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Old 10-16-2019, 12:27 PM
Kent Clark's Avatar
Kent Clark is offline
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post
The idea if a Soviet invasion before spring of 1946 is a pipe dream imo.
So what? Coronet (the invasion of Honshu) wasn't scheduled until March 1, 1946 and no one expected that would end the war in 2 weeks. A spring 1946 invasion would have fit nicely into the battle plan.

And remember, by this point the Japanese weren't fighting for victory, they were fighting for the U.S. to give up and negotiate a peace. World War II might have ended up as Vietnam, only 30 years earlier.
Old 10-16-2019, 10:51 PM
Corry El is offline
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Originally Posted by madsircool View Post

1. Firstly, the Soviets could only have made the attempt in spring/summer. Hokkaido winters are harsh and start early.

2. Their armor and mech infantry would be rather useless on Hokkaido because of weather and terrain.

3. Japanese kamikazes would be far more effective against the small and rarely used Soviet naval force.

4. What port facilities could the Soviets expect to use and how would they survive winter if 45.

The idea if a Soviet invasion before spring of 1946 is a pipe dream imo.

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I recommend going old school on this, get Glantz' book I referred to, review the positions of Soviet and Japanese forces as of mid-late August 1945, read the detailed reproduced Soviet documents of their plan for Hokkaido in the appendices, and go from there. I believe it very likely people Googled up on the internet saying this wasn't doable are basing it on less accurate info than in that book. David Glantz is arguably the leading English language authority on Soviet military operations The Great Patriotic War. It's not some guy on the internet proposing or debunking 'what ifs'. The book "The Soviet Strategic Offensive in Manchuria, 1945-August Storm" is about the actual campaign in Manchuria, Korea, Sakhalin and the Kuriles, but includes info on further Soviet plans. A series of memo's from around Aug 19 from the Soviet High Command to 1st Far Eastern Front (a Soviet WWII 'Front' was equivalent to a US Army Group, a group of armies each composed of several corps each in turn composed of several divisions; not like 'the Eastern Front', but a more technical military term) spelled out the plan.

1. Scheduled for August 24 (called off by Stalin August 22 per Glantz discussion in the text of the book)

2. Using the 87th Rifle Corps (composed of 3 Rifle Divisions, Infantry Divisions in US parlance, though Soviet ones were smaller formations), supported by the 354th Naval Infantry Battalion, to gain a lodgment in northern Hokkaido.

4. Two divisions would be transported one at a time to seize the port of Rumoi in northwest Sakhalin, about 260 land miles from the coast of the Soviet Primorsk region, less than that from southern Sakhalin. The transports would sortie from the Vladivostok area or southern Sakhalin depending on variations in the memo's. The third division of the corps might attack Hokkaido from the Kuriles, or attack the remaining Kuriles *from* Hokkaido. A bomber and a fighter aviation division (of 3 regiments each equivalent to though smaller than USAAF groups) would advance to bases on Sakhalin, besides large elements of the Tactical Air Forces and Fleet Air Arm which would support the operation from Primorsk and Sakhalin. The distances were quite practical for land based air cover even for generally relatively short legged Soviet fighters.

3. The IJA 5th Area Army was not capable of stopping or ejecting this Soviet force, consisting of only 2-1/3 divisional equivalents itself on the whole island with no major units at Rumoi. Japanese ability to foil this invasion would have entirely depended on air power, with the IJN surface fleet basically extinct and submarine arm moribund. But the IJN and IJA had almost no operational air units based on Hokkaido by then. It can't be ruled out that they'd have quickly shifted enough air units from Kyushu and west/central Honshu to defeat such a landing, but far from obvious. For one basic thing Hokkaido was only symbolically equivalent to Kyushu and Honshu as a place to defend, sparsely populated and basically already economically severed from the rest of Japan by August '45 (most commerce by tonnage had been by dedicated ferries which had nearly all be sunk by the USN in July, only small motor and sailing vessels connected it to Honshu, no tunnel at that time obviously).

It's not 100% clear the Japanese reaction to a Soviet landing would even have been to try to redirect a large number of air units to Hokkaido given the US threat to the much more important islands. And even if they had there'd have been serious logistical constraints: how to transport aviation fuel, support personnel and supplies which even special attack units needed, and conventional fighter units to support them definitely needed those things.

It can be reasonably debated IMO if the Soviets could have gotten to central Honshu before the US did, very possibly not, since that was a far larger task. But the Japanese had left Hokkaido very weakly defended by summer 1945 because the US threat was so pressing, the only direct threat until the last week of the war, and even if the Soviets entered the war Hokkaido was screened from the them by southern Sakhalin and the Kuriles. But that screen disappeared before the Japanese could reinforce Hokkaido. The planned Soviet lodgment in northern Hokkaido was IMO no more likely to have failed than the Soviet operations in the Kuriles, which suffered some losses but were never in danger of failing.

Last edited by Corry El; 10-16-2019 at 10:54 PM.
Old 10-16-2019, 11:11 PM
Corry El is offline
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Originally Posted by XT View Post
This guy, from Military History Visualized (well, non-Visualized in this case, since he mainly just talks) agrees with you. It's a YouTube video.

Basically, for those who don't want to watch it, he makes a case that the Soviets couldn't have invaded on schedule because of a number of factors, including the fact that the ports they were planning to use in Manchuria were still in Japanese hands. Also, they didn't have the logistics and fleet assets to move over the number of divisions they were calling for as needed. Additionally, when they took several of the other, northern islands from Japan the defense was pretty fierce and they ended up losing some critical shipping assets early on. Finally, and probably the most damning, they apparently didn't have the ability to support their invasion using air assets. I'm a bit curious about this one, as it seems they SHOULD be able too fly off of air strips on the conquered islands as well as from Manchuria. I admit I don't know as much about Soviet air craft and range data, so maybe it was a range issue. ...l.
I didn't watch it, but the info as you describe is largely wrong. Firstly the ports on the Sea of Japan across from Hokkaido were/are in the USSR/Russia, not China (including parts called 'Manchuria' in 1945). The Soviet maritime province aka Primorsk region is what land locks the northeastern part of China. The only ports in what was then called 'Manchuria' are on the Yellow Sea much further south. The Soviets hadn't finished taking south Sakhalin (the part ceded to Japan after the 1905 war) when these plans were being made, but soon did.

See previous posts, but the Soviets had USSR territory and the had or soon would southern Sakhalin only around 250 miles to the port in Hokkaido they intended to seize, well within range of land based air cover for the large air components of the 1st Far Eastern Front (army group) and Soviet Pacific Fleet under whose purview this operation would have occurred.

The Soviets lost some Lend Lease landing craft (LCI-L type) in the invasion of Shumshu at the northern end of the Kuriles, an interesting episode* but not a significant loss in the big picture, and again we now know what particular port on Hokkaido the Soviets planned to seize, and the Japanese had little if any defense there. Shumshu was a small heavily fortified island, obvious immediate objective of any Soviet attack on Japan. Hokkaido had been stripped of a lot of the IJA force it had as recently as spring 1945 because it just did not rate in priority as a place to defend, not relevant to the US threat, hope that a two front war with the Soviets would not materialize, hope that the Soviets could be seriously delayed in the Kuriles and Sakhalin if it did come to pass.

* this Russian site gives a run down of the ships hit ... na-shumshu
DS-01 (LCI-(L)-672): sunk
DS-02 (LCI(L)-522): damaged, 2 KIA
DS-03 (LCI(L)-523): sunk
DS-04 (LCI(L)-524): damaged, 3 KIA
DS-05 (LCI(L)-525): sunk, 5 KIA
DS-07 (LCI(L)-527): sunk, 6 KIA
DS-08 (LCI(L)-521): sunk, 4 KIA
DS-09 (LCI(L)-554): sunk, 3 KIA
DS-10 (LCI(L)-557): damaged, 2 KIA
DS-43 (LCI(L)-943): sunk, 6 KIA
DS-47 (LCI(L)-671): sunk, 17 KIA
DS-50 (LCI(L)-666): damaged, 2 KIA

However, it seems some of those vessels might have been repaired later after all, since a plaque commemorating this action only lists DS-1, DS-5, DS-9, DS-43, and DS-47 as lost, and at least some of the others were returned in the US in 1955.

According to this Japanese site about the artillery on Shumshu, all this damage was done by one Type 38 75mm field gun in a cave/bunker. It claimed to have destroyed 13 landing craft and 3 transports ... tuyaku.htm

Last edited by Corry El; 10-16-2019 at 11:15 PM.
Old 10-16-2019, 11:53 PM
Corry El is offline
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The two links in the previous post are dead, sorry, but not directly relevant to Rumoi operation.

OK listening to that guy in fairness to him he's not saying 'Manchurian ports', he's talking about southern Sakhalin operation not being complete when Rumoi invasion was planned.

But he does seem to admit at a point that the Soviets would likely have succeeded in seizing Rumoi. Rather he claims the IJA had enough strength on the islands to converge on and destroy this bridgehead. I think he's wrong there because counting the whole uniformed strength of the Japanese military on the island, and neglecting how little of it was front line combat units. IJA and IJN) personnel in second echelon units were still fierce to-the-death fighters in static defense, at least up to then, but the relevant force for expelling the Soviets would have been the front line combat units of the 5th Area Army, which were barely bigger on paper than the Soviet force. And like all IJA divisions by then in rear areas, which Hokkaido was, were presumably hollowed out by transfer of the best personnel and equipment elsewhere.

Then he like some respondents on the thread simply assumes a strong Japanese air component on Hokkaido. But there wasn't one. And also ignoring that by then the Japanese had their own serious challenges to logistically support operations on Hokkaido, there was no longer any large tonnage connection to the rest of Japan.

The Soviets air forces (Tactical Air Forces and Pacific Fleet Air Arm) were large and had bases even in the USSR within range, no details are given why the U-tube guy thinks that wasn't so. And they specifically did plan to send forward two air divisions to Hokkaido.

So again, you can't 'win' arguments about the outcome of military contests which didn't happen. But I still don't see any reason to believe the Soviets would have been failed to establish a logment on northern Hokkaido. Taken a long time to build up their forces till they could occupy the whole island? OK perhaps, and invading Honshu from Hokkaido, though a shorter hop as an amphibious operation would have eventually run into larger IJA forces supplied by land with everything the Japanese had left (except insofar as fighting a US land force on another front) so would have required a far larger Soviet force. Then it becomes much more a question if the Soviets had the shipping to support such a force in Japan.

Last edited by Corry El; 10-16-2019 at 11:56 PM.


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