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Lock 'n Load Tactical: Heroes of the Pacific» Forums » General

Subject: Art of War rss

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Type-96
-Pre-war combat experience in Manchuria and China convinced the Imperial Japanese that light machine guns were necessary to provide advancing squads with covering fire. The Type-96 (1936) LMG's basic layout was based on the Czech ZB vz. 26 machine gun, examples of which were captured from Nationalists Chinese (the Bren LMG was also derived from this Czech gun). The Type-96 used the same unsatisfactory light 6.5mm round as the early Arisaka rifle. It was also the only LMG in the world fitted with a bayonet.

Flamethrower -My mother had a high school classmate who used one of these when a Marine in the Pacific. She said he was never the same boy (man) after the war.

BAR-The lightest machine gun to use the 30-06 cartridge, it was designed for WW1 trench warfare. Continuously improved, it provided LMG firepower to US squads, but it's 20 round magazines meant rate-of-fire was low.

Stick bomb-Lacking hand-held anti-tank launchers like bazookas or PIAT's, this was a primary squad anti-tank weapon. Obviously dangerous and difficult to employ, it is fairly exemplary of the IJA, it substituted the user's spirit and sacrifice for safety and effect.

Sniper-Japanese snipers were justifiably feared. They weren't all specially trained marksmen, but were all willing to take up suicidal positions before advancing Allied troops, or behind Allied lines. At Okinawa, snipers were so prevalent USMC junior officers were killed faster than they could be replaced. Surviving USMC leaders learned not to openly use binoculars or radios, or exhibit any body language that denoted authority. Likewise, their men did not openly display subordination to a leader.

50mm-Misnamed the "Knee Mortar" by the Allies, this was a rifled grenade launcher that provided the artillery-poor Japanese with HE firepower. These weapons inflicted the most Allied casualties in the South Pacific jungles. But, Japanese artillery was not the primary killer of enemy soldiers. Japanese bullets actually killed more Allied soldiers than Japanese artillery and air power. Because bullets are more deadly than shrapnel, the Allied Killed-in-Action to Wounded-in-Action ratio in the South Pacific was higher than other WW2 theaters.

Type-97-Weighing in at a whopping 120 lbs (not including ammunition), this 20mm anti-tank rifle required a crew of 3 to move and deploy, so was limited in use against bunkers and infantry. It could punch through light tank armor, but was nearly useless against M-4 Shermans.
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Very interesting notes thumbsup ...the problem is that, reading them, my suffering for waiting for HotP increases more and more!! cry
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The US military had a confusing, annoying system for designating tanks. Each tank type (light, medium, and heavy) was numbered sequentially. So, the M-3 Stuart light tank was produced at the same time as the M-3 Lee medium tank.

The M-3 Stuart was the first US tank sent to the Philippines and South Seas. It was believed that a light tank could better negotiate jungle and swampy ground. Unfortunately, the M-3 light tank was the one tank in the US arsenal that anemic Japanese anti-tank guns could penetrate. It also lacked the HE firepower of a 75mm cannon. Combat experience showed medium tanks were needed.

The much maligned M-4 Sherman was an all-around, entirely adequate design: reasonable armor, decent gun, good mobility, easy to operate and maintain, produced in vast quantities. It was NOT designed as an anti-tank tank. US tank hunters were supposed to handle enemy tanks. Some tank hunters were sent to the Pacific, and their light armor and open top turrets were a liability. Also, the Japanese did not deploy tanks in large numbers, and the extra punch of a tank hunter's gun was overkill against lightly armored Japanese tanks.

The Sherman was designed as a mechanized-infantry support tank that was also fast enough to be an exploitation tank. In Europe, US tank-heavy mechanized infantry divisions were fantastically mobile and powerful. US armored divisions could rapidly flow through breaches in enemy lines. In Europe, one-on-one tank battles did not favor the Sherman, but five-on-one battles did.

In the Pacific, the Sherman completely outclassed Japanese tanks in every category. It stood up very well against Japanese anti-tank weapons. It had more than adequate mobility. It's anti-infantry goodness made it extremely useful. M-4 Shermans turned battles and saved US lives. US commanders never complained about having too many Shermans.
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This early counter has a crazy Morale "7." Relax, Japanese squads now start with Morale "4" or "5." This does increase as the squad takes step losses, to as much as Morale "7." That portrays that only the best fighters remain.

The counter represents 13 men, armed with lousy Arisaka bolt action rifles. These soldiers are very physically fit, placing much emphasis on foot mobility. They are fantastically brave, incredibly loyal, and consider death for their Emperor and country a great honor. Any odd Imperial Japanese soldier or sailor is as fanatic as the most fanatic Nazi SS soldier. They wont quit and will never surrender.

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The White Star means US Army. The US Army was in action from Pearl Harbor to Okinawa. There were more US Army soldiers and divisions in the Pacific than US Marines. One third of the Army's tank battalions were in the Pacific. The Army's best divisions were deployed in the Pacific. In the Pacific, the US Army conduced amphibious invasions, airborne assaults, and mechanized operations.

A closer look at the above counter shows the two soldiers armed with different rifles: artistic interpretations of the Springfield '03 bolt action and it's replacement, the M-1 Garand. Springfield's were standard issue and used by both US Army and USMC early in the war, and throughout the war by snipers and some specialist units. The Garand quickly became the standard rifle for the US Army and USMC. Every army that fought in WW2 was primarily armed with bolt action rifles. Except the United States which transitioned to the semi-automatic Garand, the best standard issue rifle of the war.
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Honestly, I don't know much about Marine Assault Squads. I do know that USMC squad composition evolved throughout the war.

I also know that this Marine sports a Thompson (Tommy ) Gun. US soldiers and Marines didn't like the Tommy gun. Too heavy, too hard to maintain. The Australians loved them. The M-3 "Grease Gun" was preferred by US soldiers.

In all theaters, officers preferred the lightweight M-1 carbine. It was very handy, and it's light recoil made it a good semi-automatic. It was an ideal weapon for close-quarter jungle fighting, instead of the longer-ranged heavier M-1 Garand. So of course, most of the of M-1 carbines were sent to the European Theater.:shake
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Oh, this awesome artwork for HotP is courtesy of the remarkable David Julien. You can see more on his Facebook page.

I wont formally comment on stuff not posted on BGG, but I do loves me some M-2 Browning Heavy Machine Gun Support Weapon counter. My middle-aged, gun nut, ex-Army sniper, drunk cousin says the Ma-Deuce is the best gun he ever fired.

He also says single-malt Scotch is for sissies.
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Pay no attention to the future baseball hall-of-fame name or the portrait. The Lock'n Load series is generic, not hard history. And, meant to be more dynamic and cinematic. That allows for the scenarios and games being more fun to play, rather than history lessons.

This counter represents one of the more enigmatic military types in all of history, an Imperial Japanese Officer. They were military leaders from the most militant nation in modern history. Think North Korea, run by generals.

Products of a perversion of the Samaria Bushido warrior code that required every citizen be a potential warrior, and every warrior be a potential sacrifice for the Emperor and country. IJA/IJN officers believed to disobey unthinkable. To not fully support in every way the state and the Emperor was shameful. To fail in one's duties was to dishonor one's family and country.

The greatest honor a soldier could attain was to die for his Emperor and country. If Westerners honor a soldier who jumps on a grenade to save his brothers-in-arms, the Imperial Japanese equally honored a soldier who pretended to surrender, and then used a grenade to kill himself and a few of his enemy.

The Japanese officer led by example. If he had sympathy or empathy for his men, he kept it to himself. Instead, he would exhibit no weakness, and did not tolerate weakness in his men. He asked nothing from his men, he expected everything from them. They expected nothing else. They would endure incredible discipline, hardship and deprivation. And, could commit acts of incredible cruelty.

Imperial Japanese Army officers were not fanatic automatons. They were highly motivated and well trained. But, trained almost exclusively in the attack, not the defense. Completely obsolete bayonet charges were practiced to the point of fetish. Superiors were not questioned. It was assumed superiors knew more than their subordinates. Highly motivated officers often carried out unrealistic or obsolete orders without question. Failure to do so would have been dishonorable. Surrender was not an option.

Despite its fearsome reputation, the Imperial Japanese Army was not particularly well equipped or well trained for jungle warfare, or island defense. But, its extraordinary ability and proclivity to endure and persevere allowed it to adapt to extreme hardship. And, hold out against all odds and all logic. The all pervasive desire to seek death before dishonor was deeply disturbing to Allied fighting men. This became a war of mass extermination.





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Ah, The Jungle. The worst terrain of WW2. Bar none. Yes, a soldier could freeze to death in Stalingrad in the winter. But, a Marine could die of heat exhaustion year round in the Pacific jungles.

The South Pacific jungles attacked and killed with malaria and other diseases before soldiers even got off their transport ships. Once ashore, it continued to debilitate the men. Soldiers on both sides had to endure dense jungle, razor sharp typhus infected elephant grass, incessant biting insects, large rodents, leeches, deadly snakes, chest deep mangrove swamps, trench foot, aggressive infection, gangrene, dehydration, starvation, poor medical support, inadequate hygiene, limited line-of-sight, rugged ridges and mountains, poor communications, torrential rain, knee deep mud, and blazing sun. Add in man-made difficulties like long and tenuous supply lines, hidden bunkers, snipers, ambushes, booby-traps, mines, sudden and confused close-quarter man-to-man/small unit actions. The relentless jungles ground down the soldiers, even those not in combat. No soldiers of any nation would fair well in the jungles. No army had an answer to everything the in the jungle's arsenal.

The jungles in the Central Pacific islands and atolls were a little better. But, not by much. As the war progressed, worse for the Japanese, who were driven underground by omnipresent American artillery, naval guns, and aircraft.


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If you ask me, amongst US fighting forces in WW2, the US Marine Corps drew the short straw. Marines at Wake Island were the first US force to fight a land battle in WW2. Marines at Guadalcanal were the first US force to fight an offensive land battle in WW2. At Okinawa, they fought in the last, and bloodiest US land battle.

In between, the Marines had to expand from a small peace time force to a major component of the US military.

Had to develop an amphibious force that executed numerous opposed landings, the most difficult of military maneuvers. The US Army also made amphibious landings. But, the Marines made more, and this was their stock and trade.

From the jungles of Guadalcanal and Bouganville to Pacific atolls, the Marines always fought in the most difficult terrain of WW2.

They fought only one enemy, the Imperial Japanese, the most fanatical enemy on the planet. An enemy that was usually dug in, on the defensive, and willing to die to a man.

The Marines fought with US Army hand-me-down weapons, were not lavishly supplied or equipped, and fought at the end of a logistics chain that stretched over half the Globe.

Perhaps the Marines did not have it worse than other US services. But, they never seem to have had it better.

BTW, in the lower right hand corner, the (second) flag raising at Iwo Jima is the most copied photo in history. Of the six Marines in the photo, three would be killed on the island within a month. The other three would suffer from PTSD and/or survivor's guilt for the rest of their lives. One of those three would drink himself to death inside ten years after the battle.
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At the start of WW2, Imperial Japan was only 70 years removed from an isolated, medieval, Shogun/Samurai military dictatorship ruled for 600 years by feuding clans fighting with swords and spears and assassins. A crash industrialization program did not nearly catch up with other world powers. Japan remained resource poor, and limited in most heavy weaponry, except battleships and aircraft carriers. Its politics lagged far behind. Civilian authority was marginalized, clan loyalties still ruled,and the military assumed power by political maneuvering and assassinations.

The famous feuding between Army and Navy ran much deeper than an intense inter-service rivalry. The two services were initially populated by two competing clans. Competition for funding and resources continued for the duration of the Empire, right to the end. Each service had its own political and industrial organizations, with much duplication of effort, and outright confiscation of precious resources. There was no ruling civilian authority, nor a combined Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Togo was appointed Prime Minister not to consolidate military control, but to maintain peace between the Army and Navy (He was not even informed of the Navy's losses at Midway for over a month).

Japanese culture emphasized community above the individual. This subordinated individual responsibility to individual duty. High level commanders tended to defer authority to mid-level staffs, where consensus was emphasized. This made war plans inflexible and overly dependent on the enemy's performing as expected. The warrior culture eschewed mundane, but critical modern military disciplines such as intelligence, logistics, and resource management. For instance, only three naval officers were in charge of routing and assigning assets for protection of the vital Japanese Merchant fleet.

The Navy was prepared for no more than a two-year war. But, the wrong kind of war. The six fleet carriers were a potent raiding force with highly evolved tactics, but an undeveloped strategic purpose. The original Grand Plan was to draw the US Navy into a cataclysmic Tsushima in Japanese home waters. There, superior Japanese battleships and fighting spirit would combine to annihilate the American Fleet. In fact, this was also the American Grand Plan, except a reverse Tsushima, also in Japanese waters. That is why the US Pacific Fleet transferred to Pear Harbor right before the war. With that, the Japanese Navy modified the plan to include a massive air raid on Hawaii, combined with lightening strikes in the South Pacific to secure oil supply. Faced with decimation of the Us Navy's fleet, and rapid Japanese expansion and consolidation in the Pacific, just as the corrupt Czarist Russia agreed to a humiliating peace accord, so to would the decadent Americans and the decrepit, desperate British sue for peace.

The Imperial Army was consumed with the "threat" from Communist Russia. So much so that even until the end of the war, there was more IJA manpower and material in Manchuria guarding the Russian border, than available for the protection of the home islands! The Army never wanted a war with America, and only grudgingly went along with the Navy's Pacific War plans. This had the effect of deferring or eliminating any possibility the Army might attack Russian Siberia. Aware of that through espionage, this freed up Soviet Siberian divisions for the defense of Moscow.

When war came, Pearl Harbor, Malaysia, and the Philippines were spectacular successes that exceeded Japan's wildest dreams and stunned the world. There had been no reason to believe a small, second-rate, recently modernized Asian nation could crush the US Navy Pacific Fleet and the British Far East Fleet, and inflict staggering losses on their armies.

After running rampant in the Western Pacific, Midway was the IJN's massively complex plan to draw the remnants of the American fleet into a final battleship battle that would force the Americans to admit defeat. Instead, Midway was the turning point of the Pacific War. Loosing four irreplaceable fleet carriers cost the Japanese Navy the strategic initiative. The fatal flaw of the Japanese Navy's overall Pacific strategy was it hinged on a morally weak America deciding the war was just too costly to continue. The complement to relying on superior Japanese fighting spirit to win battles is to expect inferior American fighting spirit to acquiesce and sue for peace. But, there was no realistic way to FORCE the USA out of the war. America replaced its 4 lost fleet carriers with 24 much superior Essex-class carriers, and over a hundred-and-fifty light and escort carriers. Japan was unable to replace ANY fleet carriers lost during the war.

Already mired in a never ending occupation/war in China, and obsessively preoccupied with Russia, the Imperial Japanese Army was always a reluctant participant in the Pacific War. The IJA was poorly equipped, lacking in all the accoutrements of modern mechanized warfare. Foot bound, it emphasized sophisticated pin/hold/encircle operational tactics. Where it had critical mass, and room to maneuver, it could defeat superior forces. Where it did not, it did not have enough firepower to break through well defended strong points.

Malaysia, early Burma, and the Philippines exhibited it's strengths. New Guinea, Guadalcanal, the Aleutians, and later Burma exposed its weaknesses. And other fatal flaws: lack of modern material and manpower, lack of proper staff work, lack of logistics, and fighting a FOUR front war. Once on the strategic defensive in the Pacific, the Army stubbornly stalled for time.
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