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German recovery after WW2


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#1 dretceterini

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 20:39

Can anyone point me to a book or source which answers some of the questions on how Germany was able to recover more quickly than most of the other European nations, and get involved in racing...to the point Mercedes was pretty dominant by 1955.

Thanks,
Stu

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#2 Doug Nye

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Posted 04 December 2004 - 21:39

Karl makes a pretty darned good fist of it in The Racing Mercedes...

DCN

#3 uechtel

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 01:21

Don´t you regard the Italian recovery much faster?

#4 dretceterini

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 05:55

uechtel:

No, not really..

Right after WW2, Alfa was successful in GP, but they didn't have the funds to run competitively in both GP and sportscars. Although it took Mercedes a while longer, by 1954 the had a fortune invested in both GP and sportscars, plus far more spares than any other team had at that time..

#5 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 10:18

Originally posted by dretceterini
... Germany was able to recover more quickly than most of the other European nations, and get involved in racing...to the point Mercedes was pretty dominant by 1955...

Stu - I believe your question is not quite as simple as it was placed. First of all, Germany was banned from Grand Prix racing after WW II and only admitted into the FIA – the International Automobile Sport Federation – at the general convention in Paris end of 1949. Thus, starting in 1950, German racecar drivers and cars were again allowed to compete in foreign countries and foreign drivers could start again in German races.

Now before 1954 there were other cars dominant and by Nation it would be Italy and France, also England but in third place:
1946: Maserati and Alfa Romeo were the dominant cars with weaker opposition from ERA and Bugatti.
1947: Alfa Romeo and Maserati again the leaders but Talbot, ERA and Delage also winners.
1948: Alfa and Maserati still the strongest cars with Talbot, ERA, Simca-Gordini and Ferrari also winning.
1949: Alfa Romeo pulled out of racing, leaving the winning to Ferrari, Maserati and Talbot with ERA, Simca-Gordini and privately owned Alfa Romeo winning on occasion.
1950: Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lago-Talbot and Maserati with Simca-Gordini still fighting.
1951: Again Alfa and Ferrari were dominating the GP scene, with Lago-Talbot, Simca-Gordini and OSCA fighting.
1952: Ferrari was dominating, with Maserati, Gordini, Connaught, Cooper-Bristol and others fighting.
1953: Ferrari all over again with Maserati very close. Gordini, Connaught, HMW, Cooper-Bristol and Cooper-Altas, OSCA and the GERMAN Veritas on occasion were fighting in the field.
These were the post-war dominating racing cars until...
1954: when a new formula (in effect 2.5-liter) for GP cars went into effect, which was already announced in 1951. So, Daimler-Benz had sufficient preparation time. They always employed very competent engineers and designers and often had the money to go racing at the top.

#6 dolomite

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 11:32

Originally posted by Hans Etzrodt

1954: when a new formula (in effect 2.5-liter) for GP cars went into effect, which was already announced in 1951. So, Daimler-Benz had sufficient preparation time. They always employed very competent engineers and designers and often had the money to go racing at the top.


Something I have wondered in the past - why was Daimler-Benz not ready at the start of the 1954 season? Why was their appearance delayed until the French GP?

#7 Roger Clark

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 11:47

Is the simple answer to the original question the Marshall Plan?

#8 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 12:05

Originally posted by dolomite


Something I have wondered in the past - why was Daimler-Benz not ready at the start of the 1954 season? Why was their appearance delayed until the French GP?


I've always assumed it was because they had to develop a new engine and car effectively from scratch, unlike Maserati and Ferrari, who were able to adapt existing proven F2 engines and designs: the first 2.5 litre Ferrari was not much more than a stretched 500 and there were very few "pure" 250Fs until mid-season. BRM and Lancia were in a similar position and took even longer ...

And, of course, D-B being D-B, they wouldn't rush into something new and risk failure: they'd wait until they got it right.

Originally posted by Roger Clark
Is the simple answer to the original question the Marshall Plan?


I think so.

#9 Roger Clark

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 15:28

Originally posted by Vitesse2


I've always assumed it was because they had to develop a new engine and car effectively from scratch, unlike Maserati and Ferrari, who were able to adapt existing proven F2 engines and designs: the first 2.5 litre Ferrari was not much more than a stretched 500 and there were very few "pure" 250Fs until mid-season. BRM and Lancia were in a similar position and took even longer ...

And the W196 was vastly more complex than the opposition so the development time was correspondingly greater. Karl Ludvigsen's book says that it wasn't until mid-1953 that design and construction of the W196 really started. They actually came close to withdrawing from the French Grand Prix when early tests showed problems.

Despite all these things, there were a lot of advantages in making their debut in the French race. The Reims circuit was suited to the cars and I'm sure Daimler-Benz were aware of the historical significance of the French Grand Prix to the company, particularly in years ending with a 4.

#10 dretceterini

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 19:10

Originally posted by Hans Etzrodt
Stu - I believe your question is not quite as simple as it was placed. First of all, Germany was banned from Grand Prix racing after WW II and only admitted into the FIA – the International Automobile Sport Federation – at the general convention in Paris end of 1949. Thus, starting in 1950, German racecar drivers and cars were again allowed to compete in foreign countries and foreign drivers could start again in German races.

Now before 1954 there were other cars dominant and by Nation it would be Italy and France, also England but in third place:
1946: Maserati and Alfa Romeo were the dominant cars with weaker opposition from ERA and Bugatti.
1947: Alfa Romeo and Maserati again the leaders but Talbot, ERA and Delage also winners.
1948: Alfa and Maserati still the strongest cars with Talbot, ERA, Simca-Gordini and Ferrari also winning.
1949: Alfa Romeo pulled out of racing, leaving the winning to Ferrari, Maserati and Talbot with ERA, Simca-Gordini and privately owned Alfa Romeo winning on occasion.
1950: Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Lago-Talbot and Maserati with Simca-Gordini still fighting.
1951: Again Alfa and Ferrari were dominating the GP scene, with Lago-Talbot, Simca-Gordini and OSCA fighting.
1952: Ferrari was dominating, with Maserati, Gordini, Connaught, Cooper-Bristol and others fighting.
1953: Ferrari all over again with Maserati very close. Gordini, Connaught, HMW, Cooper-Bristol and Cooper-Altas, OSCA and the GERMAN Veritas on occasion were fighting in the field.
These were the post-war dominating racing cars until...
1954: when a new formula (in effect 2.5-liter) for GP cars went into effect, which was already announced in 1951. So, Daimler-Benz had sufficient preparation time. They always employed very competent engineers and designers and often had the money to go racing at the top.



I was trying the phrase the question in as simple a manner as possible. I am aware that Germany was not allowed to race in GPs until 1950. What I'm questioning is more along the lines of "How did Mercedes come up with all the kind of money needed to run both a GP and sportscar team that was dominant less than 10 years after the war?"

#11 Michael Müller

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 23:01

Originally posted by dretceterini
What I'm questioning is more along the lines of "How did Mercedes come up with all the kind of money needed to run both a GP and sportscar team that was dominant less than 10 years after the war?"

The Germans call this "Wirtschaftswunder", freely translated "economical miracle". 1948 with the new currency, and especially 1949 with the new government, the economy boomed in a way which really could only be named a miracle. The country more or less had to start from zero, so there was demand for absolutely everything. The industry boomed in an unbelievable manner, and although Mercedes-Benz passenger cars had been on the shopping list only for the more wealthy ones, they made the biggest money in those years with commercial vehicles. Only few trucks survived the war, because in the last months before the final breakdown even the last civil vehicles had been confiscated by the army.
And what mostly is not considered - Daimler-Benz was rich! They made gigantic profits with military goods during the war. Although a lot of these reserves had been spent for reconstruction of factories and machinery, they didn't started into the new era with huge debts like many others.
And last but not least - they had the experience and the knowledge, and a large bunch of damned good engineers and craftsmen....!

But this was Daimler-Benz, and not Germany....
Italy already before the war was rather active in voiturette racing, so when the first flag fell for postwar racing a lot of Alfas and Maseratis could be removed from their dust. France traditionally concentrated on 4.5 liter unblown machinery, so they had been in the business too immediately. The German GP cars could not be used in the new GP rules, the AU's even had been completely out of reach. The small W165's had been locked in Switzerland, and the Zollers had been scrapped already before the war.

The German motorsport in the immediate postwar era had only one really usable item - the prewar BMW 328. And these cars and especially their engine soon became the backbone of German motor racing, in West and in East, in sports cars and in single seaters. The scene was dominated by privateers, wealthy ones, but also havenots who swapped their last shirt for parts and spares. So thinking about early postwar racing in Germany one should not look at the W196, but at cars like this.

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#12 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 23:03

I think we have also to look at perspectives here...

How much of Daimler-Benz's resources were spent on their racing? Compare this to what was spent on reconstruction, new model development, engineering resources and promotions generally.

I'm sure that would be a very difficult task, but I think it's necessary to answer the question... as is a review of how badly their plants were affected by bombing, what their resources were subsequent to supplying military equipment (I'm no expert in this area, but they did supply aircraft engines, and trucks, probably other items) for Hitler's war effort. Did they have resources in Swiss bank accounts from the pre-war days?

Then there's their overall racing effort post-war. The effort involved in recovering their racing cars from hiding places, bringing those deemed necessary back to running order, sending cars to Indianapolis and South America, the Carrera Panamerica involvement, sports car racing with the 300SL.

There's a lot more to the 1954/55 effort than just turning out with a bunch of cars in those years.

Also it's important to consider that D-B is not Germany... it is a German company exporting to world markets. Just as Alfa and Maserati and Ferrari were. It's not an 'Italy or Germany' effort, but a 'Daimler-Benz or Alfa Romeo or Maserati' effort that's being looked at.

Just as you would take into account Ferrari's machine tool manufacturing income when you look at how he went racing in those tender years...

#13 dretceterini

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 23:31

Originally posted by Michael Müller
[B]

....And what mostly is not considered - Daimler-Benz was rich! They made gigantic profits with military goods during the war....


Michael:

I would think the German government during WW2 would have looked at Mercedes costs, and not allowed them much, if any profit...

#14 Vitesse2

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 23:40

Alan Henry's "Mercedes in Motor Sport" quotes a Daimler-Benz directors' report that the company had "ceased to exist" in 1945 and goes on to give a very brief outline of the post-war recovery.

Another source you might try is Floyd Clymer's book "Motoring through Europe" which is extensively plugged in other late 40s/early 50s Clymer books. He drove through Europe, including Germany, in 1949, seeking enlightenment on how European motor companies were doing and investigating how the sport was being revived. I haven't read it though, so it might be totally useless!

#15 Michael Müller

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Posted 05 December 2004 - 23:42

Stu, possibly in the last 2 or 3 years of the war, but not before. From 1933 onwards government order for military goods flooded in, and this was normal business. Also in the first years of the war profits had been guaranteed, although the general management of military goods production was in governmental hands. As a result if this Daimler-Benz e.g. was not allowed to manufacture their own 5 tons truck, but they had been ordered to buy a licence from Opel for their "Blitz" truck, and pay them royalties.

#16 scheivlak

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 00:34

No doubt that Daimler-Benz made huge profits during the first WW II years as a main engine manufacturer for all kinds of military equipment (including airplanes). Anybody knows this book by a well qualified author - http://www.historyco...4.4/br_164.html ?
(just googled around ;) )

#17 Patrick Italiano

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 01:22

Originally posted by scheivlak
No doubt that Daimler-Benz made huge profits during the first WW II years as a main engine manufacturer for all kinds of military equipment (including airplanes). Anybody knows this book by a well qualified author - http://www.historyco...4.4/br_164.html ?
(just googled around ;) )


Yep, the summary of this book gives a good idea. Private industry overall earned lot of money during both world wars in most countries, on both sides. Under IIIrd Reich, planning of the production was organized by Ministries of armament, etc., but the Ministry also organized material and workforce to arrive where needed. Don't forget that companies' costs were down thanks to massive use of war prisoners, forced civilian from occupied countries and concentration camps, the latest being barely provided with the strictly necessary food and no salary. Tens of thousands died under such conditions, working for the German war effort. Strategical production companies, as those involved in aircraft production (famous cases are Daimler-Benz and Heinkel) had the major facilities from the state to be granted such costless workforce. And the unitarian price of the production (be it aircraft, engine, armoured vehicles,...) did allow substantial profits, being negociated after the companies claims.

Alfa Romeo (actually Soc. Nicola Romeo) did so during WWI, while situation was much more complicated during WWII because state owned. So reconstruction postwar was on the global rebuilding public budget.

After the war indeed the Marshall plan helped to obtain the strategical tools and machinery needed to resume production. That also means new production plants, where the factories that had not been destroyed, paradoxically, after some years, remained with less efficient, obsolete plants compared to the rebuilt ones. And some skills and technical knowledge were still with companies like D.-B., also because war production of combat aircrafts boosted technology, and indeed Daimler Benz managed to produce fine pieces of machinery for combat aircrafts.

#18 Michael Müller

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 07:55

The experience of using superchargers in combustion engines Daimler-Benz made in WW1 with aero engines, the same happened after WW2 with fuel injection which was developed originally also for aircraft engines.

The financial situation at Stuttgart after the war allowed them to come back to their feet again, however, not in a way that money was available always and everywhere. Of course they had to struggle, with clear preferences to rebuild production facilities and general company structures. Racing was completely out of question up to 1950, and when Neubauer made the first careful attempt towards the management, money was always a question. They decided not to follow up the W165 project, because they realized that beating the actual Alfettas would require enormous efforts in money and manpower, which they could not afford. It was decided to put the Grand Prix project on ice and wait for the new formula which was in the pipeline already (see Ferrari's tipo 212 project early 1951). Instead they decided to go for sports car racing, and to keep the budget low the board ordered to take the new type 300 passenger car as technical basis. Well, they did, but besides engine, gear box, and rear axle the 300 SL had nothing in common with the heavy luxury sedan bearing the same designation - only without the 2 magic letters. In my opinion it was not the W196 but the W194 which represents the real capabilities of the Mercedes-Benz engineers, by taking a basically unsuitable production car and convert it to a race winning machinery.
Of course the W196/W196S was the final top effort, but green light to build it had only be given after the racing department was able to confirm towards the board that they will be able to construct a winning car. It was never the target of Mercedes-Benz to participate in racing, their one and only intention was winning. Which they did.

#19 Ray Bell

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Posted 06 December 2004 - 12:05

Originally posted by Michael Müller
.....In my opinion it was not the W196 but the W194 which represents the real capabilities of the Mercedes-Benz engineers, by taking a basically unsuitable production car and convert it to a race winning machinery.....


Hardly a unique situation...

Even better examples of turning chaff into wheat are:

BMC's Austin Healey rally cars.

BMC's Minis.

Triumph's Dolomite.

Ford's early Mustangs.

Chevrolet's early Camaros.

Ford's 105E engine and derivatives.

After all, they had a free hand with the chassis... engines are easy to prod into activity, especially ones that are built robustly and have reasonable dimensions. New gearsets work wonders for gearboxes.

Mind you, there are not many cars in the world I would desire ahead of a 300SL Gullwing...