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USSR Bombs Tokyo in 1939?

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by Gromit801, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    A book I'm reading brought this to mind.

    During the Nomanhan Incident, the Sovs had a number of TB-3 heavy bombers available. While not the most modern of aircraft, what do you think the extended outcome might have been, had they used the TB-3s to fly a night mission loaded with incendiaries, to bomb Tokyo? The had the range, 1240 miles for almost a round trip from Vladisvostok to Tokyo, and most of the way back. A blow from Stalin, and try to recover the crews in the Sea of Japan, almost home. Not beyond the Russian mind set at the time. Alternatively, the TB-3's could have hit almost any norther city and made it back to a Russian base.

    At the time, Japan had next to no night defenses, and I think the situation would have been chaotic in the extreme for the Japanese. Their homeland violated very early on, tough resolve shown by the Sovs. Might it have had any influence on their thinking before Pearl Harbor, knowing the US and USSR would have become allies?
     
  2. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    Aw, not one reply?
     
  3. Jenisch

    Jenisch Member

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    The Soviets had bombers more modern than the DB-3 tor attack Japan. Even in 1941 the Japanese were with fear of the relative facility the VVS had to burn their cities (800 km from Vladivostok to Tokyo).

    Back to the topic: the Japanese would bring the air service of the Navy to attack the Soviet bomber bases, together with the Army air service which was already well concentrated in Manchuria after the Soviet offensive. Depending of what the Soviets do, the Japanese might have even give up of China, in order to bring troops to launch a ground offensive to clear the Soviet treat from the Far East (and also grab territory). Of course, the Soviets would also considerate this and would be minded to a ground offensive as well. All-out war betweeen the two countries could broke up.
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    The Ilyushin DB-3 was the more modern aircraft as opposed to the Tupolev TB-3, and the DB-3 would probably be the most likely choice of Soviet bomber if any such missions were to be flown against Japan. The DB-3 could fly further and faster and it's range with a 1,000kg bombload(1,600-1,900 miles) put Tokyo within easy reach - as opposed to the TB-3s "almost" reach.

    Of course, if the Soviet Union is "fully involved" fighting a war against Japan, what effects would there be on Nazi Germany's war plans. This really opens up a giant can of worms.

    We could also speculate as to what would have happened had the Chinese chosen the more direct approach with Japan, using bombs instead of leaflets in 1938.
     
  5. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I would think the biggest hurdle would be to make the trip unobserved. At a cruise speed of just over 100mph it was a 12 hour round trip. If the Japanese observed them at any point they were likely to be intercepted.
     
  6. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    A night mission could be accomplished easily enough even using the antiquated TB-3, but the weather would be the deciding factor there. The Japanese never localized the two Chinese Martin 139WCs in 1938, although several searchlights were encountered, no Japanese fighters attempted interception and whatever Japanese AA there was never fired a shot.
     
  7. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    The reason Stalin would not launch the attack is that the Polish and Czech crisis were happening and Stalin did not want a war to distract him from what was going on.
     
  8. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Of course, if the Soviet Union is "fully involved" fighting a war against Japan, what effects would there be on Nazi Germany's war plans. This really opens up a giant can of worms.


    Well, since we are what-iffing here, what if the Germans kept heading east after over-running Poland in this scenario? The British and French were in no hurry to make a move in the west at all. It would have been interesting, but I figure the Germans would have lost a bit earlier even with the Japanese fight the Rooskies in East Asia.
     
  9. Jenisch

    Jenisch Member

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    All-out war with Japan would be a large military undertaking, and one that the Red Army was not prepared in 1939. As for the bombing of Japan, the Soviets did not want to risk the Japanese sign a peace treaty with China, because it would put the whole IJA nearby the Soviet border.
     
  10. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    The Red Army thrashed the IJA like a red-headed left-handed step child several times with little effort and from what they had in place several times in 1938-39. I believe that the Rooskies could've forced the Japanese out of bounds (ie. Dunkirk) down around Pusan in less than a year if push came to shove in '38. Plenty of time to sign the Soviet-Nazi Non-Aggression Pact in August of '39. That would have changed the Pacific War a bit eh?
     
  11. Jenisch

    Jenisch Member

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    The Soviet bombing of Japan was for total war.
     
  12. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Sure, I did not imply that it would be a two week war and a cake walk, but the IJA tanks were not comparable to even the T-34Cs the Red Army fielded then, and they had little anti-armor capabilities or mechanization, nothing like western armies at the time. Yes Stalin was worried about Hitler, but so was Chamberlain and Deladier. I don't believe that if Stalin decided to move against the IJA and clear them out of Asia he could do it. There is no way Hitler would have moved against Stalin unless the Rooskies would have been struggling with the Japanese in '38 or early 39. You are right, I should read up on the Japanese-Soviet border wars a bit more. I'm not very strong in that area. Never hurts when what-iffing you know.

    Of course I just contradicted my position in post #8 here. Hmmmmm. What if????
     
  13. Jenisch

    Jenisch Member

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    Stalin was a realpolitician; if the Japanese were not kicked from China in '39, it was because it was not possible.

    As for Nomonhan for Japan: it proved their logistics was insufficient, the artillery and it's doctrine were inadequated, AT guns were in insufficient quantity and the contruction philosophy of agile but structurally fragile fighters with no armor and light weapons was inadequated.
     
  14. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    We are forgetting the Communist ideology that was both Stalin's biggest weapon and biggest weakness, the USSR was an international pariah and any move involved ab a big risk of western intervention, especially if not quikly resolved. All out war clash with Japan was a huge risk, far from given the US would stand idle in the in face of the "Red Menace", and no reason they would look to Soviet influence in China more favourably than to a Japanese one, the opposite is more likely. it could well end up with the Japanese and Ciang, with US support, ganging up on the Soviets and Mao in the East and Adolf selling a "crusade against Communism" justification to attack in the west without France and Britain stepping in.

    A bit far fetched but ..... stranger things happened.

    The USSR enjoyed technological superiority in tanks and at least parity in plane quality (in 1938 we are talking I-16 vs A5M) but they have no fleet to speak and once they leave the trans siberian railway behind logistics would be a nightmare.
     
  15. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    The US was not going to get into any war without being directly attacked. The IJA had been thrashing the Chinese from 1931 and on without much real support from the populace here. Sure the people were sympathetic to the Chinese and their problems, but we had problems here and they were more important to anyone else's at the time to themselves. Isolationism was high and staying out of another world war was first and foremost on the overwhelmingly majority of minds in America. The Great Depression was still going on in the US, and we were not able to really do anything to challenge anyone.

    Seems like the Rooskies did pretty well in August of 1945 once they got off the Trans-Siberian. Of course that was on the continent. They wouldn't have been able to occupy the Kuriles or properly re-enforce their half of Sakhalin Island due to a lack of fleet to challenge the IJN properly.
     
  16. Jenisch

    Jenisch Member

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    OldSoldier, in Nomonhan the Japanese Army Air Service had the Ki-27, which was a better plane than the A5M. Even so, against the new I-16 Types being flown by trained pilots and with proper tactics, it was outclassed. Also: Japan could not properly replace pilots. Check your references; the losses of fighter pilots in the Nomonhan Incident were serious.

    The problem with the Soviet capability to expell the Japanese from China, is in logistics. Since Stalin did not attacked Japan in 1939, it's logic that the Russians could not support the necessary advance, because after finishing with the IJA in the continent, the Japanese would sue for peace. There was not reason for the Soviets not finish off the Japanese if they could.
     
  17. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Jensisch,

    The two 20mm ShVAKs on the I-16 Type 17 did boost it's firepower considerably against the Japanese aircraft. However, it is very debatable that the Ki-27 was "outclassed". The I-16 Type 17 may have had an edge over the Ki-27, but I would not go so far as to say that it outclassed the Ki-17.

    But you do have a point in that the Japanese Army struggled to replace the trained pilots it lost. As both Japanese services, Army & Navy, had set very high qualification standards for their pilots, with the result being that pilot graduation rates remained low. Also, IIRC, the pilot losses on both sides were quite high, and that "green" pilots were used to replaces losses.


    The only "logical" conclusion to be drawn from Stalin not expelling the Japanese from China is that he did not want to at the time. The Soviet logistical net kept it's forces well supplied during the Campaign, and looking at it's base, you can see why. The Soviets used some 4,000+ trucks to keep their army supported - The Japanese on the other hand had only about 800 trucks in all of Manchukuo. This also explains why the Soviets could launch long-range operations on a scale the Japanese could only dream of. The Soviets had the logistics necessary, but Stalin was more pressing concerns politically.
     
  18. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    I admit I was sloppy in mentioning the A5M rather than it's army counterpart, but I always believed the two were quite similar in performance and the I 16 was more advanced than either one (retractable undercarriage for starters, cannon armament, etc). With equally competent pilots my bet is still on the I 16.
    I would stick with my doubts on Soviet logistcs, the 1945 troops were veterans that had refined their logisics capabilities during 4 years of war, , the 1938 closer to the ones that got a bloody nose in Finland when the tactics proved inadequate. 4000 trucks may seem a lot but considering the distances involved are barely adequate to support a couple of corps, as they get further from the railheads the soviet mecanized forces will suffer a lot more than the Japanese fool sloggers.
    I was not immagining the US sending troops, or even weapons (they had very little to send in 1938) but other forms of support are a real possibility, Hitler, or the tczechs that had spare production capacity in 1938, would probably be glad to send weapons if the US paid for them.
     
  19. Gromit801

    Gromit801 Member

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    One thing to remember, was Stalin's will. He said do it, and it was done, or mass graves were dug. The man also had breathtaking paranoia issues, so in some ways, logical thinking was out the window with Uncle Joe.

    In reality, many of the already mentioned issues kept the Sovs from pursuing a full on war with Japan....

    BUT! Stalin had a record of doing things simply because HE wanted it so, reason be damned. Soviet Army Officer Crops purge is a decent example.

    If he felt he needed to teach the Japanese a lesson (in his mind), he just might have attacked a Japanese city.

    Another Japanese-Russian war would have changed things as far as the Japanese attacking the US and the Commonwealth. True, there was no Soviet Fleet to speak of, but again, by my thinking, Stalin had some odd ideas, and the force to execute them. Pardon the pun.
     
  20. Jenisch

    Jenisch Member

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    Due to stronger airframe, the I-16 pilot could desengage from combat when want, while the Ki-27 pilot could not.

    Takao said:

    "The only 'logical' conclusion to be drawn from Stalin not expelling the Japanese from China is that he did not want to at the time."

    Why?
     

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