The Australia Capture – The Invasion that Wasn't

In February of 1942, Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto proposed an invasion of Australia. The invasion plan, calling for landings in both the north and south of Australia, required the use of 10 Japanese Army divisions and because resources where stretched thin, the plan was rejected by Tojo and the Imperial General Staff.


While the Japanese didn't have the resources to invade Australia during World War II, the Japanese player in AAPacific does start the game with sufficient resources to capture New South Wales, prevent any Allied counterattack and win the game. However, the Australia capture is a much tougher strategic road and usually requires a mistake by the Allies to be successful since US reinforcements are much closer to Australia than to India.

The Australia capture can be initiated from any balanced J1 opening and doesn't require any unusual opening moves. Since it requires some mistakes by the Allied player, an Australia capture is generally an opportunistic move rather than a planned strategy. If you're the Japanese player, you shouldn't start the game thinking that you will win by capturing NSW. Rather, you should always keep in mind the possibility of invading Australia if the right circumstances present themselves.

After a "standard" J1 opening that sees the capture of Philippines, Hongkong, Anhwe, Kiangsi, Malaya, Java, New Britain, Midway and the destruction of Allied fleets in sz9, 27, 38, 43 and 46, the Japanese player has the basic set up to invade Australia on J2. Whether an invasion actually occurs will depend on the Allied moves on Allies 1.

The key to the Australia invasion is capturing both Northern Territory and Queensland. Often the Allied player will retreat his forces from these territories into South Australia, leaving the capture of NT and Queensland as a walk in. Usually, Japan is able to bring in units from New Britain and New Guinea, Philippines and Java during combat movement. Only 1 infantry (loaded on a DD) should be used to capture NT and the rest placed in Queensland. On NCM, any units in Hongkong, Kiangsi, FIC and Malaya can be moved to Queensland on all available transports and DDs. These units can take advantage of the 3 space port movement between sz45 or 46 and sz32. The bulk of the Japanese fleet that started in sz27 can be moved to sz29 to block any US amphibious assault into Queensland intended to disrupt the forces massing in Queensland for the attack on NSW. If the Americans attack the Japanese fleet in sz29, any fighters on the carriers should be the last loss and if they survive the battle, they land in Queensland, ready to attack NSW on J3.

An Australia capture is most likely to succeed if Japan can attack the Allied reinforcements that were moved to sz14. This can happen when the Allies fail to block sz15 and sz28 or a Japanese sub survives to J2 in sz28 or sz9. Why are these subs important? They allow a twelve fighter, 2 bomber attack on sz14 which is usually sufficient to wipe out all of the Allied units (and certainly all of the transports) that are located in sz14 at the start of J2. How is this possible? Six fighters can fly from sz27 to sz14, a distance of 2 moves and these fighters can land on New Britain after the battle. Fighters from sz43, Formosa and Marianas can also reach sz14, a distance of 4 moves. Their only possible landing place will be the aircraft carriers from sz27 moving to sz14 on NCM.

Normally, if the US has a sub in sz14, Japan can't clear the sea zone because the Allied player will have blocked sz15 and sz28 preventing any naval units from getting there to attack the subs (remember, in AAPacific, subs cannot be attacked by air units unless a DD is spotting). Without clearing the sea zone, the ACs can't move to sz14 and therefore only 6 fighters can reach and attack sz14. One loose sub changes that equation. All Japan needs to do is add a sub to the attack on sz14 and 12 fighters and 2 bombers can join in the attack. Japan does not need to entirely wipe out the US fleet. All it needs to do is kill as much as possible to prevent these reinforcements from reaching NSW to make the J3 attack on the Australian capital a risky proposition.

If Japan can capture and reinforce Queensland and wipe out the US reinforcements in sz14, NSW will almost certainly fall on J3. On J3 NCM, Japan moves its entire naval force to sz30, preventing any follow on US units from attacking NSW and liberating Australia. Japan wins the game at the beginning of J4 when it holds NSW and Tokyo.

As mentioned, an Australia capture is only available if the Allied player makes a mistake. Usually, that mistake occurs when the Allied player fails to appropriately protect Queensland and sz14.

First, there should be no half measures in Queensland. You should either withdraw from it entirely, leaving all your units available for a counterattack or for defence of NSW or you should heavily defend Queensland. It is possible to defend Queensland with 8 Inf, 2 Rtl, AA, 3 UK Fighters, 2 US Bombers and up to 2 US fighters. The two UK infantry from New Zealand can be landed in Queensland by moving the transport to sz32. This has the further advantage of negating the Japanese BB support shot because it requires a sea battle before the amphibious invasion. Facing such a defence, Japan would be foolish to attack Queensland because it would be too weakened to prevent its forces from being wiped out by a counterattack. This defence of Queensland is available to the Allied player when he is confident that Japan is not likely to initiate a successful India Crush. In those circumstances, it is not necessary to move units into South Australia for the "Anti-Crush" (see Essay #2).

Second, the Allies must keep their early reinforcements alive but close enough to support Australia. That's why it is important to move as much of the force as possible to sz14 but to block any attack on it. Any subs in sz28 and sz9 must be killed. You should use overkill to make sure these subs do not escape by diving. Sea zone 28 and sz15 must be blocked to prevent a naval attack on sz14. You should leave a UK sub in sz29 to ensure that the Japanese sz27 fleet cannot move to sz29 during NCM. This leaves open the US amphibious assault of Queensland supported by bombers and fighters which will put an end to the Japanese hopes of capturing NSW. Finally, you must have a US sub in sz14 or Japan can clear the sea zone with air alone and can get the 12 fighter, 2 bmr attack on the sea zone that will wipe out the US reinforcements.

In summary, Japan can win by capturing Australia but the attack is usually only available if the Allied player makes a mistake in his defence posture and Japan moves immediately to exploit that mistake.

Saburo Sakai