Apologies in advance, having been preoccupied this evening, not a lot of photos BUT I
wanted to run a little experiment...mmmmm.
Khalkin Gol - this river ran across the steppe in Mongolia, a disputed region which resulted in numerous skirmishes and several larger engagements between Soviet forces and Japanese forces. The Japanese claimed the river was the border between Manchukuo whereas the Soviets felt the border was 16km further east passing near the village of Nomonhan.
It's widely acknowledged that Japanese armour was woefully inadequate in the later conflicts throughout South East Asia and the Pacific - after their initial success in late 1941 and early 1942, their tank forces were used piecemeal outside of China, and in the 1931 invasion of Manchuria and the early conflicts in China, resistance to Japanese armour was incomparable to that they faced from 1942.
So how would Japanese armour cope, used en-masse, against their peers in 1939? Let's give it a go.
As a diversion from our usual close terrain, the steppes were devoid of huge amounts of cover. Some uneven ground, a river and some scattered scrub, the Japanese forces for our game consisted of a variety of Japanese armour.
Type 94 tankettes with mgs, Type 97 Tankettes, Type 95 light tanks both equipped with 37mm guns, and Tupe 89s with 57mm guns. In Rapid Fire terms, that provides thinly armoured tanks with poor velocity anti tank guns. Their only saving grace were a couple of 105mm field guns, a 75mm gun and a 37mm anti tank gun.
Facing them, the Soviets had BT5 and 7 fast tanks and T-26 light tanks. These were all armed with a 45mm weapon which gave the Soviet forces a distinct advantage, namely they were hitting on a 4 plus at best whilst the Japanese would hit on a 6+ unless they closed the range.
Winning initiative, the Soviets allowed the first move to go to the Japanese. Alex "Tachikawa" advanced along the ridge line with his infantry and Type 89s. The rest of the armour he swept across the plain between the river and ridge. Mike "Konichi-wa" immediately advanced onto the board on the opposite side of the river and proceeded to dig in, setting his artillery up on the ridge.
Meanwhile, Junior General Kutosov countered the Japanese advance along his ridge by moving a troop of T-26 supported by infantry up to meetvthem face to face. On the plain the main Soviet tank force advanced and stopped, hoping to snipe the enemy armour at a distance. Paul "Zukhov" had a distinct advantage. On the far bank of the river, another troop of T-26 advanced towards the Japanese artillery positions whilst their own artillery emplacements themselves on the plain.
What happened next was text book poor dice rolling for the Soviets, and despite having the qualitative advantage, they failed to inflict serious damage as the Japanese advanced. Needing 6s to hit, the Japanese had a lucky roll on one hand, with three sixes being rolled, destroying a T-26 outright and a second through cumulative damage. The Type 89s, losing one of their number, were able to silence all their opposite numbers on the far ridge. On the near ridge, Japanese artillery made short work of the T-26 advancing towards them.
Counter battery fire silenced the Japanese guns, but by this time the Japanese armour had closed the distance. Even the appearance of a Nakajima Ki-27 for the Japanese, or a Tupolev SB2 for the Soviets, could tip the stalemate.
Bye the end of the evening, both sides had suffered grievous losses, though the Japanese were at a distinct advantage. However, both sides were forced to test for their ability to continue, and neither had the desire to continue, both withdrawing, leaving the steppe littered with burning hulks.