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Japan Invades The USSR on June 29th 1941

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  • Japan Invades The USSR on June 29th 1941

    What would have happened had the Empire of Japan been tipped off about Operation Barbarossa (without Soviet spies in Tokyo knowing) and subsequently used its entire Kwangtung Army (totaling 1,446,012 personnel at the time), to invade the Soviet Far East?

    I consulted a professional historian about this very possibility and it was his contention that such an invasion would have cut off the transiberian railway and with it 47% of all foreign aid to the Soviet Union.

    Not only this, but even if Japan had failed to capture Vladivostok and ended up getting bogged down in the Maritime Province and around Lake Baikal the invasion alone would have meant that the Siberian reinforcements that were so vital to the Soviet counter offensive outside Moscow in the winter of 1941 would have been made unavailable (and probably throughout the rest of the war also).

    My historian friend also claimed that because Imperial Japan's Kwangtung Army was basically doing nothing except ruling Manchuria throughout the entire war Japan could have actually attacked both Pearl Harbour and the Soviet Union simultaneously without many negative consequence to itself.

    Had Japan attacked in this way only a week after the launch of Operation Barbarossa I think this would have somewhat offset the Soviet Union's command and control capabilities and might well have led to Hitler capturing Moscow by the summer of 1942. Moscow was (and still is), of course the central mother hub for all Soviet rail and road infrastructure and the largest metropolitan area in the union.

    Its capture by Germany by 1942 combined with the closure of the transiberian railway by the Japanese invasion and the severing of lines of supply from the Arctic Soviet port of Archangelsk to southern Soviet cities and military bases could well have led to a successful German occupation of The Caucuses, thus diverting Allied forces away from North Africa to Northwest Iran in order to deal with this new Axis threat to Middle Eastern oil refineries.

    It's possible we could have therefore seen a two pronged German invasion of the Middle East from The Caucuses in the north and from North Africa in the south, as well as an American invasion of Kamchatka and Northeast Siberia, that would have extended the war in The Pacific by many months or perhaps even years.

    Would the forces of the Soviet Union been completely obliterated?

    Would Germany have successfully occupied all of the Soviet Union AND the Middle East AND North Africa AND Western Europe?

    Would Japan have still lost against the Americans in the war in The Pacific?

    Would Turkey have entered the war on Germany's side?

    All interesting questions to consider.

  • #2
    Having an army to spare is not the same as having the industrial capacity to supply that army in an active campaign in which it has to change from being an occupation force to an offensive one. Japan was already pushing its luck with the war it was fighting (and Yamamoto believed pushing it beyond limits if it didn't win very quickly) with the industrial and economic capacities that it had as it was.
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

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    • #3
      Welcome.

      Assuming that if a factor changes, everything else will continue as in actual history is an obvious mistake. 47% of the total Lend-Lease deliveries arrived in the SU through the Soviet far East (and I'd bet some of the Alaska-Siberia small percentage, arond 2%, would also be affected by the cutting of the Transsiberian).

      Fine. So when the Japanese cut that, the Allies start crying "oh, we lost that 47%!" and do nothing? No, of course. If you look up the same source that told you about that 47%, you will see that in the first year, 1941, that percentage was even higher, 53%, while the obvious Archangelsk route covered 43%... but the other significant alternative, the Persian corridor, was at a puny 4%. OTOH, if you consider the whole period, the Persian corridor accounted for 24%.

      In other words, yes, the Far East route was by far the best, but not the only one. The Archangelsk ruote was costly, but those costs could be borne if necessary. The Persian route could be, and was, significantly developed and improved.
      Last edited by Michele; 05 Jun 15, 10:23.
      Michele

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      • #4
        Welcome!

        There is/was already quite an in-depth discussion of the matter toward the middle and end of this thread: http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...d.php?t=159512 concerning a scenario quite similar to yours.

        On the subject of Japan attacking both the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously, this is extremely impracticable, and probably would have resulted in an earlier Japanese defeat. The manpower and material requirements of a war against the USA were not reconcilable with those of a war against the USSR, not to mention the demands of the China Front. What your historian friend seems to have forgotten was that over the course of the war, Japan transferred 19-plus divisions and a host of smaller formations out of the Kwantung Army to shore up the situation in the Pacific, with many of them going to the Home Islands in anticipation of an American invasion there. With an active war against the Soviet Union underway, such transfers would not have been an option. Lastly, there is the question of the inevitable outcome: Japan could have "won" a solo war against the Soviet Union, but not against the United States and certainly not against the USSR, USA, China, and Western Allies simultaneously.
        Last edited by BobTheBarbarian; 05 Jun 15, 13:28.

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        • #5
          Yes, doing both at once would be beyond Japan's ability, and June 29th was too soon.

          However, mid 1942 was not too late, for their purposes. Until Guadalcanal, the IJN was in fact planning to go into Siberia. They were building up in Manchuria and what they spared for the SW Pacific amounted to little more than a reinforced Brigade.

          They thought that the USSR was about to collapse at Stalingrad, you see, and were ready to deliver a serious stab in the back.

          Tojo's gang were always looking for the easy meat, not the smart path.

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          • #6
            Blackhouse,

            It sounds like your historian friend needs to brush up on his/her knowledge of WW2. Lacking a bit of imagination too I'm afraid.

            The Siberian route for supplies was the most important simply because it was the easiest. It was a quick direct route from the US & it was safe because Japan wasn't attacking Russian flagged ships - a fact that should tell you that japan knew something about relative military strength that people constructing WIs often miss. However, Michele has perceptively pointed out that other, less ideal routes could have been used. The Persian corridor was as safe as Vladivostock, just a little further away. Russia would have received what it needed from the Allies.

            Stalin would have received plenty of warning of any attack, so he would have been able to prepare well. The Kwangtung army would have struggled to advance far into Siberia. Road & rail were abominable & easily disrupted. Japanese logistics were **** under ideal conditions, and Siberia wasn't that. Having exacted a heavy toll on the original invasion Russian forces could 'scorched earth' their way back to good defensive positions. Japan would have to transport everything including food. Nothing much to forage. The advance will be slow & easily stopped.

            Japan has noting much to gain in Siberia. There is minimal oil. In fact, Japan would experience a decline in oil from Siberia. it was already receiving a small amount from the Russian concession on Sakhalin. Those wells would be destroyed and might not come back on line for some time. Russians were rather good at that - some of the oil fields destroyed in 1942 didn't come back on line for a decade. The value of other resources was negligible compared to the effort required for the conquest. An invasion would have meant that the Japanese position in China was weakened. The invasion of Sth East Asia would have had to go ahead to secure oil.

            One final issue is the nature of Stalin's reaction. In OTL he convinced himself that Germany wasn't going to invade. In this time line he most likely believes that a Japanese invasion is happening given how reliable his source was. What impact does this have on events in Europe? Perhaps he diverts troops away & makes it more vulnerable. Perhaps the impending Japanese invasion shakes him out of his delusion & he takes Germany seriously - if only because there is now an imminent threat. What it most likely means either way is that the Russian military is at a heightened state of alert compared to OTL. I wouldn't assume that a Japanese invasion helps Germany as much as you think.
            Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Blackhouse View Post

              Not only this, but even if Japan had failed to capture Vladivostok and ended up getting bogged down in the Maritime Province and around Lake Baikal the invasion alone would have meant that the Siberian reinforcements that were so vital to the Soviet counter offensive outside Moscow in the winter of 1941 would have been made unavailable (and probably throughout the rest of the war also).



              Had Japan attacked in this way only a week after the launch of Operation Barbarossa I think this would have somewhat offset the Soviet Union's command and control capabilities and might well have led to Hitler capturing Moscow by the summer of 1942.

              Its capture by Germany by 1942 combined with the closure of the transiberian railway by the Japanese invasion and the severing of lines of supply from the Arctic Soviet port of Archangelsk to southern Soviet cities and military bases could well have led to a successful German occupation of The Caucuses, thus diverting Allied forces away from North Africa to Northwest Iran in order to deal with this new Axis threat to Middle Eastern oil refineries.

              It's possible we could have therefore seen a two pronged German invasion of the Middle East from The Caucuses in the north and from North Africa in the south, as well as an American invasion of Kamchatka and Northeast Siberia, that would have extended the war in The Pacific by many months or perhaps even years.

              Would the forces of the Soviet Union been completely obliterated?

              Would Germany have successfully occupied all of the Soviet Union AND the Middle East AND North Africa AND Western Europe?

              Would Japan have still lost against the Americans in the war in The Pacific?

              Would Turkey have entered the war on Germany's side?

              All interesting questions to consider.
              1)The Siberian reinforcements (some 5 divisions) were not vital for the
              Soviet winteroffensive,besides the Soviets failed during the winter of 41/42

              2) The capture of Moscow was not depending on what Japan would do

              3)Neither was the success of Blau depending on the Japanese (btw: the Allies could do easily without the oil of the ME)

              4)The Germans did not plan an invasion of the ME : they did not need the ME oil

              5) The German invasion of the SU already had failed in the summer,and the aid of the Japanese was irrelevant

              6)Germany never had the intention to occupy the whole SU,besides: this was impossible

              7) Japan was domed the moment the first bomb was falling on PH

              8) An intervention of Turkey would be a catastrophe for the side it would join .

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              • #8
                The most important result of a Japanese attack on the SU was that it would make Japan almost defenceless against the US :there could be no attack on PH in december 1941 and this would exclude an attack on PH in 1942 or later.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Addressing a few specifics:

                  Originally posted by Blackhouse View Post
                  ...
                  I consulted a professional historian about this very possibility and it was his contention that such an invasion would have cut off the transiberian railway and with it 47% of all foreign aid to the Soviet Union.
                  47% of the Lend Lease to the USSR went via Siberia. Most via that route was during the last 18 months of the war. there was a relatively small amount sent in the summer/autum of 1941, but as tensions in the Pacific rose the Soviet Maritime Ministry shut down the route in October 1941. It was gradually revived in latter 1942 & during 1943. If this route is cut off Soviet receipts of LL do not abruptly drop by 47% since at the time most went via the Northern or Murmansk route & some via Persia.


                  Not only this, but even if Japan had failed to capture Vladivostok and ended up getting bogged down in the Maritime Province and around Lake Baikal the invasion alone would have meant that the Siberian reinforcements that were so vital to the Soviet counter offensive outside Moscow in the winter of 1941 would have been made unavailable (and probably throughout the rest of the war also).
                  The Siberian reinforcements were drawn from reservists called up in the entire region from the Urals to the Pacific. Call up of those reservists came between late 1940 & the late summer of 1941. I dont have at hand the number called up after 22 June 1941, but would not be suprised if that added over 300,000 to the 450,000+ already mobilized across Siberia. What is important her eis the bulk of the 'Siberians' which fought around Moscow in the winter battles were mobilized to and training at military camps or stations far west of Mongolia in the trans Ural region, rather than close to Manchuria or Korea. Some regiments or parts therof and some HQ staff were drawn from the far east near Manchuria for reinforcements, but they were a fraction of the total used around Moscow in December 41-February 42.

                  My historian friend also claimed that because Imperial Japan's Kwangtung Army was basically doing nothing except ruling Manchuria throughout the entire war Japan could have actually attacked both Pearl Harbour and the Soviet Union simultaneously without many negative consequence to itself.
                  "Kwangtung Army" is used as a blanket term in English language history for all Japanese controlled forces in Manchuria. That includes Manchurian provincial militias, the residual army of the local Manchurian government, and assorted Imperial Japanese Army units. Most of the IJA had the minimum logistics capability to cross into Soviet territory, the militias and Manchurian Army had little capability & japan would have had to build the extra logistics support to mobilized these formations.

                  The IJA formations that comprised the actual Kwangtung Army were spit between those in static service/support assignments or defense, and actual field armies. Bottom line is less than half the Japanese controled formations in manchuria had a imeadiate offensive capability & maybe 60% could be used so after a build up of transportation & other material.

                  There is also the question of how lightly the IJA was armed. particularly with artillery in comparison with the Red Army.

                  Bottom line is the Kwangtung Army has a much smaller offensive capability than the raw number suggest.

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                  • #10
                    The Russians would have hurt them. Russian armour & artillery were a generation ahead of what Japan was fielding & so were the tactics to use them. Japan might have had the edge in the air, but it won't be enough to stop any advance costing more than it is worth.
                    Human beings are the only creatures on Earth that claim a god and the only living thing that behaves like it hasn't got one - Hunter S. Thompson

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Blackhouse View Post
                      What would have happened had the Empire of Japan been tipped off about Operation Barbarossa (without Soviet spies in Tokyo knowing) and subsequently used its entire Kwangtung Army (totaling 1,446,012 personnel at the time), to invade the Soviet Far East?
                      Interesting idea with a huge effect on the dynamic of Barbarossa. The border of Manchuria with the Soviet far east is obviously massive in scope, thus leaving the TSR lifeline very vulnerable. Many here have stated the common opinion, but I don't agree. Regular IJA Infantry divisions were better quality and more capable than their Soviet counterparts, thus overall numbers mean less to me. A further point about numbers pertains to Soviet armor formations: Soviet tanks on paper may look like an obvious and overwhelming advantage, but in reality it really isn't. The Soviets had a huge armor/mobility advantage at Khalkhin Gol, but only after they took ALL SUMMER to build it while a single reinforced Japanese ID sat relatively static without operational Intel about enemy intentions. Soviet ability to project their armor forces in the far east AND support them on short notice is very limited and requires more time than they would have in this ATL.
                      Therefore, in regard to this ATL I see no parallels with Khalkhin Gol other than IJA Infantry Divisions are extremely tough and able to cover as much ground as Soviet Cossacks. Soviet Infantry Divs and Armor are doctrinally hamstrung by centralized command and control as well as clumsy logistics. As evidenced during Barbarossa, Soviet formations quite often saw their combat power evaporate in space as they moved beyond their initial start point and ran out of supply and lost command and control with higher. If the IJA dictates the when/where (aka operational/strategic initiative) the Red Army will have an intial response as per the pre-war plan, then fall apart to a certain degree due to catastrophic doctrinal flaws.
                      If the Japanese make a full strategic effort, they weill cut the TSR, take Vladivostok and threaten the Lake Baikal area. The more Soviet/Red Army resources formations they engage the more effect it will have on the dynamic of Barbarossa. Stalin may be in a different mood when it comes to asking for neutral mediation and negotiated peace. The bottom line is, an attack by Japan would certainly help the Axis, the question remains would it be enough to change the overall strategic outcome.
                      "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
                      -Omar Bradley
                      "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
                      -Anonymous US Army logistician

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Javaman View Post
                        Interesting idea with a huge effect on the dynamic of Barbarossa. The border of Manchuria with the Soviet far east is obviously massive in scope, thus leaving the TSR lifeline very vulnerable. Many here have stated the common opinion, but I don't agree. Regular IJA Infantry divisions were better quality and more capable than their Soviet counterparts, thus overall numbers mean less to me. A further point about numbers pertains to Soviet armor formations: Soviet tanks on paper may look like an obvious and overwhelming advantage, but in reality it really isn't. The Soviets had a huge armor/mobility advantage at Khalkhin Gol, but only after they took ALL SUMMER to build it while a single reinforced Japanese ID sat relatively static without operational Intel about enemy intentions. Soviet ability to project their armor forces in the far east AND support them on short notice is very limited and requires more time than they would have in this ATL.
                        Therefore, in regard to this ATL I see no parallels with Khalkhin Gol other than IJA Infantry Divisions are extremely tough and able to cover as much ground as Soviet Cossacks. Soviet Infantry Divs and Armor are doctrinally hamstrung by centralized command and control as well as clumsy logistics. As evidenced during Barbarossa, Soviet formations quite often saw their combat power evaporate in space as they moved beyond their initial start point and ran out of supply and lost command and control with higher. If the IJA dictates the when/where (aka operational/strategic initiative) the Red Army will have an intial response as per the pre-war plan, then fall apart to a certain degree due to catastrophic doctrinal flaws.
                        If the Japanese make a full strategic effort, they weill cut the TSR, take Vladivostok and threaten the Lake Baikal area. The more Soviet/Red Army resources formations they engage the more effect it will have on the dynamic of Barbarossa. Stalin may be in a different mood when it comes to asking for neutral mediation and negotiated peace. The bottom line is, an attack by Japan would certainly help the Axis, the question remains would it be enough to change the overall strategic outcome.
                        I agree fully. Though, assuming the American embargoes are still in place in this scenario, the Japanese would need to act fast before their supplies are bled dry. Historically they planned an opportunistic grab of the Soviet Far East should the Germans have taken Moscow. Obviously, this was discarded when Moscow held and the Pacific War intervened.

                        However, if the Japanese had swallowed their pride and gave up Indochina to lift the embargoes, they might (upon learning of German intentions) have activated Hachi-Go No. 8, their full-blown war plan with the USSR. This plan called for the bulk of the Japanese military to be concentrated on the Soviet Far East, and called for the conquest of everything in between Kamchatka and Lake Baikal. If IGHQ had gone this route, there would have been little the Soviets could have done to stop them, and once the Far East fell, the Red Army had no immediate means of taking it back.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by BobTheBarbarian View Post
                          and once the Far East fell, the Red Army had no immediate means of taking it back.
                          Nor a compelling need to take it back.

                          The only way the USSR loses is when its ability to wage war is lost. That means places like Chelyabinsk, Ykaterinaberg and Magnitogorsk need to be taken by the Axis. Just looking at a map should make it painfully obvious that those objectives are far beyond the Axis capabilities.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                            Nor a compelling need to take it back.

                            The only way the USSR loses is when its ability to wage war is lost. That means places like Chelyabinsk, Ykaterinaberg and Magnitogorsk need to be taken by the Axis. Just looking at a map should make it painfully obvious that those objectives are far beyond the Axis capabilities.
                            But Japan's objectives in going to war would have been fulfilled. The Red Army threat to the north would be destroyed, and the natural resources of the Soviet Far East would belong to them.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by BobTheBarbarian View Post
                              But Japan's objectives in going to war would have been fulfilled. The Red Army threat to the north would be destroyed, and the natural resources of the Soviet Far East would belong to them.
                              And what precisely were those resources?

                              Oil was #1 on the Japanese needs and even though Sakhalin did produce some oil it wasn't going to be enough.

                              Eventually the Red Army would take back the far East in 1944 or 1945 and with it Manchuria and Korea.

                              Take a look at Japanese steel production. If they have an active ground war with the USSR, how much of that steel will be going into tanks, trucks, guns and ammunition? That steel can only come by reducing the Navy's allocation which in turn means their woefully inadequate production becomes even worse. The US will have naval dominance in the Pacific much earlier than historical. Then the Japanese economy collapses.

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