On 20 August 1939 in the fuzzily demarcated no-man's land between Soviet-Protectorate Mongolia and Japanese-occupied Manchukuo (Manchuria) near Lake Buir Noir one of the most important but largely forgotten battles of the Second World War began with a morning bombardment by 200 Soviet bombers. After months of incursions by Japan's Kwantung Army, Stalin instructed his new commander in the east, Georgy Zhukov, to move over to the offensive. The battle would be a setpiece display of Soviet military-industrial modernity. Against the Japanese the Red Army amassed 581 aircraft, and 498 armoured vehicles, including a few prototypes of what would become the legendary T-34. Over 4,000 trucks moved 50,000 tons of supplies hundreds of miles to the front line; by contrast the Japanese had just 800 trucks in all of Manchuria. By the opening of the battle of Khalkhin Gol, the Soviets outnumbered the Japanese 2:1 in planes, tanks and artillery. After wrong-footing the Japanese with weeks of disinformation operations, two Soviet motorized pincers, covered by smothering tactical air support, swung around the Japanese northern and southern flanks, encircling and destroying the entire Kwantung's 6th Army. Foreshadowing the German Blitzkrieg, the Soviet attack taught the Japanese a humiliating lesson in the backwardness of their own army, which since 1937 had been engaged in a running battle with inferior Chinese forces. Nomonhan, as the Japanese called it, was only the opening trailer. Six years later, in the spring of 1945 as he prepared the last assault on Berlin, Zhukov would array 7,500 combat aircraft, 14,600 guns, 3,155 tanks and self-propelled guns, and over 1,500 rocket launchers. As the victor in the most intensive land conflict the world had ever seen, the Soviet Union between 1941 and 1945 equipped its forces with over 100,000 tanks, 130,000 aircraft, 800,000 guns and mortars, 1 billion shells and bombs, and 40 billion small arms cartridges.