The Sun, The Stars and The Sickle: Alt-WWII and a Tripolar Postwar World

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Even if the strategy is Germany First, wouldn't that just mean Japan provides the bulk of the manpower for the Chinese theater? IOTL, a fully-mobilized Japan was able to smash KMT forces in 1944 despite massive losses in the Pacific, an industry essentially running on fumes, and the KMT being funneled supplies and aid by the rest of the Allies. Granted, it was far from decisive, and KMT forces were still able to retreat into the interior, but it showed that despite Japan already far behind the Wallies was still superior to the KMT in military terms.

ITTL, Japan wouldn't have the massive losses in the Pacific or an industry running on fumes, and indeed, would be the one enjoying support from the Allies. It still might not be enough to reach Chongqing on their own, but Germany's defeat and a subsequent flood of reinforcements for the Chinese theater would simply be the kick which brings down the house.

On the defense of Malaya and Thailand...Yamashita as the field commander is good. But the real asset of the Allies is his subordinate, Tadamichi Kuribayashi. The man who IOTL commanded the last stand on Iwo Jima, and despite being vastly-outnumbered and completely-outgunned, still bogged down the Americans for over a month (and who estimated Iwo Jima would fall in weeks), and inflicted more losses on the Americans than the Americans inflicted on the Japanese defenders (and it was the only time in the Pacific War that this happened). And Kuribayashi is in nowhere near as desperate a situation as he was IOTL.
 
Even if the strategy is Germany First, wouldn't that just mean Japan provides the bulk of the manpower for the Chinese theater? IOTL, a fully-mobilized Japan was able to smash KMT forces in 1944 despite massive losses in the Pacific, an industry essentially running on fumes, and the KMT being funneled supplies and aid by the rest of the Allies. Granted, it was far from decisive, and KMT forces were still able to retreat into the interior, but it showed that despite Japan already far behind the Wallies was still superior to the KMT in military terms.

ITTL, Japan wouldn't have the massive losses in the Pacific or an industry running on fumes, and indeed, would be the one enjoying support from the Allies. It still might not be enough to reach Chongqing on their own, but Germany's defeat and a subsequent flood of reinforcements for the Chinese theater would simply be the kick which brings down the house.

The Japanese contribution to the China front is indeed outsized. Not only is the IJA smaller TTL (although more disciplined and much better supplied), the National Army is larger, better armed and better trained. Still, the IJA managed to win a string of battles against the National Army, and fought on their own in China for two years, capturing Beijing and even reaching the threshold of Shanghai.

The Second Battle of Huchow, set to take place just days after the Allied assault on Nanking is entirely a Japanese effort, requiring the joint strength of both the 1st China Expeditionary and Kwantung Armies.

Japanrse industrial output continues to increase, and quality of their production has not dropped. For instance, the barrels of Arisaka rifles continue to be chrome-lined, and the Type 1 Steel Helmet has entirely replaced the inferior Type 92 Steel Cap. Some measures to simplify production have been taken, such as woolen puttees and leather gaiters being replaced with rubberized cotton gaiters, and NCO swords being patterned at wakizashi-length to save metal and make the kit less cumbersome.

There is an interesting knock-on effect from all of the production increases. With a lot of Japan's industrial prodoction occupied in ship and aircraft building, and Manchurian industry still in its infancy, manpower is shorted. That means that even in conservative Japanese society, there is no option but to start mobilizing women is factories and in other jobs, such as railway ticket sellers, tram conductors and telephone switchboard operators. The Emperor calls on the efforts of all Japanese to bring forth victory.

When Victory in Europe occurs, a flood of other Allied forces is indeed the plan. Chongqing will either capitulate or be conquered, by any means necessary.

On the defense of Malaya and Thailand...Yamashita as the field commander is good. But the real asset of the Allies is his subordinate, Tadamichi Kuribayashi. The man who IOTL commanded the last stand on Iwo Jima, and despite being vastly-outnumbered and completely-outgunned, still bogged down the Americans for over a month (and who estimated Iwo Jima would fall in weeks), and inflicted more losses on the Americans than the Americans inflicted on the Japanese defenders (and it was the only time in the Pacific War that this happened). And Kuribayashi is in nowhere near as desperate a situation as he was IOTL.

Well spotted here as well!

OTL, Yamashita was a highly capable commander, but many of his subordinates were not the most capable lot, and often insubordinate. TTL, the worst OTL offender, Renya Mutaguchi, saw his career torpedoed along with Tojo's at Huchow. Rensuke Isogai is also a much better chief of staff than the sadistic Akira Muto.

Kuribayashi will also really have the opportunity to demonstrate his skills TTL. He already enjoys an excellent reputation in both Japanese and British circles, having participated in the defence of Hong Kong during the Four Winds Offensive. TTL, he is well-supplied, not cut off from contact, and enjoys the full support of his commanding officer. It is to Kuribayashi that the defence of Kota Bharu falls. Outnumbered or not, the Allies are confident in his abilities.

This version of KMT might be stronger than OTL too, having expanded and modernized the army and industry better with German support.

The National Army is indeed stronger than its OTL counterpart. The NA has had several extra years of German training, and a stronger industrial base centred in Guangzhou. This was enabled by the renewed Sino-German Cooperation Pact in 1935, following Anglo-Japanese rapprochement the year prior, and the Second Sino-Japanese War breaking out in 1939 rather than 1937. While the most famous image is that of the Chinese soldier in field grey and a Stahlhelm, and columns of National Army Panzers, it is really the soldier in simpler steel helmet and cloth shoes, but still carrying a locally-produced K98 rifle and trained in modern infantry tactics that form the backbone of the National Army.
 
Hello! I found this timeline recently - an interesting premise that you've clearly put a ton of care and detail into. I'll be staying tuned for further developments.

I have to admit, whenever discussing alt history my mind goes to pop culture, trying to imagine what ripple effects the timeline changes would have on music, cinema, books, etc. In this case, a film titled The Empire(s) Strike Back takes on a whole new set of connotations. :closedeyesmile:

Welcome to the party! Not to worry, I have plenty of developments planned, and I will be sure to include some pop culture focused ones.

@Jaenera Targaryen gets the credit for the rich filmography about the Battle of Murmansk, including the iconic film Arctic Tiger, starring Sir Christopher Lee as Admiral John Tovey, Sou Yamamura as Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, and Pete Postlethwaite in his film debut as grizzled everyman Petty Officer Peter Barnes.
 
Hopefully this is not a bother, but I had a question regarding the small warships transferred from Japan to Britain - are they still in service, and if so, under their old names or rechristened with English names?
 
Hopefully this is not a bother, but I had a question regarding the small warships transferred from Japan to Britain - are they still in service, and if so, under their old names or rechristened with English names?

No bother at all! Ask anything, anytime!

With the butterflies surrounding destroyers flapping their wings, the ex-IJN destroyers are still in RN service. They are grouped into a single class, with subclasses based on their original class. They have been given the flag superior "J" and all but one have English names starting with that letter. Instead of the OTL J-Class, the RN began producing the TTL Weapon class earlier and constructed more Tribals.

The only exception is HMS Wakatake. Sent ahead of her fleetmates for crew familiarization, it was decided that "Walkie-Talkie" was a name too already too familiar to her crews to be worth changing.
 
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Soooooo Say the Ship Pulls Something Absolutely Brilliant off..... Later On the British may have had Several HMS Wakatakes In service?

Thus far, Walkie-Talkie's service has been fairly uneventful- after helping to work in crews, she has undertaken routine escort duties and ASW patrols in the Atlantic, before being reassigned to the Pacific in late 1941.

She's an old ship, small at 930 tons normal load, (a slight gain from additional equipment) but quick, still able to make 34.5 knots out of her original 36. She's lightly armed too- just 2x 120mm guns, a quad 2pdr pom-pom mount, a pair of Oerlikon 20mm single mounts and 40 depth charges, 10 for each of her 4 throwers. An experimental installation of a WWI-surplus 6 inch mortar for ASW has also been added. She also carries radar and ASDIC.

Thus far, it doesn't look like there will be movies made about her, but she nonetheless does her job well.
 

Yatta

Donor
What are the Duckies (Akizukis) like in TTL. Have the Japanese been building them in lieu of their Kagerō style destroyers? Or are they building a mixture?
 
Since I didn't mention it in the original post - one of the things I particularly like about your TL is the variety of perspectives covered, with a lot of generals and political figures but also a good few "lower decks" viewpoints on the evolving world situation.

This is only a suggestion (I'm confident that your updates in any direction will be fun), but with that caveat I'd be most curious to have a look at the US perspective on the ground for "The Sun, The Stars, and the Sickle" version of WW2. While MacArthur and King are aware of a lot of strategic concerns related to both the Japanese military buildup, and now the war with the KMT, I wonder how the war is being sold and viewed back home.
 
What are the Duckies (Akizukis) like in TTL. Have the Japanese been building them in lieu of their Kagerō style destroyers? Or are they building a mixture?

The Kagero, Yuugumo and Akizuki class destroyers are all present, although in greater numbers than OTL, with twelve each of the latter two types laid down each year between 1939 and 1941, and eight of each for 1942 and projected for 1943. There are also twenty Matsu class escort destroyers planned to replace older vessels; filling a role similar to the RN's Hunt class escort destroyers.

Light cruisers older than the Sendai class have been relegated to secondary and training duties; the Sendais themselves will be replaced by the Yamakunis when they are finally completed.

With a dearth of surface threats present, it is likely that some or all of the 1943 Yuugumo class boats are re-ordered as Akizukis.
 
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Since I didn't mention it in the original post - one of the things I particularly like about your TL is the variety of perspectives covered, with a lot of generals and political figures but also a good few "lower decks" viewpoints on the evolving world situation.

This is only a suggestion (I'm confident that your updates in any direction will be fun), but with that caveat I'd be most curious to have a look at the US perspective on the ground for "The Sun, The Stars, and the Sickle" version of WW2. While MacArthur and King are aware of a lot of strategic concerns related to both the Japanese military buildup, and now the war with the KMT, I wonder how the war is being sold and viewed back home.

A good observation!

Thus far, it has been challenging since it has only been 10 TTL months since American boots have been on the ground, and I want to make sure I can give a unique American perspective, from the eyes of someone who has had some experience in China or at sea, and what the situation looks like at home. Someone for whom the lustre has worn off and sees things for how they are would be the best storyteller for that. That, and someone on the homefront describing things how they are as well.

I'll be sure to write an update like that soon! I'm always grateful for reader participation and suggestions, and I can't thank the readership enough for all the amazing contributions you all have made!
 
A good observation!

Thus far, it has been challenging since it has only been 10 TTL months since American boots have been on the ground, and I want to make sure I can give a unique American perspective, from the eyes of someone who has had some experience in China or at sea, and what the situation looks like at home. Someone for whom the lustre has worn off and sees things for how they are would be the best storyteller for that. That, and someone on the homefront describing things how they are as well.

I'll be sure to write an update like that soon! I'm always grateful for reader participation and suggestions, and I can't thank the readership enough for all the amazing contributions you all have made!

You're welcome! I only mention it because some of the smaller-scope chapters, like those focusing on Bose or Benjamin "Banzai" Bornstein (and with a name like that I'm sure its not the last hairy situation he'll be in) are so flavorful.
 
You're welcome! I only mention it because some of the smaller-scope chapters, like those focusing on Bose or Benjamin "Banzai" Bornstein (and with a name like that I'm sure its not the last hairy situation he'll be in) are so flavorful.

Those chapters are some of the most fun to write, I must say. As corny as it sounds, sometimes this TL feels like it takes on a life of its own, and the individual perspectives are like dropping yourself into the TL and seeing it up close.
 
Hamilton's War
Nanking, Union of China (disputed by Republic of China)

April 26th, 1942

Afternoon?


PRIVATE Bill Hamilton, US Army, looked around him, dazed now that the adrenalin was wearing off. Twenty-two and now a veteran of his first battle, he tried to take stock of the situation around him. He was alive. He was with his platoon, taking refuge in a hall of some sort. Artie, Brewster, Davis and Nagler made it, and so did Sarge. Hutchison, Ward and O'Malley weren't so lucky. Ward bled out after a Nationalist with a submachine gun got him. Hutch got done by a Nationalist sniper. Mick O'Malley was the one that hurt the most. He got killed by an artillery shell- an American shell- falling short. Mick talked too loudly and too often, and his jokes were godawful. He was a lousy shot, and couldn't make coffee worth a damn, but for Bill, all of that just made Mick's absence even more obvious.

Bill's eyes stung. His ears were ringing. His ass hurt from being bounced around in a truck ride from Shanghai, and falling after tripping on some rubble. He wanted a cold beer and some Chinese food, but Chinese like they made it at Yan's back at home in San Francisco. You couldn't get Egg Foo Young in China, imagine that!

All Bill could think was... "How did this happen? How did I get here?" The events of the last few months played back in his mind in bits and pieces, searching for the why.

The answer began back in San Francisco.

There, Bill had done everything normally, up until now. Graduated high school. Got a good job as a freight handler, loading boxcars for the Santa Fe. Even had a girl back home, who he would give a ring to when all this was over. Why even sign up? It would have been easy enough to get out of it, being a railroad man.

There was no one thing behind the decision, it was more like a few different things at once. When all your friends are signing up, it's hard not to. He was also a patriotic American, a real nephew of Uncle Sam, just like his dad who was a Doughboy in the last war. No son of Steve Hamilton was a coward, and since he was the elder Hamilton's only son -it wasn't like his two sisters could go over- it fell to him. He wasn't really sure what fighting in China had to do with bringing Hitler to his knees, but it was still better than fighting them over here. To make it even more complicated, there was a civil war going on in China, and some of them were with us, and some of them sided with Hitler.

The war left its mark on San Francisco as well. Every Chinese restaurant and laundry seemed to display crossed American and Union of China flags in the window, and prominently displayed photographs of Roosevelt and Wu Peifu side-by-side. Posters portrayed a powerful and noble Wu as the Chinese Washington, like the one drawn like Washington's Crossing, where it was Wu in the bow of the boat, holding a Unionist flag. Chiang was usually portrayed as a small, bitter figure, sometimes running away from Uncle Sam, or in one particularly memorable poster, as a Shih-Tzu sitting on Hitler's lap.

Bill also remembered a propaganda cartoon playing before a movie he saw with his girl; it was called "It Can't Happen Here!" . It was a Disney production, done in the cartoony style one would expect, but the subject matter was clearly serious. It was about how totalitarianism takes root in countries like Germany, and how while the American Constitution and system of government can prevent it from taking root over here, Americans still have to notice the signs and stop it in its tracks. It wouldn't just go away either. It had to be stopped in its tracks. The Nationalist Chinese killed Americans and siezed American property, so he had to be stopped now.

Was that why? It was part of it, sure, but it wasn't any one thing that Bill could put his finger on, try as he might.

The medical exam and induction were straightforward, boot camp was a blur. Like so many others, Bill was an infantryman, armed with his wits and his rifle. He boarded a troopship with thousands, had to be thousands of others, and set sail for Shanghai. The food wasn't the great, and the loudmouth Irish-American Mick O'Malley next to him got on his nerves, but the prospect of seeing some action got him through it.

Shanghai was a world apart. It had the atmosphere of an armed camp as well as a bustling city, both mashed together and overlaid on top of one another. It was bright, and loud and there were always fifteen things going on at once. It wasn't just Chinese and other Americans like him, there were other nationalities too. There were Brits, Frenchmen, Canadians, Australians, Japanese, and even some Brazilians that arrived after he did. When you were on liberty, you could explore the city before heading back to the American barracks by the docks.

The International Settlement looked almost like parts of European or American cities lifted into another city, while the Chinese neighbourhoods were crowded and had a life of their own. Bill's first surprise was that Chinese food in China is very different than Chinese food back home- no candy-sweet orange ginger chicken was to be found here.

The neighbourhood that seemed the most foreign to Bill was Japantown. Sarge quietly warned the boys that if they were going to go out looking for a good time while on leave, not only did the Army discourage it, Japantown was not the place to go looking for it. Bill remembered walking through it with his buddies Artie Thatcher and Edmond Brewster (you never called him by his first name, he hated it). In contrast to much of the rest of Shanghai, Japantown was orderly, almost too orderly. They were building a streetcar line, and one soldier was directing traffic, while another stood at attention on the corner. Turning the corner, the three American soldiers found themselves walking towards a sidewalk café, where three IJA officers were seated, waiting for tea. They were all in knee-high boots, close-fitting breeches, high-collared tunics, high-crowned forage caps and white gloves, making them look so different than the soldiers they saw earlier. One of them took his white gloves off to read a newspaper, while the other two talked. Shit, thought Bill. How many paces... no...better just stop and salute now. He and Brewster saluted, and so did Artie after being elbowed. To their great surprise, the Japanese officers arose and returned the salute, white gloves on. It was the strangest, most awkward experience, and they left in a hurry.

Next was the battle. The waiting. The truck ride in the dark. The pop and crackle of rifle fire. The firefight with the Nationalists. The anger at discovering that Nationalist aligned Triads were putting on Union Star armbands to blend in. The second firefight, and falling over the smashed wall, or building or whatever. And now here.

So this was war, thought Bill Hamilton.
 
Exactly what I was hoping for! Not much to say except that I really liked the slight alteration in writing style here, which I assume was to get us into Bill Hamilton's disordered state of mind as he's just exited combat.

As for the posters in restaurant windows - I hope there will be no equivalent to the Japanese-American internment camps for Chinese-American citizens ITTL, but unfortunately racism and paranoia are powerful factors. On the other hand, ITTL China is badly fractured between internal fractions, and the war there is more a proxy battle against Nazi influence. Thus the situation is a bit different OTL, in which a unified militaristic empire had just struck US soil.
 
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