One Heart, One Soul, One Mind, One Goal: A Republic of China HPP AAR

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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Part 11: Feb. 1938 and Planning an Offensive New

RustyHunter

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Part 11: Feb. 1938 and Planning an Offensive

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February of 1938 opened with the battle for Lingbao still raging on. As of Feb. 4, most of the KMT militias had been forced from the province, but the two reserve infantry divisions had joined the battle, preventing a total collapse.

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The battle raged on until Feb. 9 when Japanese forces called off the attack. KMT forces had lost 1200 men while the Japanese lost about 1100. Later that same day, the Japanese began what appeared to be a major offensive across the whole line. In the east, they attempted to take both Kenli and Pingyin once more. KMT forces were well dug-in in both provinces, but the Japanese had gathered a large number of divisions for both of the attacks.

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On the western front, Japan launched an attack on Weinan, just west of Lingbao. KMT forces had been caught redeploying, causing some disorganization among the defenders.

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One day later, an attack was launched on Kaifeng, just east of Zhengzhou. This appeared to be the most promising for the Japanese because one division had already gained a bridgehead, and the skillful Komatsubara was leading the assault.

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Also on Feb. 10, KMT forces won the battle of Pingyin. They had lost only 70 men while inflicting over 500 casualties. This battle clearly demonstrated that China's investment into infantry equipment was beginning to pay off.

The battles continued to rage along the front until Feb. 13. Japanese forces had been kept out of Kenli, securing the eastern Huang He Line. Almost 2000 Japanese had fallen while the Chinese lost only 300. The casualty ratio was very surprising because Chinese militias had suffered horribly against Japan in the previous months. However, it was possible that the KMT infantry in the province had borne the brunt of the assault. Further, Japan had included cavalry in the attack, and they struggled to cross the river.

By Feb. 16, it appeared the Japanese might make progress on the western front but not in the center. At Kaifeng, both sides were looking worn, but the Chinese had sufficient reserves to keep wearing the Japanese down. However, Japanese forces had made substantial progress in Weinan, likely gaining a bridgehead over the Huang He in the west.

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On Feb. 18, the Japanese ended their attack on Kaifeng after losing over 2000 men. The KMT defenders had lost almost 2400 but successfully held the province. At Weinan, the KMT's reserve infantry had arrived in the battle just in time to relieve the battered militias. Some of the militias withdrew to Xi'an while the rest withdrew south. There were not enough KMT divisions in the region to entirely man the line, but the poor terrain and limited supply lines would hopefully limit the Japanese threat.

On Feb. 22, the KMT infantry could no longer hold and withdrew to the east. KMT forces had lost over 2600 men while the Japanese only lost 1800. Japanese tanks had once again proven decisive when faced against poorly armed Chinese militia.

Also on Feb. 22, Chiang had decided it was time to push the Japanese out of Zhengzhou and reduce the chance they might concentrate enough forces to collapse the central Huang He Line. The attack was spearheaded by Bai Chongxi's oversized infantry divisions and heavily supported by both KMT militias and cavalry divisions.

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The Japanese commanders of a Manchukuoan miltia division launched a futile attack on Linru in an attempt to relieve pressure on Zhengzhou. By Feb. 24, the Manchukuoans had been beaten back, losing over 300 men while the Chinse lost less than 20. On Feb. 25, a Japanese infantry division restarted the attack on Linru but made very little progress.

On Feb. 26, the Japanese withdrew from Zhengzhou and called off the attack on Linru. Both sides had lost about 1200 men due to these battles, but Chiang was pleased that Chinese forces now controlled all of the Huang He Line.

With the security of the Huang He Line ensured (assuming no dramatic Japanese action), the last few weeks had been spent considering an offensive action. While China could likely hold the Huang He indefinitely, it was felt an offensive was necessary to destroy Japanese divisions and hopefully take the initiative. The Republic of China was only growing stronger over time, but no foreign country could be expected to intervene on China's behalf and end the war. The Soviet Union was clearly more interested in China and Japan bleeding each other dry while the United Kingdom was more concerned by German rearmament.

The United States had great sympathy for the Republic of China's ordeal, largely thanks to the advocacy of the 'China Lobby', but the populace was not willing to risk a war in Asia. However, the US government refused to provide any aid as there were too many profitable business ties to Japan.

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Time magazine was especially sympathetic to the Republic of China and Chiang Kai-shek

KMT observers had found that the Japanese line was weak along the central portion of the Huang He Line, often being held by Manchukuoan conscripts or poorly equipped cavalry divisions. Initially this appeared to be purely academic as there were no strategically vital targets in the area, but von Falkenhausen proposed the Chinese could break through in this sector, send enough divisions through to exploit the breakthrough, and then encircle Japanese forces between the Huang He and the coast. He believed the German-trained divisions had learned enough of Germany's famed 'stormtrooper' tactics that they could spearhead this major offensive.

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Chiang and his closest generals worked together to develop von Falkenhausen's plan into something that could be achieved by the forces available. The plan came to be known as Operation Tripod, named after the traditional Chinese cauldrons used to give offerings (ding), as can be seen on the Order of the Sacred Tripod, a prestigious award in the Republic of China.

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The plan consisted of three phases and would require all of the forces along the central and eastern Huang He Line as well as the German-trained divisions that had been held in reserve for much of the war so far. Before the offensive could begin, the German-trained divisions had to be brought forward to their staging areas in and around Zhengzhou. They would not be in position until early March, so the offensive was set to begin in mid-March. The elite divisions would begin the initial phase of the operation by assaulting both Jiaozuo and Puyang. These provinces were chosen because they would allow Chinese forces to concentrate the maximum number of troops to quickly force a crossing before the Japanese could respond.

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The second phase of the plan would require Chinese infantry and cavalry to advance through the gap in the line, heading north and east. The westernmost divisions would consist of the divisions that were already stationed along the Huang He; these men were expected to shield the breakthrough from any Japanese counterattack from the west. The easternmost spearhead would be led by the German-trained divisions. These men had to advance the farthest and were expected to face the toughest opposition, so only Chiang's elite forces could achieve this.

The third phase required the elite infantry divisions to end their advance north and east by capturing Nangong and Linqing. At the same time, KMT forces stationed in Kenli would advance across the Huang He, linking up with their comrades in Nangong. These forces would be supported by the newly raised 200th Mechanized Division, consisting of one motorized infantry brigade and one motorized support brigade. The division was largely equipped with German weapons and armored cars, but also featured a handful of Soviet T-26 tanks. The second motorized brigade was still training and would not be available until later in the spring. It was hoped the mobility of the division would take the Japanese by surprise, preventing them from escaping the trap until stronger forces could be brought up.

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Newly trained Chinese tankers with their Soviet-supplied T-26 tanks

Nangong was the key to the attack as this would leave all of the Japanese divisions stationed along the eastern Huang He encircled and ready to be destroyed by KMT forces. Capturing Linqing would be useful to break up the Japanese pocket and make it easier to liquidate before the Japanese could gather their reserves and relieve the trapped troops.

This offensive would benefit China in several ways. First, it would encircle and destroy some of the best equipped and most well trained Japanese forces in China. Intelligence had confirmed that somewhere between five and ten divisions would be trapped in the pocket, including a motorized division. Second, this offensive would bring Chinese forces closer to Beiping, regaining most of the territory lost to Japan in the war. Finally, this would leave the Japanese forces overextended in the west, rather than able to concentrate on the Manchurian border. If a second offensive could be launched to trap the Japanese in western China, Manchuria would be largely undefended and vulnerable to a KMT invasion.

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German-trained infantry preparing for Operation Tripod

Operation Tripod also carried major risks though. The Japanese had concentrated substantial forces in the west which could redeploy and cut the Chinese spearhead off before the encirclement was achieved. Further, Japanese forces might withdraw from the Huang He before the trap could be closed, making the offensive largely meaningless. Most importantly, Chiang was risking his best troops, far beyond the defensive line of the Huang He. The Chinese had beaten Japanese forces before, but always with overwhelming numbers or defensive positions. Operation Tripod would require KMT soldiers to face the Japanese in the open and win, something that had yet to be proven...
 
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Bullfilter

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These are just the carrier fanatics. Real red-blooded IJN men know that battleships are the way forward!

...right? Someone back me up, here, I'm out of the loop with that AAR these days. Is that one submarines guy still out of his cage?
If forward can be interpreted as something like ‘forward into battle to a glorious death in an obsolete but bushido-friendly steel death trap‘ then ... yes, forward they go. They sound to me like those IJA generals who didn’t think tanks were sporting :rolleyes::D But wait, this is a China AAR! ;)

subs? Well battleships are just large subs that go underwater in a battle against carriers ... and just don’t resurface again. Damn - it happened again! apologies, @RustyHunter

Now I must get to the business of reading the next chapter (travelling right now, so may take a little while to comment).
 
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Newly trained Chinese tankers with their Soviet-supplied T-26 tanks
I take it these are of insufficient numbers to constitute any game effect, but would have been present in the OTL equivalent of a MOT division? Because a brigade of early medium tanks would be pretty useful ...
Nangong was the key to the attack as this would leave all of the Japanese divisions stationed along the eastern Huang He encircled and ready to be destroyed by KMT forces.
A very ambitious objective.
If a second offensive could be launched to trap the Japanese in western China, Manchuria would be largely undefended and vulnerable to a KMT invasion.
May as well aim high in the hope it actually works.
Operation Tripod would require KMT soldiers to face the Japanese in the open and win, something that had yet to be proven...
Aside from the risks on the ground, how worried are you about Japanese TAC? How significant a problem have they been so far? They will surely be used extensively to blunt key attacks.

It will be interesting to see how effective these ‘elite’ divisions are in difficult river crossing assaults and then in the open, not entrenched and without air cover while fighting off counter-attacks if they do manage to make it across. It is a significant challenge.

And the lack of quicker units to exploit any breakthroughs may well allow the Japanese to escape any encirclement if the initial attacks are successful. One small MOT division won’t be enough - do you have many CAV divs handy to help with such work (I can see one on the map shown)?
 
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RustyHunter

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I take it these are of insufficient numbers to constitute any game effect, but would have been present in the OTL equivalent of a MOT division? Because a brigade of early medium tanks would be pretty useful ...
In real life these tanks were integrated into the 200th Div. along with Panzer Is and CV-33s, but I don't have any tanks in game. I just added it in for flavor. But the motorized division in game does have armored cars integrated into it (another HPP feature)!
A very ambitious objective.
I suppose it is, but it's only about 6 or 7 key provinces to take. The big issue is whether the AI has any reserves and figures out what I'm up to...
Aside from the risks on the ground, how worried are you about Japanese TAC? How significant a problem have they been so far? They will surely be used extensively to blunt key attacks.
Japanese TACs are obviously going to bomb me relentlessly. I don't even plan to bother using my fighters in the north because they're so outnumbered. I'm mainly hoping my superior numbers can break the Japanese quickly and then try to keep the pressure up before they can concentrate on me.
It will be interesting to see how effective these ‘elite’ divisions are in difficult river crossing assaults and then in the open, not entrenched and without air cover while fighting off counter-attacks if they do manage to make it across. It is a significant challenge.
I also may have been talking them up a bit much...their experience is actually really low, especially compared to the troops I fought the CCP with, but they do have better techs than any of my other units.
And the lack of quicker units to exploit any breakthroughs may well allow the Japanese to escape any encirclement if the initial attacks are successful. One small MOT division won’t be enough - do you have many CAV divs handy to help with such work (I can see one on the map shown)?
I have 3 CAV divisions along the central front. The other 2 are under the one you saw. They'll be useful for taking land, but they're pretty much useless in an attack. Each of them are just 2 brigades and they don't have a support brigade either. I'm hoping they can overrun territory before Japan can guard it so the infantry don't have to waste time fighting tiny battles.
 
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Part 12: Beginning of Op. Tripod (Mar. 1938) New

RustyHunter

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Part 12: Beginning of Operation Tripod

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Operation Tripod was not planned to begin until mid March because the German-trained divisions had to advance to their staging areas around Zhengzhou. As the men moved forward, the Japanese attacked Kaifeng on Mar. 3.

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The battle lasted until Mar. 8 after the Japanese lost almost 1000 men while the KMT lost only 700. KMT commanders estimated the elite infantry would arrive at the front on Mar. 15, so Operation Tripod was planned to begin on Mar. 16.

On Mar. 9, Chiang Kai-shek was greeted by devastating news. Germany had decided to recognize Manchukuo as an independent and sovereign nation after a major diplomatic campaign by Japan. This meant that Germany had realigned its interests in Asia, deciding to support Japan rather than China. In the spirit of this new relationship, all German assistance to the Republic of China would be ended, including military advisors and economic assistance. General von Falkenhausen was also recalled to Germany and was no longer allowed to advise Chiang on military matters.


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This diplomatic incident threatened to derail Operation Tripod before it even began because von Falkenhausen had been intimately involved in the planning. He had also been placed in charge of the 1st Army Group, whose forces would be executing the entire plan. If von Falkenhausen revealed the plans to his superiors, the Japanese would likely be given them and destroy the Chinese attack.

Upon hearing the news, Chiang organized a farewell for von Falkenhausen and the other high-ranking advisors. von Falkenhausen had worked with Chiang since 1934, developing a close relationship. Together, they had improved China's army and developed the plans that would allow China to defeat Japan. von Falkenhausen had not wanted to leave China, but his family could be punished for his disobedience. As a final show of support, he promised not to reveal Operation Tripod or any other military information that could harm the Republic. Chiang and his closest advisor parted on good terms, hopeful that they would be reunited in better times for both their countries.

On Mar. 11, the Japanese attacked Lingbao once more. They seemed unlikely to succeed, but the KMT had no more reinforcements to help hold the province.

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On Mar. 12, the preliminary assault to begin Operation Tripod was launched. Rather than taking Puyang with infantry forces, KMT militias would be left the task. They were only expected to take the province so the Japanese could not reinforce the real attack at Jiaozuo. Eight KMT divisions attacked a lone Manchukuoan militia, quickly disorganizing their opponent. By Mar. 14, the Manchukuoans withdrew after losing almost 250 men.

The Japanese infantry in Jiaozuo then launched an attack to retake Puyang, not realizing the danger they were in. On Mar. 16, the KMT infantry launched the first assault of Operation Tripod, taking the Japanese entirely by surprise. Further, the Chinese bombarded the Japanese lines with large numbers of artillery, something the Japanese had not dealt with in the war so far. Between massed numbers and superior leadership, the Chinese made good progress in their assault.

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On the eastern front, the Japanese assaulted Kenli once more while more of their forces joined the attack on Puyang. The KMT militias in Puyang were not going to hold the Japanese back, but they were expected to hold until Jiaozuo had been captured.

On Mar. 17, KMT forces had amassed and reorganized in the provinces around Weinan. They then launched a major attack on the lone Japanese division, looking likely to push them out of the province.

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On Mar. 20, the KMT militias withdrew from Puyang after taking heavy losses. However, the Japanese had almost been forced out of Jiaozuo because no units had reinforced them.

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Also on Mar. 20, KMT forces won the battle of Weinan. The Japanese had lost almost 850 men while the KMT lost only 300. Most importantly, this secured the Huang He once more and would allow KMT troops to reinforce the battle of Lingbao.

On Mar. 21, KMT forces in Lingbao won the battle before the reinforcements arrived. They had lost only 435 men while the Japanese lost almost 1700. A few hours later, the KMT infantry finally broke the Japanese defenders in Jiaozuo. Casualties had been high, but the Japanese had suffered significantly more. KMT troops then began to pour into the province, hopefully beginning the next phase of Operation Tripod.

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On Mar. 22, Chiang was pleased to see the Japanese make a mistake. Their elite motorized infantry and Imperial Guard's cavalry launched an attack on Neze rather than Jiaozuo. They seemed oblivious to the major Chinese offensive that was being launched and instead attempted to break through the Huang He Line once more. If they had attacked the KMT bridgehead in Jiaozuo, the entire operation would have stalled and possibly ruined the entire plan.

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On Mar. 23, KMT cavalry attacked the battered Japanese in Xinxiang. This same division had been forced out of Jiaozuo and was in no condition to fight.

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The Japanese attacked KMT forces in both Lingbao and the bridgehead at Jiaozuo on Mar. 24. However, they quickly called off the attack on Jiaozuo as KMT infantry arrived and they were hit by a KMT counterattack. Japanese forces withdrew from Xinxiang later the same day, allowing the elite infantry and cavalry to continue their advance.

On Mar. 26, the KMT infantry arrived in the province and continued the offensive by attacking Handan. This province was defended by the Manchukuoan militia and Japanese tanks, but their armor was no match for German supplied Pak 36 anti-tank guns. The rest of the KMT infantry and cavalry advanced into Anyang to protect the spearhead from any possible Japanese counterattack.

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KMT infantry prepared for an armored counterattack

On Mar. 27, the Japanese continued to ignore Operation Tripod, instead resuming their attack on Pingyin. This was likely supposed to force Chinese reserves to commit to either Pingyin or Neze, but the dug-in KMT infantry allowed the reserves to focus on the more dangerous battle at Neze.

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One day later, the Japanese ended their attack on Pingyin after losing almost 600 men to China's 300. However, they did not seem interested in redeploying any of these divisions to the west.

On Mar. 29, KMT forces took control of Anyang unopposed while they also succeeded in pushing the Japanese out of Handan. The Chinese lost 500 men while the Japanese lost 800. Once they occupied Handan, KMT forces would only be one province away from Nangong, nearly completing the western portion of the encirclement.

Since the beginning of Operation Tripod, KMT forces had been attacking the Japanese in Jincheng. Japanese forces had been forced out once already, but they kept reinforcing the province before it could be occupied. However, this battle was drawing in Japanese reinforcements from the west, rather than the provinces closer to the Chinese spearhead.

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Later on Mar. 29, the battle for Kenli finally ended. The Japanese had lost over 5100 men while the Chinese defenders had lost almost 3000. The end of this battle was perfectly timed for the Chinese. The infantry defending Kenli had been expected to form the eastern part of the encirclement, so this futile Japanese attack would allow them to push across the Huang He more easily. However, they would be allowed to rest and reorganize a few days before launching the offensive.

Major battles for both Lingbao and Jincheng were still raging on at the end of the month. Chinese infantry had joined the defense in Lingbao, making victory more likely while the offensive on Jincheng continued to tie down Japanese reinforcements. The spearhead seemed to have very few obstacles ahead of them, while the Japanese in the potential pocket seemed oblivious to what Chinese forces were doing.

The first two phases of Operation Tripod had been completed by the end of March. The western branch of the encirclement had reached Handan, one province south of Nangong, their final objective. However, the eastern forces had been tied down in a bloody battle for Kenli, preventing them from completing the eastern portion of the encirclement. The encirclement had also moved very slowly due to poor infrastructure and desperate rearguard actions by Japanese units. Chiang's men had successfully broken a hole in the lines, and they had beaten determined Japanese resistance multiple times. However, the encirclement was still far from complete, and the Japanese could easily recognize the danger they were in...
 
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These forces would be supported by the newly raised 200th Mechanized Division, consisting of one motorized infantry brigade and one motorized support brigade. The division was largely equipped with German weapons and armored cars, but also featured a handful of Soviet T-26 tanks.
I appreciate the flavor here with the mix of German and Soviet equipment.

This Operation Tripod looks good in theory, but risky. The Chinese troop quality is suspect compared to the Japanese, and holding an encirclement once formed is a whole other ballgame in my experience. Hopefully it works!

I take it these are of insufficient numbers to constitute any game effect, but would have been present in the OTL equivalent of a MOT division? Because a brigade of early medium tanks would be pretty useful ...
Now there's another interesting discussion...

It depends what you call a "MOT division". If you mean 3x MOT brigades plus supporting units...the answer is maybe. But in that case, you probably wouldn't see T-26s as the tanks of choice in any major power's MOT division, more likely you would see light tanks (in this case BT series) used for reconnaissance - of course China was in more of a "use what you got" situation. However, much more common would have been various kinds of "mixed" divisions which an army would designate as "motorized" formations.

The British for example had no tanks in their motor infantry divisions in 1939-40, but seem to have had a "Mixed" division order which looked like (L?)ARM/MOT/MOT/SUP (using the HPP support brigade nomenclature for brevity) in 1942. As far as I can tell, France, Italy, and Japan all did not assign tanks to their MOT divisions (Japan I don't think ever had MOT, I don't know what that nonsense is doing in their starting OOB). I'm not sure about the USA in 1941, but they did assign some light tanks to their cavalry division OOBs so I don't see why they wouldn't have them in their MOT divisions as support units as well. US Marines interestingly had tank battalions assigned (at least on paper) from 1941, and they aren't even motorized troops!

Interestingly, the Polish motorized brigades (there were two) had light tank companies attached - shattering that myth about the backwards Polish charging modern German steel on horseback once again. Less surprisingly the Czechs did something similar with their Fast Divisions although these were semi-motorized. I would broadly venture the guess that smaller powers with not enough tanks to really develop armored warfare doctrines would tend to mix the light tanks of their nation into their mobile divisions as heavy reconnaissance formations, rather than trying to form (relatively) expensive light armored divisions which would be of limited use in such small numbers.

The ones we all care about though are the Germans and Soviets. The Germans in 1939 did not have any tanks I could see in their MOT divisions, however their leichte divisionen were, on paper, LARM/MOT/MOT/SUP divisions. They don't seem to have added tanks to MOT divisions at any point, and the leichte division eventually merged with the panzer division in organization, largely to preserve limited tank strength while having a lot of panzer divisions. Even once they started using Panzergrenadiers, the Germans lacked the production capability to equip those with even halftracks let alone tanks - although this may have been different for the overvalued SS regiments, I'm not sure.

Now, the Russians...oh boy, the Russians...

To start with, the 1941 OOB (I refuse to go back through the pre-war years for the sake of an AAR comment) included "mechanized corps" made up of Tank Divisions (ARM/ARM/MOT/SUP) and Mechanized Divisions (ARM/MOT/MOT/SUP). In HoI3 most players would call either one of these an armored division, but the Soviets had both and thus differentiated between them - pointlessly, it turns out, since they had no idea how to use either sort of division in 1941. Additionally they had a handful (six, I think) of motorized rifle divisions (MotoStrelkovaya Diviziya) which were your traditional MOT/MOT/MOT/SUP arrangement and included an armored company, nominally with T-37 tanks which were not just light tanks but in fact amphibious tanks. In fairness, you might want your reconnaissance tanks to be able to ford a river if you were a Red Army tank officer in 1941, but still... But this is the Soviet Union, so we're not done yet: the cavalry divisions had a really strange organization of CAV/CAV/CAV/CAV/LARM/SUP, fitted out with about four dozen T-37s on paper. I usually model this as CAV/CAV/LARM/SUP since the Kavaleriyskiy Polk was a lot smaller than a typical infantry regiment, closer to 1,500 men than ~3,000 for an infantry regiment, but it's still a weird organization. What can I say, the Russians had a lot of tanks and struggled to put them in the right places.

After this... to make a long story short, the Red Army evolved after getting their asses kicked repeatedly, and in broad strokes: from 1942 on the armored formations of the USSR were Tank Corps, despite the name roughly the size of a large armored division. These consisted of Tank Brigades and Motor Rifle Brigades, the latter of which did not have tanks assigned but did start to introduce APCs for their recon companies. However, towards the end of the war we do see the re-emergence of the mechanized brigade which looks like MOT/MOT/MOT/ARM/SUP in terms of battalion-sized assets.

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To add to this, what every army with a nontrivial number of tanks did was to attach independent battalions to any division they felt like doing so with. The Germans were perhaps most famous for this with their Tiger tanks, but the French did this as well as nearly all of their divisions in practice had one or more IST battalions attached by 10 May 1940.

So to answer the question: they certainly could have been, and if anything the precedent from other minor powers suggests that what China did was not uncommon, namely throwing their limited numbers of tanks into motorized divisions rather than trying to cobble together armored divisions with enough tanks to make a meaningful impact on the battlefield. What is unusual in China's case is the use of T-26s. Logistically, this is what I would expect to see since they don't really have any other tanks (Renault FTs are not mobile units), but the use of medium tanks (i.e. combat, not reconnaissance, units) as a support group is rather unusual. Really the only other place you might see this is in the Spanish Civil War, where the OOBs are made up and the TO&Es don't matter.

On Mar. 9, Chiang Kai-shek was greeted by devastating news. Germany had decided to recognize Manchukuo as an independent and sovereign nation after a major diplomatic campaign by Japan. This meant that Germany had realigned its interests in Asia, deciding to support Japan rather than China. In the spirit of this new relationship, all German assistance to the Republic of China would be ended, including military advisors and economic assistance. General von Falkenhausen was also recalled to Germany and was no longer allowed to advise Chiang on military matters.
This is a big blow, China loses a lot of military expertise now. Hopefully the men he has trained can follow in his footsteps.

On Mar. 23, KMT cavalry attacked the battered Japanese in Xinxiang. This same division had been forced out of Jiaozuo and was in no condition to fight.

YBtPY27.png
It's always a good idea to keep track of the few mixed brigades (Dokuritsu Konsei Ryodan) in the Japanese starting OOB. They have tanks, so can be difficult to beat in a fight, but tend to be fragile due to only having 1-2 INF brigades, so usually can be treated as weak points in the line if you throw enough men at them. The regular 4xINF divisions are a lot tougher and more resilient.

The first two phases of Operation Tripod had been completed by the end of March. The western branch of the encirclement had reached Handan, one province south of Nangong, their final objective. However, the eastern forces had been tied down in a bloody battle for Kenli, preventing them from completing the eastern portion of the encirclement. The encirclement had also moved very slowly due to poor infrastructure and desperate rearguard actions by Japanese units. Chiang's men had successfully broken a hole in the lines, and they had beaten determined Japanese resistance multiple times. However, the encirclement was still far from complete, and the Japanese could easily recognize the danger they were in...
Good progress, but still a long way to go - and then holding the pocket long enough to reduce it may pose another challenge. I suspect the main benefit in the end may turn out to be the disruption rather than capturing troops, which will prove more difficult. Disruption in turn benefits the Communists who may be able to advance on the reorganizing Japanese.
 
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RustyHunter

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Now there's another interesting discussion...
This was a really interesting discussion. I had no idea the Soviets had such a goofy distribution of their tanks at the start of the war!
So to answer the question: they certainly could have been, and if anything the precedent from other minor powers suggests that what China did was not uncommon, namely throwing their limited numbers of tanks into motorized divisions rather than trying to cobble together armored divisions with enough tanks to make a meaningful impact on the battlefield. What is unusual in China's case is the use of T-26s.
I definitely agree with you that the Chinese were just combining their miscellaneous tanks into one unit. I've seen some sources refer to it as a mechanized division even though the infantry were riding in trucks. Could there be some translation issues from Chinese to English? The division also lost most of its tanks, so I think they converted it to a regular infantry division at some point which makes this whole thing even more confusing!
This is a big blow, China loses a lot of military expertise now. Hopefully the men he has trained can follow in his footsteps.
It really was! He was a Skill 5 when he left, making him my best general, and he had good traits too.
It's always a good idea to keep track of the few mixed brigades (Dokuritsu Konsei Ryodan) in the Japanese starting OOB. They have tanks, so can be difficult to beat in a fight, but tend to be fragile due to only having 1-2 INF brigades, so usually can be treated as weak points in the line if you throw enough men at them. The regular 4xINF divisions are a lot tougher and more resilient.
That must explain why I got through them relatively easily then - my German-trained infantry had better AT than their armor.
Good progress, but still a long way to go - and then holding the pocket long enough to reduce it may pose another challenge. I suspect the main benefit in the end may turn out to be the disruption rather than capturing troops, which will prove more difficult. Disruption in turn benefits the Communists who may be able to advance on the reorganizing Japanese.
It's also pretty frustrating moving at infantry speed. My cavalry can't really hold any ground, leaving the infantry to do all the work. Luckily, the Japanese haven't been too interested in counterattacking my spearhead or moving out of the pocket. The AI must be roleplaying stubborn, arrogant IJA generals!
 
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nuclearslurpee

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I definitely agree with you that the Chinese were just combining their miscellaneous tanks into one unit. I've seen some sources refer to it as a mechanized division even though the infantry were riding in trucks. Could there be some translation issues from Chinese to English? The division also lost most of its tanks, so I think they converted it to a regular infantry division at some point which makes this whole thing even more confusing!
Not a translation issue, the entire world at this time had no standard idea of what motorized, mechanized, or even armored divisions should look like, and our modern use is as much as anything an application of hindsight to make the world easier to understand - often fallaciously, as it turns out.

Case in point: the French Division Légère Mécanique (DLM, properly translated: "Mechanized Light Division") consisted of an mechanized light armor brigade (2x ARM regiment), a mechanized light infantry brigade (2x MOT regiment), and a mechanized artillery regiment (self-explanatory). The term légère, translated "light" does not mean that these divisions were lightly armed, in fact they were a full armored division by the standards of the time and actually fairly effective in that role as a battlefield unit. Rather it means that they were highly mobile and strategically "light" in the same way that light cavalry troops would be (in fact you see this in the name of the cavalry division, Division de Cavalerie Légère (DLC), from which the DLM was derived - these incidentally were a mix of horse cavalry and motorized troops), and was in contrast to the heavy tank divisions (think Char B1) which were the Divisions Cuirassées de Reserve (DCR) - alluding of course to the French heavy cavalry of a bygone era, the cuirassiers. And of course none of these divisions were the actual French motorized infantry divisions, which were part of the same name/numbering series as the regular infantry.

So the issue is not translation but rather inconsistent nomenclature from one power to the next as everyone tried to figure out how to use these new technologies and weapons on the battlefield. Importantly, what we think of as a "mechanized" regiment/brigade/division had not been invented yet - the concept of transporting infantry into a battle in armored carriers rather than transporting them to a battle in unarmored trucks (the distinction between "into" and "to" is significant) had been developed even in WWI but not yet formalized into a large formation equipped primarily with these vehicles - you more often see armored half-tracks used by reconnaissance companies, for instance. As far as everyone was concerned, trucks were mechanical and therefore infantry in trucks could be called mechanized infantry. The distinction really only arose once people figured out that deploying large formations of infantry in APCs/IFVs was (a) useful, (b) practical (this is important - pre-war vehicle manufacture was not all that!), and (c) tactically distinct from motorized infantry carted to the battlefield in trucks.

I've really gotta stop commenting in this AAR before bedtime...
 
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