Chapter 11: Analysis of the Southern Campaign
The capture of Nanjing led to the collapse of the Republic of China and international recognition of the People's Republic of China. Roughly 66% of the NRA defected and joined the PLA upon the RoC's defeat. The rest either sabotaged their equipment, fled into the one of the now autonomous provinces, or remained hidden, waiting to strike against the CPC. As such, the PLA's size more than doubled. However, the defectors were equipped with seriously outdated equipment, and it would take more than a year to bring their weapons up to the standards enjoyed by the original PLA soldiers. Two medium bomber wings were also seized, but all lighter aircraft were destroyed by their pilots and ground crews. Nearly the entire Republic of China Navy was captured intact, with only the RoCN's destroyers being scuttled before the PLA could crew them. However, the newly-formed People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) was composed of only a flotilla of troop transports, 5 pre-WW1 era cruisers (the "newest" of which was completed in 1911) and 2 semi-modern light cruisers. The PLAN was no match against even the Soviet Union's Red Navy, let alone the navies fielded by the Entente, which counted the world's largest, 3rd largest, and 4th largest navies as members.
In addition to its acquisition of a large portion of the NRA, the PRC gained the bulk of Chinese industry. Prior to Nanjing's capture, the PRC's industrial output was roughly equal to 35 IC units. After the KMT's surrender, the PRC's industrial capacity rose to 91 IC units, nearly tripling the size of the PRCs potential arms industry. The remaining bulk of Chinese industry now lay in Guangxi and Shanxi provinces, and were to be the first targets of the continued campaign to reunify China. Guangxi was the most modern and reformed province in regards to economic matters, while Shanxi held the Taiyuan Arsenal, one of China's 5 great arsenals.
A summary of the PLA and its air and naval support branches. The PRC's officer ratio was damaged with the influx of new soldiers.
A very brief summary of the PRC's economy can be seen at the top info bar.
The Southern Campaign saw the large-scale use of trench warfare. Both sides could only conduct successful offensives if they used multiple axes of attack. However, it was often the case that not every division that was to participate was organized and ready for an offensive. As a result, the attacks had to be delayed while preparations were being made, which allowed both sides to construct large-scale trenches of the type seen in Europe during WW1. The main difference between the Eastern and Southern Campaigns and WW1 was the use of artillery. During WW1 both sides fielded large quantities of heavy artillery. During the War of Liberation, only the PLA fielded such weapons. The use of heavy artillery proved to be decisive, as the artillery could bombard the NRA trenches at will while the infantry advanced nearly unopposed.
PLA soldiers during an NRA counter-attack near Jinan
Mao and the rest of the CPC leadership came away from the conflict with several conclusions regarding military strategy. First was that keeping the PLA equipment as up to date as possible was a major key to their victory. Where earlier terrain had caused serious setbacks, improved equipment eventually allowed the PLA to overcome those obstacles. As such, the PLA's man-portable weapons were top-notch and comparable to those fielded by the other major world powers, and its soldiers were amongst the most experienced in the world. In regards to equipment, training, and leadership the PLA was now a world-class army. This army would be vital to recapturing Manchuria.
Second, the PLA's operational doctrine of using large numbers of infantry to attack the enemy in overwhelming waves was proven to be a competent strategy. However, the PLA's main opponent was an army of poorly led and poorly equipped peasant soldiers whose only advantage was numerical superiority. Whether or not these tactics would still be viable against an enemy that possessed their own heavy artillery was not certain. Given China's vast pool of potential recruits and large post-unification borders, it was deemed that the top priority of the PRC was to expand the PLA as quickly as possible. The best time to strike at either Mongolia or Japan would be when they and their allies were distracted in Europe, and with Germany collapsing time was running short.
The NRA had very little in regards to heavy artillery. The field guns below were often the only artillery available for NRA divisions
Third, while air power was never a major factor in the war, it most definitely would come into play against the more industrialized major powers that still held Chinese territory. Japan was known to possess many medium and long range bombers, which if left unopposed could decimate China's cities and industry. As such, as part of the PLA's expansion interceptor aircraft had to be developed and built to counter Japanese bombers. The Soviet Union was unfortunately unwilling to provide any assistance in this matter and the PRC had no experience designing or building aircraft, so the planned expansion had to start from scratch. Starting a war of aggression against any of the imperialist powers would only end in defeat if there was no way to prevent enemy bombers from reaching their targets.
Finally, the PLAN would need to be expanded if the PRC was to protect its long shoreline from amphibious invasions from the Entente. Realistically, with no experience in naval engineering there was no way the PLAN could expand and be able to counter the naval might fielded by the Entente within even 5 years, it could expand enough to harass their merchant shipping and foil sea invasions. Short-ranged invasions against Taiwan could be made possible with such an investment. As such, minor investments into submarines and destroyers to create a green water navy were to be made, but not at the expense of the newly formed People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF).