Massive German aid to China before Sino-Japanese War

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Tim Smith
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Massive German aid to China before Sino-Japanese War

Post by Tim Smith » 18 Jul 2006 13:55

What if Germany maintained her historical alliance with China instead of making friends with Japan, and sold massive amounts of military supplies to China before the Japanese invasion of July 1937?

Imagine a fully-equipped Chinese 'Panzer Division' complete with tanks, AT guns, AA guns, half-tracks, and trucks - also a large 'Luftflotte' of 300 aircraft.

To set this up, hundreds of German military advisors would need to train the Chinese army between 1934 and 1937. Chinese officers would attend German military training schools.

Equipment that Germany could have provided prior to July 1937:

Tanks:
128 x Panzer I Ausf a
10 x Panzer II Ausf a2
50 x Panzer II Ausf a3
8 x Panzer III Ausf A
4 x NbFz heavy tank prototypes, Nr.2, Nr.3, Nr.4 and Nr.5.
Total: 200 tanks

Aircraft:
90 x Heinkel He 51A fighters - 6 squadrons
30 x Heinkel He 51B fighters – 2 squadrons
60 x Heinkel He 51C fighter-bombers – 4 squadrons
30 x Heinkel He 70 light bombers – 2 squadrons
30 x Junkers Ju87A-1 dive bombers – 2 squadrons
20 x Junkers Ju86D-1 medium bombers – 1 squadron
10 x Heinkel He 111A-0 medium bombers – 1 half squadron
10 x Heinkel He 111B-0 medium bombers – 1 half squadron
20 x Junkers Ju 52 bomber/transports – 1 squadron

Total: 300 aircraft

Also sent for evaluation purposes:
2 x Heinkel He 112A-0 fighters (historically sent to Japan)
3 x Messerschmitt Bf 109B-0 fighters (historically kept in Germany)


Chinese 1st Armoured Division, July 1937

Organisation:

1 x Armoured Brigade, consisting of:
...2 x Armoured Regiments, Strength: 100 tanks each, consisting of:
......2 x Armoured Battalions – Strength: 50 tanks each – consisting of:
.........1 x HQ Platoon – 5 tanks
............2 x Pzkpw I Ausf a
............2 x Pzkpw III Ausf A
............1 x NbFz
.........3 x Tank Companies – 15 tanks each – consisting of:
............2 x Light Platoon
................5 x Pzkpw I Ausf a
............1 x Medium Platoon
................5 x Pzkpw II Ausf a2/a3

In practice, 2nd Armoured Regiment will be used as a mobile reserve pool to supply replacements for 1st Regt, as losses are suffered in combat and through breakdowns.


Outcome:

What would be the impact of 100 Chinese tanks, used concentrated in the German fashion, and well supported by motorised infantry and aircraft, on a Japanese infantry corps in late 1937?

Almost certainly not enough to win the the Sino-Japanese War, but possibly enough to win one or two major battles, and severely frighten the Japanese, possibly enough to speed up Japanese tank development and the formation of Japanese armoured divisions.

Also Japan would be unhappy with Germany for years afterward, and probably wouldn't sign the Tripartiate Pact in September 1940.
Last edited by Tim Smith on 25 Jul 2006 08:27, edited 4 times in total.

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stg 44
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Post by stg 44 » 18 Jul 2006 14:28

say goodbye to the axis in the far east. japan will not be happy. This actually could have benifits for the germans as they will gain experience in training troops, employing them and in general warfare. This may be better experience than what was gained in the spanish civil war, where, if I recall, the germans only really gained experience in air warfare and neglected the ground fighting, because armor was inproperly utilized. Also, the german economy gets a boost and the models can be refined better because of practical experience. Should be interesting to see how the war plays out. Japan will be in some trouble as the chinese front just got a lot harder. Also, no european ally later, but they might be too involved in china to be able to strike elsewhere.

Now what about chaunault? His american pilots will be working with the germans. Will they get to see how the germans fight and relay it to the american armed forces? Maybe get experience with german aircraft and report on it to the airforce and make suggestions for new aircraft to boeing or something like that.

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nuyt
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germand aid

Post by nuyt » 18 Jul 2006 15:02

Interesting post.

I think massive German aid would not have helped much though.

Those tanks would not make the difference. There were not many Japanese tanks to fight and their quality was mediocre at least and their guns weak. An unexpected result would be that the Japanese would get inspired building beter tanks themselves, based on some captured Panzers!

There was a lot of aid to China, also later in the Civil War, but massive allied aid never did the trick. The presence of ever growing numbers of Nazis might have cost Chang some other friends in the late thirties.

What the Chinese army lacked most I think was artillery. Better send some divisions' worth of light, medium and heavy guns and the necessary ammo plus equipment to build more.

Add to that, China as an ally would not bring much gain for the Germans. Communication and supply lines would be long and dependent on others' goodwill.

What the Chinese lacked was a disicplined army with high morale, good quality officers, excellent training and some smart leaders.

A bit like Mao's army...

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 18 Jul 2006 15:47

Not entirely true. There were a few German-trained Chinese infantry divisions historically, and they were actually quite good units, comparable to the Japanese, equipped with German weapons. Performed well in China and later in Burma.

Indeed, a good point is that China may lose friends elsewhere through being so close to Nazi Germany. Chiang might be viewed as Hitler's poodle in Asia, spreading Fascism through the East.

If China was seen in Washington as pro-Nazi, would America be so sympathetic to her after the Japanese invasion? Maybe some in Washington would then see the Sino-Japanese war as two anti-democratic Fascist states fighting each other - so much the better, perhaps?

On the other hand, if America didn't send China any help, she'd lose even more influence over China. So America might send a lot more aid to China, in order to counter the German efforts, and avoid the Nationalists being grateful only to Germany and thus falling completely under Nazi influence.

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Kim Sung
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Post by Kim Sung » 18 Jul 2006 16:07

There is an impressive thread on German military aid to China before the Sino-Japanese war.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 371#784371

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 18 Jul 2006 17:05

Kim Sung wrote:There is an impressive thread on German military aid to China before the Sino-Japanese war.

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 371#784371
Yes, that shows pictures of some of the 17 Panzer I's sent to China historically in 1936.

Obviously, those 17 light tanks didn't achieve very much.........but with ten times as many tanks, who knows what the Chinese may have achieved?

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Post by Lkefct » 18 Jul 2006 17:11

I am not so sure that anyone is going to hold taking aid from germany as such a bad thing. I think everyone recognizes the struggle is pretty one sided.

The bigger issue is how long cna china keep that equipment operational in the field. Wasn't that part of the reason for the conder legion? The spanish needed a higher level of technical assistance then they could provide on their own.

I also don't see the impact of a Chinese armored division. Unless they can get the motorized infantry, artillery, engineers and supply train, those tanks are not going to be able to sustain the sort of operations that would make them into a meaningful fighting force. I suspect they would accomplish some meaningful tactical victories, but little or nothing in terms of the overall outcome.

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 19 Jul 2006 08:19

I was assuming that in this scenario China would have the motorised infantry, artillery, engineers and mobile workshop that went along with a 1936-era Panzer Division.

Granted, China wouldn't be able to maintain the division for more than a few months after it was committed to the front line. But that is long enough for it to play a significant role in at least one major battle, e.g. the Battle of Nanking.

In the air war, the Chinese bombers mentioned above would be able to do some good work in support of the ground forces. However, the Heinkel He 51 biplane fighter would have been completely outclassed by the latest Japanese biplane fighter, the Kawasaki Ki-10, which was about 40 mph faster than the Heinkel.

For early Japanese Army Air Force aircraft, including the Ki-10 see:

http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... t&start=15

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Post by J » 19 Jul 2006 15:32

Without Japan and Germany kicking it off, one of the most obvious possibilities is a lesser Hitlers inclinaton to declare war to the US. IMHO US declaration of war to Germany is unrealistic (at least not until much later in the war). This in itself would not stop Lend-lease to the USSR (which was formaly extended in Nov 1941), but it might IMHO make this help substantialy smaller. Without a significant portion of those trucks, food, jeeps, locomotives, rail cars etc. the Red army might have supply problems. IMO they could still hold out the 1941-43 onslaught, if perhaps with even larger casualties. This could however result in a lesser effectivity of later soviet offensives, and prolong the eastern struggle.

Also, if there was no US presence in Europe, bombing campaigns would be less effective, and a second front in France might become a virtual impossibility. If such a thing was attempted on a solely British initiative, it might have been in the Balkans. If succesfull, this could have changed who was installed in Jugoslavia and its borders, if indeed such a thing existed with a British presence in the Balkans in late war/post war period. No second front in western Europe might very well result in Soviet (entire) Germany, Soviet Denmark, Soviet Austria, and possibly (depending on British actions, and German will to fight for France after most of Germany itself was occupied) Soviet France, Belgium and Netherlands. If it would have played out like that(which is not necessary), it would have definitely changed the nature of the subsequent Cold war.

Without the tripartite pact, Japan might not have involved itself in Indo-China just yet, and the previously mentioned possible diferent US outlook on Japanese involvement in China might lead to failiure to proclaim oil embargo on Japan. This could just as well result in no Japanese attack on the USA.

So, there is a chance that massive german help to China could have these results:

1. No direct US involvement in war. They would supply at least USSR and UK, but with a different public opinion and political situation, as well as a much lower militarisation of economy this help could indeed be significantly lower. Offcourse, the US could have (and probably would have) entered the war by own initiative at a later date but this would probably still result in :

2. A significant prolongation of war and a radically different map of Europe, as well as an altogether different course of post-war history.



best regards

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Post by Andy H » 20 Jul 2006 22:36

Could China logistically support such a force? Thinking in terms of POL mainly

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Post by Tim Smith » 21 Jul 2006 00:54

Andy H wrote:Could China logistically support such a force? Thinking in terms of POL mainly

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I'm sorry, 'POL'? :?

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Post by Andy H » 21 Jul 2006 03:11

Tim Smith wrote:
Andy H wrote:Could China logistically support such a force? Thinking in terms of POL mainly

Regards

Andy H
I'm sorry, 'POL'? :?
Petrol Oil Lubricants

Regards

Andy H

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China fighting russia?

Post by Fallschirmjäger » 21 Jul 2006 04:09

So are we saying china would attack russia to support the germans when operation barbarossa was launched,the japanese where beaten by the russians near the end of the war and i think also a early attack on russia,whether the lost or not shure? ,remember some border clashes or something between them,and japan never realy attacked did they the russians when the germans where fighting the russians on the other side of the world, as they where to much interested in asia and the pacific.
So china may have the numbers but that cold and the siberian units i think would have caused the chinese massive casualties,unless they had some sort of german support or backup,a few panzer or infantry units.

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Post by Lkefct » 21 Jul 2006 14:14

Just becuase they give some aid to china doesn't mean that they are dumb enough to attack the Soviets. First, what would they accomplish? They march in and occupy some empty territory? There isn't muhc in close ot the chinese border, so I don't see there is much to be gained. Drive on Moscow? Even a large motorized army with an extensive supply survice on no enemey on their border (japan) would be a tough undertaking. IT is quite out of the question for the Chinese.

The bigger reason that they would not is it would be pretty stupid for a developing and divided nation like China to antagonize their neighbor. The Soviets might not be able to occupy the country, but unless the Chinese plan onattaking with million of men, the Soviets milliatry is going to cut them off, chew them up, and slaughter the chinese. Even the relatively poor quality of weapons the Soviets have in the late 1930's is far and away better in quantity and quality then what china had.

If the Chinese could assemble a full strength armored division with all the trimmings, then they could do a lot of damage. The TO&E strength of a Japanese infantry division would make it fairly tough to stop a massed tank attack by anyone. If they have infantry and artillery support, then even a brigade could potnetially wipe out numerours divisions in a few months, let alone a full division. The problem is going to be that the tanks listed are all fairly fragile. they are going to get knocked out a couple of times. You have to have mechanics and some engineering support to get them back into action. The saving grace of many of the early german tanks is they are still fairly simple and can be repaired in the field. Same goes for the air units. They may not be a lot better then the japanese, but jus tthe fac thtat they can oppose them would be enough to help moral and improve the usefulness of the troops in the field vs Japan.

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Post by Tim Smith » 21 Jul 2006 16:12

Andy H wrote:
Tim Smith wrote:
Andy H wrote:Could China logistically support such a force? Thinking in terms of POL mainly

Regards

Andy H
I'm sorry, 'POL'? :?
Petrol Oil Lubricants

Regards

Andy H
I would say yes, China could support an air fleet and an armoured division, but only for the first year of the war, in 1937-38, when China still held some seaports and could get fuel and supplies from neutral ships. China had two major seaports, Shanghai and Canton, as well as several smaller ports. Historically Shanghai fell in November 1937, but Canton wasn't taken until October 1938. As long as the Chinese hold Canton they can still receive oil.

After a year of war, the air fleet and the armoured division will be heavily depleted anyway. The Chinese strategy has to be to force the Japanese to the negotiating table within the first year of war, otherwise it's too late.

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