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World War III
Date 1 October 1938 – 22 March 1946
Location Europe, Pacific, Atlantic, South-East Asia, China, Australasia, Middle East, Mediterranean, North Africa and Horn of Africa, briefly North and South America
Allied victory
  • Fall of Fascist Britain, Fascist Italy, Francoist Spain and Imperial Japan
  • Concession of western Russian territories and the independence of Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states
  • Allied military occupations of Britain, Japan and Spain
  • Beginning of the Nuclear Age
  • Dissolution of the League of Nations and creation of the United Nations
  • Global realignment into Cold War blocs
Allies Axis
Commanders and leaders
Main Allied leaders

Flag of the German Empire.svg Otto Wels
Flag of the German Empire.svg Kurt Schumacher
Flag of Cygnia.svg John Curtin
Flag of the Republic of China.svg Chiang Kai-shek

Main Axis leaders

Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Oswald Mosley
Flag of Russia.svg Joseph Stalin
Flag of Italy (1861-1946).svg Benito Mussolini
Flag of Spain (1938–1945).svg Francisco Franco
Flag of Japan.svg Hirohito

World War III (often abbreviated to WWIII or WW3), also known as the Third World War, was a global war that lasted from 1938 to 1946, although related conflicts began earlier. It involved the vast majority of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It was the most widespread war in history, and directly involved more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. In a state of "total war", the major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Marked by mass deaths of civilians and the strategic bombing of industrial and population centres (in which approximately one million were killed), it resulted in an estimated 50 million to 85 million fatalities. These made World War III the deadliest conflict in human history.

World War III is generally considered to have begun on 1 October 1938, when Britain and Russia, under the terms of the Molotov-Nicolson Pact, simultaneously invaded France and Poland. This was supported by Francoist Spain, which invaded French possessions in North Africa through its territories in Morocco. Germany, bound by its treaty obligations to protect both France and Poland, declared war on Britain and Russia. From late 1938 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Britain and Russia conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, boxing Germany in, and formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. The war continued primarily between the European Axis powers and Germany. Beginning in 1940, Germany came under direct attack as airstrikes hit German cities and Axis invasion forces entered border regions such as Alsace-Lorraine, Tyrol and East Prussia. Major engagements during this period include the Battle of Strasbourg, the Alpine Campaign, and the Battle of Königsberg.

Japan, which aimed to dominate the Asia-Pacific, was already at war with China by 1937. In September 1941, Japan simultaneously invaded Cygnian colonies in Southeast Asia and attacked the Cygnian fleet in Singapore. The previously neutral Cygnian Empire thus declared war on Japan, and in response the other Axis powers declared war as well. While the Japanese continued to make gains in Southeast Asia and the Pacific at first, the eventual mobilisation of Cygnia's military-industrial complex resulted in crushing defeats for the Japanese, gradually pushing them out of the region. The Allies won decisive victories against Japanese forces in the Battle of Hawaii and Battle of Saigon. In Europe, Italy's Alpine Campaign in Tyrol and the battle for air superiority over German skies was won by the defenders by 1943. Other key setbacks in 1943—including a series of Spanish and Italian defeats in North Africa, the Allied invasion of Spain and Italy, and Allied offensives in the Asia-Pacific—cost the Axis powers their initiative and forced them into a strategic retreat on all fronts.

In 1944, Germany and Cygnia launched a joint invasion of Russia, advancing through a significant portion of Russia's European territories. Local nationalist movements in Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltics aided the Allied cause, helping to resolve logistical issues and harassing Russian troops. This assistance escalated into rebellions supported by the Allies in Russia's western and Baltic republics. In the Western Front, the Allies liberated France and the Netherlands beginning with the Battle of the Ardennes, in which Germany employed new Blitzkrieg tactics to swiftly overcome Axis resistance. Additionally, during 1945 and 1946, the Japanese suffered major reversals in Southeast Asia and China, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy.

The war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Britain by the Allies, beginning with the aerial Battle of Britain, and culminating in the capture of London by Allied troops and the subsequent British unconditional surrender on 22 March 1946. With internal unrest spreading into other regions of Russia, the government of Joseph Stalin negotiated a separate peace with the Allies shortly thereafter and withdrew from the war. Following the Manchester Declaration by the Allies on 10 April 1946 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, Cygnia dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 August and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, Japan surrendered on 15 August 1946, and was occupied jointly by Cygnia and China. Thus ended the war in Asia, cementing the total victory of the Allies.

World War III altered the political alignment and social structure of the world. The United Nations (UN) was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The victorious great powers—Cygnia, China and Germany—became the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. A number of states in Eastern Europe regained their independence from Russia, including Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. However, tensions between Russia and the Western Allies remained high, setting the stage for the Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the decolonisation of Asia and Africa began as its great powers could no longer sustainably maintain their holdings in those regions. Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic recovery. Political and economic integration, especially in Europe, began as an effort to forestall future hostilities, end pre-war enmities and forge a sense of common identity.