[BlackICE 8.6] Republic of China AAR - Episode 3: Buildup, Betrayal, and the Drums of War.

Author: bigwoods
Published: 2017-03-18

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[BlackICE 8.6] Republic of China AAR

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Game: Hearts of Iron III

[BlackICE 8.6] Republic of China AAR - Episode 2: Southern Expedition

Images: 60, author: bigwoods, published: 2017-03-18

Welcome to Episode 3 of my BlackICE 8.6 playthrough of the Republic of China. If you missed the previous episodes, you can catch them here:

Episode 1 - Prelude: http://imgur.com/a/hdPRd
Episode 2 - Southern Expedition: http://imgur.com/a/NfIPE

Pictured above are new National Revolutionary Army recruits marching through Jinan on the way to the Northern Front. Armed with German equipment and training, as well as the flag of the Kuomintang, they are met with cheers and great enthusiasm from the city's residents. The people of China are stunned at the modernization of China's army, which a year before was only a ragtag group of conscripts and militias.
Central command reports a total of 370,000 troops under its wings, with an estimated additional 100,000 still undergoing retraining and refitting. After the 6th Army's victory in the Southern Expedition, plans are drawn up to split up the force and divert troops to the defensive 2nd, 4th, and 9th armies.
More fortifications are constructed on the Shandong peninsula, against an expected invasion of the port city of Qingdao. Chiang orders the formation of the 13th and 14th defense corps to guard the peninsula against the Japanese invasion.
Chinese engineers, in collaboration with their German counterparts, draft plans to construct more coal mines throughout the country. Resource production will be prioritized in the interior of China, where workers can function far from the front line and far from danger.
Meanwhile, in the north, the Ma family's line against the communists has collapsed, and its forces are retreating to the city of Golmud. A portion of the 6th Army, recently freed from its operations in Guangxi and Guangdong, are sent to reinforce the line.
Chinese Muslim Ma cavalry are famed for their aggressiveness and bravery in the face of danger. Their prestige is being tested, however, as the CPC marches west without resistance.
Loyalists to the warlord Long Yun rise in Yunxian and threaten the industrial zone of Kunming. A fascist militia division is sent to deal with this malcontent.
The civil corps reports to Chiang that a new industrial expansion is ready for construction, and Chiang quickly gives the engineers the green light. China's industry may be second-rate for now, but its potential outshadows the rest of the world combined! Soon countries will buy our arms and equipment, instead of the other way around.
Our allies have retreated past their territory and into ours. It also seems that the leadership of this division has fled overseas. They are truly cowards on the highest scale...
On the 12 of December, Chiang arrives in Xi'an to announce the new offensive against the CPC, titled "Operation Storm Claw". Zhang Xueliang and Yang Hucheng, both former warlords and allies of Chiang during the Northern Expedition, arrest Chiang as he steps out into the tarmac in Xi'an. They demand that Chiang make peace with the communists and instead focus the nation's efforts to defending the country against continued Japanese incursions.
Zhang Xueliang, nicknamed the "Young Marshall", was in command of forces in Manchuria during the Mukden Incident, and was forced to abandon his territory to the Japanese in order to save his weaker army from annihilation. Although a former ally of Chiang's, the arrest turned sour as Zhang's bodyguards shoot a Kuomintang minister, Shao Yuanchong, and Chiang's nephew, Jiang Xiaoxian. For Chiang, this political feud turned into a personal offense of the greatest scale.
As Chiang and his advisors are held, representatives from the communist CPC, as well as advisors from Australia and the Soviet Union try to broker a peace between the nationalists and the communists. Meanwhile, in Nanjing, Chiang's wife Soong Mei-Ling begs KMT officials to rescue Chiang from his captors. The leadership, without the guidance of Chiang, falters and fails to devise or execute a plan.
Under bated breath and clenched teeth, Chiang agrees to create the "Second United Front", an alliance between the CPC and the KMT against the Japanese. Here Chiang is pictured with the leader of the CPC, Mao Zedong, who just days before had advocated for Chiang's execution. The moderate voices of the CPC, however, prevailed, and Chiang was allowed to live in order to carry out his obligations.

After two weeks and the end of negotiations, Chiang is allowed to fly back to Nanjing with his advisors. Chiang, however, will not let this national and personal embarrassment go unpunished. The thought of working with the communists churns Chiang's stomach inside-out.
Upon Chiang's arrival in Nanjing, Zhang Xueliang is placed under house arrest and the main co-conspirator, Yang Hucheng (pictured), is immediately executed by the Kuomintang. Simultaneously, an order is given to KMT forces in Xi'an to dispatch of the communist CPC envoy there. Enraged, the CPC declares Hucheng a martyr of the communist cause and assassinates a number of KMT officials in revenge.
The short-lived Second United Front is broken after only days of existing, and communist suppression activities by the KMT resume in full force, but with even more vigor. All enemies of China will pay! Internal unity before external danger!
Formal war between the CPC and the KMT resumes again, and foreign advisors try to broker a peace again, but with no luck. The rift between the communists and the nationalists now is too great, and they would soon see themselves under the Japanese boot then under each other's.
Chiang uses this opportunity to enact more stringent production quotas and gears his country up for war. A calamity is coming, and the people of China must be ready.
The NRA general staff begins reform of its headquarters command hierarchy, in order to more efficiently command its troops during maneuvers.
In just over a month, the strength of the NRA nearly doubles to over 700,000 men under arms. German military advisors and Chinese officers are hard-pressed to organize this new influx of recruits.
Pictured here are officers of the NRA inspect the newly formed infantry divisions of the 2nd Army. These troops will soon be sent to the Shandong peninsula where they will guard the rear line of the 1st Army and the port city of Qingdao.
The production of electronics is increasing in China, and radios are reliably rolling off the assembly lines. Efforts are now made to equip all brigade and regiment level commanders with radio sets.
China has no more need for poorly trained militia. Regulars and a standardized army will defeat the Japanese!
Armaments factories are slated for construction in several cities in China, and plans to produce our own field guns, instead of relying on Swedish, German, and Czech imports move forward.
Chinese regular units are seen here manning a Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft gun. Although these flak guns are designed for use against aircraft, our troops are also being trained to use the guns as direct fire units against fortifications.
Meanwhile, Joseph Stalin cements his control over the Soviet Union by removing the Trotskyist faction. The United Kingdom annexes Egypt, against the will of the Egyptian people and King Farouk, and does so with the reason of "protecting" the Mediterranean from growing German and Italian influence.

The day will come when European hegemony over the rest of the world will end, Chiang promises. The time may not be now, but it will be soon.
The coverage of officers and NCOs across the Chinese army is still not up to standard, and the rolls at Whampoa academy are full. Chiang authorizes the opening of smaller military academies across the country, in Nanjing and in Wuhan.
Light infantry of the 4. Lujun corps launch a probing attack across the Wei river, but fierce resistance lies in their way. The NRA is simply not well equipped enough to start an offensive across a river and into a well entrenched enemy.
The disaster of Hancheng ends with the 4. Lujun Corps retreating back across the Wei River, leaving many of their wounded and missing brothers behind. NRA High Command re-evaluates the plan to cut-off the CPC advance into the Ma Clique, as a direct assault past the defensive CPC positions can no longer be considered.
Meanwhile, on the northern front, gathering Japanese forces worry the local commanders who send requests to the Nanjing command for more reinforcements. Command estimates at least 150,000 Japanese troops and their allies on the border, including the crack infantry troops of the Kwantung Army.
The Kwantung Army was one of the chief contributors of the attempted coup in Japan in February of 1936. High ranking members of the army are large proponents of Japanese expansion into China, and this elite army is estimated to stand at around 700,000 men. Seen here are tankers of the Kwantung Army operating Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks.
In the mountains north of Chengdu, troops of the 6th Route Army push to evict CPC troops from the city of Tianshui. With their experience fighting in the mountains of Guangxi, they easily outrank the poorly equipped communist militias. Still, the dogged defense of the communists only allows for the slowest possible advances.
War historians and the NRA General Staff continue to draw conclusions from the Western and Eastern fronts from World War 1. In particular, greater improvements are made to trench organization and the coordination of reserves behind the frontline.
The last remnants of Long Yun's armies lay down their arms and accept Kuomintang control over Kunming and the surrounding area. For every uprising and betrayal of the warlords, Chiang takes more and more of their autonomy away.
Communist militia retreat from the city of Tianshui, after a concerted push from the light infantry of the 6th Route Army.
Pictured here are light troops of the 6th Route Army operating a Type 24 Machine Gun, a locally made version of the German MG08. Fighting communist militias is hard work, as the enemy will at times simply melt into the population, and will reappear behind NRA lines weeks later.

Many throughout China are suspected to hold communist sympathies, and the war against the CPC is a battle of both men and loyalties. The population will have to be convinced that communism is not the answer, and Chiang has his propaganda minister work on new slogans and booklets to publish and distribute.
Slowly but surely our elite light troops will drive a wedge between CPC forces.
Tianshui and its surrounding mountains are finally cleared of communist regulars, and the process of cleaning up the rest of the CPC insurgents begins.
In order to reflect the new reality of the front against the communists, a new plan, Operation North Sword, is developed. While the fortress-city of Yan'an is still not approachable from the south, NRA forces can still drive through the mountains and cut off CPC forces in the west from their supply lines.
The Wei River, however, proves again to be an insurmountable obstacle for our troops. The presence of only a few mountain passes allows the communists to set up choke points and death traps for our troops, who do not have the equipment or training to bypass these mountain passes.
Militia from the Southern warlords, who pledged allegiance to Chiang months earlier, now undergo additional training and standardization.
The NRA grows once more, now with over 800,000 men under its command.
CPC troops launch a counter-offensive and manage to capture a chunk of Kuomintang territory south of the Yellow River. Troops are quickly sent to take it back.
Here, NRA troops are seen taking cover behind a dirt berm and repelling an attack by CPC infantry.
NRA armourers gains access to production blueprints of the German Kar98A rifle, and rebrands it as the Zhongzheng rifle, or the Type 24. Many troops name their rifles the Chiang Kai-Shek Rifle, and the name quickly catches on throughout the ranks of the NRA.
Pictured is a soldier with the new Zhongzheng rifle, with a bayonet affixed on the end. The rifle to a soldier is the symbol of their responsibility and their loyalty to the Republic, and they treat their rifle like it was a third arm.
More advances are also made towards our field guns and artillery pieces.
NRA armouries begin plans to construct heavy artillery pieces, which is planned to be issued to garrison units across the north and China's coast.
The CPC counterattack has faltered, and NRA light troops begin pushing the communists out of the mountains of Hongyuan. Only one cavalry division remains in the area, and their situation is quickly deteriorating.
As Operation North Sword does not require a breakthrough across the Wei River, divisions are shifted towards the defense of Beiping and the Northern Front. These German-trained mobile divisions will serve as a rapid response force, which will move to plug gaps in the line if and when they are created.
The CPC retreats from Hongyuan and NRA control over the line is restored once again.
Chinese industry once agains makes great strides towards modernization. Peasants across the countryside flock to the cities as more and more workers are needed in order to keep the production lines moving.
The Red Army of the Soviet Union is shaken by a large purge by Stalin, as he tries to remove all remnants of the Trotsky faction. Chiang assures his officer corps that no such brash action shall be taken in the NRA, and that as seen here the disease of communism would only serve to defeat itself.
The NRA general staff greenlights the expansion of field guns in our divisions across the country. Our divisions are now slowly starting to resemble the strength of other westernized armies. Some divisions now stand at around 8,500 men strong, while other overstrength divisions stand at 13,000 men strong.
A communist uprising in Tai'an is quickly put down by defense forces training in the area. The CPC will have to try harder than that!
In just under a year, the NRA has grown from a mere 300,000 men to over 1,000,000. These troops are also of higher quality, and possess a greater amount of field guns, transports, and other vital field equipment.
Plans for a greater rollout of the Zhongzheng rifle and other newly imported and manufactured equipment are slated for approval. Troops in the field are enthusiastic about getting an upgrade to their old Hanyang 88 rifles.
More troops are pulled from the 4th Army and transferred to the North Command against the Japanese.
Operation North Sword is put on hold, as all avenues of attack to the North are currently unavailable. Troops on the frontline are to train further and wait for new equipment to arrive, before the offensive is to continue.
German military advisors begin training select troops to become the equivalent of Germany's "Sturmtruppen" in World War 1. These men, just like the ones before them, are individually selected for their exceptional skill, and are given extra ration tickets as an incentive for their participation in the program.
These storm troops are ruthlessly drilled in discipline and the art of war. The communists will think twice before they attack again.
The National Revolutionary Army grows further to 1,100,000 men. The current reserve pool of men is shrinking rapidly, and the training of some divisions is temporarily put on hold.
Artillery brigades across the line begin to receive new equipment, and old field guns are sent to fortifications or given to local garrison units.
On 7 July, 1937, Japanese forces stationed between the cities of Beiping and Tianjin, in accordance with the Boxer Protocol of 1901, demand additional access to retrieve a missing soldier. A light skirmish between the city garrison and Japanese troops follows, and reinforcements from both sides are poured in as deterrence.

Wang Lengzhai, the acting commander of NRA forces in the area, is sent to the Japanese camp in order to ease tensions. More and more reinforcements begin to arrive, and NRA troops in and around the city are placed at the highest alert.
In the early morning of the next day, Wang Lengzhai returns to NRA headquarters in Beiping and reports Japanese forces massing for an attack. Just two hours later, Japanese forces begin their assault of the Marco Polo Bridge (Luguoqiao), as the first act of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Although no formal declaration of hostilities were made, both sides understand the situation and what lies ahead.
Fighting erupts on the streets of Beiping and Tianjin. More reserves across the north are mobilized, and troops of the 1st Army are moved to the front. NRA headquarters, in the Forbidden City complex, is buzzing with activity as local commanders struggle to adapt to the fluid frontlines throughout the city.
Japanese forces, indoctrinated with the belief that they were racially and martially superior to the Chinese, are surprised when the NRA fiercely and successfully pushes back their first assaults. If the Japanese are to take the city of Beiping, they shall pay for it in their blood.
Chiang Kai-Shek makes a speech from his headquarters in Nanjing to the Chinese people: Resist the Japanese Imperialists! Make them pay for every inch of land! More and more citizens rush to the recruitment offices, and many are refused as NRA divisions and reserves are at limit.
The leader of the communist CPC, Mao Zedong, also stresses to his army that they must also fight the Japanese invaders. Chiang and his commanders, however, see this as empty words. The communists will surely use the invasion as an opportunity to take advantage of distracted NRA troops. Although large-scale operations against the communists will have to wait, Chiang refuses to take off the pressure of CPC troops in the North.
Thanks for reading! Will the Japanese roll over the 1st and 2nd Army? Or will the line at Beiping and Tianjin hold? Find out next time...

(Note: I will be traveling over the next few weeks, so don't expect the next episode until... February? See you soon!)

Next chapter:

Game: Hearts of Iron III

[BlackICE 8.6] Republic of China AAR - Episode 4: The Onslaught

Images: 86, author: bigwoods, published: 2017-03-18

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