On February 27-28,1942, the first major surface battle took place in the Pacific between the Allies and the Japanese. The ABDA (American, British, Dutch, Australian) force, under the command of Rear Admiral Karel Doorman sought to prevent the Japanese from landing troops on Java. In the process they collided with a Japanese covering force under Rear Admiral Shoji Nishimura. The Allied force consisted of two heavy cruisers USS HOUSTON, and HMS EXETER, three light cruisers, the Australian PERTH, the Dutch JAVA and DE RUYTER, Doorman's flagship, four American, three British and two Dutch destroyers. The Japanese force, acting as distant cover force protecting a large group of transports, included the heavy cruisers NACHI and HAGURO the light cruisers NAKA and JINTSU and fourteen destroyers.  


The two forces were by no means evenly matched. Aside from the distinct advantage in 8 inch guns (20 Japanese to 12 Allied-HOUSTON had nine guns but her aft turret was out of commission), the Japanese had a critical advantage in three other areas: First, they had significantly more torpedoes, and those torpedoes, the Type 93 "Long Lance" had greater range and explosive power than those of the Allies. Second, the Japanese ships had worked together and trained together, and communicated with each other with a common code and language.  Third, the Japanese had observation planes to spot shell for them.  

The Allied fleet comprised ships of four different navies; they had not trained together and did not all speak the same language or use the same signals. And although the cruisers had some floatplanes, these had been left behind due to the dominance of Japanese air power in the theater.    

The result was predictable. In a series of separate encounters during the afternoon and night, the EXETER was disabled by gunfire and forced to withdraw. In the process the Allied fleet was thrown into confusion and two destroyers, HMS ELECTRA and the Dutch KORTENAER were sunk. The two fleets lost contact, but Doorman persisted and during the night again came into contact with Nishimura's force. The result was disastrous. DE RUYTER and JAVA were both struck by torpedoes and sunk.  In addition, the British destroyer JUPITER struck a Dutch mine and was sunk.   

The surviving Allied ships returned to port in Java and then attempted to escape from the growing encirclement. But HOUSTON and PERTH were sunk in a battle with Japanese cruisers and destroyers when they intruded upon invasion forces in the Sunda Strait during the night of February 28-March 1st. The British EXETER and destroyer ENCOUNTER were sunk by Japanese warships in the Java Sea, and the Dutch destroyer WITT DE WITH was sunk in Surabaja harbor. Only the four American destroyers ALDEN, JOHN D. EDWARDS, JOHN D. FORD, and PAUL JONES, managed to escape to Australia.  

If one wishes to collect models of these ships, there are a wealth of them to be found. Models of some of them are shown here.  

Allied ships:

HOUSTON: Pictured here is the Neptun model of sister ship CHICAGO circa 1941, but HOUSTON was the same. Three of the six NORTHAMPTON Class ships CHICAGO, HOUSTON and AUGUSTA were configured as flagships and differed from the other three in the length of the forecastle. Other models of ships in this class are available from other manufacturers, including Superior.

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USS Houston

EXETER:  This wood model by Cy Broman, depicts the ship as she was at the time of the battle. A variety of models of this ship are available, but most, like the Neptun one, depict the ship as she was built or at the time of her battle with the GRAF SPEE in 1939. Other models are available by Mountford, Clydeside, Wiking, Comet, etc.

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HMS Exeter USM Exeter

PERTH: Pictured here is the Neptun model. Others, such as Superior, Argonaut, Clydeside, and Wiking have also made models of this class of cruiser.

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HMAS Perth

DE RUYTER: Pictured here are two different models, one by Rhenania the other a wood model by Cy Broman. Models of this ship have also been made by Wiking and Clydeside. None of the commercially made models are currently (2011) in production.

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De Ruyter by Broman De Ruyter by Broman De Ruyter by Rhenania

JAVA: This is the very nice Argonaut model. Star also made a model of this ship, as did Clydeside. None of these are currently in production.  

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JAVA

KORTENAER and WITT DE WITH: These two models are hand made wood models by Cy Broman.

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Dutch destroyers  and KORTENAER and WITT DE WITH by Broman

EVERTSEN and PIET HEIN: These two models are by Argonaut, and included here to show some commercially made models of the Dutch destroyers. Other commercially made models include those by Clydeside and Star. Only the Clydeside ones are currently in production. These two ships did not participate in the Java Sea battle but were involved in the campaign.

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Dutch destroyers EVERTSEN and PIET HEIN by Argonaut

ELECTRA: This wood model was made by Cy Broman.

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Electra by Broman

ENCOUNTER: This Argonaut model was modified from the factory model by replacement of the aft torpedo mount with a 3 inch gun. The Argonaut E Class model can still be found second hand.

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Encounter by Argonaut

JUPITER: Neptun makes a fine J-K Class model in two versions, one with both sets of tubes, and the other with only one plus a 3 inch in place of the aft tubes. J Class models are also available from various other producers such as Superior, Wiking etc.

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J Class Destroyer

U.S. Flush Deck Destroyers: Many models of the ubiquitous four pipers have been made.  A small selection of them is shown here:

ALDEN  (DD 211) is a wood model by Cy Broman.  

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Alden by Broman

WARD is an Argos model.

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Ward by Argos

OVERTON is an Argonaut model

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Overton by Argonaut

PEARY is a Neptun model.

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Peary by Neptun

Models of these ships can be found from Superior, Comet, Wiking, Delphin, Figurehead, and others.  

Japanese ships:

NACHI (and HAGURO): Models shown here are those by Neptun and Konishi. Other models of these ships have been made by Delphin and Superior. 

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Nachi by Neptun Nachi by Konishi

JINTSU (and NAKA):  There are not a lot of models of this class available. Shown here is the Neptun model. Sister ship NAKA was identical. Sister ship SENDAI, available from both Neptun and Superior differed in the shape of the stem.

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JINTSU by Neptun

The fourteen Japanese destroyers were a mix of several classes:  two FUBUKI, six SHIRATSUYU, two ASASHIO and four KAGERO.   Models shown are generic class ships:

FUBUKI Class: Four models, one by Konishi, one by Neptun, the third by Optatus, and the last by Tremo are shown. The Neptun model is of USHIO, which was a participant in the battle.  Superior makes a model of this class and Tremo and Comet/Authenticast made models of most of the ship classes that participated in the battle. The latter are not difficult to find, but Tremo models of U.S. and Japanese ships are rare finds. 

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FUBIKI by Konishi USHIO by Neptun OBORO by Optatus Fubuki by Tremo

SHIRATSUYU Class: Shown here is the Neptun model of UMIKAZE

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UMIKAZE by Neptun

ASASHIO Class: Shown here is the Neptun model.  Superior also makes an ASASHIO model.

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ASASHIO by Neptun

KAGERO: Models by Neptun, Konishi and Broman are pictured.  Superior also makes a KAGERO model and Delphin made one. 

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KAGERO: Three models by Broman, Neptun, and Konishi

 

Paul Jacobs

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