”Suppose one is an Allied intelligence analyst during World War II, and one has some serial numbers of captured German tanks. Further, assume that the tanks are numbered sequentially from 1 to N. How does one estimate the total number of tanks?”

”The Allied conventional intelligence estimates believed the number of tanks the Germans were producing between June 1940 and September 1942 was around 1,400 a month. Using the above formula on the serial numbers of captured German tanks, (both serviceable and destroyed) the number was calculated to be 256 a month. After the war captured German production figures from the ministry of Albert Speer show the actual number to be 255.[5]

Estimates for some specific months is given as:[7][8]

Month Statistical estimate Intelligence estimate German records
June 1940 169 1000 122
June 1941 244 1550 271
August 1942 327 1550 342

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