Prelude to War,
This war was fought on the Mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Pacific, and in four major land campaigns, in the Soviet Union, North Africa and the Mediterranean, Western Europe and the Far East. No less than 56 countries were involved in these violent conflicts, most of which were fought out to the bitter end between equally well-trained and well-equipped armies, battling day and night for dear life. It was a war that was more cruel, bitter and extensive than any other war in history. The war against Japan was fought over two-thirds of the world's surface, with America and her allies taking part in vast air, land and sea battles. It turned WW II into global conflict and ended it with the drawning of nuclear era.
Now, fifty years on from the end of that wretched war, only a few remain who can accurately recall the way the war developed on a day-by-day basis, in what order alliances were formed, when summit meetings were held, invasions mounted and repelled, set-piece batties won or lost, how personalities met with success or failure, and the actual reasons why national moods ebbed and flowed. And yet, World War Two is destined to be studied as a momentous historical event for generations to come, by students of all ages, backgrounds and levels of knowledge. The l939~45 war is history, pure history, and a topic we should all understand and be able to discuss.
Time goes by and because we now live in peace together, yesterday’s enemy has become today’s friendly neighbour.
|From 1920 Japanese studies of the armored car, came the Type 92 Osaka. It was very fast (due to its light armor), and was equipped with a type 97 machine gun. Its covered turret provided limited protection from HE shells.|
The Technology of War,
At the begin of WW II, Great-Britain and France faced the oncoming threat from Germany. In 1942 both Russia and the United States joined, their combined effort produced the largest armies ever to march on earth. The Allies produced 220.000 tanks against the Axis 50.000 tanks.Numbers of ships and aircraft, the difference yet more drastic; the USA produced 250.000 planes and 260.000 artillery pieces, and Russia had about 5 million men under arms. While the Allies could not claim the same tactical expertise or technical edge as the Germans, they could defeat the Axis by brute force alone. More production and availability of war materials had a direct effect on ending of the war.
The major Axis Powers,
Germany, was the most deadly army to march across Europe.
No other could match tactical expertise or vehicle quality of Germany, they
produced nearly 80.000 armored vehicles, but Russia built some 70.000 T-34
tanks alone, and Allied tanks came from all fronts to defeat Germany.
From 1939 to 1940 (Pz-II, Pz-III, and Pz-38's) lightly armored was enough
for beating Polen or Holland.From 1941 to 1943 (Pz-IV's) were better armor and
armament, dealing with T-34's and Shermans, but were still vulnerable to most
Allied tanks.From 1943 the Panthers and Tigers gives Germans a technical edge
over the Allies, but they were outnumbered by the growing numbers of Allied tanks.
German infantry well-equipped could stand up to almost anything the Allies throw
at them.From 1943 to end 1944 skill level as a whole declines.
The German Army thoughout the war has adequate support from its artillery, the changing roles of the Luftwaffe from ground support to that of fighter defence against air raids over Germany, slowly declines German artillery.
Japan, The Japanese Army in WW II was most part an infantry-based army.Mid 1930's the Japanese began to expand their tank program. They built about 6.000 armored vehicles of all types.There was a wasteful rivalry (hate) in the army between the Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) and the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), so that the war industry produced separate models planes, tanks and ships for each branch.With limited industrial resources and capacity, the Japanese had to win the war quickly, or not at all.
The Japanese were the best light infantrymen in the war, with an incredible devotion
to duty, high morale, absolute refusal to surrender and for all deadly enemies.
They believed in the all-out charge attack with bayonets and taking positions by
pure force. The infantry had not enough automatic weapons (and anti-tank weapons),
only armed with rifles and grenades, so they began to field suicide.
The Japanese tanks fought mostly in dense, heavily wooded terrain. Japanese opponents in the Pacific and Asian had little or no armor, so Japanese tanks being lightly armored and undergunned in the war.
The Japanese artillery had an odd mix of guns calibers and limited available, few recent designs guns, some from WW I and old guns from the early 1900's.No self-propelled artillery, most horse-drawn or towed by truck. Japanese some use the massive bombardment, so as the Allies did, due to doctrine and limited ammunition.
The major Allied Powers,
The French army was considered be the best after WW I.In 1939, however
very different than the one that marched into war in 1914.France was been racked
by civil disorders and strikes, and the entire political system was divided between
the right and left, the division power had a bad effect on the army, many often
lacked proper discipline and their morale low. This led to the defeat in 1940, too
with an out-of-date tactical doctrine.
The French infantryman are best suited for defensive roles, properly equipped,
of lesser quality than the German, they did not know what was going on.
The British Army were the first who used tanks in WW I, but at begin of WW II,
Britain was far behind in tank tactics.The British Empire, the Navy and Lend-Lease
(borrowing military equipment from the USA) withstood the Germans until US joined the
The British infantrymen in WW II with stoicism and steadfastness as ever,
extremely cautious in using troops in battle, superbly
trained and well disciplined (lack of aggressiveness) were among the opponents that
can stand up to the Germans, but Britain had a shortage of available manpower.
Russia, Russia known as surviving countless invasions and repelling invaders, with heavy losses.By the 1930's, the Red Army was one of the largest armies in the world, seem great strenghts, but had fatal flaws.The first was the great army purges of the early 1930's where seventy percent of its officer corps was either killed or exiled to Siberia.This left the Red Army controlled by nothing better than weak men who had little initiative or tactical skill. Similary, the Red Air Force could boast thousand of planes and tanks, but only a small number of them were effective in a modern war. Few people realize just how close the German invasion of Russia came to succeeding, a change of plans or better weather could have knocked Russia out of the War.Instead , the Germans faced a grueling, bloody Eastern front that eventually consumed 20 million Russians and nearly 9 million Germans. Despite the early reversals of 1941 and 1942, the Red Army eventually triumphed over the Germans, but only at immense cost.
The Russian infantrymen were often poorly led and equipped, but still fought with
determination. In defence he was difficult to dig out, and on the attack lack of
tactical control often leads to human wave assaults.
The Red Army had about 30.000 most light tanks in 1941, or so poorly maintained that nearly 80% of them were destroyed in the opening phases of the German invasion.The introduction of the T-34's, a serious threat, came as a shock to Germany, who had at that time no tank which could withstand the T-34's armor or its 76mm gun, until the German Panther and Tiger shows up. In later battles, the Russian tanks are almost as good as the Germans but still lack the killing power of the Panther and Tiger. To compensate for it, most battles may have Russian tanks outnumbering the Germans nearly three to one, using the typical Russian tactic of charging forward and attempting to overwhelm. By war's end the Russians produced about 100.000 tanks.
The Russian artillery had large caliber 152mm gun pieces and rockets.In 1944 Russian had ten to one advantage in gun tubes over the Germans, by war's end they produced about 500.000 guns to do bombardments until infantry appears.
United States, The US joined the war in December 1941, so it doomed the Axis cause, while the effects of US's war production were already being felt.The factories produced in a short time 90.000 tanks, over 2.200.000 transport vehicles and 240.000 planes, this turned the tide.An inexperience US army landed in North Afica, November 1942, the first offensive action.
The US infantrymen were not the best soldiers and the army consisted of mostly
volunteers or draftees and green officers, so poorly performing.The American
soldiers were well-supported, for every soldier at the front, eight rear echelon
supported him and every soldier was good equipped with rifles and automatic
weapons enjoying heavy firepower.
The US had plenty of tanks and most US armor divisions were tank heavy.As the German blitzkrieg woke up, the US began the more heavily armored formations. But often the poorly armed Sherman has to fight the German Panther or Tiger, even tank destroyers, like the M-10 Wolverine or Hellcat, with 76mm guns still did have problems shooting it out with the heavier German tanks.
The Americans believed in "victory through firepower", this was more true during the war, when their artillery support came, by air power and offshore batteries, to break Germans attacks. Infantry at least had one battalion of 155mm guns and the 105mm howitzers, so plentiful ammunition available, lots of firepower, constantly artillery and air support.