Luftwaffe vs. IJA

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wiking85, Apr 10, 2015.

  1. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    What if after the victory in the Spanish Civil War the Germans opt to continue and expand their contributions to the Chinese resistance to the Japanese invasion; let's say Hitler dies after violating the Munich Agreement in March 1939 and the war with Poland doesn't happen, but Germany still has issues with hard currency and Chinese payments of minerals are deemed vital to German economic health. So they send their version of the Flying Tigers to help China. Modeled on the Condor Legion, they send a large Air Corps, bigger than the Condor Legion, comprised of Me109s, Bf110s (Destroyer and fighter/bomber), He111s, Ju87s, and Ju88s. WW2 does not happen in the meantime. How does this Luftwaffe contingent perform from May 1939 (when they are dispatched) to say 1942-43 against the IJA and IJN?
    Second Sino-Japanese War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Sino-German cooperation until 1941 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Flying Tigers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Condor Legion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Ki-27 is no match for Me-109E during 1939 to 1941. Ki-43 is no match for Me-109F and Me-109G from 1941 onward. German radar was state of the art. So as long as Germany isn't massively outnumbered they will own the sky above China.
     
  3. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    Would it be enough to do more than stalemate the Japanese or actually drive them back? Plus logistics will be an issue in 1940 when the Japanese grab all of China's port unless the French are willing to let Indo-Chinese ports to be used.
     
  4. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Would German support/involvement with Finland in the Continuation War complicate logistics for material transport to/from China due to Soviet aggression?
     
  5. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The A6M entered service in 1940...the Bf109E would have serious difficulty in matching it in a turning fight, although the Bf109 (much like the Wildcat) would have better survivability because of it's armor.

    And by 1943, the KI-61 was coming into service as well as the N1K, both strong performers, especially the N1K-J. This one in particular, would have been serious trouble to both the Bf109 and Fw190.

    Even the Bf110 would have seen it's nemesis in the KI-45 and KI-46.

    The overall problem with Germany being in China, is logistics. The Japanese own the region and for Germany to get into the area, they would have to pass through Russia or violate neutral territory of other nations, running the risk of dragging them into war. Then there's the problem of German aircraft's traditional short range versus the long range capabilities of the Japanese aircraft. The German navy would be hard pressed to defend against the Japanese fleet and without a carrier of their own, would be in serious trouble.
     
  6. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Including IJN aircraft complicates matter, but weren't the majority of aircraft over mainland China Army and not Navy? (like those the Flying Tigers encountered)

    The Ki-44 might be a consideration too.

    Also, without the German alliance, there's likely no Ki-61. No He-100s used for inspiration, no DB-601 license. Granted, Kawasaki already had the earlier Ki-28 as arguably a more serious inspiration than the He 100, but they still needed a newer inline engine to use and it didn't seem like Kawasaki was going the direction of Mikulin had followed on with from their BMW VI/IX production. (perhaps a license for the Hispano Suiza 12Y might have been possible early war, or just focusing on radial designs like the Ki-100 later did)


    This wouldn't be all that different from Germany's alliance with Japan, except if/when Japan invaded French or British colonies, Germany would likely have them as allies and fairly straightforward passage through India and Indochina.

    Aside from that, with the political structure in Germany shifting, and a greater need for long-range aircraft in general, the Fw 187 (especially as a single-engine fighter) might have fared better both in its Jumo and DB powered forms. (the existing jumo powered A-0 models were about as fast as A6Ms and faster than F4F-3s at low/medium altitudes -F4F3 had an advantage closer to 20,000 ft, but had better acceleration and rate of climb than the wildcat and better dive acceleration and high speed control than the Zero -lighter controls and better roll rate at high speeds than the Bf 109 as well)

    A single seat DB-601 (or possibly Jumo 211) powered Fw 187 should have out-paced and out-climbed pretty much everything the IJA and IJN had up to 1942, and with the likes of the DB 601E and Jumo 211F it likely would have retained the edge in speed and climb. (and later gains with the DB-605)
    Somewhat like the P-38 managed in that theater, but in active service significantly earlier and gradually developing into something roughly as capable as the P-38J of 1943/44. (assuming the conflict lasted that long)


    And that said, if Russia got involved ... particularly if they allied with Japan or ended up as a 3rd front independent of Japan, and Japan still attacked American soil, a rather different Second World War may have developed.



    So far, in this scenario, we've only radically changed German politics, not Soviet or Japanese, or anyone else. (a shift in Germany likely would have impacted Italy enough to upset politics there -and obviously, Germany not invading all of western Europe would be a big difference)
     
  7. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    There's almost zero chance that Japan and Russia would be allies, considering that tensions between Japan and Russia had been simmering for decades.

    As far as the KI-61 goes, it was a follow-on to the KI-60 design. A refinement if you will. And yes, the Japanese Navy had a considerable amount of land-based units and often operated in conjunction with the Army.
     
  8. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Japan and Russia would become strange bedfellows in response to Germany being in China. And the UK might have some issues about it to. As for German radar being state if the art in 1939/1940? It was the UK that was the world leaders at that time and it was still primitive and short ranged.

    And what German Navy? Whatever task force they could assemble for a sea battle, the IJN would put the KM to Davy Jones locker with ease. The IJN was that good, just as the allies discovered in 1941 and 1942.
     
  9. Just Schmidt

    Just Schmidt Member

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    This is quite an interesting what if.

    The short version, in my opinion, would be that until the introduction of the ki-44 the luftwaffe would have it pretty much on its own in a straight fight, at least on the defensive. On the offensive there is the familiar problem with short range and the fighters being tied to close escort, and would probably result in a repetition of battle of britain. Likevise, the japanese would probably get a bloody nose on a counterpush, much like the RAF did over german (occupied) territory in 41. In general, die Luftwaffe would be able to use the same tactics as the americans historically did, if willing.

    Hitler didn't dictate luftwaffe tactics, strategies and production in detail, are we to remove Göring and Udet too? A convincing case has to be made that die Luftwaffe would change tactics, and focus on other aircraft like Fw 187. Anyway, what German government would see an interest in spending scant resourses helping out the chinese government? And how would that go down with other governments with intersts in china?

    The logistics becomes as usual an issue. Even with agreements with the land powers to move German material and personel, not to mention supplies, all the way over land to Chana, seems difficult at least. By sea the Germans, unassisted, would have little chance of squeezing enough past the impirial Japanese Navy. And here indeed the Navys types of aircraft comes into play, and considering the lack of range of German types, the outcome would be very different from that over land. (I don't see a massive commitment of navy types to inland China as likely, though quite a few may appear along points at the coast, and bomber types on long range 'strategic' raids). And even on land the distances would dictate that often air raids wouldn't be opposed, as anything like the rader coverage southern england, and 1 or 2 years later north western europe, possesed is out of the question. Unless Germany really makes a push, aggrevating the logistical problems. Of course die Luftwaffe showed some interest in long range transports, but if memory serves it wasn't until 44 that Ju 290's made (a few) round trips to Manchuria. A massive capability in the early fourties seems unlikely.

    On the stategic level it seems questionable whether France or Britain would be supportive of German efforts. A German government who showed that kind of global ambition would probably see them worrying, anyway the strategic geography in Europe wouldn't have changed. Stalin, on the other hand, was already to some degree involved in supporting the chineese, and with typical cynycism not the communists but the nationalists. It's concievable that he would make some kind of deal with the Germans, reconing that in the long run the cost would be bigger than the benefits for the Germans, and hoping for a conflict to arise between the 'capitalist' powers, to which the fascist was counted. But the soviets had no real interest in dividing Japan in the same way as they would Poland. Ah, Poland...

    Had the USSR and germany gone into some kind of partnership, there is every reason to believe that they would have realized they had a historical interest in dividing up poland. That was not just Hitlers idea, or even the Nazies, but a deeply rooted sentiment in the German military in general, and the right in particular, in as much as these can be divided. Had the USA stuck to their historical policies, and put the oil squeese on Japan, the German (and soviet) commitment in China would end, it being effiocient or not. Either because Japan had no other alternative than to back down, or because they embroiled themselves in a war with the (other) western powers. I can't speculate to which side they would swing, even though historically Japanese aggresion was spurred on by the ongoing European war.

    So maybe in 42/43 the Soviet and german governments, ready to lay aside for the time being their long term plans of world revolution or lebensraum (again I stress that it wasn't a nazi invention), could agree on dividing up Poland, making the european war quite another thing than what it historically became. The French and British rearmament would have taken effect, and the German and Soviet armaments would not have had several years of urgency because of actual full scale war behind them. As even an upsized Condor legion in China, for the reasons indicated abowe, could not count as full scale war.

    This is pure speculation, and dependent upon ANY kind of German government wishing to commit themselves to a substantial Chinese adventure.
     
  10. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    Assuming Germany and the USSR still work out a deal, even if Hitler dies, because of mutual trade needs, then Germany could get a supply route to China, just as the USSR provided a link to Japan from 1940-41. With Germany messing around with Czechoslovakia here France and Britain are not going to be too happy about Germany's work in China, but given the international concern about Japan the US might actually be a dark horse enabler here for Germany; by perhaps negotiating with the Allies to give Germany the chance to fight Japan by allowing supply through Indochina with Allied or US shipping and there is no WW2, while the US works on sanctions, then that pulls Germany back into more acceptable international relations, gets Japan out of China, and costs the US/Allies little to do so. Plus at this time Stalin was partial to Chiang over Mao as a more viable leader for China. Once the ports open back up in some way then China can export to the world again, while perhaps being able to ship Germany payment with raw materials (Tungsten and Antimony historically) to pay for the German support via Indochina or the USSR. With Hitler dead and not a factor the replacement, Goering, would be too timid to drive for war in Europe due to the lack of completed armaments plans and by the time they were completed then the Allies also would be rearmed and make war impossible. So Germany would effectively not launch WW2, Japan would be driven out of China by increasing international pressure, China wouldn't go communist, while the USSR might even move into Manchuko and Korea if the Japanese get enough of a bloody nose in China and suffer major international isolation in the meantime.

    How much though would an early contribution of German aircraft have played in that though? I expect disproportionate casualty infiction on the Japanese due to the superior speed and firepower of the German fighters over the Japanese Army and Navy (even the Zero), plus modern combat experience gained in Spain, making the LW the most experienced and effective air force in the world at the time. The international situation would be a bigger factor in getting the Japanese out of China, but would a larger earlier contingent of foreign airpower including bombers have opened up one of the captured ports and caused the Japanese to retreat from parts of China they held historically?
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Equipment and supplies for army ground troops are the only things which will drive IJA out of China.

    Establish a Chinese factory to produce 300 Panzer III and/or StuG III per month by 1937 and they will be in business. However since real world Germany didn't begin construction of their first modern tank factory before 1940 the Chinese will need to look elsewhere for such assistance. Other 1930s German army production was equally limited.

    Propaganda aside, Marxist Soviet Union and France were the only European nations which made serious preparations for a ground war during 1930s. Stalin might help but not for free. For instance the large arms shipments to communist Spain were paid for with Spanish gold reserve (4th largest in the world at that time). 1936 KMT had no such financial reserves.
     
  12. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The Japanese dominated China in spite of resistance from Communist and Nationalist Chinese opposition and ran rough-shod all over the far east for over a decade before the war turned in the Allies' favor. Even still, Japan had a considerable amount of troops that remained in mainland Asia for nearly a year after the war, waiting to be repatriated.

    In otherwords, if the Japanese weren't committing their forces against Allied opponents, as was historic, then the might of the Empire would have been dedicated to the Asian mainland. Germany would have had one hell of a time getting any sort of toe-hold against the Japanese.
     
  13. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    The Ki-60 relied on the same engine as well, so anything in that vein would still be different and mostly likely radial engine powered like the later Ki-100. (unless there were further indigenous Kawasaki V-12 developments that were canceled in favor of the DB 601 license)



    Derivatives of the Fw 200 might have been usable, though it may have required a turbocharged (or Jumo turbodiesel) variant to manage the ceiling and range needed. (though perhaps Jumo 211 or DB 601 engines would have had the performance needed without turbos)

    The majority of this would hinge on Hitler (and possibly a more comprehensive segment of the Nazi regime) being replaced by generally competent if not exceptional leadership in all respects. (that might not necessarily include replacing a large number of the Generals themselves, but perhaps moderating politics a great deal more than was historically the case) Perhaps even someone of Otto Von Bismark's stature.
     
  14. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    It was not unusual for an "enemy" to use a foe's engine deisgn. Japan was using Pratt Whitney engines and derivatives and if they didn't get a pre-war copy of the DB engine, then they could get a captured example.
     
  15. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Given the Japanese had trouble reliably copying the DB-601 as it was, that seems unlikely to be a straightforward process. Reverse engineering French or Russian designs seems somewhat more plausible. (aside from a possible indigenous design or further development of the BMW derived Ha-9)

    Regardless, an earlier version of the Ki-100 would make plenty of sense as well, to go along with the Ki-44.
     
  16. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The Japanese did well enough with the DB601 that the KI-61 remained a formidable fighter to the very last days of the war. There were problems with the Ha-40 and Ha-140 but in spite of that, the KI-61 was considered a dangerous opponent, including conventional attacks on B-29s.

    Also, the idea of installing a radial in the KI-61 had been kicked around for some time, however it became a priority after an Allied bombing raid destroyed Kawasaki's engine plant, leaving almost 300 KI-61s sitting without engines.

    As far as foreign engines go, the Japanese had access to a variety of water-cooled engines pre-war, including the Allison V-1710-39, Rolls-Royce Type F (Kestrel), Klimov M-105 and a few others. The list of Foreign radials is much much larger.

    Japan had a long history of taking a design, analyzing it and adapting it to their own needs. They did this with their navy and you can see they had a history of purchasing foreign-made ships two at a time, so they had one to compare against as they made improvements.
     
  17. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Starting with the M-105 and adapting/developing from there seems like one of the more attractive options. The Mikulin AM-35 might have been interesting too in as far as a large inline with high altitude capabilities, but I'm not sure that would have been among the captured engines the Japanese had access to. (perhaps the older AM-34 -which itself might have provided a basis for followon developments from the older Ha-9) But in terms of a direct alternative to the 601, the M-103/105 seems a good option.


    Additionally, in general terms of operations over China, Fw 187 aside, drop-tank capable Bf 109s would be significant for expanding the critically limited range of those aircraft. The Flying Tigers P-40Bs had major advantages in range an endurance as well as better control and maneuverability in high speed dives. (bigger disadvantage in climb and level acceleration compared to the 109, though) Then again, by the time the Flying Tigers were in action, the 109F could have been in service as well.
     
  18. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    The IJN were pretty crap at sinking merchant ships, the handful of German U-boats that were based in Japanese occupied Malaya probably sank more merchant ships than the entire Japanese navy. The German U-boats were very tough, generally able to dive twice as deep as Japanese and Allied subs and could survive a depth charging that would crush the other types. Germans had excellent night vision optics better than allied optics though not as good as the Japanese, they even infrared detection and ranging (it worked to perhaps 10km but was out ranged by radar) in the optical conditions of the pacific it might give them an advantage. The latter German radar, Seetakt, from FuMO 26,25 onwards had blind fire by lobe switching the receive aerial. Unlike allied systems this didn't broaden the beam leading to reduced resolution. (US capital ship radar had a width of 15 degrees which made it hard to select a target).

    Generally the Germans had a tactical issue: they didn't switch on their radar out of desire to remain stealthy but were then often surprised (this is what happened to Scharnhorst) as their passive sensors were just not good enough. Their navy was designed to fight in the poor visibility of the Nth Atlantic and to operate as a stealthy raider till they developed a fleet with aircraft carriers.

    The German Seetakt was perhaps a little short ranged, it might locate a target accurately but it was essential to detect gun splash for effective long range fire and since Tirpitz and Prinz Eugen was the extent of their fleet they were a little slow in upgrading, nevertheless the 1944 fit out of Tirpitz would have included microwave surface search radar FuMO 81 with PPI and a Seetakt power increased from 8kW to about 120kW. It compared favourably with Iowa Class and King George V.

    It's true that the UK had deployed a crude, in terms of frequency terms, but effective radar generally known as Chain Home in the late 30s that had been well integrated in to a reporting system. This long wave radar was practical to implement fast due to its low frequency (around 10m-15m) but had significant limitations over land. Such a limitation would be very unattractive to the Luftwaffe with their need to detect aircraft flying over land (rising out of France) rather than intercepting over the coast.

    The two radars the Luftwaffe deployed were Freya and Wurzburg. Freya(named after the F wave frequency rather than the Nordic goddess) which was a version of the German Navy's Seetakt (Sea Tactical) radar with wavelength increased initially to 1.8m instead of 60cm in order to increase power and range.

    Freya was demountable and participated in the 1938 Sudeten crisis in Czechoslovakia and one was flown by Ju 52 and erected during Fall Gelb, the invasion of Norway, that arose when Vidkund Quisling informed Hitler that the Norwegian Cabinet had decided to surrender to Britain when the UK's pre-emptive strategic invasion of Norway occurred.

    The other radar was Wurzburg A of late 1939, a marvel of portability , it could be towed after folding in half the 3m dish and brought quickly to operation. It was intended as an early warning radar. Wurzburg-A had three operators: one tracked range, the other two would wobble the dish in elevation and traverse to track the target. This gave about +/-2 degrees bearing accuracy and about 120m range that had allowed some crude but successful blind fire. It had Height finding and an ability to move with the troops, rare among portable radars. It was very useful at directing search lights and measuring target range.

    By Early 1941 the next edition came out: Wurzburg-C. It introduced conical scan so only one operator was required for elevation and bearing tracking and they could do so to within 0.3 degrees. By June 1941 the Wurzburg-D came into service with 80 on the production line that month. It reduced range accuracy to 25m and transferred the data directly to a FLAK predictor. At the same time Wurzburg-Riesse came into service at several locations using a 7m dish and offering 0.2 degree accuracy and a range of about 140km.

    The Allies had nothing like it in service till the US made SCR-584 entered service in late 1943. For two years, between 1941 to 1943, the only decent FLAK/AAA radar was Wurzburg. In late 1943 the Luftwaffe introduced Wurzburg-D's intended replacement, Manheim, which reduced range accuracy to 6m, introduced automatic tracking for the range gate and much more accurate circuitry. If it had locked on to a target even in the worst windows and carpet jamming it could still track though it was hard to find the target.

    One technique used on German radars was the locking of the oscillator via a frequency divider/multiplier to a stable quartz crystal that allowed coherent pulse Doppler radar. This allowed the Wurzburg to see through windows. This wasn't possible with magnetron radar. Doppler radar had been developed as part of programs to detect low flying aircraft and weather radar research that proved fortunately suitable to avoid windows. Wurzburg however couldn't cope with simultaneous carpet jamming and windows from hundreds of aircraft until a circuit called k-laus was introduced.

    The British radar advance was the use of multicity magnetrons with circular cavities and narrow slits to produce 9cm and latter 3cm radar. The Germans had in fact developed this type of magnetron (multicavity, narrow slits) but had failed to appreciate its uses in radar. In parts this was because their existing naval radars were so satisfactory at around 50cm-80cm. For instance in 1938 both German light cruisers and destroyers could carry 60cm Seetakt that gave a narrow beam able to detect submarine periscopes and conning towers, a problem British radar was still struggling with at the beginning of the war. Latter a special type of receive only lobe switching gave true blind fire to German cruisers.

    Ironically the Japanese had Beaten Britain's Randal and Boot to developing the multicavity magnetron by at least one year. They even deployed them on cruisers before Britain deployed them on sub hunting warships, however they were slow to deploy and invest in the technology and to add refinements such as PPI till late 1945.

    Being a Japanese Navy sponsored project the magnetron didn't make it to the Japanese Army Air force or the Germans (who ironically shared self calibrating technology called Rehbok that made it practical to deploy Japanese microwave radar on ships to small to carry electronics technicians.

    The Germans immediately understood how British microwave radar worked and deployed about 100 radars during 1944/1945, they were hard to deploy because the bombing campaign had massively uped..

    They had their own path to microwaves via something called a disk triode, Soviet radar used the German designs till the 1970s. The Germans shared their Wurzburg design with the Japanese, the copy was a bit late: it had been troublesome to make the precision vacuum tubes.
     
  19. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    The Japanese didn't have much of a need for foreign engines. The Nakajima Homare used on the Ki 84 for instance could produce 2000hp yet was only 46 inches in diameter. The Bristol Hercules and CW R-2600 were both 55 inches for less power. The PW R-2800 maybe 52.5 inches and the BMW801 51.5 inches. late war the Japanese seem to have developed several functional turbo supercharger designs.

    They seem to have had trouble mass producing efficiently. Their designs tended to emphasise manoeuvrability via big wings, which means nothing if your opponent is faster and doesn't want to engage. To truly exploit a speed advantage you need a fast bomber as well as a fast fighter. An Me 410 while slower than a Spitfire or Mosquito might be a real trouble maker for the slower Japanese if used to dive bomb shipping or IJN outposts.

    Overall the IJN is simply much bigger and would win, just as the Heers masses Panther tanks would demolish the Japanese armour.
     
  20. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I'm just wondering how the Germans would manage to get heavy armor into the far east. We can't just say that the Germans manage to wander into China, set up massive factories and start producing an endless stream of Tigers, Panthers, StuGs and the like without being challenged by the Japanese at some point.

    And the Japanese had small tanks because the predominant terrain dictated smaller tanks. If the Japanese felt the need to manufacture and deploy heavy armor, they would have done so.
     
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