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Japan develops Armor instead of Invading China

Discussion in 'What If - Other' started by GermanStrategist, Dec 6, 2010.

  1. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Germany could not force Japan into such a course of action, so they would have to convince them, but how? Germany has no spare resources to offer Japan until they conquer Russia, even then it will take years if not decades for Germany to fully exploit any captured resource areas. Is Japan prepared to wait that long for a payoff?
     
  2. GermanStrategist

    GermanStrategist Member

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    Have you already read what I've written? Japan would gain fewer resources in the short term than if went south; however, the long-term strategic benefit would be enormous. If the USSR was defeated, Japan would no longer have to worry about both the militant and existential threat of the Communists (a great concern to the army), would receive around half of the USSR's enormous territory and access to oil from the caucasus region, and most importantly, there would be a low possibility of direct American military intervention.

    I believe it was very plausible, if not probable, for Japan to follow along with this sort of deal had it been proposed to them early in 1936. If the Germans confirmed Japan's suspicion that they were going to invade the Communists within the next few years, they may very well have gone along with the plan. The Japanese would have the time to make the necessary preparations to their forces in order to wage a successful ground operation against the USSR. If the plan is proposed any later to Japan, then it is less likely that it will be implemented.
     
  3. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    GermanStrategist,

    I am sorry, while it is an interesting idea, it has severe timing/Political/logistical problems to be viable.

    By 1936 Japan's navy has already deployed 4 of 6 Fleet Carriers, 6 Light Carriers, 10 Battleships, 14 Heavy Cruisers and 17 Light Cruisers and a host of Destroyers.
    Only the 3 Yamoto Class BB's and and the 2 Shokaku class CV's and a handfull of light CV's and Cruisers/Destroyers are left to deploy. Will Japan agree to scrap active ships to meet Germany's strategic needs? If you look at Japanese political history during the 1930's you will see that the Army and Navy possessed a veto over any political path taken by the Empire. It was how Japan got dragged into China in the first place. The Admirals will not see their ships scrapped so that Germany can aquire a empire. They would resign from the cabinet, and then claim they could no one replace the Navy Minister, thus causing the fall of government. The Army did the same thing to keep Japan in China.

    You propose that Germany offer the Pz III design to Japan to copy and deploy. The problem again is time. By 1936 Germany only had a pre-production design available. It would be late 1938 to early 1939 before Germany begins to deploy production versions of the 37mm armed Pz III. Germany would learn in 1940 that the Pz III was undergunned against Anglo/French tanks, and in 1941 woefully inadequate against T-34/KV-1 of the Soviet Union. More likely they would design a medium of their own, but it would resemble a Czech LT-38 or French Souma/Renault/Hotchkiss medium. As bad or worse than a early Pz III.

    Japan had dealings with the west before, and felt they had been cheated in the process. After the Russo-Japanese war of 1905 she was forced to give up much of her conquests in the peace treaty. They also felt they got the short end of the spoils by joining the Allies in WWI. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, Shame on me. Fool me three times, just aint happening.

    For the sake of argument let us assume Japan halts or scraps all post 1936 ships and puts this steel into tanks, half tracks and trucks. Further they do not engage of a general invasion of China, deploy a Tank army of say 3 Tank and 3 Motorized divisions along with 40 plus Infantry divisions, and wait for a German attack on Russia. What then is a realistic best case scenario?

    Mid Summer 1941,

    Japan attacks Russia in concert with Germany. The two front war Russia fights causes enough disruption to allow Germany to take Moscow and Leningrad. Japan captures eastern Siberia, but is stopped at Lake Baikal choke point.

    Stalin retreats to Stalingrad and vows to fight on. Britain declares war on Japan. Japan is faced with a land war in Russia and a sea war against the British commonwealth. Either they try to take the fight to Britain by attacking Hong Kong and Singapore, while trying not to violate US territories like the Phillipines and Wake and Guam. or they keep their fleet at home and allow Britain to employ a distant blockade of the home islands. The US embargoes Japan and begins to reinforce its holdings in the Pacific.

    Spring/Summer 1942,

    Germany resumes her offensive in Russia. Germany takes Stalingrad, and by the fall of 1942 the Caucasus region. Stalin retreats behind the Urals and again vows to fight on. Japan at the end of a long supply line find it difficult to push past the Lake Baikal defence line. The British Royal Navy is now strong enough to nip at the outer extremities of the Empire forcing the IJN to deploy to protect the Empire. The US has deployed a naval battle group in the Phillipines 'To show the Flag' and remind Japan not to violate US protectorates. Japan has been at war for a year and its oil and steel reserves are beginning to dwindle.

    Spring/Summer 1943,

    Germany is getting a trickle of oil for her empire from the caucasus, but it is taking time to repair all the scorched earth damage inflicted by the Soviets to deny the resources to Hitler. Germany now has all it really wanted, and only Hitler's good faith........(forgive me I fell out my chair laughing) to insure he fullfills his agreement to continue the attack east. Let say he does and by the fall of 1943 Gemany and Japan meets somewhere in western Siberia.

    Before Japan gets a single drop of oil the rail lines from the Caucasus's thru eastern Russia and western Siberia have to be rebuilt. A long thin line vunerable to partisan and commando attacks. Realisticly you are looking at early to mid 1944 before modest amounts of oil reach Japan.

    Japan can not wait that long.

    This all assumes that the US does not enter the war before this point. Roosevelt had actively tried to lead the US to war against Germany since mid 1940. By late 1942 or early 1943 he surely would find some excuse or incident that would give him a pretext.

    Once that happens Japan is doomed.
     
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  4. GermanStrategist

    GermanStrategist Member

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    This is pretty much how I imagined the war turning out, but Roosevelt would have been in a bit of a pickle if the USSR was destroyed, and Pearl Harbor hadn't happened...

    It would be a total mess to try and take all of the land that Japan and Germany now controlled. If the USSR was defeated, Hitler would have done so much damage to the region that it wouldn't be able to stand on its own. If America wanted to revive Russia, it would be an enormous sinkhole of money. America would need to drop nukes to see a short war, but doing so would be a political disaster. America would be hated by a very large portion of the developed world for quite a long time. If conventional forces were used: Germany would be weak, but it would put up a much better fight than it did in the Normandy invasion. It could concentrate all of its resources and the American death toll would be enormous because both Germany and Japan would have had veterans with years of experience and would fight to the bitter end.

    I dunno... I think it's likely we'd see a cold war between America and the Axis powers. Participating in a war is bad for business. It's fun to speculate, because, honestly, without Communism, I think the world might have turned out okay... tensions between the powers would have thawed over decades and we'd have a more developed Eastern Europe and far more developed central Europe albeit one without Jews, an extremely powerful Japan, and an almost equally powerful Nationalist China.
     
  5. Sloniksp

    Sloniksp Ставка

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    I know im a bit late to this discussion and most likely missed the this but at what year is Japan going to war with Russia in this scenario and how does this war start?
     
  6. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    To be honest I suspect that the US would enter the war in late 1941 or early 1942 due to some kind of incident, be it an attack of German U-boat or something in the Pacific like clash between Japanese and US aircraft around the Phillipines or Guam. It would lack the impact of a PH attack, but then the US would have an intact PacFleet. Japan, with a reduced fleet and no expanded empire would find the US-Commonwealth invasion fleet off the home islands in late 1943 or early 1944. With no atomic bomb it would be a bloody and hard effort to take the home islands but it would happen. Japan would try to send its Russian army back to save the empire, but Allied control of the air and sea would keep them bottled up in Korea/eastern Siberia.


    Germany and Japan do not link up, but Hitler gets his lebansraum as far as the Urals and his Caucasus oil. The rub is that he must garrison a vast empire with not enough troops to do it. Anglo-American Bombers pound the reich, and at some point the Allies attack Germany directly a year or two later than historicly. The Atomics are used on Germany rather than Japan. The cost of an Japanse invasion, plus what the Allies would find in the camps would mute any outrage at using nukes for at least a generation or two.

    Eastern europe would likely go pro-western rather than communist. Russia would not become a superpower and struggle to reinvent itself. I wonder if the US would be willing or able to invest in the rebuilding Germany/Japan after fighting till '46 or '47. A very different world indeed.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If you look at the Gallup polls (I think OpanaPointer has them on his site) you will find this is not quite the case. While many still weren't happy with the prospect of getting into a war with Germany much earlier than Decemeber they realised it was not in the US's interest that Germany win and that military action against the Japanese was probably going to be required. By November the majority realized that war with Germany was pretty much going to happen. FDR could possibly have gotten a declaration of war then although he wouldn't have had as much of a majority as he probably wanted plus his military advisors were hopeing he would wait until mid 42 when the US would be ready.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That the army and navy had to compromise is hardly a surprise but note that the army supplied the PM. The fact that the navy got more of the budget likely had something to do with the fact that Japan is an Island. The RN got more of the budget than the Briish army did it not?

    But why do you think the embargo won't go into effect anyway when they go to war with the Soviets and incidently the British? Now they are embargoed and facing a two front war and a blockade. Note that historically FDR promised the British the use of US bases in the Philipines even if the US didn't declare war. The Japanese would have a hard time ignoring that.

    They may not have a choice. Indeed they may be facing a war North, South, East, and West in this example.

    If the Chinese are making headway vs the Japanese do you really think they wouldn't be willing to take heavy losses? But how heavy would they be if most of the IJA was facing the Soviets? There's also the question of who in the Kwantung army knows and when as I questioned earlier. Then given the effectiveness of the Soviet spy network how long before they find out about the plan?
    That's pretty much post war. Indeed dates to the 50s. There was a fairly strong Comunist party in the US pre war and they were one of the biggest factions of the America First movement up until the invasion of the USSR at which point they became rather pro intervention. As for the deteriation of relations between the US and Japan. The US brokered the peace treaty between Russia and Japan and many in Japan felt after the fact that the US favored the Russians.

    That's not the same as the IJN being responsible for it. In any case it's not clear that the above is true. In most of the area we are looking at light armor may well be better than heavy armor expecially if you don't expect your opponents to have heavy armor.
    This is much more complicated. In the case of Poland it's a fairly small country massivly outnumbered by both opponents and both the Germans and the Soviets can occupy their zones through their own efforts. You are proposing technical exchanges and resource allocations that stretch out into the future as well as a much longer more extensive campaign. Furthermore Japan is much more vulnerable with more of her forces tied up than was the case of either the Soviets or Germany.
    That's hardly what I would call "shocked" they were warned and the US followed up on their warning. The oil embargo was perhaps more extreme than they expected at the time but some (incuding FDR were not exactly expecting it either).
    Why? They were conducting major land operations and didn't.
    Would he? Perhpas but note that in Japan you not only had to convince the key players you ran the risk of loosing them if you couldn't convince all the major players.
    I disagree I don't think this plan has any greater chance of the axis succeeding than the historical one indeed it proably has less. At PH the Japanese bet that the US wasn't willing to stay the course they were wrong but it was probably the best chance they had other than simlply not going to war and settling with the Chinese.
     
  10. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    An alternate option for Japan could be for them to talk with the nationalists and try to get them to agree to an alliance aimed at crushing the Chinese communists in exchange for land and concessions for resources. If Japan was no longer at war with the 'accepted' government of China, then the reason for US sanctions would become moot.
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I was thinking a bit more about this:
    One of the problems I can see with a quick agreement to such a plan is that Japan isn't a dictatorship like the USSR or Germany of the time. There are three distinct power groups in the Japanese government: The Army, The Navy, and for lack of a better term the Civilians. However none of these blocks are monolithic so reaching an agreement isn't going to be as quick as Uncle Joe or Adolph reading over it and say "do it". Also consider the impact that mid level Japanese officers had on the government during this period. While they didn't make decisions if they decided that a proposal that passed or was likely to pass was detrimental to their vision of what was good for Japan some were quite willing to assassinate the proponets of said plan. They went in realizeing that they would probably be executed no matter what the outcome. This would mean that a secret agreement might require a well constructed internal cover story or release of the details of the agreement to a large number of individuals for the safety of the negotiatiors and proponents. It's worth noting that on at least one occasion the naval command may have sent Yamamoto to see for his own safety because of such threats.
     
  12. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    lwd is correct about pre-war Japanese politics, you needed both the Army and Navy to agree to any course of action. The 'civilians' were never as ruthless as the military and tended to follow a Army/Navy course if they presented a united front.
     
  13. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    How to get the IJ Army and Navy on the same page for any course of action would have been already difficult.
    From OP, German instead would have given ideas and designs of stug's. Because of the montainous landscape beyond Inner Manchuria, the landscape is not favorable for tanks. Instead, SPG/TD hybrid that could use artillery rounds and the Japanese infantry could dug in in the mountain ranges. Territorial expansion limit for IJ would only be the Stanovoy Range and the whole Sakhalin island in the north and the Yablonoi mountains in the west. Note that the Yablonoi is more west than Khalkhyn Gol; more realistically, some mountainous river basins of the Amur would be where the IJ Army dug in with fortification, backed up with SPG and TD, not to mention numerous generic airstrips type of Henderson Field on Guadalcanal would be built near the IJ fortifications.

    So imagine these, numerous IJ fortifications and the airstrips in mountainous Amur river basins would be similar to the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu. Viet Minh overhelmed that base so the Soviet Red Army could too but there would be quite a few of them in the river basins. Plus IJ infantry knew trench warfare which could mean digging trenches and underground tunnels from the garrison outward and sneak attacked. Given the fanaticism of IJ infantry, the Red Army would have to fight it out one garrison by one. Those difficulties could convince the Red Army command maintain pressure on the Far East front like that in Finland during the Continuation War until the dust between SU and Germany settled.

    For resources, Tin was abundant and northern part of sakhalin island was known for oil and coal that would not be enough to quench Japan national needs. Timber and some coal would be bonus too: could Japan learn enough of the German synthetic oil technology from coal and wood to synthetic oil ? Iron, nickel were not available at that time.

    For that meager resources, Japan would be contributing way much to get those. So IJ Navy would not agree with such adventure because to its carrier base aircraft and amphibious landing resources needed to be committed to help, such as launching a Pearl Harbor surprise attack on Vladivostok, followed by infantry invasion of the port. The pacific route of the Lend Lease would have been cut for a year or so and then reopened with another route: the port in Magadan on the Sea of Okhotsk. A new railway would be quickly built to connect from the port via the city of Yakutsk onto the Trans-Siberian Railway. Note that the Amur-Yakutsk Mainline is still not entirely completed today. In history, Soviet aircraft flew from Alaska via the Chukchi peninsula to airbase in Siberia (ALSIB). That means Lend Lease's Pacific route by air still took its historic route ALSIB whereas the sea route may elevate the importance of the Persian Corridor.
     
  14. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    It's a what-if, so just pick a date.


    BTW, the decision as to whether to "go south or north" was not decided until 1941.
     
  15. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    Depending how you trust wikipedia information, Tomoyuki Yamashita went to Germany, and had talked with Heinz Guderian. From these information, Japanese industry was not powerful enough to mechanize enough its army.

    For this what-if, mechanizing with medium tanks based on German ideas would not be feasible, not to mention knowledge about Soviet T-34 medium tanks would still be intellectually unknown during Yamashita's 1941 tour in Germany -- that was before Operation Barbarossa. So taking in the idea that Italian designer took the success of Stug3 in the Battle of France, Japan -- instead of producing that Type 97 ShinHoTo Chi-Ha variant -- produced an assault gun and tank destroyer hybrid that could have mounted the 75 mm field gun. Given the Semovente anti-tank performance in North Africa, a similar 75mm tank destroyer could have beaten off British tanks until the arrival of Shermans.

    Don't know about how such a Japanese tank destroyer facing off against Soviet T-34. However talented German armored vehicle crews defeated a company of T-34, could Japan train under German tutelage a group of tank crews on tank destroyers. Maybe the Japan's military could gather an armored division mostly on tank destroyers -- after the start of the Pacific War. Note that Yamashita's tour was in 1941. Such a division cannot hold on the flood of American and Soviet tanks in the Pacific. Given that the Japanese military hold onto their advanced tank in homeland later in the war, such a division would be deployed to great effect of stemming the tide.

    I guess a battle of Iwo Jima in which Japanese tank destroyers and tanks already in service would have faced off against Shermans or T-34. Given that the Red Army had arised triumphant in the Battle of Kursk againt Tigers and Panthers, such an Iwo Jima in tank destroyers would yield a worse outcome.

    Despite all of the above, Japanese industry was not powerful enough to keep up with either the United States or the Soviet Union, and Yamashita warned against going to war with them for this reason. His recommendations were not taken to heart,
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Having looked at things a bit more over the last 6 years or so I missed this in the original post.
    One serious problem with this is that the Japanese government didn't plan to invade China in 1937. That decision was made by some local officers and presented to the government as a fait accompli. This makes it rather difficult for the Germans to convince them not to do something they don't plan on doing.
     
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  17. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    Maybe the government would have better management of its officers; or in the other way, instead of expansion, local officers would have take initiatives in other areas of the military management: better first aid, more emphases and manufacturing on generic utility vehicles in tank destroyer/self propelled gun hybrid -- that could borrow the German experience -- for direct fire support for infantry, and trucks or a Wilys MB Jeep -- that again from the German experience of half-tracks -- as infantry, personnel and battlefield ambulance. In essence, the armor that would have been developed shall aim for effectiveness and economical maintenance and because of the lower technological maintenance of tank destroyer and trucks than tanks, resources for maintenance could be locally sourced and foreign from co-belligerent and beyond. As a fact, truck could operate with wood gas generators. Soviet Far East has forests: abundances of coal and lumber shall generate enough wood gas for truck use. These wood gas, pellet fuel from wood or biomass could remove some burden of the strain on petrochemical industry to produce enough products from the oil that has been known for a cause of Japan's strategic issue. A scenario would be having a local factory in Soviet Far East, Sakhalin island for example, that made paper and pellet fuel from fresh and recycled biomass.

    On the Axis side, resources were less from the start than the Allies. Generic utility vehicles could be manufactured, refitted with better technology and repaired by co-belligerents of the Axis or even neutral nations that maintained trades with the co-belligerents.
     
  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Well, the way the Japanese government was set up at the time, better management of officers is not going to happen. A serving General and Admiral had to be on the Japanese Cabinet. If the government did something that either service disliked, the Admiral/General was retired, and the Cabinet collapsed and a new one had to be formed.

    The Japanese industry was not capable of producing, in a timely fashion and in meaningful quantities, what you are asking of it. Assault guns were produced in small quantities, they never did get around to producing a Jeep equivalent(the need for combat vehicles was far greater), and APCs/halftracks were produced in small quantity from 1942 onwards.

    Assault guns/SPG still required a good bit of technological maintenance, just because they lack a turret motor, does not mean that they were any less complicated to maintain the gun & optics, tracks, engine, transmission, etc. Still, you are going to need some time to construct the required factories so that spares could be "locally sourced". Foreign sources spares presents it's own morass of problems, none easily solved.

    Trucks could operate on wood gas, but they were far less powerful and far less efficient. Going up hill or through mud under load would often immobilize such a vehicle. Pellet fuel and biomass fuel are relatively recent inventions that would not be seen in World War II.

    Why would Japan need the wood and coal from the Soviet Union, when they had all they needed in China and Manchuria?
     
  19. knightdepaix

    knightdepaix Member

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    What I want to ask is, how you can you be sure of what you typed is true? To me, you seem very sure about the correctness of what you typed. I am merely asking questions in my last post if one reds closely. Frankly, I would not like to discuss with you longer: true info please.
     
  20. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    I suspect more robust bicycle tyres would have benefited Japan considerably more than any improvements to armour...
     
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