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Could the Wehrmacht have replicated Zhukov's 1939 offensive at Nomonhan?

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  • Could the Wehrmacht have replicated Zhukov's 1939 offensive at Nomonhan?

    Various historians, from Coox to Glantz and beyond, have characterized Zhukov's offensive in August 1939 against the Japanese forces along the Khalka River as a 'masterpiece of tactical-operational craft' and the 'blueprint for the later encirclement of the 6th Army' at Stalingrad. This operation, which lasted from 20-31 August 1939, made copious use of medium artillery, tactical air power, and a well-supplied double envelopment by tanks and mobile infantry to totally trap and eventually destroy the better part of an IJA infantry division and many of its attached auxiliaries.

    In reading up on the respective histories of the German Heer and Soviet Red Army prior to their titanic clash in June 1941, the inescapable and broad-sweeping contrasts conveyed are those of German élan and Soviet numbers. When describing the campaigns against Poland and France, writers frequently dote on the Wehrmacht's dash, maneuverability and quick-thinking to overcome the opponent, while the Red Army is maligned as slow, inefficient, in Glantz's words, a "stumbling colossus." However, a quick glance at the two nations' respective inventories at the time (infantry arms, artillery, tanks, aircraft, as well as logistics capacities) reveals that the Soviets were materially much more competitive, even outright superior to the Germans both in terms of quality as well as quantity than these authors would initially have the readers believe. These facts were made even more apparent when the Germans actually fought the Soviets and discovered a number of serious shortcomings in their own army (especially in artillery) vis a vis the Russians. Based on the differences in the campaigns in Finland and Mongolia, it appears that the lion's share of the Red Army's early problems rested not with weapons or supply procurement, but rather inefficient leadership, which brings me to my point:

    Are these rather grandiose and stereotyped assumptions at all warranted? Were the Germans really as good vis-a-vis the Soviets as they are often made out to be? Could the Wehrmacht, going up against a peer opponent determined to fight, have done as well as a properly-equipped Soviet force under the leadership of a gifted officer?

    My gut instinct says no.
    Last edited by BobTheBarbarian; 13 Mar 16, 17:17.
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  • #2
    It depends. Could the Germans have turned Komatsubara as Hiroaki Kuromiya posits that Soviets may well have done?

    The Mystery of Nomonhan, 1939

    HIROAKI KUROMIYA
    Indiana University

    The Battle of Nomonhan ended decisively in favor of the Soviet Red Army. Yet why it turned out so has not always been clearly understood. In fact, there are other mysteries about Nomonhan: why small skirmishes turned into a major battle, why the command of the Japanese troops (especially its core force, the 23rd Division) was so poor, why the Division Commander Michitaro Komatsubara behaved so peculiarly throughout the battle and after. The present essay suggests that Komatsubara’s treachery provides an explanation to these mysteries; he appears to have been a Soviet agent.
    link to article: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/1...nalCode=fslv20

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    • #3
      Originally posted by The Ibis View Post
      It depends. Could the Germans have turned Komatsubara as Hiroaki Kuromiya posits that Soviets may well have done?
      I don't think I buy this. It sounds too much like something along the lines of Viktor Suvorov and his 'secret offensive plans.' Until solid documentation emerges such a claim doesn't appear to have much backing it.
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      • #4
        It was not a question of inefficient leadership,it was a peace army where there was a shortage of everything, except of cannon fodder .

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        • #5
          The rough equivalent of what the Soviets had present for the Germans would have been a motorized infantry division, a panzer division, two light divisions, and two infantry divisions, along with supporting corps and units. That compares to the Soviets putting in a motorized infantry division, two rifle divisions, two cavalry divisions (the light division is a rough equivalent), two tank brigades, two mechanized brigades (these four equally roughly a panzer division), and a machinegun brigade.

          That would be going up against a single Japanese infantry division. I'd say the Germans would steamroller over the Japanese far more thoroughly and viciously than the Soviets did.

          The Japanese were simply in no position to take on what they had bitten off.

          It wouldn't matter that the German armor was mostly Pz I and II, or that they'd have far fewer armored cars present.
          It'd be the German units would have had better training on the whole than their Soviet counterparts in 1939, if not better equipment. Soviet leadership in this battle was decent to very good. What they lacked was the ability of their units to carry there actions out with the skill and competence the Red Army later had in WW 2.

          In the case of Nomohan, it really isn't one of the Germans or Soviets fighting an evenly matched opponent. The Japanese are heavily outnumbered, lack antitank weapons in any sort of great numbers, have less artillery and what they do have is mostly smaller caliber, lack communications gear, and have only limited mobility.

          Had the Japanese brought in tanks, the typical German division in 1939 had a considerable number of 37mm AT guns and their field artillery was trained to act in direct fire against tanks too. The German doctrine was to let the AT guns deal with tank attacks and then use their own tanks for counterattacks and exploitation.
          The Japanese tank doctrine was much weaker. AT guns were deployed in small numbers and often individually. Tanks were seen as for infantry support and training in mass maneuver and fire tactics was almost totally lacking.

          German infantry with their squads based on the MG 34 machinegun and having 5cm mortars available are going to really make short work of their Japanese counterparts. I can't see the Japanese winning in the face of that sort of tactical firepower.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ljadw View Post
            It was not a question of inefficient leadership,it was a peace army where there was a shortage of everything, except of cannon fodder .
            The shortage of everything is a big word. All armies at time had shortages. Pre-war RKKA can even be called well equipped. So the problem was primarily at the level of leadership in all levels maybe except the lowest and highest (political).
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Emtos View Post
              The shortage of everything is a big word. All armies at time had shortages. Pre-war RKKA can even be called well equipped. So the problem was primarily at the level of leadership in all levels maybe except the lowest and highest (political).
              Leadership and training both. The Red Army got better during WW 2, it had to, but it started off with a lot of units in poor material condition due to lack of spares and maintenance and unable to effectively use their equipment due to lack of technical training and realistic practice. A lot of that falls back on the leadership in the units where it looks like officers were more adept at telling their superiors what they wanted to hear than getting their men and equipment ready for combat.

              Shortages by 1941 were in part due to the Red Army undergoing a major reorganization and reequipping. Many units were in the middle of that and chaos reigned as a result.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                The rough equivalent of what the Soviets had present for the Germans would have been a motorized infantry division, a panzer division, two light divisions, and two infantry divisions, along with supporting corps and units. That compares to the Soviets putting in a motorized infantry division, two rifle divisions, two cavalry divisions (the light division is a rough equivalent), two tank brigades, two mechanized brigades (these four equally roughly a panzer division), and a machinegun brigade.

                That would be going up against a single Japanese infantry division. I'd say the Germans would steamroller over the Japanese far more thoroughly and viciously than the Soviets did.

                The Japanese were simply in no position to take on what they had bitten off.

                It wouldn't matter that the German armor was mostly Pz I and II, or that they'd have far fewer armored cars present.
                It'd be the German units would have had better training on the whole than their Soviet counterparts in 1939, if not better equipment. Soviet leadership in this battle was decent to very good. What they lacked was the ability of their units to carry there actions out with the skill and competence the Red Army later had in WW 2.

                In the case of Nomohan, it really isn't one of the Germans or Soviets fighting an evenly matched opponent. The Japanese are heavily outnumbered, lack antitank weapons in any sort of great numbers, have less artillery and what they do have is mostly smaller caliber, lack communications gear, and have only limited mobility.

                Had the Japanese brought in tanks, the typical German division in 1939 had a considerable number of 37mm AT guns and their field artillery was trained to act in direct fire against tanks too. The German doctrine was to let the AT guns deal with tank attacks and then use their own tanks for counterattacks and exploitation.
                The Japanese tank doctrine was much weaker. AT guns were deployed in small numbers and often individually. Tanks were seen as for infantry support and training in mass maneuver and fire tactics was almost totally lacking.

                German infantry with their squads based on the MG 34 machinegun and having 5cm mortars available are going to really make short work of their Japanese counterparts. I can't see the Japanese winning in the face of that sort of tactical firepower.
                I'm not entirely convinced this would have been the case. One of the main components of the Soviet victory at Khalkhin Gol was not their infantry but superior artillery arm. During this time period the Soviet artillery forces included large numbers of 122mm and 152mm guns, which were able to out-range most Japanese guns and, in the case of this battle, had greater stocks of ammunition available to them. By contrast, German artillery was much like Japan's, relying mostly on 75mm horse-drawn weapons. What heavy guns they did have (usually the 15cm sFH 18s) were also badly out-ranged by their Soviet opponents in Barbarossa. Under these conditions the opposing artillery groups would have been more evenly matched, leaving the 'dirty work' up to the German tanks and infantry.

                In this category the Germans, without the level of artillery support the Soviets had, would have invariably taken higher casualties, especially to weapons like the Type 89 5cm mortar (which was designed explicitly for this kind of close combat): during the historical campaign the Soviet infantry suffered horribly when they tried to fight the Japanese in this manner, taking away the fire superiority they enjoyed would have made this worse. Likewise most German tanks of 1939 were just as lightly armored and even more weakly armed than the Soviet BT, while having flammable gasoline engines to boot. Unlike the Soviet 45mm, the Panzer II's 20mm cannon would have been outraged by the Japanese 37mm weapons mounted on both their tanks and as towed antitank pieces. Even with the Soviets' historical advantages in this department they still lost 386 tanks and armored cars, up to 80% of which were knocked out by AT fire. With a range disadvantage the German panzer forces would have been confronted with an even more difficult task.

                It seems here the only real materiel advantages the Germans had over the Soviets were in the field of aircraft, and even here the difference was not so pronounced. The Luftwaffe was still fielding many of the original Bf-109s (the 'E' variant had only entered production in 1938) and their light bomber force was quite small. That the Germans still would have eventually won under this scenario is almost certain, the numbers are too heavily in their favor, but right now it doesn't appear that they could have done it as effectively as Zhukov did.
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                • #9
                  By contrast, German artillery was much like Japan's, relying mostly on 75mm horse-drawn weapons. What heavy guns they did have (usually the 15cm sFH 18s) were also badly out-ranged by their Soviet opponents in Barbarossa. Under these conditions the opposing artillery groups would have been more evenly matched, leaving the 'dirty work' up to the German tanks and infantry.
                  Not so sure. German divisional artillery was made by 105mm and 150mm guns which were superior to Soviet divisional weapons of the same class. Also unlike the Germans, Soviets used a large number of 3'inch guns. Another point is the presence of 150mm howitzers in German regiments which were abscent in Soviet army.
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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BobTheBarbarian View Post
                    I'm not entirely convinced this would have been the case. One of the main components of the Soviet victory at Khalkhin Gol was not their infantry but superior artillery arm. During this time period the Soviet artillery forces included large numbers of 122mm and 152mm guns, which were able to out-range most Japanese guns and, in the case of this battle, had greater stocks of ammunition available to them. By contrast, German artillery was much like Japan's, relying mostly on 75mm horse-drawn weapons. What heavy guns they did have (usually the 15cm sFH 18s) were also badly out-ranged by their Soviet opponents in Barbarossa. Under these conditions the opposing artillery groups would have been more evenly matched, leaving the 'dirty work' up to the German tanks and infantry.

                    In this category the Germans, without the level of artillery support the Soviets had, would have invariably taken higher casualties, especially to weapons like the Type 89 5cm mortar (which was designed explicitly for this kind of close combat): during the historical campaign the Soviet infantry suffered horribly when they tried to fight the Japanese in this manner, taking away the fire superiority they enjoyed would have made this worse. Likewise most German tanks of 1939 were just as lightly armored and even more weakly armed than the Soviet BT, while having flammable gasoline engines to boot. Unlike the Soviet 45mm, the Panzer II's 20mm cannon would have been outraged by the Japanese 37mm weapons mounted on both their tanks and as towed antitank pieces. Even with the Soviets' historical advantages in this department they still lost 386 tanks and armored cars, up to 80% of which were knocked out by AT fire. With a range disadvantage the German panzer forces would have been confronted with an even more difficult task.

                    It seems here the only real materiel advantages the Germans had over the Soviets were in the field of aircraft, and even here the difference was not so pronounced. The Luftwaffe was still fielding many of the original Bf-109s (the 'E' variant had only entered production in 1938) and their light bomber force was quite small. That the Germans still would have eventually won under this scenario is almost certain, the numbers are too heavily in their favor, but right now it doesn't appear that they could have done it as effectively as Zhukov did.
                    Not at Nomohan. The main Russian artillery piece present was a 76mm gun. There were a few 122mm (in the three rifle divisions present) and 107mm guns present but these were relatively few in number.
                    The 1939 German field piece is the 10.5cm FH 18 or equivalent. German infantry divisions also have a full battalion of 15cm FH 18 or equal, along with both 7.5cm and 15cm IG at regiment level versus just 76mm infantry guns in Soviet units. One would also expect the Germans, like the Soviets to bring in typical corps units to support their operations. These would include additional engineers, artillery, flak, and other specialist units.
                    Given the flat terrain a battalion of 8.8cm guns would have been a devastating add for the Germans.

                    Japan having the small type 89 or 11 grenade discharger is not a game changer either. Between the presence of the 5cm and 8.1cm mortars every 1939 German infantry battalion has the Japanese are hit. The intrinsic pioneer battalion in German divisions adds in flamethrowers for assaults.

                    The heavy Soviet tank losses were due primarily to their willingness to use them in massed charges and unsupported.

                    One area the Germans have a clear superiority to both the Soviets and Japanese at this time is in their staffing at battalion level and up. The German battalion HQ would have radio and phone communications to higher headquarters, unlike the Japanese who would be primarily relying on messengers and runners.
                    The Germans have considerably more signals equipment than the Soviets or Japanese do in 1939.

                    In the air the Luftwaffe would have easily been more than a match for the IJAAF. The standard Japanese fighter present is the Ki 27 (Nate) with two 7.7mm machineguns and fixed landing gear. It's only real redeeming feature is its maneuverability. Against Soviet I-16 fighters it initially held its own until later models of that plane, with higher speed and cannon armament outmatched it. Likewise the Me 109D with 3 or 4 7.92 machineguns and better speed would give it a tough time while the 109E would overwhelm it.
                    The Me 110C / D would have been a shocker for the Japanese. Used against their bombers or in deep raids against their airfields, these planes would have had considerable impact on events. A Ki 27 couldn't keep up with one as the 110 is about 25 mph faster than the Japanese fighter.
                    German bombers would be an issue too. The Ki 27 isn't going to have much luck taking down an He 111 or Ju 88. It can barely catch the later at its cruising speed. Again, with just two 7.7mm machineguns, it is horribly under-armed for dealing with Russian and German planes.

                    The standard IJAAF bomber the Ki 21 (Sally) is woefully protected. It too would have had issues dealing with German aircraft not to mention flak. These run into Me 110 or Me 109E they are going to suffer badly.

                    I think the Ju 87 Stuka would be another shocker for the Japanese. Between the sirens / screaming dives and their accuracy these could severely impact Japanese ground units who lack all but the most rudimentary AA defenses.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                      Not at Nomohan. The main Russian artillery piece present was a 76mm gun. There were a few 122mm (in the three rifle divisions present) and 107mm guns present but these were relatively few in number.
                      Actually according to Drea pp.8 (http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/car...ombat_1939.pdf), the balance of heavy artillery involved in the IJA's July offensive numbered 100 guns on the Soviet side and 82 on the Japanese. Of these, they break down as:

                      Soviet:

                      152mm x 24
                      122mm x 20
                      107mm x 24
                      76mm x 32

                      Japanese:

                      150mm x 22
                      120mm x 12
                      105mm x 16
                      75mm x 32

                      Moreover, of the Japanese guns 105mm and up, 28 were howitzers, meaning the 23rd Division only had 22 guns with the range to 'slug it out' with the heavy Soviet pieces. Against the Germans with shorter ranged, smaller-caliber artillery, this wouldn't have been as much of an issue. Like the Japanese, the invading Germans quickly found that their weapons lacked the range to fight straight on with the Russian guns, and had to rely on tactical air power and/or rapid advances on the ground to make up for that.

                      Japan having the small type 89 or 11 grenade discharger is not a game changer either. Between the presence of the 5cm and 8.1cm mortars every 1939 German infantry battalion has the Japanese are hit. The intrinsic pioneer battalion in German divisions adds in flamethrowers for assaults.
                      The 5cm Granatwerfer 36 was inferior to the Type 89 in every way. Designed to do exactly the same job, it weighed 3 times as much, fired a projectile of the same weight, and had an effective range 200 yards shorter. Flamethrowers also weren't exactly lacking in the Soviet arsenal, either, as they employed a significant number of flame-throwing OT-26 tanks during the battle, losing 10 of them irretrievably. The basic picture we've got here is that the German Army did not possess the ability to bring down the same kind of fire support as the Soviets, and thus could be expected to suffer more heavily in close-range fighting as a consequence, be it with either tanks or infantry. Hence my contention that the Soviets (at the top of their game) were better combined arms fighters than the Germans.

                      The heavy Soviet tank losses were due primarily to their willingness to use them in massed charges and unsupported.
                      Massing tanks was what broke through the Japanese lines; if Zhukov dispersed his armor all along the front, or took too long to exploit his breakthrough in the south, the offensive would have fizzled out. That some vehicles were lost to enemy sappers because of this was true, but the proportion of total casualties (~10 percent or less) was relatively small. It also produced the decisive result of ending the battle quickly, preventing the 23rd Division from escaping or allowing Japanese reinforcements to arrive in time.

                      One area the Germans have a clear superiority to both the Soviets and Japanese at this time is in their staffing at battalion level and up. The German battalion HQ would have radio and phone communications to higher headquarters, unlike the Japanese who would be primarily relying on messengers and runners.
                      The Germans have considerably more signals equipment than the Soviets or Japanese do in 1939.
                      Though it should be noted that radios played a huge part in Soviet strategy for that battle. The Soviet Chief of Signals received high praise from Zhukov for his efforts there, and the Soviet commander was always in touch with his subordinate officers, even at the most confusing periods of the action. According to Glantz, the first operational success with radio disinformation took place at Khalkhin Gol. The Japanese did not have such achievements: when their force started to become overrun each unit more or less fought on its own until it either broke out or was destroyed.

                      In the air the Luftwaffe would have easily been more than a match for the IJAAF.
                      I can't really argue against the Luftwaffe being probably a formidable force than the 1939 VVS. However:

                      The Me 110C / D would have been a shocker for the Japanese. Used against their bombers or in deep raids against their airfields, these planes would have had considerable impact on events.
                      The Bf 110 was a horrible dog fighter. In a turn and burn fight they would have been shot to pieces. Also, had the Soviets (or in this case, the Germans) escalated the fight to the point where they raided the Japanese aerodromes, you can be sure the JAAF would have resumed their own attacks (early in the battle the JAAF mounted a number of raids on the VVS airbases, especially at Tamsag-Bulak. These raids succeeded in destroying significant numbers of aircraft before Tokyo ordered them stopped for fear of escalating the incident).

                      I think the Ju 87 Stuka would be another shocker for the Japanese. Between the sirens / screaming dives and their accuracy these could severely impact Japanese ground units who lack all but the most rudimentary AA defenses.
                      It probably would have made more of an impact than the aircraft the Soviets used, though I don't think it would have been decisive. As it was historically only the Japanese used dive-bombers (Ki-30s) during the battle with rather minimal effect and moderate losses (18 shot down or written off and 33 damaged).
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by BobTheBarbarian View Post
                        Actually according to Drea pp.8 (http://usacac.army.mil/cac2/cgsc/car...ombat_1939.pdf), the balance of heavy artillery involved in the IJA's July offensive numbered 100 guns on the Soviet side and 82 on the Japanese. Of these, they break down as:

                        Soviet:

                        152mm x 24
                        122mm x 20
                        107mm x 24
                        76mm x 32

                        Japanese:

                        150mm x 22
                        120mm x 12
                        105mm x 16
                        75mm x 32

                        Moreover, of the Japanese guns 105mm and up, 28 were howitzers, meaning the 23rd Division only had 22 guns with the range to 'slug it out' with the heavy Soviet pieces. Against the Germans with shorter ranged, smaller-caliber artillery, this wouldn't have been as much of an issue. Like the Japanese, the invading Germans quickly found that their weapons lacked the range to fight straight on with the Russian guns, and had to rely on tactical air power and/or rapid advances on the ground to make up for that.
                        If we assume the line up I gave earlier the Germans would have around 150 to 180 10.5cm guns present alone. But, it's the fire control that really counts and the German in 1939 have the Soviets and Japanese beat on that issue big time.

                        The 5cm Granatwerfer 36 was inferior to the Type 89 in every way. Designed to do exactly the same job, it weighed 3 times as much, fired a projectile of the same weight, and had an effective range 200 yards shorter. Flamethrowers also weren't exactly lacking in the Soviet arsenal, either, as they employed a significant number of flame-throwing OT-26 tanks during the battle, losing 10 of them irretrievably. The basic picture we've got here is that the German Army did not possess the ability to bring down the same kind of fire support as the Soviets, and thus could be expected to suffer more heavily in close-range fighting as a consequence, be it with either tanks or infantry. Hence my contention that the Soviets (at the top of their game) were better combined arms fighters than the Germans.
                        German tactics are different from the Soviets or Japanese. They rely far more heavily on machineguns and a fire and movement plan of action. If anything, the German squad is far better trained in terms of small unit action than their Japanese counterpart is. At battalion and regiment level they have considerably more firepower than the Japanese do. The Japanese give each battalion just two infantry guns. The Germans give 6 8.1cm mortars. At regiment there are 6 7.5cm and 2 15 cm infantry guns. The German regiment also has 6 to 12 3.7cm antitank guns attached.
                        I'd say the Germans can easily bring down more firepower than the Soviets and far more than the Japanese in 1939.


                        Massing tanks was what broke through the Japanese lines; if Zhukov dispersed his armor all along the front, or took too long to exploit his breakthrough in the south, the offensive would have fizzled out. That some vehicles were lost to enemy sappers because of this was true, but the proportion of total casualties (~10 percent or less) was relatively small. It also produced the decisive result of ending the battle quickly, preventing the 23rd Division from escaping or allowing Japanese reinforcements to arrive in time.
                        Depends on the action you are discussing. Several Soviet tank / armored car assaults failed pretty badly with heavy losses. I don't see the Germans using massed armor without some support against them expecting to bust their lines up.


                        Though it should be noted that radios played a huge part in Soviet strategy for that battle. The Soviet Chief of Signals received high praise from Zhukov for his efforts there, and the Soviet commander was always in touch with his subordinate officers, even at the most confusing periods of the action. According to Glantz, the first operational success with radio disinformation took place at Khalkhin Gol. The Japanese did not have such achievements: when their force started to become overrun each unit more or less fought on its own until it either broke out or was destroyed.
                        And the Germans have more radios and telephones than the Soviets. The Japanese were noted for their lousy communications system in this campaign. The German Y Denist (Y service / radio intercept) was quite effective at developing an electronic OOB and identifying units. I'd expect that here too to the extent the Japanese used radios.


                        I can't really argue against the Luftwaffe being probably a formidable force than the 1939 VVS. However:

                        The Bf 110 was a horrible dog fighter. In a turn and burn fight they would have been shot to pieces. Also, had the Soviets (or in this case, the Germans) escalated the fight to the point where they raided the Japanese aerodromes, you can be sure the JAAF would have resumed their own attacks (early in the battle the JAAF mounted a number of raids on the VVS airbases, especially at Tamsag-Bulak. These raids succeeded in destroying significant numbers of aircraft before Tokyo ordered them stopped for fear of escalating the incident).
                        The Me 110 would have had more advantages here. Like I noted, it is 25 or more mph faster than the IJAAF's main fighter, the Ki 27. The Ki 27 has just 2 7.7mm machineguns so it would have a hard time taking an Me 110 or German bomber down in any case. That's just not much firepower to shoot up an armored, structurally sound aircraft.
                        The Germans are using the schwarm (finger 4 etc.) formation of two supporting pairs for fighters. The Japanese use a trailing loose three formation that is less effective. Both sides would be using the V of V's for bomber formations so no advantage there.
                        I don't think I'd want to be a Ki 27 pilot taking on an Me 110. Even getting into the rear arc means you are facing a gunner with 50% of your own firepower and having a big advantage in terms of survivability. The Ki 27 has no armor, no self sealing fuel tanks, and a light air frame. I don't see it as being capable of taking on Luftwaffe fighters. It's essentially a slightly better P-26...

                        A big German advantage, if they had it present would be having a couple of Freya and Wurtzburg radars present. Freya would have taken any advantage of surprise away from the Japanese in offensive air actions.

                        It probably would have made more of an impact than the aircraft the Soviets used, though I don't think it would have been decisive. As it was historically only the Japanese used dive-bombers (Ki-30s) during the battle with rather minimal effect and moderate losses (18 shot down or written off and 33 damaged).
                        Given the larger number of AA guns in German 1939 units (each division has at least 12 2cm guns attached along with a number of 7.92mm zwilling mounts) the Japanese would be facing considerably more flak attacking any important target just as the French and British faced a year later.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                          If we assume the line up I gave earlier the Germans would have around 150 to 180 10.5cm guns present alone. But, it's the fire control that really counts and the German in 1939 have the Soviets and Japanese beat on that issue big time.
                          Given that Mongol Cavalry 'divisions' were really more like everyone else's brigades, and based on AMVAS' totals (http://www.armchairgeneral.com/rkkaw...lkhin_cut1.pdf) along with Drea's reporting of the Soviet strike force (two rifle divisions, a motorized rifle division, the Mongol cavalry, an MG brigade, and four armored brigades), you could probably lose one of the infantry divisions and a light division from the German OOB while adding an independent artillery regiment (Zhukov had the 185th Artillery Regiment to bolster his forces during the August offensive).

                          Under those circumstances, according to Nazfiger the combined artillery strength should have amounted to:
                          Infantry Div: (http://www.cgsc.edu/CARL/nafziger/939GXAH.pdf)

                          75mm infantry gun (Infanteriegeshutz 18) x 54
                          150mm infantry gun (sIG 33) x 18
                          105mm light howitzer (leFH 18) x 36
                          150mm heavy howitzer (sFH 18) x 12
                          Light trench mortar (leGrW 36) x 21
                          Medium mortar (GrW 34) x 18
                          37mm anti-tank gun (PaK 36) x 39

                          Panzer Div: (http://www.cgsc.edu/CARL/nafziger/939GXAK.pdf)

                          75mm infantry gun x 2
                          105mm light howitzer x 24
                          Light trench mortar x 21
                          Medium mortar x 12
                          37mm anti-tank gun x 39

                          Light Div. (http://www.cgsc.edu/CARL/nafziger/939GXAL.pdf)

                          75mm infantry gun x 8
                          105mm light howitzer x 12
                          Light trench mortar x 36
                          Medium mortar x 6
                          37mm anti-tank gun x 39

                          Artillery Regiment

                          105mm light howitzer x 36
                          150mm heavy howitzer x 12

                          Comparing the inventories, the 7.5cm leIG 18 didn't have the range (3,550 meters) to match contemporary regimental guns like the Soviet M1927 76mm (7,200 meters) or the Japanese Type 41 (7,132 meters), let alone field guns like the Type 38 or Type 90, both of which participated at Khalkhin Gol. Likewise, while the 10cm leFH 18 could fire a 32 pound shell out to 10,675 meters, it was badly outmatched by both the 107mm M1910/30 (16,130 meters) and the 10cm Type 92 (18,700 meters). The 1939 German divisions also had no organic equivalents to the Soviet and Japanese weapons in the 120mm class. Following that same pattern, at the highest caliber the 15cm sFH 18 could only fire to 13,325 meters where the Soviet M1937 could hit 20,500 and the Japanese Type 89 could hit 20,117-24,689. The IJA's shorter ranged 15cm howitzer Type 96, also present at the battle (and found it hard to compete with the M1937) had a range of up to 13,716 meters, close to 400 meters farther than the Germans' longest-ranged divisional gun. Based on the look of things, not only was the Wehrmacht's artillery arm markedly inferior to the Red Army's, it would have also struggled to keep up with the Japanese, especially in the range department.

                          German tactics are different from the Soviets or Japanese. They rely far more heavily on machineguns and a fire and movement plan of action. If anything, the German squad is far better trained in terms of small unit action than their Japanese counterpart is. At battalion and regiment level they have considerably more firepower than the Japanese do. The Japanese give each battalion just two infantry guns. The Germans give 6 8.1cm mortars. At regiment there are 6 7.5cm and 2 15 cm infantry guns. The German regiment also has 6 to 12 3.7cm antitank guns attached.
                          The Japanese infantry were similarly trained: they emphasized rapid movement to outflank the enemy while fixing him from the front. This was on full display when they overran the Western Allies in Southeast Asia. To do this, they stressed the central role of the mortar and light machine gun in keeping the enemy in place while the mobile detachment executed the encirclement. Offensively the IJA saw the machine guns as supporting the infantry, but defensively the situation was reversed, as in the Wehrmacht.

                          Comparing strictly the IJA and German Heer, on the regimental level the IJA regiment circa 1939 had 4 x 75mm Type 41 guns, 6 x 70mm Type 92 battalion guns, 6 x 37mm Type 94 anti-tank guns, 12 medium machine guns, 81 light machine guns, and 108 x 50mm Type 89 mortars. Regimental strength was approximately 2,716. (http://www.cgsc.edu/CARL/nafziger/939JXAI.PDF)

                          The 1939 German infantry regiment, on the other hand, had 18 x 75mm guns, 6 x 150mm guns, 81 light machine guns, 42 heavy machine guns, 27 50mm mortars, 18 medium mortars, and no anti-tank guns. Between the two the Germans had an advantage in heavy machine guns and light artillery, but were badly behind in mortars and had no anti-tank weaponry to speak of. The German artillery, too, was out ranged by the IJA's Type 41s. Overall I don't think the Wehrmacht would have had a significant advantage over the Soviets when it came to this sort of thing.

                          Depends on the action you are discussing. Several Soviet tank / armored car assaults failed pretty badly with heavy losses. I don't see the Germans using massed armor without some support against them expecting to bust their lines up.
                          The Germans had their share of doozies along those lines as well. A few actions in Poland, France, and the western USSR come to mind. Even through Kursk and the Bulge the Germans went up against prepared defenses with full knowledge that their preparatory barrage failed to neutralize the foe's anti-tank weaponry.

                          And the Germans have more radios and telephones than the Soviets. The Japanese were noted for their lousy communications system in this campaign. The German Y Denist (Y service / radio intercept) was quite effective at developing an electronic OOB and identifying units. I'd expect that here too to the extent the Japanese used radios.
                          That would definitely be a factor. The 1939 IJA's communications was behind even the Soviets, though by the 1940s they improved somewhat. Even well into the war on the Eastern Front the Red Army hadn't yet matched the Germans for radio proficiency.

                          The Me 110 would have had more advantages here. Like I noted, it is 25 or more mph faster than the IJAAF's main fighter, the Ki 27. The Ki 27 has just 2 7.7mm machineguns so it would have a hard time taking an Me 110 or German bomber down in any case. That's just not much firepower to shoot up an armored, structurally sound aircraft.
                          The Germans are using the schwarm (finger 4 etc.) formation of two supporting pairs for fighters. The Japanese use a trailing loose three formation that is less effective. Both sides would be using the V of V's for bomber formations so no advantage there.
                          I don't think I'd want to be a Ki 27 pilot taking on an Me 110. Even getting into the rear arc means you are facing a gunner with 50% of your own firepower and having a big advantage in terms of survivability. The Ki 27 has no armor, no self sealing fuel tanks, and a light air frame. I don't see it as being capable of taking on Luftwaffe fighters. It's essentially a slightly better P-26...
                          The Poles and French seemed to have held their own against the Luftwaffe for as long as they lasted with inferior aircraft to the IJAAF. Even in Poland the combat loss ratio was close on 1 to 1. I can't dispute that the 1939 Luftwaffe outclassed both the Red Air Force and IJAAF, though in a Khalkhin-Gol switch-out the Japanese wouldn't exactly have been push-overs.

                          The air war is probably the biggest single German advantage in this scenario vis-a-vis the Soviets and Japanese.
                          Last edited by BobTheBarbarian; 15 Mar 16, 15:47.
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                          • #14
                            The 1939 German infantry regiment, on the other hand, had 18 x 75mm guns, 6 x 150mm guns, 81 light machine guns, 42 heavy machine guns, 27 50mm mortars, 18 medium mortars, and no anti-tank guns. Between the two the Germans had an advantage in heavy machine guns and light artillery, but were badly behind in mortars and had no anti-tank weaponry to speak of. The German artillery, too, was out ranged by the IJA's Type 41s. Overall I don't think the Wehrmacht would have had a significant advantage over the Soviets when it came to this sort of thing.
                            Where you get this ? A 1939 German infantry regiment in 1939 had 6 75mm guns, 2 150mm guns and 12 37 mm AT guns.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Emtos View Post
                              Where you get this ? A 1939 German infantry regiment in 1939 had 6 75mm guns, 2 150mm guns and 12 37 mm AT guns.
                              I got it from here: http://www.cgsc.edu/CARL/nafziger/939GXAH.pdf

                              Each divisional infantry regiment (I couldn't find anything on independent regiments) had 3 battalions, each with one infantry gun company of 6 75mm and 2 150mm infantry guns. There were a good number of machine guns , a moderate quantity of mortars, and no anti-tank guns.
                              Divine Mercy Sunday: 4/21/2020 (https://www.thedivinemercy.org/message) The Miracle of Lanciano: Jesus' Real Presence (https://web.archive.org/web/20060831...fcontents.html)

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