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Australia is an interesting regional power to play - geographically isolated, resource-rich and manpower-poor. Such an isolated nation can prove a challenge to invade or stage an invasion from.
Historically, Australia fought alongside the British in North Africa and the Malay Peninsula. They were a good Commonwealth nation partly due to fears of a Japanese invasion of the homeland. Australia employed the 'Singapore Strategy', with the goal of keeping the British in the Pacific, and using the European colonies north of Australia as a buffer against Japanese aggression.
Distribution of leadership
Being a minor nation, Australia doesn't have a lot of Leadership to distribute. Discard thoughts of being able to advance through many of the tech trees, as well as maintaining an intelligence network and officer corps.
In 1936, you won't need a lot of Diplomacy so you can safely adjust this to almost zero. You also shouldn't be going to war for a while, so you can reduce your officers as well.
At the beginning of the 1936 campaign, Australia starts with some existing research in Agriculture (4) and Supply Production (2).
Invest some early effort into the Computing and Education techs to increase your research rate.
Invest heavily in Industrial Production and Industrial Efficiency to maximize the limited IC you have.
The obvious choice is to join the Allies, which is the historical route and usually ends in a very uneventful '36 campaign. A fun alternative is to join Comintern and race an Allied America to the Japanese homelands to mirror the action in the ETO.
"Prepare for War" is available from the start in later versions of the game, which will bring your neutrality down to ~35 within the year, opening up War Economy and 3-Year Draft.
At the beginning of the 1936 campaign, Australia starts with a reasonable selection of ministers. Replace the Foreign Minister George Pearce with Peter Spearitt for an intelligence bonus, and the Minister for Security Thomas Paterson with Alexander MacLachan for a counterintelligence bonus.
Australia begins 1936 at peace, so there are initially limited options to change the laws. You can adjust the Industrial Policy laws to implement Mixed Industry (for a small IC bonus), and choose to adjust the Training laws to Specialist Training to give new units an experience bonus. Given the small industrial base, anything to boost output for Australia is desirable.
1936 sees the Social Conservative party in power. Elections occur every four years.
Australia starts the 1936 campaign in deficit for oil and rare minerals, and these must be purchased. America is the logical primary trading partner for Australia. The USA will happily sell all the oil and rare minerals required to maintain stockpiles, and will buy up any excess supplies produced. New Zealand is another obvious trading partner, and will happily sell some rare minerals and buy supplies early on. Later in the campaign, New Zealand will start buying excess metals for a small income boost.
You'll soon be getting offers for your supplies from all over the world. Sell some of your excess to offset the costs of importing oil and minerals.
Australia's military will be hard pressed to meet the demands of defending far-flung island territories. To cover the largest area using available resources, Australia can use militia units, submarines, and multi-role aircraft.
Garrison and Militia units are cheap. They won't be able to stand up to infantry, but can cover lots of territory, are cheap to build, and use little supplies. Standard Garrison divisions of Gar,Gar,AA can protect your ports. Militias are good only up to a point. If Australia wants to give the Japanese hell, a force of Infantry divisions composed of Inf,Inf,Art,AA/AT/Eng are a solid fighting force for the jungles of New Guinee, Indonesia or Indochina. This units cand be supported by elite Marine divisions, which are specialised for fighting in jungles and developing beachheads.
Armour is not that useful, being particularly expensive in IC, although it is possible to have Tank Divisions, that means sacrificing IC that could've been used on airplanes and ships.
Submarines and destroyers are a good choice for the Australian navy. Australia's navy is limited to smaller ships, and submarines and destroyers are among the cheapest naval options. The RAN also has the responsibility of supplying a myriad of island territories, which make subs and destroyers an ideal choice.
Building an escort carrier (with destroyers for escort) is an alternate option, using this as the platform to support multiple CAGs is an interesting option. In theory this fleet will be able to engage the heavy cruisers and battleships of the IJN without them being able to return fire. Targets should be identified with land based aircraft before engaging as the larger fleets of Japanese carriers would sink your ship before you could blink. However Japanese Carrier fleets can be engaged if you break the organization of the CAGs on board using multiroles.
Due to limited resources, Australia will be limited to light aircraft. Multi-role fighters have good range and can fulfill both air superiority and ground attack roles.
Since production licenses from more powerful allies won't be available before war breaks out, it's worth it for Australia to develop its own line of aircraft to build practical experience. When they become available you can create some groups of two Tactical and two Naval bombers to support your operations. Tactical will drop the organisation of enemy ground units through ground attacks and logistic strikes and Naval bombers will attack enemy ships, both the military ones and take a spot of convoy raiding.
War with Axis
I have figured out that Australia eventually WILL go to war with Japan unless you ally with the Axis. Usually Japan attacks around 1940-42 in which case try to hold New Guinea. If you're allied with the USA, help them on the islands around Australia. DO NOT go to Europe unless you believe that Australia is safe. After the South Pacific is safe help the USA move northwards till Japan is surrounded then mop up if you wish in Europe.
|Major Powers||France · Germany · Italy · Japan · United Kingdom · United States of America · Soviet Union|
|Regional Powers||Argentina · Australia · Belgium · Brazil · Bulgaria · Czechoslovakia · Guangxi Clique · Hungary · Manchukuo · Nationalist China · Nationalist Spain · Netherlands · Poland · Republican Spain · Romania · Sweden · Turkey · Yugoslavia|
|Minor Powers||Austria · Canada · Chile · Colombia · Denmark · Finland · Greece · Ireland · Mexico · Norway · Peru · Portugal · Shanxi · South Africa · Switzerland|
|Micro Powers||Afghanistan · Albania · Bhutan · Bolivia · Communist China · Costa Rica · Cuba · Dominican Republic · Ecuador · El Salvador · Estonia · Ethiopia · Guatemala · Haiti · Honduras · Iraq · Latvia · Liberia · Lithuania · Luxembourg · Mongolia · Nepal · New Zealand · Nicaragua · Oman · Panama · Paraguay · Persia · Philippines · Saudi Arabia · Siam · Sinkiang · Tannu Tuva · Tibet · Uruguay · Venezuela · Xibei San Ma · Yemen · Yunnan|