Ditching Planes in the Sea


  • 2017

    Apparently I’ve been playing Axis and Allies wrong thinking I could ditch a plane in the sea on the Non-Combat turn if during the Combat Move Phase there was a legal landing spot for a plane (carrier that it could land on). Just now I wanted to ditch a plane and move the carrier it came from to SZ 35 instead of where it fought at in in the Celebes. (The plane had 1 movement point left).

    How many other people out there been playing this wrong also?

    Europe 2nd Edition Rule Book, page 22

    “Aircraft carriers can move to sea zones to allow friendly fighters and tactical bombers to land. They must move there, range permitting, if they didn’t move in the Combat Move phase and the friendly sea zone is the only valid landing zone for the air units. An aircraft carrier and a fighter or tactical bomber must both end their moves in the same sea zone in order for the air unit to land on the carrier.”



  • You can’t intentionally let the planes die, but you can sometimes have an unlikely-to-win battle that you declared during that round that would have given a valid landing spot but has almost no chance to succeed.  For example, you could claim that 1 USA sub versus the entire Japanese navy would have a possibility of winning in Java, allowing the US carriers to pick up planes off the coast of Malaysia after a lone fighter was sent to blow up a group of unprotected transports.

    Please be nice to your pilots  😄


  • 2017 '16

    @Arthur:

    You can’t intentionally let the planes die, but you can sometimes have an unlikely-to-win battle that you declared during that round that would have given a valid landing spot but has almost no chance to succeed.  For example, you could claim that 1 USA sub versus the entire Japanese navy would have a possibility of winning in Java, allowing the US carriers to pick up planes off the coast of Malaysia after a lone fighter was sent to blow up a group of unprotected transports.

    Please be nice to your pilots  😄

    I don’t understand is a Triple A trick.
    I always think you cannot ditch a plane if a Carrier can move NCM to save it.



  • @Baron:

    @Arthur:

    You can’t intentionally let the planes die, but you can sometimes have an unlikely-to-win battle that you declared during that round that would have given a valid landing spot but has almost no chance to succeed.  For example, you could claim that 1 USA sub versus the entire Japanese navy would have a possibility of winning in Java, allowing the US carriers to pick up planes off the coast of Malaysia after a lone fighter was sent to blow up a group of unprotected transports.

    Please be nice to your pilots  😄

    I don’t understand is a Triple A trick.
    I always think you cannot ditch a plane if a Carrier can move NCM to save it.

    You cannot refuse to move if you can but you can declare a combat that is depending on a non-combat move that is depending on a combat move.

    Say japan has 1 destroyer blocking your fleet, once that destroyer is dead you can move your carriers 2 spaces so the air on the carriers can attack something 3 spaces away.
    You create combat with the destroyer with the intend of killing it so you can non-combat through that zone. This is still legal.
    Now your combat against the destroyer goes bad, you cannot move the carriers so you cannot pick up the planes. Its not your fault the dice went wrong.

    Ofcourse attacking the whole japanese combat fleet with a single sub is stretching the rules ( a lot ) you could in theory win this battle ( if you did the other would likely give up )so you could move your carriers through in non combat so you can attack with planes from the carriers 3 steps away. The chances of them being picked up are 1 in a milion but its not impossible.


  • 2017 '16

    Thanks.



  • Another example that might arise is if Japan has a group of six valuable bombers on the Philippines with no additional protection. You have your Allied fleet in the Carolines.  Send a squadron of two fighters and two tacs to destroy the bombers, along with one sub to attack the fleet in SZ35.  Theoretically that one sub could win the battle so your squadron of planes have a valid landing spot.

    The Japanese bombers would get destroyed, your sub will die a dozen deaths in the first round of fighting, and your carriers can do anything they want during non-combat since there is no way to pick up the planes after their mission.



  • You cannot deliberately send air units into combat situations that place them out of range of a place to land afterward. In the
    Combat Move phase, prior to rolling any battles, you must be able to demonstrate some possible way (however remote the
    possibility is) for all your attacking air units to land safely that turn. This could include a combination of combat moves. It
    could also include noncombat moves by a carrier or the mobilization of a new carrier.

    In order to demonstrate that an air unit might have a safe landing zone, you may assume that all of your attacking rolls will
    be hits, and all defending rolls will be misses. You may NOT, however, use a planned retreat of any carrier to demonstrate
    a possible safe landing zone for any fighter or tactical bomber. Once possible landing spaces for all attacking air units have
    been demonstrated, you have no obligation to guarantee those landing zones for air units in the course of battle. For example,
    aircraft carriers may freely retreat or be taken as casualties, even if doing so leaves air units with no place to land after
    combat (such air units will be destroyed at the end of the Noncombat Move phase). However, during noncombat movement
    and new unit mobilization, you must provide for safe landing of as many air units as possible after all combats are resolved.

    If you declared that a carrier will move during the Noncombat Move phase to provide a safe landing zone for a fighter or a
    tactical bomber moved in the Combat Move phase, you must follow through and move the carrier to its planned location in
    the Noncombat Move phase unless the air unit has landed safely elsewhere or has been destroyed before then, or a combat
    required to clear an intervening sea zone failed to do so. Likewise, if you declared that a new carrier will be mobilized to
    provide a safe landing zone for a fighter or tactical bomber, it must be mobilized in that sea zone unless the air unit has landed
    safely elsewhere or has been destroyed.

    I think you are playing it right unless the carrier wasn’t moved during combat. If you moved it into combat you can retreat it or turn it on its side even if it will strand your planes. If you said you’d move it there in the non combat phase then yes, you have to move it there.


  • 2020 2018 2017

    You cannot ditch the planes, but there are several ways to exploit this rule to make sure everything can come

    1. take the plane(s) that have 0-1 moves as casualties first.  This way you may not be required to move the carrier into harms way after all.
    2. move or buy carriers that could potentially be placed where necessary at the end of the turn to provide a crash landing space for planes
    3. if the planes don’t live, then the carriers can move/be placed anywhere and don’t have to move into the danger zone
    4. carriers can send off their own planes but pick up a completely different set (as long as the original air groups can land or find a different carrier)  I term this ‘shuttle bombing’
    5. This allows you to attack with 8 planes with only 2 carriers under optimal conditions.
    6. also, as I have detailed before, carriers are more flexible on the attack than the defense because you can sacrifice them all and still usually find a place to land whereas on the defense, you have only 1 square to move and are subject to the attacker retreating and crashing all your planes…

    Last game I played the ultimate tango between SZ 97 and SZ 110.

    Germany had a full fleet 2 bb 2 cv 1 dd 1 ca 6 transports in the channel

    UK had 5 fighters on London and 4 other planes on 2 carriers in SZ 97
    The London planes can fly 5, so they can reach the SZ 97 carriers
    The US attacked with 4 planes to soften them up, then
    I purchased 2 carriers, so that the planes from SZ 97 could potentially land on the carriers being placed in SZ 110 (they have only 4 moves)

    This permitted me to bring all 9 planes on the attack.  I could take the planes from SZ 97 as casualties, and since I would probably lose at least 4, the carriers had to be purchased but could then potentially be placed anywhere, off Canada, SZ 106, South Africa, or Egypt.  The planes from London can fly to SZ 97, so the air cover for that fleet was maintained as well.  However many planes survived with 4 moves (as opposed to the dead ones with 0 moves), I could deploy them flexibly all over to protect UK interests or fly them onto the new carriers, wherever they were placed.



  • ~~I hate to say this taamvan but newly purchased units are only placed after all non combat moves are done and no new planes or existing planes may land on a newly built aircraft carrier.

    Or am I not understanding what you are trying to say?~~

    EDIT - OOPS ! The above is so wrong. I’ve been playing with classic AA rules! Ignore that everyone and sorry taamvan.



  • @Strollmasta:

    You cannot deliberately send air units into combat situations that place them out of range of a place to land afterward. In the
    Combat Move phase, prior to rolling any battles, you must be able to demonstrate some possible way (however remote the
    possibility is) for all your attacking air units to land safely that turn. This could include a combination of combat moves. It
    could also include noncombat moves by a carrier or the mobilization of a new carrier.

    In order to demonstrate that an air unit might have a safe landing zone, you may assume that all of your attacking rolls will
    be hits, and all defending rolls will be misses. You may NOT, however, use a planned retreat of any carrier to demonstrate
    a possible safe landing zone for any fighter or tactical bomber. Once possible landing spaces for all attacking air units have
    been demonstrated, you have no obligation to guarantee those landing zones for air units in the course of battle. For example,
    aircraft carriers may freely retreat or be taken as casualties, even if doing so leaves air units with no place to land after
    combat (such air units will be destroyed at the end of the Noncombat Move phase). However, during noncombat movement
    and new unit mobilization, you must provide for safe landing of as many air units as possible after all combats are resolved.

    If you declared that a carrier will move during the Noncombat Move phase to provide a safe landing zone for a fighter or a
    tactical bomber moved in the Combat Move phase, you must follow through and move the carrier to its planned location in
    the Noncombat Move phase unless the air unit has landed safely elsewhere or has been destroyed before then, or a combat
    required to clear an intervening sea zone failed to do so. Likewise, if you declared that a new carrier will be mobilized to
    provide a safe landing zone for a fighter or tactical bomber, it must be mobilized in that sea zone unless the air unit has landed
    safely elsewhere or has been destroyed.

    I think you are playing it right unless the carrier wasn’t moved during combat. If you moved it into combat you can retreat it or turn it on its side even if it will strand your planes. If you said you’d move it there in the non combat phase then yes, you have to move it there.

    Could you please indicate where exactly this rule is stated in the Europe/Pacific rule-book?


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 '13 Official Q&A TripleA Moderator

    @leankyr:

    Could you please indicate where exactly this rule is stated in the Europe/Pacific rule-book?

    Europe 1940.2 page 30 (in older prints it starts at the end of page 29),
    Pacific 1940.2 page 28.

    HTH 🙂



  • In order to demonstrate that an air unit might have a safe landing zone, you may assume that all of your attacking rolls will
    be hits, and all defending rolls will be misses.

    On a fun sidenote for LL players. How would you play this? Can you send a single sub against the entire japanese fleet if you play with low luck, or not? Since low luck is a house rule, it both answers are correct.

    Allowing the suicide might be preferable, since you can guarantee that no fighters will survive the battle in LL.


  • 2020 2018 2017

    Must you send a lone sub against a huge fleet that is blocking the way that is preventing you from bringing a carrier into position (say during NCM) to pick up planes that could potentially survive and need a landing space from some other battle, even though you “know” that you cannot win this battle in any event and that the planes will end up ditching?

    Yes in low luck, and yes without.  The only hitch here is that you MUST send the sub to make this attack.  You cannot win a battle you do not attempt to fight.

    I do see what you are saying, that in low luck, there are no “hits and misses” and therefore, since the attack could never be won without immense luck, that it doesn’t meet the summary judgment rule (all attacker hits and all defender misses).  But as you also mention, low luck is a tacked-on rule, so we just go back to what it says in the main rulebook;  if there is any chance no matter how slight of you winning, you can bring the fighters as long as you make some attempt with at least 1 unit to clear the crucial zone.  The sub still meets the test of the rule even though low luck makes its odds go from 1% to 0%.

    What if we attack the blocking fleet with a (damaged?) aircraft carrier, alone, which has no combat rating and therefore, can never “inevitably” hit?  Maybe this is an even gameyer test of this rule (though we may find some other rule that states that you have to bring at least 1 attacker with attack value into a combat…)



  • @taamvan:

    Must you send a lone sub against a huge fleet that is blocking the way that is preventing you from bringing a carrier into position (say during NCM) to pick up planes that could potentially survive and need a landing space from some other battle, even though you “know” that you cannot win this battle in any event and that the planes will end up ditching?

    Yes in low luck, and yes without.   The only hitch here is that you MUST send the sub to make this attack.   You cannot win a battle you do not attempt to fight.

    I do see what you are saying, that in low luck, there are no “hits and misses” and therefore, since the attack could never be won without immense luck, that it doesn’t meet the summary judgment rule (all attacker hits and all defender misses).   But as you also mention, low luck is a tacked-on rule, so we just go back to what it says in the main rulebook;  if there is any chance no matter how slight of you winning, you can bring the fighters as long as you make some attempt with at least 1 unit to clear the crucial zone.   The sub still meets the test of the rule even though low luck makes its odds go from 1% to 0%.

    What if we attack the blocking fleet with a (damaged?) aircraft carrier, alone, which has no combat rating and therefore, can never “inevitably” hit?  Maybe this is an even gameyer test of this rule (though we may find some other rule that states that you have to bring at least 1 attacker with attack value into a combat…)

    You must be able to win, if you play low luck this becomes a bit of a strange situation indeed.
    Low-Luck is a house rule ( like many others ) so if you dont specify anything for this situation it becomes a mather of debate.
    Since there should be a non 0 chance, and there is no way a sub will win in low luck you can easy calculate that result, your carrier can never move there.
    But if you are attacking with air against some defenders you can also garantee dat your fighters will never survive ( so cannot kill a stack of transports )

    Personaly even with low luck i would ignore the low-luck rules during combat moves but you could agrue that since you make use of them during combat-moves you also have to use them if they are not in your favor. So i guess this is something to clarify in advance before starting a game, just like the limitations on where to place your bids.


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