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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Chapter Two: 1937 - Prelude to War

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After a long day of drills and helping the combat engineers of 5 Hoheishidan build a company barracks on the soil of East Hebei, Shin Kenji was able to settle into his bunk and grab a pencil and paper and begin writing home of his experiences being deployed as an Imperial Army Soldier. As he wrote crisp whistling winds blew through the cracks between the boards which held the barracks upright. Shin shivered and brought his covers closer to his shoulders before continuing to write his wife who was back in Osaka, Japan.

Dearest Takara,

As I write to you today 5 Hoheishidan, the infantry division of which I have been assigned to, has been just north of China for the past eleven days. Hebei is a barren landscape. There is not much here but foothills and dirt. We are fighting the cold as well. The winds pick up pretty fierce if you are not in shelter and we are still learning to deal with it. This is a very different place than Osaka and I miss home.

I hope you are well Takara. How is our daughter? Is the bakery treating you well? These are all questions that run through my mind as I dig trenches, machine gun emplacements and run drills with the rest of my platoon. We wake up at dawn and run for what seems like hours. They call this conditioning and its supposed to make us a better soldier. I see their point but I would rather dig a deeper hole or clean my rifle for the tenth time.

There are good times though. After a series of drills we break for chow and can feel like regular men back on the Home Islands. We joke and talk about our lives back home and who we are serving for. I have grown close to several of the men her in my platoon. I have not met anyone from Osaka yet but I am sure I am not the only one here in Hebei.

Anyways, I hope this reaches you soon my dear wife. You and our daughter are in my thoughts. Always.

Shin

*****
While the Imperial Army began securing a foothold on Japanese territory in Asia, the Central Government held talks with ambassadors from both Germany and Italy. An anti-Comintern pact had been established which would allow the transfer of intelligence on Comintern activity as well as domestic raids on those suspected of aiding the Comintern ideology. This would sow a mutual friendship between Japan, Germany and Italy and would be just the beginning if things were to continue to transpire as the have been this past year.

Now that Imperial Intelligence had been properly funded for the time being, civilian factories along with military factories and dockyards were developing at full speed. Soon Japan would have itself a booming domestic industry to rival the most prestigious of Western Powers. With this new found potential Japan could ramp up production of not only its army but it’s navy and air force as well. Currently infantry division equipment and supplies were prioritized for the Imperial Army but within a year the Imperial Army projected that it could begin development of modern light armor along with supporting motorized infantry. The Air Force however were not likely to see any gains until late 1937 or early 1938.


As Japan continued to ramp up its civilian and military economies its future seemed bright. Soon Japan would no longer have to worry itself with trade and focus all production from domestic supplies, barring a massive need for steel should the Imperial Navy require it in the future. Steel however was easy to come by so it was of little concern, especially at Japan’s current state of industry. Infrastructure was looking good as well with construction cued for East Hebei and the surrounding area. In the not so distant future however, infrastructure would also be developed on the Home Islands of Japan to further increase precious resource gains.

1937 would be a year of great interest for Japan. All that the Empire would have to do is stay the current course and wait for the most ideal moment to strike against its most ambitious goal, China. With the Imperial Army in place and plans for the Imperial Navy to start constructing and fielding ships relatively soon, time would be on the Empire of the rising Sun’s side.
 

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I hope our young soldier gets through this.
 

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As forty-eight divisions of the Imperial Army’s Regulars lay in wait on the northern border of China, top brass in Japan’s military held a conference with the Central Government in order to coordinate the inevitable decision to go to war. The conference would take place in Tokyo and advocating for the Imperial Army was none other than Field Marshal Tomoyuki Yamashita who had just recently been promoted to such rank. There was no distinct leader for the Imperial Navy at the time so several admirals would sit in on the conference and offer their views on the situation.

Field Marshal Yamashita was first in the line of questioning by ministry officials as he and he alone would be the only fighting force now available to carryout a war against China, or any war in general. Yamashita sat reserved for a moment before replying to the lines of questioning that had been direct to him by the ministry. “The military reform has been strenuous on my soldiers. I had to order the conscription of men and have them fully trained in less than one year. We got the job done but these new soldiers I have at my disposal are for lack of a better phrase, not in condition to withstand a prolonged engagement. They are young and most of the lower enlisted have never seen combat. We only have a handful of seasoned officers and the Chinese vastly outnumber us. Simply put, I need more men.”

An official within the ministry replied “We respect your input Marshal. If it is more men you need, how many?”

“I will need at least another full army of infantry. We have not even begun on training armored divisions yet. Our designers are in need of some imagination, Minister. I will not order divisions of obsolete armor against a capable opposing force. It takes immense resources to build tanks. It takes next to no resources to destroy one. I need better designs.”

“I see.” The minister paused for a moment before continuing “If its better tanks you need, its better tanks you will get. You must understand Marshal, it will take some time before we can finalize the product and produce.”


“I understand, Minister. I am not expecting anything other than infantry for the foreseeable future.”

“Very good, Marshal! Now what does the Imperial Navy bring to the table gentlemen?”

“We are still reviewing our options, Minister. But we believe the ways of old are most likely the ways of the future. We are strongly considering the construction of a more potent fleet with advanced battleships and cruisers of which the world has never seen. We are still looking, however, for a final design company for schematics towards constructing.”

“Understood, Admiral.” The minister looks through several documents on the conference table in front of him and studies them for a short moment before replying to Admiral Ozawa “I believe we have just what you are looking for, Admiral. The Kure Naval Arsenal are a new player in the industry. They promise superior designs without sacrificing on traditional makeup. However, you may find them lacking in combating submarines. I’ll have Kure send you some drafts and you can respond to us within the coming months if this is what you approve of.”


“Yes, Minister. I believe that would be the best course of action at the moment. We have used a previous designer for the use of Destroyers. However, they can be refitted with better equipment and still hunt submarines without penalties.”

“Excellent, Admiral! Please get back to us as soon as possible. Since the Imperial Navy at the moment does not exist other than the Nagato, the quicker, the better.”

The conference went on for another hour or so before the members recessed and the ministers brought their findings to the Emperor for final record. The Imperial Army would have their tanks but that would not be anytime soon, contrary to previous belief. As for the Imperial Navy, it seemed that the matter of resurrection was accepted and Kure Naval Arsenal would more than likely be the path the Navy would take. Advanced battleships and cruisers were agreed upon after the admirals approved of the designs. However, the construction of these behemoths would take considerable time and the clock is ticking.
 

stnylan

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Getting the IJN and IJA to co-operate - not always easy :D
 

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Is the IJN also interested in a carrier arm for the future?
 

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Getting the IJN and IJA to co-operate - not always easy :D
The Emperor's katana has ways of making cooperation more beneficial for both partys. ;)

Is the IJN also interested in a carrier arm for the future?
Fear not! There will be carriers but I'm more in favor for battleships and cruisers. I'll probably make three or four carriers, five at the most, and as many battleships as possible.
 

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Fear not! There will be carriers but I'm more in favor for battleships and cruisers. I'll probably make three or four carriers, five at the most, and as many battleships as possible.
OK, interested to see how that mix of ships goes.
 

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The darkness of night had come in. The sky, painted a partial overcast of gray with the Moon still shining through, giving the landscape enough light to navigate without the worry of missing your step. In the distance, the sound of a galloping horse become louder and louder until the passing of it shook small rocks and pebbles as the brown stallion charged through on its way. The rider, dressed in black as well as the night, pulled back the harness of the swift beast and the stallion cried out as its front two legs rose with the front of the animal as it stood up and let out scream in his horse tongue. Steam would bellow out the nostrils of the horse as it exhaled before landing back on all fours, waiting for the next command of its master.

Agent Nodoka Okubo stroked her horse’s mane and whispered “Good boy! Not much further now, I promise.” Okubo shook the reigns of the horse and the stallion continued forward at haste towards an Imperial Army base that was roughly ten miles from the border. She carried with her documents and photographs of Chinese Army positions, officer whereabouts, fortifications and other critical information. Nodoka, over the past year, carefully and successfully created a working spy network in Beijing. She found herself not only Japanese willing to aid her but unsatisfied Chinese as well.

Minutes turned into hours and finally Nodoka and her horse made it to the Imperial Army base. She slowed her horse to a walk and continued forward to the army checkpoint, just before entering the base. A guard to the front of the gate approached her and said “You are out late. Papers!”

“Yes. Late indeed.” Nodoka buried her hand into her satchel and brought out her identification papers and her Imperial Intelligence badge.

“Ah! General Tanaka has been expecting you.” The gatekeeper waved his hand to the armed guards to lower their weapons and let Agent Okubo through along with her prized companion. He ended the conversation with “You are free to go. Carry on.”

“Thank you, Corporal.” Nodoka lightly kicked her horse twice with both heels which signaled the horse to walk forward at a calm pace. She continued forward for another two hundred or so feet before dismounting and fastening her horse onto a wooden beam made to do so. She double checked her satchel and made sure everything was in order before proceeding to the officer’s tent just up the road.

An armed guard was stationed just outside the makeshift canvas tent where General Tanaka was currently. Nodoka showed her badge to the guard who then nodded his head in approval for her to pass. She entered the tent cautiously as to not provoke an unwarranted reaction this late at night. “General Tanaka?” Agent Okubo asked. The General’s eyes went from scanning a map of Northern China posted on an easel in the corner to the entrance of the large tent.

“Yes. And who might you be?” Tanaka asked.

“Sir! Agent Nodoka Okubo of Imperial Intelligence reporting!”

“Ah! What news do you have for me tonight, Okubo?”

“Sir, I have successfully gathered and broken the Chinese cipher. I believe it would be of great use for us to exploit this matter. I also have documents and photographs of key troop and officer locations among other things.”


“Excellent work, Agent Okubo.” General Tanaka brushed his right hand forward over a table and suggested “Leave your work here. I’ll bring it the attention it needs in the morning.” The General paused for a moment before continuing “You are more than welcome to stay the night in one of the barracks if you prefer. I’ll have a guard escort you to a more ‘female friendly’ quarter.”

Nodoka smiled and replied “Thank you General but that won’t be necessary. With the cipher, documents and photographs at your disposal I must get back to my informants in Beijing and suggest they displace until further notice. I’ve been ordered after cracking the cipher to put our cell ‘to sleep’ for lack of better terminology.” Agent Okubo bowed and raised her head before continuing “Now if you will excuse me General, I have work to do.”

Agent Okubo dramatically exited the General’s tent in an about face and brisk walk which would later leave her to her horse who was just down the road. She saddled the large beast and clicked her heels once to signal the horse to run back towards enemy lines. Okubo would arrive in Beijing in three hours and scramble to put her informant cell to sleep as ordered by Imperial Intelligence.
 

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I'm sure Tokyo's museum curators will be sad to loose that "aid" to nationalist Spain.:p Their loss will have to be Franco's gain.
 

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All ready for the big moment
 

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A busy agent indeed. Will it now be war? Or more preparation time?
 

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As requested by Field Marshal Yamashita, a new army of Regulars were recruited and trained. It would take just under five months for 3. Infantry Army to finish Basic Combat Training and now by order of Field Marshal Yamashita they were ordered to travel from Osaka to Nagasaki to await further instructions. While holding at Nagasaki, General Takashi Sakai would take charge and order his newly acquired Regulars to begin exercises to further condition his soldiers. Yamashita’s plan for 3. Infantry Army was to use them as a new frontal invasion force. Ten divisions would break off from Nagasaki to the province of Dalian and would land on the shores of Northeastern China once the war would breakout. Until a successful capture of Chinese ports on the coast was taken there would be no other orders for 3. Infantry Army until the armies on the border made significant progress.

While the Imperial Army finalized their plans to invade, research and development was continuing at a favorable rate for Japan. Research regarding Decimetric RADAR had finished which would allow the Imperial Navy to have a distinct advantage on the high seas. A month later 1940 Cruiser Hulls had finished followed after a few months by 1940 Heavy Ship Hulls. Following the completion of these much needed design improvements came additional armor schematics for both the cruisers and heavy ships. This would extend the time before construction but admirals in the Imperial Navy thought it was a better idea to wait just a bit longer for better armor over faster production.


The Imperial Army’s research was also ongoing. A new tank design designated Type 95 was under development along with anti-tank guns. While it was believed that the Chinese Army did not have armor at their disposal, anti-tank gun battalions attached to the Army’s Regulars would allow for better attack and breakthrough which would bring the war to a quicker end. Also Army doctrine was being researched as well in the form of Grand Battleplan.

Industry research however had been fully modernized and would not need improvement until the year 1939. That was an important step for Japan’s war machine as it would need its valuable resources as well as its industry to wage war effectively. While research had been complete, construction of factories, dockyards and fuel silos were still ongoing. Most of the production would take place on the Home Islands but a few of the dockyards would take place in close proximity to Japan. Fuel silos were introduced into production cues as a large amount of fuel was expected to be used in the future. However, the current stockpile would be adequate for the meantime.
 

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Very good progress, 1940 cruisers and 1940 heavy ships. Both very important advancements.
 

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It was a cool Autumn morning in Tokyo. Droplets of dew still rested aloft the blades of green grass in the gardens just outside Imperial Intelligence. Agents and personnel were steadily growing in numbers as the success of the agency allowed the program to grow. But this was a time of suspicion as trouble was afoot in Manchuria. Invaders had devised and carried out an act of terrorism in the Empire and swift action was being done to find out just who and what else to expect.

Agent Nodoka Okubo was still undercover in Beijing and was working to find out just what had transpired in Manchuria. She walked down through the crowded streets to her favorite news stand and coffee shop. Once arriving at the paper stand did she become aware of the plot against the Empire. Glancing at the headline in the Beijing Gazette she quickly grabbed a paper and began to read. Her eyes shifting left and right as she read to herself more details of the report. She shook her head in disbelief and paid the attendee and marched into the coffee shop and ordered her usual drink.


“Japan Army Train Bombed!” read the Gazette and following a suspiciously detailed report of the event Agent Okubo noticed Chinese patrons were praising the event as a just cause to the growing presence of the Imperial Japanese Army near Chinese borders. Nodoka played along and after finishing her drink she exited the premises and headed to her horse which was in a stable up the block. She continued on her horse to the Chinese-Japanese border which was under much more security than before which left her a bit nervous as she was carrying both Japanese and Chinese identification papers. If she was strictly searched and her Japanese papers found, her cover would be blown so she had to rely on her wits as she sometimes did.


Luckily Agent Nodoka Okubo was a rather attractive young woman and a bit of subtle flirting did her credit at the checkpoint. She was now safely across the border and heading towards the Imperial Army outpost that General Tanaka was stationed at. Once she arrived at the outpost she immediately informed General Tanaka of her discovery but to her surprise Tanaka was already planning the next move against the Chinese and was merely waiting for the go-ahead from Field Marshal Yamashita. Agent Okubo was comforted by General Tanaka’s diligence in the matter and exited the field tent and made her way towards the mess hall for lunch.
 
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Chapter Three: 1938 - War Against China

zSCHIZOz

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The Empire of Japan, in retaliation to terrorist attacks by Chinese soldiers, has declared war on its mainland neighbor, China. This decision has come from not only members of the Central Government and Imperial Army but by the Emperor himself. Emperor Hirohito broadcasted a speech on radio informing Japanese citizens of the current situation. Most of the populace was in shock at the bombing of an Imperial Army train and the lives lost in such an event. However the Japanese People would learn to persevere as they always do in such hard times and the Imperial Army would lead the way to raise the moral of not only the Army but the citizens of Japan.

The generals of the Imperial Army had been planing an invasion of China for quite some time now and had finalized their plans on word of the attack on Japan. Imperial Intelligence was able to pinpoint enemy strongpoints and weaknesses as well as other tactical information which would allow the Army to invade with more efficiency. The broken Chinese cipher would finally be used to effect and Field Marshal Yamashita approved of the planing and issued the order to attack. Forty-eight divisions of Imperial Army Regulars were now let loose on the Chinese and the War for China had finally begun.


The Imperial Navy, due to the declaration of war, finally cued production of 1936 Destroyers. This design was used as the penalty against submarine detection was not part of the design. If 1940 designs for destroyers were used, the penalty would take affect due to the manufacture design. Despite being an older hull design the destroyers were packed with state of the art hardware that would allow them to fight toe to toe with Chinese vessels and allow for amphibious invasion forces to land on the shores of China.


Research wise the Imperial Navy was in the process of finishing up advanced hull armor designs for their battleships and cruisers. From the time of declaration of war it would take at most one hundred and thirty-seven days for battleship armor and ninety-four days for cruiser armor to finish research. It would take that long to field destroyers anyway so the Imperial Navy was on track considering. As far as Army research was concerned the Type-95 tanks would take an additional forty-five days and anti-tank guns would finish in less than a month.

Construction for the Empire was a rather large task however. While great progress has been made over the past two years there was still much to do. One would say more than ever to be frank. As of the declaration of war, five additional civilian factories were on the verge of completion and fuel silos would soon begin construction. Following fuel silos would be military factories and naval dockyards respectively. This construction order would take considerable time but it was deemed necessary by the Central Government during these trying times.


Logistically, the Imperial Army was in good shape. Infantry equipment was well in the green and howitzers were also exceeding demand. Support equipment was at just enough to sustain fighting for the immediate future and production was cued for motorized vehicles for either support regiments or armored divisions in the future as well.

For now the only obstacle would be the sheer number of Chinese divisions on the Beijing border and the infrastructure situation surrounding the area as well. Hopefully with the enemy cipher cracked Japan would have the advantage in its engagement but due to such low infrastructure in the area it was projected that a prolonged battle would have negative consequences due to lack of supplies reaching the frontlines. Hopefully Japan would wrap things up quickly or face a prolonged fight on foreign soil.
 
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Cromwell

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Very interesting, do you think you will end up building 1936 and 1940 destroyers in parallel or stick to just '36 desroyers and possibly switch to '40s at some point in the future?
 

zSCHIZOz

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Very interesting, do you think you will end up building 1936 and 1940 destroyers in parallel or stick to just '36 desroyers and possibly switch to '40s at some point in the future?
The plan was to stick with 1936 destroyers as there is no design penalty. We will see what happens in the future but I don't believe I'll be switching to 1940 destroyers. However, the rest of my navy will be 1940+ including carriers and submarines.
 

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At long last the order to go ahead and begin the offensive into China had been given. Forty-eight divisions of Imperial Army Regulars would storm into the state of Beijing and take the fight to the Chinese. With the aid from Imperial Intelligence cracking the Chinese cipher the Imperial Army had a well defined edge against the Chinese Army’s superior numbers. And so on October 1, 1938 the fight for mainland Asia would begin.

The city of Beijing would fall to Japanese forces first after eight days and seven nights of continuous urban fighting. Following the fall of the city of Beijing, Tianjin a neighboring city, would also be swept by Japanese forces in an additional four days following the capture of the city of Beijing. Once both cities were captured Imperial Regulars forced themselves through Chinese lines on a neighboring airfield, hindering Chinese air superiority. Once the airfield was captured most of the surrounding area fell quickly other than the mountainous regions to the west.

The western flank of Beijing was well defended and Chinese forces were dug in rather well. It took roughly two months to breakthrough and capture all of the state of Beijing from Chinese Nationalists. By the end of the year the Imperial Army had successfully extended their reach from Beijing and into the state of Hebei. On the dawn of the new year Japanese forces halted their advance to rest and recuperate from the months of continuous fighting and would later return to the fight once all rested and reorganized. Meanwhile Chinese forces were rotating divisions and scrambling to somehow stop the Japanese advance.


Meanwhile the Imperial Japanese Navy was fielding destroyers on timely intervals. Four 1936 class destroyers would be constructed by the turn of 1938 to 1939. They would undergo exercises in Japanese waters as there was not enough vessels yet to allow for an amphibious invasion for 3. Infantry Army. This was unfortunate. Even with the aid of the IJN Nagato, naval supremacy was still not enough to allow safe passage for 3. Infantry Army.

Overall though the war against China was going remarkably well considering that the Chinese had such superior numbers. The Emperor mentioned the ease of success to capture the state of Beijing as “Japan’s divine right” and that God had aided their efforts. In total, twenty-eight thousand Japanese Soldiers perished in the fighting while the Chinese had suffered one hundred and seven thousand casualties.


As the new year dawned Japan would reassess the situation and allow its Regulars time to reorganize before once again pushing through China. Advancing would have to be a delicate balance of aggressiveness and patience. If the Imperial Army over-extended itself Chinese forces would more than likely take advantage of the situation and cause Japan to go on the defensive. Field Marshal Yamashita was confident however that China could be brought further back before 3. Infantry Army was needed to reinforce, negating the need for an amphibious invasion. But only time would tell.
 
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Success, if slow and hard-fought.