Japanese Leg Battalion – Revised Organisation for Crossfire

John Moher’s post, Modelling Japanese in Crossfire, prompted me to think about the Crossfire order of battle for the Japanese. John highlights some ways where the official Crossfire order of battle is incorrect but he doesn’t write it out in full. So I set out to document a new Crossfire organisation for a Japanese Leg Infantry Battalion. Turns out it was more complicated than I anticipated. And I ended up diverging from John’s suggestions a bit.


Sources

John Moher’s post Modelling Japanese in Crossfire set me off on this journey but I’ve ended up following a number of other sources.

The oldest is the U.S. War Department Handbook on Japanese Military Forces. Written during World War 2 to give keep the American officer corps informed about the Japanese armed forces. George Forty’s (1999) Japanese Army Handbook 1939-1945 seems fairly closely tied to the original handbook but is slightly more digestible. The two Osprey books (Jowett, 2002ab) are surprisingly good for such slim volumes, and again seem based on the original handbook, but offer some additional information.


Type A, B, and C Units

Infantry divisions and their organic units were classified as (Forty, 1999; Jowett, 2002ab; U.S. War Department, 1991):

  • ‘A’ (Ko) – reinforced
  • ‘B’ (Otsu) – standard
  • ‘C’ (Hei) – special / garrison

The ‘B’ Type Division was the norm hence hence ‘B’ Type organic units were also the norm. Generally an ‘A’ Type division comprised ‘A’ Type organic units; similarly for ‘B’ and ‘C’ divisions. However, it was possible for organic units to be a different category to the parent division, for example, a ‘B’ type division might have had a ‘A’ strength artillery unit.

Where an ‘A’ type division was strengthened, the special ‘C’ type division was weakened. ‘C’ type divisions only appeared in China (Jowett, 2002a). They comprised two infantry brides, no artillery, and minimal supporting units.

Note: John Moher, in Modelling Japanese in Crossfire, says something slightly different:

Early war most Infantry Regiments (Japanese Army) are B Standard and as the war progressed A became more prevalent (i.e. reduction in Rifle Companies from 4 to 3 and generally a decentralisation of Infantry Guns – i.e. less held at Regimental level).

The other sources I’ve got don’t mention the reduction in rifle companies. Nor associate ‘B’ Type with early war. That is not to say John isn’t correct, I just don’t have corroborating evidence.


‘A’ Type Leg Infantry Battalion (1939-45)

The ‘A’ Type battalion was strengthened had more infantry guns, and an anti-tank gun contingent. The Rifle Squads were also bigger but this is not represented in Crossfire.

  • 1 x BC
  • 2 x FO for off-table 7cm Type 92 Infantry Guns
  • 2 x 3.7cm ATG with optional tow
  • 1-3 x HMG
  • 4 x Rifle Companies
    • 1 x CC(+1)
    • 3 x Rifle Platoons: PC(+1); 3 x Rifle Squads; 1 x 5cm (Knee) Mortar Squad

‘B’ Type Leg Infantry Battalion (1939-45)

The ‘B’ Type battalion is the normal order of battle.

  • 1 x BC
  • 2 x FO for off-table 7cm Type 92 Infantry Guns
  • 3 x HMG
  • 4 x Rifle Companies
    • 1 x CC(+1)
    • 3 x Rifle Platoons: PC(+1); 3 x Rifle Squads; 1 x 5cm (Knee) Mortar Squad

‘C’ Type Leg Infantry Battalion (1939-45)

The ‘C’ Type battalion is variously described as “special / garrison” or “Strengthened (Modified)”. Unlike the ‘B’ Type, it could have an anti-tank contingent.

  • 1 x BC
  • 1 x FO for off-table 7cm Type 92 Infantry Guns
  • 0 or 3 x 3.7cm ATG with optional tow
  • 3 x HMG
  • 4 x Rifle Companies
    • 1 x CC(+1)
    • 3 x Rifle Platoons: PC(+1); 3 x Rifle Squads; 1 x 5cm (Knee) Mortar Squad

Leg Infantry Battalion (1942-45) from Independent Infantry Brigade

Independent Infantry Brigades were optimised for their specific mission.

  • 1 x BC
  • 1 x 20mm cannon with optional tow
  • 1 x HMG
  • 4 x Rifle Companies
    • 1 x CC(+1)
    • 3 x Rifle Platoons: PC(+1); 3 x Rifle Squads; 1 x 5cm (Knee) Mortar Squad

Leg Infantry Battalion (1942-45) from an Independent Mixed Brigade

Independent Infantry Brigades were optimised for their specific mission. Compared to the Independent Infantry Brigade, the battalion of the mixed brigade had one less rifle company and more support weapons. The support weapons were comparable to those of a ‘B’ type battalion.

  • 1 x BC
  • 1 x FO for off-table 7cm Type 92 Infantry Guns
  • 1 x 3.7cm ATG with optional tow
  • 2 x HMG
  • 3 x Rifle Companies
    • 1 x CC(+1)
    • 3 x Rifle Platoons: PC(+1); 3 x Rifle Squads; 1 x 5cm (Knee) Mortar Squad

Leg Infantry Battalion (1939-45) – High priority ‘A’ Type with ATR

Only a few high priority / favoured B Type Regiments had the expensive 2cm ATR’s present. These formed Company Weapons Platoons in the Rifle Companies using the ATRs and the Machine Gun Company of the battalion.

  • 1 x BC(+1)
  • 2 x FO for off-table 7cm Type 92 Infantry Guns
  • 2 x 3.7cm ATG with optional tow
  • 4 x Rifle Companies
    • 1 x CC(+1)
    • 1 x HMG
    • 2 x ATR to assign to a Rifle Squad
    • 3 x Rifle Platoons: PC(+1); 3 x Rifle Squads; 1 x 5cm (Knee) Mortar Squad

Note: John Moher: Modelling Japanese in Crossfire says only some high priority ‘B’ type divisions got the ATR. But Jowett (2002a) says the strengthened ‘A’ type got them, which makes more sense to me. In practice the only difference would be the 3.7cm ATG; the ‘A’ type would have them and the ‘B’ type would not.


Support Elements

A battalion is either part of a division or part of a brigade. This affects the support elements they can have.

Battalions that are part of a division have a number of support elements available from the regiment, infantry group, or division.

  • 0-1 x Infantry Gun unit from the Infantry Regiment
    • ‘A’ Type battalion: 2 x FO for off-table 7.5cm Type 41 Mountain Guns / Howitzers or 81mm mortars
    • ‘B’ Type company: 1 x FO for off-table 7.5cm Type 41 Mountain Guns / Howitzers or 81mm mortars
    • ‘C’ Type platoon: 0-1 x FO for off-table 7.5cm Type 41 Mountain Guns / Howitzers or 81mm mortars
  • 0-1 x Anti-Tank Gun Company from the Infantry Regiment
    • ‘A’ and ‘B’ type: 3 x 3.7cm ATG with optional tow
    • ‘C’ type: 1 x 3.7cm ATG with optional tow
  • 0-1 x ‘A’ Type Regimental Pioneer (Labour) Unit from an ‘A’ Type Division
    • 6 x Engineer Squads
  • 0-1 x Mountain Artillery Regiment from an ‘A’ or ‘B’ type division
    • 0-4 x FO for off-table 7.5cm Type 41 Mountain Guns / Howitzers
  • 0-1 x Field Artillery from an ‘A’ or ‘B’ type division
    • ‘A’ Type: 0-4 x FO for off-table Heavy Artillery (105mm or 150mm howitzers)
    • ‘B’ Type: 0-2 x FO for off-table 7.5cm field guns or 7.5cm Type 41 Mountain Guns / Howitzers
  • 0-1 x Cavalry (Rifle and Sabre) Company or Mounted Recce Company from the division
    • 1 x CC(+1)
    • 1 x HMG
    • 3 x Cavalry (Rifle and Sabre) Platoons: PC(+1); 3 x Rifle and Sabre Squads; 1 x 5cm (Knee) Mortar Squad
  • 0-4 x Tankette Platoons from an ‘A’ or ‘B’ type Infantry Group
    • ‘A’ Type: 4-5 x Medium Tanks
    • ‘B’ Type: 4-5 x Tankettes

Battalions that are part of a brigade can only have support elements from the brigade.

  • 0-1 x Brigade Artillery Unit
    • Either 1-2 x FO for off-table artillery chosen from 7.5cm Type 41 Mountain Guns / Howitzers or 150mm mortars
    • or 0-4 x FO for off-table mortars chosen from 81mm mortars or 90mm mortars

House Rules for the Japanese

I ignore the normal rules for Japanese HMG and Knee Mortars. I treat both as normal stands of their type. So my Japanese house rule is not to have a Japanese house rule.

See Musing on Japanese HMG in Crossfire and Musing on Japanese Knee Mortars in Crossfire.


Gun to Model Scale

I’ve tried to follow the guidelines from Crossfire which I summarised in my Crossfire FAQ. Figure Scale: How many men/tanks/guns to each model? says:

Machine guns: CF1.0 says a single MG model represents a section of several weapons. CF2.2 defines this further saying that a model represents 2-3 actual pieces. The Orbats given in the book generally follow this pattern, but sometimes seem to group 4 actual pieces into a single model, for example Russian Machine Gun companies typically had 12 guns but Crossfire only gives them three models.

FO: Crossfire is a bit quiet on how many men a FO stand represents, however, like PCs they are largely ignored for close combat, so are presumably a similar number of men, i.e. a small number. CF7.0 makes it clear that an FO is controlling a “battery”, meaning a group of guns not individual pieces.

Mortars: CF1.0 is silent, but CF2.2 lumps on-table mortars in with Heavy Weapons, i.e. one model represents 2-3 actual weapons, possibly 4.

Guns: On-table guns are trickier. Guns include Infantry Guns (IG) and Anti-Tank Guns (ATG). CF1.0 says a model represents a single gun. HTD seems consistent with this as it includes several Orbats with ATG “sections” or “platoons”, each complete with a PC and 2-3 ATG models. Unfortunately CF2.2 says a Heavy Weapon model (specifically mentioning IGs and implying ATGs) represents 2-3 actual weapons. This ratio is consistent with CF12.0, for example a 1939-42 German Leg Infantry Battalion contained a anti-tank company of 12 guns; CF12.0 has this represented by 3 models making a ratio of 1 model to 4 real guns; see CF12.0 for other such examples.


What about under strength units

The orders of battle above are for units that are in combat. They’ve take some losses but not so you would notice it in the order of battle much.

Units that have take significant losses will lose stands. The most common losses are rifle stands from platoons or perhaps whole platoons. Support elements can also be removed as losses e.g. HMG and FO.

As I explained in Musing on Japanese “Knee” Mortars in Crossfire, the mortar squad in each rifle platoon are a bit of a special case. John Moher, in Modelling Japanese in Crossfire, makes the point that the mortar section was depleted to replace losses in the rifle squads. This has an impact on the order of battle for a weakened unit. The number or rifle squads in the platoon and the company – indicators of how battle work the unit is – should influence the number of knee mortars assigned. My guidelines for assigning Knee Mortars when preparing the order of battle for a scenario:

  • Assign a Knee Mortar Squad to a Rifle Platoon if the platoon has three Rifle Squads and is considered fresh
  • Do not assign a Knee Mortar Squad to a Rifle Platoon if either of these apply:
    • The Rifle Platoon has one or two Rifle Squads
    • The Rifle Platoon has three Rifle Squads but the platoon has seen recent and serious campaigning so has had to draw upon the Mortar men to keep the Rifle Squads at full strength
  • A Rifle Company containing two or three Rifle Platoons without a Knee Mortar Squad (because of the above) gets a Knee Mortar Squad at Company level

References

Forty, G. (1999). Japanese Army Handbook 1939-1945. Sutton Publishing.

Jowett, P. (2002a). The Japanese Army 1931-45 (1): 1931-42 [Men-at-Arms 362]. Osprey.

Jowett, P. (2002b). The Japanese Army 1931-45 (2): 1942-45 [Men-at-Arms 369]. Osprey.

Moher, J. (2010, 6 April). Modelling Japanese in Crossfire. Wargaming Info.

U.S. War Department. (1991). Handbook on Japanese Military Forces. Grenhill Books: London.

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