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Let's talk Japanese infantry tactics...

Discussion in 'Military Training, Doctrine, and Planning' started by DarkLord, Mar 24, 2021.

  1. DarkLord

    DarkLord Active Member

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    The Japanese infantry had HUGE successes early in the war. The tactics of overwhelming an enemy in a charge, getting in close, and fighting with bayonets was a very effective one against 3rd world armies. Against the UK and US, there was much less success, but they had successes from time to time.

    Against the US varsity though, the Japanese infantry was basically sheep to the slaughter. Most often, they were starved, under-equipped, and resigned to death (which is a pretty depressing situation). But even in the earliest parts of the war when they were their strongest, their overall offensive tactics just ran into a brick wall with the US.

    However, their defensive tactics...while a bit crazy...we're very effective.

    Okay experts...do I have a working grasp of the situation, or do I have a lot more to learn?
     
  2. Riter

    Riter Well-Known Member

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    You forgot night infiltration tactics at which the Japanese were very good.

    They also relied heavily on ambushes (spider holes) and sent poor Fuji up a tree to play sniper (dead man once detected). Sometime Fuji in the tree was just a spotter and he had light switches to signal particular bunkers to fire (Buna).

    They liked defensive fighting. Buna in New Guinea is a good example where they built above ground bunkers that were reinforced by drums filled with dirt (reduce wood splinters). After a short time, the bunkers would be camouflaged naturally by the foiliage leaving only the small firing port that was undetectable until fired from. The bunkers wouid have interlocking or mutually supporting fields of fire.

    <------ Not an expert but here to learn.
     
  3. Brutal Truth

    Brutal Truth Active Member

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    They were effective against the Brits in Malaysia, and even later on in Burma. Much less in the Pacific, but they suffered from major logistical issues.

    I wonder about the effect of the "knee mortar", the type 89. Three were issued per platoon, which in theory should have given J. small infantry units quite an advantage. But in no other armies light mortars like that were as widespread, so it seems they weren't very effective weapons.
     
  4. DarkLord

    DarkLord Active Member

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    My recollection was the "knee mortar" was quite effective, and lead to small mortars being adopted by many other nations. Since the Japanese didn't use rifle grenades, the knee mortar substituted where US troops would use a rifle grenade...and delivered a much bigger payload (not that either is a big payload).

    Yeah, their logistical issues were a nightmare. They were spread all across the world with no support; crappy thing to do to your soldiers.
     
  5. DarkLord

    DarkLord Active Member

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    I left that out for brevity, glad you brought it up. Yeah, at the start of the war the Japanese (both Army and Navy) were the best night fighters in the world... Hoards of Japanese coming at you at night, with bayonets...the stuff nightmares are made of.

    Their unconventional stuff was awesome too. They were really great at scaring the living hell out of their enemies. But psychological trauma is hard to quantify as an infantry tactic.

    And yeah, their defensive tactics were effective...if you don't mind every last man dying.
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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  7. Riter

    Riter Well-Known Member

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    Thank you OpanaPointer.
     
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  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    It wasn't about dying to the last man, It was lacking the ability to successfully withdraw their troops. At Guadalcanal & Attu, the Japanese evacuated what troops they could
     
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  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    It was not that they were not very effective weapons, they could be quite effective in certain situations. It's just that most other armies usually had plenty of artillery. The Japanese lacked having numerous artillery pieces.
     
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  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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  11. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    And no one mentions the Australians?? The Australians were more than able to take on the Japanese night fighters...we gave better than we got. Snipers were always looked out for and shot (to shit) once spotted. We also had anti sniper snipers...Remember it was the Australians who handed the Japanese their first major defeat on land. They were in our backyard (PNG at the time of war was Australian territory - Handed back in 1975) - And we made them pay. It should be noted that the US Navy played a big part in helping us achieve our objectives, a big reason why I hail the US Navy to this day.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2021
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  12. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I think I've put up a fair few Ozzie images.
     
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  13. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Yes you have, because you know awesome when you see it... : )
    I was referring to this thread...
     
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  14. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    "Knee mortar" was a misnomer for the Type 89 grenade discharger - Wikipedia. GIs sometimes broke bones trying to fire captured examples by holding them against their legs.

    The British and Empire had a similar weapon, the 2" mortar, which from what I've read was effective and well regarded. I recall an account from the battle of Goose Green in the Falklands in 1982 in which 2 Para Battalion, marching on foot, left their 2" mortars behind, and the writer said they would never make that mistake again.
     
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  15. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    It was a misinterpretation of "the Knights who go Knee."
     
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  16. DarkLord

    DarkLord Active Member

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    True...but other military's would surrender when the situation is hopeless. At the point an army is in a completely hopeless situation, surrender is likely a bigger inconvenience to the enemy than fighting to the last man...especially if it's small-ish numbers.
     
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  17. DarkLord

    DarkLord Active Member

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    Agreed!

    The Japanese had a few small arms that were problematic, but in general, their weapons were quite good. Sure rifle wise they were at a disadvantage against the US, but so was everyone else. But the Japanese had what was certainly the best LMG in the Pacific war, and they employed it very well. Their heavy machinegun was rather good also, and it was much easier displaced in a moving defense than water cooled US 1917's.

    Their biggest disadvantages were lack of air superiority, and horribly insufficient logistics; which denied them the artillery they needed to fight effectively.

    The swarming/overwhelming/man-wave attacks were probably the biggest flaw in their game. Once they faced an army with sufficient firepower to counter that tactic, it should have never been employed again. I can't help but wonder if at times the tactic was employed as a Pacific war version of "suicide by cop". Those soldiers were in a hopeless situation, they all knew that death was the only option, why wait to let the enemy deal out my death on his terms; why not at least go down in a blaze of glory?
     
  18. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Yes, but surrendering would inflict no further casualties on the enemy, and would end the battle more quickly. The Japanese were trying to inflict maximum casualties and fighting for time with which to prepare their next lines of defense.
     
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  19. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I would disagree. The largest deficiency, when the Japanese attacked, was pre-battle reconnaissance. In the early part of the Pacific War, these swarm attacks most often hit the strongest part of the American lines( or a part that had been recently fortified). Had the swarm attacks been directed against weaker parts of the line, they would have succeeded. Usually, this was because of strict adherence to a given day and time for the assault, but sometimes it was just overconfidence in the Japanese troops carrying the day.

    It was less "suicide by cop" and more a "Hail Mary." like a drowning man taking a breath while underwater, not breathing is killing you, and breathing might not kill you. If the Japanese stayed in place, they had no chance of victory and would be defeated. By attacking, they at least had a small chance at victory.
     
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  20. DarkLord

    DarkLord Active Member

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    Good points Takao, somethin to think about.

    I think the Japanese at the end of the spear was mostly competent... The farther you get from the tip, the less competent they were. Inter-service rivalry, and their inability to supply their troops put their infantry units in un-winnable situations...yet the expectation of success from the leadership was always there.

    No coherent leadership, and abysmal logistics made it next to impossible for the army. For an army that had everything against them (even their own Navy at times); they were amazingly effective.
     

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