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Battle of Khalkhin Gol, 1939

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  • Battle of Khalkhin Gol, 1939

    I'm very interested in this battle mostly because we know so little about it compared to WWII. I wanted to locate as many pictures as I can. These images show Russian men and equipment, except for the last two which show Japanese infantry and IJA pilots.

    As you probably know, this was one of the few battles where the pre-war Red Army was well-led and well-equipped compared to the Japanese resulting in a decisive Soviet victory. The Japanese side featured mostly light infantry, cavalry units, light tanks, etc. so the Soviet BT tanks were able to deal with them and give them extremely rough treatment.

    In the second picture from top, Soviet officers are wearing what looks like camouflage covers (or perhaps painted patterns) on their helmets. This looks very interesting because I've never seen anything like it in any WWII pictures.

    Note the "German-style" steel helmets with projecting visors worn by the Russians. These seem to be the Soviet standard in the late 1930s but as Barbarossa breaks out, they are phased out, maybe to avoid confusing with German infantry?

    The very first photo showing a BT tank supported by Soviet infantry looks very cool but looks suspiciously posed for propaganda purposes.













    Last edited by MonsterZero; 03 Mar 10, 04:16.

    "Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a ugly brawl."
    --Frederick II, King of Prussia

  • #2
    Are they sitting on a Hucks starter in the last shot ? The wrecked aircraft looks like an I-153, which sometimes used RS-82 rockets in the air-to-air role.

    It's difficult to tell without the landing-gear but the I-153 had a retractable version, often kept lowered to fool the enemy until the last possible moment.
    Last edited by the ace; 03 Mar 10, 05:39.
    Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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    • #3
      Originally posted by the ace View Post
      Are they sitting on a Hucks starter in the last shot ? The wrecked aircraft looks like an I-153, which sometimes used RS-82 rockets in the air-to-air role.

      It's difficult to tell without the landing-gear but the I-153 had a retractable version, often kept lowered to fool the enemy until the last possible moment.
      Can't tell if it's an I-153 but the best bet is that it's an I-15 because the I-153s were used in a small batch for combat trials but the I-15 was the most widespread in that theater.

      The Japanese car is certainly a starter vehicle because we can clearly see the shaft that spins the propeller.



      The Japanese fighter plane is probably the Nakajima K-27 Nate which was the main opponent of the Russian I-15 in the battle.

      Last edited by MonsterZero; 03 Mar 10, 07:21.

      "Artillery adds dignity to what would otherwise be a ugly brawl."
      --Frederick II, King of Prussia

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      • #4
        Just an FYI.

        The helmet is not "German-style but rather the M36 model. It was replaced in 1939 by the M39 and then the more common M40 iirc. Both were a more robust design. This was all pre-Barbarossa so it really did not have anything to do with the German attack of recognition.
        The Purist

        Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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        • #5
          An interesting but little known point about this battle is related to later Soviet aircraft design and production. The Red Air Force did so poorly against the Japanese in terms of loss ratios that Stalin called Polikarpov to Moscow and demanded to know why Soviet fighters were doing so poorly. Polikarpov arranged a dogfight between an I-16 and a captured Japanese Ki 45 biplane to demonstrate the "superiority" of Soviet designs and told Stalin his aircraft weren't the problem.
          Stalin would have none of it and sacked Polikarpov. His design bureau was handed over to two young promising designers; Mikoyan and Gurevich. Thus ended the line of Polikarpov fighter designs with the I-17 and began the MiG design bureau.

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          • #6
            I've always been facinated by this battle, because I think that it is far more important to subsequent battles in WW II than it has ever been credited. I guess when a battle takes place in a geographically remote area, and both combatants want to keep it secret from the rest of the world.

            BTW, great pics
            Lance W.

            Peace through superior firepower.

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            • #7
              Great pics.

              This battle intrigues me as I see it having a huge effect on the subsequest war.

              In the book Tennozan, by George Feifer, he details that the Japanese kept a large, elite army in Mongolia to counter any Soviet designs. This army was sliced up, over the course of the last two years or so, to provide reinforcements to various Pacific and home island duty stations including Okinawa.

              The Japanese were certainly not on good terms with the Soviets even though they signed a non-aggression pact with them in 1941. This famously allowed Stalin to move his Mongolian Armies westward to the front with Germany. Naturally, it secured Japans rear, in order to attack the Pacific.

              I surmise (meaning only my opinion) that perhaps because of Khalkhin Gol, the Japanese thought that the US and Western Allies were an easier target. If I am right, this then means truly humungous implications for the war. Any input at all?
              Beware the man of one book.
              --Thomas Aquinas

              http://www.clementsmb.com

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Totenritter View Post

                I surmise (meaning only my opinion) that perhaps because of Khalkhin Gol, the Japanese thought that the US and Western Allies were an easier target. If I am right, this then means truly humungous implications for the war. Any input at all?
                Exactly, in school (especially) and in university our teachers and professors always used battle of Khalkhin Gol as lesson that Soviet Army teached Japs and said that this was major reason why Japan turned their attention to Pacific.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Totenritter View Post
                  I surmise (meaning only my opinion) that perhaps because of Khalkhin Gol, the Japanese thought that the US and Western Allies were an easier target. If I am right, this then means truly humungous implications for the war. Any input at all?
                  Pretty true. It certainly gave the Navy lobby ammunition over the Army one and made the attacks in the Pacific far more likely.
                  Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the cheesemakers

                  That's right bitches. I'm blessed!

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                  • #10
                    One of the biggest problems the Japanese faced in this operation was moving logistics forward to the troops involved. It was approxmately 300 miles to the nearest railhead for them. From there they had to haul supplies forward by truck of which they, of course, had a severe shortage.
                    For the Soviets things were a bit better being about 100 miles from a rail head.
                    The Soviets also brought in a huge amount of mechanized forces including several tank brigades, several armored car brigades and a mechanized division.
                    The Japanese were ill-equipped to deal with masses of armor that came as quite a shock to them. That they knocked out a great many Soviet tanks and armored cars says more about the poor tactical performance of the Red Army than of the tenacity of the Japanese.

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                    • #11
                      This battle should have scrapped the Shinano and used the steeel to build better tanks, and more of them. A direct copy of the Stug III would have been the best choice.
                      But instead, they turned south, with well known results.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Exorcist View Post
                        This battle should have scrapped the Shinano and used the steeel to build better tanks, and more of them. A direct copy of the Stug III would have been the best choice.
                        But instead, they turned south, with well known results.
                        The Japanese were so far behind the Soviets in tank design that I don't see anyway that fighting the Soviets would have been a better outcome than fighting the Americans, even if the Soviets had to fight on two fronts. Their Navy was their strength, and once they saw what the British did a Taranto with far more primative aircraft than the Japanese possessed, I think their mind was made up.
                        Lance W.

                        Peace through superior firepower.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                          One of the biggest problems the Japanese faced in this operation was moving logistics forward to the troops involved. It was approxmately 300 miles to the nearest railhead for them. From there they had to haul supplies forward by truck of which they, of course, had a severe shortage.
                          For the Soviets things were a bit better being about 100 miles from a rail head.
                          The Soviets also brought in a huge amount of mechanized forces including several tank brigades, several armored car brigades and a mechanized division.
                          The Japanese were ill-equipped to deal with masses of armor that came as quite a shock to them. That they knocked out a great many Soviet tanks and armored cars says more about the poor tactical performance of the Red Army than of the tenacity of the Japanese.
                          Interesting, do we have any military atlas style maps of the large scale troop movements leading up to the battle?
                          One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions - Admiral Grace Hopper

                          "The eunuch should not take pride in his chastity."
                          Wu Cheng'en Monkey

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                          • #14
                            More camouflaged helmet covers



                            http://english.ruvr.ru/2009/08/20/275678.html
                            One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions - Admiral Grace Hopper

                            "The eunuch should not take pride in his chastity."
                            Wu Cheng'en Monkey

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Totenritter View Post
                              Great pics.

                              This battle intrigues me as I see it having a huge effect on the subsequest war.

                              I surmise (meaning only my opinion) that perhaps because of Khalkhin Gol, the Japanese thought that the US and Western Allies were an easier target. If I am right, this then means truly humungous implications for the war. Any input at all?
                              Japans were interested in oil, while US cornered them cutting from available sources. Arid cold spaces of Mongolia with no infrastructure looked not so attractive.
                              Khalkhin Gol was first battle, where Zhukov marked himself as promising commander.

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