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What if Japan Joined in operation Barbarossa

Discussion in 'What If - Pacific and CBI' started by Blau Himmel, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. Blau Himmel

    Blau Himmel recruit

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    If Japan hadn't fought with the Russians earlier in the war. And decided to to invade only Manchuria up to the border with Russia and signed in with the German/Soviet pack.

    1)Would USA still place an embargo on Japan? If not,then?

    Secretly Japan agrees with Germany to invade Russia in 41. With more or less of a holding action, keeping the Siberian troops occupied.

    2)What then of the winter in Moscow? With no Siberian troops sent in as reinforcements. If Stalin decides to relocate and continue the fight after the fall of Moscow.

    3)What then of Stalingrad? The Japanese decide to put forth all of their forces into pushing back the siberians due to an agreement with Hilter that if they do then he will share with Japan the oil from the caucasus'
     
  2. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    1. I think that the US would still have initiated the embargo on Japan.
    2. I think that the USSR would have the upper hand against Japan. Would the Germans take Moscow, I do not believe so. I don't know if the divisions that counterattacked the Germans in the Battle of Moscow were from the East but if those reinforcements were not available, all the Soviets had to do was stay put in Moscow. The Germans were so weak that they could not muster the strength to hold a victory parade at this stage.
    3. Japan would be hard pressed to keep up the front due to lack of resources. The oil you refer to is a future asset but Japan needed it now. Also, the t-34 and even the older Soviet tanks were far superior to the most modern Japanese tankette.

    In the end, Japan would not benefit from such an endeavor. The only course was expansion to the south for immediate resources it needed. Japan's war was a true war for economic growth. My two cents.
     
  3. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Chronologically, the US had started to "curtail" some shippments of certain products to Japan after the "Panay" incident, in spite of Japan's "apology" and payments in reparation. This was early on, and we (America) knew full well of the Nanking horrors which happened at the same time.

    And don't forget that the Japanese couldn't make "secret deals" with Nazi Germany without the US knowing about it. Their diplomatic code (not their Naval code) had been broken for quite some time. The so called Purple Code wasn't really changed throughout the war years.

    The Japanese Kwantung Army drew wrong conclusions from the easy successes of its first probes of 1937 into Soviet territories. The ill equipped and lead Communist border troops were easily swept from two small islands on the River Amur, on the border of Manchukuo. This easy "victory" of the Kwantung concluded that the Red Army must have serious logistical problems, related to the long distance between its eastern and western blocs (11 time zones, one rail line), just as it had been in 1904-05.

    This compiled the Imperial headquarters' mistake, and the Kwantung Army command's mistake as per the Red Army and their allies the Mongolians. After the signing of the Anti-Comintern Pact by the three Axis powers, Stalin was alarmed at the possibility of the USSR being involved in a two-front war.

    In July 1938, the Kwantung Army struck again, attacking troops of the Red Russian Independent Eastern Army in a hilly area, Zhanggufeng, on the eastern border of Manchukuo, close to Korea, they failed and were driven back. The Kwantung Army commanders "dismissed the reverse as 'forty percent of a victory' won in a difficult sector".

    In April 1939 the 23rd Division of the Kwantung Army moved to a new target, Outer Mongolia; with orders to cross into Nomonhan, a deserted and disputed sector on the Manchukuo-Korean-Mongolian border. Japanese tanks, infantry and cavalry directed fierce attacks into this zone from May to July 1939, but were repulsed at all times by the defenders. Operations, on the Khalkan-Gol river, intensified rapidly. From May through July, Soviet bombers attacked into Manchukuo and Japanese bombers retaliated. The greatest air battles yet seen were taking place, with formations of 150-200 war planes deployed. Soviet anti-aircraft fire was effective and the Japanese airforce wasn’t.

    Zhukov had arrived in June 1939. He arrived to find that the Kwantung Army had secured some vital high ground and quickly concluded his need for reinforcements. Before August 1939 he had acquired 550 front line aircraft, 500 state-of-the-art T34 tanks, twenty cavalry squadrons and thirty-five infantry battalions. He outnumbered the Kwantung Army three to two in infantry, by three squadrons in cavalry, and possessed a qualitative edge in armor. But above all, his army was to show a marked superiority in intelligence analysis, command, control and communication.

    Zhukov was one of the first commanders to use radio signals intelligence to advantage, Zhukov sowed misinformation with the Japanese by broadcasting fictitious command orders, ciphered in codes he knew the Japanese could break. He led the Kwantung Army to believe that he intended only defensive measures. Richard Sorge, a Soviet agent of German-Russian parentage, the press attaché to the German embassy in Tokyo, also assisted, by providing Zhukov with the Japanese order of battle. This is the same Sorge to whom Stalin refered upon his capture and torture by the Japanese, "Richard Sorge? I know of no man named Sorge!"

    The commanders of the Red Army and the Mongolian forces were well trained and experienced in battle as were the Japanese. The Mongolian General Choibalson, and Zhukov's Chief of Staff, General Shtern, were superior field officers. Zhukov’s control of preparations for the final critical battle was brilliant. His battalion and squadron commanders were not made aware that an offensive action was planned until three hours before the units moved out. The Kwantung Army had been misled, and many Japanese officers were away from their units at the time of the attack. A "German style" communications network assured tight control throughout the battle.

    The Red Army's surprise assault began on August 20th, 1939, with a thrust across the border into western Manchukuo. Zhukov's version of blitzkreig was a combination of armor, artillery, air support, and infantry, and was more extensive than the Nazis version in some respects. The Red Army lightning assault pre-dated the German blitzkreig into Poland by thirty-three days, perhaps Zhukov read the same books as Guderian as per "armored attack"? (Fuller/Hart.DeGaulle)

    At the battle of Khalkin-Gol (sometimes called the Battle of the River Halka, or by the Japanese the Nomonhan incident), Zhukov's force wiped out the Japanese 23rd Division, killing 18,000 Japanese troops. The Red Army and its Mongolian ally then demonstrated its absolute command of the battle by penetrating thirty kilometers further and stopping at the Manchurian frontier.

    The Japanese Kwantung Army commander was now more than ready for a cease-fire, and in Tokyo Japan's political leaders hoped that the Soviet government would be content with a re-drawing of the disputed borders. The war had embarrassed Japan in many ways.

    Beside another military defeat, where 18,000 of Japan's 60,000 battle force were killed, and probably another 20,000 wounded, the Imperial family was mortified by the desertion of Lieutenant Higashikuni, the twenty-three-year-old son of Prince Higashikuni, during the fight, a matter suppressed by Japan's censors.

    Stalin was also happy to call it a day. Zhukov withdrew his force to the Manchurian border on August 13th 1939 and received orders to immediately move his heavy armour to the railhead, for rail transport to Poland. The USSR's slowness in biting off its slice of defeated Poland, a delay of fourteen days, can be explained by Stalin's concern to close hostilities in the east before moving militarily in the west.

    The Red Army was still a major force in the east even with the removal of the Zhukov led armor and infantry. The Kwantung Army was also reduced for the "push to the south" for resouces. They couldn't sustaing their forces in the north, while the Red Army remained in large part to make sure they didn't try.

    Hitler's Nazi-Soviet Pact of August 23rd, 1939, was certainly seen by the Japanese government as a betrayal of the anti-Comintern Pact, and reinforced Japan's decision to use Hitler and the Nazis if possible, but never to trust them. The Nazi-Soviet pact was announced during a Japanese military disaster the same month. This combination required a revision by Japan of its policy to the USSR. Hostilities ended officially on September 16th, 1939 with handshaking and photographs of the commanders.

    A commission was set in place to re-draw the vexed boundaries. Japan decided that it was not yet ready for an all-out war with the Soviet Union and on April 13th, 1941 the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact was signed, with Japan unaware that Hitler would reverse his arrangement with the USSR and launch the Wehrmacht on Operation Barbarossa in a couple of months, in June of 1941.

    With the Soviet Union now within the Anglo-American camp after June of 1941, albeit with the United States in non-belligerent status, Japan risked attack by the Russians in Manchuria and by the United States at sea.

    A two front war on land and a sea battle as well, was undesirable, and likely to be calamitous. The Soviets were still well deployed on Manchuria's border (infantry, armored, and aircraft), and had shown their determination to fight, and defeat the Kwantung. Thus by mid-1941 the "Go South" strategy won preference with Japan to secure its needed resources in the south, diplomatically if possible, but by military aggression if necessary.

    Clearly as events intensified in Europe, the commercial treaty on trade relations between the US and Japan lapsed, and their open support of Nazi Germany became apparent. Thus this was NOT renewed, and the embargoes began in incremental stages. First aviation fuel, then scrap metal, the copper and brass, and finally all petroleum.

    All the above is from items I have put into my own files, sadly I didn't record the sources as well as I should have. My apologies. That said, here is an interesting item:

    "The Japanese Government has taken note of the regulations governing the exportation of iron and steel scrap, dated September 30, 1940, amending the construction and definition of the term "iron and steel scrap" included in the regulations of July 26, 1940, and the announcement of September 26, 1940 to the effect that, under the new regulations, licenses will be issued to permit shipments to the countries of the Western Hemisphere and Great Britain only.
    The above-mentioned regulations refer to the Presidential authority derived from the provisions of section 6 of the Act of Congress approved July 2, 1940, entitled "An Act to expedite the strengthening of the national defense", thereby suggesting that it was determined to be necessary in the interest of national defense to curtail the exportation of iron and steel scrap.
    In view iron the situation of iron and steel scrap markets, the supply and demand of these materials and the volume shipped to Japan, the Japanese Government finds it difficult to concede that this measure was motivated solely by the interest of national defense of the United States.
    "In the note of the Japanese Ambassador of August 3 the Japanese Government pointed out that the measure announced on July 26, 1940, in regard to the exportation of aviation gasoline, was tantamount to an export embargo as far as countries outside the Western Hemisphere were concerned. Compared to that announcement, the announcement under review may be said to have gone a step further toward discrimination by specifically excluding Great Britain from the virtual embargo.
    "In view of the fact that Japan has been for some years the principal buyer of American iron and steel scrap, the announcement of the administrative policy, as well as the regulations establishing license system in iron and steel scrap cannot fail to be regarded as directed against Japan, and, as such, to be an unfriendly act. The Japanese Government hereby protests against the measures taken by the United States Government in connection with the exportation of iron and steel scrap.

    The Japanese Embassy to the Department of State, October 7, 1940

    And this memo recorded by Cordell Hull:

    [WASHINGTON,] October 8, 1940.

    The Japanese Ambassador called at his request. He first expressed regret at the unsatisfactory relations existing between our two countries at this time. I replied that, in my opinion, this was not the fault of the Ambassador and myself, who have been untiring in our efforts to promote and preserve satisfactory relations between the United States and Japan.
    The Ambassador then said that he was instructed by his Government to hand me a note dated October 7, 1940 (copy attached) relative to our scrap iron and steel embargo which was recently proclaimed.
    He read a statement (copy attached) in support of the note mentioned above.
    I replied to the effect that I would see what sort of written reply, if any, might be called for.
    I then said that I might at this time, and without delay, state that this Government at all times must determine for itself such internal questions as those material to our program of national defense, as we are doing in the instant case, and that it would be impossible for any country engaged in the serious and urgent undertaking of carrying out of a program of national defense to allow every other outside nation to come in and pass upon the question of our needs of given commodities; that the embargo, as the Ambassador knows, applies to all nations except Great Britain and the Western Hemisphere. I remarked that some years this Government had been criticized for not imposing numerous embargoes, primarily from the standpoint of safety and national defense and peace, and that it was only at the height of our national defense preparations that we were imposing a few embargoes on important commodities.
    I said that it was really amazing for the Government of Japan, which has been violating in the most aggravating manner valuable American rights and interests throughout most of China, and is doing so in many instances every day, to question the fullest privilege of this Government from every standpoint to impose the proposed scrap iron and steel embargo, and that to go still further and call it an unfriendly act was still more amazing in the light of the conduct of the Japanese Government in disregarding all law, treaty obligations and other rights and privileges and the safety of Americans while it proceeded at the same time to seize territory by force to an ever increasing extent. I stated that of all the countries with which I have had to deal during the past eight years, the Government of Japan has the least occasion or excuse to accuse this Government of an unfriendly act. I concluded with the statement that apparently the theory of the Japanese Government is for all other nations to acquiesce cheerfully in all injuries inflicted upon their citizens by the Japanese policy of force and conquest, accompanied by every sort of violence, unless they are to run the risk of being guilty of an unfriendly act.
    The Ambassador again said that he very much regretted the serious differences between our two countries, but that he naturally hoped that trouble may yet be avoided. He added that any Japanese, or any American must know that strife between the two countries would be extremely tragic for both alike. To this I replied that, of course, it would be exceedingly unfortunate for such occurrence to take places. but I added that my Government has been patient, extremely patient, and that, the Ambassador will bear witness to the long and earnest efforts that he and I have made, and that I have made prior to his coming here, to promote and preserve friendly and satisfactory relations with Japan. I went on to say that we have stood for law and order and treaty observance and justice along with genuine friendliness between our two countries; that it was clear now, however, that those who are dominating the external policies of Japan are, as we here have believed for some years, bent on the conquest by force of all worthwhile territory in the Pacific Ocean area without limit as to extent in the South and in southern continental areas of that part of the world, and that we and all other nations are expected, as stated, to sit perfectly quiet and be cheerful and agreeable, but static, while most of Asia is Manchuriaized, which would render practically impossible all reasonable or satisfactory relations so far as other nations are concerned; and that corresponding lower levels of existence would be the ultimate lot of the people of most of Asia. The least objection to or taking of issue with Japan with respect to the foregoing matters would be called an unfriendly act, and, as Prime Minister Konoye said recently to the press, it would be the occasion for war so far as Japan was concerned. I added that, of course, if any one country is sufficiently desirous of trouble, it can always find any one of innumerable occasions to start such trouble. In brief, it is not left to the other country to participate in such decision.
    The Ambassador undertook to repeat the old line of talk about how fair Japan proposed to be with respect to all rights and privileges of foreign nations within its conquered territory. He agreed that no purpose would be served now to go over the many conversations we have had with respect to these matters. I held up the succession of injuries to American rights and interests in China whenever he referred to the scrap iron embargo.
    I reiterated the view that it was unheard of for one country engaged in aggression and seizure of another country, contrary to all law and treaty provisions, to turn to a third peacefully disposed nation and seriously insist that it would be guilty of an unfriendly act if it should not cheerfully provide some of the necessary implements of war to aid the aggressor nation in carrying out its policy of invasion. (emphasis mine) I made it clear that it is the view of this Government that two nations, one in Europe and one in Asia, are undertaking to subjugate both of their respective areas of the world, and to place them on an international order and on asocial basis resembling that of 750 years ago. In the face of this world movement, extending itself from day to day, peaceful and interested nations are to be held up to denunciation and threats if they dare to engage in any lawful acts or utterances in opposition to such wide movements of world conquest.
    The Ambassador had little to say. He said virtually nothing in attempted extenuation, except that his Government would expect everybody to receive considerate and fair treatment throughout the conquered areas. He emphasized equal treatment, and I replied that when the best interests of other nations in peace and law and order were being destroyed, it was not a matter of any concern as to whether there was discrimination between the nations which were victims of such movements.

    C [ORDELL] H [ULL]

    Memorandum by the Secretary of State Regarding a Conversation With the Japanese Ambassador (Horinouchi), 8 October 1940

    It would appear that from 1937 on, the "die was cast" as per Japan's aggression, and the American responses in ever increasing economic pressure to "cease and desist" this and come back to "Most Favored Nation" trading status. Apparently the Imperial Japanese chose to ignore the economic, diplomatic problems and actually believe they could settle by force of arms what they couldnt by diplomacy and compromise.

    Just my opinon of course, take it or leave it.
     
  4. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    Hello brndirt1,

    I am impressed, very well researched on the Kwantung army and its actual fighting capabillity towards the Soviets.

    I agree that it would have been suicide for the Japanese to attack Russia without having any assistance in regards to armor and aerial warfare from a third party.

    Regards
    Kruska
     
  5. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    It's not clear what you mean by this statement. To what war do you refer when you say,"If Japan hadn't fought with the Russians earlier in the war"? The only times the Japanese actually fought with the Soviet Union was a series of border incidents culminating in the disastrous (for the Japanese) Nomonhan war of 1939. It was this war which largely decided the Japanese government on it's "Go South" policy which it committed to in the summer of 1940.

    The Anti-Comintern Pact between Germany and Japan was signed in November, 1936 and was directed at the Soviet Union. It contained a secret clause that in the even that either country became involved in a war with the USSR, the other country would maintain a neutral position. When Hitler signed the German/Soviet Non-aggression Treaty was signed in August, 1939 (while the Nomonhan war was in full swing) and caught the Japanese completely by surprise. They considered it a betrayal by Germany.

    Japan had invaded Manchuria (nominally a province of China) in 1931, and by 1937 was fully involved in a major war with China. Japanese troops were attempting to subdue all of China and were as far south as French Indo-China by 1940. It was the invasion of French Indo-China in the summer of 1940 that caused the US to impose embargoes on scrap iron and steel and aviation gasoline on Japan in 1940. That prompted the Japanese to begin negotiations with the Dutch Colonial government in Batavia, NEI, to increase it's exports of petroleum to Japan. But by then Holland had been occupied by the Germans, and the Dutch in the NEI were reluctant to sell oil to any country which might possibly resell it to Germany. When Japan signed the Tri-Partite Pact with Germany and Italy in September 1940, the Dutch refused further negotiations with Japan and the Japanese military and naval forces began preparations for war with the US, Britain, and Holland.

    Even without the US embargo, Japan knew it could not fight a war with the Soviets while trying to conquer China and/or pursue a "Go South" policy. Therefore it's highly improbable that Japan would have ever agreed to attack the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941 when it was already well on it's way to war with the US and Britain, no matter what Hitler promised.

    The Japanese would also have been aware that the logistics of getting oil from the Caucasus region to Japan would be impossibly difficult and such a promise as Germany sharing oil from that region would be largely meaningless. As another poster has pointed out, Germany couldn't possibly capture the Caucasus until sometime in 1942, which was far too late to solve Japan's oil shortage problem.

    So I believe the answers to your questions are;

    1. Yes, the US would still impose the embargoes on Japan pretty much on the same schedules as historically.

    2. No, the Germans couldn't count on any help from the Japanese in capturing Moscow and even if they could, it probably wouldn't be enough to change the outcome.

    3. No, the same goes for Stalingrad. Besides that, any promise from Hitler of sharing the Caucasus oil probably wouldn't be believed and would have been discounted as being too little, too late and being physically impossible.

    There are usually good reasons that history unfolds the way it does.
     
  6. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    concerning the Kwantung Army on mainland China. This occurred during January 1945 as the Kwantung Army was really "handicapped" and emasculated when the Japanese Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ) ordered home approximately one-third of the Army's war materiel and large numbers of staff officers for homeland defense. They followed that up in mid-April (1945) when the IGHQ had more immediate matters to reflect on than protecting the border from the Soviets, who had not yet declared war but had denounced the "non-aggression pact" which had stood for five years. So yet another large group and its supply was then transferred to the home islands.

    Consequently by the Summer of 1945, this Kwantung "army" had no artillery larger than 75 mm, few tanks (all light), no rockets, nor any modern anti-tank weapons, and little fuel for its light tanks. The newly formed 149th Infantry Division did not have a single piece of artillery in its possession!

    By August of 1945, its strength was estimated at somewhere between 600,000 to 750,000, but the numbers fluctuated up and down (due to desertions and illness, etc.) in the IGHQ itself. The Army by that time was supposedly comprised of one light armored division, 25 infantry divisions, six independent brigades, and up to 25 security battalions (conscripted policemen). In order to prevent the USSR from discovering their alarming weakness in Manchuria, the Kwantung Army mobilized conscripts, reservists and fresh Japanese recruits to form new divisions and brigades to maintain the appearance of a formidable fighting force.

    It is true that in early July 1945, the Kwantung Army was "numerically" expanded from 11 infantry divisions to more than 24 divisions. Unfortunately for the Kwangtung Army in reality, more than one-fourth of its entire combat force was mobilized only ten days prior to the Soviet offensive (8 of 24 divisions and 7 of 9 brigades) by early August, on paper. One of two very weak tank brigades was not formed until late July 1945, and both those light tank brigades were far removed in south central Manchuria, and had no fuel. However, much of its heavy weapons and ammunition reserves and best personnel had been transferred to the Pacific Islands forces, which left this as a counterinsurgency and border security force.

    By August 1945, the Kwantung Army had pieced together a "combat force" of 1,155 old light tanks, 5,360 guns and 1,800 aircraft, all of them obsolete. Discounting Japanese forces in South Sakhalin, Korea and the Kuriles, the Soviets faced an inexperienced army with no training, few supplies, no uniforms, no steel helmets, no leadership, and mostly made up of local populace rather than native Japanese. In all totaling at the most; 710,000 men. Most of them were of course "non-Japanese" nationals. 20,000 or more of the true IJA men refused to surrender even when ordered to do so by the Emperor (they were sure it was a ruse) and fled into the Chinese mountains with their equipment and didn't surrender until about 1948 or so.

    As a result of the Soviet's planning and offensive plan, they rolled over this "army", and took 594,000 prisoners (over 200,000 of which immediately joined the Red Army to fight their former masters), including 143 generals and 20,000 wounded (the wounded also joined the Red Army if they recovered). The Kwangtung Army suffered over 80,000 men and officers killed in combat which lasted less than two weeks.

    Such are the results of military mis-calculations and desparation.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I remember reading somewhere that the Soviets had a very good armored doctrine at least on paper prior to WWII. I think it was stated that this was one of the sources the Germans used in developing theirs.
     
  8. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    I've read quite a few articles and essays on the Nomonhan War and I don't remember seeing any mention of T-34 tanks being involved. Where did you see this and could you cite the reference to their participation against the Japanese forces at Nomonhan?

    My understanding is that the Soviet forces at Nomonhan were equipped mainly with the T-26 light tank, the BT series of tanks which preceded the T-34, and various amored cars. According to several sources I have seen, two prototype T-34's were tested in January, 1940, and mass production did not commence until July, 1940. This was almost a year after the Nomonhan war ended, and, if true, would make 500 T-34's at Nomonhan improbable.
     
  9. JCFalkenbergIII

    JCFalkenbergIII Expert

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  10. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    As I've posted on this subject before:

    Forces:
    Japanese
    The Japanese Kwantung Army (the overall command in Manchuria) had about 10 divisions in 1939, 9 infantry and one cavalry. The biggest armored unit was a single tank brigade with about 90 light tanks and tankettes. Additionally, there were 8 brigade sized border guard units occupying various fortified regions of the border. The 2nd Air army with about 100 aircraft total supported the ground troops.
    By 1945 the size of the Japanese army in Manchuria had about doubled, at least on paper. However, many of the units were of poor quality and their armament was often inadequite.
    In 1941 the Kwantung Army is still, more or less, the size of it was in 1939. The Japanese at this point have a total of 41 divisions in existance, so the Kwantung Army represents about 25% of the entire Japanese Army strength when Germany invades the Soviet Union.

    Soviet:
    On June 22 1941 the Soviets had in the Far East, Siberian, Central Asian and, Trans-Bakal military districts a total of 5 Armies, 16 Rifle corps, and 1 cavalry corps. There were a total of 28 Rifle divisions, 4 Cavalry divisions, 14 Border guard regiments, 3 Rifle Brigades and, 1 Airborne Brigade.
    In mechanized units the Soviets had in the same districts:
    2 Mechanized corps with 4 Tank Divisions and 2 Mechanized divisions in them. Additionally, there was 1 additional mechanized division, 1 mechanized brigade and , 3 motorcycle regiments in these districts.
    The Soviets had about a 5 to 1 advantage in aircraft and about a 7 or 8 to 1 advantage in artillery.
    On 1 July 42 the composition was:
    7 Rifle corps, 4 cavalry corps, with 52 Rifle divisions, 30 Rifle Brigades and, 23 Cavalry divisions. Mechanized units included: 2 Tank divisions, 19 tank brigades, 2 motorized rifle brigades and, 1 mechanized brigade.
    The Soviets still had about the same preponderance of artillery and aircraft they had a year before.

    There is little doubt that had Japan attacked the Soviets they would have found themselves in very dire straights within a month or two of opening hostilities. If the US placed an embargo on Japan for increasing hostilites, a very likely proposition, Japan would have been badly hurt economically and in no position to open a war against the US or South East Asia.
     
  11. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    This was then the core of the later North Korean Army.

    Regards
    Kruska
     
  12. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Opps, I always seem to let my fingers start to fly when I am typing, and many (too many) times I fail to notice I have mis-numbered a Soviet tank. I generally just type T-34 out of habit without thinking it through.

    I am sure this is what I did in this post. I would bet it was a combination of B-7s and T-28s that were in the Far East Red Army Command in their conflicts with the Japanese.

    My mistake, sorry ‘bout that chief!
     
  13. Miguel B.

    Miguel B. Member

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    Actually, I've read somewhere that the Soviets had a couple of brand new T-34s in the East. Not the whole lot you mentioned tough :p


    Cheers...
     
  14. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Which was the exact reason for my "opps" post preceeding your own. There may have been a few sent to the Far East later, but at that time it was most likely the B7s and T28s which made up the entire armored vehicles (not counting armored cars and such).
     
  15. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    Hello Miguel B, long time no see :) been in holiday?

    Surely there were no T-34's in the 1939 Manchurian conflict - since the Russians IIRC did also not have them during the Finland war. Therefore I asumed that brndirt1 had a (misstype incident :D).
    There is a mentioning of T-34 being at the Manchurian border in 1941.

    Account of the Second Russia - Japanese war:

    The initial forwarding by Blau Himmel, "If Japan hadn't fought with the Russians earlier in the war"? does have some substance to it - since the Japanese defeat weakend the "North Fraction - Army" towards the "South Fraction - Navy" within the Japanese military and political decision.

    In the summer of 1939, the Japan and the Soviet Union fought a short, but bitter conflict over a disputed section of the Manchurian-Mongolian border. It gave the Japanese military a stinging defeat and led to changes within the Japanese ruling circles that ultimately led Japan on the road to Pearl Harbor.

    The conflict at Nomonhan grew out of the running conflict between Russia and Japan over influence in China and Mongolia, especially Manchuria, the northeastern-most part of China. Manchuria was rich in grain, coal and iron, and was also blessed with warm water ports, eagerly coveted by the Russians for their Pacific fleet. In the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05) the Japanese humiliated the Russians, driving them from the richest parts of Manchuria.

    In the Great Depression, as trade dried up and unemployment grew, an ultra-nationalist clique within the Japanese military sought to secure the markets and raw materials Japan so desperately wanted. The Kwantung Army, set up in Port Arthur in 1919, had long been home to the most vocal and the most violent advocates of continued Japanese expansion in China. In 1931, a militant faction within the Kwantung Army deliberately fabricated an attack on the railway outside of Mukden, in Manchuria. The so-called 'Mukden Incident' gave the Kwantung Army the excuse it needed to occupy Manchuria completely. In 1932 the Japanese proclaimed the puppet state of 'Manchukuo', and installed Puyi, the last emperor of the Manchu Dynasty deposed in 1912, as their pliant vassal.

    It is worth examining the relationship between the Kwantung Army and the Imperial Japanese Army's General Staff. Normally in a modern society the military is subject to a strict chain of command. The Japanese army in the 1930s was different in that important policy decisions were often made at relatively low levels, by people on the spot. Then the Army General Staff and the government in Tokyo would have to go along, if only out of fear of angering nationalist sentiment within the military. In practice the Kwantung Army operated more like an independent fiefdom as in the days when Japan was a warring feudal state. The Japanese leadership was cautious enough to not order aggressive acts itself, but it also was afraid to discipline the ultra-nationalist militarists within the army. In other words, Japan was not aggressive in this period due to a strong leader like Hitler or Mussolini, but rather because it lacked a strong leader.

    On July 7, 1937 the militarists struck again, fabricating a new incident at the Luguo (Marco Polo) Bridge just outside of Beijing. The Japanese quickly overran Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, and most of the other major cities of China, in what they termed the 'China Incident'. But the Chinese would not surrender, and as the Japanese advanced into China, their logistical position worsened.

    Throughout the 'China Incident', the Japanese military always saw the Soviet Union as their primary opponent. Bombers based in Siberia could hit Japanese cities, while submarines from Vladivostok could harass Japanese shipping. In 1921, at the close of the Russian Civil War, the Bolsheviks had swept into the broad desert lands of Mongolia and established a revolutionary government. In 1936 the Soviets proclaimed the Mongolian People's Republic (MPR). The MPR could conceivably lay claim to what was then known as 'Inner Mongolia', a large swath of Chinese territory south and east of the MPR inhabited by ethnic Mongolians. At the same time, Communism had spread into China proper, and Chinese Communists, led by Mao Zedong, were aggressive in fighting a guerilla war against the Japanese occupation.

    All this was profoundly disturbing to Japan's military leaders. Defense Minister Itagaki Seishiro [Japanese names are traditionally written family name first.] wanted to deal with the rising power of the Soviets while Japan held a position of strength. In 1931 the Soviet Red Army had just six infantry divisions in the Special Far Eastern Army tasked with watching the Manchurian border. By 1936 the Far Eastern Army had twenty infantry divisions, supported by a hundred tanks. In that year alone there were thirty three armed clashes along the 3,000 mile frontier separating the Soviet Union from Manchukuo. Worse, in August of 1937 the Soviets began sending Poliparkov I-15 and I-16 fighter planes to aid the Chinese, along with some 200 'volunteer' pilots, and a staff of supporting technicians. From this point on, Russia and Japan could be said to be fighting an undeclared war.

    In 1935 the Soviets began moving troops into the Mongolian People's Republic to counter Japanese expansion. After the Marco Polo Bridge Incident the Soviets began to act more aggressively. In 1938 the Soviets sent the 57th Special Rifle Corps, which included a motorized infantry division and four armored brigades, into the MPR. Although they stayed back from the actual border, their presence there was a clear warning to the Japanese.

    Changkufeng:

    On January 1, 1938, German Foreign Minister Ribbentrop spoke with Oshima Hiroshi, Japan's Ambassador in Berlin, raising the possibility of a German-Japanese alliance. Hitler had secured his position in Germany and was eager to take over Austria and the German-speaking lands in the Sudeten region of Czechoslovakia. It would be a great benefit to Nazi Germany to keep the Soviets occupied in the Far East while this was going on. The Japanese high command wanted a German alliance to warn off the Soviets while the Japanese overran China, and possibly to expand into mineral rich Siberia in the event of an all-out Russo-German conflict.

    The Japanese had also learned, through a high-level NKVD defector, that the Soviet Army was in disarray. Stalin had instituted a massive purge of the Soviet military in November of 1937, and thousands of Red army officers had been arrested and murdered. Soviet military capability was at a low ebb.

    Egged on by the military, in July of 1938 the Japanese Foreign Office had Mamoru Shigemitsu, the ambassador to the Soviet Union, meet with Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov and demand that the Soviets evacuate the disputed territories along the Manchurian border. The border had never been properly surveyed and maps were poor and outdated. The areas in dispute were small and militarily unimportant but neither side was prepared to simply back down. Now the Japanese raised the temperature in the dispute.

    On July 13, 1938, the Soviets occupied Changkufeng Hill in the disputed area between Siberia and Japanese controlled Korea. Changkufeng was a particularly sensitive point because it was only 50 miles from Vladivostok. On July 29 the commander of the IJA's 19th Infantry Division, responsible for the defense of northern Korea, on his own initiative, ordered an assault on Changkufeng, and neighboring Shatsaofeng Hill, which had also been occupied by the Soviets. From Changkufeng, the Japanese could threaten Russian communications with their naval base at Posyet Bay.

    From August 2nd through the 9th the Soviets continually bombarded the Japanese holding out on Changkufeng Hill, launching a series of sporadic attacks. The Japanese repulsed the uncoordinated Russian assaults. But it was clear that the 19th Division could not hold out alone. Unwilling to widen the clash, on August 9th, 1938, the Japanese agreed to a cease fire with the Soviets and quietly withdrew their troops from the disputed hills. In the fighting the Japanese lost some 500 men, with 900 wounded.

    The First Clashes:

    Changkufeng should have made the Japanese cautious. But several factors made the Kwantung Army leadership willing to face the Russians again. 1938 was the year of the Munich Crisis in Europe, and the Soviets had to keep an eye on events in the West. Furthermore, due to the brutality of Stalin's purges, the Red Army would not be weaker than it was then. The 19th Division's defense of Changkufeng seemed to show that the Soviets, while numerically superior, had failed to coordinate their attacks properly, or use their armor and air power well. Drawing on their experiences in the Russo-Japanese War, the Japanese regarded the typical Russian soldier as dull witted and lacking in spirit. Japanese soldiers, inspired by the spirit of bushido, and trained in aggressive, small unit actions with the bayonet, could easily stand up to the Russians superior numbers. All signs seemed to point to an opportune moment for a showdown.

    In the event of a second Russo-Japanese War the IJA high command had envisioned an offensive strategy, with a push west across the Khingan Mountains into that portion of Siberia north of the Mongolian border. The Japanese planned to cut the Trans-Siberian Railway, isolating the whole of the Soviet Far East and pushing the Russians back beyond Lake Baikal. They increased the capacity of the Harbin-Tsitsihar-Khaila railway and started a new railroad paralleling the Mongolian border in order to improve their logistical position. Now, in April of 1939, Lt. Gen. Ueda Kenkichi, commander of the Kwantung Army, backed by War Minister Itagaki, ordered a more aggressive policy on the border. Soviet or Mongolian incursions into disputed territory were to be decisively punished. Local commanders were to patrol aggressively, and even pursue interlopers across the border. A detachment of troops was sent into the disputed Nomonhan region between Manchuria and Mongolia to map the area.

    Until then, no accurate maps of the area existed. The Japanese insisted that the border was the Khalkin Gol, or Khalka River, flowing north and east into the Buir Nor. The Mongolian People's Republic, backed by the Soviets, claimed the area some 20 kilometers east of the Khalkin Gol, including the village of Nomonhan.

    On May 11th, a detachment of 70-80 MPR cavalry crossed the Khalkin Gol in search of grazing. The came upon the village of Nomohan and drove off a small detachment of Manchurian troops guarding it. A Manchurian battalion came up and drove the Mongolians back over the river. But the next day the Mongolians came back in force, crossing the river and throwing up pontoon bridges to reinforce their claim to the region.

    Escalation:

    The Manchurians could not dislodge the Mongolians, and the Japanese began moving up troops. On May 15th, a reinforced battalion under Lt. Col. Azuma struck the Mongolians and pushed them back over the river. On May 20th, the first clashes in the air took place over the disputed area, as both sides brought up reinforcements. MPR troops, now backed by the Soviets, pushed back into the disputed territory east of the river. On May 28th Azuma tried to cut the Soviet's communications line over the river. In two days of sharp fighting the Soviets drove the Japanese off with some 400 casualties.

    At the same time the air battle was heating up. On June 27th the Kwantung Army sent the 2nd Hikodan (Air Brigade) to attack the main Soviet air base at Tamsak-Bulak in Mongolia. It is very hard to sort out losses in the air war, as both sides minimized their losses and exaggerated their victories. However the Japanese surprised the Russians with their sudden strike. The Nakajima Ki- 27, the Japanese Army Air Force's new, all-metal monoplane fighter, was clearly superior to the Poliparkov I-15s, I-16s, and somewhat better I-153s. The Japanese pilots, were better trained as well. On the whole, the Russians lost 1.5 planes for every Japanese plane they shot down.

    Here the fragmented Japanese system of command began to handicap their operations. IJA headquarters in Tokyo had not authorized the strike on Tamsag-Bulak, and forbade expanding air operations. Thus the JAAF could not capitalize on their tactical superiority to get complete command of the air.

    The Kwantung Army was still willing to escalate. On July 1, 1939 the IJA 23rd Infantry Division, under Lt. Gen. Komatsubara Michitaro, backed by two tank regiments, struck at the Russians dug in east of the river. The pushed to the Khalka River, and in the night, two regiments crossed the river, seizing the Baintsagan Heights on the west bank.

    But in early June, an aggressive new Soviet commander arrived. He was Lt. Gen. Georgi K. Zhukov, age 42. On July 1st the 1st Front Army was organized under his command. As soon as he learned of the Japanese penetration, he launched a coordinated three-pronged counterattack by the 11th Tank Brigade, plus a motorized infantry regiment and a brigade of armored cars. The Japanese themselves launched a counter attack to try to hold onto their gains, but the Japanese anti-tank weapons were not adequate against Soviet armor. The Japanese, in desperation, resorted to suicide attacks with squads of men hurling satchel charges and Molotov cocktails, but they could not stop the Soviet onslaught. In two days of heavy fighting the Soviets retook the Baintsagan Heights and threatened the one pontoon bridge the Japanese had across the Khalkin Gol, forcing the Japanese to withdraw over the river.

    The fighting went on. Between late May and July 25th the Japanese suffered some 5,000 casualties along a thirty kilometer front. Russian losses were higher, but the Red Army could call on greater manpower resources. The real battle was logistics, and here, Zhukov excelled. His nearest base, on the Trans-Siberian Railway, was 465 miles away across dirt roads. Zhukov estimated his needs at 18,000 tons of artillery shells alone, plus fuel and lubricants, food, and everything else needed to sustain modern warfare. Over the months, Zhukov built up a fleet of 2,600 trucks, including 1,000 fuel trucks.

    Meanwhile the Japanese supply system was badly handled. Troops went for days without water in temperatures that reached 104 degrees Fahrenheit and more in the daytime. In general the Nomonhan area was inhospitable. With broiling hot days came cold, damp nights. Dust was everywhere, while swarms of flies and mosquitoes tormented the men. Bad sanitation and lack of water brought typhus and dysentery. Most importantly, the nearly 200 mile distance from their base of supply in Hailaerh and the lack of motorized transport created an insurmountable logistical bottleneck for the Japanese.

    By early August the Japanese had some 75,000 IJA and Manchurian troops committed, including the 7th and 23rd Infantry Divisions, plus cavalry, artillery, and anti-tank units, supported by some 300- 500 planes in three Air Groups. On August 10th the Japanese organized their forces into the 6th Army under Gen. Ogisu Rippu. Gen. Ogisu planned an offensive, top begin on August 24th.

    But the Soviets had also opted for a decision. Alarmed at Hitler's threats against Poland, Stalin wanted to be freed up from distractions in the Far East. Stalin was prepared to deal with Hitler, but he wanted to do so from as strong a position as possible. In early August, STAVKA, the Soviet high command, sent Zhukov an additional 1,625 trucks from European Russia. This gave Zhukov the logistical base he needed for a decisive stroke.

    Decision:

    All through early and mid August Zhukov quietly moved up reinforcements. The troops moved only at night, masking the sound of tanks massing with late night bombing raids and small arms fire on Japanese positions. Zhukov deliberately ordered his men to continue constructing defensive positions to lull Japanese suspicions, while sending out patrols to scout enemy positions by night. Zhukov, absorbing the tactical lessons of the Spanish Civil War, insisted on careful cooperation between the air and ground forces. Air reconnaissance was used to pinpoint Japanese defense positions, and pilots were made to participate in ground briefings with the Red Army. By mid August Zhukov had 5 divisions and 4 armored brigades in position in front of just over 2 Japanese divisions.

    At 6:00 AM, on August 20th, Zhukov struck. 100,000 Russian and Mongolian troops moved forward along a 48 mile front, supported by 500 tanks and 216 artillery pieces. Surprise was total. Soviet artillery outgunned the Japanese batteries, which were short on ammunition. Russian bombardments cut phone lines, isolated Japanese units, and blasted apart flimsy dugouts. 200 SB-2 bombers, heavily supported by fighters, struck Japanese defenses and lines of communications. The Soviet bombers could fly at 20,000 feet, too high for the Japanese fighter planes. Soviet air losses were high, but they were able to wrest command of the air over the battlefield from the Japanese.

    The decisive factor was that Zhukov coordinated his armor with infantry, artillery, and air support. The Japanese in the 1930s were hampered by a limited manufacturing base. They could not build airplanes and tanks in sufficient quantities at the same time. The Japanese had opted to develop aircraft production. Now the Japanese paid the price, as Soviet T-26 and T-28 tanks chopped up the weaker Japanese armor. The Russians had learned, and countered the Japanese use of Molotov cocktails by converting their tanks to diesel fuel and putting wire mesh netting over vulnerable engine gratings.

    In savage fighting the Soviets cut around the Japanese left (southern) flank, and then the Japanese right, in a double envelopment. Soviet tanks, now behind the Japanese, linked up at the village of Nomonhan, trapping the Japanese 23rd Division. The Japanese fought back with desperate courage. One Japanese regimental commander burnt his colors and committed seppuku, rather than surrender. Another died in a last, fanatic banzai charge against oncoming Russian armor. But it was all in vain. Russian tanks, equipped with flamethrowers, supported by infantry, took one entrenched Japanese strong point after another.

    On August 26th a Japanese counter attack to relieve the trapped 23rd Division was halted by a Russian tank brigade. The next day, the Japanese 23rd Division made a last bitter effort to break out to the east. They were defeated. By August 31, 1939 the Japanese had been driven back out of the disputed territory. Of 60,000 Japanese troops committed, nearly 45,000 were killed. The IJA 23rd Infantry Division took 73% casualties. The 71st Regiment suffered over 93% losses. In contrast, the IJA took 28% casualties at Mukden, the most hard fought battle of the Russo-Japanese War.

    Results and Lessons:

    The Kwantung Army had taken a savage pummeling. The Soviets took some 3,000 Japanese prisoners, many badly wounded. The Soviets were eager to indoctrinate them to Communism. Some 1,000 stayed on in the Soviet Union rather than face dishonor at home. Soviet casualties were also high. They admitted to a little over 9,000 casualties, but the actual total was closer to 17,000 or higher. But these were losses the Red Army could afford.

    At this point the Soviets could have pushed into Manchuria, but instead they halted at the line the MPR had claimed at the start of the affair and dug in. All through this period the Soviet KGB had a spy ring operating in Tokyo under the masterful leadership of Richard Sorge. Sorge's information showed that the Japanese wanted an end to the fighting as soon as possible. Knowing this, as early as August 22 the Soviets had offered Japanese Ambassador Togo Shigenori in Moscow a cease fire.

    On August 23, 1939 the Soviets signed a Non-Aggression Pact with Nazi Germany, agreeing to divide Poland. The last hope of the 'Strike North' faction in the Japanese high command was dead. On September 15th, as German tanks closed in on Warsaw, Ambassador Togo signed a cease fire with the Russians, to take affect on the 16th. Both sides agreed to exchange POWs and establish a joint commission to resolve disputes along the length of the border. As the Second World War engulfed Europe, Stalin was free to focus his attention in the West.

    In Japan the Kwantung Army, and the IJA in general, suffered a significant loss of influence. Lt. Gen. Komatsubara Michitaro, commander of the 23rd Infantry Division, was disgraced. In early September Lt. Gen. Ueda, commander of the Kwantung Army, was reassigned to Japan, effectively ending his career. The Kwantung Army ceased to be a law unto itself and was brought back under centralized control from Tokyo. The Japanese were very careful not to provoke the Soviets again. Even when they signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy in March of 1941, the Japanese hastened to sign a non-aggression pact with the USSR as well.

    For his part, Zhukov was promoted to the important Kiev Military District. In the event of a war with Germany, or a Soviet push into the Balkans, Stalin would have a top commander in position. When the Nazis invaded Russia in 1941 Zhukov rose rapidly in the Red Army, and applied the lessons of mobile war learned on the plains of Nomonhan.

    The Soviets were made acutely aware of the deficiencies of the Red Air Force. New fighter designers like Mikoyan and Yakolev now had Stalin's ear. The problems of the T-26 tank, though less important when fighting the Japanese, influenced the design of the T-34, which went into action against the Germans in 1941.

    The Japanese, on the other hand, did not learn. A major hero of the war on the Japanese side was Lt. Sadakaji, who attacked a Soviet tank with his sword. The vital lessons, that modern warfare depends heavily on supply and equipment, were ignored. The desperate courage and suicidal bravery the Japanese infantrymen showed in the fighting at Nomonhan was to be seen again at Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima. But so were the Japanese army's deficiencies in heavy weapons and organization.

    In the end, Nomonhan ruined the so-called 'Strike North' faction that had dominated Japanese strategic thinking until then. Now the 'Strike South' faction, led by the navy, would be ascendant. The Strike South leaders looked enviously at the oil rich Dutch East Indies (modern Indonesia), at strategic Malaya and Singapore, at Burma and Indochina, as the new war in Europe paralyzed the British and French. The only thing stopping the Japanese now was the US Pacific Fleet at its base at Pearl Harbor.

    Regards
    Kruska
     
    Za Rodinu likes this.
  16. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

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    instead of continent-wide mechanized warfare, japan should try its hand in strategic bombing. blast those siberian factories, rail lines, oil refineries.

    could the japanese do it and will their efforts help the germans in the west?
     
  17. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

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    Short answer; not a chance in hell would that help. The whole of the USSR was 11 time zones in width, the Japanese were in the 11th zone east of Moscow and the refineries on the west coast of the Caspian Sea, and 10 from the Urals which the factories were snuggled up against on the eastern slopes. There was only the one east west rail line (trans-Siberian), and breaking it wouldn't help the Nazis or the Japanese in the least.
     
  18. Devilsadvocate

    Devilsadvocate Ace

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    Agree with Clint. There was absolutely nothing of strategic value to the Soviets that was within reach of Japanese bombers. Besides that Japan had no "strategic" bomber force, and couldn't have built or operated one given her lack of industrial capacity to manufacture aviation engines or refine aviation gasoline which is used in great quantities by true strategic bombers.
     
  19. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    I know it's not in this forum's etiquette to point out spelling mistakes, but I can't help noticint the use of the expression "German/Soviet pack", nor the poster's name Blau Himmel, which I hope Kruska will support me in saying that is gramatically incorrect. (der) Blaue Himmel instead? From a poster with a grand total of 1 and who met objections only? Hmm...

    It is difficult to see what Japan might expect to gain from Going North option as compared to Going South. Southwards we already know all that was available in resources. North you had the immense Siberia, inhabited only by reindeer, snowfoxes and political prisioners in salt mines. Nothing was known outside the USSR about the mineral wealth of Siberia, it was all uncharted and unknown until the U-2 and later on SR-71 and satellites started overflights.

    Nothing was known except what could be seen from the windows of the Transsiberian, and even then at times the train personnel forcibly closed down shutters on the train windows when crossing sensitive areas.

    Nothing was known on oil, coal, diamonds, iron, alloy metals, anything that was being exploited in Siberia except what was know from Czarist times.

    So comparing the known wealth of East and Southeast Asia that was within reach to an empty wooded desert with a single rail-line through it, it was easy for the Japanese decision makers to go for the logical choice.
     
    Sloniksp likes this.
  20. Kruska

    Kruska Member

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    Indeed, indeed

    der blaue Himmel or from his (maybe) personal view; Blauer Himmel. Anyway I find it kind of amazing that "certain" blunt opinions or questions are being forwarded by very specific persons who can be generally characterised in their position of not answering on replys forwarded by other Forum members upon their initial posting.

    As such I do not see much off a point in contributing or participating further in this thread. - unless someone might answer (react??) to the present forwardings.

    Or in the event of a newcomer's posting, it might be more suitable to just answer with "how exactly do you see the feasability in the event of an attack by Japan on Russia?"

    If there should be no reply, well then I would strongly assume that someone is just posting for the sake of posting, or a silly attempt on reversing history (IMO :))

    Regards
    Kruska
     

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