Japanese air power in a hypotetical invasion of the USSR in 1941

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jenisch, Dec 15, 2011.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #1 Jenisch, Dec 15, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
    Hello,

    I'd like to propose a discussion about the Japanese air power in a hypotetical invasion of the Soviet Union, followed the German invasion in 1941.

    While many people point out the technical and doctrinal superiority of the Red Army destroying any plausible chance of a Japanese victory, I never heard anything regarding how the Japanese air power would interact in this scenario.

    What are your views?
     
  2. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    IIRC during the Battle of Khalkhin Gol the Soviets lost more aircraft, but they were able to establish air superiority.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Ki-27. Single engine fighter. Superceded by Ki-43 from 1942.
    Ki-21. Twin engine level bomber. Superceded by Ki-49 from late 1941.
    Ki-30. Light bomber.
    Ki-32. Light bomber. Superceded by Ki-48 from 1941.
     
  4. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #4 Jenisch, Dec 15, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
    In Khalkhing Gol, the Soviets obtained air superiority because they started to employ energy tactics with their more sturdy latest I-16's, together with the use of experience pilots and plenty of replacements of both pilots and aircraft. The Japanese suffered with low commitment of the air force, resulting in fadigued pilots without replacements, and were also forbidden to attack any rear targets (including airfields).

    In this scenario, I think the situation could be different. The Zeros would play an active role in the decisive Eastern Manchuria battlefront, and they already proved themselfs being capable of conduct massacres of the Polikarpovs in China. With those Polikarpovs often being piloted by Soviet volunteers. The same Polikarpovs constituted the majority of the VVS in 1941.

    Another consideration is pilot training. The VVS training levels declined considerably following it's pressed expansion in the late 1930's. The Japanese would face an horde of recruites, which even the Ki-27's and A5M's being flown by experienced Japanese pilots probably would be able to hurt them. The VVS fighter tactics in WWII were mainly focused in the defensive role, given little flexibility. This likely to be maintened in this scenario. It was a major factor in the great losses it suffered from the LW, and this only start to change in 1944.

    Due to the absence of the naval production, we would see an emphasis Japanese in aircraft production, modernization and pilot training in this scenario. I just can't estimate this.

    Ah, and I would like to say that political details should not be include here. The objective of this topic is have opinions about the Japanese air power influence in a hypotetical German-Japanese invasion of the USSR.
     
  5. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    In fact there was at least one big bomber raid on against the Soviet a/fs resulting heavy air fighting in Mongolian airspace during Khalkhin Gol fighting.

    IMHO JAAF would not like to see IJNAF arriving its turf, the rivalty between IJA and IJN was rather fierce, so IMHO no Zeros outside the coastal areas.

    During the later part of Winter War Soviet fighters flew fairly deep into Finland's airspace utilising drop tanks, strafing airfields and trains etc, not very defensive activities.

    Juha
     
  6. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #6 Jenisch, Dec 15, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
    Yes. And it was a victory for the IJAAF. It was the only time in Nomonhan when the IJAAF doctrine was used like it should be. Further bombings were not allowed because this one, which originated from the Kwantung Army HQ without Tokyo's approval. Tokyo only authorized massive aerial operations to support the planned IJA third offensive, which Zhukov demolished with his own offensive.

    The coastal areas were just the decisive scenario. Also, the IJN was responsible for long range bombing in the Japanese air services, so a lot of action from the Zeros would occur. Their long range also would be an advantage in the vast Soviet territory, which the Germans only had with the arrival of the Fw 190.

    I told in WWII.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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  8. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    davebender, I agree. That is the only way to do it ... if you are co-ordinating your efforts with your Axis partner - June 22, 1941.

    A Pearl Harbor type carrier strike immediately followed by amphibious landings - and drive west across the Trans Siberian RR.

    MM
     
  9. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #9 Jenisch, Dec 15, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
    Strategies and tactics in Japanese plans of Siberian invasion

    The lines of strategies and tactics in Japanese plans to Siberian invasion basically after the Indochina occupation, with some reinforcements from Japan proper, the Imperial forces planned the next operations:

    *Naval bombardments preceded the subsequent disembarkations from Shumushuand Paramushiro in Kamchatka, to occupy Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky other forces from Karafuto enter in North Sakhalin and make some landings in Alexandrovsk and Ohka; optionally other forces landed in Kommadorsky islands and Anadyr in North Pacific area.

    *As similar naval operations from Hokkaido and North Honshu against Nikolayevsk, Soviet Bay, and Vladivostok. Some naval forces navigated inside of Amur River against Konsomolsk and striking Khabarovsk.

    *Later if followed with landings for occupying Ohkostk and Nagaevo; another option was possibly occupation of Southeast Yakutsk area also

    *Aerial operations were leaving against Petropavlovsk, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Konsomolsk, Blagoveschesk, Chita, Ulan-Ude and possibly Ulan-Bator and Irkutsk. The principal points Trans-Siberian (Vladivostok/Ulan-Ude and/or Irkustk-Krasnoyarsk lines) and Baikal-Amur lines (incomplete in period) was taken with airborne or paratrooper forces

    *Land operations was simultaneous leaving against Khabarovsk, Birobidjanand Blagoveschensk with massive artillery strikes and entering infantry accompanied with Armored forces at same time other forces advance from East Outer Mongolia to occupied Ulan Bator.

    *Other advances were the entry in West Outer Mongolia, along the land incursion at Irkutsk area for taken the Trans-Siberian and Baikal-Amur link.

    *Another optative operation implied the finalizing the occupation of West Outer Mongolia, enter in Tannu-Tuva andinvasion at Krasnoyarsk how springboard of possibly operation against Novosibirsk and Central Asia.

    Japanese observations over nature of Siberian front

    Although the Kwantung Army had been reinforced, the Russo-German War-about which the Japanese Army had held such great expectations-was not turning out favorably for Germany, despite Hitler's boasts. A serious problem consequently demanded resolution: How could the beefed-up Kwantung Army pull through the rigorous cold of a Manchurian winter?

    By their very nature, armaments must be perfectly adapted to combat methods and to battlefield topography; the optimum application of military force cannot otherwise be manifested.

    There was thus a strong requirement that operations and armaments be linked together. In the Japanese Army, however, military material was geared to hypothetical mobile operations against the Soviet Union. This implied fighting on the Continent, in severe cold, amidst sparse population, and with inconvenient transportation facilities. Operations of such a type were characterized by light weapons, large-scale logistical systems, and a plethora of horses.

    After the finish of Japanese operations in Siberia

    If war broke out with the Soviet Union, a most important problem would arise: how to terminate hostilities? The General Staff feared that Russian territory was so boundless that Japan would be unable to deal a finishing blow to the enemy.

    Within the Army, the prevailing and popular opinion concerning the solution to this problem was to employ stratagem (subversion) simultaneously with military operations-as Colonel Akashi had so successfully done during the Russo-Japanese War.

    The Army therefore placed as much importance upon "political sabotage" as it did upon field operations, in planning for hypothetical operations against the Soviet Union. Research was pursued and preparations laid for implementing certain aspects of the over-all program.


    Japanese-planned Republic of the Far East

    Additional info in the source.

    In 1941, the Japanese would likely hit the Soviets in their heart in Eastern Manchuria before try extreme expasionism like the mentioned possibility of enter in central Asia.
     
  10. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Because of Khalkhing Gol, the Soviets left a considerable air force in the Siberian Far Eastern Military Districts even after the Germans invaded; in fact 37% of their strength was located there when Germany invaded. As of June 22nd, 1941 the Soviets had 2,272 Old Fighters, 161 New Fighters (Laggs/MIGs/Yaks), 1,445 Old Bombers, 55 New Bombers, 349 Attack Aircraft, plus FAC Recon for a total of 4,592 Aircraft with 5,031 pilots. Against that what could the Japanese field? When Pearl Harbor occurred, there were only something like 400 Zero's in service so I would guess there were half of them in June?

    Soviet Data from Soviet Air Power in World War 2 by Yefim Gordon
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Shatter the Soviet Union into pieces as happened to Imperial Russia during 1918. When nations such as Ukraine, the Don Republic and the Far East Republic become independent again terminating hostilities will not be a problem.
     
  12. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    The Germans would be the major treat, and there's little doubt were the Soviets would concentrate their planes.

    About the numbers, well, if the Japanese would attack the Soviet Union, aircraft production would be expanded right away. As well as Army equipment production.

    While the Soviet numbers were impressive, there's the quality problem to be considerated as well. Together with the critical Transiberian railway to be targeted.

    It would be interesting if someone provides a map with the major Soviet airfields in the region, to us see how vulnerable they would be to Japanese attacks.
     
  13. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #13 Jenisch, Dec 15, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
    This was considerated if Japan had to fought the USSR alone. Many historians say that Japan didn't attacked the USSR because Khalkhin Gol. I think this was perhaps true for that momment. But the Japanese, the Army that had more power specifially, never gave up of the idea. War between Imperial Japan and the Soviet Union just a question of time. And in fact happened, with Stalin's Manchuria offensive in '45.

    Hitler didn't even need to defeat the Soviets totally. If this Japanese invasion just provide him with more time to occupy the territories and exterminate even more of the population, he could have done enough damage to prevent the continuation of the Soviet effort.
     
  14. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    The bulk of these air assets were actually left in the Soviet East due to the concern of Japan's intention

    Assuming you are refering to Japanese production I think that was one of their greatest weaknesses was the inability to rapidaly expand their production. They had already been at war for almost 10 years. Now when it comes to Army Equipment IMO the Japanese Tanks/Armoured vehicles were simply no match for the Soviets.



    I would agree with that, but I'm not sure the difference in aircraft (old/new mix) was all that much different between the 2, however I'm having a problem finding Japanese Air strength as of June 1941.

    The Russian Airfields in this area appear to be nothing more then dirt strips. I can find some major locations but it's not all of them. The one thing I'll say about most of the Soviet aircraft at this time, they could pretty much operate out of almost anywhere.

    I think the Soviets have a better Heavy Bomber and Ground Attack capability, I think the Japanese have an edge over the Soviets fighter wise (aircraft experiance) but some of them would be tied up defending Japan Proper and fighting in China at the same time.
     
  15. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #15 Jenisch, Dec 15, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
    I agree. The Axis industrial system was a [email protected] Even so, if together against the Soviets, they would outperform them.

    About the IJA, well, it was inferior. But in Eastern Manchuria the terrain was not much suitable to tanks. They also learned some lessons in Khalkhin Gol. Consideration also should be gived to the fact that even a draw could be a defeat for the Soviets if they couldn't replace their losses.

    Another thing is that the IJN would block the Soviet Pacific and Artic ports. This would surely hurt. With a lesser need to build U-Boats to sunk the Lend Lease ships, Hitler would be able to maintein a constant tank production. If i'm not wrong, in 1942 he choose to focus in U-Boat production, and this cost 10-15% less tanks produced.

    I found those figures in Wik:

    In 1940 the Japanese Army Air Service consisted of the following:

    33,000 personnel
    Over 1,600 aircraft (including 1,375 first line combat aircraft).
    The aircraft were organized into 85 Squadrons;
    36 fighter
    28 light bomber
    22 medium bomber
    Total military in August 1945 was 6,095,000 including 676,863 Army Air Service.

    The IJNAS had over 3,089 aircraft in 1941 and 370 trainers.

    1,830 first line aircraft including:
    660 fighters, 350 Mitsubishi Zeros[9]
    330 Carrier based strike aircraft
    240 land based twin engined bombers
    520 seaplanes (includes fighters and reconnaissance) and flying boats.


    Personal note: interesting to see the low number of trainers, and therefore the low number of elite pilots the IJN created.

    Of course, some of this force would be needed in China and the defense of the Home Islands. And the IJAAF data is 1940 data. Wik is not the best source unfortnately.
     
  16. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #16 Jenisch, Dec 15, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2011
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_A6M_Zero:

    On 13 September 1940, the Zeros scored their first air-to-air victories when 13 A6M2s led by Lieutenant Saburo Shindo attacked 27 Soviet-built Polikarpov I-15s and I-16s of the Chinese Nationalist Air Force, shooting down all the fighters without loss to themselves. By the time they were redeployed a year later, the Zeros had shot down 99 Chinese aircraft.

    Quiet impressive, even if was a surprise from a new machine. If someone has info if any Soviet pilots, and specially their skill level that were flying those Polikarpovs, share.

    Until late in the war, the Soviets didn't conducted "free huntings", which was a major cause for the Luftwaffe's success. The Zeros, with their excellent range, would be able to hold patrols for hours in the Soviet airspace. I think they would shoot down a lot of Soviet planes using this advantage.
     
  17. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Now Zeros debut was very impressive but the real Chinese losses were 13 destr and 11 damaged planes. For Sino-Japanese Air War, a very good on-line source is HÃ¥kan's excellent site, see the 13 Sept 40 combat info from here: http://surfcity.kund.dalnet.se/sino-japanese-1940.htm

    And Soviet fighter flew free hunting missions during the Winter War, which was fought from 30 Nov 1939 to 13 March 40, so during WWII

    Juha
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I think it would be more accurate to say the IJA were poorly equipped compared to the Red Army. Japanese Army training was very good by WWII standards and certainly better then what Soviet soldiers received after Stalin's purges.

    Until late in the war all IJA tanks were small, weighing 8 to 15 tons. Japan copied or tried to copy a lot of German equipment such as the DB601 aircraft engine. If Japan anticipates a full scale war with the Soviet Union they need a larger tank. Japan could produce a variant of the 22 ton Panzer III ausf F with a locally manufactured cannon. The Panzer III was not a large tank but it was considerably better then existing IJA light tanks and able to cope with early war Soviet armor such as the BT-7.
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    IMO that suggests Japan wasn't losing many pilots prior to 1942. Hence no need for mass production of replacement pilots.
     
  20. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    A couple of questions .

    Where is the fuel coming from for this adventure? Seeing as how in the real world, Japan needed allied forces crippled in Asia so they could take over oilfields in Burma and Indonesia. How is Japan going to fuel their war machine ? Also where are they getting their steel, or iron ore ?

    Also since a large portion of the Japanese army was involved in China during the real WW2, this new adventure against Russia will require a drawdown of forces from China. So Japan is fighing in Russia while a undefeated China does nothing ? I don't think so.
     
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