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«Economic History» (2020y. №50)


ISSN 2409-630X (Print), ISSN 2618-916X (Online)

DOI: 10.15507/2409-630X.050.016.202003.317-332

УДК 94(470.5)

Vasily V. Zapariy1, Nikita Melnikov2

1 Institute of History and Archaeology, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (Ekaterinburg, Russia),


2 Institute of History and Archaeology, Ural Branch, Russian Academy of Sciences (Ekaterinburg, Russia),



Soviet Interpretation of the Ideas Of Fordism as a Basis for Transformation of the Soviet Tank Industry During the Great Patriotic War


Introduction. Fordism, as a specific concept of production management, radically changed the face of the world industry. The system, proposed by the famous engineer and entrepreneur H. Ford, was based on the principle of large-scaled flow-conveyor production founded on the most specialized, standardized and automated industrial equipment. It made possible to produce goods cheaply under the conditions of the domination of low-skilled personnel. The American experience turned out to be widely in demand in the USSR during the industrialization period, since the country needed to create a modern and competitive mechanical engineering in the shortest possible time, primarily with the aim of strengthening its defense capability. Materials and Methods. The basis of the methodology of the work is the problem-chronological approach, which ensures the identification of tendencies and contradictions in the implementation of plans for the construction of the tank industry of the USSR in the 1930–1940s, allows them to be interpreted in a historical sequence. The principle of objectivity is based on the recognition of cause-and-effect patterns in the development of phenomena and events. In addition, the following methods are used: analysis of documents, scientific literature and state regulatory acts. Results and Discussion. The formation of the tank industry of the USSR in the pre-war period proceeded according to the principle of convergence of the technological characteristics of specialized military factories, traditionally engaged in the manufacture of tanks, and large civil engineering enterprises appeared during the years of industrialization, relying on Fordist, auto-tractor technology. In the pre-war period, low qualified personnel of the Soviet automobile and tractor plants, never been able to master the mass production of armored vehicles developed by engineers of specialized factories. The outbreak of the Great Patriotic War led to the evacuation of the capacities of most specialized military factories involved in the production of tanks in the USSR to the sites of civil engineering plants created during the period of industrialization. At the same time, the main forces of the country’s tank industry were moved to the Volga region, at the Urals and Siberia. In order to start producing tanks in a new place, in the extreme conditions of war, with the loss of qualified personnel and valuable industrial equipment, the industry leadership turned to radically transformation of the whole technology of tank production towards at Fordist principles. Key elements of the Fordism concept, as applied to the socialist command economy of the USSR during the war, were used by the party-state leadership to achieve the maximum concentration of limited resources. Conclusion. The system of organization and management of tank production, built during the war years in the tank industry of the USSR and the Urals in accordance with the basic principles of Fordism, can be assessed as “inflexible mass production”. This meant that it was impossible to quickly change the characteristics of products manufactured on a flow-conveyor basis, since this required stopping the conveyor and changing equipment. The system made it possible to mass produce and even improve the designs of the T-34 and “KV” (then “IS”) – tanks developed in the pre-war period, creating the prerequisites for their gradual transformation into an acceptable instrument of “total war”.

Keywords: Fordism, the tank industry, USSR, the Great Patriotic War.

For citation: Zapariy V. V., Melnikov N. N. Soviet interpretation of the ideas of Fordism as a basis for transformation of the Soviet tank industry during the Great Patriotic War. Ekonomicheskaya istoriya = Russian Journal of Economic History. 2020; 16(3): 317–332. (In Russ.). DOI: 10.15507/2409-630X.050.016.202003.317-332

Acknowledgements: This work was supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (grant No. 19-09-00050 A «Production resources of the Soviet tank industry in the conditions of the Great Patriotic War»).


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