But tank production is HUGELY important. You're talking about EXTREMELY complicated logistical problems there. How many tanks are you going to manufacture in response (lag time)? How many bombers are you going to allocate / train for heavy industry attacks (lag time)? Are they making so many that you've got to come up with a replacement for the Ronson Tank (big lag time)?

World War 2 took a long time. Long range planning was super-important. They didn't have computers. Anything that could make the strategic position clearer was very important. The other poster is right: You shouldn't be dismissive. This was a big deal and some geek's idea helped win the war.

Godwin does not apply? (2, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028220)

If I want to quote Mike Godwin, you quote-Nazis aren't going to stop me. All he said was, the longer an Internet discussion goes on, the more likely it is that someone will mention Hitler. Well, duh.

Re:Godwin does not apply? (2, Informative)

somaTh (1154199) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028310)

I don't understand how this gets screwed up every time an actual story about Nazi Germany comes up. Godwin's Law only says that there will be a comparison [wikipedia.org] to Hitler, not merely that he be mentioned.

Re:Godwin does not apply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028384)

For instance, you're a grammar Nazi, just like Hitler.

Re:Godwin does not apply? (5, Funny)

somaTh (1154199) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028406)

And you're clearly anti-Semantic.

Re:Godwin does not apply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028450)

At least he's not Jewish.

Re:Godwin does not apply? (1)

revlayle (964221) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028400)

it's like Hitler

there, happy?

Re:Godwin does not apply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028544)

I'm just saying that Godwin's gets over-applied. The probability already approaches 1 (as most people who responded to me have shown), why lower the bar further?

Re:Godwin does not apply? (5, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028446)

there will be a comparison to Hitler

Math > Hitler

Q.E.D.

Re:Godwin does not apply? (3, Funny)

bigstrat2003 (1058574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028502)

Don't be such a Godwin Nazi. Damn, man.

Re:Godwin does not apply? (4, Insightful)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028456)

Here we go. Only three posts in, proving the point that any Internet discussion about Nazis inevitably produces a debate about the applicability of Godwin's Law.

- RG>

Re:Godwin does not apply? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028552)

1. mercalo2010 25. Oct. 2010 - 19:57
hi darling how are you?
2. WhosTalking 25. Oct. 2010 - 19:59
big yellow banana :-)
3. mercalo2010 25. Oct. 2010 - 20:01
hi how are you?
4. WhosTalking 25. Oct. 2010 - 20:02
i'm fine, and how tasty are you?
5. mercalo2010 25. Oct. 2010 - 20:05
i am fine so tell me how was your day?
6. WhosTalking 25. Oct. 2010 - 20:07
My day was sweet and mushy, just like an overripe banana :-) ... and yours?
7. mercalo2010 25. Oct. 2010 - 20:08
me too so what do you search here?
8. WhosTalking 25. Oct. 2010 - 20:11
a place where to dump the peel :-)

And you?
9. mercalo2010 25. Oct. 2010 - 20:12
me too please are you speaking french well and have you msn?
10. WhosTalking 25. Oct. 2010 - 20:14
je parle français, mais je hais Micro$oft...
11. mercalo2010 25. Oct. 2010 - 20:15
lol c est mieux alors dis moi tu fais koi dans la vie?mon mystere a moi,
12. WhosTalking 25. Oct. 2010 - 20:17
ben.... je mange des bananes... et quand j'ai plus faim, je bois de la crème fraiche :-)
13. mercalo2010 25. Oct. 2010 - 20:20
ah ah c est cool mon coeur alors dis moi comment vas le luxembourg?
14. WhosTalking 25. Oct. 2010 - 21:35
le luxembourg est un pays très froid. S'il n'y avait que la météo, les bananes auraient du mal à pousser...
Mais heureusement qu'on a nos politiciens pour créer un climat plus propice à la culture de la banane :-) (Non, non, on n'est pas une république bananière, en effet on a toujours notre Grand-Duc)

15. mercalo2010 26. Oct. 2010 - 12:15
ok alors si je te disais ke j ai envi de venir la bas pour continuer mes etudes et ke je voudrais ke tu m aides pour la paperasse tu le ferais?
16. WhosTalking 26. Oct. 2010 - 14:18
dans quelle branche tu fais tes études?

et qu'est -ce que je devrais faire exactement pour t'aider avec la paperasse?

17. mercalo2010 26. Oct. 2010 - 14:40
bah voila j ai besoin d'une lettre d'invitation et puis d'une preinscription la bas pour completer mon dossier tu vois un peu au fait pass moi ton email moi c est rolianbel@hotmail.com alors sil te plais repond moi et ajoute moi sur msn ou alors sur yahoo messenger
18. WhosTalking 26. Oct. 2010 - 16:30
un pré-inscription à l'université du Luxembourg?

Et dans quelle matière tu compteras étudier?
19. mercalo2010 26. Oct. 2010 - 21:04
en scinces de l education master
20. WhosTalking 26. Oct. 2010 - 21:07
intéressant... c'est pour devenir instit?
21. mercalo2010 26. Oct. 2010 - 21:09
oui c est ma passion alors qu est ce tu peu faire pour moi?
22. WhosTalking 26. Oct. 2010 - 21:10
je pourrais t'offrir une banane .... :-)
23. mercalo2010 26. Oct. 2010 - 21:11
et a koi me servira t elle?lol
24. WhosTalking 26. Oct. 2010 - 21:14
tu pourras te la foutre dans le cul par exemple....

Re:Godwin does not apply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028712)

Reading it in french sounds so classy...
Shit, anything in french sounds classy.

Re:Godwin does not apply? (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028606)

The suspense is killing me! We should be using .NAZI instead of .COM. That way, at least the most popular TLD based websites get Godwin'ed by default.

Re:Godwin does not apply? (1)

rAiNsT0rm (877553) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028694)

Jehova! Jehova! Jehova!

Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s! (4, Insightful)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028238)

Note to self for world domination plans: don't stamp my robots/tanks/drones with plain text serial numbers, always encrypt! :-)

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (4, Funny)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028266)

Also the first tank serial # should not be 1.
Try something like 24370239.

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (5, Funny)

tool462 (677306) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028476)

Reminds me of the prank where you release 3 goats with the numbers 1, 2 and 4 on them and watch while everybody searches for the one with the number 3 on it.

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028828)

no, no, no

the prank is you release 3 sharks with the numbers 1, 2 and 4 on them and watch while everybody searches for the one with the number 3 on it...

in all seriousness WHO THE BLEEP EVER HEARD OF THAT PRANK BEFORE

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028792)

Supposedly, there was an underground fibre optic install running between several of the Las Vegas casinos back in the 1980's, where every box junction and repeater had a serial number that fit some zany formula, i.e. for anything that really belonged in the system, the sum of the first and fourth digits was always twice the absolute value of the difference of the third and eighth digits. The system was used for something like sending pictures of suspected card counters and other cheats back and forth, and particularly sending pics of anyone you had just booted out of your casino to the others in the chain. Hardware got swapped out or altered frequently, as new casinos and hotels were added to the system. Someone supposedly treked through the storm drains and such every few months and, depending on the story, either looked for serial numbers that didn't fit the checksum system, or alternately, the grunt workers just wrote down all the serial numbers and turned the list in to someone who knew that the system was in place, as they weren't told about the checksum part. Once you stop using random serial numbers, there are lots of things you can do with selected ones.

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028796)

Then you just do the analysis twice, once calculating the upper estimate and once calculating a lower estimate. You increase the variance but don't really prevent the attack from working. To prevent the mathletes from doing the analysis at all you need to either encrypt it (in which case the crypto-letes move in) or use randomly generated serial numbers, which might get interesting using WWII technology with production spread out over a war torn continent.

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (1)

Haxamanish (1564673) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028856)

Also the first tank serial # should not be 1. Try something like 24370239.

Hitler knew this trick: he was member number 555 of the DAP [wikipedia.org] , the first member had number 501. When the DAP changed into the NSDAP, he became member number 1.

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (1)

inerlogic (695302) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028292)

well... if Hitler actually WERE a genius.... or if any of his followers/lackies had balls enough to lend the man some brains, we'd probably all be speaking German now... so... good thing they did stupid shit like that.....

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (2, Interesting)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028570)

Hell, if Hitler had just had better weather there's a good chance you'd all be speaking German right now. Those of you that survived, that is.

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028782)

Ich spreche Deutsch jetzt, Sie unempfindlicher Erdklumpen.

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028362)

Probably best to hash them.

That way, you don't need any particularly privileged crypto keys floating around(only the plaintext serials, and each one of them only reveals one hashed serial) and a logistics officer in possession of a plaintext serial can trivially generate the hashed serial and verify it against a piece of hardware. People below a certain security level can just be handed the hashed serials for the stuff they are supposed to keep track of, thus preventing large lists of plaintext serials from floating around in questionably secure locations or hands.

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (5, Funny)

bragr (1612015) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028442)

I am implementing this at my factory. In fact, tanks c4ca4238a0b923820dcc509a6f75849b, c81e728d9d4c2f636f067f89cc14862c, eccbc87e4b5ce2fe28308fd9f2a7baf3, a87ff679a2f3e71d9181a67b7542122c, and e4da3b7fbbce2345d7772b0674a318d5 just rolled off of the the assembly line.

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (2, Interesting)

fregaham (702982) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028812)

I am implementing this at my factory. In fact, tanks c4ca4238a0b923820dcc509a6f75849b, c81e728d9d4c2f636f067f89cc14862c, eccbc87e4b5ce2fe28308fd9f2a7baf3, a87ff679a2f3e71d9181a67b7542122c, and e4da3b7fbbce2345d7772b0674a318d5 just rolled off of the the assembly line.

You should at least use some salt if you just use md5 on those serial numbers... I could decode your serial numbers just by using publicly available reverse md5 lookup table...

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (3, Insightful)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028448)

Actually, I think the best course of action would be to stamp false serial numbers / easy-to-decrypt serial numbers. Giving the enemy false information is likely better than none at all.

Of course, I guess that means the "real" serial numbers will have to be encrypted...

Why not inflate your numbers? (1)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028488)

Or do what the leader of Seal Team Six did.

Supposedly he named the team 6 to create the false impression there were 6 seal teams when the number was less.

So couldn't you just inflate the numbers of your World Dominating machines... heck the first 6 digits could be a model number or something.

Re:Why not inflate your numbers? (1)

MonsterTrimble (1205334) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028854)

Or do what the leader of Seal Team Six did.

That would be Richard Marcinko [wikipedia.org] and explains it all rather well in his book 'Rogue Warrior [wikipedia.org] '.

Re:Note for world domination: encrypt serial no.'s (1)

DaveSwan (1929128) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028496)

Haha, a very good point, the code breakers probably had their hands full with the enigma machine at the time too!

I'm guessing they were not gamers (1)

CowFu (1897214) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028240)

FTA: "Using these methods, the Allies deduced that the German military industrial complex churned out around 1,400 tanks each month from June 1940 through September 1942. That just didn’t seem right."

Pfft, my factory in Starcraft 2 lets me roll out at least twice that number every day.

Re:I'm guessing they were not gamers (3, Funny)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028494)

The mistake they made was looking at middle manager numeric metric goal achievements. Anyone in modern corporate America knows it possible to generate amazing numbers, yet not really accomplish anything.

I have faith they were meeting the appropriate metric goals at a 1400 tanks/month pace for diversity training, staff meetings, coffee consumption, memos distributed per week, slashdot first posts, etc, yet at the same time have faith that they only shipped like 5 working tanks out the door.

just miss out the occasional numbers (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028274)

You could of course use this to make your enemy overestimate the number of tanks you have by incrementing serial numbers by a random number between 1 and 10 each time you make a tank. I think there were reports of the soviets doing this during the cold war with the tail numbers of aircraft to make it look like their squadrons were bigger than they really were.

Re:just miss out the occasional numbers (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028524)

Seems like a reasonable strategy if you're hoping to avoid a conflict -- I wonder if one should do the opposite if trying to provoke an underpowered invasion.

Re:just miss out the occasional numbers (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028576)

You could of course use this to make your enemy overestimate the number of tanks you have by incrementing serial numbers by a random number between 1 and 10 each time you make a tank.

You can also serial number stamp a critical part that is often F-ed up. So one factory creates and stamps 100 serial numbers on raw engine block iron castings, then ships them to factory #2 where the machinists and allied bombers F up about 50 of them. Ta Da, analysis shows you shipped 100 tank engines based on engine block serial numbers, even if only 50 actually made it out the door.

original source (5, Informative)

slshwtw (1903272) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028278)

Here's the original source [guardian.co.uk] ... from July 2006.

Re:original source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028444)

Whats odd is that this source has different numbers for both the estimation and the end result. Neither sources where they got their numbers. Makes me think its not actually true.

Re:original source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028548)

The real original source is the 40s. Whine more.

Re:original source (0, Troll)

Verdatum (1257828) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028744)

Umm yeah...the 40s just called. They want their source back.

Re:original source (1)

AI0867 (868277) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028734)

I've read this stuff in my probability&statistics textbooks. It wasn't even news in 2006.

Re:original source (1)

swarsron (612788) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028868)

we had this story on slashdot some years ago but i can't find it right now.

Did they share data with the Russians? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028296)

minimum-variance unbiased estimator (MVUE, or UMVU estimator)

I think this only works if most of the tanks that are no longer in service, are in your collection of serial numbers. If you send your first 1K produced to the western front and the next 1K produced to the eastern front, the US/English/etc are going to calculate a number about 1/2 as high as the Russians.

So, in theory either the Germans sent certain model of tank only to certain fronts, or the western and eastern guys were sharing data, or maybe the Germans sent all the odds west and all the evens east or something.

Re:Did they share data with the Russians? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028402)

It is quite possible(at least until things started going really badly for them) that the germans were producing tanks in multiple locations, with each factory/complex serializing independently, and then sending to the front with the most optimal combination of high need and low shipping distance.

Re:Did they share data with the Russians? (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028668)

with each factory/complex serializing independently

with pre-assigned blocks of serial numbers, if I recall correctly, so if you saw the output of only one factory you might get a slightly low number (unless you saw the product of the factory with the highest serial number block).

It's all probabilistic, and the variance calculation is documented in the article for a very good reason.

Re:Did they share data with the Russians? (1)

Yold (473518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028542)

huh? Minimum Variance Unbiased Estimator is a mathematical/statistical property that guarantees that your estimate will have small variance(basically small standard deviation), and is also unbiased (the estimate isn't systematically high or low). What you are trying to say is there was a possibility for sampling error/bias.

I see your point with respect to the sample though, but it obviously wasn't an issue since the article states that the true maximum was very near the estimate. 1000 tanks is a lot; they probably sent orders to each front in much smaller batches, like 10.

Godwin doesn't apply? (3, Funny)

zach_the_lizard (1317619) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028308)

You know who else was able to estimate the number of German tanks?

Re:Godwin doesn't apply? (1)

guyminuslife (1349809) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028432)

Hirohito?

Don't start counting at 1 (5, Interesting)

ZipK (1051658) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028328)

I have an uncle with a small lighting business. He has one truck, proudly labeled #6. I guess the German's didn't think about their tanks as an advertising canvas.

Same method used for Soviet Bombers (4, Interesting)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028332)

This is very similar to the method that the CIA used to get a seat at the Big Boys table in U.S. Intelligence operations in the 1950s. When OSS became the CIA after WWII, they became a junior member of the U.S. Intelligence operations. In the 1950s, the Defense Intelligence Agency (I may have the wrong department, but it was the organization that got the lion's share of the U.S. Intelligence budget) estimated how many intercontinental bombers the Soviets had by looking at the size of the factories where they produced them and estimating how many the U.S. could produce in a factory of that many square feet. The CIA wanted to get a bigger chunk of the Intelligence budget, so they started looking at satellite photos of the Russian bombers. They noticed that the numbers on the tails of Soviet bombers went 1, 2, 3, 4, 5....11,12, 13, 14, 15,...21, 22, 23, 24, 25, etc. Based on this they determined that the Soviets had many fewer bombers than earlier estimates. When other sources provided corroborating evidence, the CIA was able to get a bigger chunk of the Intelligence budget. Of course, they then made the same sort of mistake in estimating ICBMs that they had corrected with this methodology.

Re:Same method used for Soviet Bombers (3, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028408)

in the 1950s

so they started looking at satellite photos of the Russian bombers

Hmm. Correct theory, but wrong implementation.

Re:Same method used for Soviet Bombers (4, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028510)

I don't know. If the CIA secretly operated reconnaissance satellites before they were actually invented, the certainly would have deserved a large chunk of the intelligence budget.

Re:Same method used for Soviet Bombers (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028454)

Do you have a source because what you are saying is physically impossible?
Tail numbers are on the vertical stabilizer. You can only read them from the side not from the top. Think about the slant range involved and do the math. We are talking about 1950s/ tech so think solid lenses and film with not digital image processing.

Now if the pictures where from a U2 or if they put the numbers on the wing, that is a bit more reasonable but not from an early spy satellite.

Re:Same method used for Soviet Bombers (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028700)

This may come as a shock, but when someone is taking pictures from a plane they don't always do it from directly overhead. Sometimes the pictures come in at an angle.

I do agree that satellite photo evidence would have been rather hard to come by in 1950 though.

Re:Same method used for Soviet Bombers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028464)

In the 1950s...they started looking at satellite photos...

Um, Sputnik was launched in 1957.

Seal Team 6 (0, Redundant)

gratuitous_arp (1650741) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028364)

Reminds me of the Seal Team 6 story. The US Navy made a Seal Team 1 and 2, then skipped up to 6 -- to make it seem like there was a total of 6 teams, when there were really only 3.

Re:Seal Team 6 (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028816)

Reminds me of the Seal Team 6 story. The US Navy made a Seal Team 1 and 2, then skipped up to 6

Are you sure that they really skipped those other teams, or are they hiding the fact that they created them, then forgot where they were? There sould still be members of seal team 4 sitting in some long forgotten bunker, wondering when they'll get their next pay check.

Dangerous Assumption (0)

Jonathan_S (25407) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028368)

This all rests on the assumption that the Germans were logical and used a predictable sequential serial number scheme. If they hadn't you'd have potentially gotten some very wrong answers out of this exercise in statistics.

Of course the truly dangerous thing would be to have plausibly wrong answers, not wildly wrong ones. You can discount a finding that they produce 4 tanks a month or that they produce 50,000. But 120 or 700 could be plausible enough to be accepted and then lead to miscalculations from basis.

Re:Dangerous Assumption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028534)

This all rests on the assumption that the Germans were logical and used a predictable sequential serial number scheme.

They were Germans. I'm pretty sure we can safely assume the Germans were logical and fastidious. It's kind of what they do.

And, if some of their cars and heavy machinery are any indication, it's not something I'd suggest changing any time soon since they're getting the desired results.

Re:Dangerous Assumption (1)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028608)

Well... that notion about germans beeing gründlich has to come from somewhere....

Re:Dangerous Assumption (2, Insightful)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028708)

They were Germans. Case settled.

To this day German castles are restored to what they looked like in what ever year they want them to look like because they recored the location of every thing and number all the artworks and other items.

Re:Dangerous Assumption (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028804)

It was quite typical for their excessive Ordnung to come bite them in the ass, in that war.

Another example: carefully chosen, way too descriptive (using characteristics from germanic mythology) codenames. Or one joke, AFAIK circling among the polish resistance, about how it was possible for a black man with a Panzerfaust to enter the chancellory of the Reich - if only he had proper papers (yes, a joke, but surely grounded in something). Or making sure the postal services will deliver [wikipedia.org] , despite the circumstances.

Heck, one german soldier helped my grandmother to carry down, from a train, the stroller with my aunt. Well, it was the proper thing to do, I guess. Plus it was quite heavy. Contraband in the form of half pig probably contributing (though to be fair, from his comment it would seem it was also a deliberate neglecting of the war effort on his part / he knew what was going on)

Nothing very new in this - Verdun (4, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028392)

It can work backwards. At the Battle of Verdun in WW1, Petain (who only became an anti-hero in WW2) rotated French regiments through the Verdun front (a system called noria) so that whole regiments would not be destroyed. The Germans left their troops in battle till all were killed. From captured French uniforms and the number of regiments recorded, they greatly over-estimated the size of the French defense.

Off By One Error and Power of Two (1)

PatPending (953482) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028436)

They used it to estimate that the Germans produced 255 tanks per month between the summer of 1940 and the fall of 1942. Turns out the serial-number methodology was spot on. After the war, internal German data put der Führer's production at 256 tanks per month -- one more than the estimate.

It's comforting to realize I'm not the only one plagued by off-by-one errors!

And what's with the power-of-two number--Numerology or what?

Re:Off By One Error and Power of Two (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028732)

I am just amazed one single methhead was able to make over 200 tanks a month. I would have thought they had some lackeys to do that sort of work.

Re:Off By One Error and Power of Two (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028746)

Nah, they recorded these data on punch cards. However they quickly noticed the buffer overflow created by using only 8 bits.

dungeons and dragons - chainmail rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028466)

and just where do you think it all began

Spycatcher (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028478)

Meanwhile in "Spy Catcher", Peter Wright explains how they put numbers 1, 3, 7, 8, etc. onto their bugging wires in an embassy, just for the psychological effect on anyone who found them all and would tear the building apart looking for the missing numbered wires

Re:Spycatcher (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028638)

Meanwhile in "Spy Catcher", Peter Wright explains how they put numbers 1, 3, 7, 8, etc. onto their bugging wires in an embassy, just for the psychological effect on anyone who found them all and would tear the building apart looking for the missing numbered wires

Now if you really want to mess with their heads, label one of the wires with the infinity symbol.

256 tanks per turn? Impossible! (3, Funny)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028482)

256 tanks per turn? Impossible! That would take a regular supply of 1280 IPCs...

Re:256 tanks per turn? Impossible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028824)

Kudos for the Axis and Allies reference...

Germany couldn't produce many tanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028508)

The number of Sherman tanks alone that the US produced was double the whole Axis tank output for the entire war. Even though the Shermans were no match for German tanks (guns too small, armor too weak), it didn't matter because we had so many. It was kind of like the Liberty ships -- they were easily sunk, but Germany didn't have enough U-boats to sink them all.

dom

Really? (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028642)

The Russians discovered the fallacy in that argument in 1941. Fortunately (for us in Europe) they had the T34. As for the Liberty Ships, I think you need to be introduced to the work of some Polish mathematicians, Alan Turing and Hut 6 for a more nuanced view.

Even in 1945, the Allied advance was often held up for long periods by children with Panzerfausts. Militarily, the Sherman (and the British Churchill) were terrible mistakes.

Re:Germany couldn't produce many tanks (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028752)

Right on the tanks, wrong on the ships. Had the subs not been moved England would have at the very least been in much worse condition.

The Germans don't have "Tanks" (1)

allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028512)

They have "Panzers". Know the difference between your Civilizations. Yeesh!

Re:The Germans don't have "Tanks" (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028616)

Yeah, it's not soap, it's Dove.

Why should Godwyn apply...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028526)

Neighter in the summary nor in the article there was any mentioning of naz...(*ç/%()=/ç*/ç(")*/"()*/"()

NO CARRIER

Re:Why should Godwyn apply...? (2, Funny)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028674)

NO CARRIER

Yup. That's the Nazis in WW2 alright.

Can US win a future war like it did in WW II? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028528)

On the arms production side, USA was able to convert so many auto factories into tank factories and airplane factories. Allies had breakthroughs in cryptography. The Generals were at least listening to the statisticians. Or at least the quants were able to get their idea up the chain of command. And people bought war bonds and planted victory gardens.

Now we are fighting two wars (Afghanistan and Pakistan). Even that is proving to be a handful. Can USA stand up to a mighty enemy likes of WW II Germany or Japan?

Re:Can US win a future war like it did in WW II? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028598)

it takes so long to produce a tank that you have to have everything ready and made before you go to war

Re:Can US win a future war like it did in WW II? (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028632)

Afghanistan doesn't threaten the existence of US, therefore you can't beat them. Just like Vietnam.

Re:Can US win a future war like it did in WW II? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028794)

Totally different kind of War. No amount of production can win when you are wasting a million dollar missile on a guy, his camel and their tent.

Bombing also fails in those regions, you cannot bomb people who have no infrastructure to lose in any effective manner. We are repeating the mistakes of Vietnam.

Re:Can US win a future war like it did in WW II? (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028822)

With a few hundred long range Nukes at the US's disposal, signs point to "Yes, easily.".

Re:Can US win a future war like it did in WW II? (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028840)

One of the big reasons Iraq and Afghanistan are such a mess is because the US Army was still set up to fight Germany and Japan. They're two very different battles, and because the military is so large and lumbering, it takes a long time to retool to fight the war you're in. You would think they had learned after Vietnam, but it's a tough lesson and nobody likes to hear it.

Maybe someone in the government will finally learn the lesson that fighting insurgencies is just not worth the effort and avoid any such battles in the future. Sure we'll get a lot of flak for sitting back while one ethnic group murders another yet again (Darfur, Sudan, etc...), but the alternative just isn't any better.

Re:Can US win a future war like it did in WW II? (3, Informative)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028852)

The wars in Iraq (which is all but over for the US, good luck with that INA) and Afghanistan are very different from World War Two. If the US had fought Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan with the same disregard for civilian casualties and overwhelming firepower there wouldn't be a problem.

Modern Mindset - Isolate Fallujah, tell the civilians to get out, then go house to house to secure the city with Marines and Army.

World War Two Mindset - Mass on one side of Fallujah, carpet bomb the far side of the city for a couple days, then send infantry in supported by artillery while blowing blocks up, block by block until no one is left to resist. Or, firebomb the city with incendiaries, or bombard with artillery for days before going in, like Casino. Any one that flees, harass with airpower and/or chase down with armored cavalry units

Right now if a shooting war broke out between the United States and today's Germany or today's Japan, it'd be no contest, although Japan has a better military right now, the US would win.

The last time the US really went all out was the ground war to take Kuwait at the end of Desert Storm, and even that was just about 1/3rd of the total air and naval power and about 1/2 of the ground forces. The US military has become much more lethal in the 20 years since Desert Shield started.

Welcome to the nuclear age (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34028866)

On the arms production side, USA was able to convert so many auto factories into tank factories and airplane factories. Allies had breakthroughs in cryptography. The Generals were at least listening to the statisticians. Or at least the quants were able to get their idea up the chain of command. And people bought war bonds and planted victory gardens.

Now we are fighting two wars (Afghanistan and Pakistan). Even that is proving to be a handful. Can USA stand up to a mighty enemy likes of WW II Germany or Japan?

Did you miss the whole cold war? Lucky you.

Basically, the USA figured out the whole nuclear weapon thing back in the mid-1940s, and pretty much everyone else figured it out shortly afterward. From this came the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction.

Tactically, this means that the only wars that will be fought from now on will be asymmetrical, or between developing powers. A war between any two "mighty enemies" will end in the death of us all.

Houses too (3, Interesting)

mccalli (323026) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028564)

My dad drove a tank in WWII. I believe one of the Churchills but I'm no war historian and I'm happy to be shown otherwise. He was in the Normandy landings and eventually in the invasion of Berlin too.

Thing is, the German tanks had bigger guns and longer ranges - significantly longer. There was apparently a speed advantage to the British tank (I'm going by what I was told, again I'm not a WWII-buff by any means) though, so what they used to do was lure the German tank into a village, then drive round back of them. The German guns were so big they couldn't turn them in in a normal street with buildings on either side whereas the smaller British tank certainly could. Not sure this was by design, but they took any advantage they could of course and I'm told that this trick was used by my dad a number of times.

Cheers,
Ian

Syhra's Law: (1)

Syhra (1089779) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028568)

As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1. However, the moment Godwin's Law is mentioned, the probability equals 1.

Re:Syhra's Law: (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028646)

The Nazis never knew about Godwin's law, but they must have violated it constantly.

Tanks, Planes and Supply Trucks (1)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 3 years ago | (#34028730)

Much is said about the 5:1 tank ratio (Sherman:Panzer), which did have an impact for rapidly owning ground. Air superiority was the winner, as the Germans couldn't reliably resupply their own troops. Rocket attacks from the Typhoons (and other similarly-equipped planes) on German armoured columns laid waste to reinforcement efforts.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?