I agree that if the war had been with Communist Russia a little later on, instead of Nazi Germany, the same sort of technological advances would've resulted. I think the winds of change were blowing around that timeframe.
I guess I'd agree, with one qualifier: Assuming any U.S. – U.S.S.R. war wouldn't have occurred before the 1950s due to no immediate tensions, and Stalin still died about the same time — do we still assume a buildup leading to war? Certainly neither nation would be starting off on a war footing. (Heck, neither nation would really be considered a superpower yet.) No Yalta Conference, no Potsdam Conference, and no resulting fallout. There might still be an Eastern Bloc of some kind, but not necessarily an Iron Curtain.
If we assume that Western objections to the human rights abuses, etc. of Stalin (along with whoever succeeded Stalin) would still lead to war before the end of the 1950s, then I agree that the appropriate technological/industrial advances would still be made not much later.
Okay, I'm thinking about this harder as I go
. If, somehow, there was no incentive for tensions to build up that fast, then we'd probably see no more than a series of skirmishes or minor wars for a long time. No real incentive to develop those technological/industrial advances, thus slow advancement on the space program. Both the big war and the space program would happen eventually, of course, but decades behind our timeframe.
But that would never have happened. Another power would arise and result in a similar-scale war and similar advances in the 1940s-50s time frame. The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, probably.
My original query assumed that WWII was somehow nipped in the bud or warded off — but I admit it's a big leap to assume that both German and Japanese aggressions would simply be shut down at the same time. The best you could postulate is that the Nazi government was overthrown early and the U.S. didn't get drawn into the Pacific War because there was no attack on Pearl Harbor. But that doesn't shut down WWII, it just delays it and moves most of the action to Asia later when too many nations get drawn in.
So in any case the technology advances on schedule and the space program winds up about the same. Like you say: the winds of change.