The Axis Odd Couple

Jerry always shows up in odd places...

What at first started out as a comment to a post on National Socialist Chic eventually degenerated into a long winded rant that just didn’t feel right as a comment. 2DT brings up an interesting point about the fascination with the sharply dressed dudes of the Third Reich. The simplest answer to the seemingly overabundance of Karlslander Aces is that Germany had a lot more high scoring aces in the Second World War, it comes as no surprise as they had a chance to perfect their flying and tactics during the often forgotten Spanish Civil War which did much to help Germany’s officer corps to tweak tactics, learn that depressed 88mm anti-aircraft guns firing on tanks worked really well, and that massed armor would work but only if the attack is not lead by Italian officers. Also the Luftwaffe pretty much dominated the Soviet VVS (which in all fairness was still operating antiquated planes and boasted inexperienced pilots) in the early phase of the war resulting in really high kill counts for German pilots who did a tour on the Ostfront, and in the case of American Aces the low victory tally was in part due to most aces being pulled from the line to be instructors for the next crop of pilots, whereas German Aces fought full time until death or the end of the war occurred. Death usually came first. Still, within the confines of anime and manga there is some slight and unstubtle attachment to the Third Reich.

Yes even the ladies like to copy Jerry's style.

There is obviously Strike Witches, Sora no Woto, UC Gundam, and cases like Black Lagoon where there are refernces to a group often caricatured as generally evil. Still I think that Japan’s fascination with their old comrades in arms stems from a slight admiration and offers them a chance to take part in referring to the Second World War without having to mention their hand in the affair other than how those damned Americans used that horrible bomb on the innocent Japanese. It got me think as to how odd Japan is for being one of the few places where iconography from the Third Reich is more mainstream within broadcast media. I can’t help but feel though despite my appreciation for the German 1930s-1940s aesthetic that Japan’s affinity for the style is some what oddly misplaced. Sure they were wartime allies and shared defeat, but that is not the whole picture. I suspect that there is a greater degree of comfort for the Japan to portray Jerry in much more sympathetic tones than in the West. There is in Japan a not so subtle desire to portray themselves as the victims of atomic aggression as the only part in the Second World War, and in lieu of depicting their military actions they are more ready to discuss Germany’s role than their own. Between the Axis Powers there were the well known three, Germany, Italy, and Japan. There were others but their role is not as thoroughly discussed but Germany and Japan were the two big military players as Italy had made the mistake of betting the farm that WWII would happen in the 1930s hence most of their equipment from that era was good, but by 1940 most of their hardware was obsolete. Still even as part of the top two in the Axis Japan was not Germany’s military equal.

Unlike other dudes with monocles Han’s was not only aristocratic but dangerously competent.

Japan had a much larger navy and it was for a long time on the the leading edge of naval innovation but when it came to ground forces and air power Japan lagged to the point that the Allies were able to overtake them in technical superiority over the course of the war. I think there is good reason to believe that only the West seems to really care about what happened during the holocaust as the killing of some six million Jews and other groups hardly affected those outside of the West. For a country like Japan having little real contact with God’s Chosen People they are much more prone to believe what other people tell them about the Jews hence there is a anti-semetic streak in Japan despite there being very few Jews, due to much of the informatin they got regarding Jews came from Westerners that were more or less anti-Semetic. As for the rest of Asia the Second World War occured at a time when they were colonies or under Japanese occuaption and thus they had their own issues to deal with rather than empathize with the Jews. However unlike any other great power at the time the Germans were soley focused on efficiency rather than simply being brutal the thing that really marked the holocaust as something different from any other genocide was that it was much better organized and it was intended to wipe people out where other mass killings were the result of random massed killings within warzones. Japan’s practice of mass killing was highly unorganized as it seemed to stem from casual brutality that enabled rape and sexual slavery to go hand in hand with their brutal treatment of the locals they recently brought into the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

The First German Cruise Missile

The First Japanese Cruise Missile, clearly there was a gap in navigation systems between the two…

Within the Japanese narrative of victim-hood they believe they probably suffered the worst after those evil Americans nuked their asses to install a Carthaginian peace on the innocent Japanese. Thusly there is a lack of connection to the Final Solution and hence it becomes a non-issue for those outside of the West who focus more on their victim status than that of others. There is still a popular misconception that the SS was the elite of Germany’s forces during the war and it helps distinguish those “bad” Germans from those “okay” Germans. The truth is that the SS was for a long time the much derided asphault troops that were used more for ceremony and parades than actual fighting. While the German Regular Army, the Heer, was doing all the leg work for the next war since 1919, the SS were the softies that got all the cast off equipment that the Heer couldn’t use. The Heer was usuaully first in line for new equipment with the SS taking what was left over. Things would change by 1943 as der Fuhrer lost faith in the Heer and the SS became his trusted troops that then got the good stuff. Still despite the somewhat inflated reputation the SS did become crack troops by 1944 after the Heer was depleted of its veterans after years of war. Nevertheless even by 1944 the Heer contained the elite Panzer Lehr and Grossdeutschland Division that were still the first recipients of new equipment. Still the SS provided the most safe group to target in popular media because they are the easiest to villify given how they were political troops.

Militarily there was a significant difference between the two Axis powers as Japan could barely hold a candle to the awesome might of the German warmachine. Japan also lagged so far in technology that the Allies claimed technical superiority by the end of the war, whereas the Germans were still light years ahead with jets, cruise missiles, and strategic missiles. The man most responsible for the might of the German military machine was one Hans von Seekct, who at the end of the First World War was confined by a truly Carthiginian peace and limited to a mere 100,000 troops for his whole army. Seekct wasn’t the kind of guy who wanted the throw in the towel even after defeat and set his sight on fighting the next war and kick France in the balls. For his 100,000 he chose only the best and brightest and put them through a punishing training regime that created the nucleus of one of the finest officer corps created. Seekct had his senior officers go over their defeat in detail and through that process came up with new ideas for weapons, tactics, command structure, and doctrine.

He was called Smiling Albert because he could kick your ass roll his tanks over you and still smile about it. Oh and he was a Luftwaffe commander, talk about being multi-talented.

The Imperial Japanese Army on the otherhand was plotting conquest instead of going over tactics as their experince from the First World War was as a victor and played but one major role at the Siege of Tsingtao where it took them much longer to break the Germans than any one expected with a huge numerical advantage with naval and artillery superemacy. It took the Japanese and the small British contingent much longer than one would expect to overcome the Germans, but at the time victory was victory even if that vicotry was attained with less than stellar tactics. Still in the end there wasn’t a mad drive to go over lessons learned in Japan as happened in Germany after 1919. When it came to the live fire exercise the Germans played second fiddle to the Italians during the Spanish Civil War while Japan invaded China and made excursions into Soviet controlled territory. China was fairly easy going at first but while dicking around in the Soviet Sphere of influence the Japanese ran right into some dude who they rarely mention, a Russian by the name of Georgi Zhukov. Zhukov being one of the few tank otaku that Stalin did not kill off kicked the shit out the Japanese Imperial Army that was starting some shit. It was a BIG FIGHT and such was the ass kicking that Zhukov gave them the IJA decided that it would not be possible to beat the Soviets and pretty much glossed over how some nobody had put his boot up so far up their ass they could still taste it.

The Spanish Civil War was a much more grueling affair as the Republicans were not pushovers and had the support of the Soviets who were well paid for their services. Nationalist Spain counted on the support of Italy and Germany, but early Italian attempts to take Madrid and do things on their own resulted in defeat and stalemate. While the Italians were getting mauled the Germans were taking more notes and working out the bugs in their new way of war that would enter the popular imagination as Blitzkrieg. The Germans really got to know how fragile mechanized forces were without a good logistical tail and maintenece crews and had to come up with new ways to defeat the Soviet designed tanks which were at the time superior to anything they had. Japan had a much easier time against the Chinese, but Hans after his retirement was doing some odd jobs for Chiang Kai Shek at the time so things did not always go to plan. Under German tutelage a few Chinese brigades had been trained on the German method of waging war and it was these brigades that held Shanghai for three months when the Japanese expected for the affair to take three days. Even during Hans’ days as head of the Reichswehr he worked with the Soviets in creating tactics for the use of massed armor and sent officers to the United States to train in artillery. The Soviets and Americans took some notes on what the Germans were thinking, the Soviets came up with a doctrine broadly similar to what the Geramns would later use and the Yanks took their notes and one upped the Germans with the fire direction center concept that assured American Artillery supremacy over the Axis.

The Japanese felt that this was what a Medium Tank should be like…

The Germans felt that this was what a Medium Tank should be.

In essence the Germans, militarily, were everything the Japanese weren’t. When it came to waging war the Germans were much more technical while the Japanese were much more esoteric and less concerned with the details. I suspect that the narrative of a defeated Germany rising from the ashes of defeat and the humiliating Treaty of Versailles would speak to the people living in the post colonial world in former colonies. No doubt defeat is hard to swallow but that meteoric rise from defeat to coming onto the precipice of total victory over those that defeated them in the space of three decades has never been as successfully repeated. There is a fondness for the narrative since the killing of six million Jews plus others hardly effected any one in Asia, save for the Middle Eastern folk who had a very real legacy of the holocaust in 1948 right on their door step. It is this remoteness or general callousness towards the holocaust that I think makes the Third Reich more accessible. Germany was humiliated just like many former colonies feel that they were humiliated, doubly so for Japan who had come so close winning an empire and got instead two atomic bombs and occupation headed by Douglas MacArthur. Sure almost everyone says the holocaust was bad but it hasn’t and never will affect those outside the West in quite the same way.

It’s easy for Japan to have a not so subtle love for their old wartime allies and despite the love I find it rather funny that when Germany needed a second front on the Soviets Japan blew them off while Germany declared war on the US as a gesture of good faith. I don’t think much of Japan’s affection for their former allies, it comes up in weird ways in anime, but it does allow them to draw upon a world changing event without referencing how they failed so mightily and how faithless an ally they were when Germany bore the brunt of Soviet fury. I am pretty sure the Germans would have been pretty miffed at the time if they knew Japan was putting out peace feelers to the Soviets after the Germans were defeated. Doubly so since even those damned British kept faith with the countries that the Germans had steam rolled, even as defeat seemed inevitably for old blighty. For a former warrior culture supposedly steeped in samurai tradition I wonder how biting it must feel for some in Japan’s far right and the more right leaning otaku to know that their military legacy of that era is one of incompetence, wanton vice, political back biting, sloppiness, and dramatic failure compared to the allies they failed and were ready to sell out if it meant keeping what remained of their empire.

The writings of the Germans are still being used in war colleges and officer academies and their exploits are still openly discussed and acknowledged as great military feats. As much as there is that admiration and co-opting of style it is somewhat ironic that the Germans were also the ones who disseminated their military lore to forces that would cause Japan defeats, but at the time the Japanese drew few if any lessons from Germans. The Japanese affection for old German military trappings is somewhat odd while they were wartime allies they never really conducted any joint operations near the scale of the Americans and the Brits and in a way both screwed eachother over. German did it long before the formation of the Axis by teaching their ways to those who were willing to listen, while Japan royally screwed Germany over by refusing to decalre war on the Soviet Union even as the Soviets were stretched to almost a breaking point.

The IJA was in love with tankettes and they built many of them for frontline use.

Jerry preferred to go bigger where the Japanese preferred smaller.

Seems the M1935 Helmet makes the wearer more aggressive...

Not all anime Jerrys are created equal as Noel took training more seriously than the Zeke crew of the Jotunheim.

Unlike Deutsche Physik, Noel Phyisk had tangible benefits.

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63 Comments

  1. Posted September 11, 2010 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

    LOL I’m glad to see you FINALLY watched the extra episode of Sora no Woto. Now wasn’t watching everyone (except Kureha) get punch-drunk on calvados at the end well-worth it?

    • Crusader
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 9:38 am | Permalink

      Yes it was going to do a proper post to celebrate the calvados powered yuri goodness.

  2. Posted September 11, 2010 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

    Good points on the historical connections. Like you said, considering how divorced Japan was/is from the reality of the Holocaust, the impact perhaps is a little softer. If I recall the Japanese military was first modernized along Prussian principles in the Meiji era, so there’s another historical connection between the two countries.

    I recall one book describing Hans von Seekct as the “iron man behind the wooden guns”. It wasn’t just his organizational skills that were brilliant; his subterfuge at concealing the war machine he was building from the eye of the Allied powers also contributed vastly to the experience of these officer corps. I recall he pulled quite the number of PR stunts to put as positive and as peaceful a spin as possible on his new corps of officers. The pressure on post-WWI Germany in part I feel contributed a great deal of pressure to innovate as well, whereas prevailing attitudes in other militaries took some time to swing around (poor France, for example).
    The IJA was not a terribly competent force to be fair, but it wasn’t as if the neighbourhood was competently armed to begin with, and really the grand campaign player for the Japanese would be the Imperial Japanese Navy. I’d hesitate to call the IJN completely incompetent – they certainly were well-trained and organized to begin with… they just suffered from a lot of petty politicking with the IJA and had a certain inflexibility in handling losses and personnel transfers (leaving an entire carrier aircrew to rot on shore leave just because their carrier was sunk?)

    • Crusader
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 10:15 am | Permalink

      The Japanese first learned from the French when the French were the premier military power in the world, after the Franco-Prussian War, Prussian officers found that they were in higher demand. However during the time after WWI Japan only asked for foreign assistance from the French regarding aviation. A lot had changed since the last German military mission when the Germans no longer felt that relying on infantry was sound, Japan did not learn that lesson as they did not suffer through trench warfare on the level of the Western Front, hence they continued to rely on infantry tactics.

      Hans was quite the organizer the fact that Germany could recover such military power in the space of two decades is still impressive more so because they came ever so close to total victory. Bowling over France while today seen as a forgone conclusion wasn’t at the time as France had a much larger and much better equipped army, the only thing the Germans had over the French was a superior combined arms doctrine and that proved to be the most important thing when the shooting started.

      The IJA had one local competitor of high caliber, the Soviets, but after crossing paths with Zhukov in Mongolia they did not dare the Soviets ever again. When August Storm came the IJA had not changed all that much since then and got rolled over by T-34s. The IJA was good at infantry tactics but as a combined arms force they were worse than the other major powers. That they god kicked so hard by the Soviets and that German trained Chinese could make things tougher than they should have been ought to have caused some review of tactics and doctrine but it never happened.

      The IJN was definitely the stronger branch, but they suffered also from strict seniority with giving commands. Having Nagumo be in charge of Kido Butai, the primary carrier strike group, proved to be a fatal handicap as his victories were glorious but never total, Pearl Harbor while cited as a great triumph was not total. Criticism about the lack of a third strike and that the dry dock was left untouched would dog him right up to Midway where he made the worst decision of his career by ordering a change of ordinance on the flight deck. Also while the IJN was on the leading edge of naval innovation for sometime they never really factored in or appreciated the American talent for damage control and salvage. Both of which would later prove decisive advantages.

      Also while the IJN surface fleet was the pride and joy their submariner component was wasted on attacking warships while even those stupid Americans were copying German tactics and drawing from a similar anti-merchant ship doctrine. That I think was a just as glaring tarnish on an otherwise, strictly naval of course, record. Still fighting with the IJA proved so much more fatal for them than it did for anyone else, Zhukov, Patton, Montgomery, MacArthur, King, and a few others were highly opinionated to say the least, but quite why the likes of them could work with one another when required when the IJA and IJN could not I don’t think we will ever really know considering the ones who are still alive would rather not talk about it.

  3. Marzan
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 5:00 am | Permalink

    Didn’t the japanese choice in armour have more to do with the hilly terrains of asian archipelagos being unsuited to tank warfare? I mean if you think about the Japanese navy’s hardware, they were every bit the equal of the germans in that front. The Yamato for example, was in no means inferior to the Bismarck.

    • Kherubim
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 7:10 am | Permalink

      Having light armor is clearly better than no armor, and the British learnt that the hard way during the Malayan campaign.

      • Crusader
        Posted September 12, 2010 at 10:51 am | Permalink

        Granted Percival was definitely the wrong man for the job Singapore and parts of Malaysia might have lived up to the boasts of being the Gibraltar of the East had Percival been more than a staff wallah. Even his chief of staff anticipated Yamashita’s strategic intentions. Even if the defenses had been stripped down, which the Japanese were well aware of Yamashita was so unpopular with the people in charge that he only had 3 days worth of ammo for his artillery for the siege of Singapore. Percival undermined the defense by not building much at all and undermined his subordinates to the basically sink morale before the shooting started.

        Had Percival had the aggression of some of his officers and fought delaying actions on the landing zones in strength he could have pulled it off instead of sink into infamy. Even the much derided two pounder would have left an impression on IJA armor even if it was useless against German Panzers. Moreover anything heavier than a rile could penetrate those light tanks. It was less an issue of technical inferiority than disastrously poor leadership. Had Singapore been fortified like some of Percival’s commanders urged they might have held out if Yamashita ran out of shells. Even if it was not to be a Gibraltar of the East it might have been the Stalingrad of the East.

        • Kherubim
          Posted September 12, 2010 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

          Well, it’s been often argued that A.E. Percival was unfairly made the whipping boy for Churchill’s shift of priorities. The capital ships and aircraft carriers assigned to the Naval Base were apparently moved to the Mediterranean for the North African campaign, leaving the HMS Repulse, the well regarded HMS Prince of Wales and the rest of Force Z without air cover. Another mistake was that the ammunition for the coastal artillery was mostly AP, as they expected an amphibious landing. The greatest success Yamashita pulled was actually the big con game he played at the Ford Motor Factory as he knew that his forces were just as spent as the British (the Japanese were horrible at logistics throughout the war)…

          • Crusader
            Posted September 12, 2010 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

            I am of the opinion that Percival had undermined morale so fatally that had there been more of everything he might have failed all the same. As you said Yamashita had to resort to bluffing when he was dangerously low on ammo, and Percival knuckled under with deadly consequences for the Chinese population and the men under his command that barely any of the men who fought under him defended him after the war says a whole lot when Wainwright was hailed as a hero despite his surrender. In the case of the latter he earned the respect of his men during the dark days before he made the hard choice to surrender. Percival in contrast looks to have hardly tried at all.

            Even with a bunch of tankettes Republican Spain showed that a discipline and GUTS in a coherent infantry defense can blunt massed tankettes. The attempt was hardly made if the stories are true and that pleas to install the bare minimum of fortification were ignored. That Yamashita was on the ropes too was the thing I think really damned the eventual verdict and popular opinion of Percival.

            Given the exploits of the Panzer forces in the Ardennes in 1940 and how their heavier tanks crossed terrain considered impenetrable should have been noted by every commander worth his salt, that a land assault was not planned for was rather damning since that feat resulted in the Fall of France. Simply put Percival gave up when there was still some hope and to the lamentation of all he was not a fiery person who would rather eat rats than be a POW. Even looking at his options as a commander he simply might not have the talent to keep up but he definitely lacked the will and resolve to fight and the tact to earn the highest efforts of his men.

    • Crusader
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 10:36 am | Permalink

      They were able to build bigger tanks, but it had less to do with hilly terrain than tankettes being cheap. Technically speaking the IJA was the poorer relation to the Imperial Japanese Navy. The IJN got most of the steel and materials for their overambitious ship building program while the IJN chose to make do with lots of cheap small tanks. Against under equipped Chinese, and later under equipped British it did not prove to be a problem. The IJA wanted to got to war with the Soviets to secure Siberia, but they got a face full of Soviet Tanks when they first tried, once burned twice shy and they never tried again. They had the industrial capacity to build a Panzer IV equivalent and they did, but by then it was too little too late. Judging by the extensive use of Shermans, Grants, and Matildas in the region a heavier tank was still useful. Japan had no equivalent and thus gave the Allies Armored supremacy once the tanks landed.

      As for the Yamato vs the Bismarck you have to remember the Bismarck was complete and laid down before the Yamato, and that the Yamato had a much heavier battery of main guns. Even so the Yamato and Musahi were never used decisively while the Bismarck sank the Hood and along with the rest of the much smaller Kriegsmarine tied up most of the ships of the Royal Navy. Ship innovation is much slower as time in dry dock can be tortuously long, so it is hardly surprising that naval innovation between the two Axis powers remained largely the same as Germany devoted most of her naval resources on her U-boat fleet which was created some of the most advanced submarines of the time.

  4. gwern
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    Nazi science sneers at political correctness!

    • Crusader
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Such is the power of Moel.

  5. theCorpsCommander
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    wow, I didn’t know that there was such a tankette back in WWII? and that the Japan loves and prefers it more? while on the other hand, the Jerries Love it big on their tanks. But the Shermans are still the best, IMO. oh yeah, don’t forget the Crusader tanks! :D …that Smiling Albert, he has a killer smile back then, huh? XD

    very cool post, indeed. :)

    • Crusader
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 10:56 am | Permalink

      They seemed to love the concept even after the dramatic success of Germany’s Panzer Divisions. Shermans were good tanks, only the Germans had some of the best tanks and while strategically better than both Panther and Tiger, the Sherman could not take them on without losing a good number first. Crusader tanks weren’t the best I think Matildas were better.

      As for smiling Albert he did fight both Monty and Patton to a standstill and frustrate the Allies in Italy into 1945 despite Churchill’s boasts of Italy being the soft under belly…

  6. Kherubim
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    I was at an army surplus bazaar earlier today checking out prices for new LBE and gloves when I found a stall selling t-shirts with swastikas on them. While the contribution of Hugo Boss to the myth of Nazi style has been overstated, you can’t argue that they didn’t have the best looking uniforms (well, compared to the Brits and the Soviets).

    It’s often overlooked that the Germans trained and supplied the Nationalist Army in China, and both armies had an exchange program (officers were often seconded to the Panzers), this relationship ended when the Germans got more chummy with Japan. Places within the Japanese sphere of influence, Korea and Taiwan actually supplied soldiers to the IJA and IJN, which may explain why the view of Nazis may be somewhat skewed.

    Japan was fighting the Pacific war on more than one front, and insurgencies in the so-called Co-Prosperity Sphere, so they may not have had the resources to open a new front against the Soviets. Besides they did try something against the Soviets in 1938-1939 which resulted in them getting a bloody nose at the Battle of Khalkhyn Gol, which may have dissuaded them against further adventures up there.

    Besides, doesn’t Mizuki Nana look awesome in a Wehrmacht uniform??? :D

    • Crusader
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      German Officers had to go to tailors for their uniforms so they looked better regardless compared to the mass produced rags of the Allied Junior officers. Indeed the old Reichswehr did much to improve the Nationalist Army. as partners go it was a much better relationship as the Germans got goodies like tungsten and the Chinese got tutoring from the best military minds in the world, though not too publicly as it was a low key affair. Had Chiang stuck to what his German advisers told him he might have gotten better off Shanghai did not need to be a morale victory, but the idea of working with the communists just never sat that well. What fight have been had the German military mission actually reached its conclusion, certainly if a bunch of under strength and under equipped German trained troops could give the IJA a three month fight, imagine what even one fully equipped Panzer Division could have done to the IJA with the Flying Tigers pulling air cover.

      In 1941 Japan did not need to still push south while the Americans and British were still reeling. Stalin’ 1941 situation was critical and had he been unable to free up his Siberian troops the war could have been won in the Ostfront by Germany. Japan did not have to fight per se just mobilize on their side of the border even that would have given the Soviets some pause instead of confirming that Japan was in no mood to stir up trouble for the Soviets.

      1939 was a very different year for the Soviets than 1941 even if once burned I bet the Germans would have scoffed at such cowardice. The Allies beat them in 1919 and still the Germans were getting ready for round two instead of trying to avoid it. For a bunch of “brave” samurai quite what made the Soviets seemed so invincible when the Germans were rolling them over is still a strange outcome. As mythic superiority goes everyone else tried to beat those they once thought invincible only Japan slunk away from the challenge.

      As for Korea it wasn’t as if they were as eager a subject people as the people in Taiwan, even after the war there are people in Taiwan who feel chummy with their former masters. Besides at the outset they were both occupied when hostilities started. In the case of Korea it had been a good number of decades. These days it seems that Korea has quite a beef with Japan, and at least the South Koreans are a much more understanding and reliable ally. Japan on the other hand less reliable more, prone to political maneuvering, and has pretensions about military parity with us Yanks.

      But comrade she always looks awesome. :D

      • Kherubim
        Posted September 12, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

        You read up on the Defense of Sihang Warehouse? I was quite impressed when I read about it, it was almost like a Chinese Thermopylae…

        • Crusader
          Posted September 12, 2010 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

          It is a touchstone for both PRC and KMT though today they would have been decried for setting up base smack in front of the Foreign Quarter in Shanghai to match the Spartan 300. Still overall the performance of the German Trained Divisions was much better than any one anticipated and it makes one wonder what fight have been had the NRA learned all that the Germans were willing to teach. The Germans did a lot of teaching, the Yanks learned about how to better use their artillery and after a few Yankee improvements the Americans had the FDC and could bring down so much 105mm that the Germans were duly impressed.

  7. Posted September 12, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
    • Crusader
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      Some feel more strongly about it than others just because Jerry makes numerous appearances in animu doesn’t mean that all Japanese watch animu and read mango. Gundam feels Jerry’s shadow much more than other series but not all watch Gundam, and even then Gundam writers maybe fans of Jerry but hey never understood Jerry nor appreciated what made Jerry such a better trooper than they ever were.

      Gihren can prattle all he wants he’s a mere copy just like all the damn Zekes. They may look German but by goodness they behave more Japanese than anything else. Besides Jerry brought more things into the production phase too.

      • YF19EX
        Posted September 12, 2010 at 9:58 pm | Permalink

        It is definitely noticeable within the context of many anime series in seeing Nazi Germany references and also within other aspects of anime hobby. I remember being at comiket a few years back watching Nazi Germany Japanese Cosplayers. Remembering how this would never fly state side.

        Jerry was brilliant when it came to weaponry. The first assault rifles, operation jets, cruise missiles etc. If it was not for Hitler wanting to call all the shots from tank movement to all the weapon development, we might have had a longer war or the possibility of losing the European Theater. On that end as said, our current weapon systems have been developed from many of German developments of the war. Our people were scouring the country side for Nazi tech, and scientist after the war. I am sure Germany would have gotten the BOMB eventually. Our current Helmet is a defined take on the old German steel pot. The M1A 120mm smoothbore came from Germany Rheinmetall industries and is the standard for many MBTs around the world. Germany uses the MG3 which is a variant of the MG42.

        • Crusader
          Posted September 12, 2010 at 10:45 pm | Permalink

          Indeed even after the war German weapons are still part of the cutting edge, that 120mm smoothbore isn’t the only thing in the US inventory that we got from Jerry. As for getting the BOMB it would have taken them a whole lot longer because they discarded most of their most learned physicists. As for Herr Hitler calling the shots the worst decision he made was not to gear up for total war production until late 1943 when all the Allies did.

          There isn’t much that is quite like German engineering though they don’t have a monopoly on brilliance they do have a stellar track record for innovation in weapons. Certainly their defeat was so sobering in WWI that they knew that they had to fight smarter after letting the Allies get the tanks first.

        • Kherubim
          Posted September 12, 2010 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

          I would think that there would be more condemnation of Sayaret Matkal and Flotilla 13 cosplayers than Waffen SS cosplayers these days… What has this world come to…

  8. Kasrkin519
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Panther was a great tank, and generally considered the forerunner of the MBT, but the comparisons drawn between it and other mediums are not entirely fair. In terms of weight, it was much closer to a WW2 heavy (about same weight as the IS-2 for instance…)

    • Crusader
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      Indeed but let’s not forget that by war’s end the T-34 and M4 were considered to be entering light tank territory. Even if the Panther was the literal 800 pound gorilla of the Medium tanks of the era the Japanese tanks generally weighed less than other medium tanks, the Sherman, T-34, and Panzer IV almost weighed twice as much as the Type 97. The Panther has more in common with a heavy tank but it’s mobility was almost on par with other Medium tanks. It even had a 75mm which was usual for medium tanks only it was a 75mm Long…

      You are right though not a fair comparison but the war itself wasn’t very fair and certainly Jerry referred to it as a medium tank just as the Japanese referred to the Type 97 as a Medium tank despite being the lightest and least of the definitive Medium tanks of the time. Besides even a Panzer IV was bigger, shootier, and faster. There was still a gulf in tank tech between the two Axis powers with or without the Panzer V.

      • Kasrkin519
        Posted September 12, 2010 at 11:25 pm | Permalink

        would of def been interesting to see how the Chi-To and Chi-Ri would of compared to their Western counterparts had the war lasted longer and they been put into production

        • Crusader
          Posted September 13, 2010 at 10:00 am | Permalink

          It would have been interesting though whether or not Japanese armor doctrine would have caught up is another matter, Jerry proved that you can still win with inferior tanks if your tactics are better.

  9. Dee
    Posted September 12, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

    I don’t really have much to add (since I’m not really a military and history sort of person), but I wanted to say that this was a very interesting read! :) It was especially neat to see the old pictures showing the difference in technology.

    Thanks for the great post :D

    • Crusader
      Posted September 12, 2010 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      Glad you enjoyed it hopefully it wasn’t too technical for your enjoyment.

      • Dee
        Posted September 13, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

        Just a bit, but now it’s piqued my interest!
        If it’s not too much to ask, do you know of any good (and easy to read for a WWII newb) sources to read about WWII and the people, technology, and tactics of that time?

        I’d go to Wikipedia, but uh, that usually ends up with me getting distracted by multiplying tabs.
        Sorry if it’s too much trouble!

        • Crusader
          Posted September 14, 2010 at 10:46 am | Permalink

          There are plenty of good books it depends on your interests, you could start by looking at the references and citations in the wiki entries. Another good resource are historical gamers who are very concerned with details and how things actually worked. Studying doctrine early will give you some insight on how different armies functioned. Osprey books are short but kind of pricey but do have accurate pictures and are usually on the ball.

  10. Posted September 13, 2010 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    Okay, I can talk all day about the comparison of war crimes, but a few things to counter:

    – Saying Imperial Japan’s militarism is strictly inferior to Nazi Germany is unfair in many ways. For an island nation, course their army was crap, but they began the war with arguably the best navy in the world and an equal air force (Zeros were the best fighters at the War’s start, and while the Luftwaffe was the best at ground support, IJNAS was the best at naval support). The only reason one doesn’t hear about it much is cause the Americans lucked out at both Pearl Harbor (carriers not home) and Midway (the one scout that mattered had a radio failure), which blunted the Japanese fleet early during the Pacific Campaign, while the German Panzers reigned supreme in Europe for several years. Japanese industry/tech definitely wasn’t on par to start with, but Asia also didn’t have the industrial infrastructure and tech base Japan wanted to capture; Europe did for Germany.

    – The ‘SS elites’ aren’t wrong either, given the remarkable reputation many of those divisions earned for themselves, like the SS Panzer Divisions Wiking, Totenkopf, and Das Reich on the east or ferocity of SS Hohenstaufen during Market Garden (not to mention the crazy SS Charlemagne during the Battle of Berlin). Yeah many of those formations were ‘paper units’ only fit for guard duty, but ratio-wise the combat units of the SS (especially SS Panzers) probably still had more elite divisions than the regular Heer.

    – Zhukov also kicked the Heer’s ass when push came to shove, so the fact he creamed the IJA was of no surprise.
    – Chang Kai-shek’s elites troops in the Battle of Shanghai also outnumbered the IJA two-to-one, the fact IJA won period in a semi-amphibious assault against fortified elites already says something.
    – and your ‘American Artillery Supremacy’ doesn’t hold a candle to Soviet Artillery concentrations =9

    • Posted September 13, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      Also I forgot, it wouldn’t work for IJA to field really heavy tanks anyways — Asia didn’t have the road infrastructure for it and the tanks would just sink into the mud after every rain… besides, Blitzkreig in China would never work given China’s extremely mountainous terrain (communist light infantry sometimes even outpaced nationalist mechanized units during the civil war because of this), hence the IJA and their fascination of infantry-support tanklettes.

    • Crusader
      Posted September 13, 2010 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      I wonder where this “Asia is bad tank country” comes from considering the speed and fury of Operation August Storm by tank heavy Soviet forces. Even during island hopping the M4 Sherman did alright, it might not be racing from one corner of the place to the next but they were usable. China has a big open steppe in the north so it ain’t exactly bad tank country. Even if using heavy tanks was suspect the fact that Japanese medium tanks were largely the light weights of the class and given their track record in tank vs tank something should have been done sooner. Jerry was shocked when he encountered the awesome might of the T-34 and rolled out a solution in the Panther, Soviets saw that and up gunned their T-34s and rolled out SU 122s and SU 152s, the SU series in the space of three months so the story goes. As for mud wide tracks can take care of that, a simple enough technical solution to General Mud in Russian I scarcely imagine General Mud in China could have done much worse.

      Roads are bad for tank treads what you want are tank transporters, Russia did not have much road infrastructure and that hampered German logistics not their tanks. Roads don’t equate o good tank country just better logistics. Most of the mountains you speak of were in the Northwest which wasn’t prime real estate. The weight of a tank imparts certain limitations I agree, but clever tactics and adroit employment can over come such limitations. As for Blitzkrieg would not have worked in China, the Soviets were drawing from the same play book Blitzkrieg came out of, Soviet Deep Operations were based on the same principles and given the success of August Storm it could have been done in China. In fact it was done in all but name. Not all of China was mountainous and that Chiang tried to take the fight to the Communists speaks more about his lack of acumen with armor than any failings of the M4.

      As for an island nation having a crap army, this is a farce. Old Blighty was an island as were New Zealand and Australia to a degree the forces of the British Empire weren’t crap and the IJA was increasing strength during the 1930s when just about every one else was cutting back. I see little room for excuses in that the IJA being crap was destined to happen. Japan did build jets, rocket bombs, and heavier tanks, but because they never saw the need for it until the 11th hour it mattered little. They had the capacity the Soviets gave them no threat in Northern China, Korea and up until 1943 they had naval parity with the US. As for an inferior tech base they had poured so much into the Navy they neglected the Army, the Yamato and Musashi and their unfinished sister ships sucked up more resources than they were worth but were technically the best ships afloat when they launched. The problem wasn’t that they had no tech base they just devoted it to the Navy on big boondoggles that were rather big non-factors in the war.

      Japanese logistics were notoriously bad and as logistics is an integral part of waging war even if you deem it unfair to say so that they ignored it indicates that they were at the very least graduating inferior officers. Japan had about the same time to build up an industrial base, but chose to build huge battleships instead. They though wrongly that a warrior spirit could over come anything and for that or whatever reason did not improve even their small arms. Germany had no tank industry in 1919 they had to build it in secret and slowly at that. Moreover the Germans unlike the Japanese were more than willing to copy Allied innovations, the SVT-40 was the long desired semi-auto rifle they had been working towards with no success and incorporated the gas operating system into the Gewehr 43. Both Japan and Germany encountered the American bazooka and yet despite being a simple tube with a shaped charged the Germans took it and made it bigger to create the Panzerschrek, Japan did not bother to make so much as a copy.

      Given the performance and preparations made by both Axis powers I think Germany was much more on the ball than the Japanese ever were. Not having industrial capacity is hardly much of an excuse considering how longer established the Japanese Empire was, Japan had access to materials in Northern China which they had held for sometime. Tech wise Japan could have been Germany’s equal but all their genius was wasted on super battleships that hardly made an impression, while Germany doled out it’s genius in various directions some with stellar results some that never saw the light of day.

      Much is said about the devastation at Pearl Harbor in 1941, but again victory was not as crippling as it could have been months of fuel sat there virtually untouched along with the dry docks. Simply put Nagumo was the wrong man to lead the Carrier forces as I have said before it was not a partial victory because Japan lacked for anything at the time except a worthy senior commander to head Kido Butai. As for the Zero being the best thing in the skies in 1941, it has some stiff competition from the Me-109 and Spitfire so its more of a matter of opinion. Personally I prefer having some form of armor protection, so my vote doesn’t go to the Zero though it was a fine machine when it debuted.

      Midway wasn’t just Americans getting retardedly lucky, Yamamoto’s plan was simply too complex for its own good and Nagumo made a rather dumb decision to reload on the flight deck when his CAP was low on fuel and low on altitude. You can’t control what the other guy will do but in the case of Midway Nagumo’s ineptitude and Yamamoto’s complex plan and continual allowance of letting Nagumo run Kido Butai was not the fault of the Americans or their luck. Why is it that the Americans were just lucky but the idea of the Japanese commanders being drunk on victory and behaving stupidly not considered or deemed unfair?

      As for the SS being elite that did not really happen until late 1943 and much of 1944, again the Heer was already sapped of its veterans and by 1944 were no longer trusted. If we measure the number of elite Panzer Crews the Heer had more Tiger battalions who were the cream of the crop. Moreover the Heer was responsible for most of the initial successes in 1939 to 1942 that they achieved that over France and kicked the British off the continent is still something considering the SS was more famed for speed bumping the Allied advance and doing bad things to Jews. Considering how defeat would mean persecution it’s not that surprising that the SS fought on long after it made no tactical sense to do so. They also knew what kind of treatment they would get if the surrendered to the Soviets and given that most of them were at the Ostfront it bred a more hard bitten lot than the Heer which had duties on every major front and lost a lot of their strength earlier than the SS which could recruit from outside of Germany hence Wiking and Charlemange were made of non-Germans. Yes they were elite byt wars end but they weren’t always the cream of the crop and they certainly weren’t the best in the early phase of the war.

      Meeting Zhukov engendered two very different responses the Japanese never wanted to fight him again and did not bother with why they lost. The Germans did not turn tail and flee at the first sight of the Hero of the Soviet Union and gave him a hard time right up until 1943 so for roughly two years it was a dead heat. Germans dominated during the spring and summer, the Soviets during fall and winter. Mind you Zhukov had a lot of help from the Russian winter. In terms of Soldiery the Germans seemed to be made of tougher stuff given the harshness of the Russian Winter and the Germans had commanders of Zhukov’s caliber as Erich von Manstein was able to deliver his backhand blow to the Soviets before Kursk. Zhukov was good but he was not unbeatable and did suffer setbacks until he was able to wrest the initiative from the Germans for good at Kursk, which was a close run.

      As for Shanghai the German trained troops were less than a 3rd of NRA strength and they were understrength at the outset. That the Japanese were facing ill-equipped Chinese numbers would not have mattered with air, and and naval supremacy. It should have been easy, they expected as much but it was tough going because of three annoying German trained divisions that were still less well equipped than the Japanese. So given the advantages numbers seems to not be much of an issue.

      You have to remember that there are differences in doctrine, the Soviets could out up a a huge rain of artillery but once that was done they were pretty much done. Hence Soviet units had to be on time as being late meant that preparatory barrage was not going to be as useful if they were late and the Germans were ready for them. Since they concentrated all the guns with one commander if some one else needed guns well if they were lucky they were in range of some of the guns, if not they were shot out of luck. The Americans chose to have something more flexible as the FDC could bring increasing firepower to a battle zone as the engagement progressed, the Yanks were much more accurate as we had more forward observers than the Soviets could train. It was not because the Yanks were smarter but because most Russian conscripts had minimal education while the Yanks had more educated people to draw from. The Yanks could draw on dispersed guns so that every unit could call down some 105mm whenever and wherever they needed it. Keep in mind the Soviets went with volume with the knowledge that they will hit something, the Americans took the flexible approach coupled with better accuracy. You are still doing indirect fire in both cases yeah the Soviets could throw up more but the Yanks could hit better and respond faster to changes in a battle. All in all it depends on what you want, an impressive barrage at the out set, or a bunch of smaller, but increasingly larger barrages that pound the enemy no matter where he goes. In my mind that flexibility makes American Artillery the best of the war years and even Russia is set to go on the same lines as a massed conscript army is going to be phased out and they just don’t have the massed man power to do WWII barrages on as large a scale.

      Jerry complained about Russian tanks and Russian hordes, in regards to the Americans they complained of artillery and air support. Either way Jerry got a bigger face full of Allies while the Japanese did not get the worst of it. What you deem unfair comparison I say had less to do with fate than different philosophies with regards to war. Heck yeah Jerry was better at most things than their Japanese allies who were poor allies at that. It was a matter of approach and how they dealt with the harsh tonic of defeat, Jerry took notes, studied, innovated, and fatefully shared his notes with any one who wanted to take a look (the Yanks and Soviets were most eager to learn). Japan waited until the last moment to make changes and was playing catch up after a long bout of procrastination. I think it still worth comparing even if Japan comes off as the lazy student of war to straight A Jerry. It seems unfair but it had less to do with circumstances beyond their control than simply bad decisions, outright refusal to copy anything until the 11th hour, and laxity on the part of the Japanese high command. Had Japan spent as much effort rounding up women in occupied territories as they did armored theory they might have come better off.

      Unfair or no there was a huge gulf in military power and military acumen between Japan and Jerry. You can only blame industrial disparity to a point, but Germany had to build their tank production line from scratch and were more interested in making new things than the Japanese were. Keep in mind Japan and Germany both imported tanks and tankettes but drew different conclusions, in the realm of doctrine Jerry beat every one across the board while conceding 1st place in some areas.

      • yolez
        Posted September 13, 2010 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        The disparity in industrial production between the Japan and the US was ridiculous. A more successful attack on Pearl Harbor and better allocation of resources would have at best delayed the inevitable.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_production_during_World_War_II

        • Crusader
          Posted September 13, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

          Needs citation but yeah there was a gulf in production by war’s end but in 1941 and 1942 the IJN still had superiority over the Americans, the US Navy did not achieve naval parity until 1943 and only achieved naval superiority in 1944. The war was winnable if Japan had succeeded in taking out the US carriers and offered generous terms for a cessation of hostilities in 1942. It only seems inevitable because the Japanese refused to quit while they were ahead and went all in and lost. In 1943 the US was still gearing up war production while Japan had been at it for much longer. Not only that the US devoted much more war matriel to defeating Germany. Thus while your figures are nice they don’t reflect how much the US actually threw at them.

          • yolez
            Posted September 13, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

            I almost think it would have gone worse for Japan if the end of the war had been delayed, as the Russians would have been much more involved.

          • yolez
            Posted September 13, 2010 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

            Also here is a good paper on US production methods vs. the rest of the world during WWII.
            http://ecedweb.unomaha.edu/neba/journal/v1n1p91.pdf

          • Crusader
            Posted September 14, 2010 at 10:42 am | Permalink

            I wonder if Soviet occupation would have been preferable to the Japanese certainly MacArthur was not a humble guy but they talk as if it was the worst thing to befall them and that any other alternative would have been preferable.

        • Posted September 15, 2010 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

          If the Kidou Butai didn’t get savaged so early, Japan could have kept on the offensive long enough to take the pacific naval superiority, threaten the west coast, and (maybe) push the US into a treaty on its terms.
          But once an economically weaker country loses strategic initiative, it’s done for…

          • Crusader
            Posted September 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Permalink

            Keep in mind even after Midway things were still in the IJN’s favor the US navy only achieved naval parity at Midway not superiority. The Japanese began losing the strategic initiative after they lost at Guadalcanal after that did the strategic initiative change hands. It wasn’t an impossible fight given how the Allies were going on the offensive for the first time. But again I think logistical failures and unimaginative frontal assaults did them in, though if the Marines are to believed the Japanese were bowled over by Chesty Puller… ;)

            Also Japan’s economy was already geared up for war production while the US was still cranking up. Even if the economics were against them their doctrine and their senior officers still bear much of the blame for failures in the field.

      • Kasrkin519
        Posted September 13, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

        “Zhukov was good but he was not unbeatable and did suffer setbacks until he was able to wrest the initiative from the Germans for good at Kursk, which was a close run.”

        Yes! So few people know about Operation Mars (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mars) and Zhukov seems to be the only Soviet poster boy.

        I’ve always been a Rokossovskiy fan myself – he def got the short end of the stick for being half Polish but was masterful at Stalingrad, Kursk, and Bagration. Everyone remembers Zhukov on the white charger at the red square victory parade but no one remembers the guy on the black one! :/

        • Crusader
          Posted September 14, 2010 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          Zhukov certainly got the lion’s share of the PR though to be fair being General Victory did earn him the jealousy of Stalin. Besides if Zhukov really blew it it was his head that was going to roll and hardly anyone else’s. Rokossovsky seems to be the forgotten one in the whole narrative but those who know realize he played no small part in winning the war for the Soviets, all the more surprising considering he was purged and had quite a few teeth knocked out by NKVD.

          • Posted September 22, 2010 at 7:20 pm | Permalink

            Zhukov was arrested to sent to prison too. Got lucky not to end in Magadan or just executed.

      • Posted September 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

        Ehhh, you know, China is roughly 1/3 heavily mountainous terrain, focused on north central (anything west of Hebei) and west central (nearing Chongqing), plus another 1/5 desert. That’s 53% of the terrain which tank warfare would suck on, and you’re be seriously mistaken if you think they’re only in the underpopulated western territories (actually NW has one of China’s flatest plains). Part of the reason Operation August Storm succeeded is because the Kwangtung army was so badly underpowered at that point (all its good units withdrawn to fight the Americans) that pure soviet infantry could probably overrun it, and because Manchuria was the most industrialized and had the best transportation framework in China at the time.
        If you look into all of the battles that was fought as part of the China campaign, almost every major battle later (after the coastal and major river cities fell in rapid succession) in the war was in rough terrain, if not outright mountainous or alongside deep valleys. Yes, heavy tanks can still deploy here, but when a tank is bogged down by mud (Chinese grass cover sucks in the central north) and can’t penetrate infantry lines or logistic/command points stationed on the mountains, tanks lose their purpose and functions not much better than an infantry howitzer. After all, rough nature of Chinese terrain is amongst the reasons why China never relied on rigid heavy infantry formations like the Greeks/Romans, and cavalry were never used as a mainstay troop until the campaigns north into the mongolian steppes.
        The huge interlocking networks on canals and rivers in South China will also play merry hell, and it’s also much easier for engineers to bridge for lighter tanks than heavier ones…

        As for the other parts, well, Japanese strategic development board made quite a few mistakes let’s just leave it at that. Their infantry firearms focused on range/precision as if for skirmisher units, rather than the ROF/damage of field armies. My gramps told me that in his experience, the Jap standard rifle made a much better sniping tool than western equivalents of the time, but firepower wins major battles not marksmanship. There’s also other crappy examples like the IJA aircraft traded speed for maneuverability which cost them big time when the Flying Tigers started using fighter dives…

        and I will agree that no1 in Japan was fit to lead the Kidou Butai at the time. Both Yamamoto and Nagumo still had a battleship-first mentality after all, which isn’t surprising given the time (dreadnought battleships were still hailed supreme prior to WW2). I doubt even Nimitz had the mentality if he wasn’t forced into it when Pearl Harbor trashed the Pacific battleship fleet.

        the SS began the war with just a few combat regiments and mostly inexperienced at that, so it’s extremely unfair to compare them directly to the Heer which started with entire corps. Hence why I said ratio-wise. Compared to the total deployment of the Heer throughout the war, I’d say the SS deployment came out with more elite units in the end.

        The Soviet’s creeping artillery barrage was typically followed with Il-2 strikes and a full frontal push, which worked fine given the Heer’s denser defensive lines in the East, whereas Hitler’s defenses were more scattered in the west. They did it differently anyways: the Soviets focused on using heavy artillery (not to mention Katyushas) as the shock factor and ground-attack craft for tactical fire support, while the US used air power as more of a shock/disruption factor with dispersed artillery for fire support (although fighterbombers still helped). I mean really, bomber command on the Western front was so much ridiculously bigger than the soviets who relied on their fleet of low-flying Il-2s (which were dedicated ground-attack craft unlike the west which mostly used bomb-dropping heavy fighters). US/Brit close-air support was never as integrated as the Soviets had it after all.

        • Crusader
          Posted September 15, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

          I am aware of China’s topography but looking at the parts of China Japan held there was a good deal of tank country the rest of China might be bad tank country but the parts they held weren’t altogether bad. Moreover with their occupation of urban centers a tank isn’t useless in such an environment, more so because the Japanese had very little man portable AT to speak of. Desert isn’t going to stop tanks as North Africa showed as did Desert Storm, people have often underestimated the mobility of the tank, I remember when the M1 Abrams was going to do battle in the deserts of the Middle East that there were detractors who claimed they would be soon clogged with sand. France and the Allies thought the Ardennes was impenetrable as the British thought the Malaysian Jungle was impenetrable.

          I think you put too much import on reports of tanks getting stuck in mud, firstly the Russian winter was notably harsher than mosts, and the spring thaw coupled with a bad road network compounded the problems. Most importantly you have to remember that even General Mud can be over come. The Panzer III and Panzer IV AFVs and the Sherman had trouble in mud because they had narrow tracks, while the heavier Tiger and Panther and the T-34 had lower ground pressure due to wide tracks. Thus I think that lack of tank knowledge among the general public has lead to a much exaggerated reputation for mud stopping tanks. As for mountains making tanks totally moot, I think that not all mountains are impossible for tanks, I would have to see every mountain for myself, but if the history of the Golan Heights is any indication even tank heavy forces can cross them, take them, and hold them. The tank heavy IDF took it in 1967 and the Syrians took it for a while in 1973, In the case of the latter it was without much air support if any. Terrain can make life difficult but armies have made the impossible possible, Hannibal crossed the Alps, the Mongols conquered Russia in the dead of winter, Jerry took Crete from the Air, Kesselring got a whole Panzer division off Sicily against two top tier commanders, Patton had his line make a 90 degree turn while still engaged with the enemy at the Bulge, and the small IAF claimed air supremacy over every Arab air force in striking distance in 1967.

          Glad we agree that there were mistakes made by the planning board though I think that the mistakes were numerous and rather egregious.

          As for China traditionally not having cavalry that at least was more in part due to the lack of expertise in raising horses, as I recall the Han, and Song at least spent a great deal of effort to have cavalry, and as the Barbarian invasions showed cavalry were useful, keep in mind that in dense terrain a horse can still be quite mobile. Even up to WWII Soviet Cavalry made a nuisance of itself in marshlands.

          You bring up good points with regards to Soviet doctrine, however as for integrated air support I think that the Western Allies were still more flexible. Indeed the Il-2s were great planes but only at the upper echelons of command would an officer be able to call for air support, moreover there were fewer troops that knew how to guide a plane to the target. Again the forward observer was much less numerous in Soviet Armies and were much less exposed as a result as every O-1 in the US Army was considered intelligent enough to be brained on guiding artillery and air strikes. The Soviets were able to bring a whole lot more mass at the attacking point but it was much less fluid afterwards as most units in the Red Army only had receivers instead of two way radios. Hence a tank platoon commander could not call for support only listen for directions as his superior who had the two way radio was already taking care of it, fine in theory, but did not work as well in practice. Command was more centralized because it was a conscript army, that still kept true in the Cold War as Syrian and Egyptian performance in the Arab-Israeli Wars indicate.

          As Soviet doctrine was drawn from the same play book as Blitzkrieg it isn’t surprising that the VVS was also a tactical air force. Also the Il-2s were concentrated as well while American and British Fighter Bombers were more dispersed and hence able to respond to changing battle conditions. Thing about a preparatory barrage was that pound for pound the explosives served less to kill troops than to break them up , make them dive for cover, and hopefully disrupt or sever communications. Thus if the follow up is late the enemy is probably better prepared.

  11. Marigold Ran
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    To respond:

    North China is good tank country, but southern China is awful tank country, with large numbers of rivers and mountains. By the time WWII started (1941 for the Americans, 1937 for the Chinese), most of the fighting was being done in Southern China and in geographically similar areas (jungles, mountains, and rivers). The Japanese never intended to face an enemy with good tank forces, which is why they never prepared for it. And they were right to not do so. When they lost, it wasn’t because of their crappy tanks, but because of factors like a general lack of anti-submarine capabilities. Tanks would not have helped them.

    Also, though the Japanese infantry doctrine proved incapable of defeating US technologically-based might, it definitely gave them a hard time. The Japanese infantry did more with less than any other nation’s infantry forces in WWII, with the possible exception of Mao’s communists. They consumed less food, used less ammo, and had less artillery or aerial support than the infantry of any other major combatants in WWII, and yet they still conquered most of the Pacific and made Okinawa, Iwo Jima, and several other places a living hell. The reason the Americans dropped the bomb was to avoid the prospect of fighting the Japanese infantry on their own homeland. Honestly, the Americans lucked out on the Japanese doctrine of banzai charges, which was a waste of good infantry material for nothing. Had the Japanese adopted Viet Cong jungle tactics in Guadacanal, it would have taken the marines at least a year to clear them out.

    Granted, their infantry wasn’t enough to stave off defeat, but then Jerry wasn’t able to do it either. Comparing the Germany and Japanese armies is like comparing apples and oranges. Yes, some prefer apples over oranges, but the point is that these were two very different armies in two different geographic areas, designed to fight two very different wars. A much more valid comparison would be to compare the Japanese army with, say, the Viet Cong/Minh, who fought in similar geographic terrain against Western technological might. In this comparison, the Viet would definitely come out ahead, but then again The Viet had the advantage of fighting in a much smaller area and had a lot more native support. Had the Japanese Army fought against an allied invasion of Japan using Viet tactics, who knows what may have happened.

    • Crusader
      Posted September 14, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Permalink

      Depending on whether or not you think August Storm was also factored into the decision to surrender having comparable tanks to the Soviets might have helped the Japanese hold onto to Northern China longer. Instead they got swept away. As for not anticipating having to fight tank heavy forces, if it was the result of a lack of anticipation then they were devastatingly incompetent as the Army wanted to march on Siberia and encountered tank heavy forces. Moreover given that every one was watching and taking notes on the Spanish Civil War for the Japanese to draw no tangible conclusions is what I consider to be an idiot conservatism. Japan and Germany did not have to develop along different lines in fact Japan was the only major power to adopt light infantry as the primary emphasis for their forces, in the post WWI years the Germans realized the limitations of having light infantry tactics and while their WWI stormtrooper units were ahead of their time they could only achieve so much.

      If you look at small arms Japan lagged behind every one else as they had but one sub par SMG, numerous ammunition types to compound their already horrible logistics, and most damning of all, I think, never developed an infantry anti-tank weapon when the Germans saw the Bazooka, they not only copied it but made it bigger and badder. I think tanks better tanks would have helped since it would have made the job of pushing them off islands much tougher and would have critically slowed the Allied advance and buy them time to re-tool and put some of those newer aircraft designs into production and train a new crop of pilots. Had the war dragged on into 1946 it may well have been a very different fight as Japan was able to build copies of German jets, that would have made an impression on the B-29s and made achieving Allied air supremacy harder.

      Even if tanks weren’t the tipping point doctrine was and in that regard Japan was hampered by it more often that it was helped by it as it dictated weapons procurement and tactics. That the British and Americans were beaten when they ill prepared and in the case of the British stripping down their defenses and with most of her navy in the Atlantic the feat seems much less impressive than how Jerry knocked out France which was prepared and kicked the BEF off the continent, despite their smaller Navy Jerry successfully took Norway despite British Naval might. Operation Sealion did not happen and while the taking Malta, and Gibraltar were considered they never made it beyond the planning stage due to a lack of resources and lack of Naval power.

      Jerry also took Crete which was no small feat at the time despite the horrendous casualties. Smiling Albert was not slouch either and in the face of Patton and Montgomery was able to get a whole Panzer division off Sicily largely unscathed and beat off the Anzio Landings and hole up at the Gothic line into 1945. That I think was no small feat given what Kesselring was up against and how Germany never did have as much naval power as the British, Americans, and Japanese. I agree that Banzai charges were a total waste but fundamentally if such tactics prevailed then it is a failure of doctrine where as Jerry’s doctrine did not lead directly to defeat. Even when looking exclusively at Infantry tactics Jerry seems to have gotten better off with integrated artillery, emphasis on the mobile MG34s and MG42s as the main striking arm of the infantry, the integration of man portable AT, superior training of individual soldiers, greater responsibility to NCOs, and lots of radios to get support. The overall flexibility of every German formation was what made them so nimble and agile in the face of Allied material superiority, the VVS and Luftwaffe were never able to achieve air supremacy over the other until mid-late 1944 even in 1943 some days the Luftwaffe would have air superiority somewhere and the next Day the VVS would have it. Jerry had more but he faced a whole lot more, the Soviet Army alone was probably more military might than what America and Britain threw at the Japanese. Also Jerry was the Yanks and Tommy Atkins as well while Japan was largely dealing with Bill Yank in the Pacific and Tommy Atkins in India.

      Looking at the Indian campaign one can really see the failings of Japanese light infantry doctrine and their lack of appreciation for logistics. The Japanese did not eat less per se their looting habits were pretty infamous and earned them a whole lot of ire from the locals. Reading some of the letters they sent home at the time there seems to be no shortage of “good fellow Asians who were eager to share to defeat colonialism.” It think more often than not poor Ivan had it just as bad if not worse, Jerry had it real bad late in the war, while the Yanks and Brits took the task of feeding their troops seriously, the Americans at least invested a lot of money, time and effort into creating rations, it tasted like shit but it was better than nothing. Logistical failure was I think more of the Japanese failing mightily in the realm of doctrine to pay much attention to it Germany found out in the 1930s that their prized panzers were logistically troublesome as they broke down and need maintenance, Ivan found that out too after throwing a bunch of T-34s at Jerry, same with the Yanks and the Brits.

      Jerry was better equipped overall because German General staff was planning on a BIG FIGHT for a long time and religiously went over ideas, tactics, and weapons for the show down. That Japan did not is not the result of innate German superiority but a lack of effort on the Japanese high command. Given how the Siege of Port Arthur and Siege of Tsingtao went quite why they still wanted bayonets on every infantry gun is strange considering they knew how costly their infantry tactics were and yet they had two decades to re-train and re-evaluate the usefulness of close combat when a show down with the Allies was what they were going for. They might have ended up as apples and orange but fundamentally I think the differences arose largely out of different attitudes with regards to modern warfare.

  12. Marigold Ran
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 7:28 pm | Permalink

    I agree that a German Panzer division, or even better several Russian infantry divisions, would have held Shanghai indefinitely against the Japanese. But they would have been unable to conquer the hundreds/thousands of Pacific islands that the Japanese army was able to take. Jerry’s amphibious and anti-island operations were a mess. Their efforts to take the annoying Meditaranean islands, and their plans to invade Britain were military embarrassments, even though Jerry was almost fighting in their own backyard. In contrast the Japanese took Singapore, half of Burma, several hundred Pacific islands of varying size and quality, the Phillipines, and various other places thousands of miles away from their home island. Once again, the point is that these were two very different armies designed to fight two very different wars.

    • Crusader
      Posted September 14, 2010 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

      The thing about Japan’s Empire especially in the case of China was that they only really held major cities, ports, and resource points the country side was much less tightly held but a patrol could and often would behave brutally wherever they went. Jerry did take Norway by sea and with regards to Britain were right in that they needed air supremacy to even make the attempt sadly Goering was too inept to realize what his pilots soon concluded that a tactical air force was not going to be able to accomplish a strategic mission. As for the Mediterranean they did take Crete and as for everything else they never had the naval power to do it, Crete was a bloody affair and taking Malta by air was probably going to be a blood bath. Also the matter of Barbarossa meant that the bulk of Germany’s might would be tied up in the Ostfront.

      Again Jerry in the Mediterranean wasn’t a complete disaster, they did take Crete and Rommel did give them trouble even if there wasn’t enough logistical support to achieve final victory, again the decisions of one Austrian corporal really did them in. Rommel and his troops did preform brilliantly even if they were doomed there weren’t as large a series of fuck ups that brought an end to the island campaigns in North Africa, at least there was no futile bayonet charge called for by a junior officer with more fool than brains. Again even in infantry German doctrine with it’s emphasis on flexibility and NCO leadership proved to make a more consistently disciplined force than the Japanese were able to muster.

  13. Marigold Ran
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Permalink

    My take is that it wasn’t the Japanese army that under-performed in WWII. Given the resources that they had, they did a lot with it. In fact, even the Americans recognized this. The strategy of island-hopping and dropping the bomb on Japan was used in order to avoid fighting the Japanese army.

    Personally, I think it was the Japanese navy that underperformed. Given what they had during and after Pearl Harbor, they should have done a much better job.

    • Crusader
      Posted September 14, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

      Certainly th IJN underperformed, but no one I think failed in terms of doctrine in the same manner that the IJA did, unlike the Italians they did not bet the farm on World War in 1930. Japan did have the industrial capacity to have a much better equipped army but she squandered it on big battleships of questionable value. They did fight tenaciously I grant them that but they were able to make up for shortages and were quite brutal in making up for the lack of a logistical tail, that I can’t respect them for since it really does look like they discounted one of the pillars of warfare and focused almost entirely on brave infantry. Failing to equip your infantry with the means to combat armor is quite an egregious mistake given how all the major enemies they were spoiling to fight had heavier armor, in principle the Bazooka, Panzerschreck and Panzerfaust were simple to make and easy to maintain and yet there was little to no effort in making a man portable anti-tank weapon.

      I think that in light of how much time they wasted in not preparing for a showdown they were going to start meant that they under performed right off the bat as they were not as ready as they could have been. Perhaps they were so drunk on easy victories in China and elsewhere that the high command thought they would be done by Christmas or something but there were complaints from the ranks about logistical trouble, lack of AT, and of insubordination. They did perform well under the circumstances but their initial laxity and lack of appreciation for what their opponent’s technological edge did them in. Jerry at least appreciated technological innovation regardless of source and tried to account for whatever edges their opponents had.

  14. JELEINEN
    Posted September 14, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    “I wonder if Soviet occupation would have been preferable to the Japanese certainly MacArthur was not a humble guy but they talk as if it was the worst thing to befall them and that any other alternative would have been preferable.”

    MacArthur was loved and practically worshiped by the Japanese durring his time as SCAP. It was afterwards when he gave an interview stateside where he compared the Japanese to children that he became hated.

    On the whole, I absolutely don’t think Soviet occupation would have been preferable to what the Japanese got under us. While there were certainly misteps (the decision to ignore the Japanese economy, thereby insuring even futher widespread starvation f’rex), for the most part, there was a genuine desire to turn Japan into an open and democratic society by the people making the decisions. Stalin would have been all about the exploitation (look how he treated the Japanese soldiers the Soviets captured at the very end). Ironically, once the Cold War started in earnest, we ourselves looked at Japan more as a resource (it became our unsinkable aircraft carrier).

    The occupation is a fascinating topic and the whole thing is a complete mess of contradictions at times.

    • Crusader
      Posted September 14, 2010 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

      I really wonder how heartfelt the Japanese were about MacArthur, there was the story of how Hirohito renounced his divinity when he met MacArthur, certainly Doug could earn the loyalty of his subordinates but his ego was legendary and it did get him into trouble. Stalin would have probably did the same number on the Japanese as he did with the rest of Eastern Europe, but still there are those who think Japan might have been better off, and the occupation still rankles them. Certainly Dugout Doug does make a few appearances in anime but they are rarely all that nice to his legacy.

      • Posted September 17, 2010 at 12:33 am | Permalink

        It is difficult to know exactly how sincere the Japanese were in their affection towards MacArthur. You do get the impression the Japanese could be capricious and obseqious towards their leaders, on the other hand SCAP officials were genuinely shocked at the state of the country when they arrived two weeks after the surrender, so it could just be that the people were grateful to have been relieved from total war.

        One thing is clear though, you only have to compare the trajectories of the Warsaw Pact countries with Japan after WWII to realise that anyone who thinks the Soviets would have been the better occupiers needs their head examined.

        While the US occupation of Japan turned sour after the Cold War started in earnest, with the liberal ‘New Dealers’ in SCAP being sidelined, much good work had already been done, not least with the constitution. American eagerness to forgive militarist war criminals who were considered better placed to resist the Soviet menace is a blot but the period had a silver lining for Japan, as the Korean War was the catalyst for the country’s incredible 40-year period of economic growth.

        Regarding the Japanese love for all things German war machine. This is not confined to anime/manga. One only has to look at the range of military equipment produced in the form of model kits from a range of Japanese manufacturers. The Toy Fair at Nuremburg in Germany every year (the irony of the location is incredible) is truly an eye opener as to this sort of thing.

  15. CatzCradle
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    I’m kinda surprised there aren’t any Hetalia pics. xP

    • Crusader
      Posted September 15, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

      SnW was more moe.

  16. Zi Densetsu
    Posted September 15, 2010 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m somewhat sad to say that I’ve learned more about history and warfare from Crusader than my teachers. Hail to the ever disappointing US school system.
    Hail to THE Crusader.

    • Crusader
      Posted September 15, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

      Military history is not taught in most curriculums but there is plenty of information out there, historical miniature gamers are the most fervent, knowledgeable and rabid!

  17. Posted September 15, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Another great piece from you – I hadn’t actually noticed the connection wrt Sora no Woto but once you pointed it out, I went DOH!!!

    Also thought you might enjoy this somewhat related photo essay.

    • Crusader
      Posted September 15, 2010 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

      Don’t feel bad I am sure your focus and fanboy adoration was directed at the yuri goodness and how lovable Rio was. ;)

  18. Posted September 16, 2010 at 10:23 pm | Permalink

    Watch Kokoro Toshokan already. The detail of Reichswehr uniform, equiplement, and weapons was exquisite. Funnily though, there was not a single shot where insigna’s swastika was discernable.

  19. 民族独立行動隊
    Posted December 15, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    But the Germans WERE the good guys!

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