Author ORCID Identifier

Degree Year


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts




Leonard Smith


Nomonhan Incident, Changkufeng Incident, Imperial Japanese Army, Japanese army tactics, Soviet-Japanese Border Wars, Manchukuo


In their conflicts with the Soviet Union in 1938-1939, Imperial Japanese Army forces suffered a series of dramatic defeats at the hands of the Red Army, the descendant of an enemy they had been preparing to face since the conclusion of the Russo-Japanese War. At the root of these military failures was the dramatic tactical insufficiency of Japanese army doctrine, which had not evolved to meet the combined arms threat of a modern opponent. Instead, relying on 'spiritual superiority' over firepower, they were forced to attack Soviet tanks with firebombs and operate continuously under the heavy fire of enemy artillery. Despite the disastrous results of Changkufeng and Nomonhan, however, the Japanese failed to take these lessons to heart, and consequently they would experience the same results on other battlefields as they did in these early conflicts.

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