HMAS Australia file photo [1161]


Ship ClassCounty-class Heavy Cruiser
Hull NumberD84
BuilderJohn Brown Ltd, Clydebank, Scotland
Laid Down26 Aug 1925
Launched17 Mar 1927
Commissioned24 Apr 1928
Decommissioned31 Aug 1954
Displacement10,240 tons standard; 14,253 tons full
Length630 feet
Beam68 feet
Draft21 feet
Machinery8 Yarrow boilers, Curtis high pressure and Parson low pressure geared turbines, 4 propellers
Power Output80,000 shaft horsepower
Speed31 knots
Range2,270nm at 31 knots, 9,500nm at 12 knots
Armament4x2x203mm Mark VIII guns, 4x4x102mm 4in Mark V QF guns, 4x40mm 2pdr guns, 16x.303mm machine guns, 2x4x533mm torpedo tubes, 4x47mm 3pdr guns2x.5in machine guns
Armor38-76mm magazine and machinery spaces, 51mm turrets, 76mm conning tower, up to 110mm belt
Aircraft1 Walrus


ww2dbaseHMAS Australia, a 10,240-ton County-class (Kent-sub-class) heavy cruiser, was built at Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom. During the first decade of her active career, she mainly served in Australian home waters, but also cruised abroad on occasion. The cruiser was modernized between 1938 and 1939, receiving much improved armor protection plus significant modifications to her forward superstructure, anti-aircraft gun battery, gunfire control systems and aircraft facilities.

ww2dbaseAfter WW2 broke out in Europe in Sep 1939, Australia operated in the Indian Ocean and South Atlantic, protecting shipping routes from the threat of German surface raiders. She went to the north Atlantic in mid-1940, and in Sep of that year took part in the British Navy attack on Dakar, French West Africa, where she was hit by shells from the French cruisers Georges Leygues and Montcalm. Returning to Australia in 1941, she resumed her shipping protection work in the Indian Ocean.

ww2dbaseIn early 1942, with Japan now at war with the Allies, Australia was flagship of a small task force assigned to protect the South Pacific eastwards from Australia. In that capacity she engaged enemy aircraft in May, during the Battle of the Coral Sea. In August, she participated in the Guadalcanal invasion in the Solomon Islands. Thereafter, she mainly served as one of the heaviest ships involved in the fight for New Guinea island, initially in a covering role. During 1942, the torpedo tubes and machine gun mountings were removed, replaced by seven single 20-millimeter guns with full radar suite (fire control, surface search, and air warning).

ww2dbaseBeginning in late 1943, with the landings at Cape Gloucester, New Britain, Australia provided fire support and surface ship protection for the assault across northern New Guinea. On 8-9 June 1944, she was flagship of the task force that pursued Japanese destroyers off Biak.

ww2dbaseIn Mar 1944, the aircraft and catapult were removed, and the 20-millimeter guns were placed on twin mountings. In Aug 1944, the starboard crane was removed, the derricks and samson posts were substituted, and radar was upgraded.

ww2dbaseHMAS Australia participated in the Leyte invasion in Oct 1944 and the landings at Lingayen Gulf in Jan 1945, both in the Philippine Islands. She was hit by a Japanese plane in the former operation, losing some twenty of her crew. No less than five special attack aircraft struck her during the Lingayen operation, taking the lives of over forty crewmen, but she remained on her gunfire support station until no longer needed.

ww2dbaseIn Feb 1945, her X turret was removed, and two 8-barreled 2-pounder "pom pom" guns were added; additionally, two quadruple, one twin, and two single 40-millimeter Bofors guns were also installed. She remained active in the post-war era, in her final years as a training ship, until she was paid off for the last time in August 1954. HMAS Australia was sold for scrapping in January 1955.

Jane's Fighting Ships of World War II
Angus Konstam, Commonwealth Cruisers 1939-45
US Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Last Major Revision: Jan 2005

Heavy Cruiser Australia (D84) Interactive Map


HMAS Australia soon after her completion, with her original short smokestacks, 1928HMAS Australia underway during the 1930sHMAS Australia off New York City, circa 1932-33HMAS Australia in the Panama Canal, Mar 1935
See all 7 photographs of Heavy Cruiser Australia (D84)

Australia Operational Timeline

14 Sep 1940 HMS Cumberland detached from convoy escort with HM Cruisers Devonshire, Australia and HM Aircraft Carrier Ark Royal to establish patrol off Cape Verde for interception of three Vichy French cruisers attempting to reach Dakar.
18 Sep 1940 HMS Cumberland deployed in pursuit of French warships Gloire, Georges Leygues and Montcalm with HM Australian Cruiser Australia (Note: These ships sailed from Dakar without detection. French ships were later intercepted by HM Cruisers Cornwall and Delhi. The cruiser Gloire was persuaded to go into Casablanca but the other ships went back to Dakar).
21 Sep 1940 HMS Cumberland joined HMS Ark Royal, HM Battleships Resolution and Barham, HM Cruisers Devonshire, Australia and Fleet destroyers in support of Free French landing at Dakar and carried out defensive patrol offshore (Operation Menace).
28 Jul 1942 US Navy and Marines began a four-day amphibious landing exercise at Fiji as rehearsals for the Guadalcanal landings set for two weeks later.
17 Jul 1943 Destroyers USS Nicholas, USS O’Bannon, USS Radford, and USS Jenkins departed Tulagi, Solomon Islands and joined cruisers HMAS Australia and HMAS Hobart with destroyers USS Lamson, HMAS Arunta, and HMAS Warramunga for two days of patrols in the shipping lanes between the Solomon Islands and Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides.
21 Oct 1944 HMAS Australia was hit by a special attack aircraft off the Philippine Islands; it was unsure whether this was a Japanese Army or Navy aircraft as both branches launched tokko attacks on this date.
8 Jan 1945 HMAS Australia was damaged by Japanese special attack aircraft at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands.
9 Jan 1945 HMAS Australia was damaged by Japanese special attack aircraft at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands.
1 Jan 1955 Australia was decommissioned from service.

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Search WW2DB
More on Australia
» Collins, John
» Crace, John
» Farncomb, Harold

Event(s) Participated:
» British Attacks on the French Fleet
» Battle of Coral Sea
» Guadalcanal Campaign
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign

Heavy Cruiser Australia (D84) Photo Gallery
HMAS Australia soon after her completion, with her original short smokestacks, 1928
See all 7 photographs of Heavy Cruiser Australia (D84)

Famous WW2 Quote
"With Germany arming at breakneck speed, England lost in a pacifist dream, France corrupt and torn by dissension, America remote and indifferent... do you not tremble for your children?"

Winston Churchill, 1935

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