In December of 1941, the Japanese
embarked on a six month whirlwind of conquest in Southeast Asia.
Their goal -- and indeed the goal of the entire Japanese Pacific War --
was to secure to Japan the vital natural resources of this region.
Malayan rubber and tin, oil and rice from the East Indies, all of these
drew Japan south against four opponents Ė the British in Malaya, the Dutch in
the Indies, the Americans in the Philippines astride Japanís supply lines, and
Japanese naval plans were simple in concept but intricate in execution.
They revolved around three main tasks.
First, stun the enemy naval forces into inactivity.
Second, grab the resources and extend a defensive perimeter.
Third, fight a revived enemy to exhaustion as he attempts to breach the
all of the resources to be found in Southeast Asia, the oil of the Dutch East
Indies was most crucial to the Japanese war machine. Indeed, Japanís decision to go to war was prompted by an
American oil embargo, while her decision to attack the United States derived in
large part from the threat that American forces in the Philippines could pose to
Japanís ability to capture and exploit oil resources. Each element of Japanís war plan seemed, to the Japanese
planners, to demand the next. If
Japan were to wage war, she must have oil -- thus the invasion of Java.
If she were to have the Indies oil, she must be able to transport it home
without interference -- thus the invasion of the Philippines, an American base
athwart Japanís oil supply lines. If
Japan were to take the Philippines, she must keep the American fleet at bay --
thus the attack on Pearl Harbor. So
did Japan reason her way into the Great Pacific War.
Blocking Japanís invasion of the Dutch East Indies were the meager forces of the American-British-Dutch-Australian command, or ABDA. These forces fought without hope of reinforcement and under constant strain of both Japanese air superiority and ceaseless operating requirements. They were made up of units from the American Asiatic fleet and British fleet units -- refugees from disasters in the Philippines and Malaya -- joined by Australian ships coming home from two years of war in foreign seas and by Dutch naval forces defending their colonial possessions after their homeland had been overrun. These forces put up an epic -- and tragic -- fight against great odds while the sleeping giant of the United States struggled to arouse itself.
Note: For older scenarios, see the updated ship forms on the FOTW Ships page. These have been revised to include the gun tables on the forms, to make merchant ships easier to sink, and in other minor details.
Battle off Malaya -- Hypothetical: A group of British capital ships from Singapore falls in with Japanese forces covering the invasion of Malaya.
Balikpapan -- US destroyers surprise a Japanese invasion fleet.
Badung Strait -- The ABDA forces try a raid against a Japanese invasion force.
Java Sea -- The Night Action -- Japanese cruisers clash with Australians, Dutch and Americans off the Javanese coast.
Bali Strait -- After the shambles in the Java Sea, American destroyers try to slip away through Bali Strait.
Revenge -- A late war scenario in which the Royal Navy has a chance to get some of its own back against an Imperial Japanese Navy evacuation mission. (Revised version.)