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  • Japan foregoes Midway and invades Australia

    Following the failure of their Coral Sea invasion plan the Japanese shifted direction towards Hawaii once again. But, what if instead they just made a second attempt at Australia from a different direction?

    This version occurs in late May early June and is very typical of Japanese operations with multiple approaches and diversions going on.

    First, the Japanese send the carriers Hiyo and Junyo along with a regimental sized landing force, including a seaplane tender, to the Aleutians where they invade and take Umnak Island and launch carrier strikes on Dutch Harbor and Unalaska.

    Next, the main force consisting of the Kido Butai with their four operational large carriers along with an invasion fleet enters the Timor Sea and proceeds to strike and then land a reinforced division near Darwin that is tasked with taking that city. Now, in February the Japanese had hit Darwin with carrier strikes causing a major panic there so, a return and landing would have likely caused bigger issues for the Australians in general.
    The follow up to this landing is a second division that will follow within a couple of weeks.
    In addition, the IJA strengthens its air forces on Timor to support this operation once the carriers withdraw. The Japanese hope to capture an airfield or two near Darwin to allow basing forward there as well.

    A secondary operation is also launched to occur a few days after the main landings near Darwin. This one puts a weak division (about 12,000 men) at Buna New Guinea. A second operation mounted simulatneously puts about 1,200 men ashore at Milne Bay. Follow up waves are intended to approxmately double this force within weeks.

    From the Allied perspective, the Umnak landings would have been unopposed as the island was not occupied in June 1942. There is a US force on Unalaska Island at Dutch Harbor and environs. There are also some USAAF aircraft in limited numbers there. The fighter defense is P-39s at this point.
    The Buna landing would have also been unopposed as it was when it occured in August historically. The Milne Bay landing would be facing a company of US engineers and a company of Australian infantry building an airfield at Gili Gili.
    The Darwin landing would have faced minor opposition only initially. The US 32nd ID is in Australia but near Brisbane at the time. There are also one or two Australian divisions on the Western coast of the country.
    Airpower for the Allies is also fairly weak consisting of about 100 or so operational aircraft between the USAAF and RAAF with only about 30 or so P-40 and a few P-39 flying at the time. This might be reinforced to some extent from the US in a fairly short time but the additional aircraft would be either P-40 or P-39 fighters along with whatever bombers could be scrapped up.
    Allied naval forces in the region consist of 5 cruisers and about a dozen DD between the two navies. The USN could send just two carriers (the Yorktown wouldn't be repaired in time to sail to Australia... she barely made it to the Midway operation).

    Now, I don't envision the Japanese trying to take all of Australia. Instead, I see this operation as an attempt to force Australia to sue for peace. A side effect would have been an almost certain withdrawal of all or most of Australia's forces in the Middle East. This would have put the hurt on the British as Australian units make up the bulk of their best infantry formations there.
    A successful landing on mainland Australia along with the likely fall of New Guinea would have had serious morale implications in Australia. MacAuthur would also have been put in a bind politically as well as militarily. The Australians might see him as incapable of dealing with this new offensive and the US as uncommitted. Even if Australia didn't knuckle under (which is very likely as I don't see them giving up easily) it certainly puts alot more pressure on the US and conserves Japanese naval assets far better than the Midway operation did.

  • #2
    Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

    Now, I don't envision the Japanese trying to take all of Australia. Instead, I see this operation as an attempt to force Australia to sue for peace. A side effect would have been an almost certain withdrawal of all or most of Australia's forces in the Middle East. This would have put the hurt on the British as Australian units make up the bulk of their best infantry formations there.
    .
    General Yamashita(conqueror of Singapore) had such intentions “‘With even Sydney and Brisbane in my hands, it would have been comparatively simply to subdue Australia. I would never visualise occupying it entirely. It was too large. With its coastline, anyone can always land there exactly as he wants’...” Yamashita. http://www.1942.com.au/invasion-plans.html
    "It's like shooting rats in a barrel."
    "You'll be in a barrel if you don't watch out for the fighters!"

    "Talking about airplanes is a very pleasant mental disease."
    — Sergei(son of Igor) Sikorsky, 'AOPA Pilot' magazine February 2003.

    Comment


    • #3
      TAG,


      An invasion of Australia at Darwin (mid 1942) would soon have the japs facing the 6th and 7th Divisions of the 2nd AIF, plus a couple of Militia divisions formed and forming and part way through their training. By that time frame the Australian Army had about 255,000 men in uniform.

      By that time the japs would have been forced to decide if they are going to head south or stay put. Heading south means 1500 kms to Alice Springs, and another 1500 kms to Adelaide. They have a short railway line of about 300kms to Larrimah and then an unmade bush track to the Alice. The road from the Alice to Adelaide is also unmade track with the 'Ghan' railway line laid on bare earth. The rest is arid desert with virtually NO surface water anywhere for that 3000 kms.

      The way east to Brisbane is a similar nightmare of logistics, and the road to Perth is even worse. Tne japs are stuck in the Darwin area with the supply lines back to Timor or other base, open to attack at all times.

      An American general asked an Australian Officer, well versed in the Australian 'outback', what he would do if 50,000 japs landed in the North, his reply was, "I would wait 3 months, and go out and pick up the bones".

      The area is FAR worse than an invasion of Russia!

      John.
      Last edited by ozjohn39; 21 Oct 09, 22:53.
      The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

      Comment


      • #4
        At Ease,


        "General Yamashita(conqueror of Singapore) had such intentions “‘With even Sydney and Brisbane in my hands, it would have been comparatively simply to subdue Australia. I would never visualise occupying it entirely. It was too large. With its coastline, anyone can always land there exactly as he wants’...”



        Disagree with Gen Yamashita!


        The Great Barrier Reef precludes any invasion of the east coast from Torres Strait to about Bundaberg. The 4 passages through it are easily mined or blocked. Any invasion further south extends the supply line to a dangerous degree, always subject to attack.

        The west coast has the same 3000 kms of sand and rocks and little in the way of roads or even tracks, and little or no water.

        Yes, they could land 50,000 men on most of the coast-line but that is the easy bit. Logistics would be a nightmare.



        John.
        The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by ozjohn39 View Post
          TAG,


          An invasion of Australia at Darwin (mid 1942) would soon have the japs facing the 6th and 7th Divisions of the 2nd AIF, plus a couple of Militia divisions formed and forming and part way through their training. By that time frame the Australian Army had about 255,000 men in uniform.

          By that time the japs would have been forced to decide if they are going to head south or stay put. Heading south means 1500 kms to Alice Springs, and another 1500 kms to Adelaide. They have a short railway line of about 300kms to Larrimah and then an unmade bush track to the Alice. The road from the Alice to Adelaide is also unmade track with the 'Ghan' railway line laid on bare earth. The rest is arid desert with virtually NO surface water anywhere for that 3000 kms.


          The way east to Brisbane is a similar nightmare of logistics, and the road to Perth is even worse. Tne japs are stuck in the Darwin area with the supply lines back to Timor or other base, open to attack at all times.

          An American general asked an Australian Officer, well versed in the Australian 'outback', what he would do if 50,000 japs landed in the North, his reply was, "I would wait 3 months, and go out and pick up the bones".

          The area is FAR worse than an invasion of Russia!

          John.
          I don't disagree here except wtih the last bit. The Japanese proved time and again capable of operations run on a shoestring of supply with their troops surviving in conditions of deprivation that would have crippled Allied units and still fighting. If the Japanese land and take Darwin they have a port and they have airfields. Their supply line is relatively secure too as it would be quite a distance for Allied bombers to fly and attack.
          If you add in a successful conquest of New Guinea they also have a reasonably secure position there as supplies could be landed on the North coast from Rabual and then moved by barge along the coast if necessary to avoid air attack with relative ease.

          My point is they almost certainly in early June 1942 could have gotten ashore near Darwin. They had the means to land a full reinforced division. They could have landed a second behind that trans shipping it through Timor so as to shorten the time to move it behind the first. This gives them rough parity with available Allied forces. So, now they dig in and defend or try limited offensives.

          Certainly given the Japanese successes to date the Australian government and even the US would have been shaken by such a development. It would have had far more impact than taking Midway would have had. Of course, in the long run if Australia stayed in the war (very highly likely) Japan would still lose. But, this seems a better option in June 42 than Midway as a potential operation.

          Comment


          • #6
            TAG,


            If you have 'Google Earth', have a look at the Torres Strait and you will see that it is a very dangerous stretch of water, only safely navigable by an experienced Sea Pilot. An invasion fleet without one would come to grief on the many reef that form part of the Great Barrier reef. See if you can find the 4 passages through the GBR.

            Port Moresby is very poorly sited to be an invasion port as NO shipping route from it can sustained. That extends all the way south, well over 2000 kms to Bundaberg.

            Rabaul is far too far away to base and supply a fleet, and there were no major ports in West New Guinea. The only real possibility to my mind is Timor, or some other port in Java.

            Much of the North Australian coastline is tropical mangroves, in particular in the Gulf of Carpentaria region, west of the Torres Strait. West of Darwin and its mangroves to is VERY rocky terrain all the way to Perth with some isolated beaches dotting the coastline but with no way inland from them except those sand and rocks.

            I KNOW! I have driven all over it! The area is mind-boggling VAST! (and totally desolate.)



            John.


            PS,

            Australia is the same size at the '48'
            The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

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            • #7
              TAG,

              An afterthought,


              My Father in law was in theh 7th Div and he came home about this time, a bit before actually.

              He went to the Atherton Tableland, inland from Cairns. There were 70,000 Australian soldiers doing jungle training there at the time.

              Most were fully experienced desert fighters after the North African campaign.



              John.
              The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ozjohn39 View Post
                Much of the North Australian coastline is tropical mangroves, in particular in the Gulf of Carpentaria region, west of the Torres Strait. West of Darwin and its mangroves to is VERY rocky terrain all the way to Perth with some isolated beaches dotting the coastline but with no way inland from them except those sand and rocks.
                How far do the tropical mangroves extend inland?

                I think the Japanese defending 'jungle' would be more difficult to eject than if they were in the desert/open terrain. In the open the Aussie troops could just roll over them with Matildas/Valentines.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Leaving aside the Australian terrain. A close look at the Japanese cargo ships available is necessary. As of December 1941 Japan was already short some 40% of peace time ships available in 1939. A small batch of new ships and captures added 800,000 tons displacement in 1942, which barely covered operational losses for that year. The IJN & Army had projected the large scale use of the cargo fleet for just six months and industrial activity was planned accordingly for the first half on 1942. When the IJN & IJA came back with seperate requirements for a equal or larger number of ships for unexpected operations in the latter half of 1942 industrial production was threatened. The problem was particularly acute in oil transport. In Dec 1941 Japan possesed just 39 oil tankers. That was insufficient to maintain the fuel reserve in Japan let alone deliver to the fleet. This severely affected the operations from August through December 1942.

                  During the Solomons/New Guinea campaigns from August though November Japan was unable to support logistically the equivalent of four divisions in the South West Pacific against relatively light USN & USAAF opposition. At one point only single US aircraft carrier was available against the entire IJN carrier fleet & the USN was had pressed to deploy just two battleships to the combat zone, yet the Japanese could not effectively supply their corps on Guadacannal. I dont see how it is possible to sucessfully extend the supply line another 1000 or 2000 kilometers south.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Japan had the transport for this sitting in the Pacific at the beginning of June 1942. They were about to launch the Midway operation and in addition had transport for units to strike New Caledonia, Esprito Santo, and Christmas Island. They also had transport available for the Milne bay operation.
                    So, everything was in place to do this it was just historically that they chose to go to Midway rather than south to Australia.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Landing at Darwin would accomplish nothing. Its a thousand kilometers to the next town. Are the Japs gonna march those thousands of kilos through the outback? And the Great Barrier reef protects the coastline. From Darwin the Japs have nowhere to go but into the outback, they will from the harsh conditions. If they attemp a landing on the the east coast then their supply lines will be strained, a logistics nightmare. Allied air power can harass the convoys as they make their journy from PGN, and lets not forget these supplies have to get to PGN from Japan. I seriously doubt the Japanese could have taken Australia. Resistance would have been incredibly fierce and the conditions would create high Japanese casualties. Like ozjohn said the conditions are worse than Russia. And in the open Matildas and valentines will be highly effective, the Japanese had nothing that could stand a chance against American and British armor.
                      A wild liberal appears! Conservative uses logical reasoning and empirical evidence! It's super effective! Wild liberal faints.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
                        Japan had the transport for this sitting in the Pacific at the beginning of June 1942. They were about to launch the Midway operation and in addition had transport for units to strike New Caledonia, Esprito Santo, and Christmas Island. They also had transport available for the Milne bay operation.
                        So, everything was in place to do this it was just historically that they chose to go to Midway rather than south to Australia.
                        The Midway & Milne Bay operations embarked regimental combat teams. Less than 3000 men each in the landing force. If I recall correctly the other two drew from a single infantry division for two seperate brigade size land forces. In any case when the Japanese tried to sustain a corps of two divisions on Gudacannal they failed. The force on New Guinea was chronically short of supplies as well. Related operations in the Solomons, such as efforts to establish airbases on other islands, were canceled or aborted for lack of transport.

                        As early as mid 1942 there was a 'problem' in shipping raw materials back to Japan. The actual allocation for military operations proved inadaquate to sustain two corps near Rabual. I'm skeptical two corps could have been delivered or supplied another 1000 kilometers or more to the south.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am extremely dubious about any Japanese efforts to invade Australia. Just look at their problems resupplying forces in the Solomons
                          and logistical failures to subdue China. And it was the Japanese Army that vetoed such a concept. They surmised some 200,000 troops would be needed and even the IJN estimated 50,000. As noted above, the logistical resupply problem seems insuperable.

                          And what if Crocodile Dundee's ancestors were lurking around the mangroves ).

                          P.S. And the whole point of Midway was to decimate the U.S. fleet (carriers). To leave the U.S. Navy more time to build up seems quite strategically foolish. Talk about overextended, how many fronts could the Japanese army and navy sustain? China, Burma, Australia, the Pacific Islands and U.S. Navy? Plus garrisons in Manchuria.
                          Last edited by Tuor; 22 Oct 09, 12:14.

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                          • #14
                            [QUOTE=Gooner;1339373]How far do the tropical mangroves extend inland?

                            Gooner,

                            It varies quite a lot.

                            It can be a few 100 metres, or as much as 5 kilometres+ I would think, and I have been fishing in a 12 foot aluminium boat in the waterways of those mangroves.

                            You could not scramble more than 50 metres before collapsing from exhaustion. The first 10 or 20 metes is waist deep water, depending on the tide, and then the mud starts......

                            THEN the 1500 kms of sand......


                            If they HAD tried it, maybe the war would have been a lot shorter, much as 'Sealion' perhaps.



                            John.


                            PS, Nearly forgot the Crocodiles, BIG - HUNGRY - CRANKY Crocodiles.
                            Last edited by ozjohn39; 22 Oct 09, 13:27.
                            The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              PS

                              As an OT aside,

                              In my never humble opinion, the claimed reason for the Guadalcanal Battle, Supply lines to Australia, is invalid.

                              A shipping route is as flexible as a piece of string on a map, it can be strung from San Francisco to Hawaii, to South Island of NZ, to Melbourne. Longer but safer.



                              John.
                              The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

                              Comment

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