Back in 2015 I made an unplanned trip to Taipei, during which I managed to squeeze in the briefest of visits to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. As luck would have it, my presence coincided with the hosting of a modest exhibition commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in WWII.
On display were paintings of the sort favoured by Asian military museums (which is to say their inattention to historical accuracy and general shoddiness would in all likelihood preclude their inclusion in Osprey books) highlighting some of the Sino-Japanese War’s greatest hits:
Major Kao Chih-hang’s Curtis Hawk III of the 4th Pursuit Group was credited with scoring the first Chinese air victory of the war.
Refugees streaming into the Shanghai International Settlement.
The accompanying caption failed to mention that the successful defence of Changsha in 1938 and 1942 were ultimately offset by the city’s loss in 1944 (third time’s a charm, what?!).
A typical day in Chungking, which the Japanese bombed continuously between 1938 and 1943.
The great Mongyu meet-up of 1945, where the Chinese army in Yunnan rendezvoused with its American-equipped expeditionary force in Burma.
The surrender ceremony in Nanking. Note the flags of several countries which hadn’t fought, or weren’t in existence then.
General Ho Ying-chin accepting the Japanese instrument of surrender from Yasuji Okamura, c-in-c of the IJA in China.
Of greater interest to wargamers such as us were the smattering of 1/35 afv kits the organisers had very kindly commissioned:
My favourite, though, were the even smaller batch of action figures on show:
In recent years many Chinese hobbyists on both sides of the strait have advocated for an apple green interpretation of the KMT army uniform.
And to end it all, a bloody big diorama of the China theatre of operations. Funnily enough I didn’t feel all that bothered about capturing the thing in its entirety.
When Stonewall first brought out their Chinese I thought “I have to get these!” even if it meant buying them sight unseen. Sadly the figures turned out to be quite horrible, with some looking like overfed hunchbacks armed with oversized chunks of wood. That they were done by a first-time sculpter speaks volumes about their quality.
The helmeted nco is actually a figure from Lancashire games.
The officer figure is wearing a kepi which, according to Jowett, was mainly seen worn by troops involved in the Jehol campaign of 1933. It appears to have been completely phased out by the mid-1930s.
For the uniforms I used the Foundry British Blue Grey triad, which turned out more blue than grey. Although the Chinese were notorious for their lack of quality control, and uniform colours varied immensely, I don’t think they came any where close to being this blue. So I guess I won’t be using the paints any time soon. Talk about sunk costs…
The figures are based on a plate from the Osprey Men-at-Arms title on Chinese Civil War armies, and I must admit that the sculptor’s attention to detail should be praised – even the spare shoes can be seen strapped to the riflemen’s backpacks.
I’ve always wanted to wargame the armour battle at the Kunlun Pass, as well as the Stalingrad-esque street fighting in places such as Shanghai, Nanjing, Changsha, and Taierchuang. But until a decent 20mm range comes along, it must sadly remain a dream.